Season in Review: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Mycal Jones, who started the year in Rome but was promoted to Myrtle Beach in June, and finished his year with a week-long stint in Mississippi. He moved at a great place, which was to be expected for the 23 year old, 4th round pick from a year ago. The shortstop posted a slash line over the 3 levels of .262/.327/.421, showing good power with a .159 ISO for a middle infielder. He had a high strikeout rate of 24.4%, and walked at a decent rate of 7.9%. Not fantastic given the amount of times he struck out, but far from terrible. Jones showed good speed as well, going 22/29 on the basepaths. Jones is the closest middle infield prospect to the majors in the system at this point, and I'd probably rank him third on the overall depth chart, behind Edward Salcedo and Matt Lipka.
The other offensive force for the Pelicans was outfielder Cory Harrilchak, another 2009 draftee. Like Jones, Harrilchak started the year at Rome and was promoted to Myrtle Beach in June. He probably would have earned a promotion to Mississippi for the final week of the season, but was shut down midway through August to deal with nagging injuries. Harrilchak is a totally different player from Jones. He has an excellent command of the strike zone, but not a lot of power. His line for the year was .287/.354/.400, buoyed by a solid 9.0% walk rate and a great strikeout rate of only 15.2%. He's got good speed, but I'm not sure he knows how to use it very well. He was successful on only 22 of 37 stolen base attempts. He's a valuable type of player to have in the organization, and will be playing in the AFL this fall.
A guy who had a very tumultuous season was 22 year old Gerardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez served a 50 game suspension for PEDs in the spring, and didn't get back into action until mid-July. He struggled immediately upon returning, but turned on the jets in August by posting an .819 OPS to salvage his season. Overall, his line was .253/.312/.447, showing great power with a .194 ISO. The 34.3% strikeout rate is troublesome though, especially when you consider he only walked in 7.5% of his plate appearances. But still...he played the season as a 22 year old. I really don't know what to make of Rodriguez at this point. He's clearly got talent, and is still very young. There are some holes in his swing though, and maturity will come up as a question after the suspension. I'm just not sure what to make of him at this point.
Speaking of lost seasons...its been nothing but one giant lost season for Luis Sumoza since coming to the Braves organization from Boston in 2008. He only played in 81 games this year, and to call his season a disaster would be putting it mildly. His line? .219/.280/.309. He struck out 29.4% of the time. His ISO was .090. The only positive I can take from Sumoza's 2010 is that his 7.3% walk rate wasn't too bad. You really have to wonder if he was playing hurt the entire year, or if he's just not that great of a player. You can't even blame BABIP hell...his was .304. I didn't put him on my top 40, and I'm feeling pretty good about that at this point. He turned 22 midseason, so its not as if he can't turn things around...but he's got one hell of a slope to climb.
Another man with a lost season...Adam Milligan. This is something that breaks my heart. He came into 2010 with a ton of hype behind him after posting a .985 OPS at 3 levels after being drafted in 2009, and that hype train was not only totally derailed in 2010, it hit a wall and exploded. Milligan came into the season with a shoulder injury, tried to play through it, and just couldn't. His season was a total bust, posting a .200/.277/.376 line in only 21 games before being shut down for the year as the calendar turned to May. He struck out 35 times in 85 at bats, and was a shell of the player he was last season. Here's hoping his rehab goes well, and that in 2011, he's fully healthy and can climb back up the prospect list. He'll be 23 when the season begins, so now is the time.
I'm tired about talking about the depressing stories of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans offense. Lets get into the good stuff: the killer pitching! This team came into 2010 absolutely stacked in the rotation, and despite numerous promotions as the year went on, it still stayed solid. Because of all the promotions, I'm not going to talk about Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado today...we'll save them for the Mississippi recap. All of the others are fair game though, and we're going to start with...
...JJ Hoover. Hoover started the year a little rough, then absolutely came unglued, and earned a promotion to Mississippi for his final starts. Between the 2 levels, he went 14-7 with a 3.29 ERA, 8 homers allowed, 50 walks, and 152 strikeouts in 153 1/3 innings. Striking out a batter an inning? Giddy up. His control numbers would have looked a lot better had it not been for his promotion to Mississippi, where he walked 15 in 20 2/3 innings. But by that same token, he struck out 34 at Mississippi, so my point is moot. Hoover showed a great command of the strike zone and a fantastic ability to keep the ball in the park in 2010. Compared to his 2009 year, Hoover's strike zone command worsened, but he allowed less homers. Overall though, he still struck out 3 times as many hitters as he walked and posted a 2.87 FIP. I'll take that.
The perfect example of why you shouldn't look at win-loss record and ERA when trying to determine a pitcher's worth is Brett Oberholtzer, the 2008 draftee who took the world by storm last year in Danville and pitched fantastic this season for Rome and Myrtle Beach. His record was 6-8, and his ERA was 3.78, but he was much, much better than that. In the 135 2/3 innings Oberholtzer threw, he allowed 8 home runs, walked only 23, and struck out 126. That's right, a 5:1 K:BB ratio. Those peripherals give him a 2.62 FIP, more than a run lower than his ERA. Oberholtzer somehow got better after being promoted to Myrtle Beach at the end of April, walking only 18 while striking out 107. Why yes, thats a 6:1 K:BB. Did I mention he didn't turn 21 until July 1st? Oberholtzer had a big time breakout year, and is on the cusp of greatness and becoming a household name among prospect circles. Keep your eye on him.
Well, I guess its time to go back onto the lost season route of things, and with that, here's some talk about Zeke Spruill. After the first 2 starts of 2010 where Spruill got absolutely shelled, he broke his hand and missed the rest of the first half of the season. Once coming back to Myrtle Beach in July, he struggled. Overall line, including a 2 game rehab stint in the GCL: 3-5, 5.43 ERA, 4 homers, 14 walks, 42 strikeouts in 68 innings. Like the rest of the Myrtle Beach staff, crappy luck played a role: he allowed a .311 batting average, and his FIP was a solid 3.34. It would have helped though, if Spruill was fully healthy all year and able to get into a groove. He never really could, and his strikeout rate fell from 7.82 per 9 last season all the way down to 5.56 per 9 this season. But Spruill didn't turn 21 until the season ended...he should be fine. It was just a disappointing step back for him after a great 2009.
Cory Rasmus is a young man who's been around for awhile, debuting all the way back in 2006, but his star still has some shine to it. Rasmus split 2010 between Rome and Myrtle Beach, doing some relief work for Rome at the beginning of the year before being shifted into the rotation. He struggled after the promotion, but held his own. Overall, he went 6-9 with a great 3.18 ERA, 9 homers, 47 walks, and 102 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings. He's a guy that overperformed his FIP a little, as his mark was 3.63. Its hard to believe that a guy that has been around since 2006 and has missed a full season due to injury is still only 22, but here we are with Rasmus. He's finally starting to put it all together, and had a solid 2010 season. Look for the Braves to take the kid gloves off him next year and let him unleash his full potential on the world.
Lets go back to the depressing route! Cole Rohrbough's 2010 season started even worse than his 2009 season finished, as he allowed 18 earned runs in his first 13 1/3 innings. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know...thats not too great. The peripherals weren't great either: 3 homers, 9 walks, 13 strikeouts. So yeah, he wasn't having a good start to the year. The Braves sent him down to the GCL to get his head back on straight and work on some things, and he started pitching again in August...and you know what? He was good again. In 6 GCL innings, he struck out 9 without walking a batter or allowing a homer. Baby steps...he returned to Myrtle Beach, and wasn't terribly...2 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. Rohrbough has all the potential in the world, but does he have the mental ability to handle it? I sure hope so, and I'm really pulling for him. I'd love nothing more than to see him come out in 2011 for Lynchburg and have a dominant year and get back on the road to stardom.
And that does it for Myrtle Beach...only Mississippi and Gwinnett are left, and I'll hopefully knock them out this week. Gwinnett's gonna be a fun one to do, with all of the 4A players on that team...but those are the breaks of AAA, I guess.
The last time I'll ever be able to talk about players on Myrtle Beach...its a depressing time, folks.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans
58-82, last in division
All-Stars: JJ Hoover (midseason), Randall Delgado (midseason), Julio Teheran (midseason)
This Myrtle Beach team was built around fabulous pitching, but did have a few hitters worth talking about. None made an all-star team like the 3 pitchers did at midseason, but there were some highlights. We'll start with