This will be the final season recap. We have already looked at the seasons for the DSL Astros, the GCL Astros, the Greeneville Astros, the Lexington Legends, the Oklahoma City Redhawks, the Corpus Christi Hooks, and the Tri-City ValleyCats. Now a look at the California League Champion Lancaster JetHawks. Here's a quick look at how the 2011 and 2012 teams compare.
2011 Wins-Losses/Win Percentage: 55-85/.393
2012 Wins-Losses/Win Percentage: 74-66/.529
2011 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential: 749 - 929 = (180)
2012 Runs Scored - Runs Allowed = Run Differential: 843 - 786 = 57
2011 Team ERA & WHIP: 5.96 & 1.569
2012 Team ERA & WHIP: 5.00 & 1.458
2011 Team Batting Line: .280/.352/.420
2012 Team Batting Line: .283/.353/.448
Out of ten teams in the league, the offense ranked highly (second place) in team batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and RBI, was in third place in home runs and was in the top half in stolen bases, triples and walks. However, they also struck out more than any other team in the league.
The pitching didn't rank as highly as the offense with the team ERA at ninth out of ten, but the team WHIP was fifth. They ranked dead last in strikeouts, but only two teams issued fewer free passes than the JetHawks staff. They were third in saves in the league.
This was a fun team to follow this year. They started out losing their first four games and 12 out of their first 17, but they never said die. They just kept coming back. They got hot (really hot) at the right time to earn a wild card playoff spot which they parlayed into the California League Championship crown.
In a park known as a hitter's park, there were certainly many great offensive performances, but the triumverate of George Springer, Domingo Santana and Erik Castro were particularly good and ranked highly in the league in numerous categories. Unfortunately, one of the categories that they ranked highly in was strikeouts as these three plus teammate Telvin Nash constituted four of the top ten strikeout artists in the league. But let's not dwell on the bad. Let's look at the good!
OF George Springer ranked sixth in the league in batting average and fifth in the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage before his promotion to Corpus Christi in August. And despite having been gone from the league for almost a month, he still ranked second in runs scored, third in triples, eighth in stolen bases, tenth in home runs and in the top 20 in hits, RBI and walks. He hit .316/.398/.557 in 106 games for Lancaster. He finished the season with a total of 21 doubles, 10 triples, 24 home runs, 87 RBI and 32 stolen bases.
RF Domingo Santana was in the top ten in the league in on-base percentage, slugging, runs scored, home runs and RBI, and in the top 20 in batting average, hits, doubles and walks. He hit .302/.385/.536 with 26 doubles, six triples, 23 home runs and 97 RBI. In the post-season, he hit .273 with six RBI.
1B Erik Castro was second in the league with 108 RBI (which tied him for first in the organization with Lexington's Zach Johnson), third in home runs and walks, tenth in slugging percentage and runs scored, and in the top 20 in on-base percentage, hits and doubles. He ended the season with a .285/.382/.511 batting line, 27 doubles, one triple and 27 home runs. He hit .306 in the post-season with five doubles and eight RBI.
2B Delino DeShields only spent 24 games with Lancaster after hitting .298/.401/.439 for Lexington. He ended the season hitting .287/.389/.428 with 24 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs, 113 runs scored and 101 stolen bases. He hit .318 with two doubles, a home run, three RBI and four stolen bases in the post-season and was named team MVP for the California League Finals.
Despite spending roughly a month in Corpus Christi after his promotion, the 21-year old 2B Kike Hernandez still ranked in the top 10 in the league in triples and in the top 20 in the league in doubles. He hit .275/.318/.418 for Lancaster and ended the season with 27 doubles, seven triples and six home runs.
There were other performances of note as well. LF/DH Telvin Nash ranked second in the league in home runs with 29 and in the top 20 in slugging percentage and RBI. 3B Jonathan Meyer was in the top 20 in hits during the regular season and was an absolute beast in the post-season, hitting .343 with three doubles, two home runs, ten RBI and a stolen base. OF Chris Epps shone in limited playing time (46 games) with Lancaster and put up a .589 slugging percentage. He was another post-season star as he hit .353 with three doubles, one triple, one home run, four RBI and a stolen base. OF Grant Hogue couldn't stay off the DL, but in 43 games he stole 27 bases (just one fewer than George Springer had in 106 games for Lancaster) and hit .361/.421/.458. And 1B Rafy Valenzuela was one of those players who picked the right time to get hot. He finished the season with a respectable .284/.349/.429, but hit a jaw-dropping .429/.432/.771 in his last 10 games. He went on to hit .412 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI in the post-season. Another contributor to the JetHawks was OF Drew Muren. Muren spent 48 games with Lexington, 33 games with Corpus Christi and 21 games in Lancaster hitting a combined .291/.341/.409.
There were notable season performances from the pitching staff as well.
In particular, RHP David Martinez had a solid season finishing 11th in the league among qualifying pitchers with a 4.38 ERA and eighth in the league with a 1.335 WHIP in 27 games (26 starts). But it was the way that he finished the season that should open some eyes. In his last 10 appearances, he was 7-1 with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.293 WHIP. He went on to a 2-0 record in the post-season with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP.
RHP Bobby Doran started out the season pitching extremely well at Lancaster meriting a promotion to Corpus Christi. Doran finished the season with a combined 14-6 record, 4.00 ERA and a 1.284 WHIP. Similarly, RHP Nick Tropeano excelled at Lexington, leading to his promotion to Lancaster. Tropeano put up a very good 6-3 record with a 3.31 ERA and a 1.316 WHIP at Lancaster with an overall record of 12-7, 3.02 ERA, 1.241 WHIP and an organization-leading 166 strikeouts. The combination of Bobby Doran early in the season and Nick Tropeano late in the season allowed the JetHawks to stay in the wild card race. Tropeano put up a 3.00 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP in two post-season appearances.
RHP Tyson Perez (5.03 ERA and 1.508 WHIP) tied Martinez for team lead in wins with nine in his second year in the Astros organization after pitching in the Greeneville rookie league in 2011. In the post-season, Perez was 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.154 WHIP.
RHP R.J. Alaniz (5.07 ERA and 1.390 WHIP) was one of the more productive members of the staff with a 6-2 record before being shut down for the season due to shoulder issues in July.
Out of the bullpen, RHP Andrew Robinson struggled early in the season, but from May through August he was one of Lancaster's most dependable pitchers as he put up a 2.77 ERA and a 1.173 WHIP in 37 appearances.
RHP Carlos Quevedo was a much needed middle relief addition when he came from Lexington in July. In 15 appearances for Lancaster, he put up a 2.04 ERA and a 1.064 WHIP and finished the season with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.085 WHIP.
RHP Chia-Jen Lo had a 1.42 ERA and a 0.985 WHIP in 11 appearances for Lancaster. LHP Pat Urckfitz was a fixture out of the bullpen, making 45 appearances with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.357 WHIP. Urckfitz, Robinson and RHP Jorge de Leon combined for a 0.00 ERA in their post-season appearances.
And last, but certainly not least, was the late addition of LHP Kenny Long who put up a 1.13 ERA and a 0.625 WHIP in 12 appearances for Lancaster and who, incidentally, recorded the final out to give Lancaster the California League Championship.
This was a team that had a lot of solid pieces from top to bottom. They worked well together and I witnessed first-hand how tight-knit and supportive of each other they were. If only one team could win an LCS this year, I'm glad it was them. Cheers on a storybook season with a fairytale ending! I can't wait to read the next chapter.