This article is focused on the batters and fielders. It is the fourth and last of a postseason series dedicated to the 2011 Appalachian League Champion Johnson City Cardinals. Some sections in this article are edited repeats of sections of previous articles. Jump ahead to the "Batting Statistics" section if you are a regular reader of these articles and want new content. If you missed any of the first three articles in the series, you may want to read the entire article or check out these links first:
2011 Johnson City Cardinals Team Review (Sep 21, 2011)
Johnson City Cardinals 2011 Reliever of the Year (Sep 30, 2011)
Johnson City Cards 2011 Starter of the Year (Oct 9, 2011)
The overall Cardinal organization awards summary can be viewed here:
Here are the links to this season's Johnson City Cardinals Reports:
Led by hitting coach Ramon "Smokey" Ortiz, the offense finished in first place in the league for the second year in-a-row. They led the league this year in eight different categories: batting average (.279), slugging (.449), on-base plus slugging (.788), hits, runs, runs scored per game (6.1), doubles, and total bases. The Cardinals hitters finished with the fourth fewest strikeouts in the league. They were second in home runs. They were fifth in stolen bases and second in caught stealing. That left them with the best stolen base percentage (76%). They were seventh in grounding into double plays and in sacrifice hits.
The weekly team batting averages are shown below in the table. The total excludes the post season (PS) averages. Their best week was Week 6 (5-1) and their worst week was Week 9 (3-3). Tyler Rahmatulla won the Appalachian League Player of the Week award during Week 8.
Team Weekly Batting Averages
Week AVG OBP SLG OPS
1 .250 .338 .364 .702
2 .287 .340 .426 .766
3 .278 .333 .376 .709
4 .269 .333 .524 .857
5 .252 .319 .465 .784
6 .322 .366 .577 .943
7 .276 .353 .412 .765
8 .310 .368 .549 .917
9 .220 .275 .369 .644
10 .303 .353 .434 .787
11 .301 .357 .437 .794
PS .287 .342 .415 .757
Total .279 .339 .449 .788
Longest Hit Streak: Matt Williams (18 games)
Longest Streak of Games with Double Digit Hits: 4 (Three times)
Most Hits in a Game: 22 (Game 49)
Most Runs in a Game: 20 (Game 49)
Batter Roster Changes
The Appy League Championship
roster saw a total of 17 batters; 14 batters played their entire 2011
professional season in
Three batters were promoted to
CF Charlie Tilson, who had 15 AB
Batters Eligible for
The first 8 in this list all saw significantly more playing time than the last 7. The top eight will be ranked and discussed in detail in this article while the last 7 will be discussed in a little less detail. All of the bottom 7 either had a batting average below .250 or had less than 100 at bats.
Batter Injuries and Lost Playing Time
Ten of the 17 batters lost playing time either in the field or at the plate during the season. Two of the injuries resulted in a significant amount of lost playing time (Martin and Bergin).
2B Trevor Martin (.333) was
C/DH Jonathan Keener (.250) put in some extra core conditioning that reduced his playing time during Games 21 through 25.
RF Gary Apelian (.298) rolled his left ankle in Game 17 on July 7. Apelian missed five games.
LF/RF Anthony Garcia (.308) suffered a minor groin injury during Game 34. Garcia missed four games with the groin injury. Garcia again went on the shelf with a left knee injury in Game 61: "Garcia: Absence Explained". He missed six of the last seven regular season games and two of the five playoff games. Garcia visibly grimaced on his last strikeout in Game 1 of the Championship series (0-for-4 with three strikeouts). He was just 2-for-13 (.154) in the last four games he played. Unfortunately, Garcia never completely recovered from his knee injury.
C/DH Kolby Byrd (.233) left Game 24 early after being hit in the side of the head with a bat on a follow through while catching. Byrd had concussion-like symptoms between innings after the incident but was cleared to play the next day by the team doctor. Byrd missed four games.
DH Roberto De La Cruz (.264) was hit by a pitch during Game 30. De La Cruz was removed for a pinch runner and then missed the next two games.
3B/2B Neal Pritchard (.249) suffered back spasms during Game 41 after pulling a single down the left field line in the first inning in Elizabethton: "Pritchard: Back Off". Pritchard missed seven games.
1B/DH David Bergin (.284) missed
Games 33 through 36 as the coaches did some extra hitting work with him. Bergin was struggling with some awkward
swings. Unfortunately, in his first
game back, Bergin injured his shoulder during Game 37 when he slid head-first
into second base on a successful pickoff by the
SS Matt Williams (.293) missed Games 61 through 63 with a sore elbow.
C Jesus Montero (.276) suffered a minor leg injury in Game 67. Montero missed the last regular season game and all five playoff games.
2011 Appalachian League All-Star Team
Johnson City Cardinals got two All-Star selections this year (Johnson City Cardinals in the
getting five last year. Tyler Rahmatulla won for second baseman
and Kyle Hald won for left-handed pitcher.
It was the second year in a row that
voting rules prohibit me from voting for Johnson City Cardinals players. Of the twelve that were selected that
were not Cardinals, I voted for eight of them. I honestly was surprised that Matt
Williams didn't get the selection at SS.
Williams was selected at the end of the season by Baseball
Anthony Garcia had a better year offensively at the time of the All-Star voting than Bluefield Blue Jays recipient Kevin Pillar and is three years younger. Garcia would have received my vote. He was probably hindered by fewer at bats due to several nagging injuries during the year. Roberto De La Cruz (DH) was close to making the All-Star team by my statistical analysis but just missed the cut.
|De La Cruz and Montero|
Playoffs and Top Playoff Performers
Listed in the table below are
batting and base running statistics for the top eight
Link to hitters table
Listed in the table below are
fielding statistics for the top eight
Note: If a player fielded multiple positions,
the data for each position is separated by a "/". Also, one throwing error by Roberto De
La Cruz in
|Fielder||Rahmatulla||Williams||Garcia||Apelian||Ramos||De La Cruz||Washington||Pritchard|
|OA||NA||NA||1 to 3B||3 to 3B||5 to 3B||NA||NA||NA|
|2 to HP||2 to 2B|
|2 to 2B||1 to HP|
|1 to 1B|
The Rankings Explained
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.
Rahmatulla: The 21-year old utility infielder, who
was suspended from UCLA for academic issues earlier this year and had his 2010
season end early from a broken wrist, finally got a complete season in. Rahmatulla is a quiet leader who
seems to avoid the spotlight when given the opportunity. If he keeps playing like he did this
year, it will be harder and harder for
Rahmatulla, whose last name is of
Philippine descent, was uninjured and remarkably consistent throughout the
year. His swing decisions are
excellent and were clearly one of the best on the team. His best week during the year
("Rahmatulla: Top of the
when his newborn son and family visited him from
Rahmatulla (.314) was a top-ten league leader in six different offensive categories: doubles (27, 1st), runs (49, t-3rd), slugging (.545, 4th), on-base plus slugging (.935, 4th), total bases (120, 6th), and hits (69, t-10th). In the playoffs, Rahmatulla was tied for fifth in runs scored (4), tied for fourth in doubles (2), and tied for fifth in walks (2). He led the team in R, H, 2B, BA, SLG, OPS, and SO/PA (see table above). Rahmatulla had a very impressive .397/.481/.714/1.196 line over 63 AB with RISP.
Although he had just a 90% FLD% at SS this year (6 G), Rahmatulla played a solid 2B and 3B. His range was average and his fielding was a little better than his throwing accuracy. He showed good hands, feet, and quickness around second base on double plays. His greatest value going forward would seem to be as good hitting utility infielder. If so, he will need to show a little improvement at SS and 3B.
Rahmatulla's batting stance and swing are powerful and very well balanced. In the batter's box just before the pitch, his wide stance reminds me of Albert Pujols. He can make swing adjustments as the pitch is delivered to put the barrel on the ball most of the time. He was susceptible to a few strikeouts on off-speed pitches and to high velocity pitchers. He punishes mistakes and misses very few of them. Most of his doubles are in the gaps or down the left field line. He will go to right field but doesn't present much power that direction.
#2 Matt Williams: For the first time in over seven years,
Williams (.293) was a top-ten league leader in three different offensive categories: stolen bases (20, t-4th), runs (47, t-5th), and doubles (19, 7th). In the playoffs, Williams was tied for eighth in runs scored (3), tied for eighth in hits (5), tied for first in home runs (1), tied for third in RBIs (5), tied for first in walks (3), and tied for eight in total bases (8). Williams led the team in PA, SB, SB%, and BB. He was the only one of the top eight to avoid grounding into a double play. Williams finished the year strong with an 18-game hitting streak. He shows his most power to the gaps and to left field. He is a well-balanced up-the-middle hitter when he is on a hot-streak.
#3 Anthony Garcia: At 19-years of age, the
Garcia's batting stance is more upright at contact than Rahmatulla's and Williams' and he tends to set-up very close to the plate. As a result, he led the team with 11 HBP. Garcia wears body armor on his ankle but still hit the dirt several times after fouling balls off his shins and knees. He got many fewer opportunities on average in the outfield than CF Steven Ramos and RF Gary Apelian. At times, he appeared lost and slow in the outfield but it wasn't clear to me if it was because he lost the ball off the bat or if he judged it poorly in the air.
Garcia (.308) was a top-ten league leader in four different offensive categories: on-base percentage (.407, 4th), on-base plus slugging (.935, 5th), slugging (.527, 9th), and triples (4, t-9th). Due to his late season injury, he was a non-factor in the playoffs. Garcia led the team in Age, 3B, BABIP, OBP, OPS, and HBP. Garcia hit lefties (.360 BA over 50 AB) better than righties (.288 BA). Garcia was clearly the third best outfielder defensively this year and he needs more experience to build his confidence. His speed was average and his arm should be good enough although the jury is still out.
Apelian (.298) was a top-ten league leader in two different offensive categories: doubles (20, t-4th) and RBIs (45, t-8th). He had the team's best overall performance in the playoffs. Apelian was fifth in batting average (.389), fourth in on base percentage (.476), tied for eighth in slugging percentage (.500), seventh in on-base plus slugging percentage (.976), tied for fifth in runs scored (4), tied for first in hits (7), tied for fourth in doubles (2), and tied for fifth in total bases (9). With some improvement in his OBP, he could have snuck into the top three.
#5 Steven Ramos: Ramos was easily the best defensive CF I
have ever seen play for
Ramos got off to an awful start in
Ramos' batting stance in the box is one that makes him very susceptible to off-speed pitches. He begins with his feet very close to each other at the back of the box in an upright stance. As the pitch is delivered he takes a very long stride toward the pitcher and thrusts his weight forward with the timing needed to square-up a fastball. If he doesn't get the fastball, almost all of his weight is going forward and it is too late to make adjustments. The end result is a lot of check swings and a lot of strikeouts.
Ramos (.274) was a top-ten league
leader in three different offensive categories: at bats (248, t-6th), stolen bases (19,
7th), and runs (45, t-9th). Ramos
was a non-factor offensively in the
playoffs (.176 BA). Ramos led the
team in G, AB, and
Ramos will need to make adjustments to his approach at the plate to improve his batting in the future. Although his defense is top notch and his speed is well above average, he will need to get the bat going. Ramos can do a pretty good job of putting the ball in play on the ground and turning routine outs into base hits with his speed but he still doesn't bunt very well. Ramos turned 21-years-old during the season so there is plenty of time to make improvements.
|De La Cruz|
#6 Roberto De La Cruz: If you value home runs, then you will disagree with this ranking. De La Cruz, who played more games as a designated hitter than in the field, is the definition of a "bat without a position". He is still young but will turn 20 years-old next month. De La Cruz swings and misses a lot but he gets his money's worth with each swing. He uses his sturdy lower body to generate a lot of power. De La Cruz is susceptible to good breaking pitches (picture below) and he will often swing at pitches out of the strike zone, both up and down. He seems to figure out the "in" and "out" pitches pretty well but still walked in less than 3% of his plate appearances and struck out in over 22% of his PA.
Defensively, De La Cruz is a major liability. In just 23 G, Roberto committed 13 errors (less than 80% fielding percentage overall at 3B/1B). It appears to me that much of the problem is between his ears and not in his arm. Although he will boot some grounders, his bigger problem is errant throws (9 E-T). And when I say errant, I mean really wild; as in "not in the same time zone". De La Cruz actually started some impressive 5-4-3 double plays at 3B and has shown a strong and accurate arm at times.
De La Cruz (.264) was a top-ten
league leader in four different offensive categories: home runs (16, 3rd), total bases (123,
5th), slugging (.542, 6th), and RBIs (47, 6th).In the playoffs, with the
exception of tying for fourth in doubles (2), De La Cruz was a non-factor (.158
BA). De La Cruz led the team during
the regular season in HR, RBI, 2-O
Washington: The only left-handed hitter in the top
eight was also the tallest at 6' 5".
#8 Neal Pritchard: When it was clear that a third baseman with accurate throws and solid fielding was needed, in stepped Pritchard. The undrafted free agent from Elon proved he could play a very steady hot corner and hit a little bit as well. Pritchard (.249) was horrible against lefties (.136/.278/.273/.551), was only marginally better with the bases empty (.215/.318/.344/.662), but saved his best for RISP (.340/.424/.434/.858).
Pritchard wasn't a league leader
or team leader in any regular season category but he played well in limited at
bats in the playoffs (.571 BA).
Used mostly as a late inning defensive replacement at third base,
Pritchard tied for fourth in doubles (2), tied for fifth in RBIs (4), and tied
for fifth in walks (2). His best
game was the 4-1 clincher in
Pritchard doesn't have much speed or power but he is a steady defender and makes good swing decisions at the plate. His biggest downfall may be taking a few too many pitches. Pritchard walked in over 10% of his plate appearances but took several called third strikes in 3-2 counts.
Since all the catching duties were split up pretty equally three ways, none of the three got more than 28 games as a catcher. As it turns out, the catcher that got the most plate appearances also posted the worst line. The table below summarizes the major batting and fielding stats for the catchers. The cells highlighted yellow are either the best of the three catchers or are a statistic that was particularly noteworthy.
|G as C||20||23||28|
If you review the statistics, it is clear that none of the catchers really got the bats going very well this year. Kolby Byrd consistently struggled the entire year but got the longest look at the plate since he also played the most games as a DH (17). Jonathan Keener had a horrible start to the season and then caught fire in July (.100 BA in June, .212 BA in July, and .306 BA in August). Jesus Montero was Tyrell Jenkins' personal catcher all year but was clearly the slowest and worst defender of the three. Montero hit .357 with RISP and .361 in August while Byrd and Keener hit below the "Mendoza Line" with RISP. Keener demonstrated the most power (25 PA/HR) and the best success with potential base stealers (50% CS). Keener was also the best at blocking potential wild pitches. Montero had the best OBP and BA but demonstrated very little power and struck out in over 28% of his plate appearances. Keener saw all of the playoff action and even got promoted at the end of the year to handle the bullpen duties for Quad Cities. Keener could have a break-out year in 2012 if he can put together 200+ at bats similar to his late July through August performance.
Players with Fewer Plate Appearances
With the top 8 batters discussed first and the 3 catchers discussed next, that leaves four more players: Ronald Castillo, David Bergin, Charlie Tilson, and Trevor Martin. Martin played just one game so there was no body of work to review there.
Ronald Castillo: The tall Dominican started the season as a 19-year old fourth outfielder. Although he hit two triples in the first week and ended the season in the top ten in the league with four triples, Castillo never really could get his hitting (.245/.303/.392 line) or fielding to come around well enough to get regular at bats. Castillo hit just .188 in June but did see his BA slowly climb during the season (.222 BA in July and .313 BA in August). Castillo generates good bat speed and power but that is only good if you make consistent solid contact and that was his major downfall at the plate. Castillo averaged a 29% strike out rate (team high) over 155 plate appearances. Castillo also struggled defensively as a utility outfielder (33 G in LF, 11 G in CF, and 3 G in RF). Castillo committed seven errors (88.7 FLD %) that were mostly drops of easily catchable fly balls. It appeared to me that he lacked experience and confidence and would probably have benefited from more at bats and fielding time at a lower level. His routes were slow and tentative and he didn't watch the ball all the way into his glove. Toward the end of the year, Castillo served as a pinch runner but ended the year with just a 67% SB rate over 6 attempts. Castillo hit lefties (.382 BA) a lot better than righties (.212 BA) but it was over a pretty small sample size.
David Bergin: Bergin came into the season as a 30th round pick from this year's draft with some very impressive stats from Tennessee Wesleyan College (NAIA). However, Bergin found that the competition was a little bit better than what he faced in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Serving mostly as a DH (8 G) and 1B (8 G) over his 19 G, Bergin posted a .284/.324/.388 line over 67 AB. Bergin hurt his shoulder and his season ended early but before that, despite putting up a reasonable BA, he struggled mightily at the plate. Bergin struck out in over 28% of his plate appearances but when he did make contact, his swings were usually weak or indecisive. His batting stance is very upright and he doesn't use his lower body much at all to generate his power. Bergin played three games in the outfield and that could be a future position for the 22-year-old. His best defensive position has yet to be determined. Bergin will need to prove he can hit for average and power in an injury-free 2012 season.
Charlie Tilson: Tilson was a late sign ("Cardinals Announce 2nd Rounder
as an early draft pick in this year's draft: "Tilson: Cards' Second-Rounder
Delivered". He got a 12 AB in the GCL before being
promoted at the end of the year:
Ahead". Tilson got only 15 AB with
As a group, the 15 batters eligible for Johnson City Player of the Year averaged 20.9 years old, 79 SB%, .276 BA, .338 OBP, .448 SLG, .786 OPS, 0.21 SO/PA, and 39 PA/HR. This group is younger than last year and more powerful but hit for a lower average and struck out more often.
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