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June 5, 2006 at 10:23 PM

Greenville Drive Update

Hey y’all, greetings from South Carolina, it’s been about 3 weeks since the last update and it’s been a busy time for the Drive, who are still treading water. They now stand 30-26 and are on a 4 game win streak coming off a sweep of Kannapolis (by fart the worst team in the league at 12-43). They are in 3rd in the Southern Division, 7.5 games back with the 7th best record in a 16-team league.

From an offensive perspective, the Drive's best hitter,
Jeff Natale was just promoted to High A Wilmington, and their former next best hitters (Tony Granadillo and Chris Turner) have cooled, allowing for two new guys to step up as the team’s hottest hitters – C Mark Wagner and CF Yahmed Yema. The best position player prospect, Luis Soto is still on the disable list and is hoping to return in early July. Mark Wagner, a 9th round pick from UC Irvine last year, is leading the team in average at .320, SLG at .497, and OPS at .853 (for players currently on the team with over 50pa). He has a good defensive reputation as well, however I haven’t read any scouting reports on him this year. Next week, I should catch a game or two in Charleston and should be able to add something, though I’m far from a scout. He’s probably the best catcher in the system at this point, which says more about the system than him. I would like to see some more patience, as he has walked just 9 times in 147ab, though he has struck out only 21 times, so he’s obviously not flailing. If he keeps this up, he’s a candidate for an July promotion.

Yahmed Yema overcame a tough start (sorry, but I don’t have splits) and is currently hitting .294/.344/.458 in 177ab. Amazingly, after going something like 100ab without a walk, he now has 10 in his last 77 or so at bats. It’s possible he moves to Wilmintgon when and if
Jacoby Ellsbury is promoted to Portland. Chris Turner, one of my personal favorites on the team due to his athleticism and power, has bottomed out and is now at .218/.297/.467 with an amazing 76K’s in 197 at bats. Many of the other current players are low college draftees with not much of a future. Hopefully the draft tomorrow will infuse some talent into the lower system.

The pitching has been better than the hitting.
Mike Bowden has been good, with a very nice 61:8 K:BB rate in 47IP, he has, however been hittable giving up 51hits in that time. He’s allowed about 1HR/9, which is a high for low A. Clay Buchholz has come off the DL nicely and is currently at 3.83ERA with 48K:9BB in 43.1IP. Chris Jones has made himself a prospect with a nice streak of starts leading to a line of 1.94ERA with 38K and 13BB in 41.2IP. Hunter Jones has been able to stay healthy for the first time since high school and has been good with a 3.72ERA with 48K and 7BB in 46IP. Mike Rozier has even been pretty good (including an 8K, 1BB spot start in AA Portland) and is at 4.01 ERA in 42.2IP. His problem has been too few K’s and too many walks – 31:20 K:BB (not including tonight’s start). The bullpen has also been strong, led by “Tiny” Tim Cox and Kyle Fernandes.

Players of the month for May:
Mark Wagner and Chris Jones