Batavia Muckdogs Notebook: 2012 Week 8

The Cardinals' short-season New York-Penn League club dropped in the standings after an uneven 2-5 week.

It's the dog days of the baseball season, even in short-season Single-A. In Week 8, the Batavia Muckdogs floundered and took a big step backward, falling to third place in the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division as the result of a 2-5 week (25-24 overall). The week included a four-game losing streak -- part of an overall six-game slide. The promotion of and injuries to key players such as Alex Mejia, Kyle Barraclough, Jordan Walton and Jose Almarante, for example, have negatively impacted the Muckdogs. It's the nature of the game in minor league baseball, but Batavia has scuffled with new names.

All-Star Valera
Batavia's record has suffered recently, but its production has maintained relative stability compared to where the team typically ranked in the first half of the season. At the plate, Batavia is first in doubles (113), third in hits (467; 8.98 per game), second in strikeouts (420; 8.07 per game), seventh in on-base percentage (.318), third in slugging (.373) and third in average (.259). In terms of pitching, the Muckdogs rank fourth in earned-run average (3.07), first in fewest walks allowed (97), fifth in home runs allowed (25), and fourth in saves (15).

Also this week, five Muckdogs were named to the NYPL All-Star Game: infielders Breyvic Valera and Patrick Wisdom, catcher Jesus Montero and pitchers Tyler Melling and Lee Stoppelman. Here is how their seasons are progressing as of Week 8:

• Valera (2010 non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela): .333/.367/.438, 21 K, 10 BB, 22 RBI, 12 2B, 27 R
• Wisdom (2012, supplemental 1st round): .284/.378/.426, 33 K, 22 BB, 16 RBI, 12 2B, 3 HR, 29 R
• Montero (2008 non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela): .287/.360/.434, 26 K, 8 BB, 21 RBI, 6 2B, 3 HR, 18 R
• Melling (2011, 39th round): 3-1, 2.51 ERA, 9 starts, 46 2/3 IP, 50 H, 13 ER, 2 HR, 33/2 K/BB
• Stoppelman (2012, 24th round): 2-1, 1.07 ERA, 15 games, 25 1/3 IP, 15 H, 3 ER, 31/6 K/BB, 3 SVs

Week 8 Notables:

• With Montero's absence and the promotion of Adam Lewis to Quad Cities, Jonathan Keener becomes the team's primary catcher, while Kolby Byrd also moves behind the plate. Byrd – a member of the Muckdogs' Opening Day roster – has appeared in just 15 games this season, including three behind the plate. A scout said that he doesn't see the position as an option for Byrd in the future and that his rust behind the plate was evident.

• Outfielder Matthew Young has been struggling lately for Batavia. The 2012 20th-round pick is currently hitting .217/.322/.292 with 42 strikeouts and 20 walks in 38 games, including a 3-for-30 mark in his last 10 games with no extra base hits and a 15/3 K/BB. Young also made an ill-advised decision in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to State College. After singling, he advanced to second on an error but then was thrown out by a significant margin while trying to take third. The game was tied at two in the 8th when this occurred and the third batter of the inning singled with one out which would have scored Young and presumably won the game.

• After returning from a thumb injury, Danny Stienstra has been on a roll for Batavia. In 14 games, the 23-year-old is hitting .386/.419/.456 with three doubles and nine RBI. He walked three times in Friday's 7-3 loss and has only struck out three times in 51 at-bats.

Joey Cuda's ERA is approaching 5.00 following a start Thursday in which he allowed six earned runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Brandon Creath had an up-and-down week for Batavia. On August 6, he allowed three runs in one inning with two walks and no strikeouts, and on August 10 he pitched a scoreless inning with a hit and a strikeout. Creath's ERA has slowly ascended to 3.18, including 5.84 in the last 12 1/3 innings. Through the first 18.0 innings this season with Batavia, he owned a 0.50 ERA. He's still been able to maintain a high strikeout rate (11.2 K/9) and his walk rate is only slightly above his career average (4.2 BB/9 versus 4.0).


8/7 - RHP Kurt Heyer transferred from Gulf Coast League Cardinals to Batavia: In two innings with the GCL Cardinals, Heyer allowed a hit and struck out four.

8/7 - C Adam Lewis transferred from Batavia to Quad Cities: Lewis played in five games with the Muckdogs, going 2-for-9 with three strikeouts and one walk.

8/10 - OF Reggie Williams reinstated from Batavia restricted list: Williams returned to the Muckdogs after serving a 50-game suspension for Methylhexaneamine, a stimulant. The 22-year-old started in Friday's 7-3 loss, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. A scout said Friday that Williams "took one of the worst BPs (batting practice) I've ever seen."

8/10 - RHP Jose Pasen reinstated from Batavia restricted list: The Dominican Republic native returned after 50 games out for a positive test for metabolites of Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance. The right-hander appeared in Batavia's 7-3 loss Friday allowing four runs (three earned), with two walks on one hit without recording an out.

8/10 - C Jesus Montero placed on Batavia disabled list, backdated to 8/6: Montero – who last played on August 2 – is wearing a cast on his arm and is out indefinitely. One of the Muckdogs' key offensive producers, he was hitting .308/.377/.453 with three home runs, six doubles and 21 RBI in 33 games.

Coming Up

The Muckdogs host Williamsport for a two-game series followed by an off-day Monday and the NYPL All-Star Game in Mahoning Valley Tuesday. The All-Star Break is short and sweet because on Wednesday, the Muckdogs travel to Williamsport for a two-game series and then to Mahoning Valley Friday.

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