Looking back at the 2012 Charleston RiverDogs

 

When the 2012 season was getting ready to begin Charleston looked like the team to watch, as their roster was full of some of the Yankees’ most promising prospects. Players like Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Gary Sanchez gave the RiverDogs a potent lineup, but as they all moved up to Tampa and Dante Bichette, Jr. and Cito Culver struggled, Charleston fell short of the South Atlantic League playoffs with an overall record of 73-63, good for second in their division. Of course, in the strange way the playoffs are formatted in Single-A, the Southern Division actually saw the Rome Braves, owners of a 62-76 season-long record, make the postseason as they won the division in the second half. Charleston also played host to the 2012 SAL All-Star game. Pitchers Pedro Guerra and Bryan Mitchell represented the RiverDogs, along with Sanchez, Austin, Williams and Francisco Arcia.

The RiverDogs pitching put them a little above league average this season, with an overall ERA of 4.22 and a 1.40 WHIP. They only gave up 75 homers, tied for third lowest in the SAL and struck out 1117, which was good for fourth in the league. Starting pitching was not Charleston’s strong point, as the hurlers who made the most starts, Scottie Allen, Bryan Mitchell and William Oliver, each had ERA’s well over 4.00. The RiverDogs did see some strong performances out of the bullpen, including Nick Goody who had a 1.09 ERA over seventeen relief appearances.

While Charleston did not dominate the Sally League, as many expected, they still were a force to be reckoned with. As a team, Charleston hit .268/.334/.394. The RiverDogs’ lineup only struck out 979 times (third lowest in the league), however, they were not particularly adept at taking the free pass (412 walks). The impressive offensive performances were plentiful, with some of the Yankees best prospects spending time in Charleston this year. Unfortunately, just as glaring were the disappointing seasons had by Bichette and Culver. The latter continues to impress scouts defensively (despite his 22 errors), but it is hard to find anyone with much positive to say about his bat.

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Looking back at the 2012 Staten Island Yankees

After a championship 2011 season, the Staten Island Yankees were a very different team this year. They started the season quite slow, but seemed to get better as the season progressed. They ended 2012 strong, but they still were just 30-45 on the year, finding themselves second from last in the McNamara Division of the New York-Penn League. Despite their struggles, the Yankees saw some strong performances and had three players pick up NY-Penn League All-Star honors, with Matt Snyder, Taylor Dugas and James Pazos being named to the American League team.

Much like the GCL Yankees, Staten Island’s offense struggled to put up a consistent batting average, depending on its power and on base percentage for their success. As a team, they hit .239/.321/.343.  They stole just 51 bases, which was fourth lowest in the league and a far cry from Tri-City’s 119. Their 39 homers were good for fourth in the NY-Penn League. Saxon Butler provided much of the Yankees’ power, and was rewarded with a promotion to Charleston in the second half of the season.

Staten Island’s struggles were in large part due to their poor pitching. Their 4.16 ERA (4th in NY-Penn League) coupled with their 1.44 league leading WHIP put them in trouble. They did not strikeout many batters (505, 2nd lowest) and allowed quite a few walks (292, 2nd highest). They gave up more homers (42) than any other team. Pazos was one of the few consistent pitchers for the Yankees, along with Taylor Garrison and Dietrich Enns.

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Looking back at the 2012 GCL Yankees

 

The GCL Yankees took home the Gulf Coast League crown in 2011, going 37-23 and beating the GCL Marlins in the final. They looked like they were well on their way to a fifth GCL championship once the short-season commenced, as the Yankees went 13-1 with a twelve game win streak. Unfortunately, they cooled down over the rest of the season, going 22-24 and ending the year 35-25, just one game short of the North Division wild card.

After a couple years with mediocre pitching, the Yankees actually had some solid performances on the mound in 2012. As a team, the Yankees hurlers had a 3.09 ERA (3rd in GCL) and a league leading 1.14 WHIP. They struck out 482 batters and only allowed 148 walks. The Yankees also led the league in saves with 23, as Edison Mejia personally picked up eleven. Alas, just as the GCL Yankees’ pitching was improved over 2011, their hitting fell short.

Power was the key to a Yankee offense that often struggled to hit for average. As a team, they hit .244/.326/.363 with an OPS of .690. While their overall batting average put them square in the middle of the GCL, their OPS was the third highest and their slugging percentage was fourth. They clubbed 32 homers, which tied them for most in the GCL. Strikeouts were a problem, as the Yankees struck out 499 times (tied for second most in league) and they were not a particularly fast group, stealing just 43 bases and getting caught 20 times.

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Baseball America recognizes Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez and others with end of season honors

With the minor league season all wrapped up, Baseball America has been rolling out their end of season honors. Gary Sanchez got perhaps the biggest nod, being placed on the BA 2012 Minor League All-Star Team. He was the First Team catcher on the list, which covers the various levels of the minor league system. When it came to the Classification All-Star teams, Mark Montgomery (Tampa), Tyler Austin (Charleston) and Saxon Butler (Staten Island) each made the list.

Baseball America also picked their best player and best pitcher out of the Yankees’ system this year. There were some good performances for the Yankees this year, but I suspect we will see a lot of the same names as people look back on the 2012 season. Not surprisingly, Austin got the best player nod, with the caveat that it likely would have been Williams had the outfielder not missed the end of the season due to injury. King points out that Austin’s bat seemed to not miss a beat when he moved up to Tampa, where he hit .321/.385/.478 in the last half of the season. BA also mentioned that David Adams is one to watch, now that he appears to be healthy and is hitting the ball well.

Montgomery was the best pitcher pick, which one could hardly argue with. Montgomery has flown through the minors since being drafted in 2011 and dominated Tampa and Ternton this season. He looked a bit more human in Trenton, but he still picked up 34 Ks in just 21 innings, owning a 2.14 ERA. Even Brian Cashman has stated that Montgomery has a shot at being in the Bronx at some point next season.

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Trenton loses the EL Championship to Akron

Akron won the 2012 Eastern League Championship tonight, beating Trenton 6-1 in Game 4 to take the series 3-1. Strong pitching propelled the Aeros to the playoffs and sure enough, that was what helped them capture the trophy, as the Thunder struggled to put up much offense.

The Aeros got on the board in the top of the second. Matt Lawson drew a base on balls and Adam Abraham lined a triple to center. A sac fly by Ryan Rohlinger plated Abraham and Akron led 2-0. JR Murphy knocked a solo homer to left in the bottom of the second, cutting the lead in half. Akron added some insurance in the fifth, as Abraham started the inning with a single. Rohlinger grounded an infield single, but Abraham was thrown out at third. A double by Roberto Perez scored Rohlinger and the Aeros were up 3-1.

Trenton rarely had a chance to threaten as the game headed into the late innings. A one out single by Addison Maruszak in the seventh was wasted as Murphy and Kevin Mahoney struck out. Akron put the game virtually out of reach for the struggling Thunder, as they added some more runs in the top of the ninth. Rohlinger drew a one-out walk and Davis Stoneburner lined a single to left. Perez drew a walk, loading the bases and Jordan Henry ripped a single to left, where Ramon Flores had trouble handling the ball as three runs scored.

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Trenton keeps Championship dreams alive with 11-7 victory over Akron

Game 3 was anything but a pitcher’s duel, as both Akron and Trenton got their bats going early in the game. Needing a win to keep their season going, the Thunder came out victorious behind a big night from Zoilo Almonte and Ramon Flores. It was Trenton’s first win in this series and they will need to sweep the next two games to take the Eastern League Championship.

The Aeros drew first blood as Jordan Henry started the game with a single, moving to second on a sac bunt. A wild pitch moved Henry to third and he scored on a single by Chun-Hsiu Chen for the 1-0 lead. The lead did not last long, however, as Trenton got to work quickly in the bottom of the inning. Adonis Garcia got things going with a single to right and Flores drove a double to left to tie the game. David Adams lined a single to right, putting runners on the corners and Almonte knocked a three-run homer over the wall in left for the 4-1 advantage.

Akron chipped away at the Trenton lead over the next couple innings, scoring another run in the second on a solo shot by Adam Abraham. Henry started the third with another single, followed by single from Tyler Holt and Chen to load the bases. A wild pitch scored Henry and Jesus Aguilar doubled in Holt and Chen, giving Akron the 5-4 lead. They got some more breathing room in the top of the fifth, as Chen singled to left and Aguilar lined a single to center. A single by Matt Lawson plated Chen and Aguilar scored on a ground out by Abraham for the 7-4 Aeros advantage.

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Trenton drops Game 2 to Akron 7-5

After coming up empty in Game 1, the Thunder looked to even up the series on Wednesday. They quickly found themselves in a deep hole, but were able to chip away at the lead. Trenton made it into a game at the end, but were unable to ever take the lead, falling 7-5 to the Aeros and finding themselves needing to win the next three games if they are going to be the Eastern League champions.

Akron drew first blood, as Chun-Hsiu Chen reached on an error by David Adams and Jesus Aguilar followed with a homer to left, putting the Aeros up 2-0 in the first. Trenton got one run back in the top of the third, as Tyler Austin started the inning with a solo shot to left center. Unfortunately, the Aeros came back in a big way in the bottom of the innings. Tyler Holt lined a one-out single to center. Chen drew a walk and Aguilar struck out. A double by Matt Lawson plated Holt and moved Chen to third. Adam Abraham followed with a triple and Ryan Rohlinger homered, giving the Aeros a 7-1 lead.

The Thunder put together a little rally in the top of the sixth, as Ramon Flores drove a two-out single to center. Adams followed with a single and Zoilo Almonte homered to center, putting Trenton back in the game as the score sat at 7-4. They got another run in the top of the seventh. JR Murphy lined a single to center and moved to third on a double by Kevin Mahoney. A single by Rob Segedin plated Murphy and cut the Akron lead to two. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Thunder would get, taking the 7-5 loss.

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Trenton drops Game 1 of ELCS to Akron 3-0

Trenton started the Eastern League Championship Series just like they began the first round of the playoffs, with a loss on the road. The Thunder had a couple chances, but in the end it was Akron’s strong pitching that shone. Paolo Espino put forth a great start for the Aeros, while Brett Marshall pitched another decent game without any run support.

Trenton got the lead off batter on base in each of the first four innings, but came up empty. Adonis Garcia singled in the first, while Addison Maruszak and Kevin Mahoney drew walks to start the second and third respectively. The Thunder had the first big chance to score in the fourth. David Adams took a leadoff walk, but Zoilo Almonte hit a grounder to second for the first out of the inning. Maruszak was hit by a pitch, moving Almonte to second. A walk by JR Murphy loaded the bases, but Tyler Austin went down swinging and Mahoney popped out to end the threat.

Akron did not wait for the Thunder to get another chance for a lead, quickly putting together a rally in the bottom of the fourth. Tyle Holt grounded a leadoff single to center and Chun-Hsiu Chen flew a single to right. A wild pitch moved the runners over before Marshall struck out Jesus Aguilar for the first out of the inning. Another wild pitch plated the first run of the game, and Matt Lawson hit a sac fly to right that plated Chen for the 2-0 Aeros advantage.

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Montgomery, Betances, headed to Arizona

We already know which position players the Yankees will be sending to the Arizona Fall League, and now, thanks to Josh Norris, we also know which pitchers will be going. Norris reports that Mark Montgomery, Dellin Betances, Zach Nuding, and Dan Burawa will be representing the Yankees’ organization in the dessert. Montgomery was the biggest question mark, as the Yankees have been pushing the strikeout wiz up the ladder pretty quickly, but he’s pitched 64.2 innings between Double-A and High-A this year, his first full season of professional ball, so the organization could have chosen just to shut him down after Trenton’s playoff run.

It’s Betances who winds up being the most interesting name on this list, however. A top four prospect before the season, Betances has plummeted down everyone’s rankings after a disastrous season that saw him get shellacked so badly in Triple-A that he was demoted to Trenton over the summer. He didn’t do much better in the Eastern League, however, posting a 6.51 ERA and 4.15 FIP over 10 starts with the Thunder. Now he’s going to be challenged in the offense happy AFL, which I guess says that the Yankees aren’t terribly worried about shattering his confidence at this point.
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