Welcome to a new feature on the site, the affiliate reports. Today, and hopefully most Tuesdays, we’ll feature the Lakewood report, covering all the week’s action with the Blueclaws. Just a reminder, if you have any pictures you’d like to share, please drop me an email and we’ll work out an arrangement to get the pictures up and share them with everyone else.
Lakewood began the defense of their South Atlantic League title at home against a tough Greensboro team, giving Carlos Monasterios the honor of starting opening night. It was a memorable and forgettable night all at once, as Monasterios was rocked for 7 ER in just two thirds of an inning, giving way to Justin Blaine in relief. Blaine would give up 2 ER in his 2 innings of work, and eventually Alex Concepcion, Jarrod Freeman and Ronald Hill would finish out the game, with Lakewood allowing a total of 11 runs, but clawing back to score 7 of their own. On Friday night, however, the team bounced back on the strength of Edgar Garcia’s full season debut. One of the Phillies most promising arms, Garcia tossed 7 innings of 1 run ball, and was followed in relief by #1 pick Kyle Drabek, who proceeded to strike out the side. In the rubber match, Greensboro won a tight 3-1 ball game, as Darren Byrd lost his full season debut. The bullpen, featuring Ben Pfinsgraff, Michael Dubee and Andrew Cruse didn’t allow a run, but the offense couldn’t muster anything against a tough Greensboro bullpen.
While the pitching at Lakewood figures to be entertaining, the offense has it’s share of potential bright spots, as the middle infield is manned by 2006 draft picks Jason Donald at SS and Adrian Cardenas at 2B. Toolsy center fielder Quintin Berry is batting leadoff and Gus Milner has manned right field thus far. CJ Henry, acquired in the Bobby Abreu deal and recently relocated to 3B, has started strong, with Tuffy Gosewich handling the bulk of the catching duties. So far, Henry has been the most surprising guy in the lineup, with a batting line .400/.500/.800 early on, collecting 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, and 2 SB. Donald and Berry are both hitting .294 after the first few games, and Cardenas is at the .250 mark. Milner, who it seems not many people are paying attention to, has a .333/.375/.533 line after 15 AB, with a double and a triple. Tuffy Gosewich owns the only home run for the team thus far, along with 2 2B.
Lakewood, tied for 3rd in the SAL at 2-2, will spend this week on the road, finishing a 3 game series at West Virginia, and then onto Hickory for a 4 game series. The rotation does not quite seem set yet, as Jarrod Freeman has both started a game and pitched out of relief, and Kyle Drabek has also been used as a reliever, but is likely to wind up starting sometime in the near future. Edgar Garcia seems like a lock to start every 5th day, and Carlos Monasterios will likely be given plenty of time to get acclimated despite his rough debut. After that, it’s tough to figure out the probable rotation until we see a few more games. Lineup-wise, the top four of Berry, Donald, Cardenas and Gosewich appears set, with Milner hitting 6th and CJ Henry hitting either 7th or 8th. Henry, if he continues to hit well and maintain his focus, is likely to slide up a spot, and could eventually be hitting 6th or 7th consistently. Prospect followers should keep an eye on Hickory OF Jamie Romak, as well as pitcher Mike Felix, the Pirates 2nd round pick in 2006.