9/25/23 : 2023 Regular Season Recap - Triple A Lehigh Valley
Lehigh Valley IronPigs : 80-66 (.434) - International League
The Triple A level of baseball while it is the highest level of minor league play is also the level with the greatest amount of roster movement as players are at the “stand by” stage for the call to the major leagues. Managing a roster and team with a constant recognition of what the major league team may need each week (especially pitchers) is part of the equation at this level.
This year skipper Anthony Contreras deployed ninety-one players during the season (twenty-five position players and forty-six pitchers). Twenty players (Weston Wilson, Kody Clemens, Darick Hall, Jake Cave, Drew Ellis, Dalton Guthrie, Cristian Pache, Luis Ortiz, Christopher Sanchez, Bailey Falter, Connor Brogdon, Andrew Bellatti, Yunior Marte, McKinley Moore, Jeff Hoffman, Erich Uelmen, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, Ranger Suarez, Orion Kerkering) who appeared in 2023 games with the IronPigs also played or are currently playing for the Phillies at the major league level.
The club was in the hunt for the playoffs during the second half (the International League divides the year in half with the winners of each half qualifying for the post-season playoffs). They finished second in the second half in the twenty team league with a 44-29 record. Offensively for the year the club finished in the top ten in runs (7th), hits (9th), triples (T-6th), home runs (5th), RBIs (6th), walks (10th), stolen bases (4th), batting average (6th), OBP (T-6th), slugging (T- 4th) and OPS (4th). On the pitching side they were in the top ten in ERA (10th), shutouts (T-3rd), saves (T-5th), hits against (6th), runs against (6th), WHIP (10th) and batting average against (T-7th).
Weston Wilson had a career year including making his major league debut. He set the single season franchise record for home runs (31) and became the first Lehigh Valley player to ever tally thirty or more home runs and stolen bases (32) in the same season. Weston finished in the league’s top ten in runs scored (6th with 89), home runs (3rd with 31), RBIs (T-6th with 86), walks (T-9th with 75) and stolen bases (T-8th with 32). Simon Muzziotti tied for 5th in hits (140), was tied for 11th in stolen bases (26) and also tied for 10th in batting average (.296).
Jake Cave put up spectacular numbers at Lehigh Valley before he got the call to the major leagues on July 21st. He played in 59 games with the Iron Pigs and posted a .346/.429/.684 slash line with a 1.113 OPS in 275 plate appearances with 30 doubles, 16 home runs and 49 RBIs. Darick Hall hit over .300 for the first time in his minor league career, after returning from an early season injury he recorded a .311/.395/.545 slash line with a .940 OPS in 334 plate appearances with 11 doubles, 18 home runs and 57 RBIs in 74 games. Rafael Marchan had his best offensive season to date with a .297/.391/.440 slash line and an .831 OPS in 51 games (207 plate appearances) with 13 doubles, 3 triples and a couple home runs, he too missed time due to an early season injury. The IronPigs had ten players with ten or more home runs including Dustin Peterson (19) and Kody Clemens (18) who tied or set career highs. Clemens recorded a .373 OBP as he drew 43 walks in just 62 games (279 PA’s) and also had ten doubles and four triples. Matt Kroon capped off an outstanding season by hitting .381/.467/.698 with an OPS of 1.165 in fifteen games (76 PA’s) with 7 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs and 13 RBIs after being promoted from Reading on August 7th. His overall numbers for the year ended at 97 games (432 PA’s), 121 hits, 31 doubles, 5 triples, 11 home runs, 58 RBIs, 26 stolen bases and a .326/.399/.526 slash line with a .925 OPS. He’s positioned well for continued success in the Arizona Fall League.
On the mound veteran reliever Jeremy Walker quietly had a solid year, the 28 year old right hander posted a 2.90 ERA in 47 appearances (68 1/3 IP) with a 1.24 WHIP. Tyler McKay was also very good, he recorded a 2.67 ERA in 23 appearances (27 IP) after his promotion from Reading on July 14th. His overall numbers for the year were 48 appearances, 55 1/3 IP with a 2.60 ERA, a .200 batting average against, and a 1.25 WHIP. The 26 year old has earned a big league 2024 spring training invite in my humble opinion. Lefty Ben Bowden led the club in appearances (49) and other than three hiccup games on April 19th, April 29th and August 22nd when he was tagged for thirteen runs in a total of two innings he posted a 3.21 ERA in the other 46 games. Lefty Taylor Lehman was promoted from Reading on 5/22/23 and appeared in 37 games with the IronPigs recording a 4.19 ERA in 34 1/3 innings of work, overall he appeared in 50 games and had a 3.81 ERA in 52 innings with a .190 batting average against.
Relievers Andrew Bellatti, Luis Ortiz and Yunior Marte all bounced back and forth to the big leagues and triple A during the summer. McKinley Moore began the year on the Phillies roster but had some injury setbacks. He appeared in 12 games with Lehigh Valley and had a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings pitched, threw the ball very well in September including time spent at Reading. Starting pitching was a year long struggle for the club as twenty-one different pitchers made starts albeit in fourteen games an opener was used in designated bullpen games. Nick Nelson logged his second highest career total in innings (115 overall) as he re-engineered himself as a starting pitcher making 25 starts (20 with LHV after an early season rehab for a hamstring issue), he finished with a 4.35 ERA in 97 1/3 innings at triple A. Twenty-eight year old right hander Shaun Anderson signed as a free agent on 7/20/23 and made 11 starts amassing 52 innings pitched, he finished the season well posting a 3.08 ERA in four September starts (26 1/3 IP) with a 1.03 WHIP.
Some of the players who are on the forty man roster as well will venture to Clearwater this week to stay ready as reserves for the Phillies playoffs if needed, it’s a standard practice for clubs that make it to the post season.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
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