Lansing update

Tuesday, July 11 2006 @ 11:48 AM EDT

Contributed by: Mike Green

Since our last update at the end of May, the Lugnuts have completed the first half of the season by qualifying for the playoffs in second place just behind West Michigan. There have been a number of personnel changes on the club, particularly to the pitching staff.

Comings and Goings

From the rotation, Billy Carnline and Russ Savickas were promoted to Dunedin, whiile Paul Phillips and Po-Hsuan Keng joined them from the Lansing pen. All four pitchers contributed mightily to the Lugs' first half success. Cory Patton now roams the Dunedin outfield. Arriving to fill the pitching staff's gaps have been Casey McKenzie, Edward Rodriguez and Josh Sowers from Auburn, and Brad Mumma from Dunedin. Sean Stidfole moved from the Lansing pen to the rotation, joining McKenzie. Jason Armstrong returned from Dunedin to Lansing; the Lugnuts now have 7 infielders and 4 outfielders.

How they're doing

There is this new cool website- minorleague Here is their listing for the Lansing hitting. From the listing, we learn that Lansing hit .226/20/.361 in June as a club, but has picked it up in July, going .291/.371/.449. The club hits right-handed pitchers much better than left-handed pitchers, with an OPS 84 points lower against portsiders. As for the pitchers, they allowed opponents to hit .259/.335/.388 in June and like the hitters have picked it up in July, restricting opponents to .252/.312/.402.

The hitting prospects

You can find a list of the splits of all the Lansing hitters here. Let's have a look at some of the stars:

Anthony Hatch- ss/3b-.333/.409/.596

Hatch tore up the league in June, with a .397/.494/.730 line, and has continued to hit in July albeit not quite at a Teddy Ballgame pace. The organization moved him to shortstop late in the month, and this presumably is the reason that he has not yet been promoted. He will be turning 23 on August 30. He is a flyball hitter, and has hit better on the road than at home, and better with runners on than with the bases empty. Hatch is a left-handed hitter who has hit both lefties and righties well.

Joey Metropolous- 1b/dh- .272/.394/.430

Metropoulos is a right-handed power-hitting first baseman with fairly good control of the strike zone.  He struggled in June with a .214/.325/443 line, but has started out July like a house on fire.  He turns 23 in October.  Right now, his major asset is his ability to destroy left-handed pitching. Here is his complete collegiate and short-season record.

Brian Pettway- rf- .268/.344/.496

Pettway is a right-fielder with big-time power and a good arm.  He still needs to work on his plate discipline, although he made strides in June and July with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 119 plate appearances. Not surprisingly, the improved strike zone control has resulted in much more attractive numbers- .299/.382/.532 in June and .423/.516/.615 in July.  Pettway will be turning 23 at the end of the month, and so his improvement is well-timed. Curiously, Pettway, a right-handed hitter, has struggled mightily in 59 at-bats against left-handed pitching.  Here is his complete collegiate and short-season record.

Josh Bell- c - .242/.280/.384

Bell is a solid defensive catcher, whose goal is to work on his hitting.  A right-handed hitter, he's been overmatched against right-handed pitching, going .222/.258/.368 with 58 strikeouts and 53 groundballs, and only 28 balls in the air among his 144 at-bats.  Against lefties, he's been  quite good- .333/.378/.476 with 3 walks and 11 strikeouts in 42 at-bats and more balls in the air than on the ground.  He may have a future as a back-up catcher in a platoon role.  He turned 22 last week.

Sean Shoffit- 2b- .233/.327/.338

Shoffit just turned 21 last month, but he has work to do.  82 strikeouts, with little pop,  in 284 at-bats for a leadoff hitter won't work.  He will take a walk, so if he can improve his ability to make contact, he may succeed.

The pitching prospects

Here is a complete listing of the Lansing pitchers. Capsule comments on the prospects follow:

Chi-Hung Cheng- 7-4, 3.28 ERA, 90.2 innings, 4 HR allowed, 41 walks, 98 strikeouts

Cheng turned 21 in June, and is developing a nice repertoire.  The lefty has a nasty curve, and has added a couple of miles per hour to his fastball, which he can now sometimes get up into the low 90s.  He is working on a change.  His pick-off move is very effective, and perhaps as a result, he becomes even better with runners on base.  In June, opposing batters went .267/.367/.362 as he struggled for his control somewhat.  He has been lights out in 2 starts in July, striking out 21 in 13.3 innings and inducing 16 ground balls to 1 line drive and 6 fly balls. 

Aaron Tressler- 5-3, 2.15 ERA, 75.1 innings, 3 HR, 11 walks, 69 strikeouts

Tressler is 24 years old.  He has been consistently good all season; June and July have been no exception.  Lacking overwhelming stuff and at his age and developmental level, he is not really  a prospect, but with pitchers, youneverknow.

Po Hsuan Keng- 0-3, 2.93, 46 innings, 3 HR, 1l walks, 38 strikeouts

In his second season in North America, Keng has made noticeable strides forward.  He did an excellent job of keeping the ball down and in the strike zone, with over 60% of his balls in play being on the ground.  In limited action so far this year, the righty was more effective against left-handed hitters despite striking out many fewer.  Keng turns 22 in October.

Looking forward

Usually the Jays promote several of their short-season stars to their full-season A ball franchise (Lansing last year; Charleston prior to that) towards the end of the year.  With Lansing qualifying for the playoffs, it will be interesting to see who makes that step.  The top draft choices of 2006, Travis Snider, Brandon Magee and Luke Hopkins, are all possibilities.