Batavia Muckdogs Notebook: 2012 Week 3

With a mix of new signees and returning players leading the way, the Cardinals' New York-Penn League club is meshing.

The Batavia Muckdogs (11-8) spent week three of the short-season schedule ascending the New York-Penn League standings. Moving into second place in the Pinckney Division, they entered Saturday with a five-game winning streak (along with consecutive series wins) and the team appears to be converting its talent into wins.

This year, five of Batavia's eight losses have been by just one run, meaning the team has been competitive in nearly all its games. And now that the season is developing and players are getting comfortable in their current spots, this could be the taking-off point.

It was mentioned last week, but it bears repeating that Muckdogs' infielder Breyvic Valera stands out at this level. His defense is great, and though he got a look at shortstop (two games), he looks more natural and adept at second base due to his arm strength. This week, the 19-year-old went 11-for-31, including a double and three RBI with four stolen bases - although the end of the week was up-and-down: 3-for-5 on Thursday followed by a 0-for-4 performance Friday.

Patrick Wisdom – the earliest draft pick on Batavia's roster (No. 52 in 2012) – had a strong week both offensively and defensively. He made some tremendous plays at third base (which is his predominant position), including in Friday's 4-3 win when he began a 5-2-3 double play. The 20-year-old owns an .854 OPS in 12 games this year following a 10-for-27 week in which he had two extra-base hits. He also hit his first career home run on July 5.

Montero
Catcher Jesus Montero continues to hit the ball hard. He leads the team in RBI (12), on-base percentage (.468), slugging (.625), batting average (.411), OPS (1.093) and home runs (3) and is top five in the NYPL is nearly all offensive categories as well. It's unlikely that he can keep up this pace, but it's been interesting to watch the 21-year-old put up these numbers to start the year.

Lee Stoppelman pitched 4 1/3 innings this week, and he's been a strong reliever for the Muckdogs. On Friday, the left-hander pitched two scoreless innings allowing two hits along with four strikeouts. This season, the 22-year-old has a 13/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio – and it doesn't appear to be a fluke based on his college dominance at the University of Central Missouri (10-0, 1.47 ERA, 89 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings). The 24th-round pick also hasn't allowed a run in 9 2/3 innings in Batavia.

Corey Baker is another reliever who has had a good start to 2012. His grace-under-pressure and grind-it-out mentality was evidenced in Friday's game when he entered with the Muckdogs down 3-1, runners on first and second and one out and escaped the jam. He followed that up with a perfect inning to keep game at 3-1 (which they eventually won 4-3). He's an unsung hero for Batavia with his 2.08 ERA, 11/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 8 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. Last season, pitching coach Ace Adams called Baker a "battler," according to Muckdogs' play-by-play broadcaster Matthew Coller. He's right. And it's fun to watch.

Transactions:

6/30 - RHP Dyllon Nuernberg transferred from Johnson City to Batavia: The 21-year-old spent the last two seasons in rookie ball. Since his promotion, he's allowed four hits and three earned runs in 2 1/3 innings with a walk and a strikeout over three appearances.

7/2 - Outfielder Roberto Reyes promoted to Quad Cities: Reyes started the season on the River Bandits' opening day roster. As a Muckdog this year, the 23-year-old hit .225/.304/.250 in 11 games.

7/5 - 4th round pick, infielder Alex Mejia has signed and been assigned to Batavia: In his professional debut Friday, he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Coming Up

The Muckdogs take on the Lowell Spinners (Red Sox) at Dwyer Stadium over the weekend, followed by the first off-day of the season on Tuesday. They then head out on a road trip to Hudson Valley (Tampa Bay) for a three-game series.



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