By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns
→For a third consecutive week there is a brand new South Division leader at press time for the “Eye.” Mobile pushed ahead of both Mississippi and Pensacola by winning eight of their last ten contests, giving the BayBears a 1 1/2 games advantage.
→Rosters are in full flux with players returning from mid-summer injuries and honor assignments, as well as, those receiving new addresses resulting from promotions and July deals.
→Montgomery remains on fire, winners of a league-best four straight entering the week, though Birmingham still leads the North by a slim margin.
→Speaking of the North, it is shaping up to be a two horse race at the moment. Tennessee enters a critical week to stay in the fight. With Chattanooga’s playoff fate secure and Jackson already a distant twelve games behind, it’s up to the Smokies to place extra pressure on the leaders.
→Biloxi used a solid week to turn its second half fortunes in the right direction. Three straight wins have placed the first half champs from the South just that many more victories short of becoming the first Southern League team to reach sixty wins in 2015.
Southern League Spotlight…
This week’s spotlight rests on the Major League Baseball trade deadline. Its impact is already being felt around Southern League cities and likely will be even further by the time it actually arrives at 4 p.m. Eastern on Friday afternoon.
Pensacola will doubtless be affected by the current headliner, which sent Johnny Cueto to the Royals on Sunday for a trio of key young arms, while Jacksonville has already seen former Cardinals farmhand Kyle Barraclaugh take the mound as a result of the Steve Cishek deal.
Yhonathan Barrios arrived in Biloxi this past week, after being traded to the Brewers for Aramis Ramirez and cash, with right-hander John Gant not far behind on his arrival in Pearl. The former Mets prospect was sent to Mississippi after being acquired in exchange for Atlanta’s duo of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.
Only time will reveal how differently Southern League rosters will look at this time next week or how deeply the big league moves will impact the Double-A stretch run.
-Rankings listed use the format Baseball America/MLB.com-
Mississippi- Andrew Barbosa earned Pitcher of the Week honors by turning in back to back outings in which he did not allow a run. In fact, Barbosa held Southern League hitters to a .162 clip across eleven shutout frames this past week.
Another solid mound effort was turned in by highly-regarded Braves prospect Lucas Sims (#2/#3), who lasted 5 2/3 innings allowing just a single hit and one earned run alongside eight strikeouts in his home debut.
A shoutout also goes to M-Braves skipper Aaron Holbert. The club’s 1-0 victory over Jackson on July 20 marked his 269th win as Braves manager, placing him alone atop the all-time list.
Montgomery– The Biscuits hot streak is worth a closer look. After scoring three times in the 9th for a 5-4 victory on Friday, the club posted consecutive double-digit run totals against he Generals on Saturday and Sunday. This closed out a week which also saw the Biscuits score four times in the 10th inning to beat Chattanooga on Tuesday. The current four game win streak began with Thursday’s 6-0 shutout of Jackson behind Jared Mortensen’s seven scoreless innings on the mound and Cameron Seitzer’s 8th home run of the season. All in all, the Biscuits lost just a single game this past week. Jackson was required to come from behind, plating three runs in the bottom of the 9th, to claim their only win of the series.
Biloxi– Seven extra base hits, including five doubles and two home runs marked a week in which Victor Roache (#18/12) slugged a league best .840, leading the Shuckers to three consecutive victories to close out the seven day period. His offensive exploits earned him Southern League Player of the Week honors.
Tennessee– Brian Flete provided the late heroics in Tennessee’s double-header sweep of the division leading Barons this past Tuesday. Flete’s two-run blast in the bottom of the seventh allowed the home team to walk-off with consecutive one run victories.
Albert Almora (#7/#3) also received attention this past week for his defense, in addition the outfielder has secured hits in each of the club’s last three games including a home run and three RBI’s against Chattanooga Friday night.
Chattanooga– The Lookouts returned home to honor the victims of this month’s tragic shooting with a moment of silence and provided the Chattanooga community with a 4-1 victory on Monday. Adam Brett Walker II (#17#12) led the way with a home run and two driven in. Walker would hit another Wednesday, running his league leading total to twenty-six. The blast came as part of a seven run 7th inning in the Lookouts 8-7 triumph over rival Tennessee.
Alex Wimmers closed out the week on a positive note, providing six and two-thirds shutout innings for an 8-0 shutout of the Smokies on Sunday.
Jacksonville– Kyle Barraclaugh was as advertised in his Marlins debut Saturday, registering mid-90’s on the River City radar gun and working a 1-2-3 sixth frame in which he struck out highly regarded White Sox prospects Tim Anderson (#2/#1) and Jacob May (#10/#13).
JT Riddle (#17/#18) continues to impress, the former Kentucky Wildcat is hitting .372 across the club’s past ten games, while playing stellar defense as the everyday shortstop for the Suns.
The Marlins promoted pitching prospect and Florida State League All-Star Jarlin Garcia (#10/#4) to Double-A over the weekend.
Birmingham– Myles Jaye takes the mound tonight in Jacksonville looking for a league leading 10th win. If he secures it, Jaye will have sole possession of the wins mark for at least a full day since the Barons-Suns contest is the only Southern League game scheduled for Monday.
Mobile– Back to Back shutouts from Edgar Garcia and Braden Shipley (#2/#2) were the latest vehicle through which the BayBears claimed first place in the South. Garcia remained unbeaten at (2-0) with a 5-0 shutout of the Braves on Friday, while Shipley held the Braves down for a 7-0 win one day earlier, securing his 7th victory of the season.
-Weekly honors handed down by the league office each Monday at Noon-
▪ Player of the Week: Victor Roache (Brewers), OF, Biloxi
▪ Pitcher of the Week: Andrew Barbosa (Braves), LHP, Mississippi
Series To Focus On…
Tennessee Smokies @ Montgomery Biscuits
Tuesday July 28 – Saturday August 1
The Smokies and Biscuits are set up for critical battle at Riverfront Stadium which will serve as the bridge into the season’s final full month of action.
Montgomery enters the series red hot and looking to chase down division leading Birmingham, while Tennessee needs to fare well in order to remain in the North Division playoff hunt.
While the Smokies can mathematically pull within a game of the Biscuits for second place if everything falls their way on the road, they must at least take this series just to keep hope of a second half run alive.