The Asheville Tourists’ first homestand of the season was a successful one, beginning with a roaring Thirsty Thursday home opener. During the seven-game stint at McCormick Field, the T’s went 4-3, splitting a four-game set with the Delmarva Shorebirds and taking two of three from the West Virginia Power. With that record, Asheville leads the Southern Division of the South Atlantic League by a half-game over the Charleston River Dogs and Greenville Drive.
Who’s Standing Out
Last week, I highlighted a trio of hitters to keep an eye on during the 2014 season, while overlooking the pitchers. Let’s make up for that oversight, as several Tourists hurlers did well during the season-opening homestand.
Leading the way is starting pitcher Johendi Jiminian. The right-hander won his first two starts of the season, allowing no runs and just six hits in 11 innings of work. Jiminian also struck out nine batters while only walking two. Opposing batters are hitting only .150 against him thus far. Antonio Senzatela and Alex Balog also pitched well in their debut appearances.
The Tourists’ bullpen looks to be a strength throughout the year. Reliever Dylan Stamey has performed well as the team’s closer, notching three saves in his first three appearances. He’s allowed no runs and one hit while striking out three batters, proving to be a reliable presence for Asheville when he comes in to pitch the ninth inning. Carlos Estevez has also been strong in relief, striking out five batters in 4 2/3 innings and allowing only one run. Matt Carasiti, Troy Neiman and Trent Blank have helped to protect leads and shut down opposing rallies in later innings. Left-hander Trent Daniel is another standout, striking out five batters in two innings.
As can typically be expected from a Tourists team, several hitters are swinging hot bats to begin the season. Third baseman Ryan McMahon and first baseman Correlle Prime have both slugged two home runs, leading the team in that category. Those two also have four RBI (Runs Batted In), joining catcher Jose Briceno. Outfielder Jordan Patterson leads Tourists batters with five RBI. Raimel Tapia has lived up to his early-season hype, batting .370 (10-for-27) at the top of the lineup. Shortstop Pat Valaika has anchored the bottom of the batting order, hitting .412 (7-for-17).
David Dahl came into the 2014 season with a bright spotlight shining on him. It’s early in the year, of course, but Dahl may be pressing to meet those expectations. In his first six games, the Rockies’ 2012 first-round pick is batting .222 with a .694 OPS (On-Base plus Slugging), though he does have one home run with three RBI and has shown good instincts running the bases. Fellow outfielder Max White is off to a rough start, batting .056 (1-for-18) as he continues to develop his skills.
Pitcher Zach Jemiola was roughed up in his debut for the Tourists, giving up seven runs and 10 hits over four innings versus Delmarva. However, he rebounded nicely in his second start, allowing two runs and four hits during 5 2/3 innings against West Virginia. Another Asheville pitcher who redeemed himself in his second outing was reliever Marc Magliaro. He allowed two runs in his initial appearance, but shook that off — especially important for a reliever — and came back to pitch a scoreless inning his next time out.
Konner Wade also pitched poorly in his first action of the season. To be fair, he was pushed back a day when Monday’s game was postponed and that could have thrown him off schedule. Additionally, it was a cold day when Wade pitched the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Nonetheless, he served up six runs and seven hits in five innings of work.
The Tourists hit the road for a seven-game trip beginning on Thursday. They’ll play four games against the Hickory Crawdads through the weekend, followed by a three-game tilt at West Virginia. Top players on the Crawdads roster to keep an eye on include shortstop Luis Marte (batting .381), first baseman Lewis Guzman, outfielder Lewis Brinson and pitcher Yohander Mendez. Asheville could be fortunate to miss starting pitcher Cole Wiper, who’s pitched well in his first two starts of the year. But the Tourists will likely face Ricardo Rodriguez, who allowed no runs in his previous appearance.
*** The Asheville Tourists return to McCormick Field next week for a three-game set against Hickory. The series begins with a Thirsty Thursday on April 17. Single game tickets are currently available at the McCormick Field box office. For more information, contact the Tourists’ front office at (828) 258-0428.
Ian Casselberry covers Major League Baseball at The Outside Corner and provides analysis for The WISE Guys on ESPN Asheville (1310 and 970 AM) every Tuesday at 4:20 p.m. Follow Ian on Twitter.
Won 4 of their last 5. Go Tourists!
Serious question, at what point does a town get considered for a higher class of team? As in The Tourists moving up to be a Double-A team instead of just a single-A team?
Great question, Doug. I will get to work on finding an answer for you.
Cold weather is always a big factor this early in the season. Thanks for the update.