Minor Lg. Season in Review: Class A – Charleston Riverdogs

The Class A Charleston Riverdogs went through a season of constant flux.  They started the season with an extremely talented starting lineup consisting of 5 of the organizations top 15 position players.  Expectations were high, however due to promotions and injuries, the team that finished the season looked entirely different.  the team had little continuity and that led to a disappointing 55-85 record.

The team’s top two hitters were promoted to Tampa in June. 3B Rob Segedin & 1B Kyle Roller finished the season in the Florida State League so I will go into more detail on them in the Tampa season review.  Segedin was hitting .323/.396/.482 and Roller was at .305/.379/.545 at the time of their promotions, so their bats were sorely missed.

Overall the team finished in the middle of the pack or worse in most offensive categories in the 14 team South Atlantic Lg.  They were 10th in runs, 8th in HRS,  batting avg (.259) &  OBP (.330).

HITTERS

Slade Heathcott – CF,  20, 6’1″ 190

Another shoulder injury for Slade

Slade is anything but boring.  The 2009 1st round pick (#29) got off to a blazing start hitting .370/.457/.630 through the teams first 20 games in April.  However on May 13th, he was hit by a pitch leading off a game and ignited a brawl by attacking the catcher.  Slade’s numbers declined after that amazing April but he was promoted to Tampa on June 29th.  He celebrated by going 3 for 5 with a HR in his 1st game.  Unfortunately, this was his only game as he missed the remainder of the season with a left shoulder injury.

Heathcott finished with a .279/.347/.437/.784 line in 53 games.  He showed some increased power at the plate this year as he continues to get stronger.  He already is a plus-plus defender in CF and was voted the  best defensive outfielder in Class A by Baseball America. Slade is also as fast as anyone in the minors although this has not turned into success in stealing bases yet.  He was an unacceptable 6 of 13 in SBs this yr after going 15 for 25 in 2010.  This player has all the tools needed to be a starter in MLB but there are questions about his character, attitude & durability that will ned to be answered in the years to come.

JR Murphy – C/3B, 20, 6’0″ 190

Murphy was a 2009 2nd rd pick who raised his stock by having improving in almost every category this year.  He hit .297/.343/.457 with 6 hrs and 23 doubles in 277 PAs with Charleston.  He showed ability to rip line drives all over the field which led to an improved ISO from .121 in 2010 to .160 in 2011.  JR also cut down his strikeouts whiffing only 13.7% of the time.  Murphy also erased a lot of concerns about his ability to catch as he drew rave reviews from several scouts for the improvement in his receiving & throwing skills.  His play earned him a promotion to Tampa but he only played 23 games before being lost for the season on July 21 with a foot injury. He hit only .259/.270/.365 in 85 abs.

Gary Sanchez caught fire at the end of the season

Gary Sanchez – C,  18, 6’2″ 220

Sanchez got a huge $3 Million Bonus to sign in 2009 and was in everyone’s Top 5 Yankee prospects entering this yr.  MLB.com had him #32 in all of baseball.  However, he got off to a poor start this yr offensively and defensively. Through July 31st he was a disappointing .236 with 10 hrs but something clicked in August as he hit .433 with 7 hrs in the first 9 games. But his season full of slumps, streaks, suspensions & injuries came to a halt due to a hand injury just as he was catching fire.

For the yr Sanchez finished .256/.335/.485 with 17 hrs in 301 abs which is respectable when you remember he is only 18 yrs old and playing his first yr of full-season pro ball. He must cut down on his huge 27.1 K% at the plate and improve on his defense behind the plate. Scouts criticized his defense this yr mostly for his lack of focus and poor form.  He has the tools to remain at Catcher but he’ll have to prove he has the work ethic and concentration.  He was sent back to Extended Spring training in May for a poor attitude after a few incidents.  Hopefully, he learned from this and it can be written off as an 18 yr old dealing with struggling for the first time in his career.

Ramon Flores – OF/1B, 19, 5’10″ 150

Flores is one of the few players to play a full season for Charleston. The strong armed OF has a sweet left handed stroke and hit .265/.353./.400 with 11 hrs & 13 sbs.  He has a good idea of the strike zone and had a solid 11.4% Walk rate. Flores does a lot of things well and it will be interesting to see how he develops as a hitter as he gets bigger and stronger.

Shane Brown – OF, 23, 5’11″ 197

Brown was considered nothing more than an organizational player coming into the season. As a 23rd round pick, he hit just .234 in Staten Island last yr so he repeated the level this yr.  However, in 22 games he tore up the NY Penn Lg hitting .446/.544/.635 to earn the promotion. In 35 games in Charleston, he hit .321 for a combined .366/.465/.473 line in 205 abs with 11% Walk rate and 7.8% K rate.  He doesn’t have speed or power but he has shown great ability to get on base.

PITCHERS

Shane Greene – RHP, 22, 6’4″ 210

Greene has a good pitcher’s frame and some promising stuff so was a lot of people’s pick this ST to take a leap forward.  He did show some signs but was still too inconsistent. He finished 5-14, 4.37 era but had a 3.89 fip, 8.4 K/9 and 1.53 Ground Out ratio. So he shows ability to get strikeouts and ground balls but must improve on his .265 opposing BA and 4.4 bb/9.

Nik Turley – LHP, 22, 6’7″ 230

Nik Turley had a breakout season

Turley was one of the systems breakout pitchers this season. He doesn’t light up the radar gun (sits around 90) but has a nice slurve and makings of a solid change, all of which he throws for strikes.  Nik posted a  2.81 era with 87 Ks in 89ip and only 22 walks.  Turley was a project taken in the 50th round of the 2008 draft who has grown 3 inches & 30 lbs since and finally busted out this yr.Looking at some of the pictures and video, this kid has mechanics and mannerisms like Andy Pettitte. Nik earned a promotion to Hi-A Tampa but his season was cut short after just 2 appearances with a broken hand. This big lefty will be someone to watch closely in 2012.

Zachary Nuding – RHP, 21, 6’4″ 250

I got a chance to see Nuding pitch in May and he threw 6 shutout innings. He’s a big strong guy who sits around 89-91 but gets it up to 93-94 at times. He steps to the 3rd base side with his front foot and throws across his body kind of like Jered Weaver does. Zach finished 7-6, 4.48 era/4.36 fip, 7.5 k/9, 4.0 bb/9, 0.64 GO/AO, 1.0 HR/9.  He had a good .232 opposing BA but he needs to improve his command, generate more ground balls & refine his off-speed pitches so he can strike out more batters.

Jose Ramirez – RHP, 21, 6’1″ 155

Ramirez began the season in Tampa with high expectations but got smacked around with a 8.14 ERA in 6 starts leading to a demotion to Charleston.  He pitched better in CHS finishing  with a 4.78 ERA / 4.17 FiP.  His 21.0% K rate and 9.2% walk rate were almost identical to his successful 2010 season.  The difference was his GO to AirOut ratio fell from 1.16 to 0.82 which lead to a big increase in Batting Avg Against (.239 to .292) and HR/9 (from 0.23 to 1.06). Ramirez gets good low to mid 90s velocity from his wiry frame and has the makings of a nice change-up. His breaking ball isn’t good at this point but he has time to develop it.

Vidal Nuno – LHP, 24, 5’11″ 195

The Yankees purchased Nuno from an independent league and he started the season in Staten Island. Pitching out of the pen he was 5-0 0.72 era with 29 ks in 25 ip. He was promoted to Charleston and started 7 games where he was just as dominant with a 37 to 2 SO to walk ratio in 40 ip!  Overall for the season, he was 7-1 with a 1.38 era and 66 Ks & just 5 walks in 65ip.  At 24, he’s older than many in the league but a 66 to 5 SO to walk rate cannot be ignored.

Thomas Kahnle – RHP, 22, 6’1″ 220

Kahnle was a 5th rd pick in 2010 who was used as a 1-3 ip reliever in CHS this yr.  He had an impressive 12.4 K/9 and .223 opposition BA but a far too high 5.4 BB/9.  His 4.22 ERA wasn’t indicative of how well he pitched since he had a 2.45 FIP and miniscule 0.11 HR/9 rate.  He sits in the 93-94 range and can pump it up to the 96 with a slider that shows potential. Kahnle definitely has a future as a reliever, how well depends on how his command and  secondary pitches progress

Mark Montgomery – RHP, 21, 5’11″ 205

Mark Montgomery had a 16.4 K/9 and fanned 5 in 1 IP!

Montgomery signed as an 11th rd pick in June and after a 4 game cameo in Staten Island came to CHS. He wasted no time making an impression by breaking a professional record by striking out 5 batters in 1 inning in his first game! Mark dominated hitters with a low-mid 90s fastball and a nasty slider that he uses to rack up strikeouts.  Overall, he had an amazing 16.4 K/9 with 51Ks and 13 BB in 28.1 ip. He saved 15 games with a 1.91 ERA.  He has the moxie to be a closer and I’m anxious to see how his slider plays against more advanced hitters.

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About fishjam25

Was a 4-yr Pitcher and Communications Major at Seton Hall University in the 90s. His knowledge & opinion of the game comes from his background as a player and ardent lifetime Yankee fan. However, Fishjam also incorporates sabermetrics and statistical support to form a well-rounded view of the game.

Posted on September 12, 2011, in Minor League Updates, Player Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great stuff as always Fish. Sanchez and Slade are going to fun to watch as they move up in the system.

  1. Pingback: Minor Connections: Indians, Yankees, Twitter and Moneyball « Seedlings to Stars | A Minor League Baseball blog

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