Augusta Team Report | June 21st

Augusta is in the playoffs, but were they really all that good? With the break over, time to take stock of what happened, what didn't happen, and how the second half might play out.

Offense: Scoring runs hasn't really been Augusta's strong point, but it hasn't been a very weak point.  With 364 runs on the season so far, the team is nearly 100 runs behind league leader West Virginia and their 457 runs, but they are 6th in the 16-team league, and only 26 runs out of third.  But what they are is a team without a true offensive leader.

The team's early leader was Brian Bocock, who hit well but stole bases even better by jumping out to a huge stolen base lead.  But Bocock was promoted quickly.  The good news is that Bocock's replacement Emmanuel Burriss has jumped off to a similar start after a disappointing run in San Jose.

The team has also benefited from a strong center of the lineup.  Matt Weston has hit a few homers, plenty of doubles, and batted well for average.  Veteran catcher Dayton Buller has hit very well in part time.  And outfielder Bobby Felmy leads the team with 8 home runs and been strong overall.  Brett Pill hasn't been a pure slugger, but leads the league with 24 doubles.  And Marcus Sanders has been good in recovering from injury, although the extra-base hits aren't there.

That's not to say there haven't been some disappointments.  Mike McBryde has been disappointing overall, and has only got a .294 on-base percentage, which is tough on a speed guy.  Middle infielder Sharlon Schoop has been disappointing as well, and has since been demoted with Salem-Keizer starting up.  But overall, this has been a strong overall squad, even without a power hitter at its heart.  GRADE: B

Starting Pitching: Four of this team's five regular starters got picked to the All-Star squad.  The fifth was considered by most as a snub.  That's how good this staff is.

Henry Sosa led the minor leagues with a 0.73 ERA, and Kevin Pucetas is nearly as good with a 1.54 ERA.  Add in Adam Cowart (2.01), Ben Snyder (2.15), Clayton Tanner (2.19), and what you've got is a rotation that rocks the league with a league-leading 2.39 ERA.

Sosa was promoted just before the break, and rumor is that another might be promoted soon.  But this is a team with some depth.  The team started with pairs of starters that moved took turns starting than relieving.  Dan Griffin (3.08 ERA) is waiting in the wings , and Robert Grace (3.27 ERA) also would be deserving of another chance to start after scuffling in his first few attempts at it.  GRADE: A

Relief Pitching: The team's depth in starting pitching has overflowed into the bullpen.  Griffin (4.03 as a starter, 2.30 as a reliever), Grace (6.35 as a starter, 1.11 as a reliever), and Steven Calicutt (5.97 as a starter, 2.20 as a reliever) all have deepened this bullpen and strengthened.

The bullpen hasn't needed much of a depth check, though, as All-Star closer Juan Trinidad has held on to what few leads the team has needed saved, saving 13 of the team's 26 saves.  Of course, eight of those saves have come from the tag team starters, often earning three-inning rule saves.

The bullpen may get a little flattened out as mid-season promotions hit, but there isn't much need for concern here.  GRADE: A

Overall: What can be said about this team, other than they've gotten it done?  They started the season with a 12-game winning streak.  With a three-team race for the division title at the end of May, the team took 14 of 15, including six of seven from one of those rivals, the Asheville Tourists.  They have won when it counted.  Granted, it was a three-team race they let other teams get into, maybe if only briefly.  GRADE: A-

Roster Moves: Henry Sosa was the first casualty of a top rotation, getting promoted to San Jose, and he probably won't be the last.  Meanwhile, Schoop and reliever Jared Cranston were sent down to Salem-Keizer after disappointing first halves.  The team has added infielder Aaron Hornostaj.

Player Of The Week: Kevin Pucetas

Pucetas has been rocking, allowing just 1 run in each of his last two starts and walking no one in either of them.  As if that weren't good enough, he was named an All-Star, and after Sosa was promoted out of the All-Star Game, Pucetas got the start, and pitched a sterling first inning of it, even if the team lost.

By The Numbers: 26

That's the number of stolen bases Brian Bocock had in 39 games before being promoted.  With most players having played 60 games or more, Bocock still ranks fifth in the league with that total.

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