This article is focused on the batters. It is the fourth and last of a postseason series dedicated to the 2010 Appalachian League Champion Johnson City Cardinals. Several sections in this article are slightly edited repeats of sections of previous articles so you may want to jump ahead to the "Batting Statistics" section if you are a regular reader of these articles and want new content. If you missed the first three or if you missed any of the previous articles, you may want to read the entire article. Here are the links in reverse chronological order:
If you had to pick between
offense, pitching, or defense as the reason
The youngest team in the Appy League (20.1 batters' average age) was also the best of the ten teams. The offense finished in first place in the league in eleven different categories: batting average (.287), on-base percentage (.355), slugging (.438), on-base plus slugging (.793), hits, runs, runs per game, doubles, RBIs, walks, and total bases. The batters finished with the fourth fewest strikeouts in the league. They were second in triples and fourth in home runs. They were seventh in stolen bases and second in caught stealing. That gave them the league's fourth best stolen base percentage (68.5%). They were seventh in grounding into double plays and last in sacrifice hits.
The weekly team batting averages are shown below in the table. The "Totals" exclude the post season (PS) averages. The post season sweep (4-0, .342 AVG) and a Week 5 (5-2, .340 AVG) that included games with 20 and 19 hits were their two best weeks.
Team Weekly Batting Averages
Longest Hit Streak: Romulo Ruiz (17 games)
Longest Streak of Games with Double Digit Hits: 10 (Games 18-27)
Most Hits in a Game: 20 (Game 31)
Most Runs in a Game: 20 (Postseason Game 2)
Batter Roster Changes
The Appy League Championship
roster saw a total of 20 batters during the 2010 season. OF Joey Hage was not included in the
count. Hage was released during Week
5 after being
listed on the roster as "reserved" at the start of the season. Twelve of the twenty batters played the
entire Appy League season while two of the other eight had more at bats with
Three of the eight batters that
played for more than one level were promoted from
During Week 7, two more batters
headed north. C Juan Castillo, who
appeared in just 32 games this year (16 each with
One of the eight batters (Steven Ramos) started out at
One of the eight batters that
played for more than one level was promoted to
Three of the eight batters that played for more than one level were promoted from the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Cardinals to Johnson City near the end of the season. Anthony Garcia, Starlin Rodriguez, and Roberto De La Cruz had most of their ABs with the GCL Cardinals and were eligible for GCL Cardinal Player of the Year honors.
Batters Eligible for Johnson City Player of the Year (14): Juan Castillo, Phil Cerreto, Packy Elkins, Greg Garcia, Virgil Hill, David Medina, Roberto Reyes, Romulo Ruiz, Cody Stanley, Travis Tartamella, Oscar Taveras, Kleininger Teran, Cesar Valera, and Reggie Williams.
Batter Injuries and Lost Playing Time
Six of the 14 batters lost playing time due to injury during the season. Two of the injuries to batters resulted in significant lost time and occurred when both were very hot hitters.
C Juan Castillo took a foul tip
off his throwing hand while catching during the ninth inning of Game 9 against
|David Medina Getting Plunked Near Shoulder|
1B David Medina suffered a right
hamstring injury in the eighth inning of Game 14 against
2B/SS Greg Garcia was slightly injured while turning a double play in the fourth inning of Game 23 in Pulaski. Garcia missed all of the next two games and finally appeared as a pinch hitter late in Game 26 before resuming regular play in Game 27.
|Phil Cerreto's Broken Hand|
RF/1B Phil Cerreto was hit on the back of his left
hand with the
first pitch of his fifth inning at bat against Elizabethton during Game 38. Cerreto almost immediately went down to
one knee in pain after contact. He
was removed from the game after a brief evaluation from team trainer Michael
Petrarca and Manager Mike Shildt.
Shildt told me after Game 39 that x-rays were negative and that Cerreto
was "day-to-day". Cerreto missed
two games after the swelling reduced and returned to play Monday August 2 in
Game 41 against Greeneville.
Cerreto was hit again in Game 44, again in the fifth inning, and again in
the left hand/wrist. Cerreto stayed
in Game 44 and even hit a home run two innings later against
OF Virgil Hill was hit in the right hand by a pitch in the tenth inning of Game 64 against the Bluefield Orioles. He was removed from the game in the eleventh inning after running the bases in the tenth. He was diagnosed with a bad bruise (no break) and was rested for the final two regular season games of the year and most of the first two playoff games. Hill made up for lost time by leading all batters in post season play with three home runs.
RF Roberto Reyes was hit in the left foot with a pitch in the last game of the regular season (Game 66). He was removed immediately from the meaningless game by Manager Mike Shildt. Reyes started the next night in the playoffs.
2010 Appalachian League All-Star Team
The votes were due by Noon on
Wednesday August 25 and the winners were announced the next day. The Johnson City
Cardinals led the league in All-Star selections by winning six of the seventeen
positions (shown below). Cody
Stanley won for catcher, giving
Johnson City First Baseman
Greeneville Astros Second Baseman
Bristol White Sox Third Baseman
Pulaski Mariners Shortstop
Danville Braves Utility Infielder
Pulaski Mariners Outfielder
Elizabethton Twins Outfielder
Johnson City Outfielder
Kingsport Mets Utility Outfielder
Pulaski Mariners Designated Hitter
Greeneville Astros Right-handed Pitcher
Pulaski Mariners Left-handed Pitcher
Johnson City Relief Pitcher
Johnson City Player of the Year
Elizabethton Twins Pitcher of the Year
Johnson City Manager of the Year
|L to R: Shildt, Copeland, Corpas, Taveras, Stanley|
Pulaski, the East Division regular season champions, took the second most positions with four. Perhaps emphasizing the strength of the West Division, all five teams were represented and 12-of the-17 positions (70 percent) were won by the West. To further emphasize the strength of the West, they finished with a 15 game lead (82-67) over the East. Three teams in the East, the Princeton Rays, the Bluefield Orioles, and the Burlington Royals, were shut out by the voters. I voted for 8-of the-11 All-Stars that were not filled by Cardinals. The other three were in my top three at their positions.
injuries derailed the All-Star hopes of two Cardinals. 1B/DH David
Greg Garcia (2B), Kleininger Teran (DH), and Packy Elkins (U-INF) each had good enough years to at least be considered for selection by many voters. The Cardinals struggled with season long consistency from their right-handed starting pitchers, two of their outfield positions, their utility outfielder, and their shortstop.
Listed in the table linked-to are
batting and base running statistics for the top seven
Listed in the table linked-to are
fielding statistics for the top seven
Note: If a player fielded multiple positions, the data for each position is separated by a "/".
The Rankings Explained – Top Half
When a batting or hitting "line" is mentioned, it refers to BA/OBP/SLG or BA/OBP/SLG/OPS. Each of those terms is defined at the end of the article. A very good line is .300/.400/.650/1.050 or better. For example, Albert Pujols finished with a 2010 line of .312/.414/.596/1.011 and has a 10-year career line of .331/.426/.624/1.050.
#1 Oscar Taveras: First, he's just 18. Second, he's just 18. OK, you get the point. What Taveras did as the youngest batter
on the team and in his first year in the
|Oscar Taveras Singles to Right Field (Bat on Ball)|
Taveras was uninjured and remarkably consistent throughout the year. These are very good signs for a young player. Taveras' two longest hit streaks during the year were five and seven games. Taveras led the team in hits, home runs, RBIs, total bases, and stolen bases. He could easily be a 30-30 (HR-SB) type player in a full major league baseball season. Taveras led the team with a .720 SLG when leading off an inning and with 19 RBI when the bases were loaded. Taveras was 6-for-14 (.429) with the bases loaded and had the team's best 2-O EFF (.571). Not only was he good overall, but he was very good in high pressure, clutch situations. He likes the spotlight and performs well when it is on him.
Taveras was a regular season league leader in eight different offensive categories: BA (.322, 3rd), RBIs (43, tied 4th), SLG (.526, 5th), TB (111, tied 5th), OPS (.889, 6th), H (68, 6th), HR (8, tied 7th), and R (39, tied 9th). Taveras also led the team in the playoffs in four categories with 8 H, 5 RBI, .500 BA, and 1.063 OPS. Taveras tends to hit balls a little bit more to the opposite field and I haven't been able to tell if that is by choice or if his swing might be a little bit long at times. He seemed to swing and miss the most at up and in fastballs although he missed his fair share of off-speed pitches as well. Taveras hit righties (.352) about 100 points better than lefties (.258). It will be interesting to see how he progresses as the pitching he faces at the higher minor league levels gets better and better.
Taveras' youthful exuberance when
he performed well was a joy to see.
Nobody jumped higher nor got more excited the night
#2 Cody Stanley:
The best way to describe the 2010 fourth round pick behind the plate is steady. He doesn't have a particularly strong arm but his release is relatively quick and his throws are pretty accurate. He threw out 57% of the base stealers he faced but was helped by several left-handed pitchers.
#3 Phil Cerreto: Cerreto appeared to be the most advanced
Cerreto's offensive exploits this year were amazing. Although the sample size was almost half the size of others, it really wasn't that small. Over 130 PA, Cerreto led the team in all four slash categories: .425/.460/.758/1.218. In fact, his averages vs. both left and right handed pitchers were the best on the team in all four slash categories. He also led the team in all the slash categories with runners on base and with RISP. Cerreto won Appalachian League Player of the Week twice this year. Once for July 19-25 and once for August 2-8. Cerreto was also named The Cardinal Nation July Player of the Month. Cerreto posted a ten-game hit streak in mid-July and finished the regular season on an eight-game hit streak in late August.
Cerreto's performance with RBIs this year was incredible. Cerreto had 38 RBI in 32 G. Even though he missed one third of the season (23 G), he still finished tenth in the league in RBIs. As a comparison, Cody Stanley had one more RBI in almost 100 more plate appearances. Surprisingly, Cerreto was also 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts. He is not fast but he is smart. He reminds me of Albert Pujols with his base running instincts. Cerreto, who was 4-for-14 (.286) with three walks (.412 OBP) and three RBIs in four games, led the team in the playoffs with six runs scored. Cerreto didn't strikeout much (10.2% of PA), hit HRs frequently (20 PA/HR), and hit even better with two outs and RISP (.522 2-O EFF).
One issue with the 2010 40th round
pick could be that he becomes a bat without a defensive position. He had three fielding errors in the
first eight games this year at first base but settled down after that. He played some outfield but was average
at best. He can presumably play
third base but he didn't for
#5 Greg Garcia: The iron man for this year's team was Greg Garcia. He led the team in PA, AB, R (49 was good for second in the league), and HBP. He reminds me a lot of middle infielder Mike McCoy from the 2002 Johnson City Cardinals. Garcia is good at fouling off pitcher's pitches. I didn't keep track but he probably fouled off more pitches than many others took for balls. He stands close to the plate (9 HBP) and has more power than you might expect for a middle infielder (4 HR).
Garcia's fielding is probably his best attribute. He doesn't have great range or great speed (58 SB%) and he will bobble a grounder on occasion. His fielding percentages at 2B (98.5%) and SS (97.6%) were very respectable. He has good footwork, good hands, and a quick and accurate release around second base. He converted 39 DP in 63 G.
Garcia's negatives were limited to holes in his swing and his performance with RISP and two outs. Because he hugs the plate, he doesn't make good contact on pitches on the inner third of the plate. He also misses out on walks because he chooses to swing at anything close. His 2-O EFF was a paltry .206 and he hit just .120 with RISP and two outs.
Garcia's best chance to make it to the majors is to make himself into a utility infielder that can hit. His defense and ability to play a respectable shortstop will be there. The hitting may need some more work. His .363 OBP was tenth best in the league but it was just sixth best on this team (ignoring sample size). Garcia posted a seven-game hit streak in mid-July and a six-game hit streak at the end of August just before the playoffs. He led the team in the playoffs with .526 OBP and was 7-for-15 (.467) with five runs, three RBIs, and three HBP.
|Juan Castillo Receives a "High-Five" After a Home Run|
#6 Juan Castillo: Castillo reminded me of a better defensive but slightly worse offensive version of Audry Perez from the 2009 Johnson City Cardinals. Castillo had the fewest PA of all 14 batters in Johnson City but his season numbers over 16 G each at two levels (32 G total) were not largely different from his Appy League statistics. The only exception to that was his SLG which dropped from .613 in the Appy League to .407 in the NYPL.
Castillo threw out 53% of the base
stealers he faced. His arm is
It was a small sample size but Castillo led the team in an exciting and unusual combination of statistics. He had the lowest strikeout rate (6.1% per PA) and the highest home run rate (16 PA/HR). He doesn't walk much but he doesn't strikeout much and he hits over .300 with some decent power. He plays a premium position and plays it well. Castillo posted an eight-game hit streak in mid-July prior to his promotion. This ranking is too low if he continues to hit for power and average at the same time. Castillo still hasn't turned 21-years-old yet so the next two years will be critical for the Dominican that has been in the organization since 2006 and was once suspended for 50 G.
#7 Virgil Hill: Virgil is very fast. I clocked him at 4.00 to first base on a close play at first base once this year. The big question with Hill is can he get on base often enough to use his speed. His bunting is not good. He attempted to bunt for base hits several times this year and I don't recall any of them being successful. His hitting was a little bit better than I expected. He takes a lot of pitches and can foul off quite a few as well. His power was almost always to the opposite field (right center gap). I would love to see him pull more pitches, especially on the ground when he can use his speed.
Hill led all 14 batters in OBP when leading off an inning (.468). This is a good sign. He knows he needs to get on base and does a good job of it. Hill struck out way too much though (27.1% of PA) and was actually caught stealing (6) more than anyone else on the team. Many of the SO and CS appeared to me to be due to poor decisions. Hill swings at too many balls and takes too many strikes. The 54 SB% is a real head scratcher for me. He must have had trouble reading the pitchers because he is just too fast to be caught that many times.
His fielding is good but not great. He will take adventurous routes on some fly balls but his speed allows him to reduce triples to doubles and even more doubles to singles. His arm is also good but not great. He is relatively accurate with his throws. Much like Taveras, he tends to have a lot of his errors on short hops in the outfield. He needs to concentrate on reading the bounces and putting himself in a better fielding position.
Hill was pretty consistent during
the year. He posted three separate
hit streaks of five, six, and seven games.
He improved his power toward the end of the year when his Olympic
gold-medal-winning mother was in
Note: For comparison sake, I left last year's data for Kleininger Teran, Romulo Ruiz, and Travis Tartamella in the table. 2009 data is on the left and is separated from 2010 data with a "|".
Note: If a player fielded multiple positions, the data for each position is separated by a "/". For comparison sake, I left last year's data for Kleininger Teran, Romulo Ruiz, and Travis Tartamella in the table. 2009 data is on the left and is separated from 2010 data with a "|".
The Rankings Explained – Bottom Half
#8 Kleininger Teran: Teran was ranked 9th last year but moved up only one spot this year after finishing 10th in the league in batting average (.303). Unfortunately for Teran, he was on a very good hitting team and his relatively good performance at the plate, especially late in the year, was easy to overlook. One good thing about his batting is he likes to go to the opposite field. That can be good for line drives but in his case, it was bad for power.
Teran was defensively challenged
at third base last year and made the move to first base this year. This was partly due to injuries to
Just like last year, Teran demonstrated good swing discipline with little SLG or speed. Teran was able to improve his SLG this year with a corresponding decrease in BB and a small increase in SO. However, hitting just one HR in 300 PA in a good HR/SLG park over two years as a first baseman will not impress too many people. This ranking is based mostly on the bat since Teran suffers from the "position: batter" problem. If he is given a chance, the 21-year-old Venezuelan will need to improve his power and defense a lot more next year to make a meaningful impression with the Cardinals minor league coaches.
#9 Packy Elkins: It was really hard to notice Elkins this year until he moved to third base late in the year. Elkins replaced error prone Romulo Ruiz at the hot corner and did an excellent job there. So good, in fact, that he broke into the regular starting lineup at third in the playoffs. Elkins led the team in the playoffs in doubles (2) and strikeouts (5) while finishing 6-for-15 (.400).
Elkins best shot for the future is probably as a utility infielder (UIF) or third baseman. Although second and third base are fine, the problem with UIF is that he doesn't have experience or range to play SS. The problem with third base is power/SLG. His best SLG was in August (.410). Elkins was pretty streaky during the season. His last ten regular season August games were cold (.185 BA) after posting an eight-game hit streak earlier in the month.
Elkins has virtually no speed (zero triples and just one SB) but has very good hands and accurate throws. His arm is not that strong but he is very good with accurate throws on the run at both second and third base. He moves well to both his left and right and both in and back. He makes good decisions on how to field groundballs. His bunting looks to be quite good. He led the team with four sacrifice bunts.
#10 Romulo Ruiz: You certainly cannot say that Ruiz didn't get enough playing time this year. The Venezuelan made a tremendous improvement at the plate from last year; almost doubling his batting average. Ruiz led the team with 60 games, 19 doubles (4th in league), 34 walks (1st in league), a 17-game hit streak, a .667 BA with the bases loaded, and, saving the worst for last, 21 errors. Ruiz leveled out his swing a little bit this year. After swinging for the fences last year (31 SO per 100 PA and 22 PA per HR), he improved into a singles and doubles hitter this year.
Ruiz certainly won't set any land-speed records. Like Elkins, he had no triples and just one stolen base. Ruiz also suffers from the "professional batter" problem. He was particularly brutal at third base this year (86.6% fielding). Unfortunately, although he made tremendous improvement from last year, he managed only a .256/.359/.384 line. One third of his RBIs this year were with the bases loaded. Last year, he had 13 hits with five of those being home runs.
#11 Travis Tartamella: After hitting just .183 in 82 AB in 2009, "Tart" showed good improvement at the plate this year (.259 in 108 AB). Tart has good fundamentals behind the plate, shows great hustle, and is quite vocal. He improved his CS% from 17% last year to a catcher's best 59% this year. Tartamella was one of the stars of the postseason going 3-for-8 (.375) with a double, a home run, and a team leading five RBIs.
Tartamella was a little streaky this year. His best hitting occurred in late June and early July when he had an eight-game hit streak. He later added a five-game hit streak in mid-August. Tart will be 23-years-old before next spring. Catchers with good fundamentals and leadership qualities are valuable but they still need to hit well. If given the opportunity, Tart will need to continue to improve even further with the bat next year.
|Reggie Williams Swings and Misses at an Off-Speed Pitch|
#12 Reggie Williams: The only switch hitter on this year's team struck out an alarming rate (37 SO per 100 PA). Williams has good speed but just didn't get on base enough to use it. Although he is 21-years-old, he seemed to play at times as if he was even younger than that. He led the team with six triples (6th in the league) and remarkably, had no doubles at the same time. He was very fortunate though since he probably should have been thrown out at third at least twice.
Although Williams also led the team with five outfield assists, his arm appeared to be just average to me. Most of his assists were relays to infielders or poor decisions by base runners. His routes in the outfield were adventurous at times. His speed does allow him to cut-off liners destined for the gaps when he plays centerfield.
|Cesar Valera Flies Out to Right Field vs. Twins|
|Roberto Reyes Doubles to Right Field vs. Twins|
#14 Roberto Reyes: The only two reasons that Reyes was
One interesting split for Reyes was that he led all 14 batters with a .367 batting average when leading off an inning. His overall statistics were too poor to warrant a leadoff position. Perhaps with good performance next year and if given the opportunity, Reyes will turn into a good leadoff hitter.
Batter and Fielder Team Summary
As a group, the 14 batters averaged 21.4 years old, 68 SB%, .290 BA, .357 OBP, .438 SLG, .795 OPS, 0.20 SO/PA, and 56 PA/HR. The 14 fielders combined for a 95.7 FLD%. With all the good hitters this year, determining the order of the top ten was actually pretty tough.
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