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Lakewood Blueclaws 2014 Season In Review

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Just another one of the minor league affiliates to finish last in their respective division...

JP Crawford looking over Jimmy Rollins' shoulders...
JP Crawford looking over Jimmy Rollins' shoulders...
Mitchell Leff

Lakewood Blueclaws - finished 53-84 (last in the Northern Division)

Offense

So this is where all the high upside talent resides in the system for the 2014 season! Believe it or not, the Blueclaws offense had a great number of good individual seasons from their players. Andrew Knapp, coming off Tommy John surgery mind you, eased back into the catcher role and was still able to slash .290/.354.438 with 5 home runs. He might be the best pure hitting catcher in the system, but still has a bit of work to do behind the plate. He's no Deivi Grullon, but his offense could actually make him a fast riser in the organization. "Teddy" Willians Astudillo burst onto the scene this season in a way that probably not but a select few people anticipated him doing. Astudillo, coming off knee surgery, did nothing but make solid contact to a .333 average over 436 at bats. He began as a catcher, but some prospectheads don't see him sticking back there because of said knee issues and skillset. He doesn't have the power of a prototypical 1st baseman (I wish we could break this stereotype if he could learn the position) and could work himself into a super-utility role if he isn't able to find a position in the next few seasons.

Possibly my two favorite prospects to follow in Lakewood this season were JP Crawford (duh) and Dylan Cozens. One is a slick fielding shortstop who displayed  phenomenal plate discipline on top of that to warrant a promotion mid-season and has been discussed enough. The other is a towering two-sport prospect from high school who is still learning to play the game. Cozens was able to mash 16 homers (8 each home/away) to a slightly disappointing .248 average with 147 strikeouts. What causes me great optimism with those numbers? Here are his home/road splits:

Home: .196/.255/.343
Away: .295/.347/..481

The HR, stolen bases, walks and strikeouts otherwise remain the same both home/away. Cozens will certainly be moving to Clearwater next year and won't have these extreme splits (or replicate his "away stats"?).

Otherwise, the Blueclaws received positive seasons from 3B Zach Green and 2B Andrew Pullin. Carlos Tocci played another season at Lakewood and saw some improvement at the plate. He is still only 19, but until he starts hitting (the defense is already there) I'm pretty certain he flounders out as he reaches Reading. Former 1st pick Larry Greene remains a constant disappointment and a giant failure for the scouting department. Perhaps this was just the one of many nails in the coffin for the recently fired Marti Wolever. Larry might have one season left to prove himself.

Pitching

If the offense was a high point, the pitching was an astoundingly low point with a sprinkle of hope here and there. Tyler Viza led the team in innings pitched and ERA (5.29) among starters. Viza gave up 172 hits in 126 innings. The Lakewood placement might have been a bit too aggressive with him. Mark Leiter had an unbalanced season that ultimately led to a promotion. Ranfi Casimiro had a season to forget. Drew Anderson was looking at a strong start to the season, but after 9 starts broke his index finger and wasn't seen from again. Jon Prosinski, after not cutting it in Clearwater, was demoted and repeated low-A ball to similar results. Not entirely promising for a 23 year old former college pitcher.

Yacksel Rios and Yoel Mecias represented the possible hope in the rotation. Mecias was returning from Tommy John surgery and displayed that raw stuff that excited many in the organization. He is a guy in particular who could shoot up the organizational prospect rankings.

Overall

2014 2nd and 3rd round picks, Matt Imhof and Aaron Brown, made his full-season debuts to mostly positive results. Relievers Cody Forsythe, Frank Rivas and Joey Denato should be some names to look out for in the bullpen. The team will see a bulk of players that were featured on the Williamsport squad this year. I can't exactly tell if this is a good thing or not yet.

**As I rather not bore you with reciting this past year's stats, feel free to check out how everyone did this season via this LINK.