Cedar Rapids Kernels June Report

Hank Conger

The heart of the offense, Chris Pettit moves up. Hank Conger will look to pick up the slack. P.J. Phillips is swift but contact is something that has eluded him. Aaron can't Cook up a walk – a primary source of his success. Tim Schoeninger leads the league in the most important category – wins. A former outfielder he may be but Warner Madrigal is getting in his innings.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels lost the only player on the roster that had an average over .300 when Chris Pettit was moved up to Rancho Cucamonga.

For a team that fell shy of winning a first half playoff berth by four games, the second half may be even tougher to win with Pettit moved out of town.

Pettit, who played all three outfield positions for the Kernels, left the Midwest League hitting .346, one point shy of the league lead, while pacing the circuit in doubles (24), and on base percentage (.429). He also ranked second with 34 extra base hits, a .579 slugging percentage, and was tied for the league lead with 47 runs scored.

Pettit hit .373 over the month of May before hitting a slump in June that saw his average dip from .370 to .346, going 9-for-39 over his last 12 games. He also stole 17 bases in 21 attempts and was hit by 12 pitches – no other player in the league had been plunked in double digits.

Hank Conger takes over as the hitter with the best average at .282. The catcher has gotten better in every month he has played, moving his average up from .265 in April to .272 in May and finally .321 thus far in June. He has also found a comfort level hitting sixth, smacking .324 when he bats in that position in the lineup but will likely move up with Pettit gone. He has thrown out 16 of the 75 baserunners attempting to steal, good for 21.3 percent.

P.J. Phillips leads the team with 18 steals, converting on 90 percent of his attempts, but also tops the club with 81 strikeouts – a number that is second-most in the Midwest league. He has not gone successive games all year without a K to his name and has gone down to the whiff once every 2.62 at bats. He has 25 multi-K games over 59 overall games. Making matters worse is his four total walks on the year. Twenty-two of his whiffs have come with men in scoring position.

They say a walk can kill you. Aaron Cook doesn't have to worry about that. The right-hander has walked just one and owns a WHIP of 1.00. He has given up runs in two straight outings and 10 of his 25 hits allowed came over that span, but they were also his longest outings of the year and spanned seven innings. Prior to those two games, he had prevented nine of 10 inherited runners from scoring but five-of-five came home over those two outings. Still, Cook sports a 1.04 ERA over 19 outings, allowing runs in four of those.

Tim Schoeninger has won four straight decisions and is 9-2 on the year, tied for the league lead in wins and ranking fourth in innings pitched. He has allowed two runs or less in seven of his 12 starts and has a decision in all but one game – when he went eight innings and allowed one run on June 8. Schoeninger gets stronger as the game wears on – he has given up just one earned run past the sixth inning in all his outings – spanning 21 innings.

Former outfielder Warner Madrigal sits in the top five in the Midwest League in appearances after working his first 12 innings off the mound last year. He has given up runs in one of his last eight appearances and has been a terror during the day with one run allowed over eight outings. The right-hander has inherited 16 runners on the year, stranding nine, including eight of the last 12. Eight of the 14 runs he has allowed have come in the ninth inning, as he is 2-for-4 in converting save opportunities.

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