Welcome to the ninth installment of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ baseball Week in Review. Each week, I will take a look back at the Pelicans’ performances, pull out some of those who stood out from the rest and provide a preview for the following week of baseball in the Carolina League.
The week that was…
No club fared better in the first half of the Carolina League slate than the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, its 43-27 record earning the Chicago Cubs’ Class A-Advanced affiliate yet another berth in the postseason.
A quick look at the current Carolina League Southern Division standings, however, makes such a notion pretty tough to believe.
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Going into Wednesday’s series opener against the Winston-Salem Dash, the Pelicans are 7-11 — nearing the 20-game mark in the second half of the league slate last in their division.
Since closing the first half on such a roll, Myrtle Beach has yet to claim a series win after the break. Last week saw the club lose consecutive series to Down East and Buies Creek, before earning a split against the Frederick Keys.
Player of the week
Second baseman Bryant Flete: Sure, the Pelicans have had their troubles hitting the baseball, and — more importantly — scratching runs across home plate. There has been one reliable bet, though. Flete’s recent streak of 18 games reaching base came to an end on Sunday, when the young Venezuelan went 0-for-5 in a loss to Frederick. During that stretch — which began just prior to the all-star break on June 14 — he batted .342, with three doubles a home run and nine RBIs. As a result, his batting average has improved 14 percentage points to .305, far and away best on the club.
Pitcher of the week
Right-hander Thomas Hatch: Other than a June 28 outing against Potomac that saw him give up two runs on five hits in less than an inning of work, the Oklahoma State product has proven rather dominant otherwise in recent weeks. He is 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA in those starts, yielding four runs on 16 hits. He has 10 strikeouts during the stretch, with four walks. For his work during the month of June, Hatch was named Chicago Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month.
Inconsistency abounds: The Pelicans’ struggles in the batter’s box have been well chronicled, but the team’s starters have labored a tad in the second half as well. Through 18 games in the second half, Myrtle Beach starters have ceded 62 runs on 109 hits — nearing the number of runs given up (66) and hits (159) through nearly double the games in the previous stanza.
Back-to-back blues: On Wednesday, the Pelicans seek to earn consecutive wins for the first time during the second half of the Carolina League season. In fact, Myrtle Beach has not won two games in a row since defeating Down East on June 17 and 18, the final games ahead of all-star activities in Salem, Va.
Bats coming (back) around?: A day away from the ballpark would seem to be a godsend. This would particularly seem true for Myrtle Beach, which recently completed a stretch of 15 consecutive days of action, including eight of the past 11 on the road. Toward the end of this span, the Pelicans saw an uptick in terms of production, averaging six runs over the past nine games. That pace is more than a run better than the club’s season average.
Leader in the clubhouse: Though merely a game above .500 in terms of record, no pitcher — at least among those that have played in the Carolina League’s second half — has a better ERA than Myrtle Beach’s Justin Steele. In 16 starts and better than 82 innings of work, the Mississippi native has given up a mere 22 earned runs, good for an ERA of 2.40. Wilmington’s Cristian Castillo is second in the league with a 2.61 ERA.
Recent roster moves
Shortstop Zack Short: After playing 66 games at Low-A South Bend, he was promoted to Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach on June 26. In the 13 games since his call up, Short is batting .275 with two home runs and a pair of doubles to his credit. He replaced shortstop Andruw Monasterio, who was sent down to the Cubs’ Mid-A farm affiliate.
Right-hander David Berg: After pitching to a 1-1 record and 5.56 ERA in 10 games with Double-A Tennessee, Berg was assigned to Myrtle Beach on June 29 after lefty Jordan Minch was sent to the disabled list. In four games, he is 0-1 and has given up eight runs on six hits, one of which was a home run.
Right-hander Adbert Alzolay: Less than two weeks after starting for the South in the Carolina League All-Star Game, the native of Venezuela was promoted to Double-A Tennessee on July 6. In 15 starts for the Pelicans, he was 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA. He also had 78 strikeouts as opposed to 22 walks during his time with in Myrtle Beach. Taking his place on the roster was righty Duncan Robinson, promoted from Low-A South Bend.
Infielder Adonis Paula: Making his second stint with the Pelicans this season, he was sent up to Myrtle Beach on July 8 after top prospect Eloy Jimenez was placed on the temporarily inactive list for this past Sunday’s SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Miami. Since his call up, Paula has yet to see action.
July 12-15 vs. Winston-Salem: The two teams currently at the bottom of the Carolina League South’s second half standings face off at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark in a four-game set, both looking to breathe a little life into their respective clubhouses. The visit is marked more importantly by the return of former Coastal Carolina standout Mike Morrison, now a pitcher with the Dash. Since being called up, he has given up six hits and two runs in six innings of work, going 1-0.
July 16-18 at Buies Creek: Myrtle Beach squares off with its old nemesis, the Astros taking four of the teams’ previous six series.