The Pacific Coast League reached the half-way mark Wednesday, with most teams playing the 72nd of their 144 games.
One fact is very noticeable after half a season: pitching in the PCL is much better this year than last year.
Through Thursday’s games, the league’s batting average was .278, and the league’s earned-run average was 4.71.
The numbers are down from the 2011 final league batting average of .286, and final league ERA of 5.12.
Most PCL observers say the quality of pitching is much better in 2012 than it was in 2011.
“For the most part, I think there’s better pitching than what we’ve seen here,” said Tacoma manager Daren Brown, in his sixth season with the Rainiers. “It’s not just starters – there are solid bullpens as well.”
Perhaps this one statistic says it all – last season there were 78 shutouts pitched in the PCL. Through Thursday night, 2012 PCL pitching staffs had already tossed 61 shutouts.
The addition of a baseball humidor in Colorado Springs appears to be making an impact, too. The Sky Sox installed the same system that the Rockies use to keep baseballs moist, helping combat the effects of high elevation.
It appears to be making a difference. Last year, there was an average of 15.8 runs scored per game in Colorado Springs. Through Thursday, that number dropped to 10.5 runs per game in 2012.
The midpoint of the minor league season usually brings movement throughout the organization, and the Mariners made one notable move in addition to promoting pitcher Danny Hultzen and shortstop Nick Franklin to Tacoma.
Emerging infield prospect Stefen Romero was bumped up to Double-A Jackson after tearing up the Single-A California League in the first half. Romero effectively replaces Franklin in the Generals’ lineup.
Romero, the Mariners’ 12th-round draft pick out of Oregon State University in 2010, was batting .357 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI through the halfway point in the California League.
Like hitters on the Mariners’ High Desert affiliate, Romero hit much better at home than on the road but he still managed to bat .298 with six of his 11 homers in away games, and he had an .836 On-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) on the road.
Romero was the starting second baseman for the California League in the annual California vs. Carolina League All-Star game, which was held Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He reported to Jackson on Wednesday.Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.