The other day in the Daily, I talked about coming to expect the unexpected. That’s more on a daily basis. In larger sample sizes, expectations are quite different over larger spans of time than they are in a single day. This year, there’s been plenty of first-half surprises. These are things that I did not see coming whatsoever. Let’s take a look at several of them.

Pablo Aliendo – I thought that Pablo could hit in the Southern League for average or at least a decent average. I did not expect to see him cranking out home runs. The fact that he has eight so far is one of the biggest surprises of the year.

Bradlee Beesley – When he was with South Bend, he made their offense go. He’s been up and down at Tennessee and lately he’s been more up. When I saw him with South Bend, I was impressed with his professionalism and his ability to get on base whatever way he could as well as showing the occasional home run power. 

James Triantos – After seeing him in person for the first time, I was really surprised at his pitch recognition skills. At such a young age, he is ahead in that area. He sees the ball really well and at such a young age he’s pretty well-versed in how to hit a curveball. That really bodes well for the future.

Jacob Wetzel – Jacob had about a crappy first month as anyone could possibly have at South Bend. Since then, he’s been pretty good. He’s hitting over .300 this month and he’s showing that he’s an outstanding defender as well. I hope Lance Rymel continues getting to give him playing time because of a team that doesn’t have much offense, he’s one of them that does

Manny Espinoza – After missing more than half of last year, Espinoza has come back strong in his return. In fact, he’s been lights out most every night. What has impressed me most this year was that he’s been throwing 93 to 95. He used to throw 90 or 91 on a good day. Add to that to pinpoint control and you have an up and coming guy in the second half.

Reivaj Garcia – I thought he would be a bench player. At best. After struggling for the past two years, he’s put it all back together and hitting over 280. He’d be at 300 if not for a little slump in May.

MB Rotation – I was really uncertain about this rotations heading into the season. I’m not now. There is, McCullough, Kip, Hall, Arias, and Santi have been the best rotation in the system the past six weeks with all the Santee having a ERA under three.

Yovanny Cabrera – Between Cabrera and Saul Gonzales, it’s no wonder why Myrtle Beach has surged into first place

Hunter Bigge – He finally made it to AAA this past week. It sees like he just spent a couple years wandering around the system before figuring some things out at South Bend in the first half of last year. Health was a factor, but so was just getting used to the daily grind of being a full-time minor leaguer. Even though he was drafted in 2019, he missed the pandemic here and half of the next year. It just took a while for him to get going and we’ll see what he does it Iowa.

‘Chris Kachmar – No one probably saw me writing this name down. But for the past month, he’s been nails. After coming off of surgery and missing a year and a half, he’s just been lights out the past six weeks. And he’s done it in a variety of roles as a piggyback guy and a middle relief man.

Eduarniel Nunez – He added some weight this off-season, and once the bullpen transactions start moving, he’s going to be going to Tennessee as he’s regularly hit 100+ all season long since he returned from EXST.

Frankie Scalzo – To be honest, I was surprised he was assigned to South Bend. He did not have that great of a season last year at Myrtle Beach. But this year has been outstanding, and what has turned in to be a long relief role. He usually pitches to three innings and hasn’t been close to the ERA in the mid twos all season long. He’s been pretty consistent.

Hitter of the Week

There were Lots of good choices to pick from this week. Jared Young went off at Iowa, PCA was doing his thing in Tennessee along with Haydn McGeary, while Moises Ballesteros, Félix Stevens, and Parker Chavers All had great weeks for the pelicans. That made it very difficult to select just one. I basically had to wait through yesterday‘s games to see if anybody went off one more time.

Haydn McGeary got it done this week with three home runs and 8 RBI. But that’s not all of his dominance. McGeary hit .500 with a .592 OBP and an OPS of 1.548.

This was tough as Stevens had 4 dingers and Chavers had 10 RBI for the week.

Starting Pitcher of the Week

Cade Horton he’s just been shoving. This week he went five scoreless and struck out 10. He’s the first back to back winner we’ve had in this award for a long time. I’ll get to see him in person on Tuesday in Cedar Rapids and hopefully I’ll get to see him in Beloit at the end of the month when the second half begins. Based on how he’s pitching now, that’s not a certainty.

Reliever of the Week

Cam Sanders got it done this week and that was good to see as he was in a bit of a poor run. But this week, Sanders threw 4.2 innings and struck out 7 on the week, One performance on the 8th saw him strike out 5 over 3 innings.

The Playoff Hunt

Iowa is 1.5 games back. Tennessee is half a game back while South Bend is 3.5 and in second. South Bend will be playing first place Cedar Rapids all next week. Meanwhile, Myrtle Beach had a 2.5 game lead at the time this was written.