Things have been a little depressing at the top level of Rockies land, but in New Britain, the Rock Cats continue to roll. The Cats currently sit atop the Eastern Division in the Double-A Eastern League with a 19-7 record.
Last week New Britain concluded its second home stand, sweeping both three-game series against the lowly Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants) and less-than-stellar Harrisburg Senators (Nationals). The Rockies farmhands have settled well into their new home, having won 12 of their 13 home games so far in 2015 and are playing better than any team in the Eastern League through the first month-plus.
|New Britain Rock Cats (COL)||19||7||0.731||--|
|Reading Fightin Phils (PHI)||15||10||0.600||3.5|
|Binghamton Mets (NYM)||15||11||0.577||4|
|New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR)||14||13||0.519||5.5|
|Trenton Thunder (NYY)||12||14||0.462||7|
|Portland Sea Dogs (BOS)||11||15||0.423||8|
As of Thursday morning
New Britain completed its sweep of Harrisburg on Thursday night by relying on the arm of 24-year-old Ryan Carpenter, who gave up only one run in six innings, striking out six and walking only one. Carpenter set the stage for three solid innings from the bullpen. Jason Gurka and Austin House teamed up to keep Harrisburg off the board, allowing only one baserunner the remainder of the game. It was a nice victory for the Rock Cats, who entered the bottom of the eighth tied 1-1 before putting up a two-spot against Harrisburg's Abel De Los Santos to take the lead.
The talk of the town, however, has remained Trevor Story, who has continued to totally and completely dominate Double-A pitching. Though some scouts question whether he will stick at shortstop, Story is absolutely raking at the plate. He won the Eastern League Player of the Month Award for April after going 32-for-82, a .361 average, and mashing 10 extra-base hits including four home runs. He finished April leading the Eastern League in a myriad of offensive categories and currently leads the circuit in hits (35), home runs (five) and on-base percentage (.505) en route to a 243 wRC+ (meaning Story has been 143% better than league average at the plate).
Story is showing better discipline at the dish with a 15.6 percent walk rate compared to 11.8 percent last season. Although the season is young, it is worth seeing if he can keep his patience at this level. He has cut his strikeout rate down from 34.6 percent (unsustainable if he hopes to move up in the organization) to a palatable, though not fantastic 23.9 percent. His best game of the year was on Tuesday night in New Britain, where he went 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles.
In other Rock Cats news, Tommy Murphy was a triple shy of the cycle on Tuesday night, but ended up doing one better, as he smacked two home runs including a walk-off in the tenth inning. Murphy ended up with 11 total bases in the game and drove in six of the Rock Cats' eight runs. He has a robust 191 wRC+ and a .337/.415/.614 slash line through 24 games, and although he's benefiting from a significant number of balls dropping between outfielders and sneaking through the infield, he has started off 2015 strongly.
The Cats have the day off Thursday before heading north to play the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) and New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays). They return to New Britain on May 14 for a quick four-game series with Portland before hitting the road once again.
All statistics courtesy of MiLB.
Steven Martano is a Contributing Prospect Writer for Purple Row & a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.