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prospect-update-mississippi-hitters | June | 2009 Articles

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Prospect Update - Mississippi Hitters

Written by Joe Lucia on .

The Mississippi Braves, reigning Southern League champions, are in a bit of a rough time right now. The team is only 6 games under .500, but 14 and a half games out of first place, due to the Birmingham Barons and former Brave Tyler Flowers playing .700 baseball. Thats gotta suck. Mississippi has an offense thats even worse than their major league counterpart: no one has an OPS over .800, let alone a SLG above .400. Yeah, thats pretty weak. This is going to be quite an interesting little report...so lets go. Kala Ka'aihue, 1B: .175/.317/.292. Kala OPSed .874 at Mississippi last year, and because of the presence of Barbaro Canizares at AAA, he's repeating the league...and he's not handling the snub too well. Kala has always had a very good eye like his brother Kila (AAA Royals prospect), and this season, thats holding true to form (15.8% BB rate). Nothing is really falling for Kala though, as he's only got 4 doubles and 4 homers in 183 plate appearances. His K rate is hovering slightly above 30%, but he has been very unlucky on balls in play, hitting only .223. His batting average has slightly improved in June (if you can really call .205 an improvement), but his OPS for the month is a sterling .516, due to not getting one extra base hit. At 24, he's a little old for the Southern League, and needs a big second half to retain standing as a prospect. Brandon Hicks, SS: .221/.276/.330. This one is even more depressing than Ka'aihue. Brandon Hicks was the Braves 11th ranked prospect coming into the season, posting an .815 OPS at Myrtle Beach despite a .234 batting average. The batting average has remained relatively close to that mark, while the power and patience have disappeared. Like Kala, Hicks is getting murdered by his strikeouts: 71 in 231 at bats, which is 30.7%. The depressing this is that he's actually cut his K rate by 5% from last year at Myrtle Beach. And to think, coming into the year, people thought Hicks could actually be a replacement for Chipper Jones at 3rd. Yeesh. Matt Young, LF: .274/.398/.374. Alright, Matt Young is a nice enough story. He's a 26 year old career minor leaguer, and is having a season comparable to what he did last year in Mississippi: lots of walks, average batting average, and no power whatsoever. Young has more walks than strikeouts (15.8% walk rate...tasty), and 21 stolen bases (albeit getting caught 10 times as well), and might eventually make the majors as a fourth/fifth outfielder type of guy. He's not really a prospect at all, but could actually be closer to the majors than any other hitter on this team. Eric Campbell, 3B: .233/.309/.327. The original heir apparent to Chipper Jones is um...not looking at all like he's going to sniff the majors at this point. Campbell had a solid enough year last season in Myrtle Beach in his second goaround with the team, despite missing the first 2 months of the season (with what is assumed was a discipline issue, which is a recurring theme with Campbell). The wheels have completely fallen off for him this season, as he is showing about as much power as your average fly swatter (though more than Brandon Hicks, which is saying something). His BABIP is low at .263, but its not at a dire level like someone like a Ka'aihue. I have no idea what the real problem with Campbell is. So in summary, Mississippi's offense can be described in several words...ghastly, vomit-inducing, hideous...whichever you choose, we can all agree that its pretty bad. Thankfully, for as bad as their hitters are, the pitching down in Pearl is that good. I'll hopefully get to them in a couple hours, and that preview may go more than 4 pitchers long due to the budding talent on that end of the field.
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