Loons Pitchers Tough; Hitters Rough

The Great Lakes Loons have one of the most intimidating pitching staffs in the entire Midwest League. While the adage goes that "good pitching beats good hitting" might have relevancy in other places, it has not been so here in Midland.

Many gutsy pitching performances have been undermined by what has thus far proved to be an inconsistent offense, despite the prevalence of many highly regarded hitters on the roster.

For example, Josh Bell and Carlos Santana have put up impressive numbers in the lower minor leagues, Bell with his power production and Santana with his offensive consistency. However, Bell just recently hit his first homerun of the season and Santana is batting a mere .135 through the first 25 ballgames.

Some of the lack of offense could be attributed to the cold weather that plagued Midwest League ballparks at the beginning of the season to the point of making hitting slumps more menacing, like an affliction. But do not let the numbers fool you.

Bell and Santana have showcased their ability to hit professional pitching early in their careers and are illustrating potential to improve those skills as they garner more experience through the ranks of minor league baseball. Slumps are like dating: if one tries to hard or thinks too long about it, the more frustrating it becomes.

Meanwhile, the pitching has been has exceeded expectations, a difficult thing to say because it infers that they are playing above their potential. However, the Loons staff features highly touted arm like Clayton Kershaw, Steven Johnson, Cody White, and Josh Wall.

Even though Johnson's ERA is the second highest on the pitching staff, his control has been remarkable, walking only four batters in as many starts. The same things could be said of Wall, another pitcher exhibiting great control.

White is still looking for his first victory of the season, but has pitched impressively. Despite a rough start Wednesday against the Swing of the Quad Cities, he has made hitters look silly while getting little run support from the Loons offense.

In addition, Francisco Felix has posted an anorexic 0.36 ERA in seven appearances, recently making the move from the bullpen to the starting rotation.

And as for Kershaw, he picked up another victory on Monday evening, compiling seven strikeouts, improving his record to 2-0 and lowering his ERA to a paltry 1.08.