Samuel Sime and Ryan Barba) combined for 52 errors. Yeesh. Neither was able to help the team with their bats either, as Sime posted a .242/.289/.329 line, while Barba's was unsightly at .201/.260/.270. Barba was so bad that Randy Gress shakes his head.
Alright, so positive contributions on offense...there was really only one offensive star in Rome, and he didn't show up until July, and that was a man I've covered in depth here before, Adam Milligan. After being drafted (again) by the Braves in June, he signed and started off in Danville, where he OPSed 1.256 in 9 games before being called up to the low A Braves. Milligan spent most of the rest of his season there, and did extremely well, hitting 10 homers in 197 at bats and OPSing .981. As they tend to do, the Braves promoted Milligan to Myrtle Beach for September (which was done last year with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, if you remember correctly). Milligan struggled in his week audition, going 4 for 24 with 8 strikeouts and no walks over 6 games. Overall for the season across his 3 levels, Milligan's line was .344/.393/.592. I'm ridiculously impressed with his short time in Rome, with as starved for offense as the league is. I can only assume he's going to start 2010 off in Myrtle Beach, and will likely dot the Braves top 10 prospect lists all over the internet, as he should.
Who else was good in Rome's offense? Um...the team's hitter of the year was Yoel Campusano, who put up a .730 OPS as a second baseman. The 23 year old Dominican did roughly the same thing in Danville last year, though with more patience. The walk rate got hit by a bus in 2009, but he managed to increase his power, though the ISO is still below .100. Campusano just feels like organizational filler to me.
Luis Sumoza, acquired by the Braves last August from Boston for Mark Kotsay, made the Sally League all-star team with a sterling OPS of .681. Sumoza's numbers have absolutely fallen off a cliff since being acquired by the Braves, and has not come remotely close to duplicating his .915 OPS he posted in 2008 with Lowell as a 20 year old. His power and plate discipline have completely disappeared. The only reasonable move is to promote him to Myrtle Beach next year and hope to god he rediscovers his stroke. No one should be jumping off buildings yet, since he's still only 21, but its a disheartening sight to see.
Braeden Schlehuber was touted as a pretty good young catching prospect, but he also tanked horribly this year with a .199/.265/.308 line. To his credit though, he improved on both his power and strikeouts this season. Like most of the guys in Rome, his patience disappeared though, and his overall numbers suffered as a result. Another thing to consider...Schlehuber was terribly unlucky, as his .226 BABIP is painful to look at. I'm not cutting bait yet.
OK, enough about the offense. TIME FOR THE PITCHING BABY! Yahoo! I'm going to talk about...I dunno, maybe 7 guys? Yeah, Rome's staff is loaded. Theres going to be a nice logjam in Myrtle Beach next year. The powerstud ace of the Rome Staff is JJ Hoover, who was drafted last year. He only pitched in 4 2/3 innings after the draft last year due to injuries, but absolutely turned his swag on this year. Hoover's ERA for the season was 3.35, and he had a 5.92 K:BB. His HR rate was 0.60. Tantalized yet? He struck out nearly 10 batters per 9. In summation, JJ Hoover is awesome. He's a little old, as he turned 22 in August, but I'm still completely enamored with this dude.
Next up is 19 year old Panamanian Randall Delgado. Before getting into this, I'd like you all to realize that he's 19. OK, now that thats out of the way, let me tell you about him. Unlike Hoover, he was able to crack the 10 K/9 barrier with 14 in 124 innings. His HR rate was a tad higher than Hoover's, at 0.65. He also had twice as many walks as JJ, giving him a 2.88 K:BB. But remember...NINETEEN YEARS OLD. He also had a 1.52 GB:FB. Remember this name...RANDALL.
Zeke Spruill was drafted in the second round by the Braves last year, and was solid in the GCL with a 7-0 record and 2.93 ERA. Spruill, who only turned 20 after the end of the season, posted a 3.03 ERA this year. He's not much of a strikeout artist, with only 95 in 116 innings at Rome, but doesn't walk many man either...only 24. Spruill keeps the ball on the ground a lot too, with a 1.68 GB:FB. Spruill's overall numbers for the season would look a lot more impressive if not for a one month exodus to the GCL in August, which no one is too sure about what happened there. Be that as it may, Zeke's incredible poise make him yet another prospect for Braves fans to smile about.
Its been a little bit since I talked about a Panamanian named Delgado, so lets try again...Dimaster Delgado was also in Rome this year, and impressed. Delgado didn't crack the 100 inning border for the year, but still managed to strike out 104 compared to only 26 walks. Homers weren't an issue, as he only allowed 4 for the season. Dimaster was very unlucky last season in the GCL, and showed his true talent this year in Rome.
There were a couple of injury issues for Rome this year. Brett DeVall, the Braves first round pick in 2008 who is still only 19, sustained an arm injury in June, and it was heard (somewhere) that he underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss most (probably all) of 2010. Devall had injury issues last year in the GCL, so a second straight year with an injury is something to keep in the back of your mind. There is also young draftee Tyrelle Harris (who for some reason, gets a LOT of hits directed to this site), who struck out 24 in 17 1/3 innings between Danville and Rome before being shut down at the end of July. I honestly don't know what happened to him, and if anyone can enlighten me, I'd appreciate it. Harris was emerging as a dominant relief option, and I'm interested to see what his status for next season is going to be.
And then theres the 18 year old wunderkind out of Colombia...I am of course talking about Julio Teheran, who scouts absolutely adore. Teheran was fantastic at the beginning of the year in Danville, and was promoted to Rome once August rolled around. Teheran struggled there, but there are so many things about him to love. He only allowed 4 homers in 81 1/3 innings over the 2 levels, and posted a 3.72 K:BB as well (though that number was above 5 in Danville). Teheran also kept the ball on the ground, with a 1.60 GB:FB. He's still only 18 everyone...sigh. So dreamy.
Rome's strength is with their pitching, not their offense. I've given you a pretty decent look at a bunch of guys that spent significant time in Rome this year, and I hope I was able to educate you a little bit on part of the Braves future. Next up in line is a recap of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans season, and hopefully, it will be as fun to talk about them as it was to talk about the guys in Georgia.
So I go ahead and write two very bitter entries in a row, declaring the Braves to be dead in the water and saying the manager doesn't know what he's doing. Naturally, the team proceeds to go on a 6 game winning streak to...pick up a couple of games in the wild card standings. 5 out with 17 to play, and 11 of those 17 are against the Mets & Nats, who are very bad at baseball. If the team can go 8-3 in those 11 games, and split the remaining 6 against the Phillies & Marlins, that would give the Braves an 11-6 stretch and a 88-74 season...usually good enough to get to the playoffs, but the Rockies would need to TANK to get in.
Now, to the matter at hand. Rome season recap! The team finished 66-73 for the season, which...isn't horrible. The bottom 5 teams in the division actually all finished within 4 games of each other, so a couple of bounces here and there could have turned this into a 3rd place team.
Some specifics for the Sally League here...this is NOT an offensive based league. No team in the league slugged .400, OBPed .350, or hit .270. Rome was particularly bad offensively, with a team OPS of .646 (not a misprint). I really don't want to talk about the offense anymore...the pitching on the other hand, yeah lets talk. Only 4 teams had ERAs over 4.00, and Rome was actually in the bottom half of the league at 3.83. The team did lead the league in strikeouts though, and also ranked highly in walks. The team was near the middle of the pack in homers, and led the league in saves. So the team's pitching was essentially undone by some crappy defense, as the left side of the infield (