GreenJackets Gameday: Flores enters on a roll for Augusta

Wednesday, July 17 - 7:05 p.m.

 

Lakewood BlueClaws (11-14, 37-55)

Jeb Stefan (64.1 IP, 3.78 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 21.1 K%, 8.1 BB%, .268 BABIP)

vs.

Augusta GreenJackets (11-11, 49-42)

Kendry Flores (94 IP, 2.97 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 23.9 K%, 3.8 BB%, .263 BABIP)

 

Kendry Flores has been on a tear since experiencing the worst start of his season June 27. In that outing, he allowed a season-high eight runs in four innings at Asheville, including 12 hits. He responded with one of the best outings of his career next time out at Kannapolis, striking out 11 over seven scoreless innings on three hits. That was backed by one unearned run over seven innings at Savannah last time out, striking out six.

 

So Flores has allowed just one unearned run on seven hits with one walk and 17 strikeouts in his past 14 innings. Seven of his past 10 starts have been on the road, but he still has a 3.76 ERA over that span, even with the eight-run outing. His 3.8 percent walk rate is the third lowest in the South Atlantic League among qualified starters, providing the consistency he needs to get through starts where he might not have his best command.

 

Flores has simply been a staple in an Augusta rotation that has experienced injuries and inconsistency at times from other arms. He owns the most innings on the GreenJackets staff by a full 10 frames while recording the lowest walk percentage and second-lowest ERA in the rotation.

 

Lakewood will send Jeb Stefan to the mound looking for similar results from his last start, although that might be asking a bit much. Stefan pitched the first six innings of a combined no-hitter July 11 against Rome, walking four and striking out five.

 

It was only Stefan's fourth start of the season after appearing 22 times out of the bullpen. As a starter, the right-hander has allowed three earned runs and four total in 21 innings, striking out 18 and walking six.

 

Stefan was a 22nd-round pick in 2012 out of Louisiana Tech. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Louisiana native is making his full-season debut after recording a 3.94 ERA in 45.2 innings for short-season Williamsport last season.

 

Lakewood prospects on the top 30 Phillies list by Baseball America (rank):

SS Roman Quinn (2) - DL

OF Carlos Tocci (10)

OF Larry Greene (11)

RHP Shane Watson (12) - DL

3B Mitch Walding (16)

 

The BlueClaws have a solid group of Phillies prospects on the roster, but the lack of depth in the Phillies system makes it a little misleading. The GreenJackets will miss Quinn and Watson because of stints on the disabled list, and they are two of the more impactful prospects on the team. Quinn had 32 stolen bases in 67 games before the stint, recording a .323 on-base percentage. Watson is the lone pitching prospect and had a 4.75 ERA in 72 innings.

 

Center fielder Tocci is a 17-year-old Venezuelan struggling in his first full season following an aggressive assignment. He's hitting .226/.280/.273 with 14 doubles and six stolen bases, not able to use his plus speed because of the lack of time on the basepaths. He's very thin and doesn't have a broad chest or shoulders, so there's concern over how much he will fill out, and he hasn't hit for authority yet. He does show excellent skills in center field and should develop a solid defensive profile.

 

Greene drew attention from Division I football coaches as a linebacker, but he chose baseball and was drafted in the first supplemental round by the Phillies in 2011 out of Berrien County High School in Georgia. He has a thick lower half and a broad chest, and not surprisingly he moves well for his size. At 20 years old in his first full-season assignment, Greene is struggling to get on base at a great clip, but it's a respectable .321 on-base percentage right now. His power is still developing, hitting 14 doubles, one triple and two home runs, but Lakewood is one of the toughest parks to go deep, similar to Lake Olmstead.  He will strike out a lot, but he is also showing the ability to walk.

 

Walding has similar numbers to Greene, not producing a lot of power despite having the frame and strength to develop an above-average tool, and showing the ability to walk while striking out a lot. Walding doesn't have a lot of baseball experience, but he has a smooth left-handed swing that makes good contact. He also shows good skills at third base, including a plus arm. He was drafted in the fifth round in 2011 out of a California high school.

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