This afternoon I'll be driving up to Lake Elsinore for their game tonight against High Desert. In addition to being an easy drive from San Diego, I always enjoy going to Elsinore due to the atmosphere there (not to mention some of our bats).
Cesar Carrillo will be pitching tonight, which I'm anxious to see. I haven't seen Cesar pitch first-hand since he's returned from Tommy John surgery. Based on our reports, his arm speed, velocity, and stuff is returning bit-by-bit with every start. After giving up 19 earned runs in his first 17.1 innings, Cesar has posted a 3.77 era in his past three starts.
On the offensive side, there will be plenty to see. A number of guys are having outstanding years: catcher Mitch Canham (.285/.393/.430), second baseman Eric Sogard (.302/.397/.431), third baseman Brian Joynt (.302/.377/.505), leftfielder Sam Carter (.282/.371/.466), centerfielder Cedric Hunter (.314/.361/.419) and rightfielder Kellen Kulbacki (.347/.440/.620).
Yes, you read those numbers correctly on Kulbacki - .347/.440/.620. He leads the Cal League in all three categories.
Kellen was our first compensation pick (4oth overall) in the 2007 draft after a great collegiate career at James Madison University. Despite a slow start after signing, Kellen finished the 2007 season with a .301/.382/.491 line in short-season Eugene and was named a Short-Season All-Star by Baseball America. Unfortunately, Kellen missed some time in spring training in 2008 and started the year on the disabled list before heading to Ft. Wayne for a brief stay where he hit just .164 in 61 ab's. Nevertheless, we sent him to Elsinore, which was the original pre-injury plan, and he struggled getting hits at the beginning there as well, hitting .182 over his first 18 games. To his credit, though, he did maintain his plate discipline.
Then Kellen went off... in a big way.
Since May 27, Kellen has hit 20 homers and compiled a cartoonish overall batting line of .388/.460/.721 in about 250 plate appearances. I doubt there have been many two month stretches in the minor leagues in recent memory that can match that. Pretty amazing.
I'll write more tomorrow about some of these other prospects, who are very good in their own right, as well as some other arms in our bullpen (like Wilton Lopez who has allowed one earned run in 18.2 ip). It should be a fun night.