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July 16, 2009 at 8:15 AM

The Ladder- 7.16.09

Josh Reddick

The Line: After missing the month of May with an oblique strain and feeling his way back into the batter’s box in June, Reddick has found his stride again in July, posting a .291/.350/.582 line, good for a .932 OPS. Of Reddick’s 16 hits in the month, 8 have gone for extra bases while he has batted lead off and manned centerfield for Portland. His 12 home runs on the season put him in the top ten in the Eastern League despite missing a month of the season, and his .883 OPS would rank him sixth in the league if he had enough qualifying at-bats. Reddick went 2 for 4 on July 10 against New Hampshire with 2 runs batted in, and he followed that up on July 13 by cracking 2 home runs in the final game of the first half.

The View: Reddick came back slowly from his injury, struggling to find his timing. As a whole, his pitch recognition on off-speed pitches and his discipline at the plate have been much improved this season. This was a key need for Reddick after his stint in Double-A last season, when his over-aggressiveness was exposed by advanced pitching. Adept at turning on the ball, he crushes fastballs middle in and has been disciplined enough to keep himself from chasing off-speed pitches down and in. With his excellent batspeed, Reddick generates a lot of torque and lift with his swing, which produces consistent, hard contact with plenty backspin on the ball. His strikeouts have increased since he arrived in Portland, but he is also walking more and has been staying back on the ball well the entire season. One area where Reddick could stand to improve is with his tendency to over-pull balls, especially fastballs on the outer third of the plate. Driving those pitches to left field with a little more frequency, rather than trying to yank them, would round out Reddick as a more complete threat at the plate, and this will be something of a need as he moves up to the next level to prevent pitchers from living on the outer third of the plate against him. After playing more right field in the lower minors, he’s continued to prove his center-field skills this season, flashing some nice range and reads on balls, while showing off his plus plus throwing arm. Needing to make improvements in his approach at the plate coming into the season, Reddick has made some excellent strides in this area and with some more fine tuning looks to be rounding into a complete and dangerous hitter at the plate.

Ryan Pressly

The Line: Off to a solid start with Lowell, Pressly checks in with 25 2/3 innings pitched on the season with 22 hits against and 21 strikeouts, issuing only 5 free passes. He ripped off 3 wins in a row from June 27 thru July 8, pitching 16 innings while only giving up 2 earned runs on 7 hits and fanning 14 batters during the win streak. On July 8 against Tri-Valley, Pressly dominated the lineup over 6 shutout innings, recording 6 strikeouts and only allowing 3 hits in his best performance of the season to date. He’s held batters to a .238 average despite giving up 8 hits in his last outing on July 14, and he has held left-handed batters to a .216 clip on the season. Pressly’s 1.75 earned run average currently has him sitting 10th in the NYPL.

The View: Pressly features an 88-90 MPH four-seam fastball that can get up to 91 when he reaches back. He also throws a cutting fastball that sits 84-86 MPH with some inward bite on left-handed batters. He likes to change speeds with his fastball and has been keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate with his two-seam fastball to limit the solid contact against him thus far into the season. Pressly’s sharp curveball is close to a true overhand curve and can be nasty on batters, creating a lot of bending knees. He gets some nice arm action on his change up, but there isn’t a ton of separation between it and his fastball, especially the two-seamer that he throws a good chunk of the time. However, his arm action and deception have kept batters off-balance on the pitch, and it also fades into the dirt, giving it a different look than his fastball. Now in his second full year in the system after being drafted in 2007, Pressly looks more polished out on the mound and has good balance in his delivery that keeps him from over-throwing his fastball, as he needs to keep it down in the zone for best results. His control has been improved this season as well, and he’s been pounding the strike zone with his fastball to get ahead of hitters to start. While lacking an overpowering fastball, Pressly has been running it while changing speeds to keep hitters at bay. A good looking pitch, it will be interesting to see how much more he works his curveball into counts as the season progresses given the pitch’s hard break and potential for no-contact swings. About a month into the short-season with Lowell, Pressly has gotten off to a strong start and looks to be taking a positive step forward on his development path.

Trending Up

After missing the first two plus months of the season with a broken bone in his hand, Salem’s Yamaico Navarro has roared back into action to post a .942 OPS in 67 at-bats. Navarro has racked up 7 doubles and 3 home runs in the stretch while consistently producing solid contact at the plate. An excellent fastball hitter, he turns on fastballs to rifle them into the gaps and produces excellent batspeed as he whips the bat head through the zone. A slick-fielding shortstop, Navarro shows above-average range in the field and an excellent throwing arm across the diamond…Jeremy Kerht struck out 30 batters in 21 2/3 innings with Lowell, including 11 in his last appearance, prior to being promoted to Greenville earlier this week Kehrt struck out 4 batters over 4 1/3 innings in his first appearance with Greenville on July 15…Zach Gentile is 14 for his last 43 with 3 strikeouts during that stretch. On the season, Gentile has only struck out 20 times in 168 at-bats and has posted a .738 OPS to date. The gritty infielder is hitting .310 and has been anchoring the top of the Greenville lineup in recent weeks.

Trending Down

Derrik Gibson has cooled off considerably after his hot start to the season with Lowell and is currently 3 for his last 40. Gibson has struck out 12 times and only walked 3 times during his cold spell. After making a lot of solid contact during June, he’s been rolling over a lot of pitches in July while getting jammed by fastballs on the inner third of the plate…Reid Engel is 18 for his last 82 with only 4 extra-base hits. The Sea Dogs outfielder has looked overmatched during the 28-game stretch, racking up 31 strikeouts…Tim Fedorowicz is 1 for his last 21 after getting off to a solid start in High-A.