With the first half of the season ending this weekend, it's time to take a second look back at the season so far. Last week I covered the pitching staff. This week I'll analyze the position players based on stats and my personal views of their play.
I'll take these in alphabetical order. Some of the guys who are in this report have VERY limited playing time, so it's hard to make a full judgment of their abilities, but this is what I have.
Wilmer Alvarado is one of the newest members of the Swing. Through 11 games, he is batting .282. In Wednesday's game this week, he hit three for four. An impressive six of his eleven hits have been doubles; he has yet to hit a home run. Alvarado has five RBI's and eight K's with one stolen base. Since most of his games with the team have been on the road, I haven't gotten a good look at him yet, but I like what I've seen so far. The 19 year old is already making a name for himself.
All-Star starter Brandon Buckman is currently third in the league with a .343 batting average. His 83 hits put him second in the league, only three hits behind Gerardo Parra of the South Bend Silver Hawks. Parra has had 21 more plate appearances. Buckman also leads the league in home runs, RBI and total bases. When the season started, I was concerned about his defense but that concern has long since been laid to rest. Buckman won't be long in this league after next week. I won't be surprised if he goes straight to AA, since he's already 23 years old.
Luke Gorsett should have been named to the All-Star team, but you'll never hear him say that. He is hitting .291 in 55 games, averaging one hit per game. Seventeen of his hits have been doubles and he has two homers on the year. Luke has yet to attempt a stolen base, but with so many doubles, and lots of power hitters behind him in the order, he hasn't needed to steal. I've taken the role of "adopted dad" to the team, so I choose not to have favorites, but Gorsett makes it hard to stick to that decision. The outfielder just turned 22, so he has lots of time to develop, but I see him moving up before the end of the season.
Chris Grossman was an early-season concern to me as well. He has also left that concern behind. Grossman has raised his BA to .266 and has really improved his field management from behind the plate. He has 11 doubles and two home runs, but he also has 25 strikeouts. At the age of 26, this is a do or die year for the catcher. I think he's doing more than dying.
Rising star Daryl Jones is an enigma. He should be knocking the cover off the ball, but I think he's putting too much pressure on himself. Overall, the outfielder's stats look good, but he seems to buckle when he should be stepping up. He's only hitting .186 with eight doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI in 34 hits. Jones turns 20 next week. This could be a make or break season for DJ. I'm betting on "make", but that remains to be seen.
Another enigma is Jaime Landin. For all intents and purposes, he should never have made the team, but he has quickly become a fan favorite. He's simply a sparkplug for the Swing. After being cut by the Cardinals after spring training in 2006, the second baseman went out and played hard in an independent league and earned an invitation back to ST '07. Now, in just 39 games with the Swing, Jaime is hitting .242 with five doubles, five homers, and fifteen RBI on just thirty-two hits. He has struck out fifteen times and walked fourteen. I am reminded of Casey Rowlett when I watch Landin. They have similar builds, both play just about any position they are asked, and both are real work horses. He turned 24 in April so this is also his year to move up.
Christian Lopez is the Swing's other All-Star starter; a fact made more impressive by the fact that he has only appeared in 45 games so far. His stats aren't all that impressive, but he certainly is. Hitting .248, with only one home run and four doubles, Lopez just seems to have a knack for coming up with the big play in every game. Just 20 years old, he has time to develop, but he won't take long.
Another recent addition, Tommy Pham, has only played in one game that I attended. He is only hitting .074 right now, two for twenty seven. I'm reminded that last year a guy named Colby Rasmus started about the same, so I'm not REAL concerned at this point. Also only 19 years old, Pham has plenty of time to develop. I won't be surprised if he makes a trip to short-season next week.
With 34 hits in 31 games, catcher Christian Reyes is another pleasant surprise this season. He's hitting .309 with six home runs and five doubles. I'm concerned about his K:BB ratio; at bats. He needs to work on his consistency, too. He's either hot on fire or not at all. At age 21, I see him developing at a good pace.
Another one that I am watching with a critical eye is Willian Sandoval. He's batting .180 in 139 at bats, with one home run and two doubles. He has also struck out many more times than walked (.) I keep coming back to the thought that many of these guys are so young. Willian is only 21, so he has time, but it's time to step up.
Jared Schweitzer is a welcome bright spot on the team. Having spent several weeks on the DL, he is still looking good for the Swing. He has 29 hits in 103 attempts for an average of .282. He also has 14 RBI and 4 bombs. He has expressed to me that he's at a turning point this year since he is 23 years old. I think that things are turning the right direction for Jared.
Donovan Solano is the last of the batters to cover this week. I'm working to find an upside for Solano. He's batting only .221, .156 in the last ten games. Playing primarily shortstop, it's understandable that he has more errors, but his error count is out of line. His age is on his side, though. At only 19, I predict a trip to short-season ball for Donovan.
Overall, here is the line on the batters as a team:
64 games, 2129 at bats 552 hits
for an average of .259. That's 108 doubles, six triples, and 44 long balls for
245 RBIs. As a team, they need improvement on taking walks over striking out.
They have 161 walks and 407 Ks. Again, this is a young team, prone to make young
mistakes. On the flip-side, I've been watching baseball here in
Next week is the start of the second half. It appears that the team will be fighting for one of the playoff spots in August since they are falling short in this half. Look for reports on Tyler Herron and Kenny Maiques in the next couple of weeks. I had a great interview with them over the weekend.
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