High-A Report: Blue Rocks heating up

Throughout the season, RC will provide periodic status reports on the Royals' minor league affiliates. Today we take a look at the Wilmington Blue Rocks, who have been playing better of late after a rough opening weekend, thanks largely to the efforts of their two highest profile prospects.

WILMINGTON BLUE ROCKS REPORT

Standings - Carolina League Northern Division - April 20, 2010

Club

W

L

PCT

GB

Frederick

7

4

.636

--

Lynchburg

5

6

.455

2.0

Wilmington

5

6

.455

2.0

Potomac

4

7

.364

3.0


Wilmington Blue Rocks Team Statistics

Team BA: .233 (6th out of 8 teams)
Team OBP: .321 (7th)
Team SLG: .316 (7th)
Home Runs: 2 (7th)
Stolen Bases: 14 (3rd)
Runs Scored: 43 (6th)

Team ERA: 3.95 (5th)
Strikeouts: 99 (T-1st)
Walks: 41 (5th)
HR Allowed: 8 (7th)
Runs Allowed: 48 (T-4th)

Wilmington Leaders

BA: Eric Hosmer (.447)*
OBP: Hosmer (.533)*
SLG: Hosmer (.658)
OPS: Hosmer (1.191)
HR: Two tied (1)
RBI: Two tied (8)
Runs: Hosmer (7)
SB: Two tied (5)

IP: Mike Montgomery (18.0)*
ERA: Montgomery (0.50)
W: Five tied (1)
L: Jairo Cuevas (2)
SV: Two tied (1)
SO: Montgomery (27)*
BB: Chris Dwyer (7)

* Denotes league leader

RC Comment

While the Blue Rocks' 5-6 record isn't impressive, the club has been playing fairly well over the last week, winning five of its last seven games. The recent hot streak is a nice rebound from the Blue Rocks' opening weekend, when they lost their first three games of the season against Myrtle Beach before salvaging the finale of the four-game set. As is usually the case with Wilmington teams, the club has struggled to score runs, but excellent pitching performances from its talented staff have been something of an equalizer.

Of course, the biggest story for the Blue Rocks through their first 11 games is the performance of their two highest-rated prospects - Mike Montgomery and Eric Hosmer. While the club has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, it would be in considerably worse shape were it not for their efforts through the first two weeks of the season.

Hosmer's struggles in 2009 were well documented. He hit .254/.352/.382 in Low-A Burlington before a July promotion to Wilmington. Once in the Carolina League, he seemed overmatched by the more advanced pitching, and he hit just .206/.280/.299 in 27 games with the Blue Rocks. He underwent laser eye surgery to correct a vision problem, and he's seemed like a different hitter - or the hitter the Royals expected when they selected him in the first round of the 2008 draft - ever since.

Indeed, Hosmer is off to a blistering start, and he is almost singularly responsible for preventing the Blue Rocks' often anemic offense from ranking dead last in the Carolina League in nearly every offensive category. The 20-year-old first baseman has hit safely in the club's first 11 games, and he carries an impressive line of .447/.533/.658 into Tuesday night's game. He leads the Carolina League in both batting average an on-base percentage, and his OPS ranks second.

As good as Hosmer's been, Montgomery has been even better. The 20-year-old Southpaw picked up where he left off last season, overwhelming Carolina League hitters with his excellent repertoire and command. Montgomery has made three starts so far, and each has been dominant, but none more so than his outing on April 13. Toeing the mound against Kinston, Montgomery took a perfect game into the seventh inning before surrendering a run on two hits. He struck out a career high 13 Indians without issuing a free pass.

On Monday, Montgomery was named as the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week, an award he also won during the last week of the 2009 season. He made his third start of the season that night, and again he was outstanding, going 6.0 innings while striking out eight and allowing just one unearned runs on two hits. In fact, he has yet to allow more than two hits in any of his outings this season. Montgomery is now 1-0 with a 0.50 ERA, and the league is hitting just .100 against him. In 18.0 innings pitched, he's struck out 27 batters (tops in the Carolina League) while walking just four.

Other notes

  • Salvador Perez is also off to a good start. The 19-year-old catcher struggled during his first exposure to full-season ball, hitting just .189 in 127 at bats for Burlington in 2009. For the Blue Rocks this season, Perez is hitting .320/.357/.360 through his first eight games.

  • Tim Melville rebounded nicely from a dreadful High-A debut. The 20-year-old from St. Louis failed to get out of the first inning of his first start while surrendering five earned runs on six hits against Myrtle Beach. In his second start last Wednesday, Melville shut out the Kinston Indians for five innings on just one hit and one walk while striking out eight. He is scheduled to make his next start on Tuesday night, again against Kinston.

  • Missouri State product Buddy Baumann (1-0, 1.08 ERA) has been sensational out of the Blue Rocks' bullpen this season. The 22-year-old southpaw has struck out 15 hitters in 8.1 innings pitched over four appearances, and he notched his first career save while preserving Melville's first win on April 14. Despite being a reliever, Baumann ranks third in the Carolina League in strikeouts.


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