Charleston RiverDogs Season In Review

Bichette is better than his 2012 numbers suggest

The Charleston RiverDogs had a very solid season in 2012, finishing the year with a 73-63 record on the strength of a 41-26 first half. While a few of their better prospects were promoted by the break, the team still ended with some good prospects. We take a look at where was the team's greatest depth, which prospects stood out, which ones could be 'sleeper' prospects down the road, and more.

The Team

It really was a tale of two halves for the Charleston squad. Headlined by the likes of Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and Gary Sanchez [all of whom will be covered in our Tampa Yankees review], the team just wasn't the same after the trio was promoted, finishing just 34-35 in the second half.

Overall, they finished fourth in team batting average [.268], and fifth in the 14-team league in runs scored [672] and OPS [.727], but were seventh in home runs [85]. On the pitching side they finished fourth in strikeouts [1,117], sixth in ERA [4.22 ERA], and seventh in WHIP ratio [1.40].

The Greatest Depth

Even after losing the likes of Williams, Sanchez, and Austin from their lineup, the team that finished the season still has its greatest collection of prospects on the offensive side.

Top Offensive Prospects

Considering Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, and Tyler Austin won't qualify for this analysis, the top offensive prospects from the Charleston team this year still offer a ton of upside, highlighted by second baseman Angelo Gumbs.

An injury derailed what was becoming a breakout season for Gumbs, hitting .272 with seven home runs and 26 stolen bases in just 67 games played. Known for his bat though, it was his significant progress defensively that has allowed him to become a dual threat.

Dante Bichette Jr. didn't have the type of statistical year that he wanted, hitting just .248 with a mere three home runs, but he played the entire season as a 19-year old against much older competition. Few scouts worry about his offensive potential long-term so it is too early to get down on his upside.

Shortstop Cito Culver, like Bichette, did not have a great offensive season either. He hit just .215, but just one month older than Bichette despite being in the farm system for a year longer, he did show a big league approach at the plate, drawing a team-high 71 walks this year. Defensively there are no concerns at all, he just needs to impact the baseball a bit more consistently because the plate discipline is a huge plus.

Rob Refsnyder, outfielder now turned second baseman, also falls into the 'better than his stats reveal' category. Drafted just this year, he skipped the short-season leagues entirely and hit a respectable .241 with four home runs and eleven stolen bases in just 46 games played. Should he make a successful defensive transition to second base, he could be an impact offensive player there.

The Biggest 'Sleeper'

Outfielder Ben Gamel hit .306 in Charleston this year with 19 stolen bases and played all three outfield positions extremely well defensively. He hit just two home runs though and how far his power develops going forward will ultimately decide his long-term future, but he can flat-out hit and has the athleticism to be a potential big league bench player already.

Don't forget about second baseman Anderson Feliz either. He missed a ton of time with an array of injuries but the ceiling his huge on both sides of the ball and he had been making some significant progress before getting derailed injury-wise.

The Arms

For a pitching staff that finished the year in the upper-half of the league in every category, they're not exactly very deep with pitching prospects.

Top Pitching Prospects

He pitched in just a few games before being shut down for the rest of the season with a nagging elbow injury, but Jose Campos proved in that brief time that he has the best combination of high upside and safe projection of any hurler on the staff. Sitting an easy 91-94 mph, he showed a big league curveball and even a quality changeup at times.

While the stats don't exactly show it, right-hander Bryan Mitchell offers nearly the same upside. He too sits comfortably 91-94 mph and hits 96 mph nearly every game, and the curveball is a plus big league pitch already. His biggest bugaboos still remain inconsistent fastball command and a changeup that can evade him for long stretches. The upside is enormous though.

Right-handers Corey Black and Nick Goody, both drafted just this year, fill out the remaining legit big league pitching prospects from the staff and both didn't get to Charleston until mid-summer. Black can hit 100 mph and shows a good breaking ball, and Goody is no slouch either, able to hit 97 mph and shows a good slider too.

The Biggest 'Sleeper'

Hands down the biggest 'sleeper' prospect among the pitchers is right-hander Phil Wetherell. The numbers -- 5.97 ERA, 92 hits in 78 1/3 innings -- were a bit brutal. However, the stuff is legit. He too can hit 97 mph, shows a slider with plus potential, and the changeup developed quite well once he got into the starting rotation. At 6-foot-5, he has great size too. For him it's all mechanical and pitching ahead in the count more consistently, but the talent is quite evident.

Not Just Yet

Outfielder Kelvin De Leon and first baseman Reymond Nunez both have big-time power potential, but 21 and 22 years old respectively, neither has been able to get their hitting to the level to make better use of their power. Time is running out for both of them. Catcher Francisco Arcia [23], despite a solid approach at the plate and great defensive abilities behind, is also getting a little long in the tooth.

On the pitching side there are some arms worth keeping an eye on, including left-hander Fred Lewis [90-94 mph, good breaking ball], and right-handers John Brebbia [90-92 mph, decent slider] and Brett Gerritse [above average curveball, good fastball command of an 88-90 mph heater].

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