Note: All stats are from May 1, 2013.
The 2013 New Hampshire Fisher Cats are at the bottom of the Eastern Division (6th) with an 11-15 record, the worst in the AA Eastern league. Looking over the league statistics, the ‘Cats are not doing well in either pitching or hitting, but it’s the hitting that is third from the bottom of the league in runs scored. Interestingly, the Fisher Cats are tied for the league lead in HRs (20), OBP (.356) and are in fourth in SLG (.404), so it’s hard to figure why they’re not scoring runs. It’s quite possible that the solid offense is going to catch up with the team and the only real outlier category (runs scored) will turn around soon. The pitching, on the other hand is around the middle of the pack, giving up 4.62 runs per game.
Like the Dunedin Blue Jays, the Fisher Cats are THE oldest team in the league with few true prospects. OF Kevin Pillar leads the way for the hitters while SP Deck McGuire tried to prove that last season’s poor results were an anomaly. There are a couple of other pitching prospects, Sean Nolin and John Stilson, but both are on the Disabled-List and have not pitched yet this year. I would also look for Marcus Stroman to join the Fisher Cats by the beginning of July.
Kevin Pillar, 24, is a hitting machine. Currently ranked third on the team in OPS, he is basically doing what he did last year in Lansing and Dunedin, hitting over .300, with a high OBP and a solid slugging percentage. In fact, Pillar hasn’t just continued his strong hitting, he has improved it in just about every category. He is also a legitimate stolen base threat and has significantly cut down on his strikeouts. With a .330/.388/.472 slash line, Pillar is making a case for an eventual promotion to AAA. While his great numbers at a higher level have impressed, scouts aren’t reassessing his eventual ceiling – being a very good fourth outfielder, (or perhaps an everyday player on a poor team). Despite not being as toolsy as other players, with continued success at the upper levels of the minors, he could inch the door to the big leagues further and further open with each passing month.
IF Ryan Schimpf is now 25 and playing his first full year of AA. While his batting average always disappoints, Schimpf knows how to get on base and how to hit the ball out of the park. Leading the club with 6 HRs, Schimpf also leads in OPS (.947) and has a surprisingly high .398 OBP, particularly considering that he’s hitting only .244. He has 19 walks and 24 strikeouts, so Schimpf is an intriguing player at this point in his career. While he may never make the majors, he could certainly be someone that will help out another team’s minor league system or a poor major league team as he approaches minor league free agency and Rule V draft eligibility.
Deck McGuire is one of three pitchers on this staff younger than 26. The 24 year old has been frustratingly inconsistent this season but this tall Virginian has improved on two important things so far this year: his strikeout rate (up almost 5% at 19.7%) and his home run rate (0.35/9 IP). In fact, while his ERA is only slightly lower (at 5.54) than it was last year, his FIP is MUCH lower at 3.66, which means that if he keeps pitching as he has, he may very well see some significant improvements in his other numbers as well.
Another 24 year old, Marcus Walden has put up some good numbers despite some worrying concerns in his peripherals. In 27 1/3 innings pitched, he has a 3.29 ERA and a 3.09 FIP. The big problem is that while he walks very few batters (4.8%), he strikes out very few (9.5%, significantly below his A ball numbers last year) and gives up a lot of hits (42). His BABIP is very high (.393), so the number of hits could come down, but if the strikeouts don’t go up, he won’t be considered a prospect much longer.
There really isn’t much else going on with the Fisher Cats in terms of “prospects.” 1B Clint Robinson and OF Ricardo Nanita are two of the offensive leaders of the team, but they’re already 28 and 32 years old (respectively). One of the others having a good season is 26-year-old Brad Glenn, who’s hitting .277/.368/.415 but only has one home run. John Tolisano leads the team in doubles, but has also made 12 errors at 2B. OF Kenny Wilson has a decent OBP (.333) but leads the team in strikeouts with 27.
The veteran bunch of pitchers have been doing alright but without a lot of flash. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Tyson Brummett, and Ryan Tepera have been strong this season (although Brummett started out poorly). The bullpen star has really been Joel Carreno, who could see AAA by the end of the year. Carreno has an 0.73 ERA and has logged almost two strikeouts per inning in AA. Chorye Spoone, Matt Wright, Chad Beck and Fernando Hernandez have all been solid in the bullpen while Clint Everts, Trystan Magnuson and Randy Boone have struggled.
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