AUBURN — Pitching. Hitting. Defense.
These are the three most basic aspects in baseball. They are also the three reasons the Auburn Doubledays are sending three players to Staten Island Monday for the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.
“I’m a ground ball guy. They hit ground balls and guys like Yeico (Aponte) track them down. Carlos (Perez) calls the pitches and just lets the defense do their thing,” Doubledays starter Casey Lawrence said.
Lawrence, Aponte and Perez are the three Auburn all-star representatives. Pitcher Drew Hutchison was also selected to the team, but was promoted to Lansing and won’t pitch in the game. Hutchison was 1-1 with an 3.00 ERA before getting the call to the Lugnuts.
Even with the call-up and the all-star selection, Hutchison hasn’t been the Doubledays best pitcher. That moniker goes to Lawrence. The 6-foot-2 right hander has racked up five wins, more than double any of his teammates. His minuscule 0.90 WHIP leads all pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings. He started the season in the bullpen and didn’t surrender a run in five innings. Lawrence’s last 47 have come as a starter, allowing just 37 hits and seven walks. Overall, he has a 1.90 ERA which is fourth amongst pitchers who have hurled at least 40 innings and tops among those who have thrown at least 50 innings.
“He’s very good, he commands the zone, good fastball,” said Perez, who catches Lawrence. “Every pitch is good, he’s a good pitcher.”
Perez has caught seven of Lawrence’s nine starts. While collectively helping the entire pitching staff from behind the plate, Perez has also provided a boost in the batter’s box. The 20-year-old ranks in the top two on the team in 10 different offensive categories. As of Friday, he leads the team with a .302 batting average, 52 hits, 36 RBIs, 34 runs scored, eight triples, 81 total bases and a .391 on-base percentage.
His number of triples are good enough for second in the league, behind Brooklyn’s Darrell Ceciliani, who has 10 in 39 more at-bats than Perez. His 36 RBIs and 34 runs are good for sixth in the league.
“I pay close attention to every pitch,” Perez said. “And then I hit. It’s my thing.”
Aponte has also done his fair share of hitting. The outfielder is right behind Perez with a .294 average. His .378 OBP is fourth on the team while ranking fifth with a .756 OPS.
Aponte’s numbers should only get better too. It was discovered just a few weeks ago that Aponte needed contact lenses to improve his vision. He admitted that his sight affected his fielding more than his hitting. Still without them, Aponte earned an all-star nod.
“I’m very happy to play in the all-star game,” Aponte said. “I’m very happy.”
After the Doubledays conclude their series with the Connecticut Tigers today, Lawrence, Perez, and Aponte will fly to New York City. Monday festivities will be held, including a home run derby and a VIP dinner for the players. Tuesday is the day of the game, then the trio has to be back in Auburn for Wednesday’s contest against Williamsport.
With the quick turnarounds, the players won’t enjoy much of break, but that won’t stop them from enjoying the opportunity.
Said Lawrence, “It’ll be a good opportunity for all of us to go out there and meet new guys and create new friendships like we’ve been doing all the way through (the season).”