NEW ORLEANS ZEPHYRS:
The Triple-A affiliate struggles continued last week as they began with four straight losses—the series finale against the Nashville Sounds and then a sweep at the hands of the PCL American South leading Oklahoma RedHawks. They recovered at the week’s end by taking the first two games against the second place club in their division, the Albuquerque Isotopes. However, the offense continued to struggle as they scored over three runs just once, in an 8-5 loss to Nashville. Entering Sunday, the Zephyrs are two games below .500 at 23-25 for third place in the South division.
Willie Collazo: 1-0, 11.2 IP, 3 ER, 9 H, 9 K, 4 BB
The veteran left-hander made an abrupt adjustment from his previous role after entering the starting rotation without any preparation. Following his last relief appearance on May 9, Collazo jumped right into the rotation and threw seven innings and gave up three runs. Last week, his success continued as he gave up less hits per inning and picked up his first victory in a start since 2006 with Binghamton. As a starter, the opposition is hitting .221 off Collazo [.191 for lefties] and his ground-ball ratio is nearly 2-to-1.
Val Pascucci: 6-20, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 5 BB
Another week has gone by and Pascucci continues to be a force in the heart of the Zephyrs’ order. Another .300 week has pushed his average in New Orleans to .298 with an on-base percentage to .394. More than anything, his power production continues to fill the need for the Zephyrs as he cracked his eighth and ninth home runs with the club. For the fourth time, he homered in consecutive games. Pascucci is hitting .304 when behind in the count.
The momentum continues to swing in the B-Mets favor as they have stretched their recent success into another week. The Double-A affiliate has won 10 of 12 games, moving up to third place into the Eastern League Northern Division. They have won four straight series and appear in a position to make more headway in their division as the staff received an infusion of new arms while the offense has picked up its production over the last 12 games. Nick Evans, one of the “big three” of the B-Mets lineup, received his first promotion to the big leagues on Saturday.
Caleb Stewart: 10-21, HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, 4 2B, 3B, 2 BB
The 25-year-old outfielder returned to Binghamton after breaking camp with New Orleans, and so far, his second time around with the B-Mets has been a successful one. In 20 games, Stewart is hitting .319, he has clubbed four home runs and driven in nine runs. In 22 at-bats against left-handers, Stewart has nine hits and is slugging .909. One key factor in Stewart’s game is his diminishing amount of strikeouts. In 2007, Stewart struck out in nearly 25 percent of his at-bats. So far this season, in two levels, that number has dropped to nearly 17 percent.
Daniel Murphy: 11-24, 3 RBI, 5 R, 2 2B, 3 BB, 2 SB
All Murphy does is continue to rake in the three-hole of the Binghamton order. Though he cooled earlier this month after a red hot April [.363 average], last week’s effort appeared to put him back on his torrid pace. He has five multi-hit games in his last ten games overall including last Monday’s 4-for-5 effort. He is hitting right down the middle against pitchers from both sides, .330 versus righties and .333 versus southpaws. Murphy’s 61 hits so far this season are good for second overall in the Eastern League and his 30 RBI rank him ninth in the league.
Salvador Aguilar: Win, 6.2 IP, 3 H, 7 K, BB
The 26-year-old right-hander continues to be a pleasant surprise for the B-Mets and is a valuable reason why the B-Mets have been able to surge in recent weeks. Aguilar, who moved into the rotation following Jake Ruckle’s departure to injury, is now 4-0 and has thrown scoreless outings in two of his last three starts. As a starter, Aguilar is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 16.2 innings. The improvements are right there in numbers for Aguilar who has seen dramatic changes in his production following his 2007 season when he owned 7-9 record, a 5.81 ERA and .330 opponent’s batting average.
ST. LUCIE METS:
When it comes to struggles, it has not been worse for any group than the Mets’ High-A affiliate who has lost 15 of their last 17 games. The Mets claimed victories on May 20 against the Dunedin Blue Jays behind Eric Niesen’s first professional win and on May 23 against the Sarasota Reds. The Mets .243 team batting ranks 11th in the Florida State League and their 5.58 ERA ranks last by a one and a half runs.
Lucas Duda: 8-28, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB
The second-year first baseman has cooled in May with a .236 average for the month after hitting .330 in April, but his production was much needed not only to the team, but to himself. After going eight straight games without an extra-base hit, Duda homered in his last two games and drove in five runs. His 55 hits ranks him fifth in the Florida State League. He continues to struggle against left-handers as he has recorded just eight hits in 50 at-bats this season.
Tobi Stoner: 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 7 K, 2 BB, Loss
Though Stoner took the loss in yet another quality start, his outing did stand out amongst a tough week for St. Lucie starters. His May 21 outing against the Dunedin Blue Jays was the fourth straight in which he has gone at least six innings despite surrendering a season-high three earned runs. Stoner has struck out no less than five in all but one start, and has struck out 28 batters in four May starts.
The Sandgnats win on May 22 against the Augusta GreenJackets snapped a six-game losing streak before taking Saturday’s game against the Greenville Drive for their second win of the week, ending the week with a 2-5 record. The Sandgnats continue to be competitive despite the losses as the played in three more games this week that were decided by two runs or less. Savannah has moved out of last place of the South Atlantic League Southern Division as their 20-29 record is 3.5 games better than the Rome Braves.
Jose Jimenez: 8-24, HR, 7 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 BB
The Sandgnats first baseman has heated up in May following his .187 average in April. In 20 games in May, Jimenez his hitting .296 with a .479 slugging percentage. The 21-year-old Dominican native leads the Sandgnats in RBI with 29 which ranks 14th in the South Atlantic League. Jimenez is hitting .311 [14-for-45] with runners in scoring position which is a vital stat for the run-starved club.
Maikel Cleto: Win, CG, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB
Cleto is pitching his way into the spotlight with his continued success. The 19-year-old left-hander threw the first complete game of the season for the Sandgnats, holding down the August GreenJackets to just three singles. He lowered his ERA as a starter to 3.32 in 40.2 innings pitched. His control is noticeably improved from his 2007 stint in the GCL as he has struck out 35 and walked just 14 in 49.2 total 2008 innings.