Beavers End of Season Report Card – The Offense

Final Record – 69-75, 5 games behind the 1st place Edmonton Trappers<br><br> <b>Offensive Summary</b><br><br> The clearest improvement between the 2002 and 2003 Beavers was offensively. The 2002 edition ranked near the bottom in virtually every offensive category, batting .260 as a club and ranking next to last in OBP and runs scored.

The 2003 Beavers batted .267, which was good for 9th in the league and scored 651 runs, which tied for 9th. Their average of 4.52 runs per game was a 0.39 run per game improvement over the 2002 club. The 2003 team also posted a better OBP (.331 vs. 315) and a better SLG, albeit slightly (.406 vs .403). This year's group ranked 4th in HRs (up from 12th a year ago), 8th in Walks (vs 15th in 2002), 4th in Stolen Bases (vs 13th). The Beavers were successful on 78.3% of their stolen base tries, the best success rate in the league.

In short, this was a fun club to watch hit and extremely exciting to watch on the basepaths. Unlike the 2002 edition, you felt like the 2003 Beavers had a chance to come back from an early deficit given their power hitting and ability to manufacture runs. Unfortunately, also unlike the 2002 edition, the 2003 club tended to fall behind early quite frequently due to its mediocre starting pitching. We'll grade the hitters first, and come back with the pitching grades in a few days.

A:

Jason Bay – A fantastic hitter, Bay was clearly the Beavers offensive MVP in 2003. In 307 ABs, Bay hit .303 with a .410 OBP and .541 SLG. His OBP and SLG led the team. Jason hit 20 HRs to rank 1st on the team and his 59 RBIs were tied for 1st. Bay also led the team with 55 walks and whiffed only 71 times. Bay also stole 23 bases (an 85% success rate) to rank 2nd on the squad. Began the year playing RF and moved to CF after Kory DeHaan was injured in late May. Made only 1 error in 90 games in the outfield. Next Season – With the trade to the Pirates in late August, I expect Bay to step right in and put up solid numbers for Pittsburgh. His combination of power, speed, defense and plate discipline give him all the tools to have a very successful major league career.

Bernie Castro – Bounced back from a rough start to have an excellent season. The Beavers leadoff hitter led the PCL in stolen bases (49 – 79% success rate) despite playing in only 105 games. Led the team with a .309 batting average. Posted a .347 OBP and .387 SLG. Drew only 25 walks in 424 ABs, struck out 43 times. His aggressive approach early in the count kept both of those numbers low. Extremely effective bunting the ball down either the 1st or 3rd base line. Played 2B exclusively and made 14 errors which ranked 2nd on the team. Voted fastest baserunner in the PCL by league managers. Next Season – Expect him to be back in Portland in 2004 – possibly branching out and playing another position, perhaps CF. Increasing his versatility and improving his walk rate will enhance his chances at ultimately winning a utility job in the majors.

Alex Fernandez – Another successful year in the PCL for Alex. Fernandez batted .303 with a .327 OBP and .454 SLG, which ranked 2nd on the team. Still only 22 years old, Alex displayed range in the outfield, playing all 3 positions, and a cannon arm. He also stole 16 bases (70% success rate). Alex finished 2nd on the team with 23 doubles, 3rd with 52 RBIs and tied for 4th with 10 HRs. Biggest weakness is the lack of patience at the plate. Drew only 13 walks in 379 ABs, along with 53 Ks – another Beaver hitter who was constantly aggressive early in the count. Next Season – Looking forward to watching another year of Alex's development. Like Castro, his patience needs to improve if he's going earn a job in the majors. As he gets older and stronger, I expect some of those doubles to turn into homers.

Rich Gomez – An eighty game revelation for the Portland offense. Struggled in his 2002 stint with the club, bounced back in 2003 with a vengeance. In 227 ABs, Rich hit .304 with a .363 OBP and .493 SLG. His SLG and .856 OPS both ranked 2nd on the team. Finished 3rd among Beavers with 11 HRs and 6th with 44 RBIs. Was a stellar 21 for 22 in stolen base tries – a 95% success rate. Played 60 games in the OF – most of which were in LF. Limited range in the outfield despite his solid baserunning speed. Next season – Brought his career back to life after a rough 2002 with his performance this season. Should be the Beavers starting LF in 2004 and if he hits the ball as well next year, should factor into a job in the majors in 2005. Khalil Greene – An absolute pleasure to watch this year. Despite his prowess at the plate, I'm going to miss watching him on defense even more. Batted .288 in 319 ABs, with a .346 OBP and .442 SLG. Khalil's 10 HRs ranked 4th on the team and his 47 RBIs ranked 5th. Posted a 20/52 BB/K ratio. Defensively, he was a wizard. Made 11 errors in 76 games at SS, but showed tremendous range to both sides and a very strong arm. Would have been a fixture on Plays of the Week if minor league footage was included. Next Season – The starting shortstop in San Diego. Defensively, he's major league ready and he should hit enough at the bottom of the Padres lineup to stick. The annual exhibition game in March with the Padres might be PGE Park's last look at Khalil.

Xavier Nady – His demotion at the end of July was a treat for Beavers fans. Nady enjoyed his brief return to the PCL, posting a .265 average along with a .329 OBP and .471 SLG in 136 ABs. Xavier belted 7 HRs and recorded 23 RBIs. Posted a 12/28 BB/K ratio. Played 32 games in the OF, mostly RF, and made 3 errors. Next Season – It will be interesting to see how Nady factors into the Padres plans. He should be a starting OF in the majors next year, but could be dealt by San Diego as they're loaded with corner OF-types. Wherever he ends up, expect him to post good numbers next year.

B:

Tagg Bozied – A steady, if unspectacular year for the slugging first baseman. Tagg hit .273 with a .331 OBP and .431 SLG. In a team leading 450 ABs, Bozied ranked 2nd with 14 HRs and tied for 1st with 59 RBIs. Ranked 2nd in both walks (38) and strikeouts (80). Led the team with 19 double plays. Played 111 games at 1B, along with one appearance in the OF, and made 9 errors. Next Season – Coming into this season, fresh off setting the Arizona Fall League homeruns record, I expected a little more from Tagg. I expect he'll be the starting 1B for the Beavers in 2004 and he'll post better numbers. With his raw power and ability, he should rank among the PCL leaders in homers and SLG. Next year, I think he'll do that.

Wiki Gonzalez – Was outstanding in August, after struggling earlier in the season and spending some time on the disabled list. Finished the year hitting .282 with a .379 OBP and .430 SLG in 149 ABs. Batted .368 in 38 August at-bats with a 1.103 OPS to salvage what had been a relatively moribund season. Wiki also posted an exceptional 21/12 BB/K ratio. In 42 games at catcher, Gonzalez made 4 errors. Next Season – Wiki's got a multi-million dollar contract with the Padres for 2004 so unless they can offload that salary, he's going to be a part of the organization next season. I'd be pleased if he's one of the Beavers catchers next year, but it would be rare for a player making that kind of money to spend the entire season in the PCL. I expect him to be included in a deal in the off-season, with the Padres eating a chunk of the money he's due.

Alex Pelaez – Missed the 2nd half of the season after being placed on the disabled list. In 76 games (292 ABs), Alex hit .288 with a .312 OBP and .414 SLG. His numbers in 2002 were better in all 3 categories. Despite all the missed time, Alex still ranked 4th on the club with 49 RBIs. Just like last year, Alex contributed all over the diamond, playing 7 games at 1B, 14 at 2B and 60 at 3B and making only 6 errors. Next Season – One of Beavers manager Rick Sweet's favorites, I'm not sure if there's going to be a role for Alex on next year's squad. Bernie Castro is a lock at 2B and there are some other, young ballplayers that impressed at the end of the season in Portland. Alex could be the odd man out next year. Alex will be 28 just after Opening Day in 2004, sadly, his window for the majors is starting to close up.

Mario Valdez – Released by the Beavers in August to clear up a spot for some call-ups from Mobile. Mario never really got much of an opportunity with Portland. In 90 games, only got 226 ABs, posting a .270 average with a .366 OBP and .407 SLG. The most frequent pinch-hitter for the team, Mario homered only 5 times and drove in 24. Posted a very good 34/42 BB/K ratio. Valdez played 24 games at 1B and 28 games in the OF. Also played 1 game at 3B, but was released shortly thereafter. Didn't make an error on the year. Next Season – A solid hitter who never really got a clear role with the organization, Valdez should catch on pretty easily with another organization in 2004. In the right situation, he could earn a bench job in the majors, especially if he can continue to develop 3B skills. His patience at the plate bodes well for him, given the recent trend among major league front offices to value that ability. His lack of power is a problem.

Something Less than a B:

Kory De Haan – Really struggled this year before his release in August. After a solid 2002 season, never got on track in 2003 and spent much of the year on the disabled list. Kory batted .202 with a .276 OBP and .284 SLG. Kory drew 17 walks and whiffed twice as many times. Was 8 for 9 in stolen base attempts. In 51 games in the OF, made only 1 error – was always a terrific defensive centerfielder. Next Season – Just a few months younger than Pelaez, Kory should have little problem catching on with another organization, but another long look in the majors will take either a stellar year at AAA or some lucky "breaks." His defense and speed would make him an asset on a major league bench, he could land that role with a very strong spring in 2004.

Yamid Haad – Showed a power surge in the 2nd half of the season, finishing with 10 HRs. Closed strong to finish with a .233 average and a .278 OBP/.407 SLG in 258 ABs. Can crush fastballs inside, just about everything else gets him out. Walked 15 times and fanned 55 times. Caught 78 games and made one appearance at 1B; made 8 errors. Not a particularly strong defensive catcher. Next Season – While I expect Humberto Quintero, who played with Mobile this year, to be the starting catcher with the Beavers in 2004, Yamid could return in a backup role. My guess however is that Haad moves on to another organization next season and the Beavers get a major league veteran to work with Quintero. I hope Rick Wilkins and Charlie Greene aren't available.

Donaldo Mendez – Agonizing to watch hit, doesn't ever seem to have a plan at the plate. Why any pitcher would ever throw him a fastball is beyond me. Led the team with 83 Ks. Batted .226 with a .288 OBP and .324 SLG. The Beavers season was effectively over when the Padres sent him back to Portland and Rick Sweet was forced to play Donaldo every day in a "utility" role. Was abhorrent defensively at 3B, but was surprisingly good at 2B, showing very good range. Played 20 games at 2B, 22 at 3B and 58 at SS. Led the club with 16 errors. Next Season – Anywhere but Portland. He should battle for a utility job with the Padres in the spring. If he makes it, bully for him and condolences to Padres fans. If he doesn't, I expect the Padres will release him and let him try and catch on with another organization. If Chris Gomez can get major league at-bats this season, anything's possible.

Ben Risinger – Had a decent season in his first taste of AAA pitching. Batted .252 with a .321 OBP and .371 SLG. Hit 5 HRs and drove in 35 in 278 ABs, his 18 doubles ranked 4th on the team. Also registered a very solid 23/30 BB/K ratio. His biggest contribution was his versatility. Ben played every position except 2B and CF, with most of his time being spent at 3B (47 games) and catcher (23 games). Even pitched a perfect inning. Most impressively, Risinger made only 4 errors despite being moved around so much. Next Season – Ben should have a similar role on next year's Portland club and his offensive numbers should improve after this year's experience. I expect Ben to be a big contributor for the 2004 team.

August Contributors

Freddy Guzman – Played only 2 games for Portland, couldn't play the final series in Edmonton due to visa problems. Led all minor leaguers in stolen bases this year and was a perfect 3 for 3 in his 2 games with the Beavers. Played CF and batted leadoff for Portland. With Guzman and Castro at the top of the lineup next year, the Beavers could be the most exciting team in the league to watch and are virtually a lock to lead the loop in stolen bases.

Jon Knott – Played in 7 games for Portland. In 26 ABs, Knott impressed by batting .346 with a .433 OBP and .500 SLG. All 7 of his games were at 1B. Will be interesting to see what Knott's role is next year if he and Bozied are both with the club. Knott may get some time in LF and DH, when possible, to keep his bat in the lineup.

Bobby Scales – Played in 11 games (43 ABs) for the Beavers and batted .372 with a .460 OBP and .535 SLG. Posted a promising 7/6 BB/K ratio. Was a perfect 3 for 3 in stolen base tries. Played 2 games at 2B, 3 games at 3B and 6 games in LF. Should be another player who's going to be a lot of fun to watch in 2004.

Rico Washington – Rico started fast for the Beavers but slowed down over the last couple weeks. In 17 games, Rico hit .224 with a .343 OBP and .448 SLG. Listed at a mere 5'9, showed a bit of pop in his bat, belting 3 HRs, 2 2Bs and a triple in his 58 ABs. Also posted a 10/14 BB/K ratio. Played mostly 3B (15 games), also played a couple games at 1B. Has a good chance to be the starting 3B for the Beavers in 2004.

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