May 17, 2008 May 17, 2008Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
The Standouts: Here’s a look at some players who’ve been standing out for all the right reasons so far in 2008…
Luis Lopez — The former Major Leaguer is hitting .333 in his first 17 games for the Bluefish this year, and is one of only two current Bridgeport players with more walks (12) than strikeouts (10).
Derrick Ellison — Most Atlantic League fans wouldn’t be able to pick Ellison out of a crowd, but as long as an affiliated team can, that’s all that would really matter. The Virginia born southpaw has allowed only one earned run in his first 10.1 innings of work, and the rest of the league is hitting .243 off of him.
Gary Cates — Cates is certainly one of the more anonymous players in the league, but that might not be the case for the long of he continues to produce. He’s hitting .333 through 20 games, and has only one error despite playing 17 of his 20 games in the middle of the infield.
Josh Rabe — Rabe, who I would have loved to have written about for Opening Day, is giving me a reason to write about him now. His OPS of .994 is one of the best in the league, and he’s hitting a robust .390 so far this year.
Julio Guerrero — Mr. Julio if you’re nasty. And this guy’s been just that this season. The former Road Warrior, who was a somewhat puzzling addition to the Riversharks this year, is 3-0 with a 1.10 ERA in seven relief appearances this year. His WHIP is a ridiculous 0.43, and the Atlantic League is hitting just .077 off of him. It’s like the Atlantic League is a video game to him, and he’s playing in rookie mode while everyone has the difficulty set to “Hall of Fame.”
Alec Zumwalt — Last alphabetically, but first on the team in ERA. Zumwalt and Guerrero have been a nasty combo in the ‘Sharks bullpen. The former has allowed just one earned run in his first nine outings of the year.
Ian Bladergroen — Bladergroen has a lot working in his favor in terms of getting picked up. He’s only 25 years old, and is pounding the crap out of the ball. Put those two things together, and affiliated teams are going to take notice. He has a .989 OPS and has more RBI (21) than games played (20). His 13 extra-base hits lead the league.
Brian Stavisky — Some of the guys with a lot of hype around them going into the season fall flat on their face. Not Stavisky. The 27-year-old is one of the bright spots on a not-so-bright Barnstormers squad, hitting .315 with three home runs and 13 RBI.
Mike Woods — In 100 games with Lancaster last season, Woods stole 13 bases. 18 games into his 2008 campaign, and he’s already swiped nine bags. Combine that with his versatility and a .329 batting average, and he’s been one of the best players in the league so far.
Carl Everett — Everett is content playing in the Atlantic League, as he’s surely received offers to head elsewhere with his name value and credentials. The former big leaguer is hitting .323 for Dave LaPoint’s Ducks squad, and has more walks (10) than strikeouts (8) so far.
Kevin Haverbusch — Haverbusch’s .927 OPS is second best on the team, and his .352 batting average is as well. He’s consistently been one of the best players in the league, and if his power starts to come around, he could be taking his cuts in Double-A or Triple-A before the season is over.
Ray Navarrete — What else does Ray Navarrete need to do to get picked up? He’s hitting .357, his OPS is 1.016, and he leads the team in extra-base hits with nine. He plays hard, plays everywhere and hasn’t made an error yet. He also has the best average on the team against lefties.
Jon Asahina — A ground ball pitcher, Asahina has walked more batters (7) than he’s struck out (5), but has been fantastic otherwise. The rest of the league is hitting just .171 off of him, and he’s only allowed one run in his first ten outings.
Randy Leek — Leek looks like he’ll be getting picked up for a second straight year after his first four starts have yielded a 1-0 record and 1.17 ERA.
Joe Valentine — The former Cincinnati Reds reliever, who turned down an affiliated offer late last season, might have some more offers coming his way after going 1-1 with three saves and a 1.59 ERA in his first ten outings.
Cory Aldridge — Aldridge was swinging a hot bat in spring training — NASA is still tracking the ball he hit off of Bo Donaldson at the Jack Cust Academy — and that’s clearly continued in the regular season. The former Braves slugger is hitting .394 so far this year, and his 1.089 OPS is a league best.
Cory Willey — Who has the better Cor(e)y’s? Hollywood’s got Feldman and Haim, but Newark’s got Aldridge and Willey. Willey’s making a strong case for the Bears, as his four wins in relief are a league high. He has the third most strikeouts on the team (13), has the team’s best ERA (1.50), and the opposition is hitting just .146 off of him.
Brandon Larson — The ex-big leaguer is playing a solid third base for Somerset, hitting .319 with two home runs and 14 RBI so far this year. He’s also made only one error this year, which is somewhat of a welcome change after the prolific, yet error prone Jeff Nettles manned the position for so long.
Josh Pressley — As was the case at this point last season, the power isn’t there yet for Pressley. But it’s coming for the Patriots first baseman, who’s in much better shape this year compared to last. He has an OPS of .847 and is second on the team with six extra-base hits.
Bret Prinz — Prinz is relying on his nasty fastball and hard to hit slider (credit to Ryan Dunleavy for that note) to hold the Atlantic League scoreless against him in his first ten outings. He has 14 strikeouts compared to just three walks, and his eight saves lead the league.
Jason Richardson — One of the most unlikely candidates for this list at times last year, now you can’t do one without having him on there. J-Rich is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his first eight appearances this season, and seems to be throwing harder than ever.
Clint Johnston — Johnston’s 1.044 OPS is best on the team, and he’s also in a three-way tie for the team lead with four home runs. One of the more pleasant surprises on the expansion Blue Crabs.
Kyle Nichols — Nichols leads the team in RBI with 18, and has more walks (10) than strikeouts (9) this year.
Pat Osborn — Osborn’s .313 batting average is second only to Johnston’s .363 mark, and his 16 RBI are second only to Nichols. Like Nichols, he also has more walks (14) than strikeouts (8).
George Sandel — While the video-game numbers aren’t there like they were in Edmonton, Sandel has been finding a way to get on base by being more patient at the plate than he was while with Somerset. His 20 walks are a team high.
Matt Schweitzer — Who? You’ll know Schweitzer’s name pretty quickly if he keeps this pace up: 12 straight consecutive scoreless outings, with four walks, five hits and 14 strikeouts in his first 11 innings of work.
Dave Gassner — The former Minnesota Twins pitcher has been good for York, allowing only three runs in his first 20 innings. But the anemic York offense hasn’t helped him much, and he’s only 1-1 so far.
Jason Olson — With a .341 batting average against, I don’t know how he’s doing it, but the Revolution reliever has been able to minimize the damage and post a 1-1 record with one save and a 1.74 ERA through his first nine games of the season.
Dave Veres — Although he curiously doesn’t have a save yet this year, the long-time big leaguer has started his season with six straight scoreless outings. Certainly one of the better stories in the league.
– Mike Ashmore