This South Bend team began the season 0-9 and never quite recovered, finishing 59-78 despite a couple of hot streaks during the summer. Although this was the first time in six seasons that manager Mark Haley failed to guide the Silver Hawks to the postseason, he did notch some milestones. He won his 400th game in a Silver Hawks uniform on June 3rd, then his 500th as a manager on August 3rd. The team also retired Haley's jersey this summer.
Haley used his managerial experience to develop an incredibly young team; they were the only squad in the Midwest League with an average age under 21 years. Most of the older players on the team were promoted early in the season, and the others generally served as backups to the young hotshot starters.Video Footage of South Bend Players
FutureBacks.com Position Player of the Year - 3B/DH Matt DavidsonMatt Davidson got promoted late in the season, yet still led the Silver Hawks with a .289 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, .504 slugging average, 35 doubles, 16 home runs, and 79 RBI as one of those 19-year old hotshots. He outplayed fellow highly-regarded third base prospect Bobby Borchering to earn that promotion. Davidson even got elected to both the mid-season and post-season All Star teams, being honored both at third base and as a designated hitter. You can nitpick about his baserunning (no successful steals in two attempts) and defense (16 errors in 52 games at third base), but Davidson's bat was clearly dominant.
Davidson stretching before a game
Other Notable Position Players
Davidson might not have been so clear a selection had shortstop Chris Owings not missed the second half of the season with foot inflammation. The 18-year old shortstop was leading the club with a .298 batting average before the injury, plus he showed surprising pop for a little guy and played Gold Glove defense at shortstop.
While bested by Davidson, Borchering still had an excellent season for a 19-year old in the Midwest League. The first-rounder led the team with 74 runs, 141 hits, and 221 total bases. He finished second in homers, RBI, doubles, and walks. Like Davidson, he struggled to find a rhythm on defense while playing DH for half his games.
Keon Broxton, another 19-year old, set a franchise record and tied the 56-year-old Midwest League record with 19 triples during the season, including triples in three straight games in mid-August at Lansing. No other player in professional baseball hit as many triples as Broxton did this year. While this leadoff hitter led the team with 21 steals and 65 walks, he also led the league with 172 strikeouts and hit just .228.
FutureBacks.com Pitcher of the Year - Brian Budrow
Selecting the best pitcher performance wasn't nearly as simple as it was among the position players. In such a tight race, we unconventionally went with a middle reliever over several impressive starters and a very good closer. Brian Budrow led the team with six victories, 40 appearances, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of over 4-to-1. Charles Brewer was the only South Bend pitcher to log more than 20 innings with the club and post an ERA lower than Budrow's mark of 2.60, but Brewer was only with the team for half the season. Moreover, Brewer allowed more total runs than Budrow did, but six of Brewer's runs were unearned.
Simply put, Budrow was South Bend's most consistent and reliable pitcher from April until September, when the Glendale native was rewarded with a cup of coffee promotion to the Visalia Rawhide.
Other Notable Pitchers
Yonata Ortega led the Midwest League with 22 saves in his second year with the Silver Hawks and and the entire Diamondbacks organization with 33 when combined with his time at Visalia. The splitfinger pitcher was also named the right-handed reliever for the Midwest League Postseason All-Star Team. While he could be dominant at times, he could also lose his command, as evidenced by his 10 wild pitches in just over 40 innings. As a result, Ortega posted a 4.10 ERA with South Bend that did not reflect how good of a season he actually had.
Christopher Odegaard was the other highly successful member of the bullpen. He fanned an incredible 73 batters without starting a single game. He went 5-3 with a 3.42 ERA generally by giving the team two or more innings of relief
The only pitcher to make more than 16 starts with the Hawks was Mike Belfiore, and he logged 25 despite a brief stint on the disabled list with a strained forearm. Belfiore was somewhat let down by his teammates in terms of both defense and run support, as he went 3-10 with 19 unearned runs allowed but also held a 3.99 ERA with solid peripheral stats. We expected better from this 45th overall draft selection, but perhaps we expected too much given that this was both his first full professional season and his first full season as a starting pitcher.
Promotions and Additions
Pitchers Eric Smith, Chase Anderson, Dan Taylor, and Charles Brewer each began the year in the starting rotation. By the time July 10th rolled around, all four were pitching for the Visalia Rawhide. Brewer was the best of the bunch, riding an unbelievable 1.83 ERA to an All-Star appearance. Anderson and Taylor each got the call after seven successful starts, and Smith used improved velocity to win five games and post a 3.53 ERA before finally joining the other three in California.
By the very end of the season, the staff was finally restocked. Tyler Skaggs, the prize of the Dan Haren deal, fanned 20 and allowed just three runs in his four stars. Derek Eitel, a 17th-rounder out of a school no one has heard of, piggybacked Skaggs' four starts and fanned 19 with only three runs allowed of his own. Fourth-rounder Kevin Munson made his pro debut with the Hawks in July. He was used sparingly, but surrendered just two runs in a dozen appearances, and might already be the best relief prospect in the farm system.
The biggest addition among position players was a surprise. Ramon Castillo joined the club in June as a short, chubby first baseman on a team that appeared to have a logjam at that position. All he did was hit a team-best .311 with 24 doubles and 44 RBI in 65 games. He only fanned 35 times over 241 at-bats. 42nd-rounder Chris Jarrett also provided an unexpected late season boost, batting .305 and playing 20 errorless games in the outfield after struggling somewhat with Missoula.
Fans in South Bend still talk fondly about the 2005 team that finished with a .600 winning percentage, 800 runs scored, and won the Midwest League Championship. But for all their success, that squad has only produced two major league stars in Carlos Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds. Five years later, South Bend fans witnessed a team with a .431 winning percentage, 538 runs scored, and the first missed postseason for the city in nearly a decade. Yet by 2015, those fans are going to be bragging about the fact that they saw so many big league All-Stars playing on the same Silver Hawks team back in 2010.
Discuss this story in the FutureBacks.com Subscriber-Only Message Boards.