Batavia Muckdogs Notebook: 2011 Week 5

The Cardinals' New York-Penn League club is in the midst of a five-team battle for first place. Infielder Joey Bergman is among the team's hot hitters.

Current Record: 19-16

Current Standings (as of July 23):  Tied for third place with Auburn, one game behind Jamestown and Mahoning Valley in the New York-Penn League's Pinckney Division


Roster Moves:

Mike O'Neill – It comes as no surprise that O'Neill was promoted from Batavia as soon as he played in the field for the majority of the week, as he did last week.  The left fielder's promising 2010 campaign at Batavia was cut short due to injury and he was brought along slowly this season for the same reason.  It was fairly clear that he would be moved from Batavia when he showed that he was physically ready for on-the-field duty and that is what happened.  O'Neill did not play in Friday evening's game and word came on Saturday that the 23-year-old has been sent to full season A Quad Cities.  O'Neill went .290/.432/.419/.852, 27-for-93, with 22 walks and ten strikeouts in 119 plate appearances with Batavia.  He had a .317 BABIP, .129 ISO and struck out an average of once every 9.3 at bats. Unfortunately, on Friday, the River Bandits put O'Neill on the disabled list.


Scott Bittle – Saturday saw the arrival of the right-handed reliever from the Rookie level GCL Cardinals.  Bittle is trying to work his way back from more than two years of shoulder problems.  Since being selected in the fourth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, he had not appeared in a game until this season.  His first week as a Muckdog is recapped below.



Of Interest:

Infielder Garrett Wittels has been moved into the lead-off slot in the batting order since O'Neill was promoted to Quad Cities.  Wittels responded with a "Hot" week.


Seth Maness' start on Sunday only lasted one inning.  The right-hander did not come back out for the second inning because "something didn't feel right," according to a team official.  He was to be re-evaluated later in the week with his next turn in the rotation coming on Friday, the 22nd. Pat Daugherty took that start instead. 


Hector Hernandez is gradually stretching out his starts after missing time with a strained side muscle.  The first start after his return on July 8th lasted only an inning.  His second start on July 14th went two innings and this week's start on July 19th was up to four innings.  Fellow southpaw Pat Daugherty has remained on the same pitching schedule as Hernandez with the former's innings declining as Hernandez' have increased.  As noted above, Daugherty, a member of Batavia's original rotation this season, may need to slide into Seth Maness' slot, depending on how Maness responds going forward. 


Scott Bittle made two game appearances this week and they were a mixed bag.  His short-season debut on the 17th was scoreless but that was mainly because fellow right hander Eric Binder bailed him out of a bases-loaded with two outs situation.  Bittle gave up a hit and two walks to go with two strikeouts in that game.  His July 19th appearance was much improved as he faced four batters, walking one and striking out one.


Catcher Casey Rasmus is off to a hot start in limited action.  Rasmus is hitting .381/.417/.452/.869, 16-for-42 in 14 games, with a double and a triple.  He has walked six times against six strikeouts and has stolen two bases.  In a recent radio interview by Tony Rasmus, he was asked to describe Casey and he said that his strong suit was that he was a very good catch-and-throw catcher.  Rasmus is sharing the catching duties with Juan Castillo and Kevin Moscatel and has served as the designated hitter as well.


There was a Yunier Castillo sighting this week.  In fact, there were two sightings as the infielder returned to action after two plus weeks out.  Castillo went 1-for-7 with a walk and two runs batted in.


While he did not get the "Hot" mention, shortstop Cesar Valera had his best week of the season to date.  Valera went .333/.400/.313/.713, 5-for-16 with three walks and a stolen base against four strikeouts.  The nineteen-year-old is the youngest player on Batavia's roster by almost a year.


The stats in this report are through July 20th.



Who's Hot: 

Batavia had three players that posted an OPS over .950:  Infielder Joey Bergman, first baseman David Medina and infielder Garrett Wittels.


Bergman went .409/.500/.455/.955, 9-for-22 with a double and five walks against just one strikeout.  He had a .429 BABIP and stole three bases.


Medina hit .409/.519/.455/.973, 9-for-22 with a double, four walks and five strikeouts.  He had a .529 BABIP and saw some time in left field this week for the first time this season.


Wittels went .333/.400/.556/.956, 6-for-18 with two doubles, two walks and seven strikeouts.  He had a .545 BABIP.


In what was a very tough call, lefty starter Jonathan Cornelius' two starts earn him "Hot" honors this week.  He allowed only four hits and one run/earned while striking out eight in 11 innings for a 0.82 ERA and .111 BAA.  Cornelius' 3.75 FIP is due to three factors:  one of his four hits allowed was a home run, he hit a batter and he walked two.  He had a 0.55 WHIP and 4:1 K/BB ratio.



Who's Not:  

Centerfielder Nick Martini really struggled at the plate, going .156/.273/.263/.536, 3-for-19 with a triple, three walks and four strikeouts.  He had a .200 BABIP.


Reliever Cory Baker's two appearances over four innings this week were enough of a mixed bag to get him the "Not" notice.  The right-hander did pick up a win in each appearance but that only goes to show just how irrelevant wins and losses are when assessing pitching performance.  One of his two wins was the result of a blown save when Baker started the ninth inning with a three-run lead and allowed Tri-City to tie the game on three hits, including a two-run home run.  Overall, he gave up six hits and two walks against four strikeouts for a .313 BAA, 2.00 WHIP, 5.95 FIP and 9.00 ERA.



How They Stack Up:

With Mike O'Neill's departure for Quad Cities, the Muckdogs do not have any player ranked in the league's top ten in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage or OPS.    


Batavia's .266 team batting average ties them with Lowell (Boston) for third in the league.  They are tied for first in on-base percentage (.450) with Staten Island (New York Yankees) but it remains to be seen if they can sustain that now that O'Neill is gone.  Batavia is fourth in the league with a .383 slugging percentage and third in OPS with a .733 average.


Seth Maness' 0.31 ERA is league best but his potential injury is cause for concern.  He also leads the league with a 0.59 WHIP.  Danny Miranda is tied with Staten Island's Branden Pinder for the league lead in saves with seven. 


Batavia's 3.24 team ERA places them barely in fourth, .01 behind Hudson Valley.  The Muckdogs lead the league with a 1.23 WHIP, .02 ahead of Hudson Valley.    



The Games: 

Batavia began an away-home-away three-game series with Auburn (Washington) on Saturday by winning 4-2 at Auburn: link (Auburn-oriented write-up)


The Muckdogs won Sunday's contest to secure the series' win 8-3:  link (very generic recap by the Daily News that does not even get Batavia's starting pitcher's preferred name correct)


Batavia fell 4-3 to Auburn in the final game of the series:  link


The Muckdogs finished the week with a four-game series with Jamestown (Florida). The series split two games away and two at home.  Batavia won the opener by pounding the Jammers 10-2:  link


The home town team defeated Jamestown 7-3 on Wednesday for (brief) sole possession of first place:  link


The Jammers scored three in the second against Jose Almarante on Thursday and held on for a 4-2 road win over the Muckdogs: link


Friday's fill-in starter Pat Daugherty was touched up for five runs in the second inning en route to a 7-4 home loss to Jamestown: link



What's Next:

The weekly report returns on August 6th with a special report coming next Saturday. 


Batavia spends the next two weeks facing teams from the McNamara Division almost exclusively.  They begin with three games at last-place Aberdeen (Baltimore), come home for three against first-place powerhouse Staten Island (New York Yankees), then go on a six-game road trip split evenly between Stedler Division foe Connecticut (Detroit) and McNamara's current second-place team, Hudson Valley (Tampa Bay).  They face familiar foe Williamsport at home to finish the two-week span. 

Questions for Leonda Markee about this Batavia report or any other Cardinals minor league topic? Check out our premium, subscriber-only message board today!


© 2011 The Cardinal Nation, and All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories