It’s official: If you’re a Generals fan–and by reading this, you are, whether you know it or not–you’ve never seen a start to the season quite like the Generals had in 2018. First year manager Shelley Duncan guided the club to a Minor League Baseball-best 15-2 mark in their first 17 games, helped by an impressive nine-game winning streak. Jackson had the nation’s top team!
How does a squad with no position players ranked in Arizona’s top 30 prospects shoot to the top of Minor League Baseball?
Well, good baserunning and defense were essential. Consider this: The Generals have a ratio of 2.67 total bases per run scored, one of the three lowest marks in the league. You will often see Generals runners go first-to-third or score from second on base hits, running hard irrespective of the score. Playing much of their first three weeks with a roster including just 11 position players, the Generals also had to make some square pegs round. Kevin Medrano, Galli Cribbs, Jay Gonzalez, and Jason Morozowski played three different positions; Jose Vinicio and Juniel Querecuto each manned four.
If there is a drawback to playing aggressively with a short roster (other than, you know, winning and frustrating the heck out of other teams), it has shown itself in the number of early injuries that have affected the Generals. Four players—outfielder Jay Gonzalez, catcher Matt Jones, infielder Marty Herum, and outfielder Ben DeLuzio—have already spent time on the disabled list. Jason Morozowski’s call-up from High-A Visalia has helped a ton, but Jackson, like any team, is far better at full strength.
After a day off on May 1—the team’s only day off between April 11 and May 21, a grueling stretch of 40 games in 41 days–the Generals will host the Montgomery Biscuits in a five-game set May 2-6. Montgomery will be the sixth different team the Generals will play across their opening six series, followed by a rematch with Chattanooga at AT&T Field across May 12-16.
QUOTABLE: Thoughts from Generals manager Shelley Duncan
“We made two outs at the plate today by being aggressive. We’re gonna win by it, and we’re gonna die by it,” Duncan said after the team’s 8-1 win at Mississippi on April 29. “But that’s our style. That alone sets the tone on the opposing team that ‘You better not take your foot off the gas pedal one inch, or else we’re going to make you pay for it.’ And we do that. By the end of the series, we want them to just wish that they can stop playing the Jackson Generals. We want them to be mentally drained because we forced them to focus every single pitch of every single game, and we just beat them into submission.”
Don’t forget to check out our Jackson Generals SoundCloud page, featuring post-game sound from Shelley and player and coach interviews from April as well!
PROSPECT WATCH (Top-30 rankings by MLBPipeline.com)
*No 1 RHP Jon Duplantier | 14 Ks, 2 walks, 8 hits, 3 runs allowed in his first 10 innings at Double-A; struck out 6 in debut
*No. 4 RHP Taylor Widener | Leads Southern League with 36 K in his first 20.2 innings; top 5 in opp. batting average (.189)
*No. 23 LHP Alex Young | Last 2 starts: 12.0 innings pitched, 6 H, 4 BB, 11 K, 2 earned runs
*No. 26 RHP Yoan Lopez | Last 3 appearances: 4.0 innings pitched, 3 hits allowed, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts;
*No. 30 RHP Mason McCullough | Last 6 appearances: 6.1 innings pitched, 0 earned runs, 8 strikeouts
*UNRANKED INF Galli Cribbs | Hit for the cycle on April 18 vs. Birmingham; Active SL leader in runs (20), OPS (1.097)
*UNRANKED 1B Rudy Flores | Active SL leader in slugging percentage (.650)
*UNRANKED CF Ben DeLuzio | SL leader with 9 stolen bases; placed on the disabled list 4/27
*UNRANKED INF Kevin Medrano | SL’s active leader with 31 hits
*UNRANKED LHP Colin Poche | BC Powder ® Southern League Relief Pitcher of the Month (April: 11.0 IP, 23 K, 0.00 ERA)
*UNRANKED RHP Sam Lewis | Top-5 SL starter in baserunners per nine (9.9), opponent batting avg. (.186), WHIP (1.05)
UP NEXT: Montgomery Biscuits visit Jackson, May 2-6
4 Top-30 prospects (according to MLBPipeline.com)
Montgomery (9-16) has had a rocky start to the season. Nathan Lukes (.336) and Nick Solak (.313) lead the Montgomery offense in batting average, but as a team, their batting average (.230), on-base-plus-slugging (.657), and home runs (12) all rank last in the league. When the Biscuits do get on base, they tend to run: their 24 stolen bases are the second most in the league this year. The Montgomery pitching staff boasts a trio of starters–Zach Lee, Genesis Cabrera, and Benton Moss–who are among the top 12 in the Southern League in ERA. The Tampa Bay Rays’ affiliate also has the fewest errors in the league.
*HITTING PROSPECTS: infielders Nick Solak (No. 12) and Brandon Lowe (No. 16); outfielder Ryan Boldt (No. 25)
*PITCHING PROSPECTS: left-hander Genesis Cabrera (No. 22), who will start Wednesday night’s opener against Sam Lewis
The Generals are hosting the Montgomery Biscuits (May 2-6), Mississippi Braves (12-16), and Birmingham Barons (May 23-27) this month, and you can be there—call 731.988.5299 to order your tickets today! To buy tickets or team merchandise online, or for further information on the 2018 season, log on to JacksonGeneralsBaseball.com!