From the Bait Shop:
There’s really nothing like fishing in the rain, but this is really getting ridiculous. While I’m never one for a good draught, I’m also not exactly the guy that has my daily rain dance, shooting for a bumper crop. No, my preference is a nice, happy medium, where there’s a decent, middle-of-the-night rain. There really isn’t anything quite like a Carolina blue sky. Unfortunately, lately, the only blue I’ve been seeing around Cackalacky has been moods.
Seriously, I just looked outside the window and saw Brook Jacoby float by. If I wanted to wall-to-wall clouds, I’d have stayed home in Cleveland.
While I’m in a bit of a funk, your Carolina Mudcats have come out of a season in which they’ve taken a tour of Cedar Point’s roller coast through April, and found a nice balance in their offense, as well as their pitching. The team started to resemble those final teams in Kinston, that could pitch you into the ground, and take advantage of big hits to win a bunch of games.
The pitching was absolutely scintillating this week, and just dominated every team that they faced. There’s no doubt that their 5-1 record was all due to outstanding starts, and even better bullpen support. Their lone loss of the week came in a 1-0 fashion, so they came real close to an undefeated week. The staff went 5-1 overall, in 53 total innings pitched. They gave up only 32 hits and nine total runs, of which six were earned. The big improvement was in the overall walks, where they only walked 16 batters, while striking out an impressive 44 batters. This team only gave up one home run on the week.
The starters had their best week thus far, but this rotation is far from the best in the league, and isn’t going to blow anybody away. They went 3-1 in 31 total innings, giving up 19 hits, four earned runs and striking out 21 batters. Their ERA on the week was a staunch 1.16.
The bullpen went even further than the starters, and after struggling through much of the season thanks to attrition via injuries, promotions and demotions, has not only found their footing, but has really started carrying this team. In only 22 innings, they gave up 13 hits, two earned runs and six walks, while striking out 23 batters, which was two more than the starters, but in nine less innings.
The offense has evened itself out a bit after a couple of big weeks, and a couple of bad weeks. They managed to score 27 runs on eight doubles, two triples, three homers and 25 RBI. They struck out only 47 times this week, while walking only 19 times. They hit .267 as a team, which isn’t the best ever but is good enough to win a bunch of games with a staff that’s nearly sub-1.00 on the week.
Let’s get fishing, before I start building an ark.
Where We Stand After Week #5:
Overall Record: 16-14 (5-1 this week), 3rd Place in the Southern Division, 2 ½ games behind Winston-Salem.
Week #4 Games:
2 @ Lynchburg, W 5-2 (WP: K. Petter; LP: R. Pacheco; SV: J. Flores)
3 @ Lynchburg, W 3-0 (WP: M. Rayl; LP: C. Martin; SV: D. Dickerson)
4 vs. Frederick, W 10-4 (WP: W. Roberts; LP: S. Copeland)
5 vs. Frederick, Postponed: Rain
6 vs. Frederick, L 0-1 (WP: M. Wright; LP: M. Goodnight; SV: D. Walters)
6 vs. Frederick, W 3-2 (WP: D. Dickerson; LP: C. Schrader)
8 @ Myrtle Beach, W 6-0 (WP: F. Jimenez; LP: W. Font)
This Week’s Transactions:
05/07/2012 Toru Murata assigned to Akron Aeros from Carolina Mudcats.
05/04/2012 Carolina Mudcats placed 3B Giovanny Urshela on the 7-Day disabled list.
Jesus Aguilar is currently on an offensive hot streak. He’s currently on a nine-game hit streak heading into tonight’s action. In his weekly games, he’s gone 10-for-21, with seven runs, three doubles, two homers, five RBI, three walks and five K’s. He came into Spring Training looking to show the Indians that he could advance his hitting, mainly against pitches down and down and away, as well as any kind of breaking ball. It appears as though he is finding his way, at least through the early going with regards to hitting High A pitchers. He’s hitting lefties and righties at an equal clip (.329 vs .333), and hitting better on the road than at home (.341 vs .321). That’s an anomaly, as Five County Stadium is a bit of a bandbox. I’m not saying Aguilar is ready, as I’m hoping that they hang back another month or so before moving him, but he’s certainly proving himself. Other than DH Jeremie Tice, who’s been hurt for a bit this season, Aguilar is leading the team in hitting at .330. We could be seeing something special developing right here in Carolina.
Ronny Rodriguez has done nothing but struggle with the Mudcats, as he’s hitting a whopping .222 overall this season. This past week, thanks to a big 4-for-4 game, he managed to hit .353, with four runs, two doubles and 2 RBI. With that said, he only had hits in three of his five games, and really used that one big game to have a nice week. You take the small victories during the season, and this is a sign that perhaps he’s starting to right the ship a bit.
HELLO TONY WOLTERS! There isn’t a more deserving player in the system to be successful than Tony Wolters. By all that have talked to the kid, he’s got his head on straight, works his tail off, and has a bunch of upside offensively, and defensively. With that said, he’s struggled mightily this season, especially with the bats…until this week. Wolters played in five of the six games this week, and had a hit in each, including two multi-hit ball games. Overall, he went 7-for-20, with two runs, a walk and six K’s. He hit .350 this week, which is a solid foundation as the weeks progress.
Perhaps the sleeper of the week for the Muddies has been right fielder, Carlos Moncrief. He was a stat-filler this week, going 7-for-22 (.318), with seven runs, a double, two triples, a homer, two RBI, three walks and eight strikeouts. Moncrief has tantalized the Indians with his tools, but has yet to put it all together. He was fairly consistent over the week, as he had hits in five of his six games, and two multiple hit games, including one in which he scored three runs.
…The Bad and the Ugly…
Jake Lowery started off the season playing the best baseball of his short professional career, and may have been the best early offensive player on the Mudcats’ roster. That was then, and this is now. Lower went 1-for-19 this week, with two walks and six K’s. Over his past ten games, Lowery is hitting .081, and needs to step up his production. Lowery only played catcher in one game, so perhaps there’s an injury that we don’t know about.
Columbus caught a spark from Justin Toole nearly two weeks ago, when he was called up to give them utility support. He hit .333 in his five-game stint, and perhaps made the Indians brass a bit curious about his future moving up through the season. Then reality set in. Toole went 4-22 this week. While he did manage to drive in five runs, he didn’t walk, and struck out five times as well.
Tyler Holt is definitely ready to move up to Akron, and perhaps the weight of the potential move is getting to him a bit. Over the past week, Holt only managed to go 5-for-22, with two runs, two RBI, four walks and 4 K’s. Now, the catch 22 to all of that is that Holt still has managed to keep his OBP over .400, so while the average is down, Holt is still producing.
There really isn’t a point in having a bad and ugly this week, because there really isn’t any one pitcher that struggled overall. Everyone pitched well, for the most part, so we’re just going to focus on the good.
Francisco was probably the best starter, and to top it off, he made two nice starts. Jimenez is a marginal prospect, but he’s now turned heads two years in a row because of his flexibility. He’s been effective as a back-end reliever, a middle reliever, a long reliever and a starter, and this multi-purpose use will make him an incredibly useful reliever going forward in the system. I doubt he’ll ever pitch for the Indians for more than an injury call up, but you can bet he’ll be bumped around the system this year as they need a pitcher of any time, at any level.
Dale Dickerson has been a bit middling this year, but has been light’s out this week. In his three appearances, he had a triple crown of back-end reliever stats, with a hold, a save and a win. Overall, he went four innings, giving up a run and four walks, while striking out five. That’s a few too many walks for my taste, but Dickerson is imperative to this pen going forward this season.
Jose Flores continues to do well as the closer of this team, and garnered another save. He even had a two-inning stint. Overall, he went three innings, giving up two hits and a walk, while striking out three hitters. Overall, Flores is sporting a 1.23 ERA, with five total saves.
Kyle Petter has struggled in his initial promotion to Carolina, but has strung together a couple of appearances in a row. This week, he went three innings, giving up two hits and a walk, while striking out three. Overall, however, Petter has a 6.97 ERA.
Michael Goodnight and Mike Rayl both had a nice start this week. Goodnight went’ five innings, giving up four hits, three walks and a run, while striking out five. Rayl went six innings, giving up two hits and two walks, while striking out four. Both are still middle-to-the-bottom of the order starters, but are important going forward. I think both could end up much, much better, but again, they’ll need to gain a measure of consistency.
Shawn Armstrong is their best reliever right now, but only made one appearance. Of course, it was two perfect innings, with three K’s. Overall, he’s pitched in seven games, and still hasn’t given up a run. This kid is just bringing it.
It’s been most fun watching Trey Haley pitch this year, and has a nice, three appearance week. Haley has a cannon for an arm, and went five innings overall, giving up one hit and two unearned runs, while striking out four. I still think that this kid is going to be the next special reliever to come out of Carolina. His mechanics are better, and he’s just more consistent.
Will Roberts made his initial start for Carolina, and did very well. Some are really high on him, but I still think that he’s going to be a mid-to-low starter, if not a bullpen starter. Still, he had a nice outing, going six innings with three hits and two runs scored, while walking one, and striking out two batters. His 3.00 ERA was massive compared to the other pitchers I mentioned. They better send him down (sarcasm people!!!)
Week #5 Awards:
Hitter of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Pitcher of Week 5: Dale Dickerson
Player of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 1: Tyler Holt
Hitter of Week 2: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Hitter of Week 4: Giovanny Urshela
Hitter of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Pitcher of Week 1: Cody Allen
Pitcher of Week 2: T.J. House
Pitcher of Week 3: Mike Rayl
Pitcher of Week 4: Shawn Armstrong
Pitcher of week 5: Dale Dickerson
Player of Week 1: Cody Allen
Player of Week 2: T.J. House
Player of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Player of Week 4: Shawn Armstrong
Player of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Here Comes Week #5:
9 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM
10 @ Myrtle Beach, 7:05 PM
11 vs. Potomac, 7:15 PM
12 vs. Potomac, 6:15 PM
13 vs. Potomac, 2:00 PM
14 vs. Salem, 7:15 PM
15 vs. Salem, 7:15 PM
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at email@example.com.