CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Despite two-fifths of its starting rotation (Joely Rodriguez and Orlando Castro) and its slugger in the middle of the lineup (Stetson Allie) being promoted, the West Virginia Power has avoided the slow start that cost the team a South Atlantic League Northern Division crown in the first half of the season.
Consider that the club rallied to finish 37-33 and in third place in the first half, just 21/2 games behind division champion Hagerstown, all after limping out to a 1-6 start.
Now at 6-2 and tied for the early second-half lead with Hickory, the Power has continued to ride the momentum it generated midway through the first half due to solid contributions across the board.
One player who has really produced in the first eight games is first baseman/designated hitter Jordan Steranka, the man called up to fill the big shoes voided by Allie.
Steranka was put into extended spring training after camp broke and battled with mononucleosis throughout much of the spring, but is thriving early in his Class A career.
"He can hit," Power manager Mike Ryan said. "He's got a very good approach. He's got an idea of what he's doing up there and just has a knack of putting the barrel on the ball. I'm excited to watch him hit right now and he looks really good."
The statistics support that sentiment. The Penn State product is hitting .368 with seven RBIs, putting together five multi-hit efforts in his first eight games with the club.
Barnes' bat heats up
After finally getting healthy, leadoff hitter Barrett Barnes has turned a corner.
BaseballAmerica.com ranked the center fielder as one of the Pirates' top 10 prospects in January after being drafted in the first round (45th overall) in 2012 out of Texas Tech.
While he has bounced in and out of that list since, Barnes has really begun to showcase his talents as of late.
Barnes has at least one hit in all eight of the Power's second-half games, has hit his first three home runs of the season (including a two-home run, six-RBI effort in a win over Lakewood on June 21) and has driven in 13 runs.
After breaking an ankle last year, suffering an oblique strain in spring training this year and pulling a hamstring upon his return, the 21-year-old is enjoying his longest string of consistent play in quite some time. He said it's a relief just to be playing every day.
"I feel like I'm on time, everything is back to normal, and I'm just playing baseball like I've always played it," Barnes said. "Every time I've started to get back, I had another injury. I've never gotten to get back and stay there, and God's blessed me with health so far and I'm just trying to stay there and keep playing."
Glasnow getting his K's