The baseball season is a long journey in which anything can happen, and perhaps no team in Minor League Baseball is understanding that more than the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
The team dominated its first-half schedule, winning the Southern Division of the Carolina League by six full games, posting a record of 43-27 that was tops throughout the entire league.
The second half has been a bit of a different story, however, seeing Myrtle Beach falter as the month of August continues.
Following the All-Star Break, Myrtle Beach has posted a record of just 13-25, putting them at 12.5 games back of the division leader and making the Pelicans owners of a 56-52 record on the season.
The latter, of course, doesn’t appear to be devestating in the big picture and the team’s victories in the first half of the season do provide a bit of breathing room in terms of postseason outlook. For manager Buddy Bailey and the rest of the team, however, the product on the field throughout the summer months has been slightly disappointing.
Much of this can be attributed to plenty of turnaround. It's no secret that Minor League Baseball rosters tend to see quite a bit of change throughout the middle portion of the year. Productive players get called up, the big-league team trades away prospects and injuries still loom as the unpredictable factor. For the Pelicans, they certainly haven’t been exempt from the roster shuffling.
July 13 might have represented the date that altered the lineup most. The Cubs traded away star prospect Eloy Jimenez – who was playing in Myrtle Beach – to bolster their Major League team and add star pitcher Jose Quintana from the White Sox organization.
In the interim, it was a win for the Cubs. But for the Pelicans, all it meant was the team’s most important bat (.351 on-base percentage in 42 games) removed from the lineup. Such is life in Minor League Baseball.
Since the trade, Myrtle Beach has lost 15 of its 20 games.
While the overall record hasn’t turned in favor of Myrtle Beach, the happenings since the League’s All-Star break haven’t been entirely negative. In fact, two additions in particular might just be enough to give the Pelicans enough of a nudge of momentum as the playoff push approaches.
Infielders Zack Short (assigned to the team on June 26) and Vimael Machin (assigned on July 14) have been, to say the least, welcomed with open arms into Bailey’s nightly lineup. Simply put, all they’ve done is add offensive sparks where they’ve been needed most.
Short, last year’s 17th round selection out of Sacred Heart University, leads the team in on-base percentage through his 33 games. The .372 mark he’s posted in that category has been noticeable and crucial for the offense to break out of occasional ruts. In total, he has a .400 on-base percentage since debuting in the Cubs system last season – not a bad way to receive attention from the big-league club.
Machin, too, has been nothing short of excellent for the Pelicans, playing flawlessly in the infield and producing valuable results at the dish. He’s hitting .323 in his first 65 at-bats with the team, keeping strikeouts low and quality at-bats a regular trend. If that continues, he’ll be on pace to be one of the Pelicans’ most valuable players at the season’s end.
As Myrtle Beach attempts to carve out a winning course over the final month of the year, the team will need to do quite a bit of catch-up on the road.
There’s plenty of baseball left to be played. To be sure, this team will find out what it is made of over the course of the final games of the season.