Minor League update: Solid seasons for many area players

By From page B1 | September 08, 2013


The regular season is over for area minor league players – one is still going in the playoffs – and what a season it was.

The one player still playing is Andrew Aplin, whose Lancaster JetHawks are in the California League playoffs.

The Vanden High graduate had a stellar regular season for Houston’s advanced Class A team, leading the squad in games played (128), at-bats (500), runs scored (102), doubles (32), RBIs (107), total bases (212), and walks (83).

Aplin also topped the league in RBIs – by 10 – finishing second in runs and walks, tying for seventh in doubles.

The center fielder finished the regular season in style, going 3 for 5 with a double and three RBIs against Rancho Cucamonga. His best month was May when he hit a robust .333 (40 for 120) with nine doubles, two triples and three home runs.

Aplin batted .273 in the first half, .283 in the second, finishing in the middle at .278.

The lone .300 hitter among area players was Geno Escalante, who hit . . . .300 for the Salem-Keizer Volcanos, the San Francisco Giants Class A team in the short season Northwest League.

The Rodriguez High graduate and former Suisun American Little League All-Star teammate of Aplin’s batted .314 over his final 10 games to push his final average to .300 (39 for 130).

Escalante got off to a slow start after his standout senior season at Mount Olive College, batting just .179 in June for the Volcanoes. He turned things around by hitting a sizzling .375  in July and .325 in August/September, finishing the season with eight doubles, one triple, one homer and 19 RBIs.

Nick Baligod returned from nearly three weeks on the 7-day disabled list with Toronto’s Dunedin Blue Jays in the advanced Class A Florida State League by batting .455 (5 for 11) in the final three games of the season. That included going 3 for 5 with a home run, three runs scored and two RBIs in the finale.

The Fairfield High grad hit a torrid .344 over his final 10 games and wound up hitting .283 for the season with 19 doubles, a triple, two home runs and 19 RBIs.

The center fielder’s best month was May when he hit .357 and he struck out just 23 times in more than 300 plate appearances.

Former Vanden standout Jonathan Jones spent nearly three months on the disabled list with Dunedin, but returned on Aug. 23 to get hits in four of his final six games of the season.

Jones got off to a decent start in 2013 by hitting .268 in April, but struggled with a .162 average in May before being sidelined.

Another Vanden grad, Ryan Lipkin, also struggled with injuries in 2013 and finished the season on the 7-day DL with the Midland RockHounds, the Oakland A’s team in the Double A in the Texas League.

Lipkin, a catcher, played in just 18 games – none in May or June – and hit .119 for the season with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs.

Drew Carpenter, Lipkin’s teammate with the RockHounds and a Vacaville graduate, wound up 1-1 with Midland with a 3.10 earned run average in four starts.

He split his 2013 season between four teams – Iowa and Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League, Arkansas and Midland of the Texas League – going 7-9 in 24 appearances, all starts, with a 4.97 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 126 2/3 innings.

Jordan Brown, another Vacaville graduate, finished the season with a .289 average for the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Miami Marlins’ Triple A team in the PCL.

He got into 14 games with the Marlins, batting .200 (3 for 5) in his first stint in the Majors since playing in 26 games for the Cleveland Indians in 2010.

The first baseman was best toward the end of the season, batting .280 before the All-Star break, .302 after it. He was designated for assignment on Tuesday to make room for pitcher Brian Flynn and was outrighted to New Orleans.

Kris Negron, the area’s other Triple A player, got into 116 games for the Louisville Bats, Cincinnati’s team in the International League.

The Vanden graduate, who played in four games for the Reds in 2012, batted .225 with 14 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 30 RBIs.

Former Armijo and Solano standout Chris Elder finished up strong for Evansville of the independent Frontier League, batting .311 in 28 games for the Otters with eight doubles, a triple, two home runs and 17 RBIs.

Elder started the season by hitting .176 in 10 games with Wilmington of the Carolina League before being released by the Kansas City Royals organization. After six games with Vallejo Admirals, he was picked up by the Otters, for whom he played the outfield.

Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.

Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer is a 1985 graduate of Brigham Young University. The Suisun City resident has been with the Daily Republic Sports Department since 1989 and has served as sports editor since 2007. He and his wife Jackie have four children.

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