Vermont Notebook: In Playoff Contention

The Vermont Lake Monsters earned a playoff spot with a win on the last day of the season in 2011. They are competing to return to the post-season in 2012 and find themselves in the thick of the playoff race. We check-in with the Oakland A's short-season affiliate.

Team Overview

The Vermont Lake Monsters are off to a good start to their 2012 season, but they find themselves five games back of the red-hot Tri-City Valley Cats in the Stedler division. The Lake Monsters' 16-12 record does have them in playoff contention in the wild card race, however, as they sit only a game back of the Batavia Muckdogs.

The Lake Monsters are in the bottom half in team offense in many categories. The team has scored 116 runs thus far, tied for fourth-least in a league of 14 teams. Their team OPS of 664 is the fifth-lowest in the league. Power has been in short supply for Vermont. The team has managed only nine homeruns in 28 games, tied for second-least in the league. They are in the middle of the pack in walks with 96 but have done an above-average job making contact. The Lake Monsters have struck-out only 177 times, second-least in the league.

On the mound, the Lake Monsters have a team ERA of 3.70, which puts them in the middle of the league in that category. Vermont pitchers have struck-out 226 batters – second-best in the league – and their 75 walks are tied for third-least. Hits allowed and homeruns allowed have been the biggest issues for the Vermont staff, however. They have allowed 240 hits in 241.1 innings (fifth-highest hit total in the league) and have coughed up the second-most homeruns (15).

With a 3-2 victory on Monday, the Lake Monsters earned a series win over Williamsport. They will travel to Connecticut for a two-game series before a home-and-home four game set with Tri-Valley that will see the Lake Monsters play the first two games of the series at home and the next two in upstate New York.


Comings and Goings

Over the past few weeks, the Lake Monsters' roster has undergone only a few changes. The pitching staff has seen the bulk of those changes. Left-handers Chris Lamb and Julio Ramos parlayed fast starts with the Lake Monsters into promotions to Low-A Burlington. Lamb had a 1.50 ERA and a 12:3 K:BB ratio in 18 innings with Vermont before his promotion, while Ramos had a 1.80 ERA and a 12:2 K:BB ratio in 15 innings.

Ryan Dull and Tyler Vail joined the Vermont staff from the Arizona A's roster. Dull arrived on July 5 and Vail on July 6. Dull, a 32nd round pick this season, is off to a fast start. After striking out 13 in 6.1 innings for the AZL A's, Dull has struck-out eight without walking a batter in 5.1 innings for the Lake Monsters. Vail joined the Lake Monsters after finishing his rehab with the AZL A's. In two starts thus far for Vermont, Vail has allowed four earned runs in 8.2 innings with six strike-outs and two walks.

Most recently, Omar Duran was added to the Lake Monsters' roster. He has yet to make an appearance since joining the roster on July 13.


Who's Hot

Chris Bostick opened a lot of eyes with a standout performance with the AZL A's last season and he has continued to hit well this season with the Lake Monsters. On the season, he has a .316/.382/.459 line. He has been particularly hot over his last 10 games. Since July 6, he is hitting .378/.429/.568. His 841 OPS is 13th-best in the league.

Cal alum Austin Booker has also been swinging a hot bat. He didn't receive much playing time early in the season, but seven of his 11 games played have come over the past two weeks. Given how well he has been hitting, Booker could be in-line for even more regular playing time. In those 11 games, he his batting .342/.405/.368.

A's 2011 13th-round pick Jacob Tanis is faring much better during his second time through the New York-Penn League. After posting a 594 OPS last season, Tanis has improved his offensive numbers across the board. He has an 805 OPS. He walked only 17 times in 49 games last year, but he already has 11 in 25 games this season. Tanis has also already exceeded his homer and RBI totals from last year.

Kris Hall, the A's eighth-round pick this season, is off to a fast start to his professional career. He has been pitching out of the bullpen and has allowed only one earned run in 12 innings. Over that stretch, he has allowed only six hits and he has struck-out 18.

Starter Andres Avila has allowed more than three runs in only one of his six starts this season. The native of Mexico has 28 strike-outs and eight walks in 29 innings to go along with a 3.41 ERA.

Stuart Pudenz, the A's 13th-round pick this season, has struck-out 14 and has walked only two in 11 innings. Opposing batters are hitting only .184 against him.


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