Savannah Sand Gnats Season Review
Today, our minor league reviews take us to Savannah, where the Sand Gnats came up literally 1 strike shy of a league championship.Record – 79-60Place in standings - 1st place in South Atlantic League Southern DivisionOverview - The Sand Gnats won the first half division title, which got them to the playoffs, and tied atop the division in the second half. Overall, they finished with the second best record in the South Atlantic League for the entire regular season. In the playoffs, the Sand Gnats took home the South division crown by beating Augusta in a three-game series, getting good pitching performances in all three games, just as they got all season long. In the SAL championship series, Savannah was oh so close, but could not quite finish the job. They were one out away from taking game one of the series, but were the victims in a walk-off win by Greensboro. The Gnats then took games two and three, but after that their pitching disappeared. After a monumental comeback in game four the Gnats were one strike away from a championship, but let it slip away. Poor pitching also cost them in game five, losing the series. Despite the loss, the Gnats had an unbelievable season. They had a talented opening day roster that more than lived up to high expectations, and more importantly, along the way nearly all their players showed noticeably improvement and development.Top pitcher: Taylor Whitenton – Whitenton was the South Atlantic League ERA leader at 2.49, in his second year in Savannah. Whitenton struck out 119 in 112 innings and had a WHIP of just 1.12. He had good results and good peripherals, and it’s a shame there was no room for him in St. Lucie to be promoted, but he has enough stuff to be a major league contributor down the line.Top position player: Albert Cordero – From mid-June on, Cordero was incredible, shaking off a bad May and getting progressively better in each subsequent month. He finished hitting .286/.324/.383 with 6 homeruns and 15 doubles, and only struck out 69 times in 104 games. That offensive production combined with his defense and catching abilities makes him the catching prospect Mets fans have been begging for, although he is still years away.Biggest surprise: Chase Huchingson – Huchingson came out of nowhere as an undrafted free agent in 2010 who only threw 11 innings in Kingsport that year. He made 27 appearances for Savannah, including 8 starts and racked up 84 innings. The 6’5’’ lefty has a big frame to grow into giving him the potential for some serious velocity. After striking out 91 and allowing just 61 hits for Savannah, Huchingson has become one of several promising lefties the Mets had in A-ball this year that could grow into serviceable bullpen pieces down the line. The South Atlantic League All Star is certainly someone to keep watching.Biggest disappointment: Darrell Ceciliani – For a guy who was one of the New York-Penn League’s elite last year in Brooklyn, you would have expected a much better season out of Ceciliani. He did miss most of April with an injury, and after that he took a while to get going, finally finishing with a strong August. In the end he did have 31 extra-base hits and 25 stolen bases in 109 games. He’s still a guy to watch, especially with a strong finish, including a .394 average in the playoffs, but his season as a whole was a tad disappointing.