Position Player--Will Crouch
Rusty Ryal produces, he always has and one would expect he always will. Any given month he's a contender for the Player of the Month Award, and August was no different. His .360 batting average led the Missoula Osprey, as did his 45 hits and five stolen bases. In addition he finished tied for the team lead in runs (27), was second in homers (3), third in slugging percentage (.512), and third in on base percentage. The thing was, in all those categories Ryal finished second, Will Crouch finished first.
Crouch was a tank at the plate. His .303 batting average was certainly solid, his 27 runs tied Ryal for first place, he drove in a team high 24 and crushed six homers. His slugging percentage was a fantastic .576 but perhaps the most impressive stat for Crouch in August was his on base percentage, a whopping .473. That's what happens when you walk 27 times in 99 official at bats. To say it simply Crouch has an eye.
Which isn't to say he's perfect at the plate. His 31 strikeouts indicate he might be taking too many pitches, and at 23 years old Crouch will have to make some significant jumps in the system next season to keep his prospect status, but he certainly has a knack for picking his pitches in clutch situations, as he hit .306 with runners in scoring position and two out, and showed enough arm to be an everyday right fielder. Crouch will compete for a spot on the South Bend roster next season, and his above average eye might be the thing that gets him there, it was certainly the thing that got him the Player of the Month for August.
Eddie Baeza was fantastic in August, making 10 appearances and allowing only two earned runs, which translated into a beautiful 1.13 ERA. He struck out 25 in 16 innings while walking only six, carrying an opponents batting average of .154. He can start looking for apartments in South Bend, where he will almost certainly start the 2006 season.
Dan Pohlman on the other hand made a team high 12 appearances, struck out 17 in 14.1 innings, carried a very respectable .250 opponents batting average and a miniscule 0.63 ERA. Half a dozen of one, six of the other, until you look at one crucial category, Pohlman collected seven saves in August, Baeza just one.
Pohlman, a converted catcher in his first full year on the mound, struggled early in the season as a starter, but his self described "bulldog mentality" seems to suit the closers role, and down the stretch as the Bears were trying to sneak into the post season Pohlman was the guy they gave the ball to in the clutchest of situations. He blew exactly one save during August, and held on to collect the win, and is still just learning how to pitch.
With a fastball that sits in the low nineties and a developing curve and slider, Pohlman's ceiling seems to be rising faster than any other pitcher in the Diamondbacks' system. He's headed to the instructional league in Tucson this fall and because his arm has incredibly low mileage will probably be able to work more this winter than most of the pitchers in the system. Whether or not that translates into a promotion next spring remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, Pohlman has gone from an afterthought at catcher to a pitcher to watch in just about three months.