By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns
→Birmingham maintained a certain level of comfort in the North by posting a league best 17 wins through their first 22 games of the second half. The Barons hold an advantage of four full games entering the week.
→Montgomery’s league best five game winning streak is responsible for keeping the Biscuits within striking distance. The Barons have already separated themselves from everyone else in the North by nine or more games.
→Top three clubs in the South Division are still bunched up; Mississippi, Mobile and Pensacola are separated by just a single game.
→Pan American Games participants will be back on Minor League rosters this coming week. Current and former Southern League players were directly involved in a very dramatic tournament which saw Canada defeat the United States in extra innings to claim the gold medal on Sunday in Toronto.
→In light of last week’s tragic attack in Tennessee, everyone here at “The Eye” alongside the entire Southern League Baseball family extends thoughts and prayers to the Chattanooga community, as well as, our service men and women and their families around the globe.
Southern League Spotlight…
This week’s spotlight rests on Kyle Skipworth of Pensacola. HIs consistent display of power captured the imagination of Southern League fans and brought back fond memories of previous historic offensive performances by some of the league’s greatest former sluggers.
Skipworth challenged Derek Lee’s record for consecutive games with a home run after going deep in five straight contests. Lee’s stand alone record of six in a row has now survived for nearly two decades. The former National League star accomplished the feat in June of ’96 while with the Memphis Chicks.
Though he did not end up reaching the record, the twenty-five year old Californian would close the week hitting six homers across seven games, driving home seven runs in that stretch. These numbers were more than enough to earn him Player of the Week honors from the league.
–Rankings listed use the format Baseball America/MLB.com–
Birmingham– Right-hander Frankie Montas (#5/#2) had a very busy week for the White Sox. In the midst of his Futures Game appearance and initial call-up to Chicago, Montas still found time to shutout the Blue Wahoos in his most recent Southern League mound appearance. His eight K’s and five scoreless frames earned him both a third win and his first Double-A Player of the Week honors this season.
Speaking of wins, Myles Jaye now stands alone as league’s wins leader with nine victories on the season after five shutout innings of his own this past week.
While six different Barons have homered in the teams past five games, perhaps no one is making more of a contribution than Tim Anderson (#2/#1). Though he hasn’t gone deep, Anderson’s .391 average has set the tone. Anderson also continues to dominate with his defense and speed, his 32 steals still lead the circuit.
Pensacola– Blue Wahoos beat writer Kourage Kundahl has noted that Kyle Skipworth’s seven homers in July are the most in a calendar month in the history of the franchise. The Reds catching prospect’s five straight games marked by a home run are detailed above in this week’s spotlight.
Jackson– Highly-regarded Mariners prospect DJ Peterson (#2/#2) pitched in with a key grand slam on Wednesday night for the Generals, the fifth of his career. It served as half of Peterson’s eight RBI total in Jackson’s last ten contests.
Montgomery– Tyler Goeddel’s (#17/#21) walk off Sac Fly in the 10th inning on Saturday night nailed down the fourth of the Biscuits five straight wins. Goeddel has notched an RBI without a hit in each of the club’s past three games. Tyler is the brother of Mets pitcher Erik Goeddel.
Blake Snell (#9/#4) looked strong as usual in picking up the win, his sixth of the season, thanks to five scoreless frames.
Mississippi– Outfielder KD Kang has ignited the Braves run to the top of the South Division with a 10-for-17 (.588) performance across his past five games, which includes an RBI and 4 runs scored.
Third base prospect Kevin Ahrens continues to be the main run producer, driving in twelve total across the past ten games.
It should also be noted that Emerson Landoni is hitting at a .524 clip across the same stretch, helping Mississippi’s offense come to life. The shortstop has notched 22 hits and scored twelve runs in that stretch.
–Weekly honors handed down by the league office each Monday at Noon–
▪ Player of the Week: Kyle Skipworth (Reds), C, Pensacola
▪ Pitcher of the Week: Frankie Montas (White Sox #5/#2), RHP, Birmingham
Series To Focus On…
Mobile BayBears @ Mississippi Braves
Wednesday, July 22- Sunday, July 26
The Braves and BayBears will likely battle it out for the top spot in the South Division this weekend. With summer days clicking quickly off the calendar, these games will be critical to the second half pennant race.
Not only are these teams near the top of the standings, both clubs are also among the hottest in the Southern League at the moment. Mississippi has worked into the division lead by winning four straight, while Mobile enters the week having claimed three in a row.
A Look At The Standings…