Sunday, April 12, 2009

Clinton Lumberkings series preview (4/13 - 4/15): Cedar Rapids Kernels

Lineup regulars (in no real order, with position and 2008 stats):

Tyson Auer (OF, 287/368/416 with Rk+ Orem, Age 23)
(S) Alexia Amarista (IF, 332/416/431 with AZL Angels, Age 20)
Hector Estrella (IF, 302/368/416 with Cedar Rapids, Age 24)
Gabe Jacobo (1B, 324/357/556 with Orem and Cedar Rapids, Age 22)
(S) Carlos Colmenares (OF, 194/320/282 mostly with Cedar Rapids, Age 23)
(S) Matt Crawford (OF, 373/419/472 with AZL Angels, Age 23)
Anel De Los Santos (C, 178/202/244 with Cedar Rapids, Age 21)
(L) Beau Brooks: (C, 153/279/246 with Orem, Age 21)
(S) Darwin Perez (IF, 280/388/410, 14 SB with Orem, Age 19)
Angel Castillo (OF, 260/321/489 with Orem and Cedar Rapids, Age 20)
Jon Townsend (3B, 284/376/386 with the University of Florida, Age 24)

(S) - Switch. (L) - Lefty

The higher altitude and shaky pitching of the Pioneer League indicates that the higher hitting numbers you see should take a step down in the MWL, but then again, the Orem Owlz led the Pioneer League with 6.94 runs per game, so we're talking a formidable class of hitters bringing their road show to the MWL.

This is a strong, mostly college-age lineup. Jacobo is the most dangerous power bat of the bunch, though he's a hacker. But Darwin Perez is the guy to worry about: he can wait out a bad hurler and draw a walk, has enough power and bad control to do some damage on contact, and has the footspeed to burn you in that obnoxious Angels way. This guy's three levels from becoming the next Chone Figgins.

In fact, much of this lineup can draw walks. Auer, Amarista, Townsend (the Angels' own Matt Mangini) and, if pitchers don't abuse his inability to make contact, Colmenares all show great patience. This team has its share of productive hackers, but it's also got enough patient bats to wait out and wear down bad-control pitchers.


Michael Davitt (125 IP, 7 HR, 55 BB, 87 K, 4.68 ERA with Cedar Rapids, Age 22)
Jayson Miller (81 IP, 4 HR, 7 BB, 68 K, 2.33 ERA in Orem, Age 23)
Manuarys Correa (78 IP, 4 HR, 15 BB, 84 K, 3.58 ERA with AZL Angels and Orem, Age 20)
William Smith (73 IP, 6 HR, 6 BB, 76 K, 3.08 ERA in Orem, Age 19)
Manuel Flores (74 IP, 0 HR, 10 BB, 63 K, 3.16 ERA with AZL Angels, Age 22)
Chris Scholl (43.2 IP, 4 HR, 14 BB, 43 K, 2.06 ERA with Orem, Age 21)
Andrew Taylor (35 IP, 4 HR, 13 BB, 39 K, 4.37 ERA in Orem, Age 22)
Christopher Armstrong (34 IP, 3 HR, 31 BB, 25 K, 7.41 ERA with Cedar Rapids and Salt Lake, Age 21)
Jeremy Thorne (30.1 IP, 1 HR, 7 BB, 22 K, 0.89 ERA with AZL Angels and Orem, Age 23)
Kevin Nabors (29.2 IP, 2 HR, 17 BB, 34 K, 3.94 ERA in Orem, Age 23)
Michael Kohn (23.1 IP, 1 HR, 11 BB, 44 K, 1.93 ERA in Orem, Age 23)
Vladimir Veras (missed all of 2008 with injury, Age 23)

Lefties: Armstrong, Flores and Miller

The starters from Orem clearly are taught to throw strikes and nothing but. Davitt, repeating the MWL, is clearly the exception. Jayson Miller, a Yakima native and a Washington State alum, will open the series. Miller will pound the zone and challenge the Lumberkings lineup. Don't expect ball four out of this guy very often, if at all. William Smith is a 19 year old, 6 foot 5 lefty phenom who, like Miller, will walk nobody if he can help it. The Lumberkings better hope the Kernels don't start him until Thursday, after the Kernels have moved along, but chances are likely Miller closes this series on Wednesday.

Armstrong, Nabors and Kohn are among the iffier arms in the pen. Scholl's control is a bit spotty as well. Clearly, the key here is to try and take some pitches against these SPs, and try to unload on the shakier bullpen. Pretty much all of this staff spent last year in Rookie ball and it remains to be seen how they handle the next level.

Veras had some bat-missing stuff in 2007 but his control went haywire as injuries derailed him. The jury's out on what's left.

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