Thursday, June 18, 2015

Season Update Part 2: Lexington Legends, 6-18-2015

Until recently, Lexington’s pitching was a true strength. Thing is, the numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

While the team’s pitching overall has recorded a second-to-last 4.11 ERA in the South Atlantic League, there have been quite a few strong performances from both starters and relievers. Here’s just a little info on a few of those who have stood out to me the most:

RHP Evan Beal (2.05 ERA in 26 1/3 IP) has acquitted himself well after his 21st round selection in 2014. Despite obvious struggles with control (16 BB thus far in 2015), he has also averaged a strikeout per inning and is mitigating the damage in preventing those base-runners from crossing the plate.

Lefty Matthew Strahm (2.08 ERA in 26 IP, 38 K, 12 BB) earned every bit of his recent promotion to High-A Wilmington. Rangy and almost whip-like in his delivery, Strahm showed good sink and tail on his fastball and solid command over his off-speed selections. A 21st round selection in 2012, Strahm is likely to greatly surpass his draft position. Most impressive, this season: his 3 shutout innings in relief at Kannapolis on May 27th in which he struck out 9 of a possible ten batters faced. Keep an eye on his progress.

Another youngster on this significantly talented team, Scott Blewett was KC’s 2nd round pick last year. He’s had only 4 starts in pro ball, all this year, but he’s allowed only a total of 4 runs in those starts (17 IP, 4 BB, 20 K). It’s a little early to project what he’s going to show us this season, but he’s another one to keep an eye on. Guys like Blewett will keep Lexington in many a game.

LHP Emilio Ogando (2.70 ERA in 46 2/3 IP, 17 BB, 38 K) was a 12th rounder in 2014, and has done nothing but put up strong numbers since he debuted in Rookie-League Idaho Falls last year. Appearing in 13 games so far in 2015 (3 starts), Ogando has shown an ability to perform well in both roles. He also has a solid tailing fastball and consistently keeps the ball low. I would expect his groundout rate to increase as the season progresses.

RHP Pedro Fernandez (3.25 ERA in 44 1/3 IP, 46 K) has been an important swingman for the Legends in 2015. In 11 games he’s made 6 starts for the team, recording a fantastic 0.95 WHIP as well as a K/BB ratio slightly over 3/1. In addition, batters are hitting only .183 against him. While he’s allowed a meager 2 homers in those 11 games, he’s shown himself to be a fly-ball pitcher throughout his career. As he climbs the ladder, this might end up hurting him significantly.

2012 sixth rounder Zach Lovvorn (3.56 ERA in 65 2/3 IP, 11 BB, 47 K) has been a stalwart in the Legends’ rotation. He’s allowed slightly more than a hit per inning, but has limited the damage by keeping his walks down and keeping his head with runners on. He’s also 6 innings or more in 5 of his last 10 starts, giving relief to the relief corps. Lovvorn has a bit of projectability left, and could end up sitting 93-94 on his velocity, and already shows a solid-plus changeup to go with easy arm action and good movement on his fastball (seems like a recurring trend with Legends pitchers).

That’s a quick view at some of our Legends staff, and there’s more to come soon as the season moves on. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Season Update: Lexington Legends, 6-16-2015

JUNE 16th, 2015-Here's a quick look at some of our Lexington Legends' hitters in each player's last ten games, something I hope to make a regular update:

Alfredo Escalera​ is batting a blistering .383 with 9 RBI in his last ten games. Still needs to cut down on the Ks, but that should come with a little time. Escalera is a natural athlete, and should become very close to a 5-tool guy for the Royals as he progresses. 

Elier Hern├índez, another athletic outfielder, is batting .289 in his last ten games, on par with his season numbers. He's smacked 16 doubles in 59 games and is slowly showing signs of burgeoning power. 

Speaking of which, Brandon Downes also has 16 two-baggers, though they are just as much a product of his speed as they are of raw power. His K/BB ratio is awful, but he has barely more than 80 games in the pros so far. Give him time. I definitely like what I see from him; covers plenty of ground in the OF and runs the bases well. He also has a bit of project-ability left, which could sap a tiny bit of speed but definitely add to his pop. 

Corey Toups is in a similar mold (13 doubles and 14 SB on the season), but perhaps with more present speed on the bases. He handles himself well at second, with good hands and quick actions without being reckless. 

Samir Duenez has been a house on fire, batting .390 in his last ten games and providing versatility by spelling O'Hearn at first base. Duenez may need to work on his conditioning as he gets older, but shows solid footwork around the bag and takes reasonably direct routes to the ball in the OF. 

Chase Vallot​ is an intriguing prospect. Only 18 years old, Vallot has handled his station with little difficulty and is beginning to hit the ball with authority. It's easy to see how he cracked the Royals' Top 30 Prospect list; he's the real deal. Given his age and the time it typically takes pro catchers to advance, he's got all the time in the world to progress. He's not going to need as much as one might think. Another interesting stat: he's scored 22 runs in 30 games, this year. 

Luis Villegas redux? Chad Johnson batting .405 in 14 games since he returned from the DL. This is not shocking to those who have seen him bat. Johnson has untapped power, calls a solid game and handles pitchers well. He threw out 31% of base-stealers last year, a number well in line with his career results. 

Last but not least, Ryan O'Hearn hit his 15th homer and drove in his 35th run in top 1st vs Augusta (tonight's game). Starting to be not-so-shocked by his blatant display of power. Dude crushes.

That's it, for now. Up next, the top-flight pitching staff.