So far we have looked at the seasons for the DSL Astros, the GCL Astros, the Greeneville Astros, the Lexington Legends, the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and the Corpus Christi Hooks. Now let's take a look at the Short-Season A Tri-City ValleyCats. Here's a quick look at how the 2011 and 2012 teams compare.
2011 Wins-Losses/Win Percentage: 33-42/.440
2012 Wins-Losses/Win Percentage: 51-25/.671
2011 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential: 345 - 343 = 2
2012 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential: 414 - 251 = 163
2011 Team ERA & WHIP: 3.78 & 1.393
2012 Team ERA & WHIP: 2.75 & 1.170
2011 Team Batting Line: .247/.335/.349
2012 Team Batting Line: .271/.355/.391
Tri-City fell just one game short of winning the 2012 New York-Penn League Championship.
The 2012 Tri-City team improved over the 2011 team in every single area and they shone in the New-York Penn League as they led the league in batting average (a tie for first), on-base percentage, slugging, home runs and stolen bases. They ranked second in the league in runs scored, hits, RBI, walks, team ERA and saves, and were in fourth place in WHIP and strikeouts. It was also very telling that as a team, the batters ranked 13th out of 14 in strikeouts and the pitchers ranked 12th out of 14 teams in issuing walks. In other words, the batters didn't swing at bad pitches, and the pitchers threw strikes. You can't ask for much more than that.
There were several outstanding season performances from position players on the team. Let's just look at a few.
It is easy to see why 1B Jesse Wierzbicki was named team MVP as he was among the league leaders in runs (4th), RBI (tied for 5th), stolen bases (7th), hits (8th), OBP (9th), batting average (12th) and slugging (12th). He also led the Tri-City team in runs, hits and RBI, and the 23-year old finished the season with a .297/.376/.422 batting line.
21-year old C Tyler Heineman earned the New York-Penn League batting title with his league-leading .358 batting average. His on-base percentage (.452) ranked second in the league and his slugging percentage (.430) was ninth. He was also terrific behind the dish with a 41% caught stealing rate. He hit .304 in post-season play.
Since CF Andrew Aplin was promoted to Lancaster for the final 22 games of the season, he doesn't qualify as a league leader in the NYPL, but his .348/.441/.537 batting line would have him ranked at second in batting average, third in on-base percentage and first in slugging percentage if he did qualify. Despite being gone from the league for almost a month, he was still tied for third in the league in triples and was tied for fourth in the league in stolen bases. The 21-year old finished the season with a combined batting line of .313/.386/.493 with 13 doubles, seven triples, seven home runs and 24 stolen bases.
RF Preston Tucker is another player who does not qualify as a league leader in batting stats due to the number of games played, but he would rank highly as well with a .321/.390/.509 batting line. The 22-year old was, however, tied for fifth in home runs and seventh in RBI despite limited playing time.
2B Austin "Catfish" Elkins ranked fifth in the league in runs scored and eighth in stolen bases, and the 21-year old was in the top 20 in the league in hits, home runs and on-base percentage as well. He finished the season with a .272/.360/.398 batting line, 13 doubles, two triples, five home runs and 18 stolen bases. In the post-season, he hit .435 with a home run and four RBI.
SS Joe Sclafani was tied for eighth in the league in walks (first on the Tri-City team) and ninth in stolen bases (fourth on the team) and was in the top 20 in the league in runs, hits and RBI. He is 22. Sclafani hit .273, stole a base and drove in six runs in the post-season.
Also of note were LF Dan Gulbransen who tied for 10th in RBI and 11th in home runs in the league and IF/OF Neiko Johnson who tied for 10th in stolen bases. Gulbransen hit .273 with a home run and three RBI in the post-season while Johnson hit .333.
As far as pitchers go, there are several that have me very excited about the future.
RHP Aaron West was seventh in ERA (2.04) and WHIP (0.957) out of all pitchers qualifying as league leaders and was tied for 11th in the league in strikeouts. He walked only nine batters in 61+ innings and ended the season with a fantastic 6.56 SO/BB ratio. In the post-season he had a 2.45 ERA and a 0.909 WHIP. He is 22.
LHP Brian Holmes flirted with no-hitters all season and came incredibly close to a perfect game as well. He ranked sixth in the New York-Penn League in strikeouts and was 11th in ERA (2.56) and eighth in WHIP (0.960). Holmes tied for third in the league with seven wins. He won't turn 22 until January.
RHP Brady Rodgers turns 22 today. He was tied with teammate Brian Holmes for third in wins in the league and was in the top 15 in ERA (2.89) and WHIP (1.139). Rodgers was also stingy with the walks as he gave up only 11 free passes in 62+ innings.
RHP Lance Day lacked the requisite number of innings to qualify as a league leader, but the 22-year old was 6-1 with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.139 WHIP in 11 games (8 starts).
LHP Kenny Long pitched so well with Tri-City (1.88 ERA and 0.628 WHIP in 17 appearances) that he merited a promotion to Lancaster where he put up a 1.12 ERA and a 0.625 WHIP in 12 appearances and got the final out to clinch the California League Championship. He is 23.
Other pitchers of note include 22-year old RHP Juri Perez. Perez did not pitch enough innings to qualify as a league leader, but his very stingy 1.81 ERA in nine appearances (8 starts) would certainly rank highly. He had a 2.16 ERA and a 0.840 WHIP in two post-season appearances. 24-year old RHP Blake Ford was tied for first in the league with 14 saves. 21-year old RHP Travis Ballew was 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA and a 1.026 WHIP in 23 appearances with 10.2 SO/9. 24-year old LHP Jeremiah Meiners was 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP in 20 appearances. RHP Vincent Velasquez, at 20 years of age, was one of the team leaders in strikeouts with a 10.1 SO/9 rate.
Frankly, it's hard to single out the top pitching performers on your team when only two on the staff have ERA's higher than 3.35! This pitching staff wasn't just good, it was also very deep in talent.
I will look at the final team, the Lancaster JetHawks, later this week.