Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wednesday's Rundown

Today's post will cover Round Rock in June, and I'll try to get something more up on Corpus later today, but I make no promises. I'm also working on the June Players of the Month, but that may not be ready until next week. Stay tuned...

Here's Zachary Levine's latest Minor League Notebook, chock full of good information. Of note is that Corpus starter Polin Trinidad is getting a promotion to Round Rock. With a rotation that already sports three fairly quality starters in Yorman Bazardo, Bud Norris and Jeremy Johnson, Trinidad should make the Express tough to score upon in the second half. It'll be interesting to see if Trinidad replaces lefty Mark McLemore, who recently came off the DL or 27-year old Josh Muecke, who is sporting a 4.91 ERA and a 2-7 record, but has a streak of 13 scoreless innings heading into his next start.

Yorman Bazardo started four games for Round Rock while I was out of commission. He his first two were solid game score-wise, but in the first, he threw just two innings of a suspended game and his last two starts were both below average. Bazardo's strikeout rate is still hovering around 5 K/9 though his BB/9 rate has been great at 1.92. He's also generating a lot of ground balls still, which is one of the reasons he's been as successful to this point. I'd still like to see him strike out a few more batters before I'd see him in the big leagues.

One really interesting tidbit about Bazardo? He's allowed 27 earned runs this season, but only two unearned runs. When we get into the number of starts he's had, that stops being a statistical anomaly and starts speaking to his presence and makeup on the mound. Granted, we don't want to make too much of a little thing, but it still shows that he can stay cool with men on base.

The Express and the New Orleans Zephyrs played a wild one on June 20th, as neither team scored in the first ten innings but combined to score nine runs in the 11th. Round Rock won 5-4 but once again, Bud Norris (3-5) didn't get a victory after pitching eight scorless innings while allowing three hits. Norris struck out ten and walked four to post a Power/Finesse Ratio of 1.75.

First baseman John Gall went on a 7 for 8 streak over the weekend, with three home runs and seven RBIs in that span. The 32-year old is 20 for 72 this June with nine walks, nine runs scored, 14 RBIs, two doubles and four home runs. His line of .278/.366/.472 is his best stretch since early April and his 12.5 Runs Created is third on the team this month.

The Express have scored 306 runs this season and given up 360, putting their Pythagorean Winning Percentage at .419, or about three games under their current 36-42 record. Interestingly enough, though, the team has a solid pitching staff and ranks fifth in ERA in the Pacific Coast League. The Express' real problem is not scoring enough runs as Round Rock is 15th out of 16 teams in runs scored and 13th in slugging percentage. It hasn't helped to lose Chris Johnson for a time, though his power has come and gone, while both Tommy Manzella and Brian Bogusevic have been good hitters but haven't flashed much power.

A couple of relievers have also pitched well for Round Rock. 24-year old Sammy Gervacio's ERA is still up in the 5's, but his peripheral stats have been very solid for a while now. He has struck out 15 batters in 15 innings this month, walking two and allowing 11 hits and six earned runs. He's also given up just one home run in nine appearances and has a WHIP of 0.89. His FIP of 2.45 is the lowest on the team. Second on that list? Former starter Jose Capellan, who's got a 5.40 ERA but a FIP of 2.60 thanks to 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. Capellan has a high WHIP at 1.71, but that's largely due to his BABiP of .436 and should come down some. Gervacio is also on the Astros' 40-man roster, so could see time with the big league club at some point.

Catcher J.R. Towles continues to make his case for more big league playing time by going 11 for 43 with 12 walks, four doubles and a home run. Towles was also hit by three pitches, had one sac fly and a sacrifice hit while stealing a base and striking out nine times in 59 plate appearances. His .256/.441/.419 line is more impressive for the ridiculously high OBP than the batting average, but his OBP is one reason why Round Rock manager Mark Bombard chose to bat him leadoff two nights ago.

Outfielder Brian Bogusevic has had a tough month, going 24 for 94 with seven walks, seven runs scored, 13 RBIs, four doubles, two home runs and four stolen bases. His line of .255/.307/.362 is down from his season totals and has reduced his playing time some. He's also been bounced around the lineup, batting anywhere from leadoff to sixth in the order. Teammate Tommy Manzella has also had a tough time of it, putting up a Tony Pena, Jr.-esque .224/.272/.262 line in June wiht 22 strikeouts. Manzella's hitting struggles have also affected his defense, as he committed his eighth and ninth errors of the season in the past two weeks.

On the flip side, outfielder Reggie Abercrombie has been as solid as a 28-year old in AAA can be. He went 30 for 110 in June with six walks, 10 runs scored, four RBIs, seven doubles, one triple and one home run while striking out a whopping 39 times in 116 plate appearances. His Runs Created total of 12.8 was second on the team and I was very afraid I'd have to name him the Hitter of the Month, which seemed silly with that many strikeouts. To be effective when you whiff that many times, you need to have prodigious power, which Abercrombie does not. Still, he tied Bogusevic for the club lead in steals for the month with four and led the team in doubles, so it was a nice month for him.

Interesting note that showed up at MLBTradeRumors.com: apparently, 37-year old reliever Brendan Donnelly has left the Express and become a free agent. Donnelly had been very solid for Round Rock this season and has been working as a closer when Chad Paronto has been unavailable.

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