Valley Baseball League: Flores, Spangenberg, & Garza Hitting Above .400
Whatever the Haymarket Senators have not been able to do with their pitching, they’ve made up for all of it with the bats. The Senators have the best team batting average in the league, and their on base percentage is the primary reason they are in 1st place so close to the end of the summer. Getting on base is done with timely hitting, but the Senators have been doing it with patience as well. Rudy Flores isleading the league with a .423 batting average; Flores has been a relentless source of production and competent baseball crushing. In his last 9 games, Flores has hit .350, scored 7 runs, drove in 10; he hit 4 homeruns, and walked 5 times. Amongst the teams’ starters, Flores is the catalyst for power (4HR), productivity (29RBI), overall slugging (.619), and he’s a regular presence on the base paths (.472). These are all the things a winning club would wish to have coming from their 3rd hitting 6’3/200 first baseman that has only completed his first college season this past spring at Florida International. Let’s not forget that Flores has only made 4 errors in 138 chances leaving him with a respectable fielding average of .971. Expect to see a lot more of Flores in the 2011 season at Florida International. Although he only saw 112 at bats this past spring, Flores carved out a permanent spot in the lineup by not only .357, with 5 homeruns, and 23RBI’s, he also showed poise and true hitting abilities in the conference tournament. His only obstacle to being the everyday first baseman will be Mike Martinez. But, I’m sure Martinez can be set in the outfield in order to give Flores more at bats and college experience at first.
Right behind Flores in the Valley League race for a batting title is Cory Spangenberg. I don’t think there is anyone surprise to see Spangenberg doing this well. His success this summer has sparked a spike in the standings for the Winchester Royals, as they have won 3 of their last 10 games. In that span, he’s hit .360, scoring 11 runs, and driving in 8. Spangenberg is probably the leagues most impactful player; his lack of power is pardoned by his league leading 61 hits. It’s almost like he’s established a permanent residence on the bases with a .494 on base percentage, and that leads to all sorts of trouble for opposing pitchers. Spangengberg has stolen 13 bases, and has scored a league leading 33 runs. He was only a freshman this past spring at VMI, and his seemingly complicated name will be clearly pronounced many times as he continues his college career in 2011.
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The Woodstock River Bandits might as well fork up whatever they have stolen this summer. Sitting in 10 th place and with only a glimpse of a chance to win the 8 th seed and head into the leagues playoff in August, they are still holding their pistol and feel they have a paddle strong enough to force their way back upstream. Mike Garza hit .540 in a 3 game stretch that saw the River Bandits go 2 for 3. He spends most of the time hitting in the 3rd slot and plays both third and second base. He has only hit 1 homerun, but his gap power and ability to stretch out hits has produced 11 doubles and 4 triples, and his league leading 16 stolen bases makes Garza not only a threat, but also a distracting figure to contend with. If he can only learn to walk more, Garza would score more runs, steal more bases, and improve on his already impressive .422 on base percentage. He’s only walked 3 times in his 122 at bats; the bright side is that he dose not strikeout excessively. The Valley League will begin its first round 8 team playoff tournament in early August.
By Adrian Nevarez
DFN Sports Staff Writer