Bill on Baseball:Hoppers going through a “developmental year”

from Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

Hoppers going through a “developmental year”

The nature of baseball in the minor leagues, particularly in the lower levels, is constant change.

After two seasons of making the playoffs the Hoppers have fallen off in 2013. But the players who won the 2011 South Atlantic League championship are long gone, as are most of the players from the team that made the finals in 2012. With the way the rosters turn over each season, there are never any guarantees about performance on the field in any given season.

The Hoppers return home Thursday night to begin a four-game series with Delmarva. They are coming off their first losing road trip of the season, 2-4 against Lakewood and Hagerstown. It did end on a good note with a 6-2 victory over the Suns Wednesday.

Overall the club is 18-26 with 26 games remaining in the first half. The Hoppers would need to get exceptionally hot to have any chance to climb into the race.

I talked with Brian Chattin, director of player development for the Marlins, during the last home stand. He characterized this as a “development year” for the Hoppers, although he sees possibilities for improvement.

“This is a younger club in terms of experience,” he said. “They’re learning on the fly, and that comes with growing pains. It’s going to have its highs and lows and it can collectively slump as a team. It’s in a funk right now but it’s not for lack of effort. It competes well.”

NEWEST HOPPER: When Juancito Martinez went on the disabled list with a fractured hamate bone in his left hand, the Hoppers added center fielder Michael Main, who had been in Jupiter. He’s a 24-year-old with an interesting history.

In 2007 Main was the 24th overall pick in the first round, selected by Texas out of DeLand High School in Florida as a pitcher. He was traded to San Francisco in 2010 and continued pitching until the next season, when he was converted to a position player. Released by the Giants after two seasons, Main was signed by the Marlins and played in the Gulf Coast League, Jamestown and Jupiter last season. In 56 total games, he hit .286 with two homers, 27 RBIs and six stolen bases.

Main began this season at Double-A Jacksonville, where he hit .196 in 13 games. He was sent to Jupiter and played three games there, and joined the Hoppers on the road trip. In three games so far as the leadoff hitter, he has one hit in 13 at-bats. That was a home run against Hagerstown Wednesday.

In his career Main appeared in 81 games as a pitcher, making 64 stars. His record was 16-20 with a 4.95 ERA, 139 walks and 268 strikeouts in 305 innings.
As a hitter Main has played in 164 games and compiled a .266 average with three homers, 39 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 21 attempts.