The New Britain Rock Cats are currently a .500 ball club, as the team has won two of its first four games. Playing in the frigid northeast, the Rock Cats have been battling the weather for the first part of the season, and the pitching staff has struggled due to that fact. The team has a combined earned run average of 5.29, and has already allowed five home runs. The bats have been pretty decent, leading the organization with a .252 mark, but they need to be more consistent. The team should begin playing much better once the weather gets better, and the games stop getting postponed all the time.
Garrett Guzman has been the team's most consistent hitter so far in 2007, blasting two home runs in his first four games, while batting .316. Guzman has also driven in five runs, has doubled, and has scored four times. The outfielder has also played flawless defense, and he seems to be fully recovered from a broken neck that erased his entire 2005 season. Korey Feiner's batting average looks like a typo, as the catcher is hitting at a .833 clip in his two starts. He has five hits in six at-bats, and has scored twice. Utility infielder Luke Hughes has also made the most of his chances, batting .600 in two appearances. He has driven in two runs, while scoring three times.
Brad Baker has been a great surprise for the Rock Cats, as he has pitched very effectively in his two appearances this season. He has started a game, picked up a win, and has yet to yield a run in his 6.2 innings of work. He has also only surrendered one walk, striking out five, while allowing only three hits this season. Jose Mijares has also been stellar, though he has worked exclusively from the bullpen. Mijares already has a save this season, and he has yet to allow an earned run in 1.2 innings of relief, spanning two appearances. He has also struck out two.
Slugger Brock Peterson has not gotten off to the start that many within the organization thought he would, though he has driven in three runs in his first four games. He has only notched two base hits in his first 14 at-bats, and has only one extra-base hit. He should get it going as the season progresses. Brandon Roberts has also struggled from his leadoff spot in the order, batting only .214 in three games. Roberts is currently 3-14, and has only drawn one walk this season. He was a great table-setter for the Miracle last season, so this kind of production is very unlikely to last.
Nick Blackburn has made two starts for the Rock Cats, and his earned run average is currently over 6.00. He has allowed five earned runs in his seven innings of work, and has only struck out two batters. It is early, and the pitchers are going to need some time before they are at the top of their game, and Blackburn is a very good starting pitcher. Anthony Swarzak also struggled in his first start, so I would not pay too much mind to pitcher's earned run averages this early in the season.
The Rock Cats roster has not been altered since Opening Day, though some transactions are bound to happen soon with all the shuffling going on between the Minnesota Twins and the Rochester Red Wings.
What We Know
This is a lineup that should score a bunch of runs, and once the team gets to play every night, then it should start to produce. Peterson and Roberts are both better than their numbers indicate, and it looks like Trevor Plouffe and David Winfree are starting to heat up. Those four prospects are some of the best bats the Twins organization has to offer, and Guzman is looking like the player he was in 2004. This lineup is going to produce runs, and the team has a solid group of bench players who can go 2-4 on any night.
The pitching staff has a lot of question marks, but is a staff that should be able to succeed in the Eastern League. Swarzak is a legitimate star, and Mijares is becoming the pitcher that made the Twins put them on their 40-man roster. Baker looks like he can be a very serviceable starter, and Brian Duensing should be an innings eater once the weather gets better. Daniel Powers is a lot better than his 23.14 ERA indicates, and the rest of the bullpen should put up solid numbers as well.