Vancouver Notebook: Hitter Evaluations

With the 2009 Northwest League season winding down, Jeremy Knight returns with an evaluation of the hitters on the Vancouver Canadians.

In this Canadians Report Card, I examine the hitters in Vancouver's lineup this season, from positions 1-9, as well as the bench players. Next time, it's an evaluation of the pitchers that have manned one of the top pitching staff's in the NWL.

1. CONNER CRUMBLISS 2B: The "Pocketknife," as described by C's broadcaster Rob Fai, was having one of the best seasons in C's history, and if he had stayed on with Vancouver, instead of his promotion to Kane County on August 22nd, Crumbliss could have cracked the top-10 in OBP in C's history. Instead, he leaves with a .293 average, good enough for 10th on the all-time Canadians list.

Conner tied the Canadians record for triples in a season (4), good enough for a six-way tie, with the likes of Corey Brown, Javier Herrera and Omar Quintanilla. His 49 walks put him second in C's history, tied with Luke Appert, and one behind JD Pruitt, and leads the Northwest League at the time of his promotion.

His tools? Great at hitting for average, average power, good speed (11 SB), a good arm and exceptional fielding ability. All in all, Crumbliss is one of a kind and the likes of him may not appear in Vancouver for quite some time.

2. MICHAEL GILMARTIN SS: Gilmartin's stats aren't flashy, but his bat has remained at the #2 slot for a good chunk of the season, for a good reason. His recent play has raised his season average to .244 with nine extra-base hits including a HR on August 7th that bounced off of the top of the Nat Bailey fence.

The Wofford College product has been consistent at shortstop, never being the game-decider in a negative way in the field. Gilmartin doesn't have the ability to hit for average that Crumbliss features, but he did have 13 HRs in school this season, so he may have more power deep down.

Gilmartin doesn't have amazing speed, and he has a good arm from short, but he needs to cut down on the K's. Recently, he went hitless in three games (0-13) but only had two K's over that time frame, showing he has improved. Then again, 13 strikeouts in 14 games this month isn't too great, nor shabby with just 31 this season. Mike should start at Kane County next season, and Cougars fans will notice his bat either in the 2 slot or 6th or 7th.

3. MYRIO RICHARD RF: 2001 LLWS participant Myrio Richard has impressed C's fans over his 20 games at home, where he is hitting .271. Richard's performance doesn't vary much from home to away, with 19 hits at Nat Bailey and 19 as the visitor on the road, but more than anything his ability to drive in a clutch hit has made him stand out this season.

Younger brother of Mike (2007 Canadian), Myrio doesn't feature the speed his brother has, but neither has any other Canadian, as Mike holds the C's SB record (25). With Vancouver out of the playoff race, the most exciting race for C's fans may be the battle for Myrio to match his brother's batting average from two years ago (.289).

Just .010 points back, Myrio has a shot, with the consistent bat he has shown this season. His power isn't quite there, but at only 20 years old he has time to develop that aspect of his game. He's 3-5 on the base paths, and some time at Papago Park can fix that, but there has been nothing wrong with his defensive play all season (only member of the C's with no errors).

Myrio could rapidly ascend the A's system if he plays his cards right, because he is a treat to watch in a prospect-filled farm system.

4. KENT WALTON DH: Having not played a game outside of DH this season, I can't comment on Kent Walton's defensive ability (injury), but his hitting has been exceptional, as he is five hits back (71) of the NWL leader (76) this season.

Kent needs only 13 hits to tie Javier Herrera's all-time mark, and is already guaranteed a spot in the top-10 all-time. Walton hails from the same school as Stephen Parker (BYU), a fellow A's draftee, and despite being a level below his ex-teammate some may argue Walton is having more success, being a clean-up hitter with a .306 average.

His bat has a little pop (2 HRs) but it's mostly all singles and doubles (19; two back of the C's record of 21 set by Dan Hamblin) for the California native.

5. ANTHONY ALIOTTI 1B: Having reached base in six of his last seven games, Anthony Aliotti has manned 1B for Vancouver most of this season, serving as one of the best defensive first basemen in recent memory.

His bat has dropped a bit since his .364 June batting average wise, or the .267 he hit in July, but Aliotti is slowly picking things back up. The most impressive part may be his two doubles in as many recent games at the time of posting, which accounts for 1/3 of his extra-base hits this year.

The power isn't quite there at a tough Nat Bailey, but Aliotti has recently shown he can drive the ball deep, with two hits earlier this week that either hit the very top of the CF wall (395 feet) or was a walk-off to deep RF. Like I said, the power is definitely getting there, but the fact is Anthony is arguably the best 1B defensively to be produced from Vancouver. Aliotti also has 26 walks, to go along with 48 strikeouts.

6. RYAN ORTIZ C: The A's 6th-round pick in 2009 from Oregon State, Ortiz' batting average does not go along with his OBP, due to the fact he has 23 walks, third on the team.

Ryan has shown flashes of brilliance with his bat, hitting three homers in July, including a two-homer game at Everett, and is right now on a 9-33 streak dating back to August 7th. Over that time, Ortiz has hits in six of 10 games, including a three-hit performance last night, raising his average to .229.

The OBP of .368 is very good, and he is three walks and no K's away from averaging a walk per strikeout. As of August 22nd, Ortiz has not struck out in his last three games.

He has three errors, and Ortiz has shown the ability to gun out runners as well, leaving him as the #1 catcher over Gabriel Ortiz.

7. RYNE JERNIGAN 3B: Back for his second year in Vancouver, Jernigan is making the most of his time with the C's, hitting .278 over 46 games. Jernigan has two homers in his last five games, going 6-16 over that time, which has culminated into a six-game hit streak.

Playing mostly 3B this season, Ryne has a few too many errors (15) but he was usually at second last season so that isn't too unusual. Jernigan has driven in 24 RBI and has struck out only 24 times.

Jernigan is 24 years old, but the Canadians don't care as long as he is producing the way he is at the moment.

8. RASHUN DIXON LF: Rashun Dixon has had a season of ups and downs, headlined mostly by his 57 strikeouts (top-10 in the league), but he is nowhere close to breaking a Canadians' record (101).

Dixon has two homers, one on Opening Night and another in the first few weeks at Spokane, and 34 hits, including a 6-8 stretch on August 7th and 8th. His August 7th game was his best of the year, going 4-5 with two runs scored against Yakima, and he only has two strikeouts in his last eight games.

An injury in mid-August limited him during an eight-game home stand, but his nine extra-base hits this year are less than the 21 he hit last year.

Rashun is 18 and one of the best athletes in the A's system. His power is there, and ready to 'pop' out. Not necessarily drafted for a consistent bat, Dixon's power is getting there as the season progresses, and the speed is definitely one of his best assets aside from the power.

Dixon is 4-8 stealing this season, but like some of his strikeouts, the SB calls have been questionable to say the least. At 18, there is no reason to be concerned about Dixon's stats because they are better than they look, and a potential five-tool prospect with one of the best arms on Vancouver is something to look forward to for A's fans everywhere.

9. TYREACE HOUSE CF: A 2008 pick like Dixon, Tyreace House's high ankle sprain kept him out of the lineup for most of early August, but no matter what, Tyreace has been the biggest turnaround story of 2009.

House was batting in the .070s to start the year, before turning it around to bat .400 in July, and now .242 in August. House is 5-10 in his last three games, and in his first five games since returning from injury, he has doubled his extra-base hits as a pro (now three, one in the AZL last year, two in Vancouver). His BA stands at .280 now.

House's speed has given him nine SB's, but he has also been caught seven times. Like Dixon, it isn't that he has been terrible on the base paths, it's just that he's gotten the bad end of calls, but that's baseball for both of them.

Tyreace has the best range, speed and one of the best gloves I can remember for a CF in Vancouver, making highlight reel plays night-in, night-out. The speed is obviously there, and his bat is potentially his best asset. The power is not there, so I would call House a four-tool prospect.

BENCH: JOSE CRISOTOMO RF: If Crisotomo is on a team's bench, something is up. Crisotomo was hitting .439 in August before hurting his arm on August 14th, which broke up his eight-game hitting streak where he went 15-28, including 9-16 over his last four.

A potential top-5 in league average (.313) if he gets some AB's when he returns from injury, Jose is a candidate for C's MVP.

His swing isn't great, but he only has 17 K's so there is nothing to complain about through 134 AB's. His speed is his greatest asset, and his glove is good as well. Jose could go far in the system if his bat remains hot, and his speed remains intact.

GABRIEL ORTIZ C: Gabby Ortiz has been around the A's system to say the least, and even hit .280 in Midland (Double-A) this year before being sent to Vancouver to work with the young pitching staff. The 23-year-old has a triple (which is rare considering his lack of speed), and a HR, and until August 20th, was riding a eight-game hitting streak.

He only has two walks, and in 56 games in the last two years only has five total, but also has two SBs. Ortiz is a valuable part to the C's battery when he finds himself in the lineup.

WILFREDO SOSA 3B: Sosa, at 20 years old, is a highly thought-of player, like Crisotomo, his schoolmate from back in the DR. Wilfredo is hitting .209, but has two homers and 9 doubles over the NWL campaign.

As a backup all season, Sosa has seen a lot of playing time still, and the only cause for concern may be the 42 Ks in 115 at-bats. If you add in the 24 hits, he has 66 Hits or Ks in 115 at-bats.

RODNEY RUTHERFORD 1B: Going from being a 3B last year, to a C this year, and now to a 1B, Rodney Rutherford has had less than average playing time this year for Vancouver, something the 2008 draftee probably isn't happy with.

Fact is, when he does play, he does well. Rodney is hitting .286 in day games, and if he finds himself in one of the C's remaining three afternoon games, his average could rise dramatically (only 54 at-bats on the year).

MARCOS LUIS 2B: With limited playing time, the two-time Canadian has fared well at second this year, backing up Crumbliss, Jernigan and even Sosa at 3B as well.

With Crumbliss' promotion Luis could find himself playing a lot of games to close out the year, at Nat Bailey Stadium.

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