Editor's note: This was supposed to run last week, but due to my time constraints, I was unable to put it up until today. Please welcome Roger Hoover, radio and television broadcaster for the Miami Marllins' Double-A affiliate, the Jacksonville Suns! Roger will provide weekly recaps and unique insight from the team's exciting Double-A prospect class. -MJ
The Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate Jacksonville Suns are off to a 5-1 start through the first seven games of the 2015 season. If that math doesn’t seem like it adds up, well you have to factor in that the Suns had a game go final as a tie on Monday due to rain and odd Southern League half-season rules.
I’m Roger Hoover, the radio and television broadcaster for the Suns, and each week this season on Fish Stripes we’ll take a look here on Fish Stripes how the Suns are doing and what Double-A players Marlins fans will need to keep an eye on.
First we’ll take a look back at what the Suns have done to this point of the season. The Suns won their first series against the Jackson Generals, the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, before taking the first two games this week against the Montgomery Biscuits, the Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
April 9, 2015 – Generals defeat Suns 2-0
The offense had a slow start to the season, getting blanked by the Jackson Generals on Opening Night at Bragan Field. Trevor Williams was strong on the mound for Jacksonville in his start, going six scoreless innings where he only allowed one hit with no walks and a career-high nine strikeouts.
April 10, 2015 – Suns defeat Generals 7-0
Last Friday’s game featured the biggest offensive outburst of the season for the Suns. Austin Nola hit his first homer of the season, while Kenny Wilson, Carlos Lopez, and Isaac Galloway all had multi-hit games. The biggest night at the plate came from Matt Juengel, who went 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. Suns starter Jake Esch earned the win in his Double-A debut with five and a third scoreless innings.
April 11, 2015 – Suns defeat Generals 3-1
The Suns pitching staff kept rolling into Saturday, where southpaw Chipper Smith earned the win with his five innings where he didn’t allow an earned run. Matt Juengel continued his strong hitting going 2-for-4 while smashing his first Double-A home run. The bullpen combined for four scoreless innings, with Nick Wittgren striking two of three batters in a perfect ninth to earn the save.
April 12, 2015 – Suns defeat Generals 4-2
Right-handed starter Kendry Flores earned the win in his Marlins organization and Double-A debut with five innings where he only allowed a run. Austin Nola drove in three of Jacksonville’s four runs with Kenny Wilson and Sharif Othman also having multi-hit days at the plate as the Suns won their third straight.
April 13, 2015 – Suns and Generals tie 0-0
Yes, sometimes ties are possible in baseball. The Suns and Generals were scoreless in the finale of the series going into the bottom of the seventh, however a strong North Florida rain storm soaked the field and prevented the tarp from being fully put on the infield. Since the Suns and Generals will not meet again in the first half of the Southern League season, the game was not suspended and goes in the record books as a 0-0 tie. All the stats from the game count, however it acts just like a cancelled game in the standings, the Suns remained 3-1 following the tie. Austin Brice was strong in his Double-A debut with five scoreless innings and five strikeouts.
April 15, 2015 – Suns defeat Biscuits 3-2
Sharif Othman’s RBI double in the bottom of the eight was the difference as the Suns started the Montgomery Biscuits series with a 3-2 win. The other two Suns runs came from solo homers from Zack Cox in the first and Kenny Wilson in the seventh as the Suns had to endure an hour and 29 minute rain delay in the bottom of the sixth. Trevor Williams took the no decision, allowing only one run on a homer by Rays prospect Justin O’Conner, and Williams struck out five batters in his six innings compared to a walk.
April 16, 2015 – Suns defeat Biscuits 3-2 in 10 innings
Sharif Othman was once again the hero for the Suns on Thursday night with the game-winning walk off double in the bottom of the 10th to deliver Jacksonville a 3-2 win. The low-scoring game didn’t feature any offense until the bottom of the sixth, and the Suns had to rally to force extra innings. Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, a fielding error brought home the tying run in the bottom in the ninth to set up Othman’s heroics in the 10th. Matt Juengel shined at the plate, going 3-for-5 with an RBI.
MARLINS PROSPECT TREVOR WILLIAMS Q&A
One of the Suns off to a sizzling start in 2015 is Marlins pitching prospect Trevor Williams, and I sat down with the right-hander to discuss his early success with the Suns.
Hoover: Trevor, two starts in, how do you feel so far in 2015?
Williams: Great so far, I think the team as a whole is off to a great start. We’re putting up a lot of runs getting hits in big situations, I think we’re doing alright.
Hoover: Starting even with the Suns’ exhibition against the Miami Marlins at Bragan Field, you’ve pitched really well here, do you feel like that got you off to a good start to have the success you’ve had so far in the regular season?
Williams: It was good getting comfortable on this mound in Jacksonville. I had a really good spring where everything was working well, everything that I had been working on in spring training was translating to the game. But I think the exhibition game was good for everybody.
Hoover: What pitches have you been throwing and is there anything new in your arsenal for this year?
Williams: We’ve just been working more on my slider, developing that pitch to be a strikeout pitch for me. I’ve never really had a strikeout pitch I’ve never really been a strikeout pitcher. So I didn’t want to go away from my identity as a pitcher, I’m still a pitch to contact pitcher and want to get groundball outs. But to have that weapon in my pocket, I’m definitely going to use it.
Hoover: You had nine strikeouts against Jackson on Opening Night, did you use the slider to get a lot of swing-and-miss strike threes?
Williams: Definitely on Opening Day had a lot of slider swing and misses, a lot of curveball swing and misses, Bo (Suns pitching coach Derek Botelho) and I have been working on my breaking ball a lot and getting my arm in the right slot to throw those pitches consistently but in my last start against the Biscuits it was a lot of curveballs and sliders as well.
Hoover: You were a non-roster invitee to Marlins spring training, what was that experience like for you?
Williams: It was great, they called me this offseason and told me I’m going to be invited to big league spring training and it’s something you worked for and once I got there, everyone was really open and willing to talk show me the ropes. I just wanted to be a sponge and soak everything in. I also knew there was an outside chance to make the starting roster so I knew I needed to get my innings in and take everything Chuck Hernandez had to say to heart and get ready for this year.
Hoover: First series for the Suns the five starters only allowed one earned run, you have to be excited that Jake Esch, Chipper Smith, Kendry Flores, and Austin Brice all followed your start with great results of their own.
Williams: Yeah that’s the responsibility you have as an opening day starter. You have to start if off on the right note and get it moving along. All these guys have been working their butts off in spring traning and the offseason too, it’s just good to see everything unfold in front of our eyes to start the year off and I hope we carry this momentum into the rest of the year.
Hoover: What are the things you’ll be working on the most during these first few weeks of the season?
Williams: Staying consistent and knowing that every bullpen session you need to be working on something. The past two starts I’ve made some great pitches, I’ve also made some really bad pitches. The hitters are going to get their timing better as the year goes on – they’ll make adjustments to fastballs and adjustments to breaking balls. So I just need to fine tune some of that stuff and stay consistent.
The Suns look forward to teaming up with Fish Stripes all season long to give you these Jacksonville Suns reports. You can also find more information about the Suns by visiting our official website: jaxsuns.com, blog: sunsradio.com, Facebook page, Twitter page, and by listening to The Jacksonville Suns Podcast.