The inaugural season of the Beloit Sky Carp in the organization’s first full season at ABC Supply Stadium was as educational as it was entertaining.
Canada geese or Sky Carp in slang, are geese who don’t migrate long distances but who will change locations during cold weather months to search for food. The 2022 Beloit Sky Carp were the baseball equivalent to their feathered friends and namesake. During the last days of winter, the club did not find much to feed on. In April, the team got off to an 0-7 start and hit .190. In May, they hit .248. On May 31, the Sky Carp were a frigid 12-17. With the change in the weather came a change in production: in June, the thawed out Sky Carp posted a .760 OPS and flipped the script from the start of their season, going 17-8.
No matter the weather, we learned quite a bit about how the confines of ABC Supply play. Beloit hit just .224 at home compared to .250 on the road, leading to quite a flip in what long time fans of the Beloit franchise came to expect at the team’s old stomping grounds.
“It’s definitely a pitcher’s park; the ball does not fly here,” Beloit starter M.D. Johnson told us earlier this summer. “It’s so much different than playing at Pohlman where we played half our games last season where it’s 350 to dead center and the wind blows straight out every day.”
Whether they are pitchers or hitters, Beloit’s players, including Johnson, wouldn’t trade the ambience of ABC Supply for many other places.
“It’s right on the river. It really has that Camden Yards feel with all the bricks to it. The opening in dead center field runs to the filter all the way through,” Johnson said. “The locker room is top notch. We have a chef that cooks all of our meals that is top notch. It’s up there on my list of favorite places to play, for sure.”
The Sky Carp finished the season 62-67. They were in the running for the second half title up until two weeks before closing day. Their team stats further corroborated the difficulty to hit in their home park. As a squad, they slashed .237/.318/.352. On the other side of the ball, they owned a 3.79 ERA, third lowest in the Midwest League and a 1.24 WHIP which led the league.
Carp stage 8-run 9th to beat Quad Cities
June 2nd: One of the few times on the year that Beloit pitching really struggled occurred in this early season matchup. After three Beloit pitchers combined to allow 11 runs on 19 hits, the Carp found themselves going into the 9th inning down six on the road against the River Bandits. But the Beloit offense wasn’t ready to go quietly.
Bringing 12 men to the plate, the Carp scored eight runs to take a 13-11 lead. Victor Mesa Jr had two hits in the inning and Nasim Nunez reached base twice. Cody Morissette drove in the eventual winning run with an RBI double. Chandler Jozwiak closed the game out and earned his second A+ win.
July 29th: Sky Carp provided one of their larger crowds of the year with plenty to cheer about. Down 3-2 in the 9th, Bennett Hostetler crushed a grand slam to give Beloit the victory, their sixth in a seven game span. It spurred quite possibly the best home plate celebration in MiLB all season.
For Hostetler who struggled in the first half of July, the career high 5 RBI effort came in the midst of a 13-game on base streak and a span in which he reached safely in 20 of 22 games. He went on to hit .289/.330/.386 in August.
Dax Fulton strikes out first 9 batters
July 1st: Facing off against the South Bend Cubs including Pete-Crow Armstrong and Owen Caissie, Dax Fulton ripped through the Cubs lineup on 46 pitches, striking out each member of it. Dax would wind up going 5.1 IP and allowing four runs on five hits, including an infield single that deflected off his first baseman. Three of his other hits were seeing eye singles. His final run came into score on a sac fly after he exited the game.
Like the last two innings of this start, Fulton’s tenure with the Sky Carp was unlucky, unforgiving, and any other “un” you can think of. But early in this outing, he took everything else out of the equation, negated his extremely high BABIP, let his left arm do the talking, and proved his dominance on his way up to AA. There, in a more hitter friendly home environment, Fulton’s ERA shrank by way of a similar FIP. His tenure in Beloit was much better than peripheral stats state and he should be considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Marlins’ organization.
INF Nasim Nunez
85 G, .247/.390/.323, 16 XBH, 27 RBI, 49 SB, 103/71 K/BB
In his age 21 season, Nasim Nunez took the field to start the season with Beloit and proved his skillset can translate against older competition. Playing in yet another pitcher friendly environment, Nunez’s splits told the story of his tenure in a Sky Carp uniform. Although he hit just .184 at home, Nunez slashed .304/.447/.418 away from ABC Supply Stadium. And that was in an even larger sample of ABs. No matter the park though, two things were consistent for Nasim: 70 grade speed and 70 grade defense.
Nunez isn’t expected to ever be much of an over the fence threat. What he is is a disciplined top of the order threat that has the ability to beat out any ball put in play on the infield as well as the ability to turn anything that finds outfield grass into extra bases. After a late season call to AA where he competed against guys nearly three and a half years older than him on average, Nunez’s slash line spiked to .265/.371/.303.
Because of his elite defense and speed, Nunez is a high floor infielder who will undoubtedly stick at shortstop. At least a bench piece, with more consistent bat to ball, Nunez will solidify himself as a starter. Perhaps the long term answer at short the Marlins are looking for at short is right under their nose and not too far away. He should begin 2023 back at AA with the Blue Wahoos. An MLB debut shouldn’t be ruled out.
OF Davis Bradshaw
70 G, .310/.367/.380, 12 XBH, 24 RBI, 8 SB, 36/16 K/BB
Davis Bradshaw is an 11th round pick out of JuCo from 2018 who had some traffic in front of him in the outfield which limited his playing time in Beloit. But when Bradshaw did get his chances, he didn’t waste them. Exhibiting a simple approach and great plate discipline, Bradshaw led the Sky Carp in several offensive categories including batting average. Despite the pitcher friendly nature of ABC Supply Stadium, he was a .280/.331/.332 hitter there and a .342/.403/.408 hitter on the road.
After finally getting the call to AA in August, his results permeated against guys closer to his his own age. With the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Bradshaw hit .286/.394/.357. He also had a big hit and scored a run during the fourth game of the Southern League championship series that kept Pensacola alive.
Bradshaw is a 6’3”, 175 pound lefty hitting righty throwing outfielder who exhibits an extremely disciplined approach at the plate, much of the reason why JJ Cooper labeled him as the best pure hit tool in the Marlins’ 2018 draft class. Bradshaw also exhibits plus speed on the base paths. What limits his ceiling is a lack of power and his outfield arm which is average at best. That said, Bradshaw has the makeup of a prototypical fourth outfielder, as long as he is given the opportunity. We project that he will start 2022 at AAA Jacksonville.
RHP M.D. Johnson
112 IP, 3.46 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 125/28 K/BB
Johnson, who has had quite the unique road to the show thus far, was a Beloit lifer in 2022 and arguably their Most Valuable Player. A 25-year-old righty out of Dallas Baptist, Johnson tossed his way to a 3.46 ERA by way of a 3.58 FIP. His 21.5% K/BB and his 1.04 WHIP led the Midwest League amongst pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched.
6’5”, Johnson uses his size well. While he won’t get up above 95, he has four dancing pitches including a curveball, best pitch slider, and a changeup that took the next step this season. His wide arsenal and improving command somehow didn’t earn him the call to the AA level this year, but provided he is still with Miami after the offseason including the Rule 5 draft, he will report to the upper minors in 2023. Johnson has very real ceiling back-end rotational talent and the floor of a multiple innings reliever out of the pen. And, as long he can succeed in the upper minors, he probably isn’t too far off from making his MLB debut. With the condition of Miami’s staff in 2022, it’s perplexing why he was not challenged a bit more this season. In any event, he could contribute to a big league roster as early next season.
LHP Patrick Monteverde
79 IP, 2.51 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 90/26 K/BB
Patrick Monteverde is a 6’2” 190 pound lefty who, unlike Johnson, was challenged multiple times in 2022. The bulk of Monteverde’s second season pro was sent with the Sky Carp. During his tenure in the Midwest League, Monteverde led the Beloit squad in ERA among hurlers with at least 50 IP. He also had solid control numbers, including a 20% K/BB ratio.
Monteverde’s best tool is his deception from the left side, his 12-6 curveball, and his ability to separate velo. His crux is limited fastball velocity and spotty command. This was on display during his tenure with Pensacola where his numbers inflated. That said, Monteverde will enter his third year pro in arguably the best pitching development system in baseball. After missing 2019 due to elbow surgery and 2020 due to COVID, Monteverde may be behind schedule, but he could become a late blooming rotational piece. He should start 2023 back at AA.