In this installment, we look at the one and done affiliate, the Lynchburg Hillcats. This is the team that dumped us for the Braves, and that's making our guys trek out to California to play. Horrible.
Our short stop in Lynchburg was an uneventful one, as the Hillcats went 61-77 on the year, and finished dead last in their division. They had a few stud prospects to begin the season, but those were quickly promoted and the replacements they had were from an awful Dayton team. Still, there were a few bright spots here and a couple of guys showed us that they're worth keeping an eye on.
Cody Puckett was the best hitter on the team, finishing 5th in the league in OPS at .843 and 3rd in slugging at .593. Neftali Soto also hit the board for slugging, with a .460 SLG% good for 6th in the league. Those two were also major run producers, with Puckett finishing 4th in the league with 18 HRs and Soto finishing 3rd in the league with 21. Soto drove in 73 runs on the year, good for 6th. Puckett was the best baserunner too, with 17 SB good for a tie in 9th place, and Puckett and Soto finished 9th and 10th in runs scored respectively with 72 and 71.
On the pitching staff, Jordan Hotchkiss was the clear star, finishing with a 2.30 ERA in 113.2 innings to lead the league (the min IP for ERA for the Carolina League is 0.8 IP per league game). Donnie Joseph finished 2nd in the league in saves with 17, and Justin Freeman hit the board in 10th with 7 saves.
Awards after the jump...
nycredsfan: Cody Puckett
BK: Jordan Hotchkiss
Just a matter of preference here, as both of these players are very deserving of the award. Puckett made a lot of strides as an all-around player, showing ability to hit for contact and get on base at a .350 clip, as well as power with 40 doubles, 18 homers, and a .493 SLG%. Puckett's an 8th round pick, and will be turning 24 next year, so he could be on track to contribute at the next level within the next year or so if Chris Valaika struggles.
Hotchkiss put together his second solid year in a row, and will look to do the same thing in Carolina next season. He was the ace of the staff, with 90 strikeouts and 31 walks in 113.2 innings, and finished the year with a 10-4 record and a 2.30 ERA.
Most Surprising Player
'credsfan: Donnie Joseph
BK: Cody Puckett
Joseph came into the year with the expectations that come with a 3rd round draft choice, but he exceeded expectations with how dominating his numbers were. His Lynchburg numbers aren't as impressive at first glance (2.31 ERA, 17 saves, 56 K, 16 BB), since he split time with there and Dayton, but over the full season, he saved 24 games with a 2.08 ERA, and struck out 103 hitters in 65 innings, which is borderline ridiculous. He's moving up the system quickly.
I chose Puckett here because I don't think I expected a guy who was an average middle infielder in Dayton to produce as well has he has moving up through the system. Let's hope he keeps it up at the next level.
Most Disappointing Player
'credsfan: Josh Fellhauer
BK: Josh Fellhauer
Easy pick here. The Hellflower was a major sleeper coming off some solid numbers at Dayton in his first year, and basically hit a wall once he got to Lynchburg. His line for the year was a pedestrian .240/.297/.331 in 496 AB, and didn't run the bases much either, finishing with only one more SB than he had in '09 with twice the AB.
'credsfan: Jordan Hotchkiss
BK: Justin Freeman
Hotch we know about, but Freeman put up some pretty solid numbers out from the Hillcat 'pen. In 45 appearances, Freeman put up a 2.91 ERA, struck out 53 in 55.2 innings, and only walked 7. He's doing something right, and could be next year's Jordan Smith or Logan Ondrusek.