Stockton Notebook: Ports in Up-and-Down Cycle

The Stockton Ports have had a season filled with ups-and-downs this year. The talented squad is looking for a sustained run of success as it heads into the second half of May.

Overview

It has been an up-and-down first five weeks of the season for the 2015 Stockton Ports. Through Thursday, the Ports are 15-19 and in the bottom half of the California League’s Northern division.

Through Wednesday, the Ports were third-to-last in the league in team batting average but sixth out of 10 teams in team OPS (703). Stockton is in the middle-of-the-pack in terms of team homeruns and slugging percentage. They are sixth-out-of-10 in team OBP. The Ports have scored 143 runs in 34 games through Thursday (4.20 per game).

The Ports’ pitching staff has also been in the middle-of-the-pack in terms of effectiveness. The Ports team ERA of 4.25 is sixth-best in the league. Homeruns have really hurt the Stockton pitching staff. Ports’ pitchers have allowed the second-most longballs in the league through Wednesday. They have also struck-out the fewest batters in the league (251 in 285.2 innings) while walking the fourth-most (109). The Ports’ staff has done a good job limiting hits, however, allowing just 266 in 285.2 innings. The team’s 1.31 WHIP is fourth-best in the league.

Stockton finished its home series versus High Desert with a 5-2 win on Thursday and continue their homestand against Modest on Friday.


Comings and Goings

There has been plenty of roster movement for the Ports in the early-going this season, but much of that movement has been thanks to injuries at the major-league level. Through Thursday, the Ports had hosted four rehabbing Oakland A’s players (Josh Reddick, Jarrod Parker, Coco Crisp and Sean Doolittle). Stockton is getting the full benefit of being the only A’s affiliate in the western time zone.

Aside from the rehabbers, the Ports have had several other moves, as well. In late April, the Ports’ bullpen lost right-handers Jonathan Joseph to a promotion to Double-A Midland and he was replaced by right-hander Trevor Bayless, who was promoted after a hot start with Low-A Beloit. Right-handers Joey Wagman and Ben Bracewell joined the Stockton bullpen a few days later. Then on May 1, Tyler Hollstegge was sent down to Low-A Beloit and, soon thereafter, Andres Avila was promoted to Double-A Midland. In addition to Wagman and Bracewell, the Ports received left-hander Matt Stalcup as reinforcement for their bullpen. He arrived on May 6.

The second week of May featured several transactions on the position-player side of the roster. Outfielder J.P. Sportman was placed on the DL with a wrist/hand injury on May 6. The A’s also released infielder Chih-Fang Pan from the organization. Taking their place on the Stockton roster were infielder Melvin Mercedes and outfielder Brett Vertigan. Both were promoted from Low-A Beloit.

On May 7, the Ports welcomed 2014 top pick Matt Chapman from extended spring training. Chapman joined the Ports after rehabbing a left knee injury he sustained during spring camp. To make room for Chapman on the roster, third baseman Jose Brizuela was sent back to Low-A Beloit, where he has received regular playing time at third base.


Who’s Hot

Outfielder B.J. Boyd has been one of the Ports most consistent performers thus far this year. The Palo Alto native hit .292/.352/.400 during the month of April and is batting .342 /.359/.500 through the first 11 games in May. Michael Soto hit a decent .274/.329/.438 in April, but the 23-year-old has really turned it up during the first two weeks of May. Through May 14, he is batting .362/.444/.468. In 12 games, he already has exceeded his walk total from April (18 games).

Before landing on the DL, J.P. Sportman was off to a good start for Stockton. In 106 at-bats, he was batting .292/.319/.472 with six doubles, two triples and three homeruns. He had also stolen four bases.

After a two-hit game on Wednesday, first baseman John Nogowski was batting .351 over his last 10 games. He has a .288/.359/.398 line in 118 at-bats this year.

Number two ranked A’s prospect Franklin Barreto had a nightmare month of April, but he has hit better in May. The 19-year-old batted only .171/.205/.243 in April. Through Thursday, his May batting line was a much more healthy .325/.378/.450.

In his first six games with the Ports, Brett Vertigan has carried over the success he had with Low-A Beloit. He has nine hits in his first 25 at-bats with Stockton and has walked twice, as well. Three of those hits have gone for extra-bases. He has also stolen four bases.

On the mound, reliever Brendan McCurry has recovered from a slow start to the season. He has not allowed a run over his last 11 innings. During that stretch, McCurry has 16 strike-outs and three walks. He has lowered his ERA From 7.36 to 2.60.

Despite pitching with reduce velocity, Dillon Overton is off to a good start for Stockton. In his first 25.1 innings, Overton has a 2.13 ERA and a 21:8 K:BB. He has pitched into the fifth inning in each of his last three starts and completed five in two of those innings. Overton is in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.

Right-hander Joel Seddon began the season in the bullpen, but he has made a smooth transition into the starting rotation. The 2014 draft pick went six innings in his last start. He has a 3.09 ERA and a 19:2 K:BB in 23.1 innings thus far this year.

Since joining the Ports from Low-A Beloit in late April, Trevor Bayless has allowed just one run in 6.2 innings. He has walked three, but he has struck-out seven. Bayless has 18 Ks in 12.2 innings between Beloit and Stockton this season.

Starter Kyle Finnegan has been inconsistent this year, but he tossed a gem on Thursday. Finnegan allowed just a bunt single in six shutout innings in the Ports' 5-2 win over High Desert. He struck-out six and walked none in the victory.


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