the Butler Eagle Staff Writer Mike Kilroy
SLIPPERY ROCK, PA - This season, the Prospect League has been all about offense.
From Butler to Quincy, Ind., and
from Slippery Rock to Beckley, W.Va., baseballs have been finding
green grass and flying over fences all over the collegiate baseball
Last year, the 14 teams in the league combined to
hit .265 with 260 home runs and 3,855 runs scored.
This season, the clubs in the circuit have mashed
426 home runs, crossed the plate 3,981 times and are collectively
batting at a .279 clip.
Why the rise in offensive production? Perhaps it has
something to do with the reworking of the Prospect League schedule
In year’s past, teams in the East Division would
play teams in the West Division throughout the season. This year,
the league opted to have its teams play only within its division,
eliminating long road trips and making teams within divisions very
familiar with one another.
“We’re not playing out of the division,” said West
Virginia manager Tim Epling. “Our teams get to know each other a lot
better. Our scheme, whatever our game plan is in that particular day
for the pitcher we are facing, we keep true to our plan. There are
strengths and weaknesses to everything.”
The reduced travel also has kept players fresh.
That’s one of the reasons why Butler’s Elliott
Caldwell was able to break the single-season hit record in the
league. Caldwell, who is batting .374 this season and was the
Prospect League batting champion for the first half, has 87 hits and
counting. The record was 80.
Butler has seen the biggest rise in batting average
from last year to this year.
In 2011, the BlueSox were near the bottom in the
league with a .239 average and smacked only 22 home runs.
In 2012, Butler has a .294 team batting average, has
slugged 38 home runs and scored 331 runs — 100 more than last
“This entire team can hit,” Caldwell said earlier in
the season. “I have confidence in everyone in this lineup. I feel
like we have the best hitting and pitching in the league.”
Butler has certainly proven it can hang with the big
boppers in the Prospect League.
The BlueSox have scored 20 runs in a game twice.
They went on an 18-run scoring binge in a two-inning span two weeks
ago and had a stretch in which they scored double-digit runs in five
A late addition to the team, George Roberts, is
batting .430 with four homers in just 100 at-bats since coming
aboard after a College World Series run with Kent State University.
Still, Chillicothe has been the standard in the
The Paints are batting .310 as a team and have 73
home runs this season. Giancarlo Brugnoni has belted 18 homers to
lead the league.
Slippery Rock, too, has seen a spike in offensive
Last season, the Sliders hit .234 as a team with a
mere seven home runs and 213 runs scored.
This season, Slippery Rock has a .261 team average
with 22 homers and 282 runs scored.
Radley Haddad may be the poster child for the rise
in offense this season.
A catcher — the most physically demanding position
on the field — Haddad has gotten stronger as the season has wore on.
He is leading the Sliders with a .307 average after struggling at
the plate in the early part of the season.
“They make this league 60 games on purpose, to see
how kids are going to react down the stretch,” said Slippery Rock
manager Shawn Pynn. “You look at a kid like Radley, he’s brought his
average up 80 points and he’s behind the plate. He should be getting
weaker, not stronger, as the season progresses. It’s really putting
him on the map as far as scouts looking at him. It really says a lot
about his conditioning.”
The offensive explosion also has made this Prospect
League season as competitive as any other in recent memory, Epling
“Anybody can beat anybody on any particular day,”
Epling said. “This league is that good.”