Lynchburg (King of the) Hillcats

Thought I would go ahead and flesh out the tale of Lynchburg a bit, since some expressed a little intrest into what I didn't cram into the update...

There are three types of players on the Hillcats roster, one of which (less common) is embodied by Matt Hague and Pedro Alvarez. Another is a lot like what you'll find when you look at Miles Durham.

Miles was always a bit old for whatever level he'd been at since he was drafted in '06, but he became a small blip on the radar last season when he used a .348 avg, a .979 ops, 24 2B, 14 HR and 57 RBI in only 72 games to make the Sally League All-Star team. Unfortunately, Durham was promptly promoted to Lynchburg and pretty much faceplanted, putting up a .220/.619 line in the season's remaining 57 games.

This season, after starting a very chilly .247/.717 in April, he has come on strong to the tune of .337/.940 in May, bringing his season line up to .297/.827 and putting him on pace for 45 2B, 15 HR and 90 RBI for the season.

All of this is nice to look at, but it is completely meaningless. Durham is now 26 years old, which makes him really old for the level, so he should have months like this all the time if he's worth his weight as a hitter. Unfortunately, he's going to keep being too old, because he's now behind Pedro in the pecking order and will have to move off third base defensively to even be in a position to hit his way to Altoona.

The team is filled with guys like this: Alex Presley is repeating the level - he didn't hit for power or average or walks last year, and isn't this year either, and is now almost 24...Kent Sakamoto is almost 26, posted a .259/.735 line last year, and is even worse so far this year...Harrison Bishop was pretty good with Low-A Hickory last year, but should have been given his age (almost 25 now) and hasn't continued that success with the Hillcats. Same with RJ Rodriguez...Chris Castorri is lucky he's still on the roster at 25...Michael Felix is still only 23, but had a pretty sloppy '08 at Low A and hasn't been any better in high A this year. He's only appeared in seven games and has an ERA of 7.71 and a 5:9 K:BB...Ray Chang is hitting .383/.910 on the year, but much like Durham it doesn't matter because he's almost 26.

Then there's one more group of guys, ones that are still young enough that they could be relevant, except that they aren't producing.

Obviously the top of that list belongs to the most recent additions, Jordy Mercer and Justin Wilson. Mercer is more trapped by fate than anything else since, as you all know, he's at Lynchburg to allow both he and Chase D'Arnaud ample playing time, not because he was in any way deemed ready for the level (as his .250 avg and .697 OPS illustrate). Given the way things look right now, if I were in charge I would have Jordy and Chase trade teams, since Chase doesnt seem to have anything left to prove at WV and Jordy is clearly overmatched in Lynchburg.

Justin, Mr. "I Want More Money 'Cause My Team Won the World Series" (remember that?), has been...underwhelming is a good start. After posting an ERA of 5.00 and WHIP of 1.28 in four April starts that spanned only 18 innings, he's been even worse this month (9.37 and 2.38) including 13 ER on 21H in only 11 2/3 IP his last three outings. Perhaps a bit surprising for a pitcher getting 54% GB, but I can't vouch for the infield defense.

Jose De Los Santos is young-ish and can hit a little, but not enough, so he has to be an above-average defensive SS to have a shot...Maiko Loyola hit .280/.728 last season with Class A Columbus to go along with 45 SB in 62 attempts. This year he's needed a .306/1.052 month of May jus to get his season line up to .213/.702 and a month like that would be worth talking about if he wasn't almost 24...Joel Collins is only(?) 23, but has fewer AB's than the Hillcats have games played...Eddie Prasch is also "only" 23, but put up a .271/.723 line with the 'Cats last year and last night he got his first hit since April 29th... Tom Boleska could be a solid relief prospect once he's healthy.

One last interesting piece to this roster: Paul Mildren. Paul spent last season getting jerked around by the Royals. Literally. He started the year in AA and was decent as a reliever for three weeks, then went to AAA and made four more strong relief appearances in the next two weeks. He then went back down to AA for a month and was a respectable reliever, then was moved to the rotation and was only marginally good. He was then sent down to the High-A rotation, where he was absolutely terrible, and then sent back up to AA as a reliever for the last three weeks of the season.

What a frickin roller coaster for the poor guy. He's actually been marginally interesting this year too. After a rather blah April, May has been a strong month for him, as he has now posted three consecutive quality starts and has walked two batters in his last 35 IP. Sure, he's 25, so it isnt anything other than a neat story, but still worth sharing.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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