The second half of the season has reached its midway point, and the Snappers have just three homestands left before concluding the regular season on September 4th with a matchup at Pohlman Field against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. This Beloit team has arguably been the best since the first year of affiliation with the Oakland Athletics in 2013, with a total of ten players promoted to Advanced-A Stockton.
July was the most successful month of the season to date as the Snappers went 16-11 and put themselves in playoff position by sitting in second place in the Western Division. Overall, Beloit is set to fight it out with Quad Cities and Peoria for the final two playoff spots as the teams are separated by just four games at this point of the season.
With the Snappers right in the thick of the playoff hunt, manager Scott Steinmann says that it can really help the clubhouse vibe because players want to go out and win each and every game. "Guys want to play in meaningful games all their life whether it's in little league or the big leagues," he explained. "It's good for them to go through it and you definitely sense that they're wanting to go out there and win."
Those aforementioned promotions included pitcher Brandon Bailey, outfielder Luis Barrera, infielder Edwin Diaz and pitcher Miguel Romero, all of whom were sent to Stockton in the month of July. Previously, the likes of second baseman Nate Mondou and pitcher Brendan Butler were rewarded with a promotion before going on to enjoy great success with the Ports. Mondou in particular has continued to thrive with Stockton, hitting .288 with 13 extra-base hits in 33 games.
Personally, Steinmann takes great pride in seeing former 2017 Snappers succeed at the higher levels of Minor League Baseball. "Our job as a staff is to get guys to the next level and prepare them for the next level so they can go up there and succeed," he said. "When they go up there and do a great job you definitely have that good feeling inside and it's kind of why we do what we do."
Despite losing a number of great players and quality individuals, Beloit continued to go from strength to strength in July and enjoyed a number of strong victories including shutouts in three of their final five games of the month. The Snappers also enjoyed a 4-2 road trip to Michigan thanks to an 11-1 demolition of Lansing and a 7-1 triumph over Great Lakes.
The Snappers manager said that though the team lost the likes of Bailey, Barrera and Diaz early in July, those promotions gave others opportunity. "Whether it was in the rotation or bullpen or position player wise it gave some guys opportunities and it's great that these guys stepped up to the opportunities and are thriving in the situation," he said.
Pitching was the other significant factor in Beloit's strong July as the team as a whole had a 2.57 ERA, the lowest mark in the Midwest League. Southpaw Zack Erwin had a 0.69 ERA, the lowest among MWL starters. His 32 strikeouts were also the fifth most in the league, while teammate Matt Milburn was the other Snapper to record more than 25 punchouts.
"Our pitching has kind of been the glue," Steinmann said. "The month of July was a pretty solid month of pitching so that's going to give us a chance to be successful in the future."
While Snappers pitching was certainly a major talking point in July, Steinmann did acknowledge how important it is to have a couple of hot hitters in the lineup. In July, they were Trace Loehr and Kyle Nowlin who went a combined 59-for-173 (.341 AVG) with 22 extra-base hits and 30 runs batted in.
Steinmann recognized that having some guys in the lineup who are hitting the ball well can be crucial to maintaining success. "To get a couple of guys in the lineup going it kind of helps everybody else out, stretches the lineup out, it turns it over an extra time throughout a game," he said. "When you have good pitching, coupled with some good defence and a couple of timely hits that's a recipe for success."
Beloit will welcome the Clinton LumberKings and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to town on Thursday in what shapes as a very important homestand and a great opportunity for the Snappers to cement themselves as a playoff contender. Beloit's three game series against the Quad Cities River Bandits on August 22nd to 24th will be another much anticipated contest.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.