Brok Butcher had a 2.10 ERA in the first half with 54 strikeouts.
Despite a roster largely devoid of “name” prospects, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Manager Bobby Mitchell kept his team in the California League’s South Division first half title race until the last week, and finished the half with a 33-37 mark.
The Quakes had the league’s worst offense in the first half — a .236 AVG, only 35 HR, and only 281 runs scored. All league worsts.
To compensate, Mitchell went to the Angels organization’s favorite weapon — the stolen base. The Quakes led the league with 95 SB in 131 attempts. Unfortunately, they had the fewest walks in the league (196) and the second most strikeouts (560).
Outfielder Jordan Renz, who turns 24 on July 21, led the team with 9 HR but his overall numbers slipped badly as the year progressed, just as he did a year ago at Cedar Rapids. With the Kernels in 2006, his April AVG was .284, then .257 in May and just .171 in June. This year with the Quakes, he was .313 in April, but .187 in May and just .125 in June. Renz, a 4th round draft pick in 2002, is currently suffering from a shoulder injury and hasn’t played since June 4.
Outfielder Brad Coon, 24, was third in the league with 28 SB, the only Quakes player in the top five in any offensive category. His AVG/OBP/SLG were .276/.323/.371.
Shortstop Hainley Statia, 21, might be the closest thing to a legit prospect in the Quakes lineup. But his line for the first half was only .263/.326/.352. He stole 16 bases in 19 attempts. He committed 11 errors, but in the Cal League that’s actually pretty good for full-time shortstops. In a nod to the Angels’ philosophy of developing "Contactball" players, Statia struck out only 39 times in 281 AB, or once every 7.2 AB.
Hainley Statia, pictured with Orem in 2005, struck out only 39 times in 281 at-bats.
The story was much better on the mound.
Right-handed starter Brok Butcher, who turns 24 in October, had a spectacular first half. Although he was selected in the 25th round of the June 2005 draft and not considered a legit prospect, Butcher had a 2.10 ERA in 15 games (13 starts), pitching 94.1 IP. Batters hit only .238 against him, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was 54:23. He was largely a groundout pitcher; Minor League Baseball keeps a stat called GO/AO, or groundouts to all other outs, and Butcher’s ratio was 1.79.
The #2 starter was RHP Anthony Ortega, who turns 22 in August. In 14 starts (82.2 IP), Ortega had a 57:36 SO:BB ratio and a .231 OBA. For those into WHIP (Walks + Hits / IP), Ortega’s was 1.28. (Butcher was 1.13.)
The bullpen ace was RHP Darren O’Day, who turns 25 in October. A submariner, he had a 0.75 ERA in 24.0 IP (24 games), a 26:6 SO:BB ratio, and a .120 OBA. His WHIP was 0.67 and his GO/AO was 1.56. As we talked about yesterday with Aaron Cook, submariners often have success against younger and inexperienced batters.
Three players quit during the first half. 3B Dallas Morris retired, and C Brett Martinez asked for his release. Reliever Kevin Lynch got promoted to Arkansas but then he too quit the game, reportedly for a full-time job.
If anyone moves up to Arkansas for the second half, the most deserving candidates are Butcher and O’Day. But Travs fans looking for a savior are unlikely to find one arriving from Rancho Cucamonga.
Next time … we look at Arkansas’ first half.