Though you can never win them all, the 2010 Salem Red Sox have won quite a few here in April to ascend to the top of the Carolina League. Even after dropping two out of three to Frederick this past weekend, Salem still sits at 12-5, tied for the best mark in the league. Red Sox Nation is justifiably excited about the performances of many Boston prospects, both on the mound and at the bat.
From a power perspective, Catcher/DH Ryan Lavarnway has stood out among other standouts. Through 17 games, Lavarnway has hit six home runs and has driven in 22 runs, both tops in the league. Impressively, he has also hit for average, batting a robust .377, in the top 5 of the league. A year after finishing tops in the Red Sox minor league organization with 21 homers, Lavarnway has more than adjusted to the jump in level from Low-A to Advanced-A. He truly has thrived here in April in a league that generally is considered to favor the pitchers. With a consistent swing and a steady approach, the Yale-alum had made an early statement to be a midsummer All-Star.
But Lavarnway’s remarkable offensive performance should not diminish some other astounding numbers compiled by players like Oscar Tejeda and Will Middlebrooks. Tejeda leads the team with nine multi-hit games and has hit an absurd .410 through 17 games. The Dominican second-baseman has also flexed his power potential, exceeding his 2009 home run total in April alone, jacking four round-trippers already in 2010. Middlebrooks is a dynamic third-baseman who has five-tool capabilities, evidenced by his .367 average and consistent defense presence at the hot corner. An athletic frame provides excellent range and a cannon arm, capable of handling even the toughest rollers and the longest throws. Middlebrooks should be a player whose power grows as the season and his career progresses, but he crushed his first home run of the season this past Sunday in Frederick.
The offense has been arguably the best in the league, but no team wins without consistently reliable pitching, and the Salem Sox have possessed a coalition of arms that had provided the foundation for a dozen wins. Fabian Williamson, Salem’s lone lefty starter, is off to a 3-0 start with a miniscule 1.20 ERA. Williamson has thrown five superb innings in each of his three starts, allowing just two runs over 15 frames on the year. Opening Day starter Stolmy Pimentel has also excelled with a 2-0 record in four starts, but the Sox are 4-0 in games begun by Pimentel. As the youngest player on the team, Pimentel should only improve as he gains comfort and confidence at this level. A plethora of bullpen arms have also displayed flashes of brilliance, providing pitching coach Dick Such with a variety of options, all capable of getting outs.
The Salem Red Sox open a six-game homestand on Monday, an important stretch for the Sox as they host Wilmington and Kinston. This will conclude a stretch of 13 out of 16 games at home, and it immediately precedes a daunting stretch of 14 of the next 18 on the road.
Don’t forget to come by the park this Saturday. 1,000 fans will receive free admission to the Luray Caverns. For more information on the Caverns, visit www.luraycaverns.com.