Starting with the player moves, the Whitecaps, always looking for more help to try and make another second half run, got an extra boost earlier this week as they added three new pitchers after losing a pair.
They also snagged a pair of relievers from Oneonta, as both Kevin Whelan and Jeffrey Hahn were assigned to West Michigan. Matt Righter was placed on the disabled list, opening up one spot, while the organization gave first baseman Jody Roughton his outright release, which made the other spot available.
The loss of Roughton is unfortunate, but ultimately necessary. Roughton had lost a good number of his at bats at first base to Josh Lee, and with Wilkin Ramirez still getting a good amount of his at bats at designated hitter, Roughton's at bats were extremely limited.
Plus, Lee had passed him on the team, and there's still Kelly Hunt and Juan Tejeda ahead of him in the minors, and with the team hoping to sign fifth round pick (and first round talent) Jeff Larish in the coming weeks, Roughton was expendable. The .238 slugging percentage didn't help either.
Moving over to Lakeland, take a look at this player's line from July: .321/.398/.642. Brent Clevlen? Nope. Kody Kirkland? Guess again. That is the line from none other than Garth McKinney, who may have finally started to listen to the things his hitting coaches have been preaching to him for the past two-plus years.
Coming into the year, McKinney was a dead pull hitter who never let up on his swing and tried to send the ball over the fence in every at bat. McKinney finally began to relent, and the results are obvious. Already an extremely strong guy, McKinney stopped becoming pull crazy and started taking the ball in the other direction. His power numbers ended up even better; all the while he's brought his batting average all the way up to .253. McKinney will still never be a great contact hitter, but an .800 OPS is nothing to frown upon, especially if he can continue his improvement and development at the plate.
Finally to Oneonta, where a certain shortstop keeps absolutely crushing the ball, he's turning everyone's head. He's walking once for every eight plate appearances, he's slugging nearly .600, and he's helping lead the O-Tigers towards a possible playoff run (though if they keep losing pitchers at the rate they are, that could be difficult).
But, Holliman is 23 years old and well advanced for the league, so his outburst shouldn't be surprising. What is promising is the play of his infield mate, Cory Middleton, who has been one of the most consistent hitters on the team, and leads the team with 14 doubles. He's just 19 years old, meaning he still has plenty of time to fill out. In other words, that doubles power could very well turn into home run power as he grows as a hitter. He'll be one to watch in the coming years, even if he's a step behind Wilkin Ramirez.