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Season Recap: Eastern League Champions, New Hampshire Fisher Cats

 

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA) finished the season in first place in the Eastern League’s Eastern division with a 77-65 record.

The Fisher Cats had an amazing post season run which ended in winning the Eastern League title against the Richmond Flying Squirrels (affiliate of the San Francisco Giants). The team had many things to be proud of in 2011 including the Eastern League title and had their manager, Sal Fasano, named manager of the year.

BATTING

The team finished sixth in the league in batting average, producing an overall .259 average for the year. As a team, they hit 256 doubles (fourth), 27 triples, 134 homeruns (fourth) and 623 RBI (second). They also scored 676 runs as a team which placed second in the league. They drew 438 walks but did strikeout 1043 times.

Many key players contributed to the success of this line-up including:

1) C Travis d’Arnaud: d’Arnaud was the afterthought of the 2009 trade of Roy Halladay which also included Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace, who was later traded for Anthony Gose. d’Arnaud enjoyed a comeback 2011 campaign after his season was cut short in 2010 because of a back injury. He hit for a .311 (fifth in the league)/.371/.542 clip, also hitting 33 doubles, one triple, 21 homeruns (fourth in the league) and drove in 78 runs (sixth in the league). He was rewarded for a breakout season being named to the EAS Mid/Post-Season All-Star teams, EAS Most Valuable Player, Baseball America Double-A All-Star team and Baseball America second All-Star team.

2) OF Anthony Gose: Gose was highly coveted by Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos but the Phillies held him out of the 2009 Roy Halladay trade. AA didn’t quit swinging a 3-way deal with the Phillies and Astros in 2010, sending Brett Wallace to the Astros for Gose, in the blockbuster that sent Roy Oswalt to the Phillies. His slash line in 2011 was .253/.349/.415 also hitting 20 doubles, seven triples, 16 homeruns and drove in 59 runs. He improved his base running skills, using that plus speed of his by swiping 70 bases (first in league) in 85 attempts for an 82% rate. One thing the 21-year-old outfielder needs to improve is pitch recognition; he struck out 154 times while walking 62 times in 137 games. Gose was rewarded for his season being named an EAS Post-Season All-Star.

3) 1B Mike McDade: McDade was a sixth round draft pick of the Blue Jays in the 2007 MLB draft. The big first-basemen had a breakout 2011 campaign offensively and was a big part of the Fisher Cats offense. He hit for a .281/.328/.457 clip while also hitting 37 doubles (second in the league), 16 homeruns and drove in 74 runs (10th in the league). If McDade could improve one thing it would be his strikeout:walk ratio which was a very poor 4:1 ratio. He struck out 104 times while only walking 28 times in 125 games. He was rewarded for a breakout season being named to the EAS Mid-Season All-Star team. Click here to read McDade’s interview with JaysProspects.

4) OF Moises Sierra: Sierra was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Blue Jays in 2005. He has struggled to put together a consistent offensive game since joining the organization. He has plus power potential and a rocket of an arm from the outfield. His 2011 season was a step in the right direction for the 23-year-old hitting for a slash line of .277/.342/.436. He also hit 19 doubles, three triples, 18 homeruns and drove in 67 runs. He showed some plate discipline walking 39 times while striking out 93 times. He showed some good speed stealing 16 bases this year but needs to work on his base stealing; he was caught 14 times (which was third most in the league). Sierra was named to the EAS Mid-Season All-Star team.

5) 3B Mark Sobolewski: The 25-year-old infielder was drafted in the fourth round in the 2008 MLB draft. Sobolewski played an important role in the Fisher Cats offense in 2011. He hit for a .273/.324/.383 clip while also hitting 20 doubles, eight homeruns and drove in 49 runs.

Honourable Mention: SS Adeiny Hechavarria: The highly touted 21-year-old Cuban signed a 4 year, $10 million contract on April 13, 2010 with the Blue Jays. He is known across the minors for his defensive abilities but also improve his batting a little bit in 2011. He had a slash line of .235/.275/.347 for the Fisher Cats in 111 games. He also hit 22 doubles, six triples, 6 homeruns and drove in 46 runs. He showed some speed stealing 19 bases but was caught 13 times. That is one aspect to improve to take him to the next level. He was rewarded for his season being named to the EAS Mid/Post-Season All-star teams.

PITCHING

New Hampshire placed fourth in the league in team ERA with a respectable 3.70, allowing 506 earned runs in 1230 innings pitched. They had a few key stats that contributed their pitching success, as a team allowed the fourth least homeruns with 97, fourth least walks with 415, fourth most strikeouts with 1100 and least hit by pitches with 54. Many key players contributed to the success of this pitching staff including:

1) RHP Joel Carreno: Carreno was signed by the Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent in 2004. He has pitched out of the rotation throughout his minor league career and has succeeded. Carreno was a big part of the Fisher Cats rotation for the regular season which earned him a call-up by the Blue Jays on August 19, 2011. He went 7-9 with a 3.41ERA during the Fisher Cats season in 24 games (23 starts). He also struck out an amazing 152 batters while walking only 68 in just over 134 innings pitched. He was rewarded for his regular season effort being named to the EAS Mid-Season All-Star team.

2) RHP Chad Jenkins: Jenkins was a first round pick in 2009 (20thoverall) by the Blue Jays. He had a strong start to his professional career in 2010 and looked to build on that in 2011. He started in Dunedin where he performed well and got the call-up to the Fisher Cats. He was a reliable starter for the Cats going 5-7 with a 4.13ERA in 16 starts. He struck out 74 batters while walking only 24 in just over a 100 innings.

3) RHP Yohan Pino: Pino was a minor league pick-up for New Hampshire and really impressed. He pitched both out of the bullpen and the rotation for the Cats. He went 4-8 with a 4.14ERA in 36 games (10 starts). He struck out 104 batters while only walking 14 in just over 95 innings pitched. He was a big part of the Championship team.

4) LHP Evan Crawford: Crawford was an eighth round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2008 MLB draft. He was a reliable reliever for the Fisher Cats in 2011. He went 3-5 with a 3.35ERA in 45 games, he struck out 62 batters while walking 21 in 51 innings pitched. He was a big part of the bullpen during the Championship playoffs.

5) RHP Henderson Alvarez: Alvarez was signed as an infielder/pitcher, in August of 2006. The Blue Jays saw potential in him more as a pitcher and that’s what he became as a pro. He was a key pitcher for the Fisher Cats during the regular season before eventually being recalled by the Blue Jays. He went 8-4 with a 2.86ERA in 15 games (14 starts), he struck out 70 batters while only walking 17 in just over 96 innings pitched. He was rewarded for his strong start to the season being named to the EAS Mid-Season All-Star game as well as being a Futures Game Selection.

Honourable Mention: RHP Chad Beck: Beck was a part of a trade that sent David Eckstein to the D’Backs in 2008. He is widely known for lighting up radar guns with his 95MPH fastball. In 2011, Beck was a vital piece of the pitching staff during the regular season. He went 7-4 with a 3.69ERA in 22 games (14 starts), he struck out 70 batters while walking 28 in 95 innings pitched.

Honourable Mention: RHP Bobby Korecky: Korecky was a minor league pick-up for the Blue Jays in the 2011 season and was a big part of the bullpen for the Fisher Cats. He went 3-3 with a 2.50ERA in 35 games, he struck out 40 batters while walking only 10 batters in just over 39 innings pitched. He was used as a closer for parts of the season, which saw him save 12 games, as well as the playoffs.

That sums up the season of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, JaysProspects looks forward to seeing what young talent is coming next to help defend the title!

Click here for the Dunedin Blue Jays’ season recap. Stay tuned for the season recap of the Las Vegas 51s!