Here we go, August. July is over and it's the final stretch for the California League as the playoffs start early in September, so this is it for the Mavericks. They're still a wildcard team, but they're starting to fade as other teams are picking up. Home games in Adelanto are going to get a little bit harder as the heat is going to pickup drastically in August reaching triple digit numbers almost every day. We'll have to see how these guys handle the literal heat and mental heat of pushing their way into the Cal League playoffs in this final month of play.
CLASS A-ADVANCED High Desert Mavericks
13-16 record (53-56 season record), 3rd place in the California League Southern Division (2nd place in the California League Southern Division Wild Card)
Cal League ranks (10 teams)
Hitting: 2nd in R/G (5.46), 2nd in OPS (.783), 4th in HR (116), 2nd in BB (410), t-3rd in Ks (852)
Pitching: t-8th in ERA (5.00), 5th in WHIP (1.43), t-7th in HR (111), 5th in BB (364), 8th in Ks (875)
The Mavericks said goodbye to some real key guys in Dominic Leone, Ramon Morla, Jabari Blash and Dan Paolini this month, which has shown it's impact of late in the month. The Mavs for the first time have had a record under .500 in a month, and they're starting to fall in the standings. Pitching is still better than expected, but the hitting, oddly enough, is on a low note. If hitting picks up and pitching stays the same, August will be a monumental month for the Mavs, and they can sneak their way into that wildcard slot. Looking at the standings, a second half championship isn't going to happen. Now is the time for those "scrappers" we've seen all season to fight and grind to for Manager Jim Horner to keep that great composure in the clubhouse to make that final push of the season.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER(S): Jamal Austin, OF
Rick picked Patrick Kivlehan in his piece, and that is a strong pick, but I'm going with Austin here. He's incredibly entertaining to watch, and he had one heck of a July, and season so far to add on top of that. Austin batted .340 alone in the month of July, putting his season batting average at .285, good enough for second best on the team for players that began the season at High Desert. Austin is a quickster, as he's stolen 32 bases this season (fifth in Cal League) and is beating the catcher's arm 76.1% of the time. Austin has also scored a league's second best 81 runs along with eight triples this season. A big stat that stands out to me, that many might not think of right away is that he leads the Mavericks and is very high up the Cal League list in sacrifice hits with 11.
TOP PITCHER(S): Jeremy Dobbs, LHP
I've really enjoyed watching Dobbs, who Rick highlighted earlier today after a couple of bad outings. The lefty has good stuff out of the bullpen, and it's shown by his statistics as well. With runners on base he's limited batters to just a .226 batting average, along with an opposing .220 average from batters with runners in scoring position. Dobbs has limited lefties to just a .163 batting average and has a 1.93 earned-run-average against them. He really is a special lefty specialist. He's striking out nearly ten per nine innings (9.91 K/9) and walking just under two and a half over the same span (2.47 BB/9). If he can find ways to pitch to right handed batters a little better, Dobbs may become a very special late round prospect for the Mariners.
TOUGH STRETCH: Steven Baron, C and Seon Gi Kim, RHP
I hate doing this month-after-month, but Baron just isn't hitting well this season, and it's seemingly getting worse. Baron is batting just .197 on the season, but Mavericks pitchers still love the guy behind the plate, which makes his special to this team. He's striking out over 26% of his plate appearances, and has a BB/K ratio of .194%, something that needs a lot of work. Kim was one of the most impressive pitchers at the beginning of the season, but he's fallen from grace as his earned-run-average has shot down (up?) to 6.14. He's not allowing a lot of home runs, which is great, but he is allowing a lot of hits which is what's leading to his poor second half of the season. It's not the worst on the team, but he also needs work with his 1.41 WHIP.
TRAINER'S ROOM: Jordan Shipers, LHP, Brock Hebert, IF and Brett Shankin, RHP
They got lefty Shipers back from an extended injury absence, infielder Hebert back from a shorter absence and saw starting pitcher Shankin hit the shelf. I really don't have a lot of info on the whats or whys here as the club is pretty tight-lipped, but at least they are pretty healthy -- probably the healthiest they've been all season at this point.
So here it is. The final chapter of the regular season, and the Mavericks have a shot to be big names at the end. Within the coming weeks, everyone will see if the Mavericks are the real deal, and if they can contend for a playoff spot and a California League championship.
Stay tuned to SeattleClubhouse for updates from me throughout the season on the Mavs!
Looking for more Mariners player interviews, news and articles? Want to keep up with which prospects are hot and cold for the M's? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse Contributor Taylor Ward on Twitter at @taylorblakeward and site Editor Rick Randall at @randallball.