Status Update 7/11/18: Stupid, Splendid, and Specious Splits (Pt. 2) – Generals Hitters

Rudy Flores - Sewell
Splits won’t tell you a lot about Rudy Flores that you can’t observe on your own. Guy can swing it. (Photo credit: John Sewell)

NOTE: This is the second post in a two-part examination of split and component stats. Check out our pitching-focused post from yesterday

JACKSON, TENN.One of the more fascinating things about the game of baseball is the way certain component numbers deviate from one another when breaking down overall statistics. Some guys are great in day games, while others play better at night. Why is that, and who knows it? There are certainly answers for some of these oddities, but do they all matter? It depends on whom you ask. Let’s take a look at a few of the interesting season splits for the Generals, through 7/8/18:

MILB.COM – SELECT HITTING SPLITS (On-Base Percentage)

HITTERS Home/Road Day/Night 2 Outs Ahead/Behind in Count Bases Empty/Men On
Cribbs .374/.329 .267/.223 .318 .489/.173 .324/.378
DeLuzio .286/.276 .229/.308 .250 .410/.108 .284/.283
Flores .409/.352 .383/.380 .333 .532/.283 .347/.410
Herum .348/.347 .320/.296 .293 .488/.200  .353/.344
Leyba .306/.347 .346/.326 .333 .492/.216 .390/.271
Littlewood .302/.323 .304/.316 .346 .507/.073 .321/.308
Prince .407/.374 .407/.387 .365 .575/.173 .411/.368
Robertson .346/.376 .382/.359 .448 .488/.255 .359/.367
Rosario .382/.219 .176/.357 .429 .423/.176 .353/.302
Vinicio .287/.272 .222/.294 .329 .382/.261 .267/.294
Westbrook .294/.363 .177/.309 .323 .411/.291 .341/.315

For the record, DL players, players who joined the team in July, and players with fewer than 20 games played at Jackson aren’t on this list.

*Spoiler alert: Rudy Flores can get on base. Good hitters can get on base under almost any conditions, and Flores shows you that by consistently getting high marks across the board in the above categories. There’s a reason why he’s a two-time Southern League All-Star AND why he saw a lot of time in left field last season—J.R. House needed his offensive ability in the lineup.

 

*You’ll notice also that the Generals tend to have a higher on-base floor, so to speak, in night games than in day games—it’s harder to prepare when you’ve got less time before the game, and that’s always the case with daylight games.

*Check out each guy’s highest split—where is it? For a lot of guys, it’s when they’re ahead in the count. (In this case, 0-0, 1-1, and 3-2 counts are considered “even”; 2-2 is “behind”). Look also at who does well when they’re behind in the count. Jose Vinicio and Jamie Westbrook are freer swingers than their peers—if you’re not afraid to swing, you’re probably inclined to hit better in bad counts, provided you can make contact. (Walks, of course, can’t be drawn in a count where you’re behind.)

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Daniel Robertson is one of three healthy position players on the Generals’ roster who have played at the big league level, and his big-league plate discipline is a hallmark at the plate. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

*The three guys who have the highest on base percentage with two outs are Daniel Robertson, Alberto Rosario, and Josh Prince. Quick: what do they all have in common? If you’ve been paying attention, you may know that all three have MLB service time. If you’ve been to The Show, you’ve more than likely got both a very high awareness of any situation, and you can execute and/or maintain your plate discipline against strong talent. The Generals are lucky to have a guy like that in each third of their batting order most nights of the week.

FANGRAPHS.COM – SELECT HITTING DATA

HITTERS BB% K% ISO wOBA wRAA LD%
Cribbs 9.4% 28.8% .139 .336 3.2 20.3%
DeLuzio 7.1% 23.9% .088 .273 -4.3 16.7%
Flores 11.1% 22.2% .180 .379 14.4 18.1%
Herum 7.0% 13.0% .142 .355 3.0 17.6%
Leyba 9.0% 15.0% .113 .323 0.1 16.1%
Littlewood 14.6% 19.1% .106 .294 -3.4 12.9%
Prince 13.2% 23.2% .135 .376 8.0 27.4%
Robertson 11.2% 12.4% .160 .354 5.9 15.0%
Rosario 6.9% 13.8% .063 .304 -1.3 15.4%
Vinicio 3.9% 24.0% .098 .280 -7.4 9.9%
Westbrook 4.6% 16.9% .194 .357 9.4 17.3%

*Daniel Robertson is the guy closest to having a walk rate that outpaces his strikeout rate, which is great for a table-setter. He’s also shown surprising power, hitting six homers en route to a .160 isolated power mark. That combination of sneaky power and having a good eye at the plate are part of what got D-Rob to the big leagues in four different seasons. You want to prove people wrong as a 33rd round pick? Be efficient and show some pop.

*Galli Cribbs is still a glove-first shortstop, even after batting .351 in April. But wouldn’t you love to see shades of April Cribbs return? If that’s going to happen, he’ll have to reaffirm his plate discipline. After picking up 11 walks in April, Cribbs walked just 13 times over the next two months, which is partly why his numbers have dipped. If he can’t perform more consistently in bad counts (.173 OBP, his lowest split here by far), the only other option is to avoid them entirely. He’s hitting enough line drives to be a nightly contributor, but a strikeout rate near 30%, absent a lot more power, cannot be ignored going forward.

*If you’re hunting for a wild card, the so-called “x-factor,” it might be Marty Herum. Having just returned from an April injury, Herum played only 30 games through July 9, but his wOBA and wRAA are strong, and that’s important. DON’T LET THESE ABBREVIATIONS SCARE YOU, FAM – I’VE GOT YOU!

Think of wOBA as the highest revision of on-base percentage. The “w” part means “weighted,” i.e. not everything weighs the same—singles and doubles, for example, are weighted differently in this formula, as they should be. The reason wOBA is better than slugging percentage is scale. When you hit a triple in your only at-bat, your batting average is 1.000 and your on-base percentage is 1.000, but your slugging percentage is 3.000. Why? Slugging is scaled differently. With wOBA, every offensive result has a specific pre-determined weight, so the final number encompasses everything you’ve done at the plate and spits out a something you can easily frame in the context of the .300-.400 range decimals you’ve seen forever as a baseball fan.

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Marty Herum’s bat and glove could be critical to the Generals’ success in the Second Half. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

Now, bear with me—you can stick with wOBA if you’d like to get off this sabermetric express train, or you can ride out to one more stop, wRAA. Baseball is about scoring runs, and wRAA uses wOBA as an input to determine the difference in run production between your player and an average player. We’re not talking about literal runs in the “R” column, but all of the offensive events that contribute fractions of a run, summed up into a nice, friendly, zero-scaled numeral. wRAA answers the question: “How many runs has this guy helped us produce beyond an average player’s contribution?”

Marty Herum’s wRAA, unlike his wOBA, is not among the top 3 hitters on the team. This is in part because wRAA works like a counting stat, in that you can collect more wRAA (and also lose wRAA) as you play more games. With that in mind, it makes a huge difference to divide wRAA by each player’s number of games played. In a per-game context, Marty Herum is the Generals’ third-best run producer, sitting at 0.1 wRAA/G behind Flores (0.18) and Prince (0.14).

Do you remember the Generals going 15-2 in April? How about the 26-32 stretch after that, when Herum was on the disabled list for every game except one (May 10, a loss)? If Jackson is going to turn things around from a sub-.500 record in the Second Half (currently 6-13), they’re going to need a positive impact from Herum, not unlike what they got in the First Half from now-Reno-Ace Juniel Querecuto.

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Status Update 7/11/18: Silly, Spurious, and Special Splits (Pt 1.) – Generals Pitchers

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Despite some struggles in May, Yoan Lopez has proved one of Jackson’s most effective relievers. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

NOTE: This is the first post in a two-part examination of split and component stats. Check out our hitting-focused post coming Thursday, July 12! 

BILOXI, MISS.One of the more fascinating things about the game of baseball is the way certain component numbers deviate from one another when breaking down overall statistics. Some guys are great in day games, while others play better at night. Why is that, and who knows it? There are certainly answers for some of these oddities, but do they all matter? It depends on whom you ask. Let’s take a look at a few of the interesting season splits for the Generals, through 7/8/18:

MILB.COM – SELECT PITCHING SPLITS (Opponents’ Batting Average)

Pitchers Home/Road Day/Night 0 Outs/2 Outs Ahead/Behind in Count Bases Empty/Men On
Atkinson .276/.224 .191/.268 .296/.250 .180/.386 .253/.246
Bellow .294/.167 .321/.220 .138/.209 .244/.314 .120/.350
Donatella .224/.212 .191/.227 .181/.212 .190/.273 .182/.277
Gibson .364/.200 .500/.250 .292/.333 .364/.150 .265/.294
Ginkel .241/.147 .000/.250 .190/.174 .111/.188 .111/.296
Goldberg .000/.143 .000/.074 .200/.000 .071/.000 .000/.059
Huang .161/.154 .250/.139 .267/.071 .048/.417 .208/.100
Jeter .245/.143 .500/.195 .231/.250 .292/.143 .146/.275
Lopez .232/.167 .133/.216 .188/.174 .116/.160 .227/.173
Payamps .218/.195 .194/.207 .273/.133 .114/.367 .212/.192
Takahashi .281/.246 –/.263 .333/.222 .190/.367 .188/.378
Widener .202/.193 .148/.208 .178/.158 .153/.218 .209/.178

For the record, DL pitchers and pitchers who joined the team in July aren’t on this list.

*It’s not a shock that Taylor Widener, Brad Goldberg, and Yoan Lopez hold some of the team’s best marks across each of the above categories. Those three have been among the most consistent pitchers on staff, notwithstanding a difficult month of May for Lopez. A few team trends stand out:

*Jackson’s record in road contests this year is a pedestrian 11-9, including 4-7 since the end of April. That’s strange, if only because none of the Generals’ four starters who have pitched in daytime games have allowed opponents to hit over .200 in the daylight.

*Every Generals pitcher has held opponents to a batting average below .250 on the road. Only eight of the twelve have BAs against them at home that are under .250.

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After coming over from the Chicago White Sox organization in an early June trade, Brad Goldberg has been an extremely useful bullpen arm for Doug Drabek and Shelley Duncan. (Photo credit: Mark Cunningham)

 

*In addition to Widener and Lopez, Kevin Ginkel has held opposing hitters at or beneath the Mendoza line in both none-out and two-out situations. The same is true for Ginkel, Goldberg, and Lopez when both ahead in the count and behind.

*Half of the Generals’ staff have strong marks with men on base, but the other six in the list have allowed batting averages at or above .275 with ducks on the pond. Sometimes the difference in those splits can be traced to a change in delivery, based on the fact that some pitchers perform differently in the stretch rather than in the wind-up. That said, those numbers (especially the ones that approach or exceed .300) are the kind that make fans squirm, particularly with regard to relievers.

FANGRAPHS.COM – SELECT PITCHING DATA

PITCHERS P/IP LD% IFFB% HR/FB K-BB% LOB% FIP/xFIP
Atkinson 17.0 19.8% 20.6% 11.3% 15.8% 66.6% 4.52/4.11
Bellow 16.9 15.7% 9.7% 3.2% 1.5% 70.2% 4.48/5.25
Donatella 16.5 18.9% 27.9% 5.8% 11.4% 72.1% 3.91/4.37
Gibson 14.7 13.5% 20% 0% 13.2% 65.4% 2.91/4.23
Ginkel 15.6 21.6% 38.5% 7.7% 28.4% 82.2% 2.22/2.33
Goldberg 17.3 0% 20% 20% 30% 100% 3.04/2.34
Huang 15.3 21.4% 30% 0% 23.5% 92.3% 2.38/3.24
Jeter 17.2 20.3% 35.5% 0% 11.8% 70.4% 2.91/4.45
Lopez 16.2 26.3% 33.3% 10% 24.2% 62.5% 3.06/2.94
Payamps 15.3 18.7% 26.9% 7.7% 25.8% 76.3% 2.71/2.84
Takahashi 16.5 21.3% 25% 19.4% 20.2% 60.8% 5.55/3.93
Widener 16.0 16.8% 29.5% 8.4% 25.6% 82.7% 3.00/3.06

*Giving up a line drive is not the same thing necessarily as giving up hard contact (which FanGraphs doesn’t measure in the minor leagues), but line drives usually lead to more hits than ground balls or fly balls. Goldberg’s current embargo on line drives is unlikely to remain that low for a long period of time, but it’s certainly part of what has made him successful (he has allowed one home run with Jackson on a fly ball). Lopez’s success in spite of giving up a significant percentage of line drives is also accurate – he allowed three late-inning home runs in May that were crushed, but he’s missed a lot of barrels as well, given his infield fly ball rate and K percentage.

*Anybody who has watched Bo Takahashi knows that home runs have been a recent pitfall for him. The elevated rate of home runs hit against him is way above the norm, but for a 21-year-old in his first month at Double-A, it’s not that surprising. Over time, Takahashi should be able to make fewer mistakes against good hitters and lower it down to the 8%-12% range, which is generally the range that guys pitch to in the Major Leagues. (Recall that one of the homers hit against him was inside-the-park as well.)

*Strikeout and walk percentages relate in a peripheral way to a Left On Base percentage, given that a pitcher with a high strikeout rate and a low walk rate tends to put fewer hitters on base and strand more runners when they do reach base.  The guys ranked highly therein have been as difficult to hit as any on the team, aside from former General Colin Poche.

*FIP and xFIP, for the uninitiated, are measured on the same scale as ERA but use fielding-independent measurements (home runs, strikeouts, walks, hit batsmen) to calculate a pitcher’s expected allowance on a per-nine-innings basis. FIP is best frame as a tool to frame how a pitcher has already performed, while xFIP speaks a bit more accurately to how their numbers might change in the future (it replaces home runs allowed with a league-average rate of home runs per fly ball). This is not to say that certain guys will definitively be better or worse in coming weeks or months, but it’s OK to be a little more optimistic for the Second Half outputs from Ryan Atkinson and Takahashi if you were on the fence.  If FIP and xFIP are close already, web developers would put that performance in “wizzy-wig” territory, i.e. WYSIWYG (what you’ve seen is what you’ll get).

Status Update on the Jackson Generals: 7/2/18 – The heat of July is on

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Generals utility man Josh Prince struck a match to start the Second Half, batting .400 over the team’s first ten games. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

Through the first ten games of the Second Half, scoring has been difficult for the Jackson Generals, who have only 4 wins in that span. Even with a 13-1 drubbing of the Birmingham Barons last Thursday, Jackson is averaging just 4.1 runs per game since the All-Star Break, and 2.8 if you remove that one offensive outburst. The team’s runs-per-game mark has declined consistently from their April high of 5.6 to just 4.3 in the month of June. We’ve talked in the past about how injuries really hamstrung the Generals in the First Half, but they may have to account for another form of adversity in July: fatigue.

The Generals have done 79 slightly variations of the same thing in different cities over the last three months. This thing they’ve been doing is, collectively, their favorite thing in the world (or a variation of it), and for the most part, they’ve done it quite well. But in doing it well, some of the teams around them who didn’t do well at first have now caught up, found some footholds. They’re hitting their stride while the Generals struggled – Jackson finished below .500 in June for the second straight month. So: How do you respond? How do you find a way to make sure you’re staying as ready as possible, mentally fresh and competitive on a daily basis? What alternatives can you find when something that was working suddenly no longer applies or suffices?

Take Josh Prince. He’s 30 years old, a former Milwaukee Brewer and 2014 Southern League All-Star. He batted .172 over his last eight games in the First Half, stealing only one base. He doesn’t quite have the speed of the player that swiped a league-high 37 bases in 2014, and he’s in a minor slump heading into the All-Star Break. At that age, having seen those heights, you might guess that motivation becomes difficult. And maybe it does, but you’ve discounted one thing: Guys who play for as long as Josh Prince have found all kinds of ways to motivate themselves and correct their missteps over the years.

Two weeks later, Josh Prince is the Generals’ hottest hitter. He carried the Generals’ offense on Sunday in a 4-3 victory over 11 innings, homering in the second inning and driving in the go-ahead run in the 11th. He’s batting .400 since the end of the All-Star Break, and he’s played all four corner positions and DH. In terms of letting your play do the talking, Prince is as good an example of tacking back in a positive direction as the Generals currently have. He was the only man to hit over .300 in June.

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Generals pitcher Kevin Ginkel threw 12.2 scoreless innings in June, beating Colin Poche’s mark that was set in April. (Photo credit: Mark Cunningham)

Of course, if you’re already doing well, the challenge becomes: What’s good enough? How long can I keep performing like this? How can I impress others (and myself, in some measure) again today? Enter Kevin Ginkel.

Back in April, the Generals were fortunate to have Colin Poche on their Opening Day roster. How good was Poche? He won the Southern League’s Relief Pitcher of the Month award (presented by BC Powder) after striking out 23 batters over 11.0 scoreless innings in his Double-A debut. Now with the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization, Poche is being called by some “the most unhittable arm in the minors.” But Kevin Ginkel, quiet as it’s kept, has already outpaced Poche’s stretch of 11.0 scoreless innings with Jackson, tossing 14.1 frames of run-free baseball through July 1 to begin his Double-A career. Ginkel got the win in Sunday’s victory over Birmingham, holding the Barons without a run in the 10th and 11th innings, both of which started (by rule) with a runner on second base. That’s pretty strong. Ginkel pitched 12.1 innings in 10 June relief appearances, both marks tying for the most on the staff. His 34% strikeout percentage doesn’t touch Poche’s just yet—at 60.4%, nobody else has come within 20 points of Poche—but it’s been a great boon to the Generals’ late-game efforts, especially with the offense struggling to score.

Ginkel’s a recent call-up from High-A. Prince was drafted the same year Ginkel had his 14th birthday. Young? Old? It’s irrelevant. Neither player has allowed fatigue to hamper a re-doubling of their efforts, continuing to prove they can do what the Generals’ coaching staff needs (and more). To shovel out of a 4-6 hole, Jackson will need more hands like those on the spades.

SECOND HALF PRIMER: First Half North Division Champs, so now what? (6/22/18)

National anthem team players lineup 2018Thanks to a 39-30 First Half, the Jackson Generals claimed the North Division title and thereby earned a spot in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Manager Shelley Duncan finds himself in the postseason for the third time in four seasons as a Diamondbacks minor league skipper, and eight Generals earned bids to the Southern League All-Star Game, five of them coming from the team’s league-leading offense.

The simple question, obvious though it might be: What comes next? How do you motivate a team that’s already made the playoffs after half a season? What are the focal points for the Generals as spring turns to summer and the grind of playing 70 games in 74 days begins to wear physically and mentally on all involved?

I can’t answer all the questions about how to make the over-ripe become fresh again, but here are a few of the Second Half baseball plots to examine, anticipate, and enjoy:

PLAYOFF ADVANTAGE: According to Southern League playoff procedures, the Generals will host the first two games of a best-of-five opening round series against whomever wins the Second Half in the North Division. (NOTE: Based on previous seasons’ arrangements, I am guessing those two games will be played at The Ballpark at Jackson on Wednesday, September 5, and Thursday, September 6. I don’t have that officially—it’s an estimate based on the 2016 and 2017 postseason schedules for the Southern League.)  The team that wins the North Division team in the Second Half would host the third game of the series, as well as the fourth and fifth games, if the series extends that far. However, there’s a secondary point here: What if the Generals win both halves? Good question. From the Southern League’s rules:

Unless otherwise agreed to by the participating clubs and League President, a team winning both halves of the split season shall play the first two games of the division play-offs in its home park, the third game in the park of the runner-up club, and the remaining two games, if necessary, in its home park. The runner-up club, which shall be the opponent if a club wins both halves, shall be defined as the divisional club with the second best overall record for the entire season.

The Generals had a 20-15 home record in the First Half, as good as any North Division team. If Jackson were to win both halves, they could play as many as six home playoff games (four in the opening series, if that series were to go the distance). The North Division and South Division trade hosting duties for the Southern League Championship Series in even and odd years, with the North hosting the first two games in even years and the South hosting the first two games in odd years. If the Generals advance to the 2018 Championship Series, they would host the first two games of that series. That’s one of the reasons why winning the Second Half makes a difference to Jackson.

Colina Harrison Coaches
Hitting coach Vince Harrison (left) and bench coach Javier Colina (right) each played an important role in the Generals’ First Half North Division title. The Second Half will present some of the same challenges and opportunities for Jackson, but also new ones as well. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

 

DIAMONDBACK DEALS: As Generals fans saw last season, young players performing at a high level are a valuable commodity, especially for MLB teams in a playoff race. The Arizona Diamondbacks pulled two 2017 Generals, infielder Dawel Lugo and pitcher Gabriel Moya, into separate trades in the month of July last year, deals that brought outfielder J.D. Martinez and catcher John Ryan Murphy to Arizona. Both Murphy and Martinez have been important parts of Arizona’s recent success: Martinez pounded 29 home runs in 62 games last year to help push the D-backs into the playoffs, and Murphy has been the team’s most productive offensive catcher this season, slugging .491 while scoring 17 runs in 45 games.

Arizona stands just ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers at the top of the National League West, and they may look for immediate-impact pitchers or outfielders as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. If they do, players on the Generals’ roster might once again be involved. Minor League players on the whole are aware of this—it’s the concept of “playing for all 30.” Nobody actually thinks “I’m going to get traded,” but with scouts from opposing MLB franchises at just about every game, the reality is that players are being evaluated constantly, and if someone thinks highly of you, they can trade for you.

CLIMBING UP THE LADDER: If this were the Old West, every manager’s office would have the same parchment poster tacked to the wall: “Wanted: Guys Who Can Play.” Generals players are continually trying to prove themselves—some have done a lot already, like All-Star starting pitcher Taylor Widener. The right-hander ranked in the league’s top five in ERA (2.53), WHIP (1.02), opponents’ batting average (.193), strikeouts-per-9.0 IP (11.8), and baserunners-per-9.0 IP (9.58) in the First Half, and continued success in July might be enough to earn a promotion to Triple-A Reno, a la Taylor Clarke in 2017.

Others players, like pitchers Kevin Ginkel and Wei-Chieh Huang, have only recently arrived at Double-A Jackson from High-A Visalia and need to prove themselves consistently at this level.  A third group, including Jon Duplantier and Marty Herum, are working their way back from injuries or making mechanical tweaks to ensure that they can return and be strong contributors. Remember also that a handful of Generals have been to the big leagues, with some—Daniel Robertson, Alberto Rosario, and Brad Goldberg—playing there as recently as 2017. Those guys are just as hungry to return to Major League Baseball as the guys who want to get there for the first time.

Generals’ series with Mississippi heavy on prospects

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Taylor Clarke (4-2, 2.70 ERA) leads the Generals into their series against a Mississippi Braves squad full of top Atlanta prospects. (Photo Credit: Cody Cunningham)
Mississippi

Pitching Prospects

(Baseball America organizational rank)

Notes/Stats Jackson

Pitching Prospects

(Baseball America organizational rank)

Notes/Stats
RHP Mike Soroka (#4)

Wednesday

 

LHP Kolby Allard (#3)

Thursday

 

LHP Max Fried (#10)

Saturday

 

 

2.96 ERA

 

 

1.83 ERA

 

 

Carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning on 4/25 at Montgomery

RHP Brad Keller (#8)

Tuesday

 

LHP Alex Young (#11)

Wednesday

 

RHP Taylor Clarke (#7)

Friday

 

LHP Josh Taylor (#25)

Saturday

 

LHP Jared Miller (#19)

Bullpen

 

2.93 ERA in home games

 

0.82 ERA vs. left-handed hitters

 

 

2.73 ERA

 

10 Ks on 5/28

 

 

Vandy alum, 1.57:1 groundout-flyout ratio

Mississippi Position Player Prospects Notes/Stats Jackson Position Player

Prospects

Notes/Stats
OF Ronald Acuna (#6)

 

 

2B Travis Demeritte (#19)

.375 BA, 3 HR in 19 games

 

.310 BA with runners in scoring position

3B Dawel Lugo (#2)

 

 

OF Victor Reyes (#23)

5-game hitting streak

 

2 triples, 6 SB, .293 BA

As the Cavaliers and Warriors ready for their third straight NBA Finals rematch, another rivalry will be revisited this week. Last year’s Southern League Championship Series featured the Mississippi Braves and the Jackson Generals, and the two teams will meet for the first time since Jackson’s September triumph on Tuesday, May 30.

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Mississippi LHP Kolby Allard

Jackson’s five-game home-stand against Mississippi will showcase twelve of the top prospects ranked by Baseball America among the best in the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves organizations. The M-Braves (24-26) feature a pair of highly touted starting pitchers who allow fewer than three earned runs per game on average: left-hander Kolby Allard (1.83) and right-hander Mike Soroka (2.96). Infielder Travis Demeritte (22 years old) and outfielder Ronald Acuna (19) are both making big contributions to the Mississippi offense in the early part of the season. Mississippi’s Carlos Franco is tied with Jackson infielders Kevin Cron and Colin Walsh for the league lead with 11 home runs.

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Mississippi RHP Mike Soroka

In addition to highlighting a number of prospects in the Atlanta system, Tuesday’s series opener will feature MLB veteran Kris Medlen, who makes a rehab start for the M-Braves. Medlen has 173 Major League appearances and a 3.25 career ERA, winning a World Series ring with the Kansas City Royals in 2015.

The Generals (27-23) are off to a strong start in their first year of affiliation with the Arizona Diamondbacks, sitting 2.5 games out of first place in the North Division. Jackson completed an 11-game road trip on Sunday, winning back-to-back battles with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp to close their Memorial Day weekend.

Jackson leads the Southern League with 59 home runs, 13 more than any other team. First-year manager J.R. House continues to find ways to adapt his squad’s capabilities, as their past two wins have come without the help of any home runs.

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Josh Taylor (4-3, 4.06 ERA) threw the longest outing of the season by any Generals pitcher on May 28, finishing 7.1 innings with 10 strikeouts at Jacksonville. (Photo Credit: Cody Cunningham)

Standout pitching performances from right-hander Taylor Clarke (12 strikeouts on Saturday) and left-hander Josh Taylor (10 strikeouts on Sunday) exemplify a Jackson pitching staff that is beginning to round into form. Relievers Gabriel Moya and Joey Krehbiel sport identical 1.61 ERA marks, combining for 70 strikeouts across 35 total appearances.

Each of the five games will begin at The Ballpark at Jackson at 6:05 pm CT, and you can hear the games on RadioWillie.com as well as 94.1 FM/94.3 FM/1390 AM. Saturday, June 3rd will be Star Wars Night, with specialty jerseys to be worn by the Generals and later auctioned off for charity proceeds. For more information on the team and ticket information, check out JacksonGeneralsBaseball.com or dial 731.988.5299.

Series Preview: Generals’ May slate begins in Mobile

 

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Jamie Westbrook had a great week against Biloxi and Chattanooga, winning Southern League Player of the Week honors with 13 hits in 7 games.

 

May began on a Monday for the Generals, and it felt like one, too. Following a 56-degree first-pitch temperature under a cloudy Jackson sky, Double-A’s Diamondbacks dropped a 5-2 decision against the Chattanooga Lookouts, losing the series 3-2. The chilly finale marked only the second time in 24 games that the Generals had been defeated on back-to-back days, and they can still count the Southern League’s best winning percentage among their first-month accomplishments. However, the balancing act continues for first-year-at-Double-A manager J.R. House, whose roster has been hamstrung lately by injuries and, consequently, the continuing quest for consistency.

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Homestand primer: One-run-ready Generals host Chattanooga

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Gabriel Moya leads the Generals with 3 saves in 2017, playing a critical role in half of Jackson’s six one-run victories so far. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

Show me a sports fan who doesn’t like a close game, and I’ll show you somebody who’s not being honest. (Spoiler alert: they’re the same person!)

Through 19 games so far in 2017, a single run has decided ten of the Jackson Generals’ contests, most of any team in the Southern League. Manager J.R. House squeezed four wins out of the team’s most recent series with Biloxi, with two of those wins coming 1-0 and 6-5 on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Generals won their second road series despite having two players, starting pitcher Brad Keller and catcher Michael Perez, sent to the seven-day disabled list.

On offense, the Generals’ run production continues to swing back and forth between a dripping faucet and a gushing fire-hose. Jason Camilli’s hitters mixed their three one-run games against the Shuckers with a pair of victories by six or more runs. Even the pitchers got in on the action at the plate, with a multi-hit game from Josh Taylor and a home run from Gabe Speier in the Generals’ first series batting their arms since 2006. The Generals (13-6) remain atop the Southern League in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, though the team has hit just .279 over their last ten games.

From the hill, Doug Drabek’s young charges largely dominated the Southern League’s weakest hitting team, shutting out Biloxi 11-0 and 1-0 on consecutive days. Gabriel Moya’s consecutive saves have paced the Generals’ bullpen this week, which has stranded more than half of their inherited runners this season. With Keller on the DL, Ivan Pineyro stepped in to throw 6.2 innings with only one run allowed on Wednesday, posting his best Double-A outing since he pitched for the Tennessee Smokies in 2015.

Chattanooga (9-11), with whom Jackson split 25 games last year 14-11, is in a bit stronger position than Biloxi. According to MLB.com, the Lookouts feature six of the Minnesota Twins’ top-10 prospects, led by top overall Minnesota prospect Nick Gordon. The shortstop is tied for the Southern League batting average lead (.338) with Generals infielder Colin Walsh, and the Chattanooga pitching staff boasts two prospects, left-hander Tyler Jay and right-hander Kohl Stewart, who were first-round draft picks. The Lookouts are on a three-game slide, having dropped four of five against Tennessee after rainouts forced them to play a pair of double-headers on Monday and Tuesday.

Here’s a look at the pitching battles:

Thu., 4/27 6:05 pm CT vs. Chattanooga LHP Alex Young

(1-0, 1.84 ERA)

vs. RHP Paul Clemens

(1-0, 2.35 ERA)

Fri., 4/28 6:05 pm CT vs. Chattanooga RHP Taylor Clarke

(1-1, 3.38 ERA)

vs. TBA (Chattanooga Lookouts)
Sat., 4/29 6:05 pm CT vs. Chattanooga LHP Josh Taylor

(2-1, 2.25 ERA)

vs. RHP Kohl Stewart

(0-4, 6.46 ERA)

Sun., 4/30 2:05 pm CT vs. Chattanooga RHP Brooks Hall

(1-0, 5.06 ERA )

vs. LHP Matt Tracy

(1-1, 1.53 ERA)

Mon., 5/1 11:05 am CT vs. Chattanooga TBA vs. RHP Fernando Romero

(1-3, 3.44 ERA)

Thursday’s 6:05 pm CT opener is a Thrifty Thursday, with $2 deals on general admission tickets, hot dogs, popcorn, 24-oz. soda, 16-oz. beer, ice cream and Fun Zone access! Fans can get reserved seats for only $6! Friday is another Leaders Credit Union Food Truck Friday, and the Generals will once again play as the Hub City Hippos.

Saturday, April 29 is the second Fireworks Show of 2017! It’s MuscFest night, and lucky fans will have the opportunity to win tickets to various concerts! In addition, the first 500 families through the gate will take home a 2016 Southern League Championship blanket! The series wraps up with an Education Day, May 1! That Monday, students get in free with their class and lunch packs will be available for just $6!

Make sure to get your tickets now to see the 20th season of professional baseball in Jackson, and the first for the team as an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks! Call the team at (731) 988.5299, stop by The Ballpark or go online to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com to secure your seats now!