Richmond's see-saw season ends
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 4, 2013, 08:27
RICHMOND — Through a season filled with more ups and downs than a roller coaster at Busch Gardens, the Flying Squirrels compiled a non-winning season for the third time in four seasons — a stretch of mediocrity.
It’s a stretch made so mind-numbing because of the players who have suited up for Richmond over the past few years such as current San Francisco Giants’ first basemen Brandon Belt.
Even the current version of the club holds many key prospects the Giants’ organization have ranked highly within their system. So it comes as no surprise when the Flying Squirrels dominate a game against a division-leader like Harrisburg on Sunday afternoon at The Diamond.
Richmond’s players could have packed it in entering the game against the Senators, knowing a win does nothing for their playoff chances after being eliminated two nights earlier, but instead they battled from the opening pitch.
“You go out there every night and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. It’s a tough league,” Richmond coach Dave Machemer said on Sunday. “I thought our guys battled all year and came out to play. I’m proud of this ball club. We worked hard all year and I thought we got better.”
They have which makes this current 5-11 slide to end the season so confusing as it essentially knocked Richmond out of the playoffs. However, at the minor league level, one also looks at player development in terms of determining a season’s success or failure.
In that regard, the Flying Squirrels have done exactly what they had to do.
Sunday’s starter Jack Snodgrass twirled an eight inning masterpiece while allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out six. As the final out was recorded in the top of the ninth, Snodgrass had officially set a franchise-record, recording his 12th win of the season.
“I thought he pitched tremendous this year,” Machemer said of Eastern League Season-Ending All-Start pitcher. “To come in here and win 12 games, prove his worth as a guy who really knows how to pitch, has great mound presence and never gets flustered out there.”
And that’s been the key to his success this season.
Following a 10-8 season with a 4.62 ERA last season for San Jose, the Giants’ Single A team, Snodgrass focused on getting ahead of batters — helping him improve greatly.
The 6-foot-6 lefty improved his batting average against by 42 points — from .284 to .242 — and his ERA by almost a full run to just 3.75.
“The Giants gave me a really nice opportunity to send me to Double A and I just wanted to do my best to take it and run,” Snodgrass said. “I threw more strikes this year, better against left-handed hitters. I just attacked the zone.”
But Snodgrass was not the only player who impressed this season and likely earn a promotion to the Giants’ Triple A team next season.
Outfielder Jarrett Parker, a second-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, improved his numbers from his first two years as he advanced to Double A in Richmond this season.
Parker showcased the power that enticed the Giants to make him a second-round pick three years ago, blasting 18 home runs to go along with 57 RBIs in 130 games played this season.
However, Parker knows what has to be done if he wants to continue climbing up the Minor League ladder.
“I just have to cut down on my strikeouts,” Parker said after being set down 159 times this season. “Working on cutting down my swing on two strikes.”
And there is also Adam Duvall, an 11th round draft pick, who continues to show why he is among the Giants’ top 20 prospects entering the season. The burly third basemen blasted another home run on Sunday, a no-doubt shot from the moment it left his bat, for his 18th of the season.
The blast gives him 74 home runs in the past three years, but his middling average — just .260 for his career — leaves room for improvement.
The same goes for a club that had the talent for a special season, but being
consistently inconsistent stunted any chance of that occurring.
“I don’t think there’s a huge discrepancy between the best-record team and the worst-record team,” Snodgrass said. “There’s really no quit. It’s just a really talented league where you have young up-and-coming stars and 30-year olds who do this for a living and do it well.”
It’s what made this season so frustrating for fans and players alike. Just a little longer run of consistency, one more scoreless inning or one more gem twirled by Snodgrass and they’d be among those who qualify for the playoffs in the 12-team league.
Instead, after Monday’s game they packed up their lockers knowing next year’s squad won’t be compiled with the same names, but with it brings a clean-slate and chance to achieve what this club fell short of accomplishing.