Welcome to another off-season report on Tri-Cities Dust Devil Baseball, a High-A affiliate of the LA Angels. If you missed last month's piece, go ahead and click right here: https://www.ballboymedia.com/post/dust-devils-off-season-my-top-5-highlights.
Since we looked at the highs last month, this month, let's look at the home of those lows of the season. Overall, the Northwest League and High-A baseball is a major developmental step for most players and can often be seen as a make-or-break step.
Once a player arrives at high-a, they have some prospect pedigree, may be ranked in the organization's top-30 prospects, or may have had some significant draft capital. Overall, after high-a, most prospects will go to AA, and within the Angels organization, will then go straight to the MLB level- Zach Neto, Nolan Shanuel, and Kyren Paris, among others who have skipped over AAA after a stop in AA.
There are a few names that will start 2024 at AA Rocket City and could get called up to the MLB, including 1 B Gabe Matthews, OF D'Shawn Knowles, OF Joe Stewart, INF Werner Blakley, LHP Sammy Natera Jr., INF Adrian Placencia, and INF Arol Vera, among others. Seeing these players go, there was a direct correlation between their departure and the rest of the season.
The second area I was slightly disappointed in was after an incredibly competitive first half, which ended in a three-way tie for second place in the division; I saw the second half crumble as the team finished sixth place in the division and missed the playoffs after a hopeful first half. However, with many first-half-promises, the rest of the season made plenty of sense.
Lastly, look into the team's stats and highlight where they rank compared to their opponents.
The Dust Devils struggle offensively compared to their opponents and have seen that impact their performance and how it's been setting up the MLB club in terms of power production and scoring runs. MLB Players- Neto, Shanuel, and Paris are three guys who get on base with no problem. Dust Devils alum-, Arol Vera, Adrian Placencia, Gabe Matthews, and others can all get on base but don't drive guys in or hit into the middle of the lineup.
The fact that the Dust Devils trail the entire division in Runs scored, Hits, Home Runs, RBIs' Walks, Batting Average, Slugging, and OBP are all signs of an offense that isn't the best and is an area that needs further development for these players to have the best chance at getting to the MLB- obviously talent, draft capital and prospect pedigree will win out over put power prime example is Nolan Shanuel.
However, it is what it is, and I'm sure improvement is on the horizon with the influx of new talent coming in 2024, which may look like OF Nelson Rada, C/OF Alberto Rios, INF Denzar Guzman, RHP Barrett Kent, RHP Jorge Marcheco, OF Jorge Ruiz, RHP Camden Minacci, RHP Walbert Urena, OF Jadiel Sanchez, INF Capri Ortiz all hope they add a spark into the lineup and push this team back into the playoffs in 2024. 2024 is right around the corner, and I'm counting down the days until I'm back in the stands at GESA Stadium, which is getting some significant upgrades shortly- read about those here in the Tri-City Herald: https://www.tricityherald.com/news/local/article280754025.html
A special thank you from me to the Dust Devil's fantastic organization, to Ann, Trevor, Doug, Darrel, and those who allowed me and my family to enjoy countless hours of fun, games, and laughs while improving my writing simultaneously. It's truly an honor to be a part of it. I look forward to being a part of it again in 2024.
From Your Hosts- Jey and Aaron:
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