2011 Batavia Muckdogs Team Review

The St. Louis Cardinals New York-Penn League affiliate ended the season with a 37-38 record. Closer Danny Miranda led the league with 15 saves.

Final Standings, New York-Penn League, Pinckney Division:
Club  W  L  PCT  GB  Home  Away  L 10  Streak
Auburn 45 30 0.600 - 25-13 20-17 5-5 L1
Williamsport 43 33 0.566 2.5 26-11 17-22 6-4 W1
Mahoning Valley 41 34 0.547 4 22-15 19-19 6-4 W4
Batavia 37 38 0.493 8 20-18 17-20 4-6 W1
Jamestown 35 40 0.467 10 19-19 16-21 3-7 L4
State College 31 44 0.413 14 18-19 13-25 6-4 L1

The Cards came to Batavia in 2007
Team Composition:
Batavia began its 2011 season with a 29-man active roster comprised of 15 pitchers and 14 position players. The average age on the roster was 21 years, 10 months and one day. Seven of the 15 pitchers were southpaws and two other lefty pitchers, Justin Edwards and Jean Mijares, were on the disabled list.

The Muckdogs' final roster had 30 active players split evenly between pitchers and position players. Left-handers took seven of the 15 pitching slots, as was the case with the opening day roster. Right-handers Jose Almarante and Todd McInnis finished the season on the disabled list as did lefty Manuel De La Cruz and outfielder Roberto Reyes. Mijares spent the entire season on the disabled list. The average age of the final roster was exactly two weeks older than their opening day counterparts.

Experience-wise, 18 of the 42 players that wore Batavia's uniform at some point during the season made their professional debut in organized ball: Shortstop Vance Albitz, right-hander Cory Baker, lefty Adam Bileckyj, righty Ethan Cole, southpaw Jonathan Cornelius, right-handed pitcher Sam Gaviglio, right-handed pitcher Kevin Jacob, right-hander Seth Maness, centerfielder Nick Martini, right-handed pitcher Todd McInnis, righty Travis Miller, left-hander Danny Miranda, infielder Jeremy Patton, catcher Casey Rasmus, southpaw Ryan Sheriff, infielder Danny Stienstra, lefty Sean Watson and infielder Garrett Wittels.

18 players played short-season A ball for the first time in 2011: right-handers Jose Almarante, Drew Benes, Eric Binder and Scott Bittle, infielder Phil Cerreto, outfielder Victor Encarnacion, left-handers Pat Daugherty, Manuel De La Cruz and Hector Hernandez, outfielder Virgil Hill, righty Ricky Martinez, left fielder/first baseman David Medina, catcher Kevin Moscatel, southpaw Iden Nazario, right fielder Roberto Reyes, corner infielder Romulo Ruiz, shortstop Cesar Valera and outfielder Reggie Williams. Cerreto, Hill and Moscatel all have spent some time at level(s) above Batavia.

Six players returned to Batavia at some point during the season. Right-hander Justin Edwards and left fielder Mike O'Neill began the season at Batavia while shaking off the rust from late-season injuries in 2010. Righty Javier Avendano returned to the Muckdogs to open the 2011 season after getting a glimpse of short-A ball at the end of the 2010 season. Infielder Joey Bergman, catcher Juan Castillo and infielder-turned-pitcher Yunier Castillo all returned to Batavia after playing full season ball in 2011.

Nick Martini
Draft Classes:
Batavia's roster was represented by draft classes from 2009 (six), 2010 (six) and 2011 (13) as well as six non-drafted free agents, one player signed out of an independent league and 10 players signed from Haiti, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The earliest-drafted position player was centerfielder Nick Martini (7th round, 2011) and on the pitching side, it was Sam Gaviglio (5th round, 2011). Gaviglio's professional debut consisted of two starts during the final days of the season so he had no impact on the team's overall results. The earliest-drafted pitcher that did have an impact was the Muckdogs' closer, Danny Miranda (8th round, 2011).

The charts below are broken down by position and then draft class. For this report's purposes, Yunier Castillo is listed with the position players. Players are listed at the position at which they played the most.

  Draft Not Drafted
Starters Year Round Year Origin
Gaviglio 2011 5  
Maness 2011 11  
Cornelius 2011 24  
McInnis 2011 25  
Sheriff 2011 28  
Hernandez 2009 10  
Daugherty 2009 12  
Edwards 2009 28  
Almarante 2007 Haiti
  Draft Not Drafted
Bullpen Year Round Year Origin
Miranda 2011 8  
Miller 2011 16  
Jacob 2011 31  
Baker 2011 49  
Nazario 2010 30  
Benes 2010 35  
Bittle 2009 4  
De La Cruz 2009 43  
Bileckyj 2011 USA
Binder 2011 USA
Cole 2011 USA
Watson 2011 USA
Martinez 2010 USA
Avendano     2007 VZ

Six of the 14 relievers were signed as free agents rather than via the annual June First-Year Player Draft. The 2010 team, in contrast, had just one previously released minor league free agent and one foreign-signed reliever on their pitching staff. Performance-wise, the six more than held their own when compared to the drafted group but more on individual performances will be coming in my Reliever of the Year article.

  Draft Not Drafted
Player Year Round Year Origin
Rasmus 2011 36  
Moscatel 2007 VZ
J. Castillo     2006 DR
  Draft Not Drafted
Player Year Round Year Origin
Stienstra 2011 12  
Patton 2011 38  
Bergman 2010 33  
Cerreto 2010 40  
Albitz 2011 USA
Wittels 2011 USA
Y. Castillo 2008 DR
Valera 2008 VZ
Medina 2006 DR
Ruiz     2006 VZ
  Draft Not Drafted
Player Year Round Year Origin
Martini 2011 7  
Williams 2010 10  
O'Neill 2010 31  
Hill 2009 6  
Encarnacion 2008 DR
Reyes     2007 DR

The charts above show the reliance on players signed outside the First-Year Player Draft. Among position player categories, only the outfielders had more drafted personnel than otherwise. That four-to-two ratio narrows when David Medina's time in left field is added as Medina played almost half of his games in left field versus first base.

The Muckdogs finished with a cumulative batting line of .256/.331/.371/.702, 637-for-2484, with 139 doubles, 19 triples and 36 home runs. Batavia placed fourth, in the top one-third of the league or top four teams, in average, OPS and hits. The three teams ahead of them in these categories, Auburn (Washington), Staten Island (NYY) and Brooklyn (NYM) all made the play-offs. The Muckdogs were third in doubles, tied for fourth in triples and fifth in home runs which led to a sixth-place finish in slugging. Their 259 walks placed them sixth in the 14-team league which contributed to their seventh place finish in on-base percentage. They scored 336 runs (seventh) and had 290 runs batted in (tied for sixth). The Muckdogs were eighth in fewest strikeouts with 530. Batavia's poorest showing was in the stolen base category where they placed 11th with 67.

The pitching staff had a 3.47 FIP, 3.74 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 619 hits, 222 walks and 507 strikeouts in 647.2 innings pitched. Their 3.74 earned run average placed them ninth in the league but they moved up to sixth in the FIP category. As was mentioned in several reports this season, this was a staff that did not strike out many batters. They averaged 7.05 SO/9 IP which placed them a dismal 12th in the league. The Muckdogs also averaged 8.6 H/9 IP which ranked them 10th. Batavia's pitchers walked an average of 3.08 batters every nine innings and that placed them third in the league. But it is difficult to walk batters when they are getting hits against you. That low walk rate lifted Batavia's WHIP ranking to a fifth-place tie and gave them a 2.28 K/BB ratio that was tied for fourth-best in the league. The bullpen blew a total of 15 saves this season, nine of which resulted in eventual losses.

Personal standout performances will be addressed in the individual awards.

The Season:
Batavia began the season by going 6-8 in June which was a precursor of things to come. The team finished July with a 21-22 record and that period included their longest winning streak of the season. July was also the month that saw the most blown saves by the bullpen with nine. Batavia went on to win just three of those games. The Muckdogs were 35-35 at the end of August before finishing the season with a 37-38 record.

Batavia had a difficult time sustaining any sort of success this season with their longest winning streak of six games coming in early July against Mahoning Valley (Cleveland) and State College (Pittsburgh). Twice the team had a four-game winning streak: once in mid-July when they won four straight and six-of-seven against Tri-City (Houston), Auburn and Jamestown (Florida) and again in late August when they swept a four-game series against Williamsport (Philadelphia) which basically finished off the Cutters' chance at the post-season. The team had several three-game losing streaks but the season consisted primarily of the team bouncing back-and-forth between a winning one/losing two and winning two/losing one scenario.

Jose Almarante
Individual Recognition:
Catcher Juan Castillo, infielder Joey Bergman, first baseman/left fielder David Medina and pitchers Jonathan Cornelius, Seth Maness and Todd McInnis were all named to the 2011 New York-Penn League All-Star squad. Bergman did not participate due to a promotion to Quad Cities.

Jose Almarante was named the New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week for the week ending July 3rd.

Roster Moves:
Starter Justin Edwards and reliever Iden Nazario began the season with Batavia but were very quickly promoted to Quad Cities in June.

Outfielder Reggie Williams was re-assigned to the GCL Cardinals in late June after struggling at the plate. He returned on August 24th and finished the season on a hot streak.

Reliever Drew Benes was promoted to Quad Cities in mid-July and became one of several former Muckdogs to experience the River Bandits' league championship run. Outfielder Mike O'Neill was also promoted to Quad Cities in mid-July but was transferred back to Batavia in a paper move in September after the Muckdogs' season had finished.

Pitchers Scott Bittle and Eric Binder were released during the season. Bittle was trying to overcome injuries that had kept him off the field for most of his professional career.

Yunier Castillo was converted from infielder to pitcher in early August and spent the season's balance pitching out of Batavia's bullpen.

Starter Seth Maness jumped up to A-Advanced Palm Beach in mid-August to try and assist in their bid for a play-off berth. He was re-assigned to Quad Cities after Palm Beach was eliminated and pitched in the post-season for the River Bandits.

Outfielder Victor Encarnacion was promoted to Batavia from the GCL Cardinals along with Reggie Williams in late August.

Southpaw starter Hector Hernandez was promoted to Quad Cities in early September, after Batavia's season had finished.

Although there were several players that spent some time on the disabled list this season, infielder Phil Cerreto, pitcher Javier Avendano and reliever Manuel De La Cruz all found it difficult to remain healthy and on the field for significant periods of time.

Link to master article with all 2011 award winners, team recaps and article schedules.

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