After splitting a four-game series at home against Clinton to open the second half of the season, the Beloit Snappers were optimistic that the team could put a miserable first-half run in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately for manager Rick Magnante's club, that hasn't been the case as it has dropped eight straight games after the Clinton split and are now back in last place with a 2-10 record.
As was the case for much of the first half of the season, the Snappers continue to reside near the bottom of the 16-team Midwest League in many pitching and hitting categories.
Beloit's 4.79 team ERA (through Tuesday) ranks 15th and team pitchers have struck out a league-low 507 batters across nearly 700 innings, which means a lot of balls in play. Even the team's top first-half starting pitchers have struggled lately, including Kyle Finnegan, Dylan Covey (who was sent to the disabled list with arm fatigue) and Bobby Wahl (sent to the bullpen in late-May).
Offensively, one of the few first-half bright spots was the MWL's second-leading hitter Boog Powell, who posted a slash line of .335/.452/.429 before being promoted to Stockton. The Snappers did get a shot in the arm from third baseman Matt Chapman, a 2014 first-rounder who has slashed .286/.310/.464 in his first seven games with the team.
As a team, the Snappers rank 15th in batting average (.243), 13th in on-base percentage (.323), 11th in slugging percentage (.366) and dead last in runs scored (305). They manage to rank in the middle of the pack in home runs (48) and doubles (132), which accounts for the slight increase in slugging percentage.
Having not done much of anything well statistically, the Snappers are a MWL-worst 32-50 record overall this season after the recent slide of 10 losses in 12 games. Beloit dropped the first two games of a three-game series at home to Quad Cities this week and they wrap up that set on Thursday before heading to Cedar Rapids for the Fourth of July weekend. The good news for Magnante's club is the Kernels have had struggles of their own and have posted just a 34-47 overall record this season.
Comings and Goings
Chapman gives Snappers' fans the biggest sense of optimism for the second half. The former Cal State-Fullerton product has delivered for the most part since being assigned to his first club on June 24th. Through Tuesday, the third baseman was 8-for-28 with a pair of doubles and a homer. Both of those doubles came Tuesday night against Quad Cities.
Joining Chapman in the MWL is former South Carolina reliever Joel Seddon, who signed quickly after the A's made him an 11th-round selection last month. The right-hander has pitched a pair of scoreless innings over his first two appearances, allowing two hits and striking out two. Although he has thrown limited innings from the time he arrived in college, Seddon will pitch out of the bullpen for the rest of the season.
After being sent out due to a rough series of outings early in the season, things haven't gotten much better for Bayless. In three games out of the bullpen since his return, he has allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits in 6.2 innings. Adkins has made two starts with the Snappers and also gone 6.2 innings while allowing eight runs (four earned). A 22nd-rounder in this year's draft, McCurry pitched two scoreless in his MWL debut on June 27th. He allowed one hit and struck out two.
In addition to Powell's promotion to the Ports, Beloit also saw a top reliever in Andres Avila summoned to the California League. Avila ended his Snappers' tenure by allowing just one earned run on eight hits over his final eight innings. Although he struck out just one batter during that span, he also issued only one walk.
Over the past month, the A's gave a pair of Snappers their outright releases – Brent Powers (2-2, 6.46 ERA) and Stuart Pudenz (2-3, 6.04).
Outfielder Jaycob Brugman's average continues to trend upward after the 2013 17th-rounder hit safely in eight of 10 games. He busted out during a three-game series at Burlington, June 24-26, going 6-for-13 with two doubles and two homers. Brugman is now slashing .275/.375/.472 through 65 games this season.
After posting sub-.200 batting averages in limited stints with the club during April and May, catcher Philip Pohl went 21-for-63 with four doubles and two homers across 17 games in June. Perhaps his best game during that span came in Beloit's last game of the month, when he went 3-for-4 with a double, homer and four RBI. Pohl is now slashing .265/.339/.367 for the season.
It has been a rough few weeks for most of the Beloit pitching staff. One of the few bright spots has been 2012 16th-rounder Junior Mendez, who enjoyed his best outing of the season Tuesday night against Quad Cities, going seven innings and allowing just one earned run on four hits. He also struck out six and walked just one. The right-hander is now 2-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 59.1 innings this season and owns a 37:14 K:BB ratio.