June 6, 2011; Clemson, SC, USA; Connecticut Huskies infielder Nick Ahmed (7) bounces a ball off of his knee while playing a game before the game against the Clemson Tigers in the 2011 NCAA baseball tournament at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

2012 Review: Lynchburg Hillcats

In an otherwise poor minor league season for the organization, the Lynchburg Hillcats pulled off a big upset, winning the Carolina League championship despite a 72-68 season record.  They defeated the Winston-Salem Dash, the team with the best winning percentage of any team in professional baseball.

Nick Ahmed was the catalyst on offense, as the shortstop had an average slashline and 40 steals.  He isn’t the smoothest player, and I see him ending up similar to Tyler Pastornicky, a marginal shortstop and bat with some speed.  At second base, Tommy La Stella used his 1.5:1 BB/K ratio to a .302/.386/.460 line.  His defense is Dan Uggla-esque, so he may end up as a corner outfielder.  Both players were 2011 draftees, so the quick development is good to see.

First baseman Chris Garcia could not maintain last year’s power, so his high-walk approach is unlikely to make it to the majors.  Adam Milligan and Braeden Schlehuber were another couple 24-year-olds who had decent years, but don’t have the plate discipline to go all the way.

The two 20-year-old prospects again had disappointing seasons.  Edward Salcedo played the full season at third base, making 42 errors and had a 1:4 BB/K ratio, resulting in a below-average line.  His major problems on offense are too many whiffs and the inability to square up the ball.  His power is developing, but I’m seeing another Jose Oliva, hopefully without the tragedy.  Matt Lipka made his move to center field before a hamstring injury ended his season.  His BABIP jumped a bit, but his power is still not enough to make a jump to AA.  For each of these guys, they are at an advanced level for their age, but they have deficiencies that may derail their careers.

The starting staff was the strength of the team, as all five starters had an ERA and FIP below 4.00.  J.R. Graham was the leader with a 2.63 ERA, getting a ton of groundballs and not walking anyone, much like Zeke Spruill.  Gus Schlosser was the ace in the playoffs, using a more balanced approach.  Aaron Northcraft and Cody Martin struck out a ton of hitters while limiting walks, but higher BABIPs resulted in higher ERAs.  Dimaster Delgado was the weak link of the five, though a 3.92 ERA and 3.76 FIP is not disappointing by any means.  All of them are 22 or 23 years old, with all of them having a chance at the majors in the next 2-3 years.

Juan Jaime assumed the closer’s role, using his 100 MPH fastball to strike out a third of his batters faced, though a 15% walk rate shows a few kinks need to be worked out.  Ryne Harper posted a sub-2.00 ERA and FIP, while Ryan Weber and Andrew Wilson were also very effective.

It is always great to see players go through pressure games to win a championship.  The pitching on this team was promising, though there is no elite prospect.  The expected top prospects faltered, but below-the-radar guys have stepped up to fill the gaps.  This was the only team to really show overall positive progress.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves FanSided Lynchburg Hillcats

  • Gary

    This story is 2 years old? Any chance of getting the minor league predictions and player profiles on 2014 players and teams rosters?

    • fireboss

      We are actively seeking someone to work the minor league beat for us. I live in Texas, Chris in the Mountain time zone and the rest are scattered around Braves country. It’s hard to give meaningful information on these teams from a distance but we are working to rectify that. If you or someone you know can do this or part of this click on the openings link at the top and let us know.

      • Gary

        Well I am in Missouri, so not exactly in Brave country but grew up in KY and was always more in tune with Braves than with the Reds or Cards. Not sure if I am exactly what you call a local…but let me know what it entails and what kind of frequency it requires

        • fireboss

          It’s as simple as following the minor league teams and providing opinions and information of the team, their games and the players. It can be done from a distance through an MiLb.TV subscription and membership in websites that cover them and or by reading game reports and opinion pieces from the beat reporters following the teams and then telling what’s happening and how you see things going. It can be as detailed as you want it to be and it is your opinion so while some may disagree you be wrong unless the facts used are incorrect. Contact of of our editors Chris or Jeff – links are on the site just click their picture- and talk to them about what they would want. Usually 2 or three posts a week are good. Check out Grading on the Curve – http://gradingonthecurve.com/ – it’s what they do en mass all the time

          • Gary

            well, the Braves Minor League website has a listen now, watch the Log or box score, you dont have to have a subscription to MLB TV to keep up with live info and even listen to the games live…..So I will speak to Chris or Jeff to see what is required

            Thanks for the information


          • fireboss

            My pleasure always glad to have help

          • Gary

            apparently it cannot be done from a distance since I was asked to be at games and have live interviews with coaches/ players , etc. Dont understand how you can do that from a distance, but you must have a different deal than what Jeff described.
            Would have really enjoyed the opportunity……..glad you can do that from Texas, but apparently that opportunity isn’t extended to anyone who cant attend games…..