With the season over, it is time to look back and make some observations about what I saw at Pioneer Park. I am aiming to do this by position groups. We will start with catchers, move to corner infielders, then middle infielders, outfielders, starting pitchers, and then finally relief pitchers.
Without further ado, here are my observations about the guys who wore the tools of ignorance this year. They are listed in order of most games played at catcher.
Chris Wallace - The 16th round pick out of Houston, played in 46 games for the G-Stros before being promoted to Tri Cities. Thirty of those games were behind the plate. There Wallace allowed just one passed ball and made two errors. He threw out 13 out of 35 (37%)base burglars. You have to remember that sometimes the base isn't stolen on the catcher but the pitcher. Since his promotion, Wallace has improved his caught stealing numbers nabbing 10 out of 19 (53%). Combined, that is a 43% rate so far this year, which is pretty impressive.
At the plate, Wallace hit .310 during his time in Greeneville. He had 6 doubles, 8 home runs and an unusually high 3 triples. His average was the 6th best in the Appy League. Wallace was fading when he was promoted. In August, prior to his promotion to Tri Cities, he was 7 out of 31 (.226) with just one extra base hit. At the same time, his strike out rate had increased from K-ing in 24% of his at bats to fanning in 32% of his at bats. After a slow start in Tri Cities, he is improving his numbers as the season wraps up.
Wallace is the only pro player I have seen wear a face mask on his helmet. He wears a clear mask that goes from one ear piece to the other. The reason behind that is that he took a pitch to the face in college, it fractured his cheek bone and had screws inserted to put the pieces back together. That is why he wears to mask.
Expectation for next year: Lexington or Lancaster
Carlos Mojica - The 22 year old started the year on the roster for the Tri Cities Valley Cats and then was sent to Lancaster for a brief stay until he landed back in Greeneville for the third year. Mojica didn't appear in any games in his first two stops of 2010. He was behind the plate 14 times for the G-Stros. He was the DH in 5 additional games. Runners didn't fair well against Mojica. He caught 7 out of 15 (47%) base stealers. He allowed 5 passed balls. Word is that Mojica will be seeing a doctor after the season is over. He was not very mobile behind the plate. He also committed 4 errors.
At the plate, he was hot in July hitting .320 in 10 games. He was frigid in August going 1 for 24 for a bingo batting average of .080.
As was stated earlier, this was Mojica's third season in Greeneville. It is his 5th overall since he was signed. That means he has one more season until he becomes a free agent. Based on what I saw this year, I am not sure he will get that shot.
Expectation for next year: Released
Bubby Williams - the 11th round pick from 2009, started his second season in Greeneville. He was the receiver in 13 games for the G-Stros in 2010. Behind the plate, he was solid receiving the ball. There were no passed balls on his watch. However, base runners took advantage of him with him only throwing out 25% of stealers (4/16). Since his promotion to Lexington, Williams has improved that number to 4 out of 9 (44%).
Bubby started the year very hot, hitting .400 in June with 4 home runs. It what may be the oddest split of the year, Williams hit .093 at home and .429 on the road while with the G-Stros. His bat hasn't been very effective since his call up. One of the factors here might be playing time. He has only had a plate appearance in 9 games since his call up in early August.
Williams is a good receiver and according to some of the pitchers I have talked to, he calls a pretty good game. His inconsistent bat and his throwing skill set must improve.
Expectation for next year: Lexington or Tri Cities
Roberto Pena - the 7th round pick for this year's draft started in the GLC and was called up to Greeneville in August. He has the best arm of the group. In the 13 games behind the plate in Greeneville, he shot down 7 of 14 base runners (50%). He had done an adequate job of this in the GCL (38%) prior to coming up. He has a very quick release and throws accurately to 2nd. He is not as confident in handling balls that aren't where he expects them as evidenced by the 4 passed balls.
At the plate, he struggled but he made contact. He fanned 10 times in 47 at bats, which isn't awful but he did fan 7 times in 20 at bats against RHP. He did show some clutch hit ability. He hit .286 with RISP compared to his G-Stros average of .191.
Pena is young, he turned 18 right at draft time. So he will still by 18 when he reports to spring training next year. In ranking the catchers I have seen in Greeneville, I would put him right behind Frederico Hernandez & Luis Alvarez.
Expectation for next year: Lexington
Ryan McCurdy - the NDFA out of Duke only played in 6 games before heading to Tri Cities to ride the bench up there. Both sample sizes are so small, it is hard to pull any real conclusions. That in and of itself likely means that McCurdy's career may not be a long one.
Expectation for next year: Released
Luis Alvarez was on the roster all of this season. He never played a game because he is recovering from a knee injury he suffered last season backing up a play at first. He will be 21 when next season rolls around and needs to be remembered when thinking about who goes where next season.
If I were to give best tools, here is what they would be:
Best Arm: Pena
Best Backstop: Williams
Best Game Caller: Williams
Best Hitter: Wallace
Best All Around Prospect: Pena
Up next, the corner infielders.