Last season, the Columbia Fireflies offense was one of the worst in the South Atlantic League. The team had the second worst team batting average, and the third worst slugging percentage. It was a big reason why the team had a disappointing season that saw them finish with a 67-73 record. Obviously, when your offense sputters like this, things need to change.
On Opening Day, when Tim Tebow homered in his first ever at-bat as a professional, we saw the beginning of what is hopefully a turnaround for the Fireflies offense. They haven’t trailed at all during their 5-0 start to the season.
In what is an extremely small sample size, the Fireflies lead the Sally League with a .306 team batting average, and they are fifth with a team .427 slugging percentage. This is a marked improvement over where they were last season, and as a result, they have scored the most runs in the Sally League. The main reason for this turnaround is the prospects on the Fireflies roster are playing up to their potential.
Jacob Zanon is hitting .500 through four games, and he is showing off his speed already recording a triple and four stolen bases.vGene Cone has a .417 OBP. Luis Carpio is hitting .368/.500/.421 with a double. Blake Tiberi is has a .429 OBP and a double. Dash Winningham, one of the players that struggled for the Fireflies last season, is showing himself to be an improved hitter hitting .421/.478/.632 with a double, homer, and 10 RBIs. In limited time, Anthony Dimino has gone 5 for 6 with three walks. The aforementioned Tebow already has two home runs on the season.
Once the “offensive machine” Desmond Lindsay gets in on the action, things will really start to get interesting with the Fireflies offense. Lindsay has walked six times in four games.
While it is too soon to say the Fireflies are a completely different team offensively, there is enough tangential evidence to suggest this is a much better team than they were last year. Much of the credit goes to the prospects who have put the time in to improve as players to succeed this way. Credit also belongs to manager Jose Leger and hitting coach Joel Fuentes, who have both been working with these players to get them to reach their potential.
This has been an exciting 5-0 start for a Fireflies team with a lot of good prospects with real potential. It should be a fun summer watching this team develop and improve in Columbia.