Johnson City Cards 2011 Player of the Year

Tyler Rahmatulla, the 34th round pick in this year's draft from UCLA, is our Johnson City Cardinals 2011 Player of the Year.

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)

Johnson City Cardinals 2011 Position Player of the Year (Oct 19, 2011)


The overall Cardinal organization awards summary can be viewed here: Cards Players of the Year: 2011


Here are the links to this season's Johnson City Cardinals Reports:


Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 11

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 10

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 9

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 8

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 7

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 6

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 5

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 4

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 3

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 2

Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 1

Johnson City Cardinals Pre-Season Notebook



Team Batting


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)


Team Fielding


Johnson City finished third in fielding percentage (.966).  They committed 92 errors (85 by batters and 7 by pitchers) for an average of 1.35 errors per game.  The team allowed 55 unearned runs in 68 games to finish second best in that category behind the Bluefield Blue Jays.  The catchers allowed 14 passed balls (6th) and 47 stolen bases (2nd).  They moved from first place in catching base stealers last year (56% in 2010) to second place this year (39% in 2011).



Batter Roster Changes


The Appy League Championship roster saw a total of 17 batters; 14 batters played their entire 2011 professional season in Johnson City.   A year after losing three batters to promotions during the year, the 2011 team didn't lose any batters for that reason.  C Jonathan Keener was promoted to Quad Cities after the playoffs were over.  Keener didn't get to play but helped out with the pitchers in the bullpen as Quad Cities won the Midwest League Championship this year (Keener's second championship this year). 


Three batters were promoted to Johnson City from the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Cardinals during the season. 



LF/2B/SS Breyvic Valera, who had 110 AB in the GCL and 73 AB for Johnson City, was promoted August 3:  "Valera: Second Boost Upward".  Valera was also considered for GCL 2011 Player of the Year. 


3B/1B/DH Hector Garcia, who had 78 AB in the GCL and 61 AB for Johnson City, was promoted July 23:  "Garcia: GCL Return Ended".  Hector Garcia was considered for GCL 2011 Player of the Year. 


CF Charlie Tilson, who had 15 AB in Johnson City and 12 AB in the GCL, was promoted August 25:  "Tilson: Moving Ahead".  Due to his limited playing time, Tilson will be discussed very briefly toward the end of this article. 



Batters Eligible for Johnson City Player of the Year (15):  Steven Ramos, Matt Williams, Roberto De La Cruz, Tyler Rahmatulla, Gary Apelian, David Washington, Neal Pritchard, Anthony Garcia, Ronald Castillo, Kolby Byrd, Jesus Montero, Jonathan Keener, David Bergin, Charlie Tilson, and Trevor Martin (in order of at bats).


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 injured in Johnson City's first game of the season:  Martin: Bad Break in the Opener.  Martin had a history of separated shoulders so season-ending surgery was the appropriate corrective action recommended by Cardinals' Head Team Physician Dr. George Paletta, Jr.  Martin completed his surgery without complication.  Unfortunately, Martin was out for the year but he should be ready for 2012 spring training.  It is too bad that Martin only got one game and three at bats in this year.  Shildt told me that Trevor is a really great kid that suffered a very unfortunate injury.  Hopefully the surgery has corrected any future problems for Martin. 



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 Bristol catcher.  Bergin's rotator cuff injury ended his season after just 19 games and 67 at bats.


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


The Johnson City Cardinals got two All-Star selections this year (Johnson City Cardinals in the News) after 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 Johnson City won for left-handed Appy All-Star pitcher after Ryan Copeland snagged it and Pitcher of the Year last year.


The 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 America as the Rookie League (combination of Appalachian League and Pioneer League) All-Star SS. 


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


Johnson City went 4-1 in the playoffs, winning four consecutive games after losing their first game.  The details for each game and the overall stats were summarized in my Week 11 Report:  Johnson City Cardinals Notebook:  2011 Week 11. 


Batting Statistics


Listed in the table below are batting and base running statistics for the top eight Johnson City players in 2011.  Each acronym is defined at the end of this article.  "Rank" is how the top eightplayers were ranked (fielding + batting + base running).  This ranking was based on a combination of first-hand observations and the data listed in the tables and is a representation of how the player performed this year and not how he is predicted to perform in the future.The cells highlighted yellow are either the best of the eight batters or are a statistic that was particularly noteworthy. 


Link to hitters table


Batter Fielding


Listed in the table below are fielding statistics for the top eight Johnson City players in 2011.  Each acronym is defined at the end of this article.  "Rank" is how the top eight players were ranked overall (fielding + batting + base running).  This ranking was based on a combination of first-hand observations and the data listed in the tables.  The cells highlighted yellow are either the best of the eight fielders or are a statistic that was particularly noteworthy. 


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 Kingsport was incorrectly attributed to Matt Williams.  That was corrected in the table below. 


Fielder Rahmatulla Williams Garcia Apelian Ramos De La Cruz Washington Pritchard
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
G 48/7/6 58 35/12 53/1 60 22/1 54 40/16
PO 76/7/3 82 46/20 106/1 131 14/3 464 25/35
A 121/9/15 182 1/0 8/0 8 34/0 30 82/44
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  
E 6/0/2 17 4/0 3/0 1 12/1 4  
E-F 2 7 2 2 1 4 3 4
E-T 6 9 2 1 0 9 0 2
E-MC 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
DP 29/2/1 34 0/0 1/0 2 8/2 42 9/12
FLD% 97/100/90 94 92.2/ 97.4/ 99.3 80/75 99.2 96.3/
100 100 97.3


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.



#1 Tyler 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 Tyler to avoid attention. 


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 Mountain") was when his newborn son and family visited him from California. 


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, Johnson City had a mature, experienced, every-day SS older than 20 years of age.  Many might be surprised that Williams was ranked second but Matt showed a rare combination of solid hitting (.293 BA), above average speed (20 SB), and excellent defensive range at the premium position of short stop.  Overall, his season was a bit of a roller coaster ride as he hit .406 in June, .223 in July, and then .330 in August. 


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 Carolina, Puerto Rican-born Garcia was the youngest position player of the top eight.  In his first full pro season in the outfield, the former catcher Garcia was hampered by several nagging injuries.  After a hot start to the summer (June .368 BA; July .349 BA), Garcia looked worn down and in need of some rest as the season ended. 


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. 



#4 Gary Apelian:  The 27th round pick in this year's draft had a very good year.  Apelian, whose parents are from Armenia, was very consistent in all phases of the game.  In fact, none of his BA splits varied by more than .043 from his average.  Although his defense was not very flashy, it sure produced excellent results; especially with his strong and accurate throws from RF to both 3B (3 OA) and home (2 OA).  Apelian has an odd looking, somewhat bow-legged set-up in the batter's box but it produces a very powerful swing with tremendous bat speed.  Almost every picture I took of him in mid-swing had a massive blur for his bat. 


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 Johnson City and I have seen a lot.  His range is excellent, his routes are superb, and his initial break on the ball is both accurate, and quick.  No details of his defensive movements appear to be lacking.  His arm is definitely not the strongest you will ever see but it is accurate and strong enough to make plays.  The defensive play of the year may have been made by Ramos in the Championship clinching game in Bluefield when he scaled the wall to steal a home run. 


Ramos got off to an awful start in Johnson City last year and was quickly reassigned to the GCL, where he played well.  Ramos got a late season promotion last year and got to enjoy a Championship celebration.  Ramos brought a lot of hustle and good attitude to the field to start Johnson City's defense of their Appy Championship this year.  Ramos hit .324 in June and after an even hotter start to July, he led the league in hitting through Week 3 (.384).  However, it was all downhill after that as the league figured out in mid-July that they should throw him lots of off-speed pitches.  Ramos' July average finished at a very respectable .319 but his August average was just .200. 


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 PO during the regular season.  Although he brings plenty of speed to the base paths, Ramos had a rather large number of CS (5) and PO (5). 


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 EFF, PA/HR, and TB.  Roberto really struggled against left-handed pitching this year, posting a .212/.236/.423/.659 line against southpaws.  If you need an English-to-Spanish translator, this Dominican Republic born bonus-baby is your man. 



#7 David Washington:  The only left-handed hitter in the top eight was also the tallest at 6' 5".  Washington will turn 21-years-old next month and will do so as the second best home run hitter on the Cardinals this year.  When I talked with David at the start of the year, I asked him what he thought he needed to work on the most this year and he indicated that it was pitch recognition.  Unfortunately, he struggled with that again this year, striking out in more than 28% of his plate appearances.  Much like De La Cruz, Washington is very susceptible to off-speed pitches.  However, unlike the more aggressive-swinging De La Cruz, Washington watches a lot of good pitches go right down the middle.


Washington has a pretty swing, as most left-handers do, and likes the ball low and in.  He develops a lot of power with his strong lower body and when he makes solid contact, the ball will go a long way.  He will go to left-field on occasion and shows good power to all fields.  Washington plays a very good first base considering it was his first full year of pro ball there.  He has soft hands, can stretch well for thrown balls in all directions, and even has a strong, accurate throwing-arm.  Washington saved a lot of the infielders some errors with some good short-hop scoops however; he committed a few of his own with some poor fielding (3 E-F) and limited range. 



Washington wasn't a league leader or team leader in any regular season category but he played very well in the playoffs (.300 BA).  "Wash" was tied for eighth in runs scored (3), tied for eighth in slugging (.500), tied for fourth in hits (6), tied for first in home runs (1), tied for third in total bases (10), and tied for seventh in RBIs (3).  Washington posted an excellent line with the bases empty (.301/.415/.524/.939), a very poor line with runners on base (.192/.229/.414/.643), and an even worse line with RISP (.172/.217/.391/.608). 


#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 Bluefield where he was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two runs, and one RBI. 


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.


Catcher Byrd Keener Montero
Age 21.6 21.8 20.3
G 37 27 29
PA 158 99 112
AB 150 92 98
R 11 10 12
H 35 23 27
2B 8 2 7
3B 1 0 0
HR 1 4 0
RBI 15 12 11
2-O RBI 4 3 3
RLISP w/2-O 15 15 8
2-O EFF 0.21 0.167 0.273
SB 0 0 1
CS 0 1 0
SB% NA 0% 100%
Picked Off 0 0 0
BB 5 4 9
SO 36 19 32
BA 0.233 0.25 0.276
BABIP 0.293 0.275 0.403
OBP 0.253 0.289 0.339
SLG 0.32 0.402 0.347
OPS 0.573 0.691 0.686
SO/PA 0.228 0.192 0.286
PA/HR 158 25 >112
TB 48 37 34
GDP 3 0 3
HBP 0 1 1
SH 0 2 3
SF 3 0 1
IBB 0 0 1
G as C 20 23 28
Putouts 149 176 232
A 16 34 32
E 2 0 10
E-T 2 0 8
E-CI 0 0 2
DP 0 0 4
FLD% 98.8 100 96.4
CS 12 10 8
SB 20 10 17
PB 5 3 6
Pick Offs 1 1 1
CS% 37.5 50 32
Catcher Byrd Keener Montero



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 Tilson Signing") 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:  "Tilson: Moving Ahead".  Tilson got only 15 AB with Johnson City and I got to see 9 of them (5-for-9, 2 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI).  Needless to say, that is very small and very good sample.   The lefty-swinging outfielder has a very well balanced swing with good hands.  He has quick feet but is one of those runners that doesn't really appear to be that fast but probably is quicker than he looks.  Tilson had two fielding errors in just four games in the outfield and both were cases where he booted or bobbled a ball because he looked up before he looked the ball into the glove.  Hopefully, Tilson will play a full season in Johnson City next year when he will be 19-years-old. 


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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