Like the GCL Yankees, the River Dogs enjoyed a good season, finishing 74-65, third in the South Atlantic League's Southern Division.
The batting star was 21-year-old Dan Brewer, drafted in the eighth round last year. In 58 games, the outfielder hit .323/.429/.473, and rightfully got promoted to Tampa (posting a less stellar line of .290/.359/.402 in 59 games).
Another '08 draftee, 20-year-old Corban Joseph (CoJo, taken in the fourth round), also had a fine season: .300/.381/.418, playing 100 games between second and thirdbase.
The next Brett Gardner, Dominican-born Abraham Almonte, had his second tour with Charleston, and it showed, as he upped his OPS more than 60 points (.662 to .724). Perhaps more importantly, the 20-year-old has shown consistent progress in his base-stealing ability, going 29-39 last year and 36-41 this year. A foot race between Almonte and Gardner would be a toss up.
For the hurlers, the prospects of note were Manny Banuelos, Pat Venditte and Andrew Brackman.
Man-Ban quickly became the top southpaw in the system, and for good reason: 108 ip, 2.67 ERA, 104 K, 28 BB, 1.07 WHIP, 4 HR, and best of all, he's just 18. Keep your eye on him.
Venditte is, of course, the famous switch-pitcher from Creighton. Many have already written him off as a novelty act that would wear thin at the major league level. That is certainly possible, but he has yet to struggle in his progression through the minors. He was so good in Charleston (30.2 ip, 1.47 ERA, 40 K, 2 BB) that he got promoted halfway through the year. While his constant platoon advantage may not be enough by itself to make him a good ML reliever, a 129:21 career K:BB ratio through two years is tough to ignore. He's getting results, and that's all that matters.
And now to the giant, 6'10" Andrew Brackman (photo). Despite a poor year statistics-wise, you can't be too disappointed as he was coming off Tommy John surgery. That he managed to pitch 106.2 innings (third most on the team), and strikeout 103, were encouraging. What's not were his walks (76), wild pitches (26), hit batters (10), hits allowed (106) and ERA (5.91). He did show a bit of progress toward the end of the year after he began relieving: he allowed no walks in his last four games (spanning 10 innings). The 23-year-old has a major league contract, so he has to be on the Yankees roster in 2012; next year is huge for him - he needs to show improvement.
All three hitters, Brewer, CoJo and Almonte, will start in Tampa with Brewer a potential early call-up to Trenton.
The pitchers will be more spread out. Banuelos starts in Tampa (he was promoted there at the very end of this season, pitching one inning), Venditte goes to Trenton (after spending the latter half of '09 in Tampa), and Brackman stays in Charleston. Until Brackman can get his control... under control, there's no reason to promote him to face more patient hitters, but he can get an early promotion if he's having a good first month or two (ERA under 4.00, walk rate under 5.00).