Top Early Season Performers

As clubs near the quarter mark of the 2007 season, Inside Pitch offers a review of who is off to a hot start both hitting and pitching. Observers wait to see who will continue their good play and who will step up as the season progresses.

Top 5 Offensive Performers

Chip Ambres: OF, New Orleans

He played in only 56 games last season with Omaha when he hit a meager .203. In just half those games this season he has blown by those numbers. He has hammered lefties this season to the tune of .483 in 29 at-bats. He is hitting .357 with runners in scoring position. He is one of the guiding forces of the New Orleans lineup that features him, Andy Tracy and Carlos Gomez in the middle. Getting ahead in the count is imperative for Ambres. Ahead, he hits .395, behind, that average drops to .115.

So far in '07: 28 G, .292, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 26 H, 17 R, .385 OBP %, .583 SLG %

Andy Tracy: 3B, New Orleans

The Zephyrs man on the hot corner leads the offense from the heart of the order. At his current pace, he should easily surpass the statistics he collected in Ottawa last season when he hit .237 with 20 home runs and 73 RBI. The left-handed hitting slugger is not only dominant versus opposite handed pitchers. Twenty-five percent of his at-bats have come against southpaws and he hits .320 against them. However, Zephyr Field has not been friendly to Tracy as he is hitting .231 at home as opposed to .345 on the road.

So far in '07: 31 G, .290, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 31 H, 26 R, .398 OBP %, .551 SLG %

Carlos Gomez: OF, New Orleans

The biggest star in the system shows no signs of slowing down after his promotion from Binghamton. The potential five-tool star is just 21-years-old and has more hits than anyone on the farm. He already demonstrates his ability to spray the ball all over the field. When he does get on base he is even more lethal thanks his blazing speed. The numbers are not surprising, but the quickness at which he attains them that is really turning heads.

So far in '07: 35 G, .289, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 39 H, 23 R, 17 SB, .368 OBP %, .400 SLG %

Daniel Murphy: 3B, St. Lucie

Although he has not yet cracked a home run in 2007, Murphy has been one of St. Lucie's most consistent hitters. He has knocked in 17 of St. Lucie's league worst 99 runs scored. He is healed from his prior leg injuries and is back to hitting from line to line. He came out the gates rather slow as he hit just .250 in April, but has picked it up to .357 in May. Like Tracy, home is not as sweet for Murphy as he has hit just .221 at Tradition Field, compared to .355 on the road. St. Lucie will continue to rely on Murphy for his production. The evidence of the team's poor offense is evident by his six runs scored despite being on base 45 times.

So far in '07: 34 G, .285, 0 HR, 17 RBI, 37 H, 6 R, .319 OBP %, .346 SLG %

Sean Henry: OF, St. Lucie

In his first stop in high A-ball, Henry entered the year determined to progress his offensive game. His four home runs lead a team starved for power – the St. Lucie lineup has just 12 home runs in their 34 games. Henry has appeared in every game this season and has settled into his new outfield position. Plate discipline, however, continues to be a pressing need for him. He racked up just 13 walks so far this season.

So far in '07: 34 G, .250, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 31 H, 15 R, .326 OBP %, .427 SLG %

Top 5 Pitching Performers

Jorge Sosa - New Orleans

Sosa spent 2006 with the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis with minimal success. He logged a quality start in every appearance, including three which he did not let a run cross the plate. His sharpened repertoire and strengthened control have made him more efficient around the plate. The big league club called him up for one start in which he allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings. A seasoned big league veteran, Sosa has reformed his game this year with New Orleans.

So far in '07: 5 G, 5 GS, 4-0, 1.13 ERA, 32 IP, 29 K, 4 BB, .250 OBA

Bobby Parnell - St. Lucie

Parnell has been stellar in his second tour with St. Lucie. He has forfeited zero runs in half of his six starts. His earned run average is two full runs lower than the next St. Lucie starter. He has struck out three times as many hitters as he has walked. After an up-and-down 2006, he rebounded this season as leader for his rotation. He has buckled down in pressure situations as batters have hit just .148 off him with runners in scoring position.

So far in '07: 6 G, 6 GS, 1-1, 1.67 ERA, 27 IP, 34 K, 10 BB, .208 OBA

Deolis Guerra - St. Lucie

Although he has punched only one victory this season, he is only half a step behind Parnell as the head of the rotation. In 30 innings pitched, the opposition hit just .210 off him. Oddly enough, lefties hit just .191 off him yet he has surrendered ten of his 12 runs allowed this year to them. He has forced four times as many ground balls then fly balls to southpaws. His splits may be puzzling, but nonetheless, his performance in his first full year in St. Lucie is extremely promising.

So far in '07: 6 G, 6 GS, 1-3, 3.60 ERA, 30 IP, 21 K, 7 BB, .210 OBA

Kevin Mulvey - Binghamton

Mulvey is not overpowering but has been very efficient. He shook off his first start of the year in which he allowed seven earned runs in 1 1/3 innings to great success (he allowed seven earned runs in his next six starts). His confidence grows with every start as his command of the strike zone continues to tighten. Binghamton is off to a poor start, but Mulvey is a beacon of stability right now for a team searching for its identity. He enjoys the confines of NYSEG Stadium where he boasts a 1.00 ERA, a vast difference from his 6.61 road ERA.

So far in '07: 7 G, 7 GS, 3-3, 3.67 ERA, 34 1/3 IP, 28 K, 7 BB, .239 OBA

Greg Mullens - Savannah

Mullens stands out on the Sand Gnats' staff during their disappointing season. He has received time both as a starter (including one complete game), but predominately out of the bullpen. He does not strike out many batters and pitches for contact. He has effectively clamped off rallies during in relief in which he has thrown an average of three innings per appearance. His sub-.200 opponents' batting average with runners on-base is perhaps his most important stat.

So far in '07: 6 G, 2 GS, 2-0, 1.67 ERA, 27 IP, 11 K, 9 BB, .208 OBA

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