Batavia Muckdogs Notebook: 2012 Week 10

With time running short, the Cardinals' affiliate needs to make up three games in the New York-Penn League playoff race.

The Batavia Muckdogs (35-29) still have a chance for a playoff spot, but didn't make much headway in Week 10. With a 5-3 week – which included a four-game win streak – Batavia basically remained stagnant at three games back in both the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division and wildcard races. Batavia took advantage of a favorable stretch of schedule facing lesser opponents Williamsport (Phillies) and Mahoning Valley (Indians); but they dropped a double header against first-place Auburn (Nationals) on Sunday.

The Muckdogs are one of the more talented teams in the NYPL production-wise, as their hitting statistics within the NYPL show: first in doubles (131), third in home runs (31), third in hits (576), fourth in RBI (247), second in slugging (.374) and third in average (.259).

Regarding pitching, the Muckdogs rank fourth in earned-run average (3.05), first in fewest walks allowed (117), first in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.15) and sixth in strikeouts (488).

What has hurt them – besides the high number of one-run losses - is the lack of drawing walks at the plate. Batavia ranks second-to-last in the NYPL with 169 base on balls as a team. It's a skill that comes in handy in this league that contains many young, out-of-control pitchers that could be exploited if the team did not swing as often.

Jacob Wilson had a breakout week in Week 10 by hitting three home runs in three straight games with eight RBI. In the last ten games, the 22-year-old is hitting .314/.342/.629. He was named the league's Player of the Week for the period of August 13-19.

Jacob flashed some power while at the University of Memphis where he hit 17 home runs in a season, but he hasn't translated that to the NYPL so far. Jacob has done most of his damage against left-handed pitching: in 30 at-bats against them, the right-hander has 10 hits (of 17 total), four walks (of 10 total) and two doubles (of five total); but he hit all three homers against right-handed pitchers.

Wilson is in a tough position because he has to fight to playing time on this team with Patrick Wisdom, Breyvic Valera, Danny Stienstra and David Washington making up the infield. He can fill-in at second base or play third when Wisdom is the designated hitter.

Week 10 Notables

• Muckdogs' pitching is adept at not allowing walks; but Kevin Jacob is essentially the one pitcher on the team that has a high walk rate (4.8 per nine innings). However he had his best outing of the season in Friday's 7-4 loss to Williamsport. In three innings of work, Jacob allowed a run on two hits while striking out six and walking one.

The 2011 31st-round pick doesn't have an outrageous strikeout-per-nine total (8.9) - especially compared to Brandon Creath's 12.7 in about the same number of innings - but Jacob has 23 punch-outs and just five walks in his last 17.0 innings.

Jacob used to throw over-the-top – an extreme angle given his 6-foot-6 frame – but the release point seems to have been lowered closer to three-quarters by the coaching staff tweaking his mechanics.

• Through 26 games, Stienstra continues to look locked-in. It's a trait that is somewhat uncommon in the NYPL, but the 2011 12th-round pick seems composed and confident at the plate. With just six strikeouts in 102 at bats and a .363/.405/.480 batting line, Stienstra has displayed his quality plate approach and pitch recognition skills. On Friday, he went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a home run, his second of the season.

• Starter Ben Freeman leads the team in home runs allowed with seven (followed by Ben O'Shea's total of four); but the 2010 11th-round pick has yielded only 13 earned runs overall despite the high home run total. Home runs can be unlucky in some cases – and that may be true for Freeman, who throws a lot of strikes and owns a 2.39 ERA in 49 innings. Reliever Corey Baker has pitched the most innings on the team without allowing a home run (40 2/3).

• Just two players on the active roster are hitting above .300 - Stienstra and Valera. It has been a point of emphasis here since Week 1 about Valera's standout talent and as of Week 10, he has 16 doubles, three triples, a home run and 30 RBI in 58 games.


8/22 - RHP Mike Aldrete transferred from Johnson City to Batavia: The 22-year-old is the son of Mike Aldrete – the St. Louis Cardinals bench coach. Since joining the team, he has pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout.

Coming Up

The last full week of the regular season features more matchups against Williamsport and Mahoning Valley. Nineteen games in August are against those two teams which should give Batavia an advantage in making the playoffs since both the Crosscutters and Scrappers are at the bottom of the Pinckney Division. The Muckdogs will be on the road, though, where they have a 15-16 record this season.

This week will show if the Muckdogs are a playoff team. Based on the strong level of talent on the field all season long, and the opponents they're facing, a three-game deficit is possible to make up.

Follow me on Twitter: @SloaneMartin.

© 2012 The Cardinal Nation, and All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories