Batavia Muckdogs Notebook: 2012 Week 9

The Cardinals' short-season Class A club remains in the New York-Penn League playoff hunt. A strong bullpen is one reason why.

After a disappointing Week 8, the Batavia Muckdogs certainly put the New York-Penn League All-Star Break to use. Following the two days off Monday and Tuesday of Week 9, the team went 3-0.

After coming into the break with a subpar 27-26 record, Batavia completed a three-game sweep of Williamsport (Phillies) and was also victorious against Mahoning Valley (Indians) Friday.

As of Saturday, Batavia is in second place in the Pinckney Division behind Auburn (Nationals), which has been at the top the entire season. The Muckdogs stand 3.0 games back in the division and 4.0 behind in the wildcard. With 20 games left in the season, that is a manageable margin to overcome.

The four Muckdogs selected to the NYPL All-Star game contributed to the National League-affiliated teams' 8-1 victory: second baseman Breyvic Valera led-off for the N.L. All-Stars and went 0-for-2 with an RBI. Third baseman Patrick Wisdom went 1-for-2 at the plate with a run, and pitchers Tyler Melling and Lee Stoppelman combined for two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.

Within the league, the Muckdogs rank third in batting average (.260), first in doubles (119) and second in slugging (.374). In terms of pitching, Batavia sits third in saves (17), third in earned-run average (2.97), and first in fewest walks allowed (103; 161 behind Aberdeen).

Stoppelman has distinguished himself as a premier reliever for the Muckdogs. In 27 2/3 innings, the 2012 24th-round pick owns a 0.98 ERA with a 37-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has shown above-average command; and despite average fastball velocity, the left-hander's deceptive windup and smooth delivery make the ball appear to explode out of his hand, even though it is going 89 miles per hour. Scouts say they can picture him as a starter in the future at a higher level.

Other Week 9 Notables:

• First baseman David Washington has 44 hits this season, eighteen of which are doubles. He also has 62 strikeouts in 42 games.

• While no Muckdog hitter has more walks than strikeouts, NYPL All-Star Patrick Wisdom has the best ratio on the team at 38/25 in 48 games. He also has 13 doubles, two triples and three home runs.

• With Yunior Castillo's promotion to Quad Cities, Batavia is losing its saves leader (5). Lee Stoppelman has four while Brandon Creath has three.

• Of relievers still on the roster, Corey Baker now takes the cake as bullpen-ERA leader (2.27). I've written here before about how he's a "battler," as a scout said, and the typical no-praise middle reliever who is called upon in tough situations and simply gets out of them.

• The Muckdogs pitching staff has a collective 4.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio which, if you think about this level, is astoundingly great.


8/17 - RHP Yunior Castillo transferred from Batavia to Quad Cities: The 23-year-old will make his pitching debut for the River Bandits after playing with the team in 2011 as an infielder. Castillo made great strides this season in control and refinement of his pitches, so this is a positive development for the Dominican Republic native.

In 26 innings with Batavia, Castillo posted a 2.08 ERA with an impressive 29-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. An odd aspect to Castillo's season is that he's given up three home runs and just six earned runs overall.

8/17 - C Adam Lewis transferred from Quad Cities to Batavia: Lewis played five games in Batavia recently and went 2-for-9 with three strikeouts.

Coming up

Batavia takes on Mahoning Valley Saturday followed by a series in Auburn which includes a doubleheader. On Tuesday, they return to Dwyer Stadium for the first time since August 12 to play the Scrappers.

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