Eye On The Southern League

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First Glances…

-Currently riding a four game winning streak, the Smokies have come to life atop the North Division. Tennessee made a statement by handling the Lookouts with relative ease in the first two editions of their five game set over the weekend.

-Biloxi continues to play well despite the road challenges the team has faced out of the gate in 2015. The Shuckers were forced to play two double-headers across the past six days due to early season weather issues, yet they have tasted victory in seven of the past ten games. As a result the Shuckers stand alone at the head of the South Division

-The aforementioned 7-3 record posted by the Shuckers (and Smokies) is second only to the eight wins logged by Montgomery during that stretch. The Biscuits are arguably the league’s hottest team and enter this week just two games out of first place in the North.

-The prospect laden Lookouts and Smokies combined for 26 runs alongside the same amount of hits, including six long balls, as part of an absolute slugfest in front of over 5,000 fans on Saturday evening at Smokies Stadium. Just a sample size of the offensive potential for both clubs.

Southern League Spotlight…

This week’s spotlight is on Biloxi’s middle infield. We’ve already introduced you to the outstanding duo of Yadiel Rivera (#13/#23) and Orlando Arcia (#2/#1), but this past week their defense has become a main topic of conversation around the new Shuckers franchise. The two highly regarded Brewers prospects are spending their days alternating positions between second and short, wowing fans all the while with highlight moments on the diamond.

Combine these defensive skills with their current offensive numbers and headlines continue to be garnered out on the road. Arcia is one of only two players in the league still batting above .400 on the year at .423 and sits second in runs scored (12). Rivera has cracked the top 10 in average (.346), triples (2) and stolen bases (4) across the season’s first three weeks.

Prospect Watch…

-Rankings listed use the format Baseball America/MLB.com-

Tennessee– First Baseman Dan Vogelbach (#25/#15) led the league in batting average and snagged player of the week honors from the Southern League office entering this past week. The twenty-two year old Cub’s prospect followed up with 3 HR’s and 10 RBI’s between April 20-26 to boost his average to an eye-popping .444 through 54 at bats. Vogelbach also leads the league in RBI’s with 13.

Biloxi– Brewers left-hander Hobbs Johnson (#23/#25) shined in Jacksonville on Thursday, using only sixty-three pitches to deliver five innings of one-hit ball against the Suns. It was his third start of the season for the Shuckers. Johnson is 1-0 with an 0.79 ERA thus far.

Birmingham- Jason Coats has already accumulated 9 doubles in only 12 games played for the Barons to lead the Southern League in that category. The White Sox 29th round selection in 2012 has separated himself as an extra base hits machine to the delight of fans at Regions Field.

MontgomeryRichie Shaffer (#18/#22) has moved into a tie with two other players for the league lead in home runs. The Rays prospect tallied three more across this past week and drove in five runs for the surging Biscuits.
Jamie Schultz (—/#30) struck out six consecutive batters on April 20, a total two shy of the Southern League record. The right-hander worked six solid innings without allowing the BayBears a single hit (#30). Schultz leads the league in strikeouts with 33 across just over twenty innings of work

Mississippi – Twenty-two year old Daniel Castro (#25/—) is drawing attention as the everyday shortstop in Jackson. The Braves prospect has notched 5 doubles, driven in 7 runs, scored 11 times and is batting .386 through 15 Double-A games in 2015.

PensacolaLayne Somsen has posted a minuscule 0.69 ERA to lead the Southern League across 13 IP. The South Dakota State product in Cincinnati’s organization worked five solid innings of two-hit ball at home against Biloxi on Sunday April 26th.

Picture Perfect…

-Weekly honors handed down by the league office each Monday at Noon-

Player of the Week: Daniel Vogelbach (Cubs #25/#15),1B, Tennessee Smokies

Pitcher of the Week: Jamie Schultz (Rays –/#30), RHP, Montgomery Biscuits

Series To Focus On…

Mobile BayBears @ Biloxi Shuckers
Thursday April 30-Monday May 4
in Huntsville, Alabama

It’s hello again, goodbye again for Joe Davis Stadium as the top two teams in the South Division meet in Huntsville at the former home to which the Shuckers (then known as the Stars) supposedly bid farewell last fall. Ironically, this is as close to a home game as the now Biloxi based team will experience for some time.

The highly anticipated weekend series will provide an outstanding and unexpected opportunity for baseball fans in the state of Alabama to see these storied rival franchises once again do battle on familiar turf. It makes it all the more sweeter that division supremacy will be on the line in the process.

Mobile enters the week as winners of three straight and fresh off an extra inning walk-off victory over Mississippi, while Biloxi boasts a league leading eleven wins on the season.

A Look At The Standings…

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