With less than a month to go in their inaugural season, the Hartford Yard Goats (66-52) have the third best record in the Eastern League. This despite several top contributors being called up from Double-A, not playing in their yet-to-be-completed home stadium, and little contribution from two of their top prospects. Unfortunately, playoffs don’t seem to be in the Goats’ future.
Due to the Eastern League playoff structure, only the top two teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. This means that even though they currently have a better record than everyone in the Western Division, the Yard Goats’ find themselves 8.5 games behind the Trenton Thunder (76-45) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Divsion. Then there are the Reading Fightin Phils (78-41), who own the best record in affiliated baseball. Tough year in the Eastern League.
News and Notes, August 2 to 15
|Aug 2||@||Trenton||L 4-11||Aug 16||v||Bowie (in MD)||4:35 pm|
|Aug 3||@||Trenton||W 4-1||Aug 17||v||Bowie (in MD)||11:05 am|
|Aug 4||@||Trenton||L 2-6||Aug 17||v||Bowie (in MD)||TBD|
|Aug 5||v||Binghamton (in NY)||L 6-7||Aug 18||v||Bowie (in MD)||4:35 pm|
|Aug 6||v||Binghamton (in NY)||W 8-6||Aug 19||v||Trenton (in NJ)||3:00 pm|
|Aug 7||v||Binghamton (in NY)||L 2-9||Aug 20||v||Trenton (in NJ)||11:00 am|
|Aug 9||@||Akron||L 2-6||Aug 21||v||Trenton (in NJ)||11:00 am|
|Aug 10||@||Akron||L 2-3||Aug 22||@||Binghamton||4:35 pm|
|Aug 11||@||Akron||W 6-4||Aug 23||@||Binghamton||4:35 pm|
|Aug 12||@||Erie||W 6-0||Aug 24||@||Binghamton||4:35 pm|
|Aug 14||@||Erie (makeup, 8/13)||L 7-8||Aug 25||v||Harrisburg (in PA)||3:05 pm|
|Aug 14||@||Erie||W 7-2||Aug 26||v||Harrisburg (in PA)||11:05 am|
There have been a number of transactions over the past two weeks, as some of the top Yard Goats got the call up to Triple-A Albuquerque and the High-A Modesto Nuts sent players up to Double-A.
In the first flurry of moves, the Yard Goats sent right handed pitcher and rotation leader German Marquez (No. 7 PuRP) to Triple-A Albuquerque. In 135 ⅔ innings for Hartford, Marquez had a 2.35 ERA, 126 strikeouts, 33 walks, and a 1.15 WHIP. In his Triple-A debut, he took a shutout into the seventh inning, finishing with 6⅓ innings, eight hits, four runs, zero walks and seven strikeouts.
The next day, the Rockies announced another top prospect would move up to Triple-A, as Eastern League batting leader Raimel Tapia got the call. The outfielder and No. 4 PuRP finished his Yard Goat career first in the Eastern League in hits (137) and second in batting average (.323) in 104 games. In his Isotopes debut he went 4-for-7 with two stolen bases in a doubleheader sweep over the Las Vegas 51s.
Shortstop Pat Valaika also joined the ‘Topes last week. Needed to fill in some much needed middle infield depth after Rafael Ynoa was called up to the Rockies, Valaika leaves Hartford with a .269/.315/.450 line with a 5.9% walk rate and 20% strikeout rate. Valaika likely represents organizational depth for the Rockies going forward, but is making the most of his time in Albuquerque; he’s 6-for-18 with two doubles in five games.
Ryan McMahon (no. 5 PuRP) is starting to see some results from his changes approach at the plate. In an interview with Irv Moss, Yard Goats hitting coach Jeff Salazar points out that the growth isn’t just coming from Ryan’s batting line:
"His overall baseball IQ is growing," Salazar said. "In our conversations, he’s wanting more information. He’s no longer a young player trying to live off of his talent. He’s starting to see the big picture."
Antonio Senzatela (no. 8 PuRP) remains with the team but no timetable has been announced for his return to the mound.
The strikeouts have returned for Sam Howard (no. 23 PuRP), and the results have come with them. Over his past three outings, Howard has thrown 15 ⅔ innings, allowing six runs on 17 hits and five walks. His strikeout totals in those three outings: six, eight, and seven. Hopefully this continues a trend of success.
Rossell Herrera has been on fire since the All-Star break, hitting .337/.409/.378 in 28 games. Yes, his slugging percentage is lower than his on-base percentage, with just four doubles among his 33 hits since mid-July.
Jerry Vasto has officially taken over closer duties for Matt Carasiti. The New Jersey native is now 6-for-7 in save opportunities for Hartford with 25 strikeouts in 21 innings.
Spotlight On: New Yard Goats
Sam Howard, Alex Balog, and Jerry Vasto blazed the trail from Modesto to the Eastern League earlier this season. Joining them, and replacing Marquez and Tapia, are Yency Almonte (no. 18 PuRP) and Omar Carrizales.
Yency "Showtime" Almonte has exploded into the consciousness of Rockies prospect hounds this season thanks to his MiLB-leading 134 strikeouts in 138⅓ innings pitched for Modesto. What makes Almonte such an exciting pitcher is the mix between his powerful fastball and his slider, which he calls "his most dominant off speed pitch."
His fastball sits at mid-90’s (and has reportedly hit 97 and 99) and his slider sits 86-90 mph; there’s a lot of power in his profile. As Bobby DeMuro points out at Today’s Knuckleball, Almonte has developed into a smarter pitcher over the course of the season, working deeper into games and being willing to sacrifice the strikeout when needed. One month ago he told Bobby his goals for the rest of the season.
"I'm trying to finish this league in a sub-3.00 ERA, give up the least amount of walks I can have, and try to reach at least close to 150 innings."
Unfortunately, he finished High-A with a 3.71 ERA in the hitter friendly Cal League. On the other hand, you don’t see "Get promoted to Double-A" on that list. Maybe Showtime has some more surprises in store.
★ ★ ★
Omar Carrizales just missed inclusion on the mid-season PuRPs list ( ) and has taken over centerfield for the Hartford Yard Goats. He earned his promotion on a .294/.366/.428 line with 16 stolen bases, 14 doubles, ten triples, and six home runs. It also earned him a nod to the California League All-Star team this summer. What type of hitter is he? Would you believe it if we said Raimel Tapia?
Well, the approach isn’t quite as unique as the recently promoted Tapia, but he knows his game relies on putting the ball in play and using his speed, as Carrizales told Bobby DeMuro last month. "If I put the ball in play, I know that I can run, get on base, steal bases, and score runs. So my focus has just been going up the middle and the opposite way, hit line drives, put the ball in play. That’s all I do."
Dunkin Donuts Park Update
Countdown to Opening Day: April 2017
In what is the most welcome news on the stadium debacle all season, Pendulum, the architect on site, announced last week that construction would resume and "we’ll be done before next April." The city has paid Pendulum for work already completed, paving the way for construction to resume. There is no schedule yet, of course, but having the architect complete drawings makes it possible for a contractor to come in and continue work on the various change orders and other finishing pieces of the project.
Centerplan, the original developer that was booted off the site in June, assures they could be back to work in September, but the City of Hartford has not committed to a developer at this stage. There are still a number of lawsuits pending about who was originally at fault for the delays and who should take responsibility for completing the stadium.
There is still a long way to go, obviously, but this is the first positive step we’ve seen in a while.
If the Yard Goats are going to make a push for the Eastern League playoffs, this week will be crucial. After four "home" games in Maryland against the Bowie Baysox (51-69), they head to New Jersey for three "home" games against the Trenton Thunder, the team they are chasing for that last East Division playoff spot.
For more Yard Goats news, links, coverage and Twitter, check out the links below. If you have any questions or requests of what you'd like to see in this column, drop me a line in the comments, on Twitter (@playerTBNL), or via email (email@example.com).