Sunday, May 12, 2019

Weekly Carolina League News and Notes

Comings and Goings

Four players (Sam Huff, Blaine Knight, Konnor Pilkington and Brett Conine) featured as potential call up to the Carolina League in this column the last two weeks, were called up this week from full season A to Carolina League.

  • Sam Huff (C) was hitting .359/.368/1.165 with a minor league leading 15 homers in 30 games while throwing out 13 of 22 base stealers with Hickory when he got the promotion to Down East.  Huff will play everyday, likely splitting time between catcher and DH.  If Huff continues his success offensively and defensively with the Woodies, he will really move up the prospect rankings.

  • Blaine Knight (RHP) and Konnor Pilkington (LHP) have followed a similar path.  Both were very successful SEC pitchers (Knight for Arkansas and Pilkington for Mississippi State).  Both were picked in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft (Pilkington was the 81st pick by the White Sox and Knight the 87th pick by the Orioles) and both got called up from the Sally League to the Carolina within a day of each other.
  • Knight had thrown 26.2 innings for Delmarva allowing just 11 hits with 4 walks while striking out 33.  He made his debut with the Frederick Keys on Saturday throwing 6 innings, allowing just two hits, one walk while striking out 5.  Knight threw 53 strikes out of 80 pitches.

  • Pilkington pitched 33.1 with Kannapolis allowing 15 hits, 11 walks and striking out 42. He could make his Carolina League debut on Monday.      

  • Brett Conine (RHP) has been the most impressive of the Astros unheralded Quad Cities rotation that has been so good despite being unable to play in their home stadium due to flooding.  Conine was an 11th round draft pick out of Cal State Fullerton in 2018.  Prior to his promotion to Fayetteville, Conine had pitched 33 innings for Quad Cities, allowing 19 hits and 6 walks while striking out 40. 

Three pitchers earned promotions to AA.
  • Tyler Phillips (RHP) has perhaps been the best pitcher in the Carolina League so far this year.  In 37.2 innings, he allowed 28 hits, just six walks and 5 earned runs while striking out 28. Phillips was 10 on our top prospect list. He will make his AA debut for Frisco on Tuesday.
  • Blake Battenfield (RHP) was really good in 5 of his 6 starts earning a promotion to Birmingham.  Battenfield was a 2017 17th round draft pick out of Oklahoma State.  In 35 innings for Winston Salem, he had allowed 31 hits, 9 walks, 11 earned runs while striking out 25. 
  • Drew Rasmussen (RHP) was promoted by the Brewers to AA Biloxi.  Rasmussen, returning from his second Tommy John surgery seems to be on the fast track for the Brewers as a opener or multi-inning reliever.  He has yet to throw 50 pitches in a game.  Rasmussen is 35 on our top prospects list.    

Three highly regarded prospects (Dean Kremer, Adbert Alzolay and Austin Hays) will temporarily be in the Carolina League as they return from injuries before going back to higher levels. 

  • Dean Kremer (RHP) made his 2019 debut with Keys on Thursday.  Kremer had been out with an oblique injury.  Kremer was part of the Manny Machado trade between the Orioles and Dodgers.  Kremer had 8 starts for AA Bowie to end 2018 pitching 45.1 innings, allowing 38 hits, 17 walks and striking out 53.

  • Adbert Alzolay (RHP) had a very strong season in 2017 at both Myrtle Beach and AA Tennessee.  He was the Cubs best pitching prospect and likely would have been called up to the major in 2018 if he had not suffered a significant lat injury that limited Alzolay to 8 starts. He had another side injury that delayed the start of his 2019 season and was assigned to Myrtle Beach.  On Sunday he made a start with the Pelicans with mixed results (4 IP, 7 hits, 5 ER and 3 strikeouts) and then announced that his next appearance would be with AAA Iowa.
  • Austin Hays (OF) is similar to Alzolay in that he had a strong season in 2017 in both High A and AA to shoot up prospect rankings.  In Hays' case he was actually called up in the majors in September 2017 for the Orioles.  Unfortunately 2018 was mostly a lost season due to performance and injuries and after an impressive spring he began 2019 on IL with a thumb injury.  The Orioles announced on Sunday that Hays would be assigned to Frederick where he hit .328/.356/.956 with 16 homers in 64 games in 2017.

There are several interesting newly assigned players to the Carolina League.
  • Wes Rogers (OF) was signed by the Brewers and assigned to the Carolina Mudcats.  Rogers is a 25 year old outfielders who stole 70 bases for Lancaster in the California League in 2017.  He only played in one game so he looks like a back up at this point.

  • Matt Solter (RHP) was demoted from Akron to Lynchburg when Eli Morgan was moved up to Akron.  Solter will be 26 next month and spent 2018 in independent ball.  He was actually pitching well for Akron. In 5 starts, Solter pitched 25.2 innings and allowed 20 hits and 10 walks with 26 strikeouts.

  • John King (LHP) was drafted by the Rangers in the 10th round of the 2017 out of University of Houston. The Rangers knew at the time that he would likely need Tommy John surgery, which he had shortly after the draft. King just made a couple of appearances at the end of 2018.  Fully healthy for 2019, King made 5 starts for Hickory allowing 31 hits but only 2 walks and striking out 29 in 26.1 innings.  He was promoted to Down East to replace Tyler Phillips and allowed only 1 runs in 6 innings in his first start.    

A few pitchers went down with injuries. 
  • Bryan Mata (RHP) was placed on the IL with a mild right shoulder strain for Salem. Mata is 25 in our top prospects list.
  • Noah Bremer (RHP) was placed on the IL with an undisclosed injury for the Down East Wood Ducks.
  • Luis Lugo (LHP) was placed on the IL with an undisclosed injury for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
Pitching Summary

This is through May 12th. Rainouts and calls up have paid havoc with pitching schedules recently.  There are a few isolated games not included in the pitches per outs because the pitch count was unavailable affecting Blake Battenfield(4-17)Kyle Johnson (4-21), Malvin Pena (4-20 and 5-1) and Paul Richan (5-7).

Pitcher Team Pitches Per Out K% - BB% BABIP
Tyler Phillips Down East 4.29 15.70% 0.26
Noah Zavolas Carolina 4.64 18.20% 0.317
Daniel Gonzalez Winston Salem 4.71 6.80% 0.326
Daniel Tillo Wilmington 4.71 1.40% 0.259
Cody Sedlock Frederick 4.73 11.50% 0.159
Dylan File Carolina 4.89 24.10% 0.342
Juan Hillman Lynchburg 4.92 7.80% 0.323
Blake Battenfield Winston Salem 5.21 11.40% 0.275
Jason Bahr Down East 5.23 9.80% 0.221
Brady Singer Wilmington 5.26 14.60% 0.321
Parker Mushinski Fayetteville 5.33 27.30% 0.315
Brenan Hanifee Frederick 5.35 -1.60% 0.298
Javier Assad Myrtle Beach 5.48 15.10% 0.3
Reid Anderson Down East 5.52 4.80% 0.214
Nick Gallagher Lynchburg 5.59 18.00% 0.262
Malvin Pena Potomac 5.67 12.40% 0.29
Daniel Lynch Wilmington 5.67 14.20% 0.395
Chad Donato Fayetteville 5.71 22.10% 0.358
Enmanuel De Jesus Salem 5.71 5.90% 0.321
Justin Garza Lynchburg 5.73 10.90% 0.33
Kutter Crawford Salem 5.75 23.40% 0.304
Nelson Hernandez Carolina 5.79 11.30% 0.355
Yohan Ramirez Fayetteville 5.87 28.20% 0.261
Adam Scott Lynchburg 5.88 14.30% 0.363
Paul Richan Myrtle Beach 5.89 11.10% 0.351
Enoli Paredes Fayetteville 5.91 18.40% 0.22
Kyle Johnston Potomac 5.97 12.40% 0.349
Cristian Javier Fayetteville 5.98 20.00% 0.226
Jackson Kowar Wilmington 5.99 15.10% 0.33
Michael Baumann Frederick 6.09 34.70% 0.388
Cameron Bishop Frederick 6.13 14.40% 0.368
DL Hall Frederick 6.6 20.60% 0.395

  • Dylan File (RHP) has been one of the most pleasant surprises this year in the Carolina League. File was a 21st round pick in the 2017 draft by the Brewers out of Dixie State in Utah. He has been significantly better for the Carolina Mudcats in 2019 (1.08 WHIP and 2.51 FIP) than he was  in the Midwest League in 2018 for the Wisconsin Ramblers (1.32 WHIP and 3.94 FIP). File has an incredible 41 to 3 strikeout to walk ratio.
  • Yohan Ramirez (RHP) had an interesting start on May 7th for Fayetteville.  He pitched 4.2 innings, allowing 1 earned run on 4 hits and 2 walks.  Out of the 14 outs that Ramirez got, 12 were by strikeout.  The Woodpeckers as a team are striking out 11.1 batters per game.  The next best team in the Carolina League are the Blue Rocks who are striking out 9.58 batters per game. 
  • Daniel Gonzalez (RHP) for Salem and Juan Hillman (LHP) for Lynchburg has quite a scoreless battle on May 10th.  Before turning the game over to the bullpen, Gonzalez and Hillman combined to pitch 14 innings and  only allowed 9 baserunners (7 singles, 1 double and 1 walk). 

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