The Gwinnett Stripers are destroying baseballs. Every night, there are multiple lineup heroes and it’s quite refreshing to watch. Unfortunately for them, there are literally 0 spots available on the MLB squad unless someone like Johan Camargo gets optioned or the club decides to go to a 5-man bench. Let’s take a look at the noteworthy performers.
Ryan Lamarre- .843 OPS with 12 doubles, 4 triples, and 4 HRs.
Not a prospect anymore, but a serviceable 4th OF type that can play all 3 OF positions. That’s what the 30 year old has been doing for Gwinnett. He’s not in danger of getting called up anytime soon as there are several in front of him in the pecking order, but he’s the kind of guy that’s great to have around in the upper minors. Funny stat on Lamarre, he’s got 1.2 innings of pitching under his belt at the MLB level and was even clocked at 96!
Who knew that when “The Trap” would leave Pearl, MS, a ballpark that is historically notorious for zapping power from the strongest of superheroes, he’d find his groove again. Demeritte was once a slick fielding infielder, but now he’s primarily a corner OFer (although he’s logged at least 200 innings at each of 2B, 3B, SS, RF, and LF). Demeritte is very much showing he’s ready for an MLB trial as he’s decreased his K-rate to below 25% while maintaining HUGE power and a BB-rate above 10%.
I’m guessing that Kazmar retires soon and it wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes a manager for one of the Braves MiLB affiliates. This is his 7th consecutive season in Gwinnett and he’s having his best year to date as a 34 year old. However, like Lamarre, he’s not remotely close to a call-up. This might be the biggest testament to the difference that the MLB ball is making at the AAA level.
Blanco is a 35 year old infielder that’s a plug and play type, similar to what we saw in Martin Prado at the MiLB level. He was the Kazmar equivalent for the Phillies, but now he’s in Atlanta’s system and could have the same future as Kazmar. He’s breaking out this year…at 35. Like Lamarre, he’s also got some position player pitching experience at the MLB level. I don’t expect Blanco to be called up for any reason, but it’s my gut feeling that he’s in front of Kazmar in the pecking order.
So many breakouts at Gwinnett and 28 year old Ortega is right among them. Atlanta is his 6th organization in a 12 year career and his best minor league season to date. I’ve watched Ortega quite a bit on MiLBTV and I’ll say that it looks like he’s bought into the whole launch angle thing, and that could be the difference maker here (or it’s the ball). This is something to keep an eye on as it’s quite possible that we see an influx of late bloomers at the MiLB level over the course of the next few years with the aid that technology and streamlined training can now provide. With Duvall and Demeritte both in the system, I cannot imagine Ortega gets any real shot in MLB, unless something unfortunate happened to Ronald Acuna before Ender Inciarte had a chance to return.
I still have faith that AJax can be a good catcher. The Mariners need a swift kick in the nether regions for moving him off of C, but now that he’s back there, he looks pretty good behind the plate and it’s the bat that has catching up to do. I’ve also watched a TON of AJax on MiLBTV and there are 2 things I’ve noticed: the baby fat is gone replaced with hard muscle and his contact is REALLY loud. He’s going to strike out, but he’s also going to walk. In a rebuild year, Brian McCann wouldn’t be here and AJax would be splitting time with Tyler Flowers. Fortunately for us (and unfortunate for AJax), that’s not the case and he’s going to have a hard time getting MLB reps.
Adam Duvall– .997 OPS with 12 doubles, 2 triples, and 17 (you serious, Clark?) HRs.
Let’s be honest. If you were Adam Duvall, you’d be upset. Yes, he’s getting paid millions of dollars to play at AAA, but he does not deserve to be there. His walk rate is up. His K-rate is WAY down, and he has a SLG% of .634!!!! Duvall, a Type 1 Diabetic, has huge month to month splits and it looks as though when the heat cranks up, the numbers go down. That’s something to keep an eye on should he get the call back up to the bigs.