Tuesday, July 14, 2009

June Players of the Month

Triple-A (Round Rock Express)
(Age, year and round drafted)
Hitter of the Month: Chris Johnson, 3B (24, 4th, 2006): After getting injured in the third game of the season and working his way back into form, Johnson has had a rocky road this season. None of the Round Rock hitters ran away with this award, but Johnson started to show some power towards the end of the month, which gave him the team lead in Runs Created by the end of June. His line of .280/.301/.460 is not impressive; heck, it's borderline however you look at it. Still, Johnson hit six doubles, three triples and two home runs while stealing one base. He seems to have playable speed and is a pretty good defensive third baseman, but he doesn't walk (three in 103 plate appearances) and his power is spotty at best. It may seem like I just contradicted myself and this isn't the typical prospect highlight package. Johnson, though, is the best of a bad group and you can't help but pointing out the flaws. Is he better than Geoff Blum or Jeff Keppinger? Probably. Will he be a star in the big leagues? Probably not, unless he starts hitting much more consistently.

Pitcher of the Month: Bud Norris, RHP (24, 6th, 2006): This is Norris' second selection as a POM but it is well-deserved. The 24-year old led the team in strikeouts in June with 26 and had a ridiculously-low ERA of 0.96. His FIP of 3.31 and his K/9 rate of 8.31 suggest his ERA may not be a fluke, though his BABiP of .236 means he won't be this lucky for long. Still, Norris has posted two straight 82 game scores this month, striking out 10 in an 11-inning game and twirling a two-hitter through eight innings in the other. He has created 36.89 runs this season, though his BB/9 rate of 4.34 for the season is a bit troubling. If he can get his control mastered a little, he may have a shot as a starting pitcher for the Astros.
Double-A (Corpus Christi Hooks)

Hitter of the Month: Collin DeLome, OF (22, 5th 2007): I think you can tell that I have a fondness for DeLome and am glad he was good enough to be the Hitter of the Month for Corpus. Still, this was a very deserved honor, as DeLome just edged out second baseman Drew Meyer for the title. The 22-year old out of Lamar University hit four more home runs this month to bring his season total to 14. DeLome also hit three doubles and two triples while being successful on three of four stolen base attempts. His line of .276/.351/.469 doesn't blow you away, but his walks are way up this month and his strikeouts remain high. His Runs Created of 17.5 is the best on the team as is his weighted OBA of .315, while his BABiP of .338 is high, but may be sustainable. This month showed progress for DeLome that hopefully he'll be able to maintain in July.

Pitcher of the Month: Polin Trinidad, RHP (23, 2002 out of Dominican Republic): Why was Trinidad recently promoted to Round Rock? 80, 78, 62, 73. Those are his last four Game Scores, during which he gave up just one run and 19 hits in 31 1/3 innings. Trinidad struck out 17 in that stretch while walking four. His FIP is down to 3.42 this season and none of those four starts saw it rise over 3.08. The biggest reason Trinidad has done so well lately is his batting average against dropped dramatically. In April, his BAA was .303 and .330 in May. In June? It dropped to .205, which of course can be misleading. His BABiP of .233 means this success probably isn't sustainable at this level. Still, the only black mark on his resume right now is his K/9 rate of 5.77, which could be higher, but should still play well at the higher levels.
High-A (Lancaster JetHawks)
Hitter of the Month: T.J. Steele, OF (22, 4th 2008): Steele fell a little last season because of an injury, and then missed time at the beginning of this season because of injury. In June, though, all he did was injure a few pitchers' feelings, putting up a .394/.439/.692 line in 104 at-bats. Steele hits seven doubles, six triples and four home runs, scoring 28 runs and driving in 26 more. His K/BB ratio was not great, striking out 23 times and walking just seven times. Steele also was successful on only half of his 10 steal attempts.

Pitcher of the Month: Chris Hicks, RHP (22, 14th 2008): In Lancaster, pitching success is all relative. Hicks had three above-average starts in five tries in June, throwing up game scores of 53, 55 and 63 to go with two stink-bombs (26 and 39), but he did strike out 21 in 27 1/3 innings. His K/9 rate in June of 6.91 is just a tick above his season rate of 6.67. Hicks' final start in June was also his best of the season, as Hicks lasted seven innings while giving up four hits and one run, striking out five and walking one. His game score of 69 was the best of his season.

Low-A (Lexington Legends)
Hitter of the Month: Brian Pellegrini, 1B/OF (24, 12th 2007): I really didn't want to add Pellegrini to this list, because at 24, he's old for a prospect in Low A ball. Add to that the fact that he is back repeating time at Lexington, and he's just not the kind of player that strikes me as a good prospect. Still, he really abused the South Atlantic League's pitchers last month, with a line of .437/.495/.816 in 24 games. Pellegrini hit nine home runs and six doubles, scoring fifteen runs and driving in 26 more. All in all, not a bad month.

Pitcher of the Month: Jordan Lyles, RHP (18, supplemental 1st 2008): Where Pellegrini was the hardest addition to this list, Lyles was definitely the easiest. In 28 1/3 innings, Lyles gave up 22 hits and 10 runs, all earned. The 18-year old also struck out 43 while walking six in five starts. Lyles only had one bad start, lasting just four innings in his final June outing, but he still struck out five. Three times in June, Lyles struck out 10 or more and in two of those games he didn't walk anyone. Lyles has a FIP of 2.08 this season and a K/9 of 11.10 while his BB/9 is at 1.98. As I mentioned in a post last week, Lyles was leading the entire minor leagues in strikeouts. It's safe to say he's been worth a supplemental first round pick.

Short Season (Tri-City ValleyCats)

Hitter of the Month: Brian Kemp, CF (20, 19th 2009): None of the next three teams played a ton of games this month. Tri-City played the most with 10, and Brian Kemp played in eight of those 10, going 9 for 26 with a triple, three runs scored and two RBIs. Kemp has an excellent line of .346/.485/.423 in 33 plate appearances and has only struck out five times. Kemp was caught stealing on his first two attempts, but has been successful on his last two attempts. The 20-year old has also hit all over the batting order, as so many players have shuffled through that no one has settled into a particular spot yet.

Pitcher of the Month: Antonio Noguera, LHP (21, 2004 out of Venezuela): Pitching out of the bullpen, Noguera has been excellent this month. In three appearances over seven innings, Noguera (1-0) has yet to give up a run. He's struck out five and walked one in that span while giving up seven hits. Noguera's BABiP is high at .389, suggesting he can get better than this. Unfortunately, I don't have much of a scouting report on him, though he does have a favorable G/F split right now.

Rookie (Greeneville Astros)

Hitter of the Month: J.D Martinez, DH/LF (21, 20th 2009): The big outfielder out of Nova Southwestern University hit two home runs and three doubles in eight games in June. His line of .321/.424/.643 led the team in every category except batting average, where teammate Jose Altuve had a slight edge. Martinez's Runs Created total of 8.1 was excellent, which is reflected nicely in his weighted OBA of .363. The scary thing about Martinez to this point is his BABiP of .304 means he's actually underperforming to a degree...just think about that for a moment, and realize how good Bobby Heck and the scouting department have been.

Pitcher of the Month: Nathan Pettus, RHP (20, 27th 2008): Our second straight bullpen pitchers threw six innings in four appearances last month while allowing two hits and two walks. Pettus struck out four and had a K/9 rate of 6.35, which is not bad but not spectacular either. He did save two games and has a BABiP of .154, which means he will come down to earth once he gets some more innings under his wings (which has happened so far in July). Still, Pettus was a reliable end of the game stopper for Greeneville and is very deserving of this award.

Gulf Coast League (GCL Astros)

Hitter of the Month: Emilio King, OF (19, 2006 out of Dominican Republic): I don't want to spend too much time on these guys, since they didn't play that many games, but King was by far the best hitter on his team. King was 4 for 16 with a walk, a run scored, an RBI, a double, a triple and a home run while being hit by three pitches and striking out once. He was also caught stealing twice and created 5.4 runs in five games.

Pitcher of the Month: Carlos Gil, RHP (19, 2006 out of Dominican Republic): Likewise, Gil didn't pitch much in June, but did strike out seven batters in 4 2/3 innings over two appearances. His K/9 rate of 13.5 is the best on the team and did not give up a run in June. He did, however, suffer one loss and has a G/F ratio of 4/2. Not much analysis, I know, but there's only so much you can do with a limited sample size. I don't even have mug shots for these guys, for pete's sake.

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