Mudcats Notebook: Monsalve's working to be more focused
A rainy spell throughout the Carolinas put a damper on the Carolina Mudcats week, as the team went just 2-3 with two games being postponed.
Carolina took two of three from the Frederick Keys before being swept by the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The conclusion of Saturday’s game was moved to Sunday due to rain and Tuesday’s series opener at Myrtle Beach was postponed to Wednesday.
With just 20 games remaining, the Mudcats sit at 23-26 in the second half and 5.5 games back in the Southern Division. However, Carolina is still very much in the playoff race with the first half division champion Pelicans once again in the driver’s seat and the Winston Salem Dash just one-half game ahead of the Mudcats for the final playoff spot.
Player Spotlight: Alex Monsalve
It is not uncommon for a player to need to play multiple positions in the minor leagues, as parent organizations try to figure out where each player will become the best asset for the club.
Alex Monsalve has gone through this process throughout his minor league career, playing minimally at first base and third base, while always keeping his primary focus on catching.
This season, Monsalve has added a new position to his resume, becoming a primary designated hitter for the Carolina Mudcats.
In 81 games this season, he has split his playing time at catcher (39 games) and designated hitter (42 games).
While the regular position changes would become a distraction to most players, Monsalve said while it is difficult, he just plays to the best of his abilities no matter where he is in the field.
“Sometimes it hurts my focus,” Monsalve said. “I just try to play the best I can where I’m told. You don’t know what will happen to you that day, so every day I come to the field prepared to play.”
Even with his play in the field different from day-to-day, the one constant in Monsalve’s game is his offensive approach to the game.
During the 2014 season, Monsalve has played right along with his career averages. He has hit .258 to go along with five home runs and a new career-high 45 RBI.
Monsalve said hard work and a consistent focus have helped him keep his play at a high level.
“I work hard every day. Just try to keep my focus every at-bat, "he said.
That was not the case for the whole season, as he started the season very slow, batting just .225 for the first two months of the season. But, since the beginning of July, Monsalve has really turned his season around and is batting nearly .300.
An improved focus towards the plate has allowed Monsalve to play at a higher level.
“Before I was thinking too much, so I’ve had to improve my focus to try and get better as a hitter,” he explained.
No matter where he is playing in the field, when Monsalve is focused he can be one of the best players on the Mudcats roster.
Player of the Week
Logan Vick (OF): 6-16, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 SB
Vick has not had close to the season he would have hoped for, but this week was easily one of the best he has had. He had a four-game multi-hit hitting streak, and launched his first home run since June 25. With his offensive performance throughout the week, Vick was given a consolation prize for his difficult season in being named the Carolina League Hitter of the Week.
Ryan Merritt (LHP): 1 GS, 1-0, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
After a couple of difficult weeks, the Mudcats ace got back on track with yet another strong outing this season. In his only start this week, Merritt picked up his franchise record 11th win this season after giving up just two runs in six strong innings.
Yhoxian Medina (SS): 6-22, 1 R, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 SB
Medina didn’t necessarily have the most consistent week, but when he was on, there weren’t many better than he was. A three-hit and two-hit game really helped his cause and his ability to drive in runs this week showed he is becoming an all-around offensive player.
Jacob Lee (RHP): 2 G, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Lee is quickly becoming the best arm out of the bullpen for the Mudcats in his first year as a reliever. In a weeks time, he can easily match a starter’s time on the mound and allow fewer hits and runs. This week was no different, as he allowed just one run on two hits in two appearances.
On the Hook
James Roberts (INF): 1-18, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K
A stat-line like this speaks for itself. The one silver lining in Roberts’ week is that the only two times he made it on base, he did come around to score. The once consistent hitter has been stuck in a long-standing slump that unfortunately does not seem to be coming to an end.
Joe Sever (1B): 2-15, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K
After coming off the disabled list at the end of the first half, Sever seemed to be unstoppable and kept playing well through July. When August rolled around, he ran into the proverbial wall, as he is batting just .091 in the month and has scored just one run and has yet to drive in a run.
Mike Clevinger (RHP): 1 G, 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
This was not the debut Clevinger wanted with the Indians organization after being acquired in a trade with the Angels. It’s difficult to change teams in the middle of the season, and unfortunately for him, this is exactly the problem Clevinger ran into this week.
Fish on a Line
As the season goes along, injuries are sure to pile up for any team. Right hander Michael Peoples was activated from the disabled list. Right hander Rob Nixon was placed on the disabled list with a right calf strain. Hankins was placed on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain.
Fish Swimming Around
Right hander Luis DeJesus was transferred back to Lake County. After being acquired by the Indians in a trade from the Angels, right hander Michael Clevinger was activated to the Mudcats roster. Infielder Torsten Boss was acquired from Lake County.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.