Minors Review: May

As you may have noticed by the lack of Farm Reports this past month, I was out of commission for most of May, recovering from Tommy John…wait, no…from rotator cuff surgery. College athletics – the gift that keeps on giving! I am slowly getting back to “normal” (or as Brad said, I’m about ready to throw a side session) so I hope to resume those posts in the coming weeks.  For now, I will ignore the frustration caused by my slow one-handed typing so as to permit me to at least get out the end of month posts. So, without further adieu, let’s look back at May.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders:
At the end of May, Scranton was 28-26 and two games behind Rochester in the IL North. After a lackluster start to 2014, the RailRiders had a solid month, going 17-13, thanks in part to a six game win streak.

The RailRiders hurlers only allowed seven homers in April, a feat they were unable to replicate in May, though their 24 homers through May still were the least in the International League. Their 4.04 ERA  puts them in the bottom half of the league, though their 2.26 K/BB ratio is one of the strongest. The return of Jose Ramirez gave Scranton a boost out of the pen. He made six appearances (7.2 innings pitched) holding opposing batters to just one earned run. Robert Coello, Danny Burawa and Mark Montgomery all contributed in relief also, although Montgomery’s 3.75 ERA doesn’t quite live up to what we have come to expect out of him.

Pitching may have been what kept the RailRiders in the mix in April, but their hitting came up big in May. By the end of the month they had a .270 team batting average, which led the IL. Their triple slash was .270/.334/.396.  Only two teams struck out fewer times than the RailRiders, though they have only drawn 158 walks, the second least in the League. Austin Romine, who was virtually nonexistant offensively in April, appears to have turned the corner, hitting .313/.389/.453. Zoilo Almonte and Adonis Garcia also contributed with their bats, though Garcia appeared to be slowing down toward the end of the month.

Trenton Thunder:
While Scranton improved over May, Trenton faded. The Thunder led the EL Eastern Division on May first, but after going 14-18 in May they find themselves in fourth place, 8.5 games behind Portland. Trenton’s strong pitching has given them some hope, while their offense has been a mixed bag.

The Thunder pitchers lead the Eastern League in Ks, striking out 429 batters, though the 195 walks were well above the league average of 172.5. They have also held opposing batters to just 30 homers. Manny Banuelos joined the Trenton rotation at the end of April, as he works his way back from last year’s TJ surgery. He struggled in May, but managed two scoreless, hitless innings in his last appearance. Jeremy Bleich put together a very solid May, with a 2.39 ERA, 32 Ks and 10 walks over six starts.

Despite players like Mason Williams continuing to struggle and Gary Sanchez having a tough May, there are some exciting bats in Trenton. Peter O’Brien has been promoted to the Thunder and while he isn’t hitting for the average he had in Tampa, he continues to crush the ball. In the first two months of the season he had 20 homers, averaging one every two games when he got to Trenton. Rob Refsnyder had a torrid May and, as EJ pointed out, he gives Yankees fans a middle infield prospect to actually get excited about.

Tampa Yankees:
The Yankees’ 13-15 May record puts them eleven games behind Dunedin in the FSL North Division. Strong pitching and power hitting appear to be what keeps Tampa going, however, it has not been enough. On the mound, their 3.12 ERA is only good for putting them in the middle of the pack, though their 424 Ks and 155 walks are impressive. They have also held opposing teams to just 15 homers, the least in the FSL. Dan Camarena put together a very good May, while heralded prospect Rafael De Paula struggled.

Most of the Yankees’ offensive stats are mediocre, though their 41 homers are more than enough for the FSL lead. Of course, their power numbers are likely to go down with O’Brien now clubbing homers for Trenton. As a team, the Yankees are hitting .254/.316/.382. Jake Cave and Eric Jagielo have both gotten hotter at the plate, helping make up for O’Brien’s absence. Meanwhile, Dante Bichette, Jr. has cooled off some and Angelo Gumbs went cold in May.

Charleston RiverDogs:
The RiverDogs sit 10.5 games behind Savannah, with a 27-28 record. As their record reflects, Charleston appears to be fairly mediocre on both sides of the field. Charleston is a strikeout pitching team, with 467 Ks and a respectable 160 walks. Like the other Yankees’ affiliates, the Charleston hurlers have succeeded in limiting the long ball, but their pitching has not been dominant. Luis Severino continues to impress, striking out 30 batters and walking just four in May, with a 3.16 ERA. On the other side, Jordan Cote was hit for a .339 average in May and gave up eleven runs over 13.2 innings.

At the end of May, Charleston hit .245/.333/.373. Interesting, their 37 homers are the fourth most in the Sally League and their 19 triples are the second most, while they have the least doubles with 76. The RiverDogs have shown off some speed on the bases, when they manage to get on, swiping 69 bags and getting caught 25 times. Aaron Judge wasn’t as hot as he was in April, but his last ten games of May had him hitting .308/.333/.615. Mike Ford also continued swinging a hot bat, while John Murphy and Kale Sumner faded.

 

Tamar has written for IIATMS since July 2009, having started off writing game recaps before shifting to the minor leagues. Born in Connecticut and having lived all over the country and in South Korea, Tamar now finds herself "temporarily misplaced" in New Hampshire. Please send help.