Fishing for Mudcats: Lucas is leading the Mudcats charge
The Carolina Mudcats were an even 3-3 this past week. They took the first game of the home series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks before dropping the next three to lose the series; however, Carolina has been able to bounce back in a big way, taking the first two games against the Lynchburg Hillcats on the road.
The Mudcats will conclude the road series against Lynchburg before traveling to Salem for a four game set. The week concludes with a three game home set against Lynchburg.
Catcher Jeremy Lucas has had a stellar start to the 2014 season as one of the key offensive players for the Mudcats. Lucas leads the team with 19 RBIs in 25 games and is tied with outfielder Anthony Gallas for the team lead with four home runs.
The Indiana State alumni was a 35th round pick of the Baltimore Orioles out of high school in 2009 before deciding to go to school to further develop. The decision paid off as he was a 12th round pick of the Indians in 2012.
Lucas has turned it on this year in the run production department, with 19 RBIs in 25 games thus far compared to just 37 RBIs in 80 games last season.
Lucas said he has come up in good positions with runners on and he just tries to bring in as many guys as he can.
“Guys have been getting on base for me and good pitches are hard to come by,” said Lucas. “All I can do is try to capitalize on those pitches and do what I can.”
The catcher has split time behind the plate as well as at first base and the occasional game as designated hitter. This has not altered his approach as has stayed aggressive and is not worryied about where he is in the field as long as he gets a chance to play.
“When I’m at bat, I’m not thinking about where I am in the field,” said Lucas. “I’m just trying to stay aggressive and looking for a good pitch to hit.”
As a whole, the Mudcats have recently gone through a rough patch offensively, but Lucas said the team just needs to keep their composure and before long things will turn around.
“We just need to focus on what we are out there to do,” said Lucas. “Once this team gets it figured out again, we are going to be dangerous to everyone else in the league.”
Player of the Week
Jeremy Lucas (C): 6-29, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 2B, 2 BB, 4 K
Lucas has been one of the offensive leaders of the team all season and this week was no different. Lucas launched two home runs on Monday night for the first multi-home run game for the Mudcats since Joey Wendle did so last season.
Rob Nixon (RHP): 2 GP, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
When Cole Sulser had a tough start, Nixon was able to step in and keep the damage to a minimum pitching four innings and giving up only five hits and one run. The four innings pitched were Nixon’s longest outing since July 2012. In the past, the Canadian has struggled in similar situations, so it is nice to see him turn things around.
Anthony Gallas (OF): 10-24, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 8 K
Gallas had no problem getting on base this week, reaching 12 times. Though he did not bring in any runners this week, he did score five times. Over the course of the week, Gallas raised his batting average to .313.
Jerrud Sabourin (1B): 8-23, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K
Since being sent down to Carolina from Akron, Sabourin has been on a roll. He collected a hit in all but one game this week, with two multi-hit efforts. This week alone, Sabourin matched his hit total and scored more runs for the entire season in Akron.
Ryan Merritt (LHP): 2 GS, 1-0, 13.0 IP, 10 H, 6 R (5 ER), 1 BB, 12 K
While this might have been a rough week compared to the rest of Merritt’s season, for almost anyone else, this would have been outstanding. Merritt had the longest outing for a Mudcats pitcher this season and picked up the only win Carolina managed against the Blue Rocks. With the win against Wilmington, Merritt improved to 4-0 on the season with just a 1.45 ERA.
On the Hook
Logan Vick (OF): 1-10, 5 K, 2 BB, 1 SB
One moment, it will seem as though Vick has turned his difficult season around, and then he will have a stretch of games that makes you think he has not. Unfortunately, Vick had a week reminiscent to that of most of his season. While he only played in three games, Vick only managed to reach base three times and struck out five times.
Erik Gonzalez (SS): 2-24, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K
Offensively, it has been a difficult week for a majority of the team, and Gonzalez was not exempt from this. The shortstop was unable to collect a hit until he recorded two on Tuesday night, and until that point had only reached base twice all week.
Shawn Morimando (LHP): 1 GS, 0-1, 3.2 IP, 5 H, 8 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 6 K
Morimando has had a fantastic season to this point, but had a difficult start against the Blue Rocks. The defense behind him let him down, as they committed five errors during his time on the mound. The 3.2 innings pitched was his shortest outing of the season, and he struggled the entire time he was on the mound.
Cole Sulser (RHP): 1 GS, 0-1, 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Since a magical debut in the Carolina League, Sulser has not been able to harness the energy from that outing again. It took him 39 pitches to get out of the first inning, and he looked out of sorts on the mound in throwing every one of them. For the fourth consecutive start, Sulser allowed at least two earned runs, and now has an ERA of 3.86.
Fish Swimming Around
There were multiple roster moves that affected the Mudcats this week. Catcher Charlie Valerio was promoted to Double-AA Akron while INF Yhoxian Medina was brought to Carolina from Mahoning Valley. Also, INF Todd Hankins was promoted to Triple-AAA Columbus while catcher Ryan Battaglia was promoted from Mahoning Valley
Fish on the Line
No new players were added to the disabled list this week and none of the four players were removed. Word is outfielder LeVon Washington is close to being removed from the disabled list with an oblique strain.
Merritt was named the Indians Organizational Player of the Week for April 21-27. Merritt threw a seven inning complete game against Frederick on April 21 where he allowed only one run on four hits.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.