Michael Collins was not exactly floored by the news. Whatever the opposite of floored is, actually.
No, not at all, the TinCaps’ manager said Wednesday, when asked if he was surprised that center fielder Mallex Smith and relievers Nick Mutz and Tayron Guerrero had been named to the Midwest League East All-Stars.
If you look at their numbers, both Guerrero and Mutz are among the league leaders in appearances. And then Mallex is leading all of professional baseball in stolen bases, and I’m sure he’s up there in runs scored as well. So no surprise there at all.
Of the three, Guerrero and Mutz probably came more out of the shadows than Smith, who led the Midwest League in stolen bases in 2013 with 64.
The 6-foot-7 Guerrero was on the TinCaps’ opening day roster in 2013 but went on the disabled list two weeks later and didn’t pitch again until late June, when he wound up back in the Arizona League and finally in short-season Eugene.
Mutz, meanwhile, wasn’t even on an affiliated minor league roster at this point in 2013, pitching for the Trinidad Triggers of the independent Pecos League and the New Jersey Jackals of the unaffiliated Can-Am League.
This year has been a different story for both.
Mutz, 23, has settled in as the TinCaps’ closer, with six saves and four earned runs in 25 innings. And Guerrero has struck out 37 batters in 30 1/3 innings and allowed just four earned runs, none since May 18.
The 21-year-old from Tallahassee, Florida, has stolen 42 bases, eight more than anyone else at any level of organized baseball and 15 more than anyone else in the Midwest League. He’s also batting .296 and heated up in May, when he batted .369 with a .470 on-base percentage. His 47 runs scored also lead the league.
There’s just a huge difference when you watch when he’s on base as opposed to when he’s not on base, Collins said. Like I said, he’s up there in runs scored for a reason. He’s always a concern for the other team.
If you walk him or he gets a hit every time he’s on base, even if he doesn’t run, pitchers are much more cautious with him over there, which hopefully leads to better pitches for the guys who are immediately hitting behind him.
The 2014 Midwest League All-Star Game, the 50th in league history, is scheduled for June 17 in Comstock Park, Michigan, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Note: The TinCaps’ game Wednesday at Lake County was rained out. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m. today.