Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
In week two of the 2014 Southern League season, Birmingham (CWS) started on a roll with five consecutive victories and now sit at 7-7, third place in the Northern Division behind Huntsville and Jackson. The Barons lead the league in hitting and slugging at .273 and .401, respectively and have scored 68 runs in 14 games, best in the Southern League.
Huntsville (MIL) is 9-5 despite hitting just .230 as a team. The pitching staff has compiled a league-best 2.69 ERA with a .225 batting average allowed and 1.08 WHIP. The club has allowed only 36 runs this season, fewest in the league.
The Chattanooga Lookouts (LAD) are tied for a league-worst nine losses, primarily thanks to an anemic offense. The club is hitting just .187/.301/.266, and have scored only 40 runs in 14 games, which are all worst in the Southern League.
In the Southern Division, Mobile (ARZ) and Montgomery (TB) are tied for first at 8-6 and were both 4-3 this week. Montgomery is second is tied for first in the Southern League with a .341 on-base percentage, thanks to a league-high 13 hit batsmen and the second most walks (53).
Tennessee (CHC) is in the mix at 7-7 thanks to a 2.72 team ERA. The Smokies have struggled to score runs despite hitting the second most homers in the league, and have only a .217 batting average as a team.
Who’s Hot: Birmingham’s Trayce Thompson has never hit close to .300 over the course of a full season, but he is off to a nice start for Double-A Birmingham. The outfielder is sitting at .321/.400/.434 after hitting safely in 12 straight games, which included two three-hit ballgames.
Teammate Micah Johnson collected at least one hit in every game this week, including a three-hit effort Thursday against Mobile. On the year, the speedy second baseman is hitting .333/.419/.537, including a .382/.475/.618 effort against right-handed pitching.
While Chattanooga has struggled offensively, infielder Oswaldo Martinez currently has an eight-game hitting streak and is tied for the team lead with six RBI.
Jabari Blash leads the league with 13 RBI for the Jackson Generals (SEA). The outfielder homered twice this week and is currently hitting .261/.453/.543. Teammate Ketel Marte has seven multi-hit games this season, including a three-hit game Thursday and a four-hit effort Friday of last week. He leads the league with a .389 batting average and 21 hits.
The Suns (MIA) got a two homer game from third baseman Ryan Fisher Thursday, and two multi-hit games from catcher J.T. Realmuto and outfielder Brady Shoemaker this week. Shoemaker is hitting .357/.508/.595 this year, leading the league in on-base percentage, ranking second in slugging and third in average.
Seth Loman leads the Mississippi Braves (ATL) with three home runs, seven RBI and 22 total bases this season. The first baseman is hitting .273/.319/.500 in 13 games, including six hits in his first four games last week.
Garrett Weber is hitting .349/.404/.395 for Mobile thanks to a 5-for-5 game Thursday night. The infielder drove in three runs and scored two in the ballgame and ranks fourth in the league in average.
The Montgomery Biscuits got a strong week from Richie Shaffer, who has hit safely in each of his last six games. The third baseman is now hitting .256/.360/.581 and has three homers and seven RBI.
Donald Lutz is on a tear for Pensacola (CIN), hitting .341/.408/.659 with three home runs and seven RBI. The outfielder had a 3-for-4 night with two homers and three RBI Sunday against Huntsville. The Blue Wahoos have 12 home runs as a team, which leads the league.
Kris Bryant homered this week to bring his season total to three, but teammate Dustin Geiger currently leads the club and the league with four long balls. The first baseman had two homers this week and is currently hitting .277/.370/.574 in 14 games for Tennessee.
Who’s Not: Power-hitting outfielder Robby Hefflinger is hitting just .158/.256/.237 for Mississippi this year and has yet to connect on a home run.
Third baseman Jake Lamb had two multi-hit games for Mobile this week, but went hitless in four others. He is hitting .208 this season with 18 strikeouts in 48 at-bats.
Tennessee outfielder Rubi Silva has struggled this season, and is hitting just .163/.208/.184 in 49 at-bats. The 24-year old has failed to record a multi-hit game and has struck out 21 times this year.
Who’s Hot: Right-handed starter Nick McCully has allowed just one unearned run in ten innings in his first two starts of 2014 for the Barons. He is 2-0 and has held opposing hitters to a .125 batting average. Reliever Kevin Vance has not allowed a hit this season in 6.1 innings, and collected two wins this week with four scoreless frames. He has eight strikeouts and four walks thus far.
Lookouts starter Christopher Lee has been spectacular through three starts. The Dodgers’ left-handed pitching prospect struck out nine Jacksonville hitters in six hitless innings Wednesday. While Lee has allowed seven runs this season, only two have been earned. He has held opponents to a microscopic .097 batting average and has 22 K’s in 17.2 innings.
Huntsville closer David Goforth allowed his first run of the season, a solo homer in a loss to Pensacola Tuesday. However, the Ole Miss product has five saves on the season, most in the Southern League. Bullpen mate Arcenio Leon has worked eight consecutive scoreless innings across his last five appearances.
Jackson Generals right-hander Stephen Landazuri worked six scoreless innings of one-hit ball Thursday in a win over Tennessee. He is 2-1 with a 1.00 ERA in three starts this season, with 21 strikeouts in 18 innings.
Andrew Heaney was very impressive in his only start this week for Jacksonville, holding Chattanooga to just one hit in six scoreless innings. The Marlins’ top prospect is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA in three starts this season, and has held opposing hitters to a .227 batting average, including a .208/.250/.302 mark against right-handers.
Reliever Shae Simmons reminds some Braves fans of Craig Kimbrel. He is off to a great start this year with 10 K’s and four saves in 6.1 scoreless innings. J.R. Graham has not allowed an earned run in three starts this season for Mississippi and in 13.1 innings across three starts, the righty has allowed one unearned run on eight hits and two walks. Jason Hursh has been solid with a 2.57 ERA across 14 innings.
Mobile’s duo of Chase Anderson and Andrew Chafin continue to rank among the league leaders in ERA. Anderson allowed his first run of the season Tuesday against Montgomery, but is 2-1 with a 0.50 ERA through three starts. He has 20 K’s in 18 innings. Chafin has a 0.52 ERA across 17.1 innings in three starts, including a current streak of 12.1 scoreless following seven strong innings against Birmingham Wednesday.
Jake Thompson has been great for the Biscuits in five relief appearances this season. The right-hander worked 5.1 innings this week, and allowed just one run. He has a 0.90 ERA in ten total innings. Matt Lollis has yet to allow a run in five appearances and collected his first save of the season Thursday. The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder has eight strikeouts in 6.2 innings and had held hitters to a .182 average, including a .063 (1-for-16) mark against right-handed hitters.
Right-handed reliever Daniel Renken has yet to allow a run in 7.2 innings across four appearances this season for Pensacola, including 4.2 scoreless frames this week. The 24-year-old has ten strikeouts and has held hitters to a .087 batting average thus far this season.
Jake Arrieta has been very good for Tennessee in three starts this season, and has a 1-1 record and 0.73 ERA across 12.1 innings. Fellow right-hander Ivan Pineyro has allowed only two earned runs in nine innings in his first two starts of this season.
Who’s Not: For the second consecutive week, Birmingham lefty Scott Snodgress makes the “not” list. Snodgress did toss five scoreless innings on April 11, but followed by allowing seven runs (six earned) in a loss against Mobile Thursday. He has surrendered 14 earned runs in 12 innings so far this season, for a 10.50 ERA.
Teammate Nestor Molina has an 11.12 ERA in five appearances after allowing four earned runs in his last game. The righty is allowing a .522/.577/.783 line in 23 at-bats against right handed-hitters.
Marlins prospect Jose Urena has struggled in two starts this season, including his start this week. The 22-year old allowed three earned runs on four hits and four walks, including a homer in a loss to Birmingham. Opponents are hitting .353 against the righty this season in 8.1 innings. He is 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA thus far.