Manager Kevin Baez wasn’t necessarily cleaning out his office after the Ducks’ 15-6 loss to the New Britain Bees on June 1, but he certainly wasn’t thrilled either.
The Ducks lost eight of their final 12 games in May — an alarming downward trend in a league with a half-season playoff format. But, things appear to be turning around. The Ducks won five of their first eight games in June, including series victories against the Bees and Lancaster Barnstormers.
They entered Saturday with a 20-18 record, 3 1⁄2 games behind the Somerset Patriots in the Liberty Division first-half standings. The winner of the first half clinches an automatic playoff berth.
“We’ve been getting some timely hitting and that’s the key to winning close games — timely hitting and good defense,” Baez said.
Jordany: Award recipient
Former Met Jordany Valdespin was named Atlantic League co-player of the month for April/May last week. Valdespin, in his first season with the Ducks, was hard to get out in the season’s first month and four days (the season began on April 27). He led the league in hits (45), runs (29), total bases (73) and extra-base hits (17). He ranked second in slugging percentage (.557) and triples (3), third in doubles (10) and was seventh in battling average (.344).
Valdespin had a hit in 23 of his first 31 games. Entering Saturday he had four home runs and 20 RBIs in 38 games.
“He’s an aggressive hitter,” Baez said. “He can bunt, he’s got speed, he hits for power, and he hits balls the other way. I think when they try to come in on him, he’ll pull it and, when they go away, he’ll hit the ball the other way. He’s got good bat control and he’s putting good swings on it.”
Valdespin shared player of the month honors with New Britain Bees infielder Deibinson Romero. Romero entered Friday night ranked second in the league in home runs (seven) and RBIs (29).
Schlereth to Seattle
If there’s one thing that reliever Daniel Schlereth proved while with the Ducks, it’s that not allowing a run is a pretty good way to book a ticket back to a big-league affiliate. Schlereth, who is the son of former NFL lineman Mark Schlereth, had his contract purchased by the Seattle Mariners organization June 2.
Schlereth made eight appearances with the Ducks and struck out eight batters in 7 1⁄3 scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and walked four batters.
“He had a good curveball, threw strikes, and was a good competitor,” Baez said. “You could put him in any situation and he could get both lefties and righties out. He was a good guy to have in the bullpen and were glad to see his success. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”
The 32-year old, who spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues with the Tigers and Diamondbacks, was sent to the Mariners’ Double-A affiliate in Arkansas. He struck out the only batter he faced in his first appearance on June 5 and allowed an earned run in 1 2⁄3 innings on June 7.
Ducks closer Francisco Rodriguez’s numbers keep getting better. The six-time MLB All-Star earned saves in his last three appearances. He struck out the side in the ninth inning of Monday night’s 6-5 win over Lancaster.
Entering Saturday, Rod riguez was 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA and had converted seven of his last eight save opportunities. He allowed seven hits, struck out 12 and walked three in his first 10 innings as a Duck.
The Ducks signed the former Met on April 30.