Cats On The Prowl: Eye Playoff Spot

The New Britain Rock Cats are making a run in the Eastern League playoff race, thanks mostly to their dangerous lineup. The Cats feature some of the best bats in the Eastern League, and have been one of the hottest teams in Double-A since July 10. After being in the cellar for most of the season, the Cats are only three games out of a playoff berth, and can complete a sweep of the Reading Phillies with a win on Thursday. Here is a look at the New Britain Rock Cats offense:

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The New Britain Rock Cats are surging as of late, and look to be making a run at the playoffs. After being cellar dwellers for most of the season, the Cats broke out of it, mostly due to some key additions from High-A Fort Myers. With 11 games left in the season, the Cats have a legitimate shot at post-season play, something that seemed impossible a month ago.

It all started when the Cats brought up Denard Span in late June, solidifying their leadoff spot. After batting a league best .339 at High-A Fort Myers, Span is currently batting .302 in 57 games at the Double-A level. He has been the table setter for the big mashers in the middle of the lineup.

The meat of the order is one of the best in the league, with stars like Eastern League All-Star Game MVP Daniel Matienzo, Douglas Deeds, Alex Romero, and Luis Jimenez. They have combined to hit 67 home runs this season, and have driven in 295 runs.

Matienzo is the big bat, and has been tearing up Eastern League pitching all season. Aside from his 22 dingers, the slugging first baseman has 83 RBI, and loves coming to play everyday.

"Knowing that I've been given the opportunity to put on a uniform and play another game of baseball, that is the best part about my job," Matienzo told TwinCitiesDugout. "A lot of players don't get the chance I do."

Doug Deeds joined Matienzo as offensive selections for the 2005 Eastern League All-Star Game, and is the perfect compliment to the slugger. He is batting an even .300 this season, and has 16 home runs of his own. After battling an injury recently, Deeds is back in full force, and has driven in seven runs in the past six days.

Maybe the most talked about offensive player on the team is high-ceiling prospect Alexander Romero. The sweet-swinging outfielder is also batting at a .300 clip, and has 14 home runs and 74 RBI. He and Luis Jimenez (15HR, 63RBI) make up the rest of the power portion of the lineup.

Perhaps the biggest addition to the team during it's recent surge has been top prospect Matthew Moses. The third baseman, while only batting .222 since his call-up, has been a steady glove at third, and opposing pitchers respect his ability to hit for power. For Moses, it's all about giving it time and adjusting to Double-A ball.

"It is a little bit different then High-A," Moses said. "The game is a little bit faster and the pitching is tougher, but all that really matters is getting used to it and keep working hard."

Moses also helped the team just by being called up, as it has let Span relax even more.

"He's a guy that I have played with for really the last few years in the system," Span explained. " It helps me relax to know that guys who have been on my team before are going through the same things as I am going through."

At 64-67, the Cats still have a ways to go before they clinch a berth in the playoffs. But with this lineup, anything is possible. The Cats will finish up their season on September 5th against Binghamton, and hopefully continue their recent surge from their.

Since July 10, the Cats are 27-16, and have had winning streaks of seven, and a club record tying nine. If the Cats get hot like that again, look out Eastern League.


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