It’s been an interesting few weeks for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Starting with the ill-fated “crap pitcher’s mound game” in Memphis on June 29 and ending with the nice and easy win over Charlotte this past Sunday, the Shrimp have endured three doubleheaders, two rain-outs, a hurricane, and, finally, a walk-off win. The Shrimp went 5-7 over that span of games, continuing their lengthy run in 3rd place in the Triple-A East Southeast Division standings. Let’s have a look, shall we?
If you think “huh, this looks very familiar”, well, you aren’t wrong. The division has been pretty static for a while now. Durham remain at the top of the ladder. In fact, they are the best team in all of Triple-A Baseball, which should be no surprise to any sentient being paying attention to the league. Nashville has cooled off since their amazing winning streak, but are still scoring loads of runs and winning games. After Jax, Gwinnett in 4th place has been struggling. Charlotte, Norfolk, and Memphis have all been playing at or near .500 ball after bad starts to the season. Barring an extended run of wins, those teams should be fighting for the wooden spoon. (Such a great moniker for a last place team…it really needs to be used more in baseball).
While the Shrimp have been mediocre at best over the last month or so – as evidenced by 5 wins out of 12 recent games against teams below them in the standings – I continue to find it astounding that they have such a poor record at home (12-17) and such a good record on the road (19-10). It’s also pretty incredible that the Shrimp are in 3rd place given their negative run differential (-24). Even 4th place Gwinnett has a positive run differential (+24). If you want to know what a truly winning team does, they score runs. Lots of them. Just look at Durham and their +130 run differential, 3rd best in all of Minor League Baseball after Everett (High-A) and Tampa (Low-A).
The Shrimp continue to be led by Bryson Brigman and Lewin Diaz on offense. Brigman has played better and better with each passing month. He has hit .361 so far in July, powered by his 5-for-5 game against Memphis on July 3rd. He is the team leader in average and continued to be the sparkplug for the Shrimp. Diaz has bounced back and forth between Miami and Jax, but that hasn’t prevented him from leading the club with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs.
On the mound, Braxton Garrett, Nick Neidert, Shawn Morimondo, and company have been relatively effective on the mound. The bad habit of giving up early runs to the opponent persists, albeit slightly less so than in late-May/early June. The Bullpen has been the saving grace for much of the season, doing damage limitation exercises and keeping the Shrimp in games that might otherwise have been lost. The best of the Marlins pitching prospects have been overpowering opponents at Pensacola, so it will be interesting to see if any of them (Max Meyer and Jake Eder, specifically) get a taste of Triple-A before the end of the season. The advent of playoffs might keep them both at Double-A, but with the Triple-A season extended to October 3, it may provide the opportunity for a start apiece to see how they fare.
The Shrimp travel to Durham this week to resume the Surf And Turf Series against a loaded Durham Bulls side. This is actually one series where coming out with an even split would be a good result. Given the Shrimp’s proclivity to win on the road, this might not be too entirely far-fetched. All games are a 6:35pm start time, with the exception of the game on Sunday, July 18, which is a 5:05pm start time. The Catch will be on the road and in the crowd for the game on Wednesday, July 14. Let’s hope for a good, stupid-incident free game!
Happy Baseball everyone!