With 15 games under their belts, the Pride of Some Small Part of North Carolina, the Burlington Royals, in what we can only hope is a small-sample-size-influenced anomaly, have quickly established themselves as the without-a-doubt worst offensive squad in the Appalachian League (I’d say it’s all of minor league baseball, but I’m simply not willing to do that much work to look it up). The team is last in the league in BA (.204), OBP (.275), SLG (.265), which amounts to an anemic .540 OPS, hits (99), runs(55), triples (2), HR (2), and total bases (129)—two teams in the league already have at least twice as many TB as the Royals. They’re slightly better in doubles (20) and walks (43), placing eighth out of ten teams. They’re also not making up for it on the basepaths, stealing only 8 of 17 (the only two teams with worse percentages have only tried to steal 10 and 14—oh, and those are the best two offensive teams in the league, so they don’t really need to create “havoc on the basepaths” to “get in the pitcher’s head”). The only bright spot is that they are holding their own in Ks, striking out a third-best in the league 129. A turnaround may be around the corner—Lil’ Burlington owns a 1-game winning streak, raising their season record to 2-13.
Here’s some of the individual “highlights”:
C Salvador Perez: Establishing himself as the early team MVP candidate by virtue of actually doing some hitting, Perez leads the team with a pretty good line of .286/.364/.357/.721 in 9 games. Impressively, his K/BB ratio is 3/3, showing some a good eye for a young guy.
DH/1B/3B Jason Morales: Morales owns one of the team’s two home runs and, along with two doubles, leads the team in slugging, showing a total line of .212/.316/.364/.679 with 5 walks and 8 strikeouts.
OF Hilton Richardson: Second-year guy out of HS is still learning how to lay off a bad pitch, picking up 17 strikeouts so far. He is learning, however, as his 5 walks is tied with Morales for second on the team and contributes along with his team-leading 15 hits to his second-place OBP, with a line of .291/.333/.291/.624.
C Miguel Moctezuma: Miguel has been in two less games (7) than Perez (9), possibly showing a team preference for Perez, who has more upside. “The Revenge” only has 6 hits so far, 3 of them doubles, and has not yet walked while picking up 5 strikeouts. His line shows the unusual trait of having an OBP lower than his average: .240/.231/.360/.591.
1B Diego Cruz: Cruz has the team’s other HR and a double in his 6 hits in 8 games, and boasts Moctezuma’s K/BB ratio of 5/0. He’s hitting .214/.214/.357/.571.
OF/DH Allen Caldwell: Showing Hilton Richardson that he can do anything Hilton does, only one better, Caldwell has the most strikeouts with 18 and the most walks with 6. His low average contributes to his line of .176/.288/.255/.543.
I really can’t bear to go on—only two other player have an OPS over .500 so far. While 2B Angel Franco has already walked 7 times to lead the team, he might have to compete for more playing time now, as the Royals have added 4 to the roster since the start of the season, including another 2B:
2B Yeldrys Molina: Yeldrys, a 2005 free agent from Venezuela, played for Lil’ Burlington all of last year, posting a line of .209/.242/.281/.523 with 32 Ks/6 BBs. He started nicely in Idaho Falls, going .289/.364/.447/.811 before getting sent down/over/back to Burlington, playing in his first game last night.
1B David Wood: Wood, an 2007 undrafted free agent from Texas State who wound up being the AZL Player of the Year last year played a brutal 37 games for A+ Wilmington, going .156/.179/.188/.367 with 34 Ks to only 4 walks. He has yet to play a game in Burlington.
1B/DH Josh Vittek: A 2008 undrafted free agent out of Mount St. Mary’s, Vittek was the Northeast Conference Tournament MVP and broke a number of school records at the Mount. (Interestingly, Idaho Falls P Ivor Hodgson was a teammate last year at the Mount—okay, I don’t know how interesting that really is). Vittek hasn’t done much in 4 games so far.
OF Warren McFadden: A four-year junior from Tulane (medical redshirt his first year), McFadden signed as an undrafted free agent last week (getting a $5000 signing bonus, or 5 times more of a signing bonus than Mike Aviles). To the extent they know anything, NewOrleans.com was a little negative on the current McFadden: “A freshman All-American 2 years ago, McFadden never regained the form of his first year with the Wave. He played in 53 games in 2008 starting 50 of them while batting .308 with two homers and 33 RBI.” He played one game in Arizona and now one game in Burlington, where he has no average but a OBP of .400 thanks to 2 walks in his first game.
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