At the time I wrote this affiliate update, the Tennessee Smokies had a record of 26 and 20 and had a 1.5 game lead it in their division in the Southern League over Chattanooga. They are playing the Lookouts this week and can put some distance between themselves and their opponent as they try to get back Into the playoffs again. There are about 20 games left before the first half winner is decided. The Smokies stand a pretty good chance of returning to the playoffs mainly because of the every day lineup. Let’s take a look at how that went just in the month of May.
Heading into the season, the Smokies had the most talented affiliate in the system. While the hitting seems to have lived up to his hype, pitching has struggled at times as the rotation has turned over a little bit. But at the plate, there’s a lot of good things happening up and down the line up. Somethings were foreseen, some things were not.
PCA – When you hit .225 with one game left in the month, it’s a clear signal that something is has not been right. For PCA, he’s had to deal with injuries off and on all month. He’d play a game or two, sit for three, play a game or two, sit for a week. So it’s hard for him to get in a groove and hopefully next month will be better. We’ve seen him get healthy here the last week and have a couple of big games that clearly point to him being back on track.
Owen Caissie – He is starting to push the envelope that he may be ready to head to Iowa in the second half. In May, he has seven home runs with 17 RBI while hitting .268 with a .337 OBP. His OPS was a very solid .886 and he was finishing the month strong heading in the Wednesday nights game.
BJ Murray – I thought he would do fairly well in Double-A just based on his plate discipline in pitch recognition skills. While, April was not very good, Murray would go on to win North Side Bound’s Hitter of the Month Award for May. He had 10 doubles, six home runs, and drove in 20 while hitting .315 with an OPS of 1.077 and I don’t see him dropping off either in June. He might be joining Caissie in July.
Chase Strumpf has had a really good year at the plate. In May, he hit .313 with a .466 OBP which is just amazing. He also hit three home runs and drove in 10 and he’s looking ready to head to Iowa as well, which is going to be a common theme today.
Shortstop Luis Vazquez is another guy who’s ready for Iowa. He had a hell of a month to hitting five home runs and driving and 13. He also hit .284 with a .357 on base percentage, as well as flashes, leather glove and arm several times.
Pablo Aliendo has been a big surprise as he is showing that he can hit for average as he did last year in South Bend, but this year, it’s all about the home runs. In just May, he’s matched last year‘s home run level with 7 and he drove in 19 in May. Pablo clearly added some bulk in his upper half, but I have seen him turn on pitches inbatting practice all the time to drive ball out of the field and now that’s carried over to games.
Getting back in the swing of it
It’s been cool to see him Cole Roederer come back from an injury and have a pretty decent month. He hit .281 with a .395 0BP in May while playing a mixture of all three outfield spots. It actually warms my heart to see him do this well, and hopefully he can keep carry that over in June and continue doing well. Hopefully, the power will return.
Andy Weber had a terrible April. To be frank, I was surprised to see him even in Tennessee as I thought he hit well enough last year to earn a trip to Iowa to start 2023. Still, Weber bounced back in a big way in the second half of May to raise his average up to .262 for the month.
For new arrival, Heating McGeary hit just .226, but he had an on base percentage of .357 because he walked a ton. How much he adjusts next month is going to be some thing I’m going to follow. He’s going to have to adjust to the level of competition even though he did dominate at South Bend in April. Double-A is a different story.
Part of the problem of having half the team ready to be promoted to is there has to be a spot for them. Right now, there’s not one for anyone. As a result, that’s gong to be Tennessee’s gain for the next few weeks as the squad looks like it’s going to continue to rake for quite a while.