Jose Fernandez was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week, headlining a strong week for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. New Orleans slipped from first place after a number of poor pitching performances, while Jupiter lost two series against Bradenton and St. Lucie. Jacksonville moved up to first place after a near perfect week.
AAA: New Orleans Zephyrs
4/28 - L 3-4 vs. Albuquerque Isotopes
4/29 - L 2-5 vs. Albuquerque Isotopes
4/30 - W 5-3 @ Round Rock Express
5/1 - L 3-6 @ Round Rock Express
5/2 - L 5-10 @ Round Rock Express
5/3 - L 4-5 @ Round Rock Express
New Orleans had their worst week of the year, winning only one game against the Round Rock Express. The Zephyrs pitching had been stellar so far, but everything fell apart this week, minus an excellent start from Tom Koehler. New Orleans fell from first to third place and now has a 15-12 record a month into the season.
AA: Jacksonville Suns
4/28 - W 5-2 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/29 - W 4-0 vs. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
4/30 - No game scheduled
5/1 - W 4-3 @ Birmingham Barons
5/2 - W 8-6 @ Birmingham Barons
5/3 - L 2-5 @ Birmingham Barons
Posting a .405/.468/.643 line in his last ten games, left fielder Jake Smolinski has been a huge asset for Jacksonville, while prospects Kyle Jensen and Kyle Skipworth have failed to produce. Their one loss came yesterday against Birmingham as Zach Neal had an ugly start, allowing five earned runs in four innings pitched. Jacksonville finished the week with a 16-12 record, tied for first place with the Mobile BayBears.
A+: Jupiter Hammerheads
4/28 - W 7-3 vs. Bradenton Marauders
4/29 - L 1-4 vs. Bradenton Marauders
4/30 - L 0-8 vs. Bradenton Marauders
5/1 - L 6-15 @ St. Lucie Mets
5/2 - L 2-3 @ St. Lucie Mets
5/3 - W 6-1 @ St. Lucie Mets
Jupiter's poor week left them with an 11-16 record and once again in second to last place. The St. Lucie Mets have started the season with a 22-5 record, leaving the Hammerheads eleven games out of first place after just one month of baseball. The same crop of bats that helped Greensboro win the league title last year have mostly fallen silent in the pitching friendly Florida State League.
A-: Greensboro Grasshoppers
4/28 - W 11-9 @ West Virginia Power
4/29 - W 9-4 @ West Virginia Power
4/30 - L 6-9 @ West Virginia Power
5/1 - No game scheduled
5/2 - W 8-4 vs. Hickory Crawdads
5/3 - W 7-3 vs. Hickory Crawdads
The Grasshoppers' bats came out in full force this week, helping give Greensboro a two game lead over Hickory for first first place in the South Atlantic League northern division. First basemen Matt Smith led the pack, hitting three home runs in five games. Shortstop Josh Adams and catcher Austin Barnes also had strong offensive weeks. Greensboro finished the week with an 18-8 record.
1. Charlie Lowell, LHP
1 GS, 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 SO
Charlie Lowell had by far the best outing of the year this week after struggling mightily with his command early on. Lowell has looked much stronger in his last two outings, allowing just one walk in each start. Hopefully this is a sign that Lowell has made adjustments and is improving his command. SB Nation minor league guru John Sickels wrote about Lowell here.
2. Tom Koehler, RHP
1 GS, 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7H, 1 BB, 10 SO
Tom Koehler had a huge turn-around from his last three starts, dominating the Round Rock Express batters. Koehler allowed the fewest walks and struck out the most batters of any start so far this year.
3. Jose Fernandez, RHP
1 GS, 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 4 SO
Jose Fernandez has now made the list of hot prospects three consecutive times and was also named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week. He has 37 strike outs in 28 innings pitched, with a stellar 1.59 ERA. Fernandez is the prospect every Marlins fan should be talking about.
4. Marcell Ozuna, OF
.269/.296/.615 (7-for-26), 3 R, 3 HR, 1 BB, 5 SO
Marcell Ozuna made this list thanks to three home runs, demonstrating the power that scouts have raved about. Unfortunately, Ozuna continues to strike out too much and isn't walking enough to compensate. This flaw will continue to be exploited as Ozuna moves up through the minors.
5. A.J. Ramos, RHP
2 G, 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 SO
A.J. Ramos was deadly in his two relief appearances for Jacksonville. His only mistake was a lone home run hit by Andy Wilkins. At 25-years-old, Ramos is old for his league, but his career 12.4 SO/9 shows he can effectively strike out batters. This 5-foot-10 righty could be pitching in the majors soon if everything goes smoothly.
1. Christian Yelich, OF
.136/.174/.136 (3-for-22), 1 R, 1 BB, 8 SO
Christian Yelich had a truly awful week after starting off the season 14-for-45. The Hammerheads will need Yelich to start performing again if they want any shot at competing in the Florida State League.
2. Adam Conley, LHP
1 GS, 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 6 SO
Adam Conley had his first poor start of the year, although he suffered from poor defense that allowed two more unearned runs to score. His start against the West Virginia Power was also the first time Conley had allowed more than two walks in a start. He has a 3.09 ERA in 23 innings pitched.
3. Josh Hodges, RHP
1 GS, 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 2 SO
Josh Hodges has had a slow development path in the minors, only reaching Greensboro after three years in the minors. His first foray into full-season ball has not been very impressive. He has a 4.74 ERA in 24 innings pitched, with a 6.9 SO/9 and 4.4 BB/9.
4. Chad James, LHP
1 GS, 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 1 SO
Chad James has disappointed enormously thus far this season, posting a 6.05 ERA in four starts. His walk rate has also increased from last season, while his strikeout rate has gone down. James's struggles are especially odd considering he is in his second season with the Hammerheads, so I would expect at minimum the same performance as last year.
5. Jacob Realmuto, C
.217/.250/.348 (5-for-23), 3 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 SO
Jacob Realmuto has shown remarkably good contact abilities in 2012, only striking out seven times in ninety plate appearances. He also walked more than he struck out. Yet Realmuto only has a .241/.341/.367 line on the season, indicating incredibly poor luck on balls in play. I expect Realmuto will reverse this trend soon, as long as his peripherals remain strong.