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April 21, 2006 at 11:31 AM

Drive demonstrate development success in April

The first two weeks of the season have been very successful from a player development point-of-view, if somewhat less so from a win-loss perspective. Overall the Drive are 6-7. The pitching started off very hot; through the first 7 games, starters had pitched 33 innings and given up only 2 runs with a 32:5 K:BB ratio. The next three games (started by Mike Rozier, Mike Bowden, and Hunter Jones) were ugly with a combined 16.20ERA in 10 IP. The last three games (started by Phil Seibel, Clay Buchholz, and Mike Rozier) have been pretty good with each allowing 1 run in 5, 5, and 4 2/3 IP, respectively. Seibel has been the strongest, though he doesn’t have much to prove at this level, as this is strictly a rehab assignment. Next best has been Buchholz who’s had 3 really nice outings totaling 15 IP with 12H, 2ER, 15K, 3BB, and 1 HR. Bowden has had 1 good start and 1 ugly start, as has Hunter Jones. Mike Rozier has not been particularly impressive through two starts. The two best pitchers out of the bullpen have been Ismael Casillas (who was also impressive in one start) and Australian Tim Cox. Including his start, Casillas has pitched in 3 games with the following line: 10IP 2H 1ER 6BB 13K. Cox has pitched in 4 games, all in relief, with the following line: 11.1IP 7H 3ER 2BB 10K.
On the hitting side, the offense has been led by two guys who in my opinion should have started at Wilmington. The 23-year old Jeff Natale is continuing his hot streak from last season. He’s currently hitting .375/.492/.646 with a 10:9 BB:K ratio in about 58 PA (Baseball America does not include HBP, SF, or S in their stats). I don’t know what this guy has to do to get a promotion. The next hottest hitter is 21-year old 3B Tony Granadillo who’s currently at .366/.438/.561 in about 46 PA with 5:9 BB:K ratio. 21-year old SS Christian Lara is having a very nice start to the season after a pretty terrible year at the plate in 2005. He’s hitting .286/.487/.393 with 10BB:7K and 6SB:1CS. RF Luis Soto (20yo) is starting the season well with a .310/.339/.500 line, though I’d like to see more patience as he has walked just 3 times in 58 at bats with 14 Ks. LF Chris Turner (22yo)is another guy who should probably be at Wilmington. He had a horrendous start to the season. In his first 7 games he hit .074/.242/.185 in 33 PA. In his last 5 games he’s gotten really hot, hitting .417/.462/.917 in 26 PA while cutting his K-rate significantly. 21-year old C Mark Wagner has also gotten hot after missing the first few games of the season with an injury. He’s currently at .372/.304/.500 in 22 at bats. As far as peple not getting off to good starts there are some who anyone could have predicted, including Logan Sorensen with his .532OPS and Matt Mercurio with his .500OPS, and some who are surprises at least to me, including Yahmed Yema who has been limited to a .212/.257/.273 line while missing several games due to injury. SS Luis Segovia has struggled mightily in his first exposure to full-season ball with just a .463OPS in 44 at bats.

Overall, it’s great to see so many guys hitting, even if some of them should probably be at Wilmington. Nice starts by Natale, Granadillo, Lara, Soto, Turner, and Wagner on the hitting side, and Buchholz, Seibel, Casillas and Cox on the pitching side. Hopefully Mike Bowden will bounce back tonight after a tough start last weekend. The Drive come in to Charleston May 2-5 for a 4 game set. I’ll get to at least 2 and hopefully all 4 games, depending on how work is going. I’m excited to see these guys in person, though if the rotation stays the same (substituting Casillas for Seibel when he gets promoted to Pawtucket), it looks like I’ll miss Mike Bowden. I’ve got a new Nikon D50, so I should get some good pics as well.