The 2017 has been a struggle for the New Orleans Baby Cakes to keep a solid pace. Their play has been up and down through the first twelve games of the season, but that should not distract from some of the positives.
The first positive is that the season is young. The season is not even ten percent over with, so there is plenty of time to get things rolling. The second is J.T. Riddle, their shortstop to start the season, was called up to the Marlins. He even hit a walk-off home run for his first home run in the bigs.
Minor league teams, while still hoping to win and draw fans, should not be marked by wins and losses but instead by development. Moving players onto the next level and having them be successful in that move. Using that measure, the Cakes are starting off well and will continue to do well.
Bright Spots for the Cakes
The Cakes lineup has had a few bright spots at the dish. Outfielder Matt den Dekker has played well to start the season, batting .286 with three home runs and eleven runs batted in to go along with 25 total bases. Outfielder Brandon Barnes leads the team in batting average (among players with at least 25 at bats) with a .298 mark to go along with a home run, four runs batted in and three stolen bases. Third baseman Matt Juengel has provided some pop in the line up, as well, hitting two home runs and driving in seven runs.
The biggest bright spot in the pitching department happened on Friday, April 14th. In a combined effort between Scott Copeland, Hunter Cervenka and Brandon Cunniff, the Baby Cakes no-hit the Iowa Cubs in an 11-1 victory. Copeland has been New Orleans’ best starter so far in 2017. In his two starts, he has a 1-1 record to go along with his 2.45 ERA and thirteen strikeouts through eleven innings of work. Reliever Drew Steckenrider has also pitched fairly well, only giving up runs in one of his four appearances and striking out nine over eight innings.
Struggling to Find Consistency, But It Is Still Early
While there have been bright spots for the Cakes, their biggest problem has been playing consistently. In a five day span, they lost 18-5, lost 5-2, threw a no-hitter in an 11-1 win, won 5-2 the day after the no-hitter, and then were one-hit in a loss to start their next series. The lack of consistency makes it hard to assess the team. Moving forward, the Cakes will have to find a way to get all assets of their game rolling and do so for more than just a game at a time.
When the Cakes find a way to put everything together, they will be a dangerous team from the looks of it. They have the offensive fire power to put up runs and they have the pitching to shut down lineups. It is early in the season. They just need to find their groove and once that happens, the potential is there. Roster moves could help as well. J.T. Riddle may not stay in Miami much longer, and there is talent in Jacksonville waiting for the call.
Team Leaders (After Weeks 1 and 2)
Batting Average: Barnes, .298
Runs: Barnes, 7
Home Runs: den Dekker, 3
RBI: den Dekker, 11
Total Bases: den Dekker, 25
Stolen Bases: Hood, 4
Wins: 4 tied with 1
ERA: (Min. 9 Innings): Copeland, 2.45
Strikeouts: Nicolino, 14
Innings Pitched: Nicolino, 14.2
Saves: Cunniff, 1