The Road So Far…

The American Association’s season is just past the one-third mark, and it’s crazy to think there’s just 40 games left in the season. Typically, we’d be past the halfway mark and would have had the All-Star Game by now. Each of the six teams that had elected to play this season have been putting on a show. I’m lucky enough to watch the Chicago Dogs in all their home games, which in turn lets me get to watch the other teams when they come into town. I’m going to talk about how each team is performing, as well as some players to watch on each team.

The league standings, as of the morning of July 30, 2020

Winnipeg Gets a Golden Start

The Winnipeg Goldeyes, the league’s sole Canadian team, are making a name for themselves against the other five teams in the league. Because of Canada’s restrictions on crowd gatherings, the Goldeyes are calling Fargo, ND, home for the summer.

Infielder Kyle Martin leads the team with a .333 AVG, going 29-87. Martin has 3 home runs. 23 RBI, and has scored 16 runs. In the last five games, Martin has gone 5-16, with 4 RBI. Another standout player from the Goldeyes is IF Wes Darvill. So far this season, Darvill has a .286 AVG, with 13 RBI, and scored 9 runs himself. In the last five games, Darvill went 6-16, with 5 RBI.

Sioux Falls Canaries are Flying High

With the second best record in the league, the Sioux Falls Canaries have coasted through the first third of the game.

The Canaries are led by IF Grant Kay, who boasts a .500 AVG and has 2 home runs, 6 RBI, and scored 4 runs. In his last five games, which have also been his first, Kay has gone 10-20. IF Alay Lago is the Canaries’ second best man, with a .385 AVG, with 1 HR, 16 RBI, and 17 runs. In his last five starts, Lago has gone 7-23, with 3 RBI.

RHP Ryan Fritz leads the Canaries pitchers with a 2.61 ERA. He’s pitched 10.1 innings, striking out 8 and walking six. RHP D.J. Sharabi is right behind Fritz with a 2.84 ERA, pitching 12.2 innings, with 15 strikeouts and 8 walks.

Milwaukee Avoids Sophomore Slump

The Milwaukee Milkmen are the youngest team in the league, with this summer being only their second season. Last year, they finished last in the league, with a 38-62 record.

OF Brett Vertigan leads the Milkmen with a .329 AVG, going 26-79, with 8 RBI. Vertigan played for the Sioux Falls Canaries in the 2019 season, where he was made 2 appearances as a relief pitcher. So far this season, he hasn’t made any appearance as a relief arm. OF Adam Walker leads the Milkmen with 4 home runs. This season, Walker has a .235 AVG, going 19-81. Walker has 10 RBI, while scoring 12 runs himself. IF Mason Davis leads the team in RBI, with 18. Davis has a .207 AVG, with 2 home runs, 18 RBI, and 9 runs.

LHP David Holmberg leads the Milkmen pitchers with a 3-1 record, and boasts a 2.42 ERA. Holmberg is part of the starting rotation, and has had 5 quality starts. He’s pitched 29.2 innings,with 30 strikeouts, 8 walks, and allowing 25 hits.

The Saints Come Marching In

Outfielder Sebastian Zawada leads the Saints with a .438 AVG, going 7-16 in his last 5 appearances. Zawada has 1 home run, 3 RBI, and has scored 5 runs. IF John Silviano leads the team with 5 home runs. He’s got a .267 AVG, going 24-90. Along with 5 home runs, Silviano has 17 RBI and 14 runs. He’s struck out 24 times ans has walked 5 times.

RHP Matt Solter leads the Saints pitchers with 3 wins, and has a 3-1 record and 4.50 ERA. Solter has made 5 appearances and pitched 32 innings – striking out 27 and walking 7. RHP Mike Devine is another Saints pitching leader, with 28 strikeouts. Devine has a 1-3 record and 4.08 ERA. He’s pitched 28.2 innings, with 28 strikeouts and 9 walks.v Right-handed relief pitcher Nick Belzer has the teams lowest ERA: 1.92, with a 1-1 record. In 7 appearances, Belzer has pitched 9.1 innings, and has 10 strikeouts and 9 walks.

Hot Diggity Dogs

The Dogs had a rocky start to the season, but have settled into a groove quite nicely. Playing to a limited crowd at Impact Field in Rosemont, the team hadn’t gotten their first home win until their eighth game, on July 18th against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.

A major highlight of the Dogs’ season so far: a weekend sweep against the Milwaukee Milkmen. The game on Sunday, July 26, was a 9-0 victory that ended early because of a thunderstorm that came through the Chicagoland area. The Dogs offense was on fire, with runs coming in on FIVE home runs off the bats of OF Michael Crouse, IF Edwin Arroyo, OF Victor Roache, OF Harrison Smith, and C Garrett Hope. Starting pitcher J.D. Busfield went 5.0 IP, giving up one hit, no runs, and striking out 3.

The starting rotation: LHP Thomas Dorminy (3-0, 2.91 ERA), LHP Jake Dahlberg (1-0, 4.82 ERA), LHP Luke Westphal (0-0, 1.12 ERA), RHP J.D. Busfield (2-1, 3.93 ERA), and RHP Eddie Butler (0-4, 7.60 ERA).

Harrison Smith – 3 straight games with a homer. Smith is the only two-way player on the team, which makes him the best. He can play IF/OF and be available as a relief pitcher. Either way Butch [Hobson] plays Smith, it’s guaranteed that you’ll be impressed. While he doesn’t have a record yet this season, Smith has had 3 appearances, pitching 1.1 innings. As a hitter, Smith boasts a .333 AVG, with 3 home runs. One of those home runs was a 3-run bomb in the win against the Milkmen last Sunday.

Edwin Arroyo – While Arroyo has been in a bit of an offensive slump recently, he has had stellar defensive skills. During the first 20 games of the season, Arroyo has a .355 AVG, with 3 home runs and 12 RBI. One of his home runs was a grand slam on July 10 against the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks. In that game, he went 2-4, boasting 1 HR, 5 RBIs, and scored 2 runs. Arroyo’s grand slam lifted him to the title of Player of the Week for the opening week of the season.

Middle infielder Edwin Arroyo blasted a grand slam on July 10th, earning him the title of Player of the Week.
photo: Chicago Dogs Twitter

Victor Roache – If there were an All Star Game this season, I think Roache could make a strong case to make the AA North team. Roache had a 6-game hit streak, 4 homers in 6 games – all against Milwaukee. Roache’s hot streak came to an end on July 28, when he went 0-5 with 3 strikeouts against the Goldeyes. Despite having no hits, Roache registered a RBI. Roache leads the Dogs with 5 home runs and 13 RBI.

Adam Choplick – Despite having an 0-2 record, relief pitcher Adam Choplick boasts a 2.07 ERA with 16 strikeouts. In his last 5 outings, Choplick pitched 5.1 innings, only giving up 3 runs. It seems that Choplick could be the closer that the Dogs need. His lights out performances earned him the league’s title of Pitcher of the Week.

photo: Chicago Dogs Twitter

The RedHawks Have Far to Go

Though the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks have had an impressive show of defense, The RedHawks seem to be struggling to make their offensive mark.

IF Correlle Prime leads the Red Hawks with a .337 AVG, going 33-98. Prime has 1 home run, 13 RBI, and 11 runs. In his last five games, Prime has gone 6-21, with 1 home run and 3 RBI. Drew Ward has 4 home runs, which is the most on the team. Ward has a .253 AVG, going 20-79. In his last 5 games, Ward has gone 4-17, with 3 doubles and 1 RBI.

RHP Ryan Williams leads the RedHawks pitching staff with 2 wins (2-1), and has a 3.41 ERA. Williams has pitched 31.2 innings, with 13 strikeouts, 3 walks, and gave up 27 hits. LHP Matt Tomshaw has struck out 25 batters in 23.1 IP. He’s issued 4 walks and gave up 33 hits. Tomshaw has a 5.40 ERA.

League batting leaders, as of July 30, 2020
League pitching leaders, as of July 30, 2020

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So far, this season has had a lot of highs and lows, and a lot of dramatic games – like the game on July 16 between the Dogs and Canaries, which went 12 innings. The Canaries took an early 8-1 lead after the top of the second inning, but the Dogs tied it up in the fourth at 8-8. The Canaries took the lead again with 4 runs in the sixth and 2 in the eighth, but the Dogs scored 3 runs in both the seventh and eighth innings. The Canaries eventually won the game, with Ryan Long hitting a bases-clearing double in the 12th inning.

If any games in the rest of the season are played like that match-up, fans across the league are in for a treat.

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