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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

6/21/24 : First Half Accomplishments - the “A” level of play

The Low A and High A level of play concluded first half play yesterday.  As you now likely already know the Clearwater Threshers repeated as first half Florida State League West Division Champions and Jersey Shore just missed out on winning the first half South Atlantic League North Division title with Greensboro eeking out a one and half game advantage for the crown.  Here’s a deeper dive into each club’s first half accomplishments.

Clearwater Threshers - Florida State League West Division Champions - 43-23 (.652)

Manager Marty Malloy and his staff - coaches Mycal Jones, Chris Heintz, Gustavo Armas, Tim Collins and John Ryan Murphy, trainers Sam Myers and Katie Carnaghi and strength and conditioning coach Joseph Miranda led and taught the team the truest way of protecting the standard - play as a unit ,never give up and always have each other’s back - it’s resulted in yet another playoff berth!

From a team perspective the Threshers finished the first half leading the ten team Florida State League in runs, doubles, home runs(tied), RBI’s, walks, OBP, SLG, and OPS, they were 2nd in hits and in batting average.  On the pitching side they were 1st in least hits allowed and strikeouts, 3rd in BAA, saves and least runs allowed and 5th in WHIP.

Aidan Miller was a huge part of the Threshers first half success, the young shortstop was promoted to Jersey Shore on June 11th but left leading the Florida State League amongst qualified players  (at least 2.7 PA’s per team game played) in slugging (.483), was second in OPS (.884), third in OBP (.401) and 11th in BA (.275).  He was second in doubles (16).

1B Keaton Anthony led the offense (.324 BA in 142 AB’s - he led the league amongst qualified players in OBP at .449 and OPS at .921.)  Jordan Viars finished the first half second in the league amongst qualified players in slugging percentage (.476), was 5th in OPS (.828), tied for 4th in home runs (8) and was 6th in RBIs (33).  Devin Saltiban was tied for 5th in the league in home runs (7).

Other than infielder Trent Farquhar (.314/.493/.422/.922) who was also a huge contributor to the Threshers success before going on the IL on May 29th no other player hit above the .300 mark that had more than 100 AB’s.  Pierce Bennett (.395), Nikau Pouaka Grego (.354), Viars (.352) and Kehden Hettiger (.352) all posted good OBP’s in 140 plate appearances or more.  Catcher Luis Caicuto was at .338 before being promoted to Jersey Shore at the same time Miller was.  Raylin Heredia (.435) had a strong slugging percentage.  Bryson Ware was a key team contributor with timely hits while also providing defensive versatility - he played five positions (2B,SS,3B,LF and CF) while center fielder Avery Owusu-Asiedu was very good defensively logging more playing time than any other player on the squad.  Diego Gonzalez when given the opportunity to play had clutch hits in the final three games of the half.  Other position players who contributed include TJayy Walton, Dakota Kotowski, Lou Albrecht, Ricardo Rosario, Jared Thomas and AJ Shaver.  Rafael Marchan played in four first half games with the Threshers on rehab assignment and Otto Kemp played in five.

LH Mavis Graves led the league in first half wins (6) and tied for the top rung in strikeouts (77), he was 5th in BAA (.198), 6th in ERA (2.55) and WHIP (1.09) for those that qualified (0.8 IP per team game).  RH George Klassen dominated the opposition in his nine starts before being promoted to Jersey Shore on June 11th - he posted a 0.71 ERA in 38 IP with 57 K’s and just 12 walks.  RH Saul Teran (2.05 ERA in 18 games (22 IP - he tied for league lead with 7 saves) and RH Drew Garrett (1.69 ERA in 15 games - 21.1 IP, 3 saves) were very strong closing games while RH Jose Peña Jr was a very effective bulk reliever and a strikeout machine in his 18 appearances (30.2 IP - 47 K’s) as was RH Jaydenn Estanista (16 appearances - 31 IP - 44 K’s) - Jaydenn was promoted to Jersey Shore on 6/19/24.  Both RH Braydon Tucker (3.18 ERA - 45.1 IP) and Casey Steward (3.38 ERA - 50.2 IP) were solid starters and stabilizers in the rotation.  Luke Russo and Micah Ottenbreit had shining appearances as starters as well.  Other pitchers who contributed include Luis Avila, Enrique Segura, Jonh Henriquez, Trey Dillard, Paxton Thompson, Jonathan Petit, Brandon Beckel, Ethan Chenault, Josh Bortka and Chase Hopewell.  First half rehab appearances were made by Cristian Hernandez, Orion Kerkering, Michael Rucker, Andrew Schultz, Luis Ortiz and Taijuan Walker.

Players who experienced both the first half Division championship from last season and this year’s triumph are pitchers Jonh Henriquez, Jonathan Petit along with outfielders Jordan Viars and Ricardo Rosario.

Jersey Shore BlueClaws - South Atlantic League North Division - 2nd place - 38-28 (.576)

The first half BlueClaws led the twelve team South Atlantic League in hits.  They were 2nd in batting average and triples, 3rd in runs scored, OBP and RBIs, 4th in stolen bases and 5th in OPS.  In team pitching they were 1st in league strikeouts, 2nd in least hits allowed, least runs allowed, BAA and 3rd in ERA and WHIP.

Key contributors included infielder Otto Kemp and catcher Andrick Nava - both of whom were promoted to AA level Reading on June 11th.  Kemp led the league in OBP (.440) for those that qualified (to qualify, a player must have 2.7 plate appearances per team game played) and was 2nd in BA (.333), 3rd in OPS (.973) and 4th in slugging (.533).  Justin Crawford finished 4th in the league in hits (67), was 6th in stolen bases (24) and 11th in BA (.290).  Leandro Pineda was 4th in RBIs (41), 7th in BA (.296) and 13th in OPS (.804). William Bergolla was 8th in BA (.294)

Nava (.388), Cade Fergus (.383 - he’s now with Reading), Hendry Mendez (.377), William Bergolla (.358), Pineda (.357), Erick Brito (.363), Crawford (.337) and Bryan Rincon (.333 before he went IL with injury) all posted OBP’’s above .330. Kemp and Nava (.314) had batting averages over .300.

This season the average slugging percentage for all players thus far in the majors is .390 - using that as a barometer eight BlueClaws posted an above average number in the first half - Kemp, Nava (.490), Pineda (.447), Troy Schreffler (.426), Fergus (.419), Crawford (.407), Bergolla (.400) and Jordan Dissin (.398) in 90 or more AB’s.

Four BlueClaws finished the first half with an OPS of .800 or better -  Kemp, Nava (.878), Pineda and Fergus (.802).

On the pitching side LH Sam Aldegheri finished the first half 3rd in the league in ERA (2.75) amongst qualified players - to qualify, a player must have 0.8 IP per team game. RH Jean Cabrera was 7th (3.22) and LH Braeden Fausnaught was 8th (3.53).

Aldegheri was 1st in WHIP (0.93), Cabrera 8th (1.12) and Fausnaught 10th (1.18).  Sam also finished 1st in BAA (.151), 2nd in strikeouts (74) and 2nd in wins (5).  Fausnaught tied for the league lead in wins (6).  Cabrera was 4th in K’s (77) and 3rd in IP (67).

The Blue Claws got some very strong relief pitching in the first half -  RH Gunner Mayer (2.00 ERA in 20 games -27 IP), RH Andrew Baker (2.03 ERA, 0.98 WHIP in 13 games -13.1 IP), LH Andrew Walling (2.05 ERA in 23 appearances - 26.1 IP), Daniel Harper (2.16 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 22 appearances - 25 IP, he tied for the league lead in saves with 7) and Danny Wilkinson (3.32 ERA in 18 games - 19 IP with 33 K’s).

Great job by both clubs  - now on to the second half!

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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