All-Star break gives teams a one day breather

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

With all of minor league baseball on break for the All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. Let’s take a look at what has been happening in the Appalachian League in the first one-third of the season.

The Elizabethton Twins (16-9) went on a hot streak – winning seven consecutive games – before taking a 14-4 loss on Monday in Kingsport. Catcher Ryan Jeffers raised his batting average to .402 in the streak and is one percentage point behind Appy batting leader Jonah Davis (.403) of the Bristol Pirates (12-14).

“I think my mental approach is the thing that is most improved,” Jeffers said after a game at TVC Credit Union Ballpark in Johnson City. “When you have guys like Ray Smith and Reedy, who have all the experience and understanding of baseball and all the mechanics that go into it behind you and giving you instruction, it can’t help but make you a better player.”

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The Twins lead the league in batting with a .302 average and are third in home runs with 25, behind Johnson City (33) and Princeton (27). On the pitching side, however, the Twins are pulling up the rear in innings pitched with 212.2 but stand sixth in earned run average at 4.87.

Individually, lefty Zach Neff leads the team with a 3-0 won-lost record with a 2.45 ERA but has pitched just seven innings thus far. Danville (15-11) leads the league with a 2.80 team ERA with right-hander Jose Montilla (1-0, 1.53) and lefty Dilmer Meija (2-3, 2.57) leading the way.

The Bluefield Blue Jays have the best record in the league with a 19-8 mark and lead the East Division by just one game over the Princeton Rays (18-9). The Burlington Royals (6-21) have the worst record in the league and have just a .211 team batting average. They also have a near league-low 15 home runs ahead of just Danville (12).

Outfielder Jordan Qsar of Princeton has a league-high eight homers with Nolan Gorman of Johnson City and Twins first baseman Chris Williams each with seven. Designated hitter Alejandro Kirk of Bluefield leads in runs batted in with 28 with Qsar and Williams each with 25.

Lefty Claudio Galva has a 3-0 record – tops in the league – with a stellar 2.77 ERA in five games started. He has pitched 26 innings and given up 27 hits while striking out 19 and walking just seven. Kingsport’s Jose Butto leads the league with a minuscule 1.25 ERA over 21.2 innings of work. Butto has surrendered 16 hits over that stretch while striking out 20 and walking seven.

The league goes back to work on Wednesday with the Twins taking on the Greeneville Reds (9-16). Bluefield is at Johnson City, Burlington travels to Bristol, Kingsport is at Princeton and Pulaski is at Danville.