Cesar Puello's ninth inning home run wasn't enough to keep St. Lucie's season alive. (Photo courtesy of Bryan Green)
*All results from games played on Thursday, September 05, 2012
Hi-A St. Lucie (83-52)_____________________________
JUPITER 11, ST. LUCIE 7 (Box)
Despite the fact that St. Lucie pitching managed to limit Jupiter's dual outfield beasts Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna to 1-for-6 in this one, they just couldn't keep the rest of the Hammerheads lineup down. Namely, when the six through nine slots in the order go 9-for-20, that's not good. Nor was starter Chase Huchingson, who started things off on the wrong foot by allowing a three-spot before the Mets ever came to bat. After settling down a bit, three more runs chased Huchingson in the fourth.
The Mets did show some fight however, as they began the fifth inning with four straight hits -- including a bases loaded triple off the bat of Danny Muno -- ultimately rallying for five runs in the frame and pulling within one. Unfortunately, the Mets 'pen wasn't exactly what you'd call lockdown on this night. Despite 1.2 sterling innings -- and four more strikeouts -- from the Leather Rocket, all told the bullpen would allow nine baserunners and five more runs -- two unearned -- to put this one out of reach, thus deciding the South Division of the Florida State League playoffs by the score of two games to one in favor of the bad guys.
Regardless, it was another successful season in Port St. Lucie. Not only did the club set a new franchise record with an impressive 83 regular season wins, they experienced playoff baseball for the second straight year -- which is nothing to sneeze at. And most importantly for our purposes, featured a great deal of prospect talent that will likely pay dividends for the organization for years to come.
Short Season A - Brooklyn Cyclones (45-31)__________________________________
The Cyclones will kick off their playoff run tonight against the Hudson Valley Renegades -- SS-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays -- to decide the NYPL McNamara Division champion. While Brooklyn featured the NYPL's top pitching staff, leading the circuit in ERA (2.62), WHIP (1.05), saves (27), fewest hits allowed (565) and shutouts (10), the Renegades moundsmen were certainly no slouches. The Renegades will send out RHP Jesse Hahn (2.77 ERA) tonight while the 'Clones will feature arguably their best starter in RHP Hansel Robles (1.11 ERA, pictured). The series schedule is as follows:
Game 1 at Brooklyn, Sept. 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Game 2 at Hudson Valley, Sept. 8 at 7:05 p.m. ET
Game 3 at Hudson Valley (if necessary), Sept. 9 at 1:05 p.m. ET
Star of the Night
While he wasn't the only one with a home run last night, we're going to go with Alonzo Harris as he put an exclamation point on an already impressive 2012 season.
In fact, while he's still no sure thing, the 22-year-old Harris has most definitely breathed new life into his prospect status this season. After posting a disappointing .687 OPS with four homers, just 19 XBH's, 15 stolen bases and a 28:65 K-to- BB rate in Lo-A in 2012, Harris conquered Hi-A this year with a .778 OPS, eight home runs, 38 XBH's, 40 stolen bases and most impressively 44 walks versus 66 strikeouts.
Again, Harris likely doesn't profile as an everyday Major Leaguer even in an ideal world. But despite the fact that he's still got a long way to go, this season certainly went a long way in proving that Harris might have a role at the highest levels after all.
Goat of the Night
By all accounts this should be St. Lucie starter Chase Huchingson off a night where he did his best Steve Trachsel impersonation, putting the Mets behind the eight ball very early. It was a tough conclusion to a tough season for the 23-year-old lefty. As someone still very new to pitching full-time, Huchingson found a rather aggressive assignment to Hi-A quite challenging. Yet, the important thing is that even with his struggles the 6'5" lefty maintained a solid K-rate (7.60) while limiting the success of hitters (.260). I wouldn't give up on him just yet.
Additionally, I'm tempted to nominate Cory Vaughn here as he capped what was a rather frustrating 2012 season with another tough night. Now I certainly liked his second half (.855 OPS) better than the first (.770). And though his tools remain ever-present and he even features decent plate discipline, he hasn't done enough to prove he can make any of that relevant at the next level, let alone the big leagues.