Record through April 24: 17-3, First place, Southern Division (4.0 games ahead of Asheville and Charleston)
Over the offseason, SFDugout.com ranked its top 50 players in the San Francisco Giants system. Now that we're almost a month into the season, the guy that's leading the Augusta GreenJackets was nowhere on it.
Shortstop Brian Bocock was a ninth-round pick out of Stetson University in 2006, and was overshadowed by being the third shortstop drafted by the Giants at that point, behind Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan Rohlinger. The Giants also drafted another middle infielder, Bradley Boyer, just four rounds later.
All four middle infielders played with Salem-Keizer, who raged onto a record winning season. Burriss was the starting shortstop and one of the leading players on that charge, and all three of Boyer, Bocock and Rohlinger split time at other positions, all putting up solid statistics but not standing out on a high performing team.
In 2007, the players were separated and playing time has been created. Burriss and Boyer moved up to San Jose. In Augusta, the infield picture was a bit more cloudy. Rohlinger is still listed as a shortstop, but has found a home at third base. But Bocock came into the season looking to battle for playing time with a couple of oft-discussed prospects who had been in the system for a while, shortstop Sharlon Schoop and now-second baseman Marcus Sanders.
Bocock has responded to the competition in a big way.
Bocock started the season hot, and despite going hitless for a four-game streak last week, he is still one of the team leaders in batting average at .313. But perhaps the most eye-popping stat has been the stolen bases.
Bocock stole four bases in one game on April 24, giving him 18 stolen bases on the season. It's easy enough to say he leads his team, or even the South Atlantic League. It's a little more eye-popping to point out that he leads the entire Giants system, a system that has drafted some of the fastest players in baseball over the past few years, a group of whom Bocock didn't even enter the discussion of last season.
But Bocock leads all of organized baseball -- including the majors -- in steals. And it's not very close. The closest players (Nyjer Morgan, playing for the Indianapolis Indians of the Triple-A International League, and Ovandy Suero, playing for Lakeland of the High-A Florida State League) have just 13 steals. That sort of a thing, even if only a couple of weeks into the season is eye-popping.
Bocock has also played at shortstop nearly every day, playing there over Sharlon Schoop, whose defensive ability at shortstop has been touted often by several sources.
Bocock will definitely have to keep it up to prove that this isn't a fluke. He has had five errors to lead the team defensively. And while he's backed up his average with a strong on-base percentage, he has just five extra-base hits on the season -- all doubles. Even if he sticks as an on-base machine with plus speed, a team would like to see more slugging even from a shortstop.
Bocock will get the chance, after moving into the leadoff spot, at least temporarily, for the start of this week.
Injury Update: Tyler Graham has been reported to have a "lower-body" injury, but for now, he won't be put on the disabled list. He hasn't played since April 18, and his status is unknown for Thursday's game against Greenville. The GreenJackets leadoff spot has been taken over by Bocock in the meantime. Graham does have a 14-game hitting streak waiting for him to return to the diamond.
Roster Update: Joey Dyche has been promoted to San Jose to fill the roster spot left open by Ben Copeland's injury. In the meantime, Augusta's outfield has been filled out by Bobby Felmy, who returned from the disabled list on April 19. Felmy could fill a much-needed role in the middle of the GreenJacket's order.
Player of the Week: Kevin Pucetas
The rotation may be headlined by Adam Cowart, but Pucetas has been money in the last week. In two appearances as part of the tag team rotation plan, Pucetas pitched 10 innings, giving up just six hits and one walk, with one earned run. When he starts, he has yet to give up a run.
By The Numbers: 12
That's the number of at-bats it took Bobby Felmy to hit his first home run of the year, the quickest of any Augusta player. No one on the GreenJackets has more than one this year.