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Lansing Lugnuts Have Best Offense in Midwest League

Bradley Jones goes yard

We need to talk about Bradley Jones and the Lansing Lugnuts’ offense.

Last year, Jones led the Appalachian League in home runs, runs batted in, total bases and extra-base hits. Still, he was ignored — left off Baseball America’s Top Appy League Prospects, left MLB.com’s Top Blue Jays Prospects list, left off Baseball America’s Top Blue Jays Prospects list.

I don’t worry much about these prospect lists, actually, because they don’t have much bearing on what takes place on the field. Bradley Jones is going to do what he does, whether he’s Prospect No. 1 or Unlisted.

What he’s doing right now is hitting dingers.

The 21-year-old Jones went 3-for-5 with two three-run homers yesterday, working with Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. to draw the Lugnuts back from a 7-1 first-inning deficit in a thrilling 13-9 win against Dayton.

Here was how it sounded:

The Lugnuts lead the Midwest League in batting average (.277), runs (60), hits (96) and on-base percentage (.374). On average, the Nuts are banging out nine hits and scoring six runs each night.

The Nuts lineup features:

  • Two left-handed college hitters, Joshua Palacios and J.B. Woodman, who hit wicked line drives and possess above-average speed. Palacios is a pure hitter. Woodman is a power bat.
  • Two right-handed teenagers, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., who both draw walks, hit for power, and battle through extended at-bats. Each is an aggressive base runner.
  • Bradley Jones, a right-handed slugger, tied for the MWL lead in hits and RBIs, second in total bases and batting average, tied for second in home runs, third in slugging percentage.
  • Christian Williams, a left-handed slugger, working on his stroke, coming to home plate with runners perpetually on the bases. Anything he does is gravy right now. If he starts hitting, watch out.
  • Two veteran catchers, Ryan Hissey (left) and Michael De La Cruz (switch), who draw walks and hit line drives. Hissey’s batting .348, De La Cruz .300.
  • On-base machines Jake Thomas (left) and Nash Knight (switch), who draw walks and hit line drives. Thomas already has seven walks and five hits in six games.
  • And then two young, encouraging players, Edward Olivares and Yeltsin Gudino. Olivares entered yesterday hitting just 5-for-40, and then he went 3-for-4 with a walk, a homer, and two steals. His power/speed combo is worth waiting for. Gudino, a glove-first sort, is just 3-for-27 this year. If he raises that average, say, to .200 or .220 or .240, it’s another player on base for all of the sluggers at the top. That’s all that Olivares and Gudino need to keep in mind: Just get on base.

The 2015 Lansing Lugnuts offense featured Anthony Alford, Richard Urena, Rowdy Tellez, Ryan McBroom, and Danny Jansen at the top of the order, and was a guaranteed first-inning rally every day. (I still expect all five of those players to reach the Majors.)

This Lugnuts offense is more of the same, with a rally set to erupt at any point in the order.

If better starting pitching emerges, as I expect it will, the Lugnuts will be the favorites to win the Midwest League Eastern Division title in the first half.

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