Augusta GreenJackets Update

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IJune 22, 2010

The Class A South Atlantic League plays its All-Star Game today.  On the Southern Division’s team are RHP Jorge Bucardo and Jose Casilla, catcher Tommy Joseph and 3B Chris Dominguez.

Augusta ended the first half in second place in the Sally League’s Southern Division with a 41-29 record, one game back of the winner, the Savannah Sand Gnats.

Augusta is a tough place to hit, and the only GreenJacket who really did much with the bat in the first half was 23 year old 1B Luke Anders.  Anders hit .292 with an .828 OPS.  He’s kind of old to be much of a prospect at this level, but presumably he will be promoted to Class A+ San Jose when current SJ Giant 1B Brandon Belt is promoted to AA Richmond or AAA Fresno.

22 year old left fielder Nick Liles is hitting .307 but isn’t doing much else.  23 year old right fielder Ryan Lollis has a .350 on-base percentage.

23 year old 3B Chris Dominguez has hit ten HRs, but his .737 OPS doesn’t really impress.

The two best position prospects on the team look like catchers Tommy Joseph and Hector Sanchez.

Tommie Joseph was the 55th player selected in last year’s Draft, and he looks promising.  He’s only hitting .211 in his first season of professional baseball, but he’s hit with some power and he doesn’t turn 19 until July 16.

Hector Sanchez is only 20 years old, and he’s much further along with the bat than Joseph.  Sanchez is currently hitting .262 with a .741 OPS, which is great for a catcher of his age playing in his home games in this ballpark.  According to the blog When the Giants Come to Town , Sanchez is a good defender behind the plate.

Unfortunately, playing on the same team as Joseph, Hector Sanchez has only played in 40 games so far in 2010.  The Giants need to seriously consider bumping Sanchez up to A+ San Jose, where he might be able to play more regularly.

The SJ Giants’ starting catcher this year is 24 year old Johnny Monell, who had a big year with the bat at Augusta in 2009, but is hitting only .220 with a .639 OPS at San Jose so far in 2010.  If I had to find at-bats between Johnny Monell, Hector Sanchez and Tommie Joseph going forward, Monell would be last on my list.

RHP Jorge Bucardo is the GreenJacket’s best pitching prospect so far in 2010.  His 1.77 ERA is third best in the Sally League, his seven wins are tied for fourth, and his 73 Ks are seventh best.  And he’s only 20 years old.  The only concern I see is his slight stature: 6’1″, but only 155 lbs.

I also like 20 year old righty Bryan Salsbury.  He’s 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA and a 5 to 1 Ks/BBs ratio.

Among the relievers, 23 year old lefty Chris Gloor has a 2.70 ERA and 41 Ks in 33.1 IP.

21 year old righty Jose Casilla has a 1.23 ERA with 26 Ks, ten walks and only 15 hits allowed in 28.1 IP.

23 year old lefty Ryan Verdugo has a 2.17 ERA and 46 Ks in 29 IP.

22 year old righty Devan Kline has a 2.59 ERA with 35 Ks in 31.1 IP.

Finally, 20 year old right-hander Zack Wheeler, whom the Giants selected with the 6th pick of the 2009 Draft, has a 5.06 ERA after seven Sally League starts with 33 Ks and 17 walks allowed in 26.1 IP.  However, Wheeler hasn’t pitched since May 18th, when he went on the DL with a cracked finger-nail on the middle finger of his pitching hand.

While that does not sound like an injury serious enough to keep a young pitcher out of the rotation for a month, the Giants are apparently proceeding with an abundance of caution.  Reports have it that the finger-nail is healing slowly and Wheeler will start throwing again later this week.