There’s no smoke nor mirrors involved when it comes to the Elizabethton Twins’ start in this Appalachian League season.
As of Tuesday, the first of three off-days this year on the rookie circuit, the Twins have the league’s best record (15-6) largely because they have done a better job by far in batting and pitching than their opposition.
The Twins’ .304 batting average as a team is 22 points higher than the Greeneville Astros, who trail them by 1 1/2 games in the Appy League West. Princeton (.262) is currently fourth in the circuit and Bluefield (.235) is eighth in the 10-team league.
Elizabethton’s 2.24 staff ERA is almost an entire run better than the next two clubs, Greeneville (3.21) and Bluefield (3.60). Princeton has posted a 5.00 team ERA.
A shining ray for Princeton’s pitching staff is Blake Snell, with his league-low 0.40 ERA in 22 2/3 innings pitched, which is sixth most in the league. He’s also third in strikeouts (26).
Tucker Jensen of Bluefield has the fourth best earned run average, 1.72 in 15 2/3 innings on the mound.
The Twins have two of the top five individual batters for average. Romy Jimenez leads the chart, going 24 for 60 to record a .400 average with only nine strikeouts, and Travis Harrison is at .371 with a league-leading on-base percentage of .457.
The best batting average on the Princeton roster belongs to Darryl George, whose .299 mark (20 for 67) is 20th in the league. Bluefield’s leading batter is Christian Lopes, tied for 28th with a .270 mark after going 17 for 63.
The Danville Braves and Burlington Royals remain at the top of the Appy League East, separated by half a game. Princeton (11-10) is 2 1/2 games behind Danville after beating the Braves 3-2 on Monday. The Rays were 9-4 to start the season but have been 2-6 since.
Bluefield (7-12) is 5 1/2 games back of the lead and begins a six-day road trip today in Pulaski.
Princeton launches a three-game series with the Braves this evening in Danville, then hosts the Royals for three days starting Saturday.
Danville’s Felix Marte is ranked second in the league in hitting (.391), is tied for second in home runs (six) and is fourth in RBIs (17). Patrick Leonard of Burlington has a league-high seven home runs; his other 11 hits this season have been singles.
With 19 errors, Greeneville has the fewest in the Appy League. Princeton has committed 26 miscues, Bluefield has 30, and Kingsport has been most error-prone with 36 in 20 games. Elizabethton has 32 errors, including 14 by hot hitter Harrison.
The Blue Jays lead the league in reaching first base by getting hit by a pitch, with 23 of its batters getting plunked in 19 games. Bristol has had 22 batters hit, and Princeton is down the list with 12.
The Rays again top the stolen-base column. Princeton has purloined 37 bases in 47 tries; Danville is a distant second with 23 steals. Bluefield has tried 17 steals and been successful 10 times, tied for fewest in the circuit.
Princeton’s Willie Argo and Granden Goetzman both have seven stolen bases, tied for second in the league behind the 12 swiped by Burlington’s Terrance Gore.
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The Appalachian League pitcher of the week is 18-year-old Colin Rodgers of Burlington. He tossed six innings of no-hit ball on Friday against Bristol to pick up his first professional victory. The only base runner he dealt with was Bristol’s Jose Barraza, who was hit by a pitch. Rodgers did not allow a run, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out three.
His relief pitcher, Lincoln Rassi, carried the no-hitter into the ninth before Bristol got its only hit, a two-out, two-run home run from Kale Kiser.
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Danville’s Marte earned league player of the week honors. In the week ending Sunday, he recorded a .400 average with five multi-hit games, four home runs and 12 RBIs. He also struck out nine times.
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Defending league champion Johnson City staggered into the off day with a 10-11 record after suffering a 12-0 loss to Elizabethton on Monday night.
— Contact Tom Bone at