League: Midwest League (Single-A)
Record: 81-58 (4th out of 16 teams in the Pioneer League)
Runs Scored: 624 (7th of 16 teams)
Runs Allowed: 577 (4th of 16 teams)
Recap: the Silver Hawks made the postseason in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League, then put together a nice run, reaching the Eastern Division Championship. There they won the 3-game series over Fort Wayne, two games to one, and advanced to the 5-game championship series. Unfortunately, the Quad City River Bandits swept them and their season came to a close, one step away from the ultimate goal. Despite not taking the Midwest League championship, it was clearly a successful season for South Bend.
At the dish, the team was led by a couple of strong performances, most notably by Drury, Flores and Brito. Strikeouts were often an issue, even for those listed above. Outside of them, most performances were relatively pedestrian. Of course, some older prospects spent time in South Bend and raked before moving along to the levels they belonged. With that said, the team played well enough to get to the league championship series, so there’s not much to quibble about.
The pitching staff had five hurlers log over 100 innings and six pitchers made double-digit starts. The staff was tough to hit despite the fact that there weren’t a lot of high strikeout totals. That either speaks to the team’s defense, the park effects of the Midwest League or some combination of the two. Either way, there were a lot of decent performers and few standouts. Allen, Watts and Sinnery were the team’s most effective starters yet their lines were far from dominant. Henry Garcia might be the best story on the staff, as he was filthy as a lefty reliever after signing out of independent ball.
Offensive MVP: Brandon Drury, 3B
Drury is officially a guy again after what he did to Midwest League pitching. He destroyed the Appalachian League at just 18, then struggled in Single A with Rome of the South Atlantic League in 2012. Of course, this was all during his tenure in the Braves organization before being shipped over as part of the Upton/Prado deal. He got back on track this year, hitting .302/.362/.500 with a staggering 51 doubles and 15 homeruns. Drury looks legit once again after being ranked as a top ten prospect for Atlanta prior to his disappointing 2012 season. In addition to the power, he kept his strikeouts in-check. He could stand to walk a little more, but that’s never been part of his game. I’m curious to see if those doubles turn to homers next year in the California League. 2014 will go a long ways in determining if his down 2012 campaign was a fluke or not.
Runner Up: Rudy Flores, 1B
The 22-year old led the team in home runs with 19 on the year en route to posting a .274/.337/.528 triple-slash line. Drafted in the 21st round out of Florida International in 2012, Flores hit decently at two rookie levels during his debut before really breaking out this year. Limited to first base defensively, he’ll have to continue to hit for power if he’s going to move forward as a legitimate prospect. Not helping matters is his 34% strikeout rate compared to his 8% walk rate. That’s not going to get it done down the line.
Pitcher MVP: Brad Allen, RHP
Allen was the most efficient pitcher for the Silver Hawks in 2013, noted by his 1.08 WHIP over 113 innings. There was a little bit of Jekyll and Hyde to his season as he struggled to really find the groove consistently. When he was on, though, he could cruise as he did on August 10th when he threw a no-hitter that was only one walk shy of a perfect game. Allen was signed over the winter out of independent ball and did well for South Bend but got hit hard in three starts for Visalia in High-A ball. He needs to find a way to keep the ball on the ground if he’s going to succeed at higher levels.
Runner Up: Daniel Watts, LHP
Watts was nearly as efficient and durable as Allen, throwing 107 innings for South Bend. The lefty posted a 1.14 WHIP as a starter for the Silver Hawks while striking out 77 and walking only 29. At 23, a conversion to the bullpen where he focuses on lefties could be right around the corner. He was drafted in the 32nd round out of Jacksonville State University in 2012 and at his age, his career needs to get moving if he’s going to see the majors.
Top 5 Prospects
- Brandon Drury, 3B – an excellent 2013 got his career back on track. He has a contact-heavy approach with power to all fields and he plays a premium defensive position. 2014 will be huge for him as he should advance to High-A Visalia where the California League could really boost his numbers. Time is on his side as he’s just turned 21 but he really can’t afford to stall much going forward.
- Socrates Brito, OF – Brito is still trying to learn how to use all of his tools. He was noted for having plus raw power and good plate discipline when he was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year old back in 2010. Speed always plays and he led the Silver Hawks with 27 steals but the power and plate discipline are still waiting to surface. He’s just turned 21 and has some time left to develop as the organization will likely be patient with him given his physical upside. It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments he makes over the winter and where the organization decides to start his 2014 campaign, either back in South Bend or up in Visalia.
- Alex Glenn, OF – Glenn has a nice blend of power and speed, showcased by his 11 homers, 18 doubles and 14 steals in 106 games. He didn’t hit for a ton of average but had a nice overall line of .257/.352/.433. The athletic outfielder played left field for the Silver Hawks and that may be where he’s limited to defensively, reducing his value. He was a 12th rounder in 2012 out of Arizona Christian University and at 22, needs to make a push in Visalia next year to become one of the organization’s top prospects.
- Michael Perez, C – the youngster split time between South Bend and Visalia this season but had a down year by his measure. He performed well at rookie levels in 2011 and 2012, only to really struggle in 2013. He posted a measly .686 OPS for South Bend, triple slashing .247/.303/.383 with only two home runs in 162 at-bats. He was highly touted out of Puerto Rico, being taken in the 5th round out the 2011 draft. He was pushed to High-A midseason and struggled even more. The upside is still there and he’s still young, but he needs to make more contact and learn to control the zone. He’s a young, left-handed hitting catcher, though, so expect the team to take a long, patient approach with Perez.
- Henry Garcia, LHP – another independent ball signee, Garcia has done nothing but cruise since joining the Diamondbacks’ organization. He’s a lefty reliever all the way, but his control and stuff have combined to make him very effective. He walked only 10 in 60 innings while striking out 63 and posting a 0.95 WHIP. Although he was effective against righties, he was brutal on left-handed hitters and posted a strong ground ball rate. Given that he’s already in the ‘pen, he could move quickly as he’s already 23.
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