The Hartford Yard Goats (72-61) season is about to come to a close. The team was officially eliminated from playoff contention last week after going 2-5. So despite being just one game behind the Western Division leaders (Altoona Curve, 73-60), the Yard Goats will finish out their season next Monday in Pennsylvania against the Harrisburg Senators while Reading (85-49) and Trenton (83-51) will play a four-game series in Trenton to decide who will take the Eastern Division crown.
It would be hard to blame the team for running out of gas here at the end of the road trip that wouldn’t end (profiled here in the New York Times on Monday). They narrowly avoided getting swept in their final "home" series in Manchester, New Hampshire (Michael James wrote an eyewitness account of Friday’s doubleheader) before heading to Richmond and dropping the opener of their four game set on Monday.
News and Notes, August 23 to September 5
|Aug 23||@||Binghamton||L 1-9||Aug 30||@||Richmond||Cancelled|
|Aug 24||@||Binghamton||W 11-4||Aug 31||@||Richmond||5:05 pm|
|Aug 25||v||Harrisburg (in NH)||L 4-6||Sept 1||@||Richmond||5:05 pm|
|Aug 26||v||Harrisburg (in NH), Gm 1||L 1-5||Sept 2||@||Harrisburg||5:00 pm|
|Aug 26||v||Harrisburg (in NH), Gm 2||L 4-5||Sept 3||@||Harrisburg, Gm 1||4:00 pm|
|Aug 27||v||Harrisburg (in NH)||W 4-2||Sept 3||@||Harrisburg, Gm 2||TBD|
|Aug 29||@||Richmond||L 0-4||Sept 4||@||Harrisburg||11:30 am|
|Aug 30||@||Richmond||L 0-11||Sept 5||@||Harrisburg||11:30 am|
Tyler Chatwood made a rehab appearance for the Yard Goats on Monday, throwing 4 ⅓ shutout innings before being removed due to a pitch count. He’ll likely rejoin the Rockies rotation next week.
After giving up six runs in four innings on August 23 Alex Balog (no. 29 PuRP) was added to the 7-day disabled list.
Ryan McMahon (no. 6 PuRP) had another tough week, going just 4-for-23 over seven games. We’ll have more on McMahon’s up-and-down season in the coming weeks but it seems like he might be someone the Rockies will want to give a few more at bats to by sending him to the Arizona Fall League.
If your team is in the midst of a losing streak, just call Yency "Showtime" Almonte (no. 18 PuRP). Facing the ignominy of a four game sweep at "home," Almonte shut down the Senators on Sunday, allowing two runs on four hits and six strikeouts over six innings. He did allow a season-high six walks in the outing which means he now has 14 walks in 25 innings pitched in Double-A. He’ll have to improve his command and control going into next season.
Sam Howard (no. 23 PuRP) took another step forward this week. After stringing together some positive starts, Howard went seven innings with five strikeouts and one walk on Thursday. He allowed four runs in the third inning but otherwise seems to be regaining the form that earned him the promotion from Modesto to Double-A in the first place.
The transition to Double-A has been a bit of a challenge for Omar Carrizales (no. 31 PuRP). But after he had a stint on the DL last week he has hit well in his last few games, going 7-for-11 with two doubles.
Dillon Thomas has been crushing baseballs in the month of August. His line sits at .328/.361/.568 with two home runs in 58 at bats this month. After going 1-for-3 with a double on Monday, Keith Law spoke up to voice his support for the outfielder.
Spotlight On: Eastern League End of Season All-Stars
Last weekend the Eastern League announced it’s official selections for their End of Season All-Star team. The mid-season All-Star team is meant to honor those players who are having a good half season, and in order to fill an entire team of players for each division, a lot of players end up earning an All-Star nod. But the End of Season squad is different. The team is voted on by coaches, managers, and media personnel from around the Eastern League and there is only one winner per position, making the honor that much more meaningful. Considering the Yard Goats have the third best record in the Eastern League, it’s not all that surprising they had a few players named. What is somewhat surprising is that none of the players named from the Goats currently play for the Goats.
The first name is perhaps the most obvious: outfielder Raimel Tapia. The honor is the fourth in a row for Tapia, who was named to the End of Season All-Star teams for Grand Junction (2013), Asheville (2014), and Modesto (2015). One of three players to play in the MLB Futures game on this roster, Tapia was perhaps the most impressive hitter in the Eastern League this year. Before earning a call-up to Triple-A Albuquerque on August 10, Tapia was hitting .323/.363/.450 and was leading the Eastern League in hits with 137 (he didn’t relinquish the lead until a few weeks after leaving the league). The one weakness remaining in his game: baserunning. Tapia has managed to steal 22 bases across two levels, but he’s also been caught 16 times.
Next is the breakout candidate of the season pitching prospect German Marquez, who was named the right-handed starter of the End of Season All-Stars. Marquez was acquired last offseason in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and, if reports are to be believed, was general manager Jeff Bridich’s second choice behind Rays rookie phenom Blake Snell. In 135 2⁄3 inning in Double-A Marquez managed to strike out 126 batters while walking just 33 with a 1.16 WHIP. His 2.85 ERA still leads the league, even though he’s in Triple-A since August 10. Since his promotion he’s allowed a few too many hits (.286 batting average against) and runs (4.88 ERA), but his peripherals look great, with a 24:6 K/BB ratio in 24 innings. He’ll have to work on efficiency if he wants to go deeper into games.
Finally, the All-Star none of us saw coming, Connecticut-native Matt Carasiti was named the reliever for the End of Season team. His may have been the most air-tight case on the team: 39 innings pitched, 43 strikeouts, seven walks, 29 saves in 33 opportunities, a 0.90 WHIP and a batting average against of .200. Carasiti’s performance in the Eastern League earned a promotion to Triple-A on July 25 and even completed the rare double-level jump when made his major league debut on August 12. He has the stuff to be in the bigs, but early reports say he will need to harness his command if he’s going to stick in the Rockies bullpen.
Forcing your way to the next level usually means you had an impressive stay at the previous level and these three players are no exception. One player has already contributed to the major league club; hopefully it’s just a matter of time before the other two get the chance to make their marks.
Dunkin Donuts Park Update
Last Thursday the Yard Goats held a press conference where Eastern League president Joe McEacharn declared "If the stadium is not done, baseball will not come to Hartford." Team owner Josh Solomon had his loan offer to complete the stadium rejected by the city and now, with these comments, what seems so simple--finish a baseball stadium in 8 months--now seems to be up in the air. The Courant ran this editorial summing up just what should/can happen to still make the stadium happen.
The Yard Goats will play three more games against the Richmond Flying Squirrels before heading up to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to finish off their inaugural season. The next few weeks we’ll review all the highlights, lowlights, call-ups and promotions from what was certainly an interesting year for the team from Hartford.