Minor League Spotlight: The Oklahoma City RedHawks

NEW YORK - AUGUST 27: Brett Wallace #29 of the Houston Astros reacts after striking out with the bases loaded to end the first inning against the New York Mets on August 27 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

With all the personel changes taking place in the Astros organization today seemed like a good day to shine the spotlight on the Astros interim mananger Tony DeFrancesco's previous team the Oklahoma City RedHawks. The RedHawks had been one of the top teams in the PCL for most of the season until their recent 10-game skid slowed them down a little. Still this is an improvement over the teams 2011 season in which they finished 68-75, last place in the division, and 18.5 games behind the division leader. Their ten game slide also coincides with several of their top players being lifted to provide support for the struggling parent club.

Below are several quotes taken from www.oursportscentral.com game notes that summarize the RedHawks season month by month.

April

The RedHawks got off to a hot start to open the season, and were in first place at the end of April. Pitching was fantastic for most of the month, and the offense was just getting going.

Moore Offense-- Scott Moore is currently pacing the PCL in batting average (.407), on-base percentage (.533), and doubles (11) while he is second in slugging percentage (.729) and fourth in extra-base hits (14). He leads the team with nine multi-RBI games and eight multi-hit games, and he is tied with Fernando Martinez for the team lead in RBIs (21). He's also been perfect in the field in 83 total chances.

You Better Think Twice-- The RedHawks have caught 11 of 23 attempted base stealers for a 47.8% caught stealing rate, tied with Nashvile for best in the league. Landon Powell has hosed out four of the six who've tried to steal against him, and Carlos Corporan is 7-for-17.

Notable Streaks-- Fernando Martinez holds the team's longest current hitting streak at six games (.321, 9x28). Scott Moore has hit safely in five straight (.526, 10x19) as well as in eight of his last nine games (.438, 14x32). Jimmy Paredes has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games as well as 10 of his last 12 (.358, 19x53) raising his season average from .206 to .299.

The stat on Scott Moore's fielding percentage in the first game note was probably a little misleading as he didn't commit an error in his first 83 chances, but as we've seen with the big league club he doesn't really have the range to be called a good fielder. Still it was a good start for him. Other things to note is that Landon Powell fit the bill of a good defensive catcher, and was especially solid in throwing out baserunners in the early going. This is one area that the Astros current crop of catcher's have taken some criticism on this season. Also, if you can remember back that far Jimmy Paredes really struggled out of the gate this season before coming on strong to end the month. He was able to raise his batting average .93 points in a twelve game period. The pitching that was so solid to open the season started to show their early warning signs of decay and gave up a homerun in each of their last eight games to end the month.

May

The RedHawks remained hot and in first place during the month of May. Their offense really heated up and started carrying the team.

30 Rock-- Now in their second year of affiliation with the Houston Astros, the RedHawks continue to be well ahead of schedule compared to 2011. Last season, the RedHawks did not win their 30th game until June 20--72 games into season.

Angel in the Infield-- Shortstop Angel Sanchez has collected an RBI in six of his last seven games. He's hit safely in five of those contests, hitting .333 (7-for-21), including homers in back-to-back games. Prior to this recent run, Sanchez's last homer was April 13 in Memphis and he had not driven in a run in 13 consecutive games.

Hot Bats-- Over their last 18 games, the RedHawks have scored 123 runs with 198 hits, including 30 homers. Not surprisingly, they've gone 12-6 during this stretch.

Mashing in May-- After hitting 19 homers in 25 games in April, the RedHawks have hit 42 dingers in 28 games in May. Las Vegas, Round Rock, and Sacramento share the month's next highest total with 36. The only team in all of the Minors who has hit more homers this month is the High Desert Mavericks, who have left the yard 49 times. Four teams in the PCL (CSP, MEM, NAS, NOZ) have less than 42 homers for the season.

Keeping it in the Park-- The RedHawks pitching staff has not allowed a home run in four straight home games and has allowed just two homers in their last nine games at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

The first note shows just how far the team had come in a year's period. It took them all the to June 20th to win their 30th game last season, a feat that the accomplished a month earlier in 2012. Angel Sanchez also had a good run at the plate in May (like many RedHawks), and hit homeruns in back to back games which is something that I never thought I would see associated with Angel Sanchez. The offense just went crazy this month, and homer crazy in particular. The last note about the pitching staff is telling in a couple of ways. First it notes that the staff has done a good job at keeping the ball in the park in a neutral environment, and second probably explains why the staff struggled as much as they did on the road in the hitter's friendly PCL.

June

The RedHawks enjoyed their first mediocre month of the season though they still had a winning record. The offense had their worst collective batting average, though still it was .275, and they also slugged 31 homers during the month. They also had three RedHawks named to the All Star Team in Landon Powell, Jimmy Paredes, and Mike Hessman.

June Concludes-- The RedHawks are 15-12 this month heading into tonight. Their .275 team average is their lowest of the first three months. Their 31 homers are tied for second-best in the PCL.

Blanking Bummer-- Last night the RedHawks were shutout for the fifth time, as well as for the third time in their last nine losses. The 2011 team was shutout seven times, but only three times by this point in the season.

Offensive Ebb and Flow-- In the RedHawks' last nine wins, they have scored 77 runs (8.6 rpg). In their last 10 losses, they have scored just 15 runs (1.5 rpg). The RedHawks have scored less than eight just twice in their wins.

Wally's World-- Over his last five games, Brett Wallace is 10-for-19 with a home run and four doubles. Since returning to the RedHawks on June 19, Wallace is hitting .381 (16x42) with three homers and seven RBIs.

after appearing in 12 games for the Astros. He allowed three runs and nine hits over 9.1 IP, and he earned his first Major League save on June 12 against Kansas City. With OKC, Cedeno didn't allow an earned run until his 15th appearance of the season, spanning 16.2 IP. Only one of his 13 inherited runners have scored, and that was on a slow roller up the third base line. Opponents are hitting just .205 against him, with fellow lefties going 1-for-32. However, lefties in the Majors were 5-for-14 against him.

The RedHawks finally started to have trouble scoring runs and were blanked three times in a nine game span. When they were scoring runs in droves they were winning, which is a sign that their pitching was struggling at the same time, but in ten of their twelve losses that month the RedHawks only averaged 1.5 runs scored per game. Brett Wallace had struggled for most of the season up to this point, and a lot of that was against left-handed pitching. This streak that he had was the start of his hot run that carried over into his short stint with the Astros while Carlos Lee was on the DL, and continued during the rest of his time with the RedHawks. Really it's still continuing with the Astros now as well. The last note talks about Xavier Cedeno and how well he had been pitching in relief for the RedHawks up to that point in the season.

July

The RedHawks enjoyed their best month of the season and won 16 games in July. Their pitching staff really struggled however which shows just how well that team's offense had been producing.

Goodbye to July-- The RedHawks are 16-11 as they enter the final game of July. With a win, they'll set a new monthly high for victories this season (April). Their .315 average this month is second-best in the league (Reno, .322) and easily surpasses the previous monthly high of .286 (May). However, their 6.24 ERA is the second-highest in the PCL (Salt Lake, 6.43) and will end up being their highest monthly total as well.

Shuck-Tacular-- J.B. Shuck has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games, batting .457 (21-for-46).

Uncle Buck-- Over his last 10 games, Travis Buck is hitting .452 (14-for-31) with seven RBIs. He's had a multi-hit game in five of his last eight starts.

Power Shortage-- The RedHawks have hit just two homers over their last six games, and none by players other than Brett Wallace.

Mound Troubles-- The pitching staff has allowed at least five runs in 14 of the last 15 games as well as in 16 of 19 games since the break. The staff ERA over the last 15 games is 6.89 (102 ER/133.1 IP).

Known as a power hitting team for most of the season the RedHawks really struggled to hit the long ball this month though they still hit for a decent average. Uber minor league slugger Mike Hessman could not stay above the mendoza line in this month and had went since the beginning of July without hitting a homerun. Brett Wallace stayed hot though, and continued to display a little bit of power. They may have become an afterthought by most Astros fans by this point, but the Shuck and Buck duo really had a good month. To put it bluntly, the pitching staff was just not good in July.

August

The RedHawks started struggling towards the end of July and that carried over into August, a stretch that saw them drop out of first place on the season. The good news was that the pitching staff that had struggled mightily since the midpoint put together a good month so far.

Joltin' Jimmy-- Jimmy Paredes' 35 stolen bases are tied for fourth-most in a single season in franchise history. He is just two behind league leader Adam Eaton of Reno.

Angel in the Infield-- Angel Sanchez is hitting .415 (22-for-53) over his last 15 games. He has hit safely in nine straight, and since the end of May he is batting .353.

Going Downs Town-- Since joining the RedHawks on August 11, Matt Downs is hitting .351 (13-for-37) with two homers and nine RBIs. He has recorded a hit in 10 straight games and collected an RBI in seven contests.

Promising Pitching-- Although the pitching staff has largely struggled since the All-Star Break, it has vastly improved of late. Over the last 11 games the team ERA is 2.67 (30 ER/101 IP). The starters have turned in six quality starts and posted a combined 2.77 ERA (20 ER/65.0 IP) with 40 strikeouts and only 13 walks.

Bully! For The Pen-- Over the past seven games, the RedHawks bullpen has posted a 1.57 ERA (4 ER/23.0 IP). They have not been scored upon in four games and have not allowed an earned run in 13.2 innings.

Tumbling From the Peak-- After a four-game sweep in Omaha on July 19 put the RedHawks at a season-best 18 games above .500 (58-40), they have gone 10-21 since. They've gone from leading the division by two games to dropping to third place and being 5.5 games back of first. They're only hitting .244 over the last 24 games (6-18).

This wraps up the RedHawks summary on the season up to this point. Jimmy Paredes had been flashing his speed all season and is right up there with the league leaders in the stolen base department. The note on Angel Sanchez is somewhat misleading as though he was hitting for a good average the majority of his hits were for singles. The recently demoted Matt Downs hit the ground running in Oklahoma City and is on a hot streak. The pitching staff is finally having a good month, and a big part of that has been the bullpen. The last note is the most telling one and shows the funk that the RedHawks had been in. They dropped out of first place in the division and a large part of that is due to their offense which had been so good for the majority of the season.

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