Oct 262010
 

Like the ’10 G-Nats, the 2010 Hagerstown Suns were a team that could mash the ball, leading the South Atlantic League in hits, runs scored, batting average and OPS. Unfortunately, they also led the league in runs allowed, hits allowed, and WHIP. Like adding insult to injury, salt to the wound, or a baby to a family sitcom, the defense did not help matters; it was second-worst in the league. That they even came close to the playoffs in the first half (36-34, 6GB) is a minor miracle.

Injuries, suspensions, and losing three-fifths of the starting rotation doomed the team to its sixth-place finish in the second half. Overall, the team went 65-75, three games behind its pythagorean projection. But there were some bright spots, too, most notably the possible resurrection of hope for a ’07 high-school pick that appeared to be on the path towards doing what a ’06 h.s. pick did in May: retire in ignominy (Colton Willems).

As we’ve done before, let’s take a look at Hagerstown’s hitters as a group compared to the rest of the Sally League…

HITTING

TEAM AB R H HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG GPA SB
Hagerstown 4764 710 1289 72 398 1052 .271 .333 .389 .247 161
Lg. Avg. 4702 632 1204 81 412 1074 .256 .323 .377 .240 146

Bold = League Leader

PITCHING

TEAM IP ERA R/G WHIP HR BB SO H/9IP BB/9IP K/9IP K/BB
Hagerstown 1227.1 4.50 5.23 1.418 98 424 998 .7 3.1 7.3 2.35
Lg. Avg. 1229.1 3.82 4.54 1.315 81 412 1074 8.8 3.0 7.9 2.61

Three Suns (Bloxom, Ramirez, Perez) placed in the Top 10 of the Sally League for batting average, offsetting below-average on-base and slugging rates. While it’s tempting to say that this is a team of plodders when you subtract Eury Perez’s league-leading 64 steals, but this was also a team that led the league in triples (Perez had 5). The big inning was this team’s calling card, frequently scoring 3, 4, or 5 runs in single frame.

On the other side of the ledger scorebook, the lead was just as thick. Early on, the starting pitching was good — the aforementioned top three starters of Mitchell Clegg, Danny Rosenbaum, and Trevor Holder combined for a 13-6 record and an ERA of 2.63 in the first half — but in the second half, those marks would be 7-18 and 4.82 for the second-half triumvirate of Paul Applebee, Paul Demny and Graham Hicks.

But the relief pitching was horrid all year long, with just three full-time relievers (Rob Wort, Dean Weaver, Luis Garcia) posting sub-4.00 ERAs and only two falling below the league average for WHIP. Middle relievers Shane Erb, Wanel Vasquez, and Kyle Morrison appeared in 114 games and were 7-12 combined with six saves, an ERA of 6.06, and a WHIP of 1.69 over 175 innings.

I’m expanding to the Top 16 hitters and pitchers in terms of plate appearances and innings pitched because there are notables outside the Top 12. The full statistics for the team can be found here.

Name Age Position(s) G @ Pos Fld% Err PA GPA
J.P. Ramirez 20 LF 73 .922 10 551 .275
Destin Hood 20 RF/LF 69/60 .960 9 537 .247
Eury Perez 20 CF/RF/LF 113/16/3 .962 9 491 .251
Justin Bloxom 22 1B/3B/RF/LF 81/13/11/7 .983 14 454 .279
Francisco Soriano 23 SS/2B 68/24 .925 32 414 .252
Sandy Leon 21 C 91 .975 19 385 .239
Brett Newsome 23 1B 64 .994 3 366 .264
Steven Souza 21 3B/SS/RF 75/2/1 .890 27 344 .246
Jeff Kobernus 22 2B 71 .959 12 343 .229
Justino Cuevas 21 IF/OF 60/2 .931 14 216 .227
Adrian Nieto 20 C/1B 50/1 .967 13 203 .194
Marcus Jones 23 RF/CF/LF 36/7/2 .948 4 197 .196
Rick Hague 21 SS 29 .879 16 176 .304
J.R. Higley 22 CF/RF 22/13 1.000 0 133 .225
Stephen King 22 3B 29 .878 9 119 .219
Adrian Sanchez 19 2B/3B 24/1 .940 8 107 .238

Before doing this review, it would have been easy to say that the suspensions of Souza and Higley hurt the team offensively, but it’s pretty clear that the additions of Hague and the second-half emergence Eury Perez more than made up for their loss from the lineup. Hitting was not this team’s problem. Defense, as you can see rather clearly with nine of 16 batters in double digits for errors committed, most assuredly was a weakness. As was pitching…

PLAYER AGE G/GS W-L, SV ERA IP H BB SO WHIP HBP WP
Paul Demny 20 27/27 6-10, 0 4.23 129⅔ 128 47 106 1.350 16 13
Paul Applebee 22 29/11 6-6, 1 4.10 107⅔ 119 27 67 1.356 5 5
Daniel Rosenbaum 22 18/18 2-5, 0 2.32 101 95 28 84 1.218 7 4
Mitchell Clegg 23 20/13 9-3, 2 3.48 93 95 22 55 1.258 2 1
Josh Smoker 21 30/19 3-10, 3 6.50 91⅓ 106 56 92 1.774 4 8
Kyle Morrison 22 37/0 3-6, 2 5.30 73 86 29 88 1.575 5 13
Graham Hicks 20 15/15 1-5, 0 5.26 66⅔ 84 25 58 1.635 4 4
Trevor Holder 23 12/12 4-3, 0 3.15 65⅔ 68 7 50 1.142 4 4
Wanel Vasquez 23 19/0 2-4, 3 7.00 54 66 25 32 1.685 4 8
Luis Garcia 23 26/0 4-4, 0 3.88 51 48 17 43 1.275 5 10
Dean Weaver 22 42/0 1-3, 16 3.04 50⅓ 49 18 36 1.331 4 4
Shane Erb 23 39/0 2-2, 1 6.19 48 53 37 30 1.875 4 9
Patrick Arnold 21 26/0 2-3, 1 4.28 46⅓ 56 16 33 1.554 2 4
Rob Wort 21 33/0 5-0, 8 2.08 43⅓ 28 16 33 0.854 2 3
Evan Bronson 23 8/8 4-2, 0 5.40 43⅓ 59 6 24 1.500 3 4
Jack McGeary 21 8/8 4-1, 0 4.62 39 38 15 32 1.359 5 4

The ’07 pick referred to earlier was Josh Smoker. As a starter, his ERA was 7.38, his OBA was .319, and his WHIP was 1.872; as a reliever those numbers dropped to 1.35, .174, and 1.200. His walk rate, unfortunately, remained fairly constant (5.54 vs. 5.40) but his strikeout rate went up dramatically (8.19 to 14.17). Granted, it’s a small sample size (13⅓ innings over 11 appearances) but it’s something to look forward to in ’11, when he’ll be just 22 years old and he’ll still be a left-handed.

Next year could be quite unpredictable when it comes to guessing who will be back and who will be going up to Potomac for the Hagerstown pitchers. Smoker and Demny are likely to move up, based on the past offseason pattern of Florida Instructional League invites. Just about every pitcher that deserved a bump up to Potomac got one in-season. In terms of the hitters, it’s probably fair to say that most of the top six or seven guys will be Woodbridge next year, but with strong offensive outings from guys in Vermont and the GCL, it’s not a given.

OBLIGATORY TOP 5 LISTS
Without further ado, here are the watchlists, which may have some repeats next week. Feel free comment on how you think we ought to address that problem (a top 8 for full-season A?).

Batters
1. J.P. Ramirez
2. Rick Hague
3. Eury Perez
4. Destin Hood
5. Justin Bloxom

Pitchers
1. Daniel Rosenbaum
2. Rob Wort
3. Trevor Holder
4. Josh Smoker
5. Dean Weaver

  9 Responses to “Season Review: 2010 Hagerstown Suns”

  1. Sue: As always, good, thought-provoking stuff. Here’s a couple of things I’m pondering over.

    The defense has been a soft spot for a large number of players in the lower classes – It seems to me that players need a longer period of adjustment for balls coming off a wood bat vs. aluminium than you would think. Maybe the speed off aluminium turns a number of the college players into ‘ole’ fielders, and slower-hit balls in the pros start exposing weaknesses; I probably need to pay better attention to this next near…

    Looking ahead a bit, the overall system depth is building – I’m starting to wonder if the “prospect” depth will finally begin to filter into the SYR lineup & bench in 2011, instead of a AAA lineup seemingly filled with +30 y.o. free agents. The 2010 SYR pitching staff had a number of 25-27 y.o. arms looking to make the jump.

    • It may be relative to nothing, but one of the most enlightening things I ever (over)heard was a scout lecturing the young pitchers about defense… “It gets much better every time you move up a level” and his advice was to (a) don’t let it bother them (b) don’t call their teammates out on it. I think there may be something to the bad-habit “ole” thing at the very lowest levels, but not by the time it’s full-season ball. But it’s something to think about.

      I’m not sure if we’ll ever see the days of a AAA team with more prospects than AAAA players. But it will be a great day when Syracuse has more 25-year-olds than Potomac. Next year might be the first w/o one on the opening day roster.

  2. Great stuff, Sue. This helps explains what happened at Hagerstown, there were a lot things to cheer about what happened there this year. A lot of quality players developing and moving up …………..but the wins just weren’t there.
    Next year sure looks like fun in the big city there — Oduber, Sanchez, Hanks,Manno etc. The only downside is it’s looking more and more like Harper will start 2011 in Potomac.

    • I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a bad thing (about Harper). Even Keith Law thinks this kid is the real deal, in which case, there’s even an outside chance he’ll start in Harrisburg.

  3. For one, I am looking forward to the 2011 season in Hagerstown, Harper or not. I’m headed to a season ticket holder party tonight – maybe some news will come out of it? I’ll post here if it does…

    There is part of me that hopes he goes to Potomac so H-town can avoid the media circus and terrible parking issues that will ensue. :o\

  4. Met new owners, etc. at the meeting. They all seem to think Harper is going to H-town at least for a few games. They made the impression to me that many of the renovations, while not only needed because of requirements, are being made to “pretty up the joint” to show the Nats that Harper should come here next year to start.

    Apparently a new digital scoreboard with video screen is being installed (goodbye old scoreboard cowboy; sad), Wi-Fi throughout, and a brand spanking new field of dreams. The worst news of all was a new “net” surrounding the entire field. I hate the net and it’s got me sort of angry. As my kid said “it segregates the fans from the players, the game.” I’m sure it’s more “lawsuit” and league motivated, but if people would pay attention to the game, that bat wouldn’t find the side of their head while they are surfing the web on their phone. :o)

  5. I disagree about the net. Even when people are paying attention, that doesn’t change the fact that (a) most people do not react fast enough (b) most of the subset that does will deflect the ball into someone else. This was discussed last summer in depth here.

    I know that won’t change anyone’s mind, but like one of the commenters in that article noted, most of the ones that get hurt badly are small children.

  6. We’ll agree to disagree then. Of all the stadiums i’ve been to in the past few years, the one I disliked the most was Hickory, NC. Had a net all the way around. Absolutely miserable to watch a game through and was not fan friendly. I won’t go there again. If it was my choice, they would only extend the net in H-town to the end of the dugouts and maybe a tiny bit past. That’s it. I was told by one owner that the new net was some “high tech” thin material. If it’s in front of my season ticket seat, i’m moving.

    • I was a catcher when I played. Suffice it to say, I’m used to it and my eyes have learned to filter it out. I’ve also taken a line drive to the head (yes, that may explain a few things) so I’m a little biased there, too ;-)

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