2010 Year In Review: 'Hounds Hitters

Our 2010 Year in Review series continues, with a move from the mound to the plate. We take a look at the hitters for the 2010 Midland Rockhounds.

Midland Rockhounds
Team Batting Average: .264 (2nd out of 8 teams)
Team OBP: .341 (3rd)
Team OPS: 721 (3rd)
HRs: 74 (7th)
Runs Scored: 646 (3rd)

Note: Only players with at least 150 at-bats were covered in this article

The Midland Rockhounds finished just shy of repeating as Texas League Champions in 2010, falling to Northwest Arkansas in the league finals. Despite having similar success as the 2009 championship squad, the 2010 iteration wasn't nearly as prolific offensively. In 2009, Midland – led by Texas League MVP Chris Carter – had a team OPS of 793 and hit 103 homers. In 2010, the team had the second fewest number of homers in the league and saw the team OPS drop by more than 70 points, despite the fact that many of the 2010 ‘Hounds were members of that 2009 squad.

Nonetheless, there were some bright spots for Midland offensively, specifically the performances of returning players Adrian Cardenas and Corey Brown. Both Cardenas and Brown began the 2010 season with Triple-A Sacramento, but both would return to Midland for a good portion of the season after slow starts with the River Cats.

Cardenas spent most of June, all of July and some of August with Midland, appearing in 51 games and amassing 194 at-bats. When he was with the Rockhounds, he was one of the team's best hitters. He posted a .345/.436/.469 line, an improvement over his strong 2009 performance with Midland, when he hit .326/.392/.446. Cardenas split his time between second base and third base with Midland. Since being acquired from the Phillies in 2008, Cardenas has spent a significant portion of his time in the A's organization with the Rockhounds. After hitting .313 upon his return to Sacramento, Cardenas isn't likely to return to Midland in future years.

Another 2010 Rockhound who won't be returning in 2011 is Brown, who was traded by the A's to the Washington Nationals as part of the Josh Willingham deal this off-season. Brown appeared in 90 games with the Rockhounds in 2010 after getting off to a poor start with Sacramento. He dominated in his second season in the Texas League, posting a .320/.415/.502 line in 331 at-bats and was named to the league's post-season All-Star team. Brown was the best speed and power threat for Midland, as he reached double-digits in homers (10) and stolen bases (19 in 20 chances). In fact, he finished only two triples shy of posting double digits in every offensive category. Brown was Midland's primary centerfielder and he handled the position well.

Brown shared the outfield with three other players who were returning members of the 2009 squad: Shane Peterson, Matt Sulentic and Archie Gilbert. Peterson moved around the field, as he spent a significant amount of time in left field, right field and at first base. The former St. Louis Cardinals prospect got off to a horrible start, batting only .230/.311/.310 before the All-Star break and he would finish the season with a disappointing .265/.354/.367 line. However, he hit .307/.403/.434 after the All-Star break, leaving room for optimism about Peterson's 2011 outlook. He will be only 23 in 2011.

Sulentic also got off to a horrible start, but finished the season swinging the bat well. The A's 2006 third-round pick hit only .228 before the All-Star break, but hit .327 afterwards to finish with a respectable .275 average. His power disappeared completely, however, as he went from slugging .414 in 2009 to .336 in 2010. His stolen base total also fell from 21 to 11. Sulentic played everyday (123 games) but the decline in his numbers might indicate that he was nursing an injury. Like Peterson, Sulentic will only be 23 throughout the 2011 season.

Gilbert returned to the ‘Hounds in 2010 after hitting .283 with 29 stolen bases for them in 2009. His average fell to .247 in 2010 and his OBP dropped 50 points, although his homer totals did jump from three to 11. Gilbert was actually second on the team in that category. He was a minor league free agent this off-season and has signed on with the Nationals, where he could team up with Brown for a fourth straight season.

The team leader in homeruns was infielder Alexander Valdez, who also inked an off-season minor league free agent contract with the Nationals. The switch-hitter completed his second season with the ‘Hounds after posting a .273/.333/.414 line with Midland in 2009. In 2010, he hit .262/.318/.422 in a team-high 526 at-bats. Valdez established a career-high in homeruns with 13 and he stole a career-best 10 bases in 11 chances. The reigning Dominican Winter League Rookie of the Year hit .299 with an 808 OPS in 157 at-bats for the Estrellas de Oriente this off-season.

Josh Horton, another contributor from the 2009 squad, didn't join the Rockhounds in 2010 until the beginning of May, but he made a big impact on the club once he arrived. In 420 at-bats, he hit .286/.353/.364, but his biggest value to the club came with his glove at shortstop. Horton joined Brown in being named to the Texas League's post-season All-Star team.

Playing alongside Horton for some of the season was second baseman Jemile Weeks. Weeks wasn't as regular a double-play partner with Horton as the A's would have liked thanks to Weeks' stint on the DL with a hip injury. Weeks later aggravated the hip injury during the ‘Hounds post-season run. In the regular season, he was limited to only 67 games and 273 at-bats with Midland and the former first-round pick posted a disappointing .267/.335/.403 line. On the plus side, Weeks posted a solid 28:37 BB:K ratio and played well defensively. This was the third straight season Weeks has had to deal with the hip problem.

A pair of infielders no longer in the A's organization got the majority of the remaining at-bats in the Midland infield: Jeff Baisley and J.C. Holt. Baisley was the only player on the Rockhounds' roster in 2010 with major league experience. Despite playing in Triple-A or the major leagues in 2008 and 2009, Baisley was sent to Midland to start the 2010 season. He hit well for the Rockhounds in 51 games (.325/.384/.492) and was promoted to Triple-A mid-season. Despite also hitting well for the River Cats, Baisley was released by Oakland this off-season. He is currently a free agent.

Holt also appeared in 51 games with Midland. He joined the Rockhounds in May after he was signed by the A's as a free agent. He had been with the Atlanta Braves' organization. In 210 at-bats, Holt hit .229/.268/.281 with 10 stolen bases. He is currently a free agent.

Outfielder Val Majewski was another mid-season acquisition by the A's. Majewski joined the Rockhounds at the end of May after Oakland signed him out of the independent leagues. The former Orioles prospect appeared in 81 games and hit .262/.341/.411 with nine homers for Midland.

Midland had a number of different catchers seeing time behind the plate before Petey Paramore arrived from Stockton in mid-June. He saw the bulk of the playing time at catcher after that, appearing in 65 games. Paramore played well defensively, although he struggled to throw out base-stealers. He also did a good job of getting on-base for Midland, posting a .371 OBP, but he hit for little power, slugging only .346. That has been a problem for the former third-round pick since turning pro despite his 6'2'', 200 pound frame.

Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories