Buies Creek followed up a solid 2017 season with an even better 2018 season. They dominated the majority of the season and ended up winning the Carolina League Championship. Here is a review of the season Buies Creek put together.
2018 Record: 80-57, Carolina League Champions
Buies Creek got off to a hot start in 2018 going 16-8 during the month of April. They evened out a bit in May going 14-15 but found themselves in a good position. Buies Creek finished off the first half going 14-11 during the month of June. They finished the first half second to Winston-Salem.
Buies Creek continued to play .500+ baseball finishing 15-13 in July. Buies Creek finished the regular season strong going 18-10 in August and 3-0 in September as they went into the playoffs hot. Buies Creek opened up the playoffs in a five game series against Winston-Salem. Buies Creek made quick work sweeping the series 3-0 that including some dominating pitching from Hernandez and Ivey. They moved onto the championship series against Potomac, but due to Hurricane Florence, they played a one game winner take all. Buies Creek won this one game championship on a walk-off sac fly from Arauz.
There were several players that did make an impact, as is the case every season. J.J. Matijevic was a key contributor for Buies Creek as he had 20 2B and 19 HR in 88 games. Josh Rojas started with Buies Creek and had a .921 OPS before being promoted to Corpus Christi. Corey Julks, product of U of H, hit .282 with .820 OPS in 61 games for Buies Creek. Abraham Toro-Hernandez started the season in Buies Creek and had 14 HR, 56 RBI and a .834 OPS in 83 games. Ronnie Dawson lead the team in stolen bases despite being promoted to Corpus Christi later in the season.
The pitching was great with Brandon Bailey leading the way. Bailey had a 2.49 ERA with 113 K in 97.2 innings. Carson LaRue lead the staff in innings pitching with 116.1 innings. Abdiel Saldana was a solid starter for Buies Creek posting a 3.25 ERA in 108 innings. Brandon Bielak dominated during his time with Buies Creek (2.10 ERA in 55.2 innings). Tyler Ivey (2.69 ERA, 10.5 K/9) and Cristian Javier (3.41 ERA, 9.8 K/9) were both great following their promotions from Quad Cities. Here are the team leaders:
Hits - Osvaldo Duarte (134)
Doubles - Osvaldo Duarte (22)
Triples - Osvaldo Duarte (9)
Home Runs - J.J. Matjevic (19)
Runs Batted In - J.J. Matijevic (57)
Average - Corey Julks (.282)
Stolen Bases - Ronnie Dawson (29)
OPS - J.J. Matijevic (.849)
Innings Pitched - Carson LaRue (116.1)
Saves - Colin McKee (7)
Strikeouts - Brandon Bailey (113)
Earned Run Average - Brandon Bielak (2.10) - minimum 50 IP
J.J. Matijevic, OF
Matijevic was drafted by the Astros in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft. He struggled a bit following the draft but had a very good 2018 season. He started the year with Quad Cities and hit .354 in 13 games before being promoted to Buies Creek. Matijevic played in 88 games for Buies Creek and showed off good power hitting 20 2B and 19 HR for a .513 SLG.
Osvaldo Duarte, 2B
Duarte had a mini breakout in 2016 but followed it up with a disappointing 2017 season. Duarte spent the entire 2018 season with Buies Creek but was a staple in their lineup. He hit .276 with a .738 OPS and had 22 2B, 9 3B, and 7 HR. He really turned it on in the second half hitting .301 with .377 OBP in 65 second half games.
Brandon Bailey, RHP
The Astros acquired Bailey in the deal that sent Laureano to Oakland prior to the 2018 season. Bailey pitched the majority of the season in Buies Creek and was arguably the ace of the staff. He had a 2.49 ERA with 113 K in 97.2 innings. He dominated in the second half of the season posting a 1.31 ERA with 8 BB/45 K in 41.1 innings.
Tyler Ivey, RHP
Ivey was a third round selection of the Astros in the 2017 draft. He put together a great 2018 season splitting time between Quad Cities and Buies Creek. He had a 3.46 ERA with QC but 8 BB/53 K in 41.2 innings. He was promoted to Buies Creek where he was even better striking out 82 in 70.2 innings with a 2.69 ERA. Overall he had a 2.97 ERA and 2.40 FIP.
The Astros won’t be in Buies Creek next year as they are moving in to their permanent location in Fayetteville. Seth Beer could be a guy who starts back in High-A, but the Astros could be aggressive with him too. Peter Solomon will most likely start in High-A and will look to build on a great 2018. Corey Julks and Jake Meyers may give Fayetteville a couple exciting outfielders to start the season. Chad Donato and Parker Mushinski appear to be headed for Fayetteville and could anchor their pitching staff.