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Jupiter Hammerheads Weekly Recap: FSL All-Stars edition

On the same week as their selections to the Florida State League All-Star Game, those picked to represent the Hammerheads each showed why they were given the honor by continuing to shine on the diamond.

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Editor's note: Please welcome Alex Carver to our staff for weekly reviews of the Jupiter Hammerheads! -MJ

Weekly Stats

2-5, 26 RF/36 RA

.262/.317/.327

12 XBH (9 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR)

51/16 K/BB

67 IP, 66 H, 30 ER, 42/21 K/BB

4.02 ERA, 1.3 WHIP

On the week that Florida State League All-Star rosters were announced, those picked to represent the Hammerheads honored their selections by continuing to play quality baseball. However, it wasn't enough to keep the Hammerheads from going 2-5, dropping them two games below .500 (27-29).

Who's Hot

Outfielder Taylor Ard went 8-24 with 2 RBI, 3 BB and 4 K. At one point, he owned a five game hitting streak. The week moves the 26-year-old's seasonal slash line from .227/.279/.362 to .239/.297/.359. Ard is a sizable 6'2", 230 power-first threat, proven by a career .153 ISO but in the extremely pitcher friendly Florida State League, he is learning to settle for less than everything at the plate and focus on simply getting on base. Despite owning a career low .358 SLG to this point in the year, Ard has been on base at least once in all but six of his games. However, his ability to mash still remains. At home, arguably the toughest place to hit in all of minor league baseball, Ard owns a .427 SLG with 4 homers and 5 doubles. Considering this, his struggles on the road can partly be attributed to bad luck proven by a .267 BABIP which should normalize as the second half progresses.

Fellow outfielder John Norwood boasted an even .300 BA this week by way of a 9-30 with 2 doubles, 2 RBIs and a 7/2 K/BB. After getting off to a slow .221/.286/.294 start in April, Norwood came back as a man possessed in May, slashing for the best month of his young career. Known best for his game-ending and World Series clinching homer for Vanderbilt in the 2013 College World Series, the athletic 6'1" 185 pound righty who is still growing in to his frame was one of four Greensboro Grasshoppers who placed in the top 6 in the Sally League in homers with 16. The power numbers persisted for Norwood this May as he slugged a more than solid .398 in a pitchers' league. Though he has the ability to reach all fields, Norwood's best power is to the middle of the field. As much present strength as he owns, the Florida State League have already and will likely continue to supress his power numbers for the rest of the year. Considering that, his month of May which ended this week was all the more impressive. As good as his power numbers have been in his career though, his K/BB totals have been equally unimpressive, standard for Norwood's style of hitting but something he needs to temper quite a bit more if he is going to succeed in the upper levels of the minors. Norwood's quick wrists and strong arms allow him to clobber pitches on the inner half but a lower half that isn't as active as it could be and usually finds him reaching for pitches on the outer half. Just 717 ABs into his career though, Norwood has shown better plate vision with each passing year allowing him to jump a level each time. With more playing time and more experience, Norwood could become a valuable power bat with a good outfield throwing arm.

Despite owning the fourth best homer total and the 13th best slugging percentage in the Florida State League, Dexter Kjerstad was left off of the FSL All-Star roster. He responded to his snubbing this week by doing what he has been doing all year to this point: hitting. For the week, Kjerstad went 9-27 (.296) with 2 doubles and and 6 RBI upping his seasonal line from .246/.313/.371 to .254/.317/.406. Another pure power hitter, Kjerstad, who was the Sun Belt conference's best hitter in his lone season with Louisianna Lafayette in 2013 and who went undrafted due to undergoing Tommy John before slugging .428 over his first 80 pro games came to the Marlins after being released by the Royals after a sub-par 51 game start in his first A+ season last year. Few things have been sub-par to the start of his Marlins organizational career. Standing almost straight up in the box at 6'1", 210 with big broad shoulders, Kjerstad screams power hitter as he stares down opposing pitchers and he has the career numbers to match. He has a technically sound approach at the plate, using a front foot trigger to time pitches before getting his snappy hips through the zone well. Working against Kjerstad is the fact that he tends to get out on his front foot too far, especially against pitchers with a quality mix of speeds who can make him look foolish, leading to unbalanced swings and contributing to his gargantuan K ratio which sits at 24.9% this year. Combined with the fact that he is a prototypical free-swinging power bat, the timing issue is something Kjerstad can't afford to struggle with if he hopes to make the tough jump to AA and succeed in the upper levels of the minors. At just 24 though with holes in playing time in his career, there's still time for Kjerstad to round out his offensive game.

Luis Castillo. A name long-time Marlins fans remember well and fondly and, should the Hammerheads' 23-year-old righty continue on his current path to the majors, a name new Marlins fans will be coming to know in the same light within two years. After jumping all the way from the Dominican Summer Leagues to Greensboro and then all the way to Jupiter over the course of last season, making the move from the bullpen to the rotation and never giving up runs at more than a 3.5 clip, Castillo's latest exports are a 2.14 ERA (5th in the FSL), a 42/10 K/BB and a minuscule 1.02 WHIP over the course of his first 54.2 IP. His numbers were lowered to those marks this week by way of allowing just 2 ER on 10 hits, 5 walks and 6 Ks over the course of his last 2 starts, one being his third quality start of the year. Throwing from a low 3/4 slot from the first base side with a free and easy repeatable delivery, Castillo owns snappy arm speed and shortens the distance to the plate with a long stride forward from his 6'2" frame, which makes up for the lack of deceptiveness in his basic delivery. His best pitch by far is a fastball that has little movement but sits at a consistent 97 MPH and which he has the ability to get up to as high as triple digits. He pitches off of it almost exclusively. His breaking arsenal consists of a slurvy slider which flashes plus with 4-10 movement and late bite. When on, the pitch sits in the low 80s and plays off the straight heat very well. Castillo needs to develop more consistency in the pitch but it has plenty of potential to become a go-to pitch. His future as a starter depends on the progression of his changeup. Sitting in the 86-89 MPH range, it is by far his least developed pitch which he first started working on more diligently when he made the move to starting last year. He has made strides with it since then and is starting to flash good bite and fade. When he doesn't try to overthrow the pitch, the drop in arm speed is tough for hitters to pick up on. Should he continue to make similar progression with the change, he could become solid 3-4 starter material. At the very least, he should have no problem cracking the majors as a late reliever.

Who's Not

Since making a late season debut for the Marlins' organization in early May, it's been a rough go for Junior Sosa who was signed as a free agent over the winter. Those struggles continued this week as Sosa went 3-21 with 3 Ks a walk and 2 RBI pushing his seasonal line to a debilitating .159/.211/.220 over his first 82 ABs. A 25-year-old who has been up and down between rookie ball and AA since 2008, has great speed but he isn't getting on base nearly enough to utilize it. Never a spectacular prospect, there is some serious doubt as to whether Sosa can even get back to where he was prior to spending nearly two full seasons off the field, appearing in just 50 games since 2013. He was performing well enough for the Hammerheads' FSL foe the Bradenton Marauders last year but the 83 ABs in which he slashed .263/.341/.395 may have just been a blip on the radar. Standing from a split stance, Sosa is flying open on pitches and finding either none or very little of the barrel of his bat, either rolling over on pitches or striking out. He has been leading off for the Sharks but should this pace continue, he will soon be relegated to a bench role.

Repeating a season in A+ as a 24-year-old, the status quo has remained the same for Chris Hoo. And it isn't good. A disappointing 4-16 week is the latest export from the backstop which brings his year to a .236/.310/.281 total thus far after a .201/.278/.252 year last season. A stout 5'9", 190 pounder, Hoo's physical strike zone is tiny but he expands it mentally by swinging at almost everything close to the plate which has led to a 17/7 K/BB this year, a 52/26 last year and a 1.8% K/BB ratio on his career. Hoo's struggles at the plate are equal in the field where his from behind the plate are lofty and rarely have enough strength behind them, explaining the fact he's only thrown out 79 of a potential 204 base stealers in his career including 17 of 36 this year. At 24 with a lot to work on mechanically, Hoo isn't much of a prospect.

Alternatively, Michael Mader is a quality prospect who has had a rough week. The lefty hurler lasted just three innings in each of his starts and gave up a total of 7 runs, breaking a streak of 6 of his last 7 outings lasting at least 5 IP with one run or less allowed in each. Even with the two tough starts though, Mader's ERA sits at just 3.3, his WHIP at 1.29. Last year, Mader showed he has all the stuff to succeed but had trouble putting it all together in any one start. This year, he's grown in to the velo spike he received last year when he went from the low 90s to reaching 95 with his heat very well. He's flashing that type of heat on a much more consistent basis thanks to improved arm speed. His slow 11-5 curveball plays off the heat very well. His changeup is showing improved run and is turning in to a solid compliment to the heat as well. Mader isn't a guy that is going to hang a ton of Ks in his career but he hits spots with ease and has the knowledge of the art of pitching to get in the heads of opposing hitters. Very mature for his 22 years, there is no doubt he will rebound from this rough stretch. Mader is a quality asset that should be watched closely.

Up Next

After they finish a current series in Clearwater on Sunday, the Sharks will head back home to take on the Lakeland Flying Tigers whom they split a four game series with in April and the Daytona Tortugas whom they will be facing for the first time for three games each. A single game against St. Lucie whom the Sharks are 3-5 against will precede the three day All-Star break.