09/11/2006 6:08 PM ET
NY-Penn League Finals Preview
Staten Island Yankees vs. Tri-City ValleyCats
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
The Yankees won the season series, 4-2. Staten Island took two out of three in August, and another two out three to wrap up the regular season this past week. The Baby Bombers outscored the ValleyCats, 31-19, over the six games that the teams played against one another.
The Yankees hit .287 and slugged .385 against the ValleyCats. Francisco Cervelli went 7-for-13 (.538) with three doubles and five RBIs. Colin Curtis led the team in hits (nine) and RBIs (six). Seth Fortenberry collected eight hits in 21 at-bats (.381). Wilmer Pino went 7-for-22 (.318) with five RBIs. Wilkins De La Rosa went 1-for-13 (.077) but walked four times and scored six runs...Staten Island's pitching staff posted a 3.40 ERA against the ValleyCats. George Kontos allowed just one hit over six shutout innings in a dominating start on August 10. Edgar Soto went 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA over 12 2/3 innings pitched. Ian Kennedy, the first pick of the New York Yankees in the 2006 draft, hurled 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the ValleyCats in his professional debut last Wednesday.
The ValleyCats hit .188 and slugged .276 against the Yankees. Justin Tellam led the team with five RBIs, four of which came via his grand slam this past Wednesday. Greg Buchanan, Jordan Parraz and Eric Taylor were the only players to appear in all six games against Staten Island. The trio combined to go 16-for-62 (.258) with seven RBIs. Tim Torres collected just one hit over 18 at-bats...Tri-City posted a 4.93 ERA against Staten Island. Douglas Arguello went 1-0 with a 7.20 ERA and a team-high nine strikeouts over two starts. Casey Hudspeth pitched well despite his 0-1 record; the right-hander surrendered just three runs over 11 innings pitched. Polin Trinidad and Chad Wagler combined to toss nine innings of scoreless relief.
ON THE MOUND
Ian Kennedy will get the start in Game One. The former USC standout will be making just his second professional appearance after being selected by the Yankees in the first round of this year's draft. Angel Reyes, a 19-year-old southpaw, will start Game Two. Reyes went 1-0 with a 1.53 ERA over three starts for the Yankees after recieving a promotion from the Gulf Coast League. If Game Three is necessary, George Kontos will get the nod. The 21-year-old earned the win against Brooklyn in Saturday's playoff opener, allowing two runs over six innings. Staten Island's bullpen hurled five scoreless innings during their two-game sweep of the Cyclones.
The ValleyCats' rotation for the series will consist of Bryan Hallberg, Casey Hudspeth and Christopher Salamida. Hallberg went 4-3 with a 2.44 ERA over 15 appearances (12 starts), while Hudspeth went 3-4 with a 3.78 ERA over 64 1/3 innings pitched on the season. Salamida has been the league's best pitcher this season, as the dominating southpaw went 10-1 with a Bob Gibson-esque 1.06 ERA during the regular season. Salamida tossed six shutout innings against Auburn this past Saturday, as the ValleyCats edged the Doubledays, 1-0, in the first game of the playoffs. He has not faced the Yankees this season
AT THE PLATE
The Yankees hit .304 (21-for-69) and slugged .507 during their two-game sweep of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Kyle Larsen went yard in both games and hit .444 (4-for-9) with four RBIs overall. Wilmer Pino also collected four hits and drove in four runs, while Christopher Kunda went 3-for-7 with two doubles and scored four of the Yankees' 14 runs.
The ValleyCats hit .290 (20-for-69) but slugged just .319 during their two-game sweep of the Auburn Doubledays. Greg Buchanan, Jordan Parraz, Eric Taylor, Tim Torres and James Van Ostrand collected three hits apiece. Eighteen of the ValleyCats' 20 hits were singles.
Staten Island has been the NYPL's standard bearer in recent years, as the club won the league championship in 2000, 2002 and 2005. Not bad for a team who has only been in the league since 1999. Tri-City, which played its inaugural season in 2002, have made the playoffs just once before. In 2004, the club defeated the Cyclones in the first round before losing to Mahoning Valley in the finals.
SERIES COULD TURN ON...
Tri-City's bats coming alive. The ValleyCats couldn't solve the Staten Island pitchers during the regular season, and in the first round of the playoffs they managed just two extra-base hits. For Tri-City to succeed, offensive standouts like Parraz and Taylor are really going to have to step it up.
The Yankees will be in serious trouble should the series go to three games, as the ValleyCats will be able to start the nearly invincible Salamida. Staten Island is a better team from top to bottom, however, and will do everything in its considerable power to pull off a sweep. Staten Island in two.
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.