By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns
→This most recent seven day period served as “separation week” around the Southern League. In the North, Birmingham, Montgomery and Jackson have all fallen seven or more games behind. Pensacola and Jacksonville are in the same situation down South.
→No club possesses a current streak of more than two. This relates to both wins and losses. Surprisingly it follows a streaky run which saw Mississippi stay close by winning seven of eight and Jacksonville fall away with a season high seven game losing skid.
→Following last week’s results, exactly half the clubs in the Southern League are .500 or above on the season. The Lookouts, Smokies, Shuckers and Braves have winning records, while the BayBears are an even 22-22.
→Both division leaders (Chattanooga & Biloxi) have played exactly 44 games entering Monday, leaving opponents twenty-six contests in which to chase them down during the first half pennant races.
Southern League Spotlight…
This week’s spotlight rests on Cubs pitching prospect Frank Batista. Tennessee’s talented lefty remains unbeaten at 5-0 on the season and this week lowered his Southern League leading E.R.A. to a minuscule 1.11.
Batista struck out eleven hitters in his past two start, holding Smokies opponents scoreless in both games. In the 13 1/3 innings pitched during the two contests, he has scattered five hits and walked only four, picking up wins both times out.
Five total wins also have elevated the Dominican product to the top in that category, the twenty-six year old is tied with three other pitchers for the League lead in wins.
-Rankings listed use the format Baseball America/MLB.com-
Mississippi– By upping his batting average to .348, Mallex Smith (MLB.com #15) has taken over as the Southern League’s batting leader. Smith used a 9-for-15 clip during the Braves past five games in which he drove in three runs and scored four times to climb to the top of the category.
Birmingham– Speedster Jacob May (#10/#15) now leads the league in both hits and stolen bases (23) His 55 total base knocks has him tied with teammate Tim Anderson (#2/2) atop the category. Anderson is second in swiped bags as well, with 16 total. May has been caught just nine times.
Tyler Barnette is 2-0 in has last two starts, scattering four hits and no earned runs across twelve solid innings of work to grab some well-deserved attention in the White Sox farm system. Barnette will be simply looking to increase his strike out numbers and limit walks moving forward.
Jacksonville– Marlins prospect Sean Donatello added to his Southern League leading saves total (11) by nothing saves in both of Jacksonville’s wins across the Suns past ten games.
Chattanooga– Byron Buxton (#1/#1) added his second career grand slam to an already phenomenal start to the 2015 season.
Twins outfield prospect Adam Brett Walker (#17/#13) continues to snag headlines alongside Buxton in Chattanooga. Walker tacked onto his league lead with two more home runs (11 total) this past week. The duo posted ten RBI’s apiece during the Lookouts past ten contests. Walker also continues to lead Buxton and pace the league by 3 RBI’s on the year, with 36 total.
Mobile– Arizona hot-corner prospect Brandon Drury (#7/#6) has logged eight hits and nine runs driven in during the past five games for the BayBears.
Pensacola– Shortstop Zach Vincej has homered on two occasions during the past five Blue Wahoos contest. They long balls have come as part of an 8-for-18 stretch.
On the mound, Timothy Adleman fired seven shutout innings for his second win of the season, further signs that Cincinnati’s Double-A pitching staff may be poised to turn things around by the bay.
Tennessee– Despite a tough week for Tennessee, which saw the team’s batting average fall from tops in the league to seventh overall out of the ten SL clubs, pitching remained strong. The aforementioned Frank Batista led the way, while Carl Edwards Jr (#5/#3) has also picked up the pace. The right-hander has notched three saves and double-digits in strikeouts accross the past ten games.
Montgomery– Pitcher Blake Snell (#9/#10) finally surrendered a run this past week. When that is news, you’ve been doing something right. The highly regarded Rays prospect still delivered six strong innings and struck out twelve during his latest start. He allowed just one run on three hits total.
Johnny Field (#27/#28) was this week’s offensive leader for the Biscuits, homering with five RBI’s and three runs scored during a five game stretch at the plate.
Jackson– Dario Pizzano saw a twenty-five game hitting streak snapped this past week on May 17th. His streak was the longest in both the minors and the majors in the 2015 season.
Jabari Blash also remained hot. The reigning player of the week homered twice across he Generals past five games. Blash drove in four runs and scored just as many times in those games.
-Weekly honors handed down by the league office each Monday at Noon-
▪ Player of the Week: Max Kepler (Twins #12/#15), 1B/OF, Chattanooga
▪ Pitcher of the Week: Blake Snell (Rays #9/#10), LHP, Montgomery
Series To Focus On…
Mobile BayBears @ Tennessee Smokies
Thursday, May 27 – Sunday, May 31
The five game set matches two clubs trying to hang in their respective divisions’ first half pennant races. The series begins with four consecutive critical night games in Kodak.
Mobile needs a series victory to escape town above .500 on the year, as they are starting to slip behind both Biloxi and Mississippi down South. Tennessee needs the same result to remain within striking distance of the North leading Chattanooga Lookouts.
By the time Sunday afternoon’s finale arrives, visions of a first half run could be shattered for one of these two clubs.
Also In View…
2015 Rickwood Classic
Wednesday May 27
Jacksonville @ Birmingham
A Look At The Standings…