Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Biscuits Host Wahoos, What to Look For


The Biscuits open a five game set against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Biscuits are essentially fighting for second in the North Division, now just a game behind the Smokies who are in that second place - a spot that could become a playoff ticket.

The Wahoos have already earned their playoff berth, winning the first half in the South Division. Now they sit comfortably in the third spot and are just biding their time until the postseason. They are a talented team full of prospects and veteran coaching.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The Wahoos are loaded on top shelf potential. A tough series is ahead for the Biscuits, who need to keep pace with the Smokies over the next six weeks or so.

The Biscuits lead the league in average, the Wahoos are last. Look for the Biscuits to out-hit the Wahoos and continue to be aggressive on the basepaths.

Pitching is the Pensacola strength, nobody allows fewer hits or runs than the Wahoos. Look for the Biscuits to have trouble getting guys across the plate. However, a couple of the P'cola starters have been promoted in recent weeks, leaving the Wahoo's a little short at times.

And not just the Wahoo starters doing well, the fish bullpen has been solid by league standards. Leading in saves and second in Holds, the Wahoo relief corp is usually steady at the end of games.

LOOK FOR TOUTED PROSPECTS
The Reds top prospect, Nick Senzel highlights what is essentially an organizational All-Star squad.

Also appearing among the cast of Cinci hopefuls in the top 30 are #4 prospect Aristedes Aquino, second baseman Shed Long is listed at 13, 16th is pitcher Rookie Davis, #18 prospect Nick Longhi is on the DL, #19 Keury Mella, #23 Blake Trahan, #25 Calten Daal (DL) and #26 Gavin LaValley.


Whoa, I told you they were loaded!
Of the many names on that list, perhaps the standout is the one that doesn't stand out. Diminutive Shed Long doesn't have the look most people expect from ballplayers, but do not let that fool you. My scouts tell me that Long "looks like the batboy but has plenty of pop" as well as being a solid glove man.


SLEEPER PICK NOT SLEEPING
Not on that list is pitcher Deck McGuire. He is currently fourth in the league in ERA, but two of the guys he is behind are no longer in the league. The other two were also Wahoos, Tyler Mahle is now in Louisville and Luis Castillo is pitching for the Reds. Look for Deck McGuire to challenge Biscuit hitters and rack up strikeouts in game three.

TYLER RETURNS
Look for former Biscuit and Rule 5 Big Leaguer Tyler Goeddel. As a Biscuit in 2015 he had a three homer game at Riverwalk and was selected in the Rule 5 draft and spent all of 2016 as a Philadelphia Phillie.

Now with the Reds, Tyler returns to Montgomery for the first time since being selected by the Phils.


GABBY GUERRERO
And if that ain't enough, there is also Gabby Guerrero - nephew of the great Vladimir Guerrero. The two look very similar at the plate, with bare hands and long legs. When I tweeted the pic I took of Gabby to Vlad, even he agreed "Looks the same!"

While Gabby doesn't quite have his uncles power, the Wahoo Guerrero did win the Southern league Home Run Derby. He also has an excellent throwing arm in right field, much like his famous uncle.




LOOK FOR (EVEN MORE) NEW GUYS
If you haven't seen a game in a couple months, you might not recognize the names on the roster. The Biscuits are getting reinforcements now in droves, pitcher Drew Smith and first baseman Jake Cronenworth. Perhaps the Skitz are gearing up for a serious playoff run.

Cronenworth earned his promotion by leading the Stone Crabs in walks and swatting a steady .268 average from the left side. Primarily a first baseman, he will likely share time at the first sack with Dalton Kelly, with both also getting into the lineup as DH. Thats assuming there hasn't been an injury we don't yet know about!

Drew Smith provides solid relief, coming over from the Tigers organization earlier this year. Smith hasn't allowed an earned run since the start of June, a span of twelve appearances. That may not hold out all year, but it is just the kind of hurler the Biscuits need.


BISCUITS ROTATION
The current rotation is likely
Cabrera, Fierro, Mujica, Darnell and Adkins.



FORMER SKITZ ON THE MEND
Chris Kirsch
Former Biscuit Chris Kirsch made one rehab appearance for the GCL Rays. Kirsch is working his way back from hip labrum surgery. He said it is possible he could come back as a reliever, but hopes to move up to Durham without a stop in Montgomery. Kirsch is the only pitcher to win a playoff game while wearing a Biscuits uniform since 2008, a span of nearly ten seasons.

Another former Biscuit, Jamie Schultz, was sent to the Stone Crabs as he works his way back into form. Schultz set the Biscuits single season strikeout record in 2015 with 168. Jamie has been in five games this year at three different levels and could be in line for a stint with Montgomery at some point soon.

If Kevin Kiermaier needs a rehab game or two this week, perhaps he could do it with the Biscuits. Durham and Port Charlotte are on the road this week. Just sayin.


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