Ah, Charleston. Known as “The Holy City”, it was one of the first colonial cities to allow complete religious freedom. Interestingly, it’s home to the 4th oldest Jewish congregation in the United States, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, established in 1749. It’s also home to to the College Of Charleston, where fan favorite Brett Gardner hails from. My memories of Charleston are less…holy. I’ve been there a few times on some golfing trips with friends and I can tell you from the 14% of the trips I can recall, there is plenty of fun to be had in “Chucktown”.
There should also be some pretty good baseball played there this year.
While Trenton and Scranton both boost impressive, prospect laden rotations, Charleston has an interesting bevy of positional players to start the year. The Riverdogs have 12 players returning who played with them last year which is high.
Players to Watch:
The outfield is comprised of Slade Heathcott, Kelvin De Leon, Ramon Flores and Eduardo Sosa. The infield has notable prospects Rob Segedin and Kyle Roller. Anderson Feliz will spend his 2nd year in the US playing 2nd base for the Riverdogs as a 19 year old. Gary Sanchez and JR Murphy are the catchers with Sanchez likely to get most of the playing time and Murphy probably continuing to play multiple positions. Cito Culver, the 2010 first round pick, might also show up in Charleston at some point.
The pitching staff isn’t quite as impressive as the upper level rotations are. It does feature several interesting 2010 draft picks however. Thomas Kahnle, Michael Gipson, Zach Nudding, Kramer Sneed, and Daniel Burawa are 2010 draft picks to keep an eye on. Nik Turley and Michael O’Brien are also somewhat interesting names to watch. At some point they’re likely to include Bryan Mitchell who should be fun to watch.
A few players on Charleston figure to be quick movers and if they post decent results, will probably be gone before July rolls around. Many of the 2010 draftees with college experience figure to be among those ticketed for Tampa at some point. Chief among those would probably be Tommy Khanle, the hard throwing reliever. Rob Segedin and Kyle Roller also figure to have brief Charleston stopovers. Depending on how Slade Heathcott comes off his shoulder surgery and performs he may see some at bats in Tampa as well.
What I’m looking for:
- How will Gary Sanchez respond in his first full season league? More importantly, how will he hold up? Catching a full season isn’t an easy task so it should be interesting to see how Sanchez responds to the challenge.
- How does Slade Heathcott perform after his shoulder surgery? Heathcott is repeating in A ball and last year while he was able to get on base a good amount he also struck out a lot. It’s not terribly uncommon for a raw high school player but it’s something we certainly hope improves.
- How will JR Murphy look in the field? We know that the Yankees started moving him around defensively towards the end of last year. Offensively he got off to a bad start in 2010 and it would be nice to see him swing the bat well this year.
- How will Ramon Flores hit? Flores is an interesting prospect who has shown the ability to get on base and hit for average but defensively is limited to a corner spot. Charleston figures to eat what power he can produce but will it be enough for a corner spot?
- How much power will Roller and Segedin produce? They figure to be the middle of the order bats in this lineup. Roller can pretty much only hit as he’s been a DH even through college. Can Segedin play 3rd well enough to stick there?
- How will Dan Burawa look in relief? The former St. John’s closer has a decent fastball and inconsistent slider. The Yankees were working to clean up his delivery which is hardly the model of smooth mechanics. Will that work out?
All in all, it should be a fun team to watch (box score watch anyhow). If you live in the area, I could not emphasize enough how good of an idea it is to check out that stadium. They have dollar beer night twice a week and some sort of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka party on going through the year.
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