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On-Deck with the Captains: 2013 season review

On-Deck with the Captains: 2013 season review
September 4, 2013
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Development was the anchor for the Lake County Captains this year. The team certainly had its ups and downs as it finished 54-83 overall. Each element of the team had its holes, from struggling starters to a handful of ugly errors, but the team undoubtedly showed progress, which is the name of the game in the minors. The 2013 Captains were a talented group of players. Some will return next season and others will advance to Carolina and Akron, but all showed tremendous effort and progress this year.

Smooth Sailing

Dylan Baker, SP
27 G, 25 GS, 7-6, 143.2 IP, 3.63 ERA, 68 R, 58 ER, 124 H, 3 HR, 117:62 K:BB

Dylan Baker’s year started off a bit shaky as he posted a 4.95 ERA through the month of April. The improvements he made were outstanding and he finished the season as the Captains’ most reliable starter. The 2012 fifth-round pick led the team in innings pitched and strikeouts while he only surrendered three home runs the entire year. He also led the staff in walks issued, and the majority of the walks occurred in July (21), which was also arguably his worst month, as he posted a 6.09 ERA through five starts. August and September bore witness to a tipping point though, as his ERA was 2.95 through those two months.

Ryan Merritt, SP
24 G, 23 GS, 6-9, 126.1 IP, 3.42 ERA, 62 R, 48 ER, 142 H, 10 HR, 91:18 K:BB

Ryan Merritt crafted a stellar year that resulted in a well-deserved promotion. On paper, the team’s only southpaw starter looked inconsistent through his time with the Captains. That said, Merritt was also the most solid. He showed his control as he did not walk many batters (18), the least of the core starters. Before he was put on an innings limit in late-July, he averaged just below six innings per start.

Merritt’s promotion occurred in late August, a tough loss for the Captains’ rotation. In high-A Carolina, Merritt started two games in which he allowed five runs, seven hits, one home run and a 6:1 K:BB.

Logan Vick, OF
108 G, 349 AB, .281 BA, .413 OBP, .820 OPS, 98 H, 61 R, 23 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 25 SB, 81:81 K:BB, 7 E

Logan Vick was arguably the most reliable position player on the Captains’ roster this year. He appeared in 108 games, the third most on the team. Vick managed to remain healthy and more importantly, consistent. His batting average and on-base percentage were vital considering the number of games he played.  Vick can do it all, as he proved he can hit for average, has some power and speed, and is defensively stable. He was one of the team’s two all-stars who advanced to Carolina, where he hit .225 through 20 games with the Mudcats.

Joe Sever, INF
101 G, 386 AB, .272 BA, .333 OBP, .735 OPS, 105 H, 48 R, 25 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 58 RBI, 3 SB, 80:32 K:BB, 10 E

Joe Sever remained a consistent hitter throughout the year, with a few dips that may have made the difference between his .272 batting average and a chance at hitting .300. That said, in any given situation, Sever was arguably the hitter one would want at the plate above anyone else. Sever has power and can hit to all parts of the field. His 10 errors aren’t overly concerning as he’s still finding a place. He’s shifted around from second to first to third base, though he played the majority of his games at first.

LeVon Washington, CF
51 G, 193 AB, .321 BA, .425 OBP, .902 OPS, 62 H, 33 R, 19 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 14 SB, 46:32 K:BB, 5 E

The saga of WashTime continued with another roller coaster season. Washington suffered a hamstring injury the first game of the season that sidelined him for a few weeks. He was placed back on the disabled list in early June with some health issues originally thought to be the flu. Washington eventually made his way to Arizona for a rehab stint before a brief stop in Florida where he underwent testing at the Gatorade Sport Science Institute. After correcting some issues with dehydration, Washington returned to Lake County and never looked back. He proved he can compete in the Midwest League and that when he stays healthy, he can hit and run the basepaths. He finished 11th in the minor leagues for cumulative on-base percentage (.444) hit .385 through his last 10 games.

D.J. Brown, RHP
27 G, 2 GS, 3-4, 66.1 IP, 2.71 ERA, 26 R, 20 ER, 59 H, 5 HR, 71:20 K:BB

D.J. Brown joined the Captains in early May and became an important asset to the team. The tall right-hander can pitch in long relief spots and proved he can also start when need be. Brown had a solid season in which his outings were either tough or lights out. For the most part though, Brown was reliable. It’s uncertain which role he’ll fill going into the future though he mainly pitched in relief this year.

Walking the Plank

Jorge Martinez, OF
112 G, 376 AB, .191 BA, .244 OBP, .568 OPS, 72 H, 37 R, 20 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 3 SB, 120:25 K:BB, 11 E

It was a rough, long year for Jorge Martinez. He’s still plenty young as he’s still 20, but his bat clearly needs some polish. He led the squad in strikeouts, but showed some surprising amount of power – he ranked third on the team in home runs.

Defensively, Martinez had to make the transition to the outfield. He appeared a bit lackadaisical through the final home stretch, but overall made a fair transition.

Luis DeJesus, SP
27 G, 21 GS, 6-11, 132.2 IP, 5.97 ERA, 100 R, 88 ER, 154 H, 24 HR, 84:46 K:BB

It was certainly a learning year for Luis DeJesus. Last season, he had a significant amount of success, so experience challenges and failure may have been new to him. Unfortunately, the most memorable component of his season was the home runs DeJesus gave up. He led the entire Midwest League in home runs surrendered. That said, DeJesus had some highlights during his season. His month of June was his best as he posted a 3.94 ERA and only gave up three home runs that month. DeJesus has the stuff to be a successful pitcher – his fastball has effective sink on it, but it seems the jump to the low-A level was a tough one for him.

Jack Wagoner, RHP
42 G, 4-5, 55.2 IP, 5.17 ERA, 34 R, 32 ER, 52 H, 4 HR, 58:34 K:BB

It had to be frustrating for Jack Wagoner to be the only 24-year-old on the team in addition to the tough year he had. It seems he was always hit or miss with little grey matter. This could indicate that he does not handle pressure well and therefore crumbles in tough situations – which is reflected in his 8.53 ERA with runners on and 11.86 ERA with runners in scoring position in contrast to the 0.75 ERA he posted with the bags empty.

Felix Sterling, RHP
38 G, 3 GS, 3-4, 52.2 IP, 5.13 ERA, 41 R, 30 ER, 68 H, 5 HR, 51:29 K:BB

After three years in Lake County, Felix Sterling continues to struggle. He’s still only 20 years old, but he does not seem to have made an impactful amount of progress when it comes to translating his adjustments into results. On a positive note, his walks were down this past season, but so were his strikeouts as his pitches seemed to find more of the plate as opponents posted a .313 average against him.

Dorssys Paulino, SS
120 G, 476 AB, .246 BA, .297 OBP, .646 OPS, 117 H, 56 R, 28 2B, 3 3B, 46 RBI, 12 SB, 91:30 K:BB, 39 E

To be fair, Dorssys Paulino is only 18 years old and had a lot of high expectations pegged to his name at the beginning of the season. His offensive output was disappointing on paper, but he did make some adjustments in his swing that seemed to help. Captains’ manager Scooter Tucker explained that Paulino worked on allowing the ball to get deeper in the zone during his swing.

As far as defense goes, Paulino has a long way to go. He led the entire Midwest League in errors, and it seems he was often caught back on his heels or implemented too much footwork into his throws.

Honorable Shipmates

These Captains also crafted good seasons for themselves.

Erik Gonzalez, INF
93 G, 355 AB, .258 BA, .307 OBP, .747 OPS, 92 H, 59 R, 23 2B, 7 3B, 9 HR, 49 RBI, 10 SB, 71:10 K:BB, 19 E

Erik Gonzalez made significant progression from the start of the season to his promotion to Carolina in July. The infielder can play third, shortstop and second base and he made an impact offensively as well. One thing noticeable about Gonzalez was that his at-bats were productive as he always seemed to find a way to make things happen.

Richard Stock, DH/C
55 G, 193 AB, .280 BA, .317 OBP, .773 OPS, 54 H, 24 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB, 52:8 K:BB, 2 E

Richard Stock is an interesting case. He hits for average but has an underwhelming number of extra-base hits. That said, he did show some progression of power as the season advanced and came through with some significant home runs and clutch hits. The problem with Stock is that there was n place for him. He started as one of the team’s trio of platooning catchers before he was eventually shifted to a permanent DH role.

Louis Head, RHP
25 G, 0-2, 29.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 14 R, 6 ER, 27 H, 23:10 K:BB

Louis Head quietly had another solid season. This year, he was named to the Midwest League All-Star Team and was consistent through his time with the Captains before his well-deserved promotion to Carolina.

Final Countdown

Here are some notable numbers regarding the Captains’ season.

.247: Team batting average. This was the fourth worst in the Midwest League.

99: Home runs allowed. This was third highest in the league. 24 of these were accredited to Luis DeJesus.

1: The number of Captains who ranked in the top 20 hitters for average in the Midwest League. Logan Vick ranked 19th in the league with his .281 average.

6: The Captains’ longest win streak this season. This occurred from June 30-July 5.

8: The Captains’ longest losing streak. This occurred from May 20-29.

Words from the Skipper

Captains’ manager Scooter Tucker provided a few quotes on some of the players he managed this season.

On Luis DeJesus: “His ball has some natural sink, some run on it, and he sometimes tries to overthrow it. If he just throws to the arm side of the plate, it keeps the ball down. When he gets the ball up, he tries to throw the ball a little too hard sometimes and it flattens out on him. He’s learning to do that more consistently.”

On Erik Gonzalez: “It’s a whole bunch [of progression]. First and foremost, he’s so athletic. He’s been able to play multiple positions. He works hard, he plays the game the right way and I think he’s going to be a good shortstop.”

On Dorssys Paulino: “You put him in this league amongst the rest of the players and some people can argue he had a disappointing year. When you think about It, he was a high school senior playing with all these guys, it doesn’t look so bad. Basically hitting .250, we all are convinced that one days he’s going to be a really good hitter. Even though the numbers aren’t basically what some people expected, it’s not disappointing for me.”

On Richard Stock: “Truly, he’s never been a catcher. If you look at the time he went to USC to Nebraska to here, he’s probably caught less than 100 games in his life. We’d probably like to see him a catch a little bit more but the other two guys were sent here to catch. He’s impressed with his bat enough that we’re hoping we’ll get to see him catch.

On LeVon Washington: “He certainly has shown offensively that he can play at this level for sure. Defensively he has improved but he still has  a lot of work to do. This offseason, he has to physically get himself ready to play 140 games. What the future holds for him, I’m not sure but there’s no question that he hits right-handed pitching very well.”

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.

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