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Florida State League Notebook

For the week of April 24
May 1, 2006
Brevard County Manatees (Milwaukee Brewers)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: The once mighty Manatees have fallen on hard times, losing three straight to St. Lucie en route to a 2-4 week. They now stand at 15-8 on the season and are in second place behind the Cardinals.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Hasan Rasheed has eight hits in his last five games, good for a .444 average. The outfielder has been almost as hot over the last 10, hitting .423 (11-for-26). ... Steve Sollmann continues to produce with seven hits and four runs in his last 21 at-bats. ... Brendan Katin has eight hits, including a homer, in his last five games. More on him in a moment. ... Hernan Iribarren has cooled off quite a bit. This time last week he was at the top of the hot list, but this week he had just four hits in his last 21 at-bats.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryan Braun has clearly found his power stroke. The 22-year old slugger has two homers in his last 12 at-bats and three in his last 32. He also has 10 RBIs in the stretch. Though he has struck out 20 times this year, his batting average stands at .289. Braun has also flashed some speed, stealing eight bases this season.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Hitting cleanup for the Manatees on Thursday, Katin collected two hits and three RBIs against Vero Beach. All three RBIs came in a four-run third inning when Katin took Matt Merricks deep. The blast turned out to be the game-winner.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "If I teach the guys to play the game right and they go out and do what we teach them, the winning is going to come. My priority is helping them develop into Major League players." -- Brevard County Manatees skipper Ramon Aviles to Florida Today after his team lost, 5-4, to St. Lucie on Monday.

Daytona Cubs (Chicago Cubs)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: Three straight losses to Palm Beach and three wins against Jupiter made it a 3-3 week for the Cubs (9-13 overall).

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Matt Craig is 6-for-16 in his last five games. The third baseman also hit a home run last week and has hit .412 in his last nine outings (14-for-34). ... Olin Wick also hit a home run last week while driving in four runs. ... Daniel Gonzalez continues to hit -- driving in three runs and going 7-for-17 in his last five games ...Sam Fuld has seven RBIs in his last 21 at-bats. ... Jemel Spearman can't get it going. He's 6-for-42 in his last 10 games (.143) and struggling even more over the last five, with just two hits in 23 tries.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Issmael Salas may not put up the power numbers, but he's become an important part of the Daytona attack. The 5-foot-9 infielder is 7-for-21 over the last 10 games -- lowering his average to .395.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Jake Fox just keeps hitting. The California native hammered out three hits against the Hammerheads on April 24. He was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs in an 8-7 victory over Jupiter, raising his average to .373. Fox followed up his big night with another -- banging out two hits and three RBIs the next night to lead the Cubs to a 14-7 win over the Hammerheads.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I made a lot of mistakes, and it showed. I let my emotions show on the mound. I let my emotions take over instead of stepping back and slowing down the game." -- Daytona pitcher Sean Gallagher to The News Journal after Monday's start against Jupiter. He allowed three runs in five innings, but still improved to 2-0.

Jupiter Hammerheads (Florida Marlins)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: Jupiter struggled at Daytona, losing three straight to the Cubs. A 2-4 week dropped the Hammerheads to 7-16.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Brett Carroll continues to shine with a homer, five RBIs and five runs scored in his last five games. The outfielder is hitting .360 on the season with a team-leading 12 RBIs. ... Brad Davis has five hits and three RBIs in his last four games. ... Grant Psomas is cooling off with just four hits in his last 22 at-bats. Despite the slide, he's still hitting .310 on the year.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brad McCann has struggled all season, but the 23-year old may be showing some signs of life. The infielders' average is up to .190 after a 5-for-17 stretch that included a homer (his second of the year). Despite his struggles, McCann has maintained his patience at the plate, walking 13 times this season. The walks have resulted in 11 runs scored (second on the team), keeping him in the lineup.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Jai Miller led the Hammerheads' offensive outbreak on Thursday. Jupiter scored 12 runs against St. Lucie and Miller accounted for five of those runs, going 3-for-4 with one run scored and four RBIs. Struggling early in the season, Miller's breakout day raised his average to .210.

Palm Beach Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: After starting the week with two losses to Vero Beach, the Cardinals finished strong with four straight wins. St. Louis raised their record to 15-7, good for first place in the East.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Blake Hawksworth is 2-1 in his last three outings, allowing just two earned runs in 16 innings of work. The starter also struck out 13 in that stretch. He was brilliant in the Cardinals' 2-1 win over Vero Beach on Saturday, allowing five hits in six innings without surrendering a run. ... Terry Evans defines hot with 12 hits in his last 23 at-bats (.523). More on him in a moment. ... Leadoff hitter Sean Danielson continues to struggle. His last five games have produced just two hits, dropping his average to .225.

PLAYER TO WATCH: It's hard to complain about someone that just keeps hitting. Michael Ferris has been consistently good despite the fact he hasn't produced the power Palm Beach might like from its first baseman and fifth hitter. Ferris is up to .329 on the season after a 2-for-4 performance Saturday. The 23-year old lefty is 7-for-20 in his last five games with three RBIs.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Thursday was a day that Evans will remember. The 24-year old went deep early in the game against Cubs pitcher Matt Weber for his fifth homer of the year. His second homer was even bigger. The 6-foot-3 righty stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 10th and a chance to end the game. He brought home two with his second homer of the game and sixth of the season in walk-off fashion as the Cardinals won the game 8-6. His 3-for-5 effort raised his average to .341.

St. Lucie Mets (New York Mets)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Mets started the week with three wins but ended it with three losses. A 3-3 week left them at 13-9 on the season and in third place behind Brevard County and Palm Beach in the East.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Mike Carp got it going last week. He went 6-for-17 (.353) with a homer and five RBIs after being hitless in his previous 10 at-bats. ... Josh Petersen was 2-for-4 on Saturday, capping a 6-for-14 performance over his last five games (.429) and raising his average to .345... Jose Coronado continues to struggle. In his last four games he's just 3-for-18 (.167) and in his last nine he's 6-for-37 (.162).

PLAYER TO WATCH: Leadoff hitter Corey Coles ended the week with a 2-for-5 performance against the Dodgers. The 6-foot-1 lefty is hitting .338 after going 16-for-44 in his last 10 games. St. Lucie would like to see more walks from its primary table setter (just three this season), but will need Coles to continue his hot performance if they plan to catch the Cardinals and Manatees in the East.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: A big day for Ambiorix Concepcion equaled a good day for the Mets. The 24-year-old was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs on Wednesday against Jupiter, raising his average to .329. His dinger was part of a five-run ninth-inning comeback. Concepcion delivered the shot against Harvey Garcia with the game knotted at 3-3. With two outs, Concepcion's walk-off blast deflated the Hammerheads, who thought they had broken a seven-game losing streak entering the ninth.

Vero Beach Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Dodgers hammered out four wins last week -- easily their best week this season -- and lost two. The 4-2 week pulled them closer to .500 on the season (8-14 overall).

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Cole Bruce has eight hits in his last 17 at-bats, raising his average to .294. He also has a homer and four runs scored in that stretch. ... David Nicholson capped off a 7-for-20 stretch with a 1-for-4 performance on Saturday against the Cardinals. He's now hitting .300 on the season. ... Jamie Hoffman is just 3-for-17 (.176) in his last five games, including an 0-for-4 performance Sunday against Palm Beach.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Christopher Malone had nine strikeouts in five innings during his Friday start against the Manatees. The 6-4 righty has 15 strikeouts in his last nine innings, and his 3.05 ERA is second only to Scott Elbert among starters on the Vero Beach staff.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Travis Denker lifted his own offensive game while helping Vero Beach win its Wednesday matchup against the Manatees. Entering the game with just a .180 average, Denker delivered two hits against Brevard County. The game was highlighted by his three-run double in the seventh inning. Denker raised his average to .203 and elevated his RBI total to nine.

Clearwater Threshers (Philadelphia Phillies)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: After a promising start, a dismal 1-5 week left the Threshers at 11-12 on the season. The team's only win came on Monday and Clearwater carried a five-game losing streak into Sunday's action.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: J.J. Johnson is the hottest in a universally cold group. The outfielder is batting .333 over his last five games with four runs scored and an RBI. ... Matt Thayer has also found his stroke, putting together four hits in his last 13 at-bats. ... Branden Florence has shown a knack for getting on base, stroking six hits in his last 19 at-bats. Much like Johnson and Thayer, Florence's average hasn't translated into run production (no RBIs in those five games). But he's not alone. The Threshers have just 15 RBIs in its last 168 at-bats. ... After supposedly turning the corner, Michael Costanzo had a tough week, managing just two hits in his last 18 at-bats.

PLAYER TO WATCH: With Cole Hamels' promotion to Scranton, there's a shortage of top-tier arms on the Clearwater staff. But James Happ is proving he's worthy of some attention. The left-hander struck out 12 batters in his last 12 innings, while holding the opposition scoreless. He also turned in the Threshers' performance of the week.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: With Clearwater's bats relatively dormant last week, the Threshers relied on pitching for their wins. They got an exceptional performance from Happ on Monday. The Illinois native went seven innings without surrendering a run or a walk and giving up just three hits against Lakeland on Monday. He also struck out seven en route to his first win of the year.

Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: The Jays were 4-1 last week, losing only to Tampa. Dunedin is also 6-1 in its last seven contests and has improved to 12-10 on the year.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Ryan Patterson has gotten hot lately. He had a homer last week and is in the midst of a 7-for-20 stretch. ... Robinzon Diaz has four hits in his last 11 at bats (.364). ... Ryan Klosterman has cooled after a hot start. The Blue Jays leadoff man is down to .244 after managing just eight hits in his last 41 at-bats. On the bright side, two of his hits are homers.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ron Davenport has provided some power for Dunendin last week, hitting his first homer of the season against Tampa on Wednesday. He's hitting .406 in 32 at-bats this season, including five doubles, seven RBIs and 21 total bases.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Without much run support, the onus fell on starter Robert Ray to deliver a win for Dunedin on Friday against Tampa. The 6-5 righty was excellent, going six innings while allowing just four hits and one run against the Yankees. He battled Philip Hughes, outdueling him by a run -- Ray surrendered just one to Hughes' two. Ray is even on the season at 2-2.

Fort Myers Miracle (Minnesota Twins)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: A midweek sweep of Clearwater propelled the Miracle to a 3-2 week, and improved their record to 13-9 on the season.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: It's no surprise that pitchers are on the top of the Miracle hot list. Kevin Slowey had a strong showing against Dunedin with six strikeouts in six innings on Monday. He allowed just two hits and one run in the no-decision against the Blue Jays. ... Anthony Swarzak was also excellent against Dunedin. Despite a Fort Myers loss Saturday, the 20-year old hurler pitched six innings, surrendering just three hits and one run. ... Other than a big home run Thursday, Garrett Guzman has struggled lately. The outfielder is hitting just .211 in his last five games and .250 in his last 10 (10-for-40). His average dipped but still sits at a respectable .321.

PLAYER TO WATCH: The best advice one could give is to watch the entire Miracle pitching staff. It's that talented. But if you had to pick one member, Kyle Aselton allowed four runs in five innings Wednesday. And that was his worst outing of the year. He has a 3.05 ERA and eight strikeouts in his last 11 innings. Expect the 6-foot-5 lefty to be a solid contributor all year.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Let's talk about another Miracle arm. Friday's performance by Matt Garza may have been the best for the team all week. He pitched six innings, giving up one earned run to the Threshers and lowering his ERA to a miniscule 0.74. His seven strikeouts pushed his team-leading total to 34. He's just four behind league leader Yovani Gallardo of the Manatees. Garza took a no-decision in the contest, but his record is still untarnished at 3-0.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Back then it was the only game in town. If you had an outdoor event you pretty much had to go to Terry Park. ... The only game in town." - Booch DeMarchi to the News Press, Lee County's special events coordinator is working with the Miracle as part of a three-day centennial celebration.

Lakeland Tigers (Detroit Tigers)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: A 3-3 week leaves the Tigers at 11-12 on the season and in third place in the West Division.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Kevin Whelan pitched two days in a row, earning an extra-innings win against Sarasota on Friday, and notching his sixth save of the year Saturday in a 5-2 victory over Clearwater. ... Jeff Frazier had three homers last week, tying him for the FSL lead last week. He's 6-for-8 in his last five games with nine RBIs. More on him later. ... Nick McIntyre has seen his average drop to .306 after a 6-for-37 stretch. The third baseman only drove in one run in that 10-game stretch -- that coming on a solo homer.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin Ardoin finished the week off with an eight-strikeout performance against Clearwater. He worked a seven-inning shutout before giving up two runs in the eighth. He held on to win his first game of the year.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Frazier's third-inning grand slam off Clearwater starter James Happ provided enough run support for Lakeland in Saturday's 5-2 win over the Threshers. His four-run shot was part of a 2-for-4 day that raised the 23-year old's average to .293. It also marked his second consecutive game with a homer.

Sarasota Reds (Cincinnati Reds)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: Three midweek wins made it a 4-2 week for the Reds who stand at 12-11 on the season.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: Drew Anderson is hitting .429 with seven runs scored and a homer in his last five games.... Brandon Roberts finished off a good week off with a 1-for-4 performance against the Yankees. He's hitting .333 in his last five games. ... Jay Garthwaite had just two hits in 12 at-bats last week, good for a .167 average. He was prevented from scoring in three games. ... In the category of moderately warm but sizzling in the clutch, Jeremy Piepkorn is 5-for-21 in his last five games, but he racked up eight RBIs on those five hits.

PLAYER TO WATCH: There's just one Sarasota player everyone's got their eyes on these days. Homer Bailey. The former first-round pick showed why he's so highly touted last week.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: You could say Bailey pitched a no-hitter Thursday. He threw six hitless innings against Lakeland. Although it won't count as an official no-no, and he didn't get a win, he dominated the Tigers in a nine-strikeout, two-walk outing for Bailey. The 6-foot-4 righty delivered his best performance of the season after a poor outing April 22 when he yielded four runs on five hits in just five innings. In six innings Thursday, Bailey lowered his ERA to 3.08. But he didn't get the win yet again. Instead, that honor went to Brock Till, who worked two innings of hitless relief.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Today, I was just attacking with my fastball and getting ahead in the count, which made it easier to set the batters up for my changeup and curveball. My changeup was better than it has been. I was locating all three of my pitches really well. ... It's a little frustrating to have to come out of the game with a no-hitter going, but it's for the best in terms of my development. It would have been the first in my professional career, so it would have been kind of special." -- Bailey told after his near no-hitter.

Tampa Yankees (New York Yankees)

THE WEEK THAT WAS: Tampa's 2-4 week dropped them to 9-14 on the season.

WHO'S HOT, WHO'S NOT: There may soon be an official motion to change the title of this section to "Who's Ehlers, Who's Not." Cody Ehlers just keeps crushing the baseball. He bashed two more homers last week, and is 6-for-18 in his last five games. ... Ben Himes has 11 hits in his last 27 at-bats, including two solo homers. ... Eduardo Nunez has fallen on tough times. Despite two homers last week, he is just 3-for-20 in his last five games. His average is down .191 on the year.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Despite losing to Dunedin on Saturday, highly touted Philip Hughes is pitching extremely well. His seven-inning, two-run performance against the Jays raised his ERA to 1.80. Despite falling below .500 on the season, his 2-3 record is indicative of the 19-year old's preparedness. In a league where many starters don't pitch long enough to earn a decision, Hughes has yet to tally a no-decision and has 30 strikeouts in 30 innings.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Matt Carson was an easy choice as he had a career performance Monday. The Yankees cleanup hitter took Sarasota pitchers deep not once, not twice, but three different times. He victimized pitcher James Avery on the first two. His third shot came in the sixth inning with the bases empty against Carlos Alvarado. In the eighth, he tripled against Alvarado to make it a perfect 4-for-4 on the day. More importantly, he scored the game-winning run. Carson raised his average from .158 to .238 in the process and finished the astounding day with five RBIs.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I've never had a game like this. I had a three home run game in high school, but this is something special because it helped the team. We've been struggling and couldn't get anything together. But this is special because it's the first time we've been able to win two games in a row this season." -- Carson told after his three-homer game.

Kent Malmros is a contributor to