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Rock Cats: A Tough Week-Plus

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If you're familiar with this blog, you know that this image
signifies that the Rock Cats are in the midst
of a losing streak
Just like their parent club, the New Britain Rock Cats have hit a tough spell. In fact, their last victory was May 11 vs. Portland, and since that 5-4 win, the Cats have lost 8 consecutive games. In those 8 games, the Rock Cats have combined to score a grand total of 18 runs, while allowing 52. It's not tough to see the problems: they aren't scoring enough, and are allowing too many runs (how's that for analysis?).



But let's dig a little deeper. There are other things -- some good -- at play. First, infielder James Beresford, who had been on the disabled list with a pulled groin, just returned to action this past weekend. Beresford had been off to a hot start before missing 2 weeks. In his first 4 games back, he has 6 hits (in 17 at-bats), and is batting .340 on the season. I frequently write about Beresford, and it's for a reason: although he isn't a top Twins prospect, he has a very good glove, and has demonstrated this season that his bat has caught up to AA pitching. If the hot bat continues, I'd be surprised if Beresford isn't promoted by July. So keep checking his stats!


Second, New Britain had been playing without a dedicated third baseman for a couple weeks, after Minnesota's own Nate Hanson was promoted to Rochester. Luckily, Deibinson Romero's visa issues were resolved, and he joined the team earlier this week. He's off to a good start, hitting .370 with 2 doubles and 2 home run in the first 7 games. In fact, he had 3 hits in each of his last 2 games. Romero, not a fantastic defender, was dependable on offense last year, so in the long run, his presence in the middle of the Cats' lineup will create more punch. Don't forget, last season, Romero hit 19 home runs and 23 doubles for New Britain, so he's no slouch with the bat.


Now, let's discuss our top stating pitching prospects: Meyer and May, hopefully our next "M & M Boys." They haven't been as successful the proverbial second time around the league. In his starts this month, Meyer hasn't lasted longer than 5 and 1/3 innings, but has 17 Ks to go along with 7 BBs. The problem, though, is that he's been allowing more than 1 hit an inning, and has given up 9 earned runs in these last 3 starts (a cumulative 15 innings). So yes, he's still missing bats -- 51 Ks and 18 BBs in 43 innings -- but he hasn't been going as deep into games. If these last 3 games are like the game I attended last month, it's because Meyer is struggling to either finish off hitters with a strikeout (instead, he would allow them to come back in a count), or locate his fastball. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Meyer has a 3.56 ERA. He's 23. He's tied for 3rd in the Eastern League in strikeouts. Yes, areas for improvement have been identified, but isn't that what the point of the minor leagues is? Instruction. Opportunity for improvement.


Finally, Trevor May. This month, May had 2 very good starts, and 1 clunker. His first 2 starts both lasted 7 innings, and he only gave up 1 earned run, striking out a combined 13 and walking 3. His most recent start was tough: only 4 innings, 5 earned runs, 3 Ks and 2 BBs. After allowing only 5 total hits in those first 2 starts, May surrendered 9 in the most recent. Let's talk about progress, though: May has not allowed a home run in his last 5 starts, after allowing 1 home run in each of his first 3 starts. His current strikeout-to-walk ratio is 40-21.But in those last 3 starts, the ratio is 16-5 -- better than 3-to-1. Both Meyer and May still have some distance to go before they are ready for Target Field. Meyer needs to better locate his fastball, and May still has to work on control so that he can work deeper into games on a more consistent basis.


One final note: after a very slow start, shortstop Danny Santana is hitting .280/.297/.354, including .366/.395/.415 over his last 10 games. Again, with this team, this year, I'm looking for individual progress and development.


Check back in a couple days. I'm attending Wednesday's Rock Cats game. Alex Meyer is scheduled to throw. But if Tuesday's game is cancelled, there's a chance that Trevor May will be on the hill. Either way, there will be something to write about, and I'll be tweeting from the press box.
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