Captains Notebook: Brown is finding consistency and success
To say that Mitch Brown looks like a different pitcher would be unfair. That said, he’s recently made some extravagant strides since his unfavorable start to the season – and he’s made leaps and bounds since the 2013 season, where things did not go as planned.
Brown, a 20-year-old second-round pick out of Rochester Century High School in Minnesota, began the season with the low-A Lake County Captains. He did the same in 2013 and ultimately found himself back with the rookie Arizona League Indians after five games.
Brown’s 2014 bid also started off a bit shaky as he collected a 6.99 ERA in April, but his numbers have seen a consistent improvement each month since. In June, Brown made five starts and logged a 1.81 ERA, striking out 25 and walking nine. On July 2, Brown surrendered just one earned run on three hits through six innings while striking out seven.
One issue Brown battled last year was the sizable crowds in the stands. High school ball in Minnesota didn’t produce fans in mass amounts, and Brown said he took notice. This year has been a different story. With the first half of the season in the books, Brown has learned to tune the crowd out when he toes the rubber.
“I remember about a month ago, we had a big promotional night, it was a sellout crowd, I was pitching and I was kind of nervous,” he recalled. “But once you get locked into the game, you really don’t notice it a lot. I think I’m not noticing it as much as I did last year.”
The early-season numbers may not be as bad as they appear. Prior to his first victory on June 27, Brown recorded six no-decisions in games during which he departed the mound with the lead, proof that win-loss records aren’t entirely accurate. Captains Manager Mark Budzinski echoed that sentiment.
“We don’t look at it [win-loss record] at all,’’ Budzinski said. “We’re focused on the way he’s progressing as the season wears on.’’
Mitch Brown, RHP
2 G, 1-0, 11.1 IP, 0.75 ERA, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 12:2 K:BB
Mitch Brown has crafted five-straight fantastic outings, a nice change since his early-season struggles. Brown appears to be much more comfortable on the mound, though he never appears too rattled, even when he does struggle. Brown is still young, but as a second-round pick, the expectations surrounding him have been lofty. It’s nice to see him turning his season around with plenty of time remaining.
Caleb Hamrick, RHP
1 G, 0-0, 3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 1:1
Hamrick has been lights out as of late. He hasn’t allowed an earned run through his last five appearances, a stark contrast to a trio of poor performances during the end of May. Hamrick’s season strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t favorable, as he’s struck out 31 and walked 28, but he’s recently kept the hits to a minimum.
Richard Stock, C
3 G, 11 AB, .533 BA, 6 H, 4 R, 1 RBI, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2:1 K:BB
Stock doesn’t play every day, but he’s certainly made the most of his last 10 games. Through those 10, he’s hit .394 with a pair of home runs. Stock seems to be a guy who will hit for average and small flashes of power here and there. As a catcher, though, he remains underwhelming, and Eric Haase, the Captains’ priority catcher, doesn’t help Stock's cause.
Walking the Plank
Paul Hendrix, INF
5 G, 15 AB, .000 BA, 0 H, 2 R, 1 RBI, 10:5 K:BB
Hendrix has hit an incredibly low-point after an insanely hot start. Of course, it wasn’t expected he’d hit .350 through the entire season, but the month of June was a real slide and July isn’t looking any better. Hendrix is fortunate he hit so well through May, as his average still sits at .281, but hitting .190 in June has really slowed his season.
Luis Lugo, LHP
1 G, 0-1, 4.2 IP, 11.57 ERA, 7 R, 6 ER, 12 H, 8:1 K:BB
After a string of solid starts in early June, Luis Lugo has hit a rough patch. Through his last three games, Lugo has struggled, which is the result of issues locating his fastball, according to Captains Manager Mark Budzinski. On July 1, Lugo managed to strike out eight and only walked one, but locating his fastball seemed problematic again as the Bowling Green Hot Rods managed 12 hits off him.
Taking On Water
Reliever Jimmy Stokes joined the team from extended spring training in Arizona. Outfielder Jorge Martinez was reassigned from the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers roster.
On the Horizon
The Captains complete their current home stand with the Bowling Green Hot Rods July 3 before they head to South Bend, Ind. For a three-game set. They’ll turn around and come home July 8 for a seven-game stand that starts with the Lansing Lugnuts.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.