The Savannah Sand Gnats have shaken off a 9-14 April and have been spectacular in May. They now hold a 28-23 record and a 3.5 game lead in the SAL Southern division. Their pitching has been phenomenal and the main reason for the turnaround. Let’s take a look at their key guys; they have quite a few of them.
Ryan Fraser: Fraser averaged 6 innings in his 5 May outings and posted a 2.10 ERA. He had a solid 1.3 WHIP, which is elevated from April but he is starting to strike guys out at a slightly higher rate than he did in April, which is something he will need to do more of in subsequent months. He probably won’t be a candidate for a late June promotion, but he should continue to help the Gnats win games.
Gonzalez Germen: He made 6 starts in May and cut his ERA from April in half. He is striking out almost a batter per inning and his WHIP is below 1.2. One troublesome spot was the 5 homeruns he gave up in the month of May after not allowing any in April.
Erik Goeddel: Goeddel was terrific in May! In 25 innings, he struck out 27 and allowed 17 base runners; thus a 1.08 ERA. His last 2 outings have been in relief where he’s pitched 3 innings each in an effort to keep his innings down for the year. Perhaps that move was made a little too late because he’s now on the DL with a shoulder strain. When he comes back his innings will be closely monitored the rest of the year since he was a reliever in college and isn’t accustomed to so many innings.
Taylor Whitenton: Whitenton is now in the starting rotation as Goeddel is now piggy backing him instead of the other way around. He had one rough outing that skewed his numbers, but other than that one game he gave up just 1 run in 18 innings. His walks are low and his strikeouts are still high and after nearly a year and a half in Savannah he deserves a promotion.
Greg Peavey: Peavey was outstanding in May! He was especially good at the end, pitching 13 scoreless innings in his last 2 starts, striking out 11 and walking 1. His ERA in 6 May starts is 1.75 and his WHIP is under 1. Peavey looks like a guy headed for a mid-season promotion.
In the bullpen: The Sand Gnats are loaded with lefties in the bullpen that have pitched well, and could be going places. Here are 4 of them: Angel Cuan pitched 21 innings in 9 appearances in May. In that time he had a 1.71 ERA. He has walked 3 all season long. Josh Edgin has surrendered 1 unearned run in 15 innings in May. He has struck out 18 and allowed 7 base runners. Impressive. Hamilton Bennett joined Savannah in May and in 9 appearances has a 2.87 ERA. He has faced 21 lefties and struck out 10 of them. Chase Huchingson has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation with good results. He pitched 23 innings in May, striking out 29 and posting a 1.57 ERA. He is also becoming a ground-ball machine, especially against lefties.
Albert Cordero: It was a rough May for Cordero, who hit just .182 for the month, but does have 5 hits in his last 4 games. Defense is why Cordero is a prospect, and the 21 year old might not have been quite ready for full-season ball, but he’s got to do better with the bat than what he’s done.
Blake Forsythe: There has been some progress with Forsythe who hit .235 in May after a .183 April. However, 7 extra-base hits in 16 games in April turned into 4 extra-base hits in 21 games and no homers in May. His OBP went up but his slugging fell. He’s got to find a way to get on base and still hit for some power.
Sam Honeck: After killing Sally pitching early in the year the league has adjusted and we have been reminded why Honeck was not considered a serious prospect. He hit just .167 in May.
Aderlin Rodriguez: A-Rod’s May was very similar to his April. He had a few less extra-base hits but a bunch more walks. He’s still a teenager so his progress will be slow and we’ll have a better idea after an entire year in Savannah. Still, 9 homeruns in 2 months for a teenager in full-season ball is SERIOUS power.
Robbie Shields: Shields went on a tear in May, hitting .311. He also hit 12 doubles and 3 triples, which pushed his slugging to .481. He’s hitting like a guy deserving of a promotion, which needs to happen at his age, but with Wilmer Flores at the level above him there is some uncertainty. He has started playing a little second base recently, but there’s no indication that that move is permanent, but he could play second in PSL even if Flores stays there.
Wilfredo Tovar: The 19-year old had a month to forget, hitting .115. This was surprising because in 44 games for Savannah last year he hit .281 and in 48 games this year he is hitting .188. He also held his own in the FSL last year, which makes his struggles even more puzzling. He may go back to Brooklyn when their season begins if he can’t break out of his funk, which would be an age-appropriate level for him.
Darrell Ceciliani: After coming back from a hamstring injury, Ceciliani hit .238 in 25 games in May. He did have a half dozen doubles and a pair of home runs, and was 5 of 6 stealing bases, so there are plenty of positives. He’s not a guy that would have been promoted mid-season unless he was absolutely killing it, so we’ll see how he progresses going forward.
Cory Vaughn: Everyone wants to know when this guy is getting promoted, and for good reason after hitting .360 in May after a .303 April. He equaled his double total for April and hit 2 more home runs, boosting his slugging to .520. His strikeout rate went from every 3.6 at bats in April to every 4.5 at bats in May; he also doubled his amount of walks. Bottom line, Vaughn is clearly developing and should be pushed to the next level, but he is at the mercy of the outfielders in the level above him also getting promoted. Worst-case scenario, he stays he Savannah a few more weeks and helps the Sand Gnats win the first-half division title for the second consecutive year.