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MuchO GustO: A review of the 2011 Norfolk Tides

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As the 2011 minor league season ends, MuchO GustO is going to shift from individual prospect profiles to team reviews over the next 2 months.

The Norfolk Tides had the second worst record in the International League in 2011, topping only the Rochester Red Wings, in a sad piece of irony.  The average OPS in the IL was 729, the Tides posted the worst at 695.  Though they play in a pitcher's park, that is still troublesome for an organization that has been so bad for so long.  Their pitching wasn't much better, coming into second to last in runs allowed per game, second only to the Red Wings.

Prospect wise, it was a pretty lean crop.  24 year old Ryan Adams is probably the only real prospect, posting an OPS of 794 which was good for 59th in the IL.  He posted the following slash line: 284/341/454/794.  You have to like his ISO for a second baseman, though it is an open question if he has the defensive abilities to actually play second.  Given the uncertainty surrounding Brian Roberts' future, it does seem like he will get an opportunity at the big league level.  Thankfully it seems like it is deserved.  But Adams does have some things to work on, as he walked 30 times and struck out 103 times in 377 at bats.  In 2010 in Bowie, he posted the following line: 298/365/464/829.  Accounting for ball park differences, it seems like he posted very similar numbers, which is encouraging.  The prospect status of Josh Bell continues to be in the eye of the beholder.  His final line: 253/320/438/758, striking out 118 times and walking 40 times in 395 at bats.  While I like him walking at a decent clip, he hasn't done much while  in the major leagues, other than being a thorn in the side of Cliff Lee.  I know he hasn't gotten a lot of playing time, but 71 strikeouts versus 6 walks in 217 plate appearances is pretty unbelievable, almost to the point where you wonder what he is being taught in the majors or if he is just doing better off minor league pitchers.  Kyle Hudson is another interesting case study.  The 2008 4th rounder posted the following line in 268 AAA at bats this year: 297/382/333/715 and was 26 for 34 in stolen base attempts.  He clearly understands the strike zone, but I have grave concerns about the major league prospects of a corner outfielder who has a career minor league ISO is .040 in 423 at bats.  It just seems like major league pitchers won't give him the chance to get to Ball 4.  This leads to Matt Angle, who posted the following line in 2011 as a Tide: 271/347/344/692 with 27 steals and was thrice caught stealing.  Like Hudson, Angle showed strong plate discipline, with 47 walks and 88 strikeouts in 424 at bats.  Angle but up better power numbers than Hudson, but he still had an ISO of .073.  Former first round pick Brandon Snyder struggled in AAA in 2011.  The 24 year old first baseman batted 261 this year and put up the following slash line: 312/406/718.  I'm not sure if he wil play in the majors again.  I also wanted to mention Blake Davis's line, since he played for the Orioles this summer: 280/323/384/706, with 15 walks and 46 Ks in 232 at bats.  The final hitter I wanted to bring up for discourse is Tyler Henson, given that he was a 2010 Eastern League all star.  He posted the following line: 247/313/321/634.  As a LF, he simply cannot post a lower SLG than Kyle Hudson.

How did the Tides do on the mound?  Let's review below the jump!

Well, I am not really sure who to include in this.  Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz and Troy Patton are all pretty well known commodities in these parts.  26 year old Rick VandenHurk led the Tides in strikeouts, recording 108 in 154.1 innings.  He posted an ERA of 4.43 walking 40 men.  I think the problem with him is that he is a fly ball pitcher, as he allowed 23 homers in AAA, and pitching in a generous pitcher's park.  I'm not sure how that it going to translate in the majors.  25 year old Cole McCurry might be the most interesting pitcher of the lot.  He started the year in Frederick (1 game), pitched 15 games in Bowie before finishing the season in the Tide bullpen, appearing in 21 games.  As a Tide, he threw 39 innings, striking out 27 and walking 17.  He also kept his outfielders busy, posting a 0.60 GB/FB.  He had much stronger numbers in Bowie (a 44/13 K/BB in 33.2 innings).  I would be remiss without bringing up former Rule 5 pick Steve Johnson, who really struggled in 87.1 innings as a Tide, posting a 5.56 ERA posting a K/BB of 63/47 and a WHIP of 1.69.  While he was 23 for most of the season, just turning 24 last week, his GB/FB of 0.46 is not what the Orioles need.  Who is Zach Phillips?  He was traded to the Orioles for Nick Green this year, and posted some decent numbers as a Tide.  The 24 year old posted a K/BB of 45/28 in 58.1 AAA innings with an ERA of 4.01, split between the PCL and IL, which seem like the two most opposite leagues on earth.

So who do we have?  Well, it seems like there is a fair amount of roster filler.  Jake Fox, Blake Davis, Brandon Sndyer, Kyle Hudson and Matt Angle seem like bench players at best to me and probably bench players on a bad team.  Angle might stick as a 4th OF due to his ability to play center and steal a base and given his power advantage over Hudson, but I have a hard time getting too excited about a 4th OF.  I do like Ryan Adams' bat though.  I would like to see if he can improve his instincts at second, it seems like concerns about his defense seem like they should be able to be addressed with repetition, though I know of no empirical evidence to support such an assertion.  I still believe in Tillman and Matusz, probably because the alternative is just too depressing.  I would like to see McCurry given a chance in 2012 if he performs well in the first half of the season in the Tide bullpen, just because I'd much rather see McCurry get some innings rather than spending $10M on the next middle reliever to draw ire from Oriole fans.

So, who do you like on the Tide roster?

The 2011 Tides at bb-ref.