Hey everyone, enjoy this interview session with our Savannah Sand Gnats beat writer, Wally Murphy, who attended every single Savannah home game for us this year… Thanks, Wally… Joe D.
The Sand Gnats had a tremendous first half, which led them to clinching the playoffs. After Plawecki and Boyd were promoted and left holes in the lineup, did you think they still had a chance to win the championship?
When Kevin Plawecki and Jayce Boyd were promoted to St. Lucie, I did not believe the Savannah Sand Gnats would win the SAL Championship. My friends who attend the games did not believe it would happen either. It was incredible to see their success this season — which seemed to come against all odds.
There have been a lot of opinions (some negative, some positive) about Brandon Nimmo’s season. What are your thoughts on his 2013 performance and his development moving forward?
During the first half of the season, Brandon Nimmo, was injured which impeded his progress. He improved the second half of the season. He played in 110 games and hit .273. Nimmo led the team in strikeouts with 131. The second half of the season, pitchers adjusted and got Nimmo out numerous times on curve balls. He did a good job tracking down fly balls at spacious center field at Grayson Stadium. He is young and has time to work on his hitting.
Savannah’s pitching staff was dominant all season…what aspect of their dominance impressed you the most?
Savannah’s pitching was dominant all season. What was impressive was how consistently they pitched giving their team an opportunity to stay close and win a game.
Who would you tab as the most valuable position player? Why?
The most valuable position player was first baseman Jayce Boyd. He appeared in 65 games during the first half and batted .361. It seemed every game he played, he picked 1-3 throws in the dirt helping the infielders avoid throwing errors. Boyd told me he practices fielding balls in the dirt. I definitely noticed the results throughout the season.
Which player do you feel took the biggest step forward in their development?
A player making great strides, Maikis De La Cruz. He played all three outfield positions and only made three errors. In 96 games, he batted .261. He impressed quite a few people with his athleticism.
Which player took the biggest step back in their development?
One starter who had a rough season was shortstop Phillip Evans. He batted .203 in 106 games and led the team with the most errors with 26. Evans did miss games with an injury, but he really struggled all throughout the year.
Who is your most valuable pitcher? Why?
Without question, the most valuable pitcher was Gabriel Ynoa who won 15 games and lost just four. In 135.2 innings pitched, Ynoa struck out 108 and his ERA was 2.72. He started two playoff games and won both and his ERA was 1.23. He was the most impressive pitcher on the staff this year.
Which player do you think had the best season while flying under the radar?
Reliever Beck Wheeler had the best season flying under the radar. In 50.1 innings pitched, he struck out 74. The closer had 19 saves. His ERA was 2.32 all year and he anchored the bullpen for the Sand Gnats.
What are you going to miss the most from this year’s team?
While the pitching was dominant, the team hitting was inconsistent. Fans did not know if the team would get a few hits or 16 hits like they did in a playoff game against Augusta. However, this led to more excitement than anything else because Savannah pulled off a lot of unlikely victories. It was an exciting season following the Savannah Sand Gnats and I was thoroughly entertained.