Earlier this afternoon, Brevard County Manatees outfielder Tyrone Taylor and left-handed pitcher Mike Strong were transferred to Double-A Huntsville. Both players, who were so key to the Manatees success in 2014, will try and help the Stars emerge with their first Southern League title since they split the championship back in 2001.
Lets take a look back at some of the memorable moments from Taylor and Strong’s time at Space Coast Stadium.
The talented 20-year-old lit up the Florida State League with his quick bat, smart baserunning and his stellar defensive play. Taylor leaves the FSL leading the league in at-bats (507), hits (141) and doubles (36). He is also tied for the league-lead in games played with 130. Taylor heads to Double-A in the top 10 in several other categories. He is fifth in total bases (201), sixth in RBI (68), eighth in runs scored (69) and tied for eighth in stolen bases (22).
Taylor has had a few memorable single-game performances, as well. Back on April 29, he became the first player in Brevard County’s 20-year history to hit for the cycle. In Clearwater, Taylor went 5-for-5 with five runs scored to set career-highs. He also walked and drove in three in a 20-0, Manatees rout.
On June 17 against Dunedin, Taylor went 4-for-5 with a double and a then-career-high four runs batted in.
Taylor was at his best in July. The top prospect in the Brewers organization, according to MLB.com, was named Milwaukee’s co-minor league player of the month. In 25 games, he hit .326 with seven doubles, a triple and a home run. Taylor also scored 12 runs, drove in 23 and stole 12 bases. In the month, he also recorded a .453 slugging percentage and a .815 OPS. His teammate, Tyler Wagner, was awarded the organization’s minor league pitcher of the month for July, as well. They both spoke about their honors prior to an early August game in Tampa:
The southpaw has been one of the unsung heroes of the Manatees pitching staff in 2014. Primarily used as a reliever for most of the season, Strong had a 2.42 ERA and four saves as a key cog in the back of the Brevard County bullpen.
The Afton, Minn. native showed his versatility in the second half when he was called upon to make several spot starts. On August 6, Strong had a perfect game through 5.1 innings in game two of a doubleheader in Tampa. About a week later, on August 14, the left-hander dazzled in his first career complete game. In game two of a doubleheader against Daytona, Strong went all seven innings and allowed just one run on four hits, walked one and struck out eight. Right after the game, he spoke about his performance:
In the second half, Strong was untouchable with a 1.74 ERA in 14 appearances (six starts). In 51.2 innings, he struck out 52 and yielded just 37 hits. Strong also was 2-for-2 in save opportunities out of the bullpen. He was elite in August, leaving with the second-most strikeouts in the FSL with 32. Strong also exits with the fourth-best WHIP (1.00) and batting average against (.215) and the seventh-best in the league in ERA (2.42). This past weekend in Clearwater, he reflected on some of his favorite 2014 memories.
The Manatees would like to wish Tyrone and Mike the best of luck, as they head to Huntsville to continue their pursuit of playing Major League Baseball!
Since May 9, you would be hard pressed to find a better pitcher in the Florida State League than the Manatees Jorge Lopez.
Despite a shaky start to the season, Lopez showed flashes of the dominance he would go on to display. In his first six starts prior to that May date, Lopez had a record above .500, but his ERA hovered over five.
However, starting with that night at Space Coast Stadium against the Daytona Cubs, Lopez has been among the FSL’s best.
Since that night, Lopez has the fifth-lowest earned run average (1.73) and WHIP (1.02) in the entire league. Lopez has also been impressive in how he has dominated opponents. The Puerto Rico native has induced a plethora of weak contact, as he has the third-best groundout-to-airout ratio (2.26) in the league during this span.
As well, Lopez has a 5-1 record in 58 innings over these last nine starts. What is even more impressive, the former second round pick has allowed just 42 hits in those outings compared to 38 strike outs.
Very few pitchers in the league have been on the same level as Lopez over the last few months. Teammate Tyler Wagner ranks third in the FSL in ERA (1.63) since May 9, but has thrown 8.1 fewer innings.
During this stretch, Lopez has also made some of the best starts of his professional career.
On May 27 against the St. Lucie Mets, Lopez worked into the ninth inning for the first time as a pro en route to what was his sixth win of the season. The righty was removed before he recorded an out in that final frame, but allowed just four hits over eight-plus innings and allowed just one measly unearned run.
Lopez followed that performance up with another dominant outing, this time against the Dunedin Blue Jays, on June 16. He shutout the first-half champions of the North Division over seven innings. Lopez allowed just five hits and struck out six.
His last masterful performance came on June 26 against tonight’s opponent, the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Lopez tied his career-high with an eight inning night and allowed just two runs on five hits. That day, Lopez also recorded his first career complete game, as the game was shortened to eight frames due to rain.
As a reward for all his success, Lopez will head to Minnesota next week to participate in the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game. The right-hander is the only Brewers farmhand to be selected to the showcase and is the first Manatee to receive the honor since fellow righty Tyler Thornburg was chosen in 2011.
Two of the Brevard County Manatees’ best are making the jump up. Within 24 hours, both RHP Greg Holle and INF Yadiel Rivera were transferred from Brevard County to Double-A Huntsville. It is no surprise that the duo got called up as both put up ridiculous numbers over their final few games with the ‘Tees. Lets take a look:
After suffering an injury early in Spring Training, Holle spent time in extended camp before being added to the Manatees roster on April 30. Despite plentiful success while in Brevard in 2014, the injury troubles remained with him. The right-hander was on the disabled list from May 29 until June 6 and missed extra time with flu-like symptoms.
However, when Holle was on the bump for the ‘Tees it spelled trouble for opponents. The 6-foot-8 righty did not surrender a run in seven of eight appearances he made with the team, which included a nine-inning scoreless streak before getting the call.
Holle finished his tenure in Brevard with a flourish. On June 20 at Daytona, Holle entered the ballgame with the bases loaded and dominated. The former TCU Horned Frog threw 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to close out the Manatees 7-3 victory over the Cubs, which he discussed the following day:
Holle made first 2014 appearance with the Stars last night. He threw a scoreless inning of relief and did not allow a baserunner in Huntsville’s triumph over Pensacola. Holle went 4-3 with a 3.96 ERA and 10 saves with the Double-A club a year ago.
Rivera was one of the surprising returnees to Brevard in 2014. The supremely talented middle infielder hit .241 with 23 extra-base hits and 37 runs batted in with the ‘Tees last year, but due to a logjam at the higher levels he returned to Space Coast Stadium.
After a bumpy start at the plate (.224 AVG) through the first two months of the year, Rivera found his rhythm in the month of June. In the 16 games he played in the month before being transferred, Rivera hit at .351 clip with a .403 on-base percentage.
Almost improbably, over his final seven games, Rivera was even better. He tallied a base-hit in six of his final seven games with the ‘Tees and left with a four-game hit-streak. In total, Rivera batted .462 (12-for-26) with five runs scored, three doubles, a home run, two RBI and a stolen base.
Yesterday, in his final game with the ‘Tees, Rivera went an astounding 3-for-4 with a ground-rule double and a stolen base in a Manatees win over the Dunedin Blue Jays. We had a chance to speak with him after the game:
‘Tees Tidbits: UT Nathan Orf is at it again…Since June 17, Orf has the highest batting average (.483) and on-base percentage (.545) in the Florida State League…During this stretch, the lead-off hitter has scored 10 runs, hit four doubles, driven in four runs and walked three times…He also recorded five multi-hit games during the seven-game streak…During their four-game road trip, the Manatees bats were on fire…The team recorded double-digits in hits in three of the four games…The ‘Tees went 3-1 on the trip and had a .297 batting average (44-for-148).
As we reach the halfway point of the Minor League season, it is easy to see that the Milwaukee Brewers organization as a whole has had incredible success. Throughout the system, including the Major League level, four of the six teams currently playing are at least tied for first place in their division. Even more impressive, all six teams are above the .500 mark at this moment. With that being said, let’s take a look at which former Manatees impressed this week!
Say Hey D’Vontrey!
After being out of baseball for the entire 2012 season, outfielder D’Vontrey Richardson (’11, ’13) has returned in a big way. The 25-year-old hit .325 with 13 stolen bases with the ‘Tees last year and made the jump to Double-A Huntsville for 2014.
The bat has not been as consistent at the next level (.218 AVG in 54 games), but his incredible athletic ability has not wavered.
On Tuesday night, in a matchup against the Chattanooga Lookouts (Dodgers affiliate), Richardson may have made the top Minor League defensive play of the year. With O’Koyea Dickson at the plate, the former ‘Tee made an absolutely stupendous catch.
The remarkable play robbed Dickson of a two-run home run. This proved to be huge as Huntsville went on to win by just one run, 7-6.
Home Run Haniger
With D’Vontrey Richardson making waves in the field, fellow Huntsville outfielder Mitch Haniger (’13) has been doing the same at the plate.
Over his last 10 games, the former Brevard star is hitting .333 (12-for-36) with nine runs scored, SIX home runs and 11 RBI. During this span, Haniger has four multi-hit games and THREE multi-home run games.
Even more incredible has been the California native’s last two outings. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, Haniger combined to go 4-for-8 at the dish with multiple home runs in each game.
Here’s a look at the first multi-homer game of this 10-game stretch back on June 4 against Jackson:
Haniger hit .250 with six home runs and 43 RBI in 88 games with Brevard County last year.
Can’t Stop Lucroy
While Haniger and Richardson are starring in the minors, Jonathan Lucroy (’08) is mashing up in Milwaukee. The Brewers catcher is currently on a seven-game hitting streak, during which he is hitting .542 (13-for-24) with six runs scored, a home run and four RBI. Over the course of this stretch, Lucroy has bumped his average up by 17 points.
However, the former Ragin’ Cajun has been on a tear all season long. Lucroy enters today leading all Major League catchers in batting average (.341), runs scored (28), hits (79), doubles (25) and OPS (.912).
The Brew Crew backstop is well on his way to becoming the first catcher to represent Milwaukee in the All-Star Game since Dave Nilsson received the honor in the 1999 Mid-Summer Classic in Boston.
Lucroy hit .292 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 64 games with Brevard in 2008.
‘Tees Tidbits: RHP Damien Magnifico was named to the Florida State League All-Star Game on Wednesday afternoon…Magnifico will replace Dunedin LHP Daniel Norris, who is unable to pitch, on the North roster…Magnifico is 3-4 with a 3.05 ERA this year in 12 starts… Similarly, INF Josh Prince (’10, ’11) and C Shawn Zarraga (’10-’12) of the Huntsville Stars were named to the Southern League All-Star Game on Wednesday.
In the small town of Anaco, Venezuela lays a growing, impressive baseball family. Already home to former Major Leaguer (and former Vero Beach Dodger) Miguel Cairo, Anaco has been the residence of the Arcia brothers, Oswaldo and Orlando.
Oswaldo, a former Florida State Leaguer in his own right (2011-12 Fort Myers Miracle), has already reached and thrived at the Major League level, hitting 14 home runs last year with the Minnesota Twins. However, the youngest brother is causing quite a stir so far in Viera.
Orlando, the youngest player in the FSL at the age of 19, has not been overwhelmed by his older adversaries. To this point, Arcia has been an absolute workhorse and despite the lengthy Minor League schedule has continued to thrive.
So far, Arcia is tied with Tyrone Taylor for team lead in games played (53), second on the squad in hits (54), triples (3) and stolen bases (10), third in runs scored (22) and is tied for fourth in doubles (9) and runs batted in (13). With all those impressive numbers, Arcia has also managed to piece together a respectable .262 batting average.
Even though it is just the beginning of June, the Venezuelan native has already put together two majorly impressive streaks so far. From April 29 to May 12, Arcia recorded an 11-game hit-streak, the longest by a Manatee in 2014. During that stretch, he hit .340 (17-for-50) with three doubles and three RBI. Arcia also scored seven runs, stole four bases and walked five times compared to just four strike outs.
The most impressive outing during that streak was his first. On April 29 against Clearwater, in a 20-0 ‘Tees rout of Clearwater, Arcia recorded a career-high four base-hits (two doubles) and tied a career-high with three runs scored.
The middle infielder has been equally as impressive over his most recent stretch. Since the first game of Brevard’s series against the Palm Beach Cardinals on May 20, Arcia has been on fire. During those 12 games, he is hitting .370 (14-for-76) with five multi-hit games and four doubles. Anaco’s own has also driven in five runs and swiped two more bases.
What makes these streaks more impressive is that Arcia has done it all while playing multiple positions. A natural shortstop, the Brewers prospect has had to split time at the position with another talented player, Yadiel Rivera.
Both prospects have swapped between short and second base every series. However, neither has lost a beat despite the lack of consistency at one spot. Both incredible athletes and defenders, Arcia and Rivera have contributed to what is, arguably, the best defensive middle infield in all of Minor League Baseball, with incredible plays made on a daily basis. This, of course, includes Arcia helping turn the ‘Tees first triple play in over a decade.
Showing no ill effects from a fractured right ankle, which cost him his 2012 season, Arcia has been a treasure for the Manatees so far this year. It is clear that the sky is the limit for the FSL’s youngest star.
‘Tees Tidbits: For the first time in 11 days, OF Victor Roache will be in the lineup for Brevard County…Roache has been out since May 21 with the virus that has gone through the Manatees clubhouse…Roache will hit sixth and play left field in game one of today’s doubleheader…The Manatees’ bullpen has given up one run in 15.0 innings (0.60 ERA) over their last eight games…The bullpen’s collective strikeout rate has been staggering, as well…Brevard’s relievers have struck out 18 men for a 10.80 K/9 rate
In the 1990’s and early 2000’s the Houston Astros were noted for having the “Killer B’s”. Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Derek Bell, and Lance Berkman were key pieces on some talented Houston teams. On Sunday night, the Manatees rallied behind their own “Killer B’s” to defeat Tampa. Both Jed Bradley and Parker Berberet put together strong outings in Brevard’s 7-5 victory in what was a historic night for both players, but for different reasons.
Movin’ On Up!
When rosters were released in the days leading up to the season, it came as a surprise to some that Jed Bradley was returning to Space Coast Stadium for a third consecutive season. After dealing with some rocky performances and a slew of injuries in the past, Bradley came to Viera a new man in 2014.
The left-hander tied Jorge Lopez for the team lead in victories on Sunday with five. Bradley surrendered just two runs into the seventh inning, but tired in that final frame. The lefty finished the day with five runs allowed (four earned) on nine hits in 6.1 innings of work.
Control, which had been a problem for Bradley in his first two pro seasons, was not an issue for him on Sunday. He issued just one walk compared to six strike outs. For the year, Bradley has issued just 10 free passes, while striking out the second-most batters in the Florida State League (53).
Unlike any start Bradley has had in the past, the best part of his day came when manager Joe Ayrault removed him from the ball game. As the left-hander handed the ball over to his skipper, Ayrault turned and told him the news he had waited almost two and a half years to hear. He was going home to Double-A Huntsville.
After a rough first outing against Daytona on April 5, Bradley was a revelation for the team. In his final nine starts with the club, Bradley went 5-1 with a 2.08 earned run average. Over that stretch, the former Georgia Tech product received the FSL Pitcher of the Week Award twice and had two of the most impressive outings of his career. On May 20, Bradley threw nine innings of four-hit, shutout baseball in a no-decision against the Palm Beach Cardinals. As well, he struck out a career-high nine batters against the Daytona Cubs on April 27.
If not for the efforts of his backstop, Parker Berberet, Bradley may not have won his final start with the Manatees. Berberet, who has received limited playing time this year due to the success of Cameron Garfield, has been on an absolute tear over the last few days.
In his last three games, dating back to May 22, Berberet has picked up at least one hit in every outing. In all three of those games, Berberet has recorded at least one double and one RBI.
However, Sunday night’s performance was the high mark for Berberet’s season. Starting back-to-back games for the first time all year, Berberet tied a career-high with four base-hits in the win over the Yankees. The catcher lined two doubles to right, singled twice, stole a base, scored and drove in a run.
Over the two games he has played during this homestand, Berberet has yet to be retired (6-for-6 at the plate) with three doubles, three runs scored and two RBI.
‘Tees Tidbits: Due to a virus that has ravaged the Manatees clubhouse, the team has been extremely short-handed over the last few days…Brevard County only had nine position players and two pitchers (excluding Bradley) available during Sunday’s ballgame…In order to aid the depleted bullpen, RHP Mark Williams was transferred to the roster from Class-A Wisconsin…1B Garrett Cooper, who had has played since May 20 with flu-like symptoms, was placed on the disabled list to make room on the roster for Williams…With Bradley’s departure, the ‘Tees roster currently sits at 24, one below the FSL limit.
As the 15th overall pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, expectations have always been high for Jed Bradley. After a rocky couple of seasons, it seems as if Bradley has found his groove out on the mound.
In his first season with the Manatees back in 2012, Bradley did not allow an earned run through his initial three starts, but struggled from there on out. The left-hander finished the season with a 5-10 record and an ERA up over five and a half.
2013 was better for Jed, but there were still plenty of struggles. His ERA came down a full run, but was only able to compile a 4-4 record, surrendering 81 hits over 78.1 innings, in 16 starts before his season was cut short due to injury.
However, in his first five starts of 2014, Jed Bradley has been absolutely stellar. Since taking the loss in a rough outing against the Daytona Cubs in his first start of the season, Bradley has put together the best four-game stretch of his professional career.
Starting with his April 11 victory at Dunedin, Bradley has gone 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA. The Huntsville, Ala. native has surrendered just three runs, allowing no more than one run in each appearance. As well, Bradley has allowed a career-low fourteen hits over 22 innings of work.
Similarly, the former first-round pick has struck out 25 batters, also a career-best for four straight outings, including recording a career-high nine punch outs in a no-decision last night in Daytona.
His best night on the bump came on April 16, when he blanked the Lakeland Flying Tigers over six innings en route to the Manatees second 1-0 victory of the season. The performance resulted in being named the Florida State League Pitcher of Week, the first ‘Tee to receive the honor since Brent Suter won it in June of last year.
A big key to Bradley’s success during this time frame has been his ability to retire the lead-off man. Since his loss to Daytona on April 5, Bradley has allowed just three of 22 lead-off batters (.095 batting average) to reach base on two singles and a walk. Even more impressive, only one of those players have come across to score a run, with the other two being retired trying to steal.
With the Brewers Double-A affiliate, the Huntsville Stars, slated to move out of state to Biloxi, Miss. next season, Bradley looks determined to get a chance to make his home starts right where he grew up. If the left-hander continues to pitch the way he has over the first month of the season, he’ll get that opportunity sooner rather than later.