The Maintaineers expect to have much of the same roster in Season 12 as in Season 11. Gone are reliever Shane Shumaker, journeyman catcher Brett Gardner and right fielder Max James. Shumaker lost his right-handed specialist job in midseason due to his 2.06 WHIP. James spent most of Season 11 in AAA.
Gardner played well but had to move out of the way for the 21 year old hot prospect Jimmie Franco. Franco lit up major league pitching, hitting .344 with a 1.079 OPS. Al Vallarta split time at catcher and was very productive. The two combined for 45 home runs and 116 RBI’s.
The Season 11 lineup featured six everyday players with 20 or more home runs. Left fielder Stan Lee set personal highs with 56 home runs and 155 RBI’s. He had his fifth consecutive season with fewer strike outs than walks. He also let the team in stolen bases with 31. Oh yeah, don’t forget that new MVP trophy for the fire place mantle.
Alexander Henry is a fixture at first base. He finished his 10th season with the Maintaineers by breaking into the top five in career home runs! Not bad for being 31 years of age. Henry followed his Season 10 MVP with 39 home runs and 109 RBI’s. Alexander the Great enjoys the spotlight as demonstrated by his All-Star MVP award. AAA phenom, Tony Unamuno is chomping at the bit waiting for a chance at the major league. He slugged 28 homers and hit .306.
Right fielder Garrett Stewart continues to set the table, scoring 120 runs with a .377 OBP. He also hit 27 homers.
OK, let’s talk about pitching. The Season 11 pitching improved enough to get the team in the playoffs for the first time. Pitching Coach Brian Peterson earned all of his $3M salary. Paul Hayashi continued to pitch like an ace, with 218 IP, a 3.10 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, all of which are career bests. Clarence Sanders also had career bests in IP, WHIP and wins. 22 year old rookie Santiago Silva contributed 14 quality starts. Veteran Damian Finnessey returned to the starting lineup and posted a 1.31 WHIP.
Closer Jerry Woods pitched himself to #1 in career appearances with 787. Rubber armed Victor Julio made 99 appearances, a franchise record. A trio of short relievers put out a lot fires. Rookie Matt Peters made 80 appearances. Peters was acquired in the Kordell Hernandez trade with the Yanks. Fellow rookie David Jang held opponents to a .235 OAV. Free agent Luis Mesa posted a 3.82 ERA. We definitely want Bullpen coach Alex Prieto back for Season 12. Long relievers Sammy Koch and Davey Caminiti tossed 248 innings.
AAA closer Lou O’Brien is expected to make the big league club in spring training as a set up man. He anchored the AAA bullpen with a 1.16 WHIP. He was a first round pick in Season 8. He has big league stuff with a sinker and changeup, inducing a lot of ground balls. He has excellent control with 71 strike-outs in 63 innings pitched.
The Maintaineers are young with an average age of 26 years old. They continue to build from within and place much value in the farm system. Top AAA prospects are 1B Tony Unamuno, left fielder Tike Diaz and pitcher Zeus Henley. Henley went 13-9 with a 4.03 ERA. Diaz has 64 AAA homers. 1B Willie Dunn mashed 32 home runs at AA. First round pick Jamie Bradley cruised through three levels of minor league ball with a 1.16 WHIP. International free agent Esteban Calles posted a stingy 1.44 ERA at low A and high A.