Season in Review - Danville
Riaan Spanjer-Furstenberg (or RSF for those not in the know) was named Appy League player of the year. RSF started the season blazing hot, and despite cooling off near the end of the year, still won the batting title with an average of .354. His OPS finished at .933, good for 4th in the league. I'm not going to say he's a future superstar, since he played in the league as a 21 year old, but theres a lot to like about the big South African. RSF's K rate sat at a more than respectable 16.3%, and his walk rate was 6.1%, which isn't great, but considering its rookie ball, we'll give him a pass. He didn't show me as much power as I would have liked, with a .174 ISO. Also, he was a member of the post-season all-star team. Way to go, RSF!
One more Brave made the all-star team, and that was outfielder Cory Harrilchak. Much like RSF, Cory is old for the Appy League, except he's even older, at 22. However, there is a lot to be excited about. Harrilchak posted a great walk rate of 10.6%, which is amazing considering that his K rate was only 10.0%. However, he didn't show a lot of power, only putting up an ISO of .118. One more bright spot about Harrilchak was his speed, as he went 18 for 20 on the basepaths, a 90% clip. If you're gonna steal bases, you at least have to do it that successfully. Harrilchak did not lead the team in steals though, because Danville featured LV Ware, who led the league in steals, going 24 for 27, which is a nearly as good 89%. Ware didn't offer the team much else though, with a low OPS of .740, and when you consider that he's 22 just like Harrilchak, its easy to temper your initial enthusiasm. One other Brave who burned up the dirt was 2009 draftee Mycal Jones, who went 19 for 23. Not as good as Ware or Harrilchak, but still very good. But again, just like Ware, Jones is old for the league, also at 22. However unlike Ware, Jones showed that he can hit for power with an ISO of .173, which is nearly identical to RSF. Jones's 6 triples tied for the Appy League lead. The 3 men I mentioned in this paragraph will need to prove that they can effectively hit at levels they'd be more age appropriate for, otherwise they risk turning into a player like an Esix Snead, who was all speed and no bat. In order of potential, I'd rank Harrilchak at the top, followed by Jones, with Ware bringing up the rear.
Also worth noting is the performance of 17 year old catcher Christian Bethancourt, who between the GCL & Danville, posted an OPS .768. Yes, he's only 17...Bethancourt doesn't turn 18 until Wednesday. When a 17 year old can post an OPS above .700 in rookie ball, competing with guys that can be up to 5 years or so older than him, people tend to take notice. Bethancourt is advanced for his age, with an 8.9% walk rate (which makes me smile big time, considering the kid can't even buy smokes here in America) and a .153 ISO. Considering that he's only going to continue to mature as a player, and develop more power, I'm very excited for the future of this young Panamanian. Hopefully the Braves don't push him too fast next season, and don't end up shorting out his development.
That pretty much touches on all of the interesting young hitters who finished up in Danville, so lets take a look at some pitcher. Matt Crim was the Appy League pitcher of the year, but I'm going to go ahead and call it a bad choice. Crim likely won the award with his stellar 10-1 record. But under the surface of that, there are some interesting peripherals. Crim, like most of the rest of the Danville staff that will be featured today, was an intense control artist, posting a walk rate of only 1.34 per 9. His K rate wasn't fantastic at 6.3/9, but with a walk rate that low, any sufficient strikeouts will suffice. Crim's homer rate was a miniscule 0.53 per 9, but the funny thing about that is he actually led the team in homers allowed with a whopping 4. Crim was drafted in 2009 out of The Citadel, and like many of the hitters mentioned above, is old for the league, just turning 22 2 weeks ago. I'd like to see what he can do over a full season in Rome.
NOW we get to the nitty gritty, 2 pitchers who absolutely made me tingle. First off, we'll start with Chris Masters. Please, please, no WWE jokes. Masters absolutely TOOK SOULS this season, posting a 1.42 ERA, which was second in the league, and struck out a hair shy of 11 batters per 9 this season. He led the league in strikeouts by a wide margin, with his total of 85. The only other pitcher who topped 65 pitched in 10 more innings than Masters. Scary. But I'm not done yet. You're probably thinking that Masters was some sort of wild maniac, with a lot of walks. Yeah...his walk rate was 1.16. Thats right. His walk rate was lower than his teeny tiny ERA. Masters had a K:BB this season of 9.44. I mean, SERIOUSLY?!?! Masters was also a 2009 draftee, out of Western Carolina. Like the rest of them, he's 21, old for the league. I find it amazing that he didn't get promoted to Rome to strut his stuff.
Brett Oberholtzer also had a fantastic year for Danville, putting up a 2.01 ERA and falling just shy of Masters's K:BB with a 9.33 mark. Brett's walk rate was actually lower than Masters's...0.81 per 9. Dear god. LESS THAN A BATTER PER INNING PEOPLE. He "only" struck out 7.5 per 9, which led to the K:BB slightly lower than Masters's. However, be excited about this one folks...he's only 20. By the way, Oberholtzer & Masters combined to allow 2 homers in 136 2/3 innings. Just...nasty.
One more name for you, and thats a guy who was drafted in 2008, Tyler Stovall. Last season in the GCL, Stovall horribly struggled. This year...well, I'll let you be the judge. First, the good...he struck out over a batter per inning, and only allowed 36 hits and 1 homer in 52 innings. OK, thats pretty good. Now, the bad. He walked more than a batter per inning too. Something like that makes your eyes a little shifty and makes you wonder what the hell is going on. However...it might not be such a bad thing. Because of the low hit total, he only posted a 3.12 ERA. More encouraging is that he was actually UNLUCKY, with a .354 BABIP. That walk rate is enough to make a man blush, but when you miss an equal amount of bats, and have such good stuff that no one is getting hits, you're doing something right. This is an interesting case to follow.
So, I hope you all enjoyed that little look at one of the minor league teams. The rest of the minors crew has a week of games left, so recaps of their seasons will be coming. Until then...
So Danville's season is essentially over, with just the league championship series with Elizabethton left, which starts on Wednesday. The team had an absolutely fantastic season, going 46-20 to win the Appy League's eastern division. This was probably the most talented of all of the Braves minor league teams this season, so lets take a look at some of the standouts...this could take awhile.