The Tourists had a tough 2023 season, but still had some noteworthy performances. Let’s take a look.
2023 Record: 51-76, South Atlantic League South Division
The Tourists got off to a decent start going 8-9 in 17 games in April. They continued to play solid going 12-12 over 25 games during the month of May. June was rough as they went 6-18 in 24 games. The Tourists turned things around going 14-10 in July. They slipped in August going 8-19 over 27 games. They finished the season going 3-6 in September.
Here are the team leaders (min 150 AB or 40 IP):
Hits - Tim Borden (89)
2B - Kobe Kato (19)
3B - Zach Cole (3)
HR - Jacob Melton (18)
RBI - Ryan Wrobleski (56)
BA - Miguel Palma (.274)
SB - Jacob Melton (41)
OPS - Zach Cole (.829)
wRC+ - Zach Cole (124)
IP - Valente Bellozo (94.2)
SV - Carlos Calderon (4)
SO - Deylen Miley (120)
ERA - Nic Swanson (4.08)
Zach Cole, OF
Cole was drafted by the Astros in the 10th round of the 2022 draft. In the off-season I wrote a piece on him being a stealand he proved that this season. In 70 games for the Woodpeckers, Cole had 15 2B, 11 HR, 46 RBI and 25 SB while posting a .892 OPS. The offense had struggles, but he was the constant. He was later promoted to Asheville where he had a .829 OPS in 41 games. Overall he finished with 19 HR, 37 SB in 111 games.
Jacob Melton, OF
Melton was the Astros 2nd round pick in the 2022 draft, and he showed why during the 2023 season. The left-hander started the season off in High-A and, despite some early struggles, he hit 18 homers and stole 41 bases in 86 games. He was later promoted to Double-A where he had a .861 OPS in 3 games. Overall, Melton finished the season with 23 homers and 46 stolen bases showing off the power/speed combo.
Miguel Palma, C
At just 21-years-old, Palma was one of the youngest players on the Tourists. He started off the season well hitting .309 over the first 38 games before missing some time with injuries. When he came back he struggled a bit but still managed to hit .285 with a .767 OPS overall in 68 games. He has a way to go defensively but is a solid bat-first catching prospect.
A.J. Blubaugh, RHP
Blubaugh was drafted by the Astros in the 7th round of the 2022 draft after a college career that saw him pitch just 84 innings. The right-hander started the year in Asheville, a hitter friendly home and league, and posted a 4.94 ERA with 93 K in 85.2 innings. He was later promoted to Double-A where he finished the season with a 1.26 ERA in 14.1 innings. As solid first full season for Blubaugh.
Nic Swanson, RHP
Swanson was a 16th round pick in 2021 but put together a strong season this year. The right-hander started the year in Fayetteville and had a 2.61 ERA in 58.2 innings. He was then promoted to High-A where he had a very respectable 4.08 ERA. Overall he racked up 121 strikeouts in 116 innings between Single-A and High-A.