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Every Team’s Hidden Gem: Part 1

Every Team’s Hidden Gem: Part 1

We all know of the top players on every team, even the bottom dwellers, and we all know of these top prospects, many of them seemingly being traded recently. But here are the players, one from the Continental Baseball League (CBL) roster, and one from their farm system, that is less known, but is having a good season.

Altoona Curve:

This is obviously a very hard team to do, because it seems that everyone has been on the move, but we’ll do our best. As for their CBL team, there’s really only a few options, but it really came down to two for us. Middle reliever Tyler Pike and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and ultimately we had to give it to Pike.

Tyler Pike, middle reliever

Tyler Pike, middle reliever

The team leader in wins is currently posting a 3.27 ERA, and has been the only stable arm on their roster, as everyone else has been shipped out and new faces have come in. Although he hasn’t dominated, he has been very consistent. This lifelong Curve has enjoyed good success in his first two CBL seasons, and dominated triple-A hitters only a year ago. If he can put it all together, he could be a very good reliever, or become an effective starter, as he has 4 solid pitches.

As far as their minor leagues, this is also a challenge as many of their prospects have been in and out the door, but single-A first baseman Jesús Martínez and starting pitcher Toby ‘Cadillac’ Rogers stand out in particular in this depleted farm system.

Cadillac Rogers, starting pitcher

Cadillac Rogers, starting pitcher

Rogers was at one time the #16 overall prospect, all the way back in 2014, when he was a 15-year-old with a very high ceiling. Since then, he has shown that hype was not warranted, as he struggled in his first full season, but followed it up with a strong performance in the Hawaiian Winter League (HWL), and carried that success into this season, posting a team low 3.42 ERA and a team high in strikeouts, with 91 K’s in 113.0 innings.

Jesús Martínez, first baseman

Jesús Martínez, first baseman

Martínez on the other hand was a minor league free agent signing back in 2014 who didn’t get a chance until the 2018 HWL, but posted decent numbers, but really burst onto the scene this year, tearing up the Midwest League pitching to a tune of a .321 average, while adding 7 home runs and 19 stolen bases. This two both were seen as very high potential players, who have struggled at the beginning of their young careers, and hopefully both can take this success and develop into solid players.

Austin Bats:

A team that many would consider in a slight rebuild, they remain slightly outside of the wild card race due to the strong performances of several players, whom are not considered among the Bats star players. Switch-hitting DH Casey Gillaspie has been the most underrated player on their team, almost all of his at bats coming from the cleanup position, and he’s quietly hit .302, with 12 home runs.

Casey Gillespie, designated hitter

Casey Gillespie, designated hitter

This lifetime Bat has just missed out on several awards, coming in 2nd in the HL Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, and 3rd in the 2018 HL Louisville Slugger Batting Champion voting. While he isn’t putting up the same numbers as last year, he is quietly helping keep this team in the hunt for a playoff spot as some of their other star hitters have struggled or been riddled with injuries. Watch out, because if this is considered a down year for Gillaspie, scary things could lie ahead.

The Bats have several high-profile prospects, but they are already known and recognized for their immense upside. The players we want to focus on, single-A closer Bobby Irvin and double-A outfielder Tim Mack.

Bobby Irvin, closer

Bobby Irvin, closer

Irvin has been a Bat for life, drafted in the 60th round of the inaugural draft, and has put up decent numbers every season, almost all of his professional time coming at single-A. While he has put up solid FIP numbers each season, he has been hurt by his poor defense, but this year has been different. He’s putting up his best numbers in single-A, and is on pace for 29 saves, with close to a strikeout per inning. Hopefully the Bats confidence in him can pay off as he continues to climb the levels. If he keeps this performance up, he could see a spring training invitation next season.

Tim Mack, outfielder

Tim Mack, outfielder

Mack came to the Austin organization in the same trade that saw the team’s star Héctor Espinosa come. While Espinosa has made his way to the CBL and have success, Mack who is 4 years younger has bounced around the different levels of the Minor Leagues, but has found great success, batting a career .308, with 73 career home runs. This year, between the HWL, spring training, Rookie ball, and double-A, he is batting .330 with 18 home runs. With one spring training invite already under his belt, a continuation of his stellar season could see him fighting for a CBL roster spot come next season.

Calgary Mavericks:

The current division leaders, albeit only by a few games, have some superstars, including early season acquisition Giancarlo Stanton, but several other players are putting up very strong seasons to help keep this team in the division lead. Left-handed setup man Rex Brothers and left fielder Dave Kerr are two that have really helped add depth to this team.

Dave Kerr, left fielder

Dave Kerr, left fielder

Kerr has led the team in home runs, so far with 15 home runs, and is on pace to surpass his career-high of 26 in 2018. A side note, 7 of his home runs this year have come in close games and/or late game situations, and 8 of his home runs have also been with 2 outs. While these numbers do overlap, it means that Kerr steps up when needed to. Sadly, two/thirds of his home runs have been solo shots, resulting in his relatively low runs batted in. He makes up for this by destroying pitching with runners in scoring position, .361 average, with 9 extra base hits, resulting in 33 of his 46 runs batted in. An All-Star this year, Kerr is producing huge in a contract year, and could be looking at a large jump in salary if he keeps this production up.

While Calgary does have the weakest farm system, last in the league according to the OSA, they do have several prospects who look to be competing for CBL playing time in a few years. Their hidden gems are single-A center fielder Mickey Moniak and starting pitcher Tyler Mondile.

Mickey Moniak, utility

Mickey Moniak, utility

Moniak is a 20-year-old utility player, who can play strong defense at second and third base, shortstop, and center and left field. While he isn’t an everyday starter for the Medicine Hat Drillers, he takes advantage of every opportunity he gets. Playing a majority of his time at second base, his return to single-A has led to a change. After struggling in his short amount of time at double-A last season, everything has been finding green for him, as he has a .342 batting average, with 36.8% of his hits going for extra bases. If he continues this, manager Steve Bourgeois will have no choice but to give him an everyday spot, at any of the five positions he can play, even if it means a different position every day to give other guys rest.

Tyler Mondile, starting pitcher

Tyler Mondile, starting pitcher

Although Mondile is regarded around the league as Calgary’s best prospect, how low this farm system ranks goes to show that Mondile is underrated. This season for the Medicine Hat Drillers, he has pitched to a 2.86 ERA in 11 starts, with a 9.1 K/9 rate. At age 20 he still has time to live up to his potential, and for now the number of walks he gives up should be his main concern as he’s striking out plenty of batters, and has a good BABIP, but he’s averaging over 3 walks per nine innings. Should he continue to lower this number, he is on the fast track for the CBL, possibly being a midseason call up next season.

Link to part 2.

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Matthew Wells | General Manager - Charlotte Knights

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