(courtesy of Blueclaws.com)
Lakewood started off week 2 of the season on the right foot, beating West Virginia on April 9th and 10th behind strong pitching performances. After 4 shaky innings from Jarrod Freeman, the bullpen, led by Ben Pfinsgraff, clamped down on West Virigina and held on for the win. In game 2, Kyle Drabek tossed his first gem of the season, going 6 innings, allowing only 1 earned run on five hits, two walks, while striking out 4. Alex Concepcion and Justin Blaine combined for 3 scoreless innings to take Lakewood to a 3-2 record. The third game of the series was rained on Wednesday, and when play resumed Thursday, things didn’t go quite as well, with Lakewood losing both ends of the double header, largely due to shaky bullpen work from the Hill’s, Garet and Ronald. Lakewood traveled to Hickory for what was to be a 4 game series, winning the opener 9-5, with Ben Pfinsgraff notching his second win of the week in relief of Darren Byrd. The next three games, however, were canceled due to wind and rain.
So, Lakewood’s defense of their Sally League crown has begun with a 4-4 record, and they sit in 5th place, 2.5 games behind first place Greensboro in the Northern Division. There have been plenty of positives as well as a few questions left to be answered. Kyle Drabek, who’s first appearance came in relief, was excellent in his first start, and has 7 strikeouts in 7 innings against only 2 walks. Edgar Garcia has two good starts under his belt, having allowed only 3 ER in 12 innings with an 8:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Adrian Cardenas, thrust into full season ball, is hitting .333 in 27 AB, and in Week 2 alone, he hit .467. Maybe the most pleasant surprise has been Gus Milner, an outfield prospect that really wasn’t on anyone’s radar after a disappointing debut last year. Milner’s overall line .387/.424/.548 in 31 AB is an impressive start, and in Week 2, he 2 doubles and 2 stolen bases as well. Even CJ Henry, who struggled mightily last season, has shown some promise, with 5 extra base hits and 3 stolen bases so far.
Their are two things to keep on eye on however, that aren’t looking quite as positive. Darren Byrd and Jarrod Freeman, both promoted to full season ball this year, have struggled a bit. Byrd has allowed 7 ER in 8.1 innings, with 7 walks and 8 strikeouts, and Freeman has allowed 5 ER in 5.2 innings, but does have 7 strikeouts. Not every arm is going to pan out, and it is only two starts, but keep on eye on these two and see how they develop and handle the jump to a full season league. The other disconcerting aspect of not only Lakewood, but of all the Phillies affiliates, is the general lack of plate discipline being shown. In 274 AB as a team, they’ve managed to draw a grand total of 22 walks, with 5 of those going to Julian Williams and 4 to Tuffy Gosewich, neither of whom are really great prospect material. I’m not sure if it’s an organizational teaching method or not, because the big league club clearly doesn’t have a problem drawing walks. Again, keep an eye on this trend and see if it improves or gets worse as the season progresses.
Lakewood returns back home this week for a 3 game series against Delmarva and then they welcome in Hagerstown.