Greensboro Grasshoppers personnel are upbeat before games in the press box, with good reason. After all, the ‘Hoppers finished second in the Northern Division of the low Class A South Atlantic League. Second baseman Chris Coghlan, a supplemental first round pick of the Marlins in 2006 from Mississippi, was hitting over .300, helping him earn a spot in the league’s all-star game and on the Futures Game roster.It didn’™t take long for a Futures Game jinx to set in. Coghlan went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the first game after the rosters were announced, as the Augusta GreenJackets pitching simply shut everyone down. Two days later, Greensboro’™s best starter, lefty Graham Taylor, got tagged for three runs on two homers in the first inning.
However, Coghlan got back on track over the weekend, going 7-for-12 in three games thereafter with a pair of home runs. If there was a jinx, it only lasted one day, because he kept up his hot hitting against the Sally League’s top pitching staff.
In the third game of the series, Coghlan went 2-for-3 with a single and double, but no one around him could do any damage, leaving Greensboro with another loss. In the fourth and final game, Coghlan followed catcher Chris Hatcher’™s two-run homer with a solo shot of his own in the first inning. Coghlan and outfielder John Raynor led their team to a 14-2 trouncing of Augusta.
Raynor, a speedster who was a ninth-round pick out of UNC Wilmington last year, was 5-for-5 with two RBIs and fell a double short of the cycle. He’s hitting a robust .307/.412/.471 with 29 stolen bases in 32 attempts.
Coghlan went 2-for-5 and has reached 10 home runs for the year after hitting no home runs in 30 games in the New York-Penn League last year.
A little advice from roving hitting instructor John Mallee and ‘Hoppers hitting coach Anthony Iapoce has helped him to 10 homers. Seven have come at cozy First Horizon Park in Greensboro, but he’s still slugging .479 on the road and hitting .338/.437/.573 overall.
“I’™ve had a real handsy swing,” Coghlan said. “I’™ve always been able to put the ball in play and not strikeout much. They were showing me how to create more room on the inner half and be able to drive the ball and pull the ball the proper way.”
Coghlan will represent the Marlins as in the Futures Game. He was at the South Atlantic League all-star game when he received the good news.
“It was a surprise,” Coghlan said. “I was surprised but also happy that I’™m able to represent myself, the organization and my family in the game.”
On another note, despite Sunday’™s loss, GreenJackets pitching remains lights out. Going into Sunday, June 24, five Augusta starters were a combined 41-8, 1.85. Righthander Henry Sosa, was called up to high class A San Jose after going 6-0, 0.73, but the GreenJackets staff should still be in great shape. All five were in the top 10 in ERA and four were in the top 10 in wins.