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JetHawks Control Plate to Control Games

Despite a large step back in home run totals, Lancaster controlled the strike zone to find ways to reach home

Ryan Dunsmore

Of course Lancaster produced some offensive output. I mean it's Lancaster. If you know anything about the Astros minor league system, you know that Lancaster is an outrageous hitting environment and in general, the Cal League is known for some crazy offensive numbers. Yet, make no mistake that there are pitcher's parks in the league, but overall it's a hitter friendly league.

Considering the environment, you won't be surprised to hear that the JetHawks lead the league in doubles, triples, and OPS. They also came in second in batting average and slugging percentage. The surprising part is that they were just sixth in the ten team league in home runs.

The JetHawks offense continues to be different as Luhnow's draft picks fill the roster. Like last year, the JetHawks team was built around good at-bats as the lead the league in walks and had the fewest strikeouts for the second straight season. Yet, they took a large step back in home runs which resulted in an overall offensive output that was over 100 runs less than the 2013 team. But, then again it's not fair to compare anyone to the 13 team that scored more than 100 runs than any other team anyway.

The Sluggers

Five hitters amassed double digit home run totals and only two of those spent the entire season in a JetHawk uniform. Those were Roberto Pena (12) and Rio Ruiz (11). Conrad Gregor tapped into his power in Lancaster as he took full advantage of the environment to total 12 bombs. Outside of the Cal League, he only hit 4 in 77 games leaving power as a continued question mark in his future despite good contact skills and great plate discipline. Teoscar Hernandez hit 17 in the Cal League before a final month in Corpus where he added four more. But, more on him later. Jon Kemmer was the last one to get double digits with 12. He also took advantage of the environment as he and Gregor both struggled with power in Quad Cities but then piled on homers after their promotions. Unlike Gregor, Kemmer will need the power to be more real as he doesn't have the plate discipline of Gregor.

Brett Phillips didn't spend enough time to amass the home runs, but in his 27 games, he still was able to reach third on the team in SLG%. He was able to grab 8 home runs, just through two triples, and bang out eight doubles. Given more time, it appears quite likely he would have found himself on the HR leader board.

The On-Base Guys

We've already talked about the team leader with .449 OBP, but Gregor owns the strike zone. Despite just 47 games, he was able to truly leave a mark on this team. Phillips also found his way to a .421 OBP. Someone that has not been mentioned but shined in this area is Tony Kemp. Kemp had a high walk-rate along with an absurd average was able to be second on the team in OBP with .433.

There were seven different players that played significant time on this team that had OBP over .400. The smallest game totals were the two lowest in this group with 36 games a piece (Austin Elkins and Carlos Perdomo). Tyler White and of course Captain Correa were the other two.

The Stars

Rio Ruiz barely missed out on the previous group with a .387 OBP. Ruiz had an interesting season. He did very well at the plate but didn't exactly wow anyone with power numbers in this environment. He hit .293 but had a phenomenal 13.6% walk rate. The other impressive part at the plate was a 15.1% strikeout rate. Due to such a long tenure with the team and leading the team in games, he was a staple in the lineup. Given his young age, power should not be a major part of his game. It's very encouraging to see such a strong showing in the OBP department and will be very fun to see the power develop in the coming years.

I promised more on Teoscar. Well, this was easily the player to raise his stock the most on this team. He came out and truly opened a lot of eyes. He posted a .925 OPS and lead the team in home runs, triples, and stolen bases. He also was second on the team in doubles and walks. He worked with an 11% walk rate which is very encouraging. However, the downside here is a 26% strikeout rate.

How can I discuss the JetHawks without the real leader of the team for much of the season? Mr. Captain Correa had his season derailed for a fracture around his ankle. However, even is an injury shortened season Correa was able to reach some impressive numbers with a batting line of .325/.416/.510. He was one of nine JetHawks to have an OPS over .900. You have to be truly impressed with a player that was 19 years old during the season and was able to draw walks in 12.3% of his plate appearances and strikeout in just 15.4%. Nineteen years old in High-A.