Salina Stockade Mid-Season Report
Place: 4th in the South Division (29 GB), Last in the Wild Card (25.5 GB)
Team Pitching (League Ranking Listed in Parenthesis): ERA: 7.35 (12), Strikeouts: 384 (12), WHIP: 1.87 (12)
Team Batting (League Ranking Listed in Parenthesis): Average: .239 (1), Home Runs: 34 (8), Slugging: .350 (10), Stolen Bases: 23 (12)
Salina Stockade First Half Recap
Just two weeks before the 2017 American Association season got underway, the Salina Stockade became the league’s 12th member, coming from the Pecos League to help keep the number of teams even. It was clear from the very start that this was a team that was going to struggle, as they had just 10 days to not only put together a team but also to be able to train and see what Manager J.D. Droddy had.
Understandably, the Stockade struggled from the start, winning their second game of the season, and then losing their next 24, an American Association record. It wasn’t that they were overmatched. This team played with heart, and were right in the middle of most contests they were in, even challenging the champion Winnipeg Goldeyes in two of the three early-season contests. However, they reached the end of June just 4-37.
However, July has been an entirely different story. While only winning five of their 20 contests, Salina not only won their first series of the season, but actually had a sweep prior to the All-Star break. The team’s pitching staff is greatly improved, and there are four or five players on this team who easily could be playing for any other organization in the league.
With such a short amount of time to build the team, it’s understandable that the Stockade would struggle. What one has to be impressed about is that these players have played hard every single night, and had an enthusiasm about their opportunity. That’s not only a credit to them but also to Droddy, who as kept them motivated despite playing all their games on the road.
There is also a core group of hitters on this team that have looked pretty impressive. Kewby Meyer, Cody Coffman, Jesse Baker, and Jimmy Heck have played quite well, and will get a long look from other teams at the end of the season.
While the pitching staff has struggled, it has been the number of walks that they have issued that have really been the difference. Their 301 walks allowed is easily last in the league, and has been a primary reason why they have struggled. If that number were reduced by even 40 this team could easily have six or seven more wins.
The 24-game losing streak is the ugly part of the season for Salina. That is long past, and the team is starting to really gel. It’s an impressive testament to the perseverance of this organization.
1st Half Most Valuable Player: Kewby Meyer
While not appearing in his first game until May 31, Meyer has been the most consistent hitter on the team, and has put together quite an impressive resume. Through 44 games, the first baseman has a .323 average, with 13-runs scored and 17-RBI. He is 11th in the league in hitting.
1st Half Top Pitcher: Tyler Herr
Herr has had an outstanding season out of the Salina bullpen. He hasn’t had a lot of leads to protect, earning only three saves this season, but his 3.75 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched says a lot about how well he has performed when the team has called upon them.
With just 39 games left in their season, the Salina Stockade will likely return to the Pecos League next year. The record won’t be pretty, but there’s no reason for this team to hang their heads low. They have played well and earned the respect of every manager in the league, and will likely surpass the 12 victories that were predicted for them.
By Robert Pannier