Wisconsin Timber Rattlers April: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are off to a modest start, going 11-12 in April due to a thriving pitching staff and a struggling hitting corps.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have started the year about as well as possible given the offensive struggles the team has endured thus far. After starting the year 5-11, the team went on a six game winning streak before dropping the final game of the month.
Their success has largely been on the back of the stellar pitching staff, which has held opposing teams to two or less runs in 10 games so far this season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not.
Nearly the entire pitching staff. Seriously. In 198 2/3 innings, the T-Rats hurlers have posted a 2.67 ERA, good for second best in the Midwest League. The staff is led by Jon Perrin, who, as I wrote last week, has tossed 24 innings with 29 strike outs and zero walks.
The team’s top four pitchers by innings pitched (Perrin, David Burkhalter, Marcos Diplan, and Jordan Yamamoto) have combined for 85 innings pitched with a 2.22 ERA and an 88:14 K:BB ratio.
And that’s not including the sub-2.00 ERAs for Miguel Diaz, Freddy Peralta, and Drake Owenby, all of whom have logged at least two starts. Even the starter who has struggled the most, Jake Drossner (5.30 ERA), owns a solid 3.49 FIP.
A couple of injured hitters. Unfortunately, two of the team’s few above-average hitters are on the disabled list. OF Troy Stokes, who started the year slashing .278/.381/.444 has not seen action since April 12, and 2B Tucker Neuhaus, who posted a .911 OPS in his first six games, is out at least a few more weeks with a broken finger.
A pair of on-base machines. 2B Blake Allemand, who was demoted from high-A Brevard County, has picked up where Neuhaus left off at the keystone, slashing .297/.413/.351 with six walks and just one strikeout in 46 plate appearances. Mitch Ghelfi, who has conceded a majority of the catching duties to Max McDowell and seen time at first base, has a .381 OBP on five walks in 42 plate appearances.
The other first basemen. While the team has improved in the last week, they own a collective .613 OPS, good for fourth-worst in the Midwest League. Of the team’s top seven hitters by plate appearances, not one has an OPS north of .700. The worst offenders are the first basemen, a position typically limited to the offensively superior.
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1B/OF Sthervin Matos is off to a particularly rough start, hitting .049 over 41 at-bats, including going 0 for his last 21. Fellow 1B Alan Sharkey hit .103 in April. Neither has logged an extra-base hit.
Previously demoted, strikeout-prone prospects. In 2015, OF Monte Harrison and 3B Jake Gatewood took aggressive placements with the Class-A Timber Rattlers. Each was demoted to Helena after early struggles. They fared much better in the rookie league, particularly Harrison, who cut his K-rate down under 20% and posted a .410 OBP.
Unfortunately, both have had similar early results in their returns to Appleton, with Harrison striking out over 40% of the time, while Gatewood’s number sits at 34% with zero walks. Both have slugging and on-base percentages under .300.
Brewers player’s brothers. Pitcher David Lucroy, brother of Jonathan, has been sent to Helena after struggling with his command early in the season. The righty posted a 5.40 ERA (4.55 FIP) with six walks in 6 2/3 innings.
The T-Rats’ top hitting prospect. SS/2B Isan Diaz got off to an outstanding start, slashing .279/.404/.535 from the start of the season to April 19. The rest of the month was a struggle, however, as Diaz posted a .297 OPS from the 20th to the 30th, bringing his total slash line for April down to .203/.300/.354.