Through the season’s first 18 games, Wilmington is 7-11, four games behind first place Potomac (WSH) in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. The club has dropped four in a row.
Wilmington’s offense has struggled thus far hitting just .217/.316/.311 with only three long balls, fewest in the league (as is the Royals style). That number is half the next closest club.
The Blue Rocks have been good on the base paths however, stealing 21 bases, which ranks second in the eight-team league. In fact, the club is a staggering 21-for-21 in stolen base attempts!
While the team’s 3.67 ERA falls in the middle of the pack, the club has fanned a league-high 162 batters in 147 innings this season. Defensively, the club has allowed only four unearned runs, fewest in the league.
Everyone’s favorite Blue Rock, Raul A. Mondesi has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games. The 18-year old shortstop is hitting .283/.358/.367 in 66 plate appearances as the Wilmington leadoff hitter.
Zane Evans is tied for second in the league with seven doubles, six of which game in his first four ballgames. In 11 games, the Georgia native is hitting .400/.467/.575 and has eight RBI. The catcher/DH is 10-for-22 against right-handed pitching with a 1.227 OPS in that small sample.
Middle infielder Jack Lopez leads the club with nine RBI, and is tied with Terrance Gore with a team-high five stolen bases. The 21-year old is currently the league’s hardest regular to strike out. Lopez strikes out every 16 at bats, on average, more than five at bats more than the closest player.
Bubba Starling has struck out 24 times this year, third most in the league. In fact, the outfielder has recorded at least one strikeout in all but one game this season (and 0-for-3 night on April 9). The one-time top prospect is hitting just .133/.284/.250 through 17 games, but has improved quite a bit from his low point of .098/.260/.220 a week ago. He has accounted for one-third of the club’s homers, however.
2013 first rounder Hunter Dozier is on a four game hitting streak, but has spent a large portion of April below the Mendoza Line. The third baseman currently stands at .203/.316/.266 in 72 plate appearances hitting third in the order for Wilmington.
Christian Binford ranks ninth in the Carolina League among qualified starters with a 2.20 ERA in 16.1 innings. The right-hander did not allow an earned run in his first 12 innings. He has struck out 19 hitters (29.7%) and allowed just three walks (4.7%) this season. Opponents are hitting .197 against Binford, and he has allowed a total of 15 baserunners - 8.27 per nine innings – which ranks third in the league.
Lefty starter Jonathan Dziedzic is tied for the league lead with three wins, and owns a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings across three appearances. He has struck out 29.7% of the hitters he has faced this year. Lefties are 1-for-12 against Dziedzic thus far.
In the bullpen, Zeb Sneed has held opponents to a 2-for-29 start this season, good for a .069 batting average allowed. He also has yet to allow a run or a walk in 9.1 innings.
Fellow reliever Glenn Sparkman has struck out 15 of the 37 batters he has faced this season (40.5%) in ten innings across five outings.
Who’s In Between:
The club’s top pitching prospect, Miguel Almonte, ranks third in the league with 21 strikeouts, a round 25% of the batters he has faced. If that rate holds, it would be the best of Almonte’s professional career. He has held opponents to a .191 batting average. In four starts, the 21-year old is 2-0 with a 5.23. with two outstanding starts and two poor ones.
Relievers Matthew Murray and Ali Williams have ERAs of 1.35 and 1.17, respectively, in a combined 21 innings.
Following a very rough third start, in which he allowed seven earned runs in just two innings at Myrtle Beach (TEX), big-time prospect Sean Manaea sits with an 8.71 ERA. Opponents are now hitting .318 against the lefty.