Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday's Rundown

I realize I probably don't talk enough about what kind of year Yordany Ramirez is having at the plate. Let's look at Ramirez for a minute. He's a 24-year old defensive whiz who can play all three outfield spots. Seriously, he's good enough to be in the top 10 best defensive centerfielders in the majors if he started regularly. The thing that holds him back is his bat. In his first season with the Astros organization in 2008, Ramirez hit .231/.254/.382 with 12 home runs and 23 doubles. In 2,055 career minor league plate appearances, Ramirez is batting .252/.285/.382. That, as you may guess, is pretty terrible. It's worse than Adam Everett, if you can believe it, as Everett hit .259/.346/.368 in 2,083 plate appearances in the minors.

So, what does this mean? I'm a little skeptical about this early season surge by Ramirez. He has hit five home runs in May, giving him six for the season, which is exactly half his total from 2008. He's batting .346 with a .692 slugging percentage, but hasn't all this month. He has an 11/2 K/BB ratio currently and is riding a seven-game hitting streak. His BABiP is at .289 for May, which means he's been a little unlucky in hitting .346, but I am still skeptical. After all, we're talking about 112 plate appearances compared to over 2,000. Do I hope he's growing as a hitter and this is the mark of a turnaround rather than a statistical anomaly? Of course I do! Gold Glove-level centerfielders that hit .300 don't grow on trees. If nothing else, he gives us a very valuable trading chip, which the Astros can use in spades.

So, with that out of the way, let's get on with the daily rundown:

Brian Bogusevic has really responded since he was dropped to third in the batting order. In his last seven games batting in the three hole, Bogey is 15 for 29 with four doubles, two home runs, nine run scored and nine RBIs. He also has an 25/18 K/BB ratio for the season. The number of strikeouts is a little concerning, but he's also walking a bunch, which means he's a Lance Berkman-type who strikes out a lot but also walks a bunch. His 24 Runs Created this season is the most in Round Rock and the third highest in the system, behind Drew Locke at 29 and Jon Gaston at 31.

Another Express player who's had a good half-month is Tommy Manzella. The 26-year old shortstop did the same thing in April before falling into a slump for the last two weeks of the month. In May, though, the former Tulane star has gone 15 for 49 with seven walks, four doubles and a home run, raising his batting average to .268.

At Corpus Christi, 27-year old utility infielder Drew Meyer is on a hot streak lately. In his last four games, Meyer has gone 6 for 18 and hit three doubles and a home run. When Wladimir Sutil tweaked his hamstring, Meyer moved over to shortstop but has mainly manned second base this season.

Doug Arguello got the start for Corpus and pitched well in the loss. In six innings, Arguello gave up seven hits and two earned runs, striking out five and walking none. He induced one double play ball but gave up five line drives, including three in the fourth inning when San Antonio scored both runs.

The best starting pitcher in Lancaster this season? 22-year old Shane Wolf who was drafted in the 26th round of the 2008 draft out of Ithaca College. Wolf was 10-1 in 12 starts for the Bombers in 70 2/3 innings with 75 strikeouts and 11 walks. He also batted .321 in 162 at-bats with seven steals and three home runs. Wolf's numbers with the JetHawks are not spectacular, as he's given up 46 hits in 35 innings, but he has struck out 23 and walked only 6, so he's got pretty good control. His 41/37 G/F ratio also shows that he trends towards allowing ground balls, which means he's highly dependant on his defense to pick him up. When he's in a park like Lancaster where singles are more frequent, it puts more pressure on the defense and leads to some bad numbers, like the .661 DER in his seven starts. Still, Wolf has a pretty solid 14.68 PRC, which ranks fourth on the JetHawks team behind three hitters.

I also wanted to touch on Chris Jackson for a minute. The 22-year old has been playing shortstop for Lancaster after being drafted in the 29th round of the 2008 draft out of Virginia Commonwealth, where he played third base. The Baseball America draft scouting report on him says he's a plus defender, which explains his move to short. His bat, though, hasn't impressed yet, which may have also necessitated the switch. Jackson hit .250/.316/.356 in 45 games last season between Tri-City and Lexington. In 2009, Jackson is hitting .216/.310/.257 with a double and a triple, striking out 17 times while walking seven times.

Kyle Greenwalt started for Lexington on Tuesday, throwing five innings and allowing nine hits and three runs. The nine hits were the most the 20-year old has allowed this season. Greenwalt struck out four and walked one, giving him 18 strikeouts and four walks this season. He also gave up his first home run of the season but induced a double play ball and stranded 81.4% of the base runners he allowed.

One hitter who showed promise last season (and who I was excited to see in 2009) is Lexington first baseman Phil Disher. Unfortunately, Disher has not hit at all this season. The 23-year old's line is .147/.248/.263 for the season with 40 strikeouts in 109 plate appearances. Even with his 13 walks, three home runs and two doubles, Disher has been a disappointment at the plate. The same thing can be said for the entire first base situation in Lexington, as platoon-mate Kody Hinze, who is 13 for 72 with four home runs and 23 strikeouts in 2009. You wonder why Lexington is in the bottom half of the South Atlantic League in runs scored? A giant black hole at first base is a good start.

That's all for now, but (hopefully) I'll have some sort of profile for you later today. I was working on a hitter's profile of Lancaster's J.B. Shuck, but my excel file got corrupted, wasting an entire night's worth of work, so I may be too discouraged to go back to that well today.

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