Batavia Muckdogs Notebook: 2012 Week 7

The Cardinals' short-season New York-Penn League club has moved into second place in its divisional fight.

The Batavia Muckdogs (24-20) went 4-2 in Week 7. It included a sweep of the Staten Island Yankees as part of a five-game win streak, but it was halted in the second game of a series with the Tri-City Valley Cats (Astros) – the best team in the New York-Penn League record-wise (32-13). Batavia closed out the week – and the streak – with losses Thursday and Friday in which the team was outscored 13-4. Most concerning was that the Muckdogs – who rank second in the NYPL with 9.2 hits per game – were held to seven and five hits in the losses respectively.

Before hitting the brakes against the ValleyCats, Batavia's five-game win streak propelled them into second place in the Pinckney Division behind Auburn (Nationals), whom they trail by 4.0 games; however, Batavia is 2.5 games behind Brooklyn (Mets) in the wildcard standings.

Through 45 games of the single-A short season, Batavia still stacks up well in the NYPL, despite the production dropping off the last two games. Offensively, the Muckdogs rank second in doubles (96), tied-fifth in runs (193), fifth in home runs (20; just four behind leader Jamestown), and third in both slugging (.385), and average (.263). On the mound, they place third in earned-run average (2.67), first in fewest walks allowed (81; 133 fewer than Aberdeen), tied-second in shutouts (4), and fourth in saves (14).

Mejia
In an unfortunate event this week, Alex Mejia's first professional season is over after just 23 games due to a torn ACL. He suffered the injury as a base runner while trying to avoid a collision after an errant throw to first base on a grounder to the infield. He ends the season at .250/.265/.333/.599 with a home run and seven RBI.

The 2012 4th-rounder was Batavia's leadoff hitter. And though scouts say they can see him being a utility infielder in the future, Mejia has great hand-eye coordination which allows him to hit line drives with some power. He also possesses undeniable competitiveness in his game and good hands at shortstop.

In terms of a good performance this week, Ben O'Shea steadied himself in a July 28 outing in which he pitched five scoreless innings with six strikeouts – a career high. Coming into that game against Staten Island, O'Shea owned a 4.81 ERA and his performances had been up-and-down from start to start.

The most outstanding part of O'Shea's season, though, is that he has only walked one batter in 29 1/3 innings – giving him a 19/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 35th-round pick is listed at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, and scouts say that if he grows into his body and becomes more comfortable with his strength and size, he should be able to increase his velocity by a few miles per hour. But for now, he's a 20-year-old with great control and plenty of time to develop further.

More Week 7 Notables:

• Stealing bases has proven to not be a focus of manager Dann Bilardello's team. Overall, the Muckdogs have 16 steals – one-fourth the total of league-leader Tri-Cities (64).

David Washington may be slugging .532 (behind only David Bergin who was promoted to Quad Cities recently and Danny Stienstra who's played seven games) and leading the team with 16 doubles this year; but the first baseman has 50 strikeouts in 126 at bats (39.6 percent K-rate). He leads Matthew Young by 13 despite playing one fewer game.

• The Muckdogs are a strike-throwing team. As mentioned above, they have issued the fewest walks in the NYPL, by a great margin; however, they have allowed the tied-second-most home runs (21). Ben Freeman has allowed six in 42.0 innings to lead the staff in that category.

Kevin Jacob has walked 10 batters this season in 18 1/3 innings – the highest percentage on the team. Despite this and a 4.42 ERA, the 23-year-old uses his 6-foot-6 frame to his advantage with effective deception and a release that makes the ball look like it's coming much faster than it really is.

• Since coming back from a thumb injury, Danny Stienstra is on a roll. Although it's just seven games, the first baseman is hitting .500/.500/.571 with two doubles. If he keeps up a good pace, the 2011 12th-round pick is making the infield competition for playing time more difficult.

• With Mejia's injury, Garrett Wittels has seen time at his more-natural shortstop position. He was learning to play left field for several weeks due to the crowded infield situation.

Transactions

8/1 - LHP Ryan Copeland transferred from Batavia to GCL Cardinals: The 2010 32nd-round pick pitched 2/3 innings with Batavia before returning to the GCL Cardinals. He allowed a walk, a hit and a strikeout with the Muckdogs, where he was officially listed as on a rehab assignment.

8/1 - LHP Matt Rein transferred from Batavia to GCL Cardinals: Listed on the seven-day disabled list, the 24-year-old pitched a scoreless inning in which he allowed two hits with a strikeout for Batavia.

8/1 - RHP Chris Thomas transferred from GCL Cardinals to Batavia: In 13 1/3 innings with the GCL Cardinals, the 2012 non-drafted free agent allowed one run on six hits with five walks and 15 strikeouts.

8/2 - OF Jordan Walton transferred from Batavia to Quad Cities: The 22-year-old hit .297/.358/.351 with four doubles and eight RBI in 26 games with the Muckdogs before his promotion. A scout said that Walton is a "gamer"-type of player: not much power, not the best in left field, but scrappy at the plate.

8/2 - SS Alex Mejia placed on Batavia disabled list, backdated to 7/31.

8/2 - OF David Popkins transferred from GCL Cardinals to Batavia: The 2012 undrafted free agent hit .353/.431/.490 with five doubles and a triple in the Gulf Coast League. He is 0-for-5 in two games in Batavia.

Coming Up

The Muckdogs travel to Vermont (Athletics) for a three-game series starting Saturday, then host State College (Pirates) and Mahoning Valley (Indians) for two-game series beginning next Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.



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