Year in Reveiw: High-A Bakersfield

Selsky Again Showed He Can Hit Cali Pitching

After a postseason appearance in 2012 things weren't nearly as exciting for Bakersfield fans this year as the Blaze finished with the worst record in the California League. In spite of their lack of success in the win column, they did have some players earn a promotion to AA and others that will be ready to index up the pipeline next season.

There was reason to have doubts about the Bakersfield season this year after their main feeder, Dayton struggled to the worst record in the Midwest League in 2012. The former Dragons once again experienced frequent losing while this year's edition of the Blaze had the worst California League record. Surprisingly their team ERA was the fourth best in the league, but their offense was last in runs scored.

Josh Smith spent his whole season at Bakersfield and as a result led them in innings pitched while keeping his ERA under five. That may not sound very impressive, but it was the thirteenth lowest in the league among all qualifiers. Jon Moscot finished in the league's top ten ernies at 4.59, but he experienced a lot of tough luck when it came to decisions and was 2-14 before his promotion to Pensacola. Carlos Contreras made a successful conversion from the bullpen into the rotation and kept a sub-four ernie before he was promoted in the second half. Free agent pickup Shane Dyer had a mid-three in eighteen starts. Jake Johnson was second on the team in innings pitched while working both out of the bullpen and in the rotation. One of the top pitching prospects in the organization, Robert Stephenson arrived midseason from Dayton, but the Reds saw enough in his four starts to move him up to Pensacola.

There were a lot of high ERA's in the bullpen, but Pat Doyle was an exception, finishing at 2.97 with eleven saves in 50 appearances. El'Hajj Muhammad was under two in 22 games. Brooks Pinckard, Jimmy Moran, Carlos Gonzalez, and Kyle McMyne all made forty or more appearances on the season.

Of course the high altitude venues of the California League are famous, or infamous depending on one's perspective, for inflating offensive stats. Before the season Kyle Waldrop was a candidate to see his power numbers jump after a westward move and he cracked 21 home runs while hitting .258/.304 OB. Juan Duran finished strong and reached the twenty homer plateau while batting .251/.323 OB. Juan Silva showed that he knew the way to first base while finishing at .271/.386. Yorman Rodriguez's improvement in his second season at Bakersfield got him a trip to Pensacola where he stuck for the remainder of the season.

In the infield free agent Juan Silverio was a nice pickup with nineteen home runs and a .286/.304 OB. Ryan Wright came into the season one of the higher-rated middle infield prospects in the Cincinnati system and kept about the same pace at Bakersfield as he did after a promotion to the Blaze last season. It was a little surprising that he didn't at least get a cup of coffee in AA after he hit .265/.311. Another Juan, Perez, was steady at shortstop and hit .251/.299. Steve Selsky returned to the Blaze after starting off the season in AA and once again proved he could hit Cali League pitching with a .297/.388 OB and thirteen homers in 91 games with most of his action at first base.

Behind the plate Yovan Gonzalez cooled down in the second half to finish at .268 after keeping an average above .300 over the first half of the season. 25 year-old Chris Berset had the most productive offensive season of his four-year minor league career (.248/.344 at Bakersfield).

Unfortunately for the fans in the stands, teams are more concerned with the progress of individuals on their minor league teams more than actual wins. Wright, Duran, and Waldrop will probably enter 2014 as the top organizational prospects of all those who spent their entire 2013 at Bakersfield. Josh Smith has paid his dues on the mound too and should debut at AA next season.

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