Lakewood Survives A Tough First Month

The first month of the season is in the books and the Lakewood BlueClaws finished one game under the .500 mark. In what was an up and down month, the 'Claws face a grind with a young pitching staff.

The Lakewood BlueClaws ended the first month of the season with a game that mirrored the first 20 games of the season. The BlueClaws dropped a 3-2 decision to the Lexington Legends to end the month of April with a 10-11 record. The BlueClaws played 11 one run games in the month of April and finished with 4-7 record in those games. It was certainly an up and down month for the BlueClaws with some great wins and some tough losses. As the month of May begins the young BlueClaw team will look to define the 2007 season.

For many of the BlueClaw players, a 140 game season will become a grind with long days, longer nights, constant travel, and minor league accommodations. Manager Steve Roadcap knows the grind and hopes his players will accept the challenge. "The season is a grind and the cream will rise to the top. This is the first phase of development for a lot of these kids", said Roadcap of his young BlueClaw team. Many of the BlueClaws' players aren't far removed from High School baseball. One of those players, Adrian Cardenas, the Phillies third ranked prospect by Philly Baseball News is already beginning to experience the rigors of a minor league baseball season. "This is a big adjustment coming from High School baseball in Miami. It's been a roller coaster ride so far with a lot of ups and downs" said the BlueClaws second baseman. "I'm excited for the rest of the season, its about adjusting and learning" said Cardenas on his outlook for the months ahead.

You have to look no further than the starting rotation to see the youth of the BlueClaws team. The oldest member of the staff, Carlos Monasterios, is only 21 years old and the only starter over 20. "Our starting pitching has improved, but we're still going to make mistakes. We probably have the youngest pitching staff in the league", commented Roadcap on his young staff. The pitching currently ranks 7th in the South Atlantic League with a 4.07 ERA. The BlueClaws' top starter for the month of April was Edgar Garcia (1-0) who sported a 3.42 ERA in four starts. The bullpen, which has been brilliant at times, has shown signs of inconsistency over the first month of the season. The leaders in the bullpen have been Ben Pfinsgraff (2-1, 1.02 ERA), Justin Blaine (1-0, 2.13 ERA), and Ronald Hill (0-1, 1.64 ERA). The BlueClaws have yet to establish a true closer with Andrew Cruse leading the way with three saves.

Offensively the BlueClaws rank 7th in the SAL in batting with a .261 average as a team. With only ten homeruns on the season, the BlueClaws aren't a team that relies on power to score runs. The lack of power is reflected in the close games the BlueClaws have played early in the season. "We don't have a legitimate power hitter in the middle of the lineup, limiting the big inning potential and making it hard to put teams away", said Roadcap on his team's lack of power. The leaders on offense have been Jason Donald (.289, 1HR, 14RBI) and Adrian Cardenas (.271, 2HR, 14RBI). Tuffy Gosewisch and C.J. Henry Jr., have 2 homeruns apiece and Quintin Berry leads the team with 11 stolen bases.

Defensively the BlueClaws have struggled at times, especially in the infield. The BlueClaws have made 30 errors as a team with 26 of those coming in the infield. Second baseman Adrian Cardenas and third baseman C.J. Henry, Jr. have committed 7 errors apiece to lead the team.

The BlueClaws are currently 10-11 and 7 games out of first place in the Northern Division. The West Virginia Power lead the standings with a 17-4 record. The BlueClaws return to action Tuesday night for the second game of their four-game set with the Lexington Legends.

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