By KYLE KEOUGH
Improbable as it might sound, the Augusta Analbum Covers are no longer the best baseball team in Maine. For a $27-thousand-a-year paycheck, a team of Augustan youngsters might already be better than their pro-level bretheren.
It is clear now that Augusta's High A club is a special collection of talent; so good are they that a large section of the Analbum Covers' fanbase think they'd topple the 62-99 team should the two meet.
While that speculation won't ever materialize into anything more than an Augustan fanboy's dream, it is clear that the High A team--a staggering 116-28 on the season--are the best and brightest part of an organization-wide youth movement.
They've been so good, in fact, that they're on the short list for greatest-ever minor league club in Canseco. And their winning percentage, which is now over .800%, is the best of any team in baseball.
Soon, questions of whether Augusta's High A team could defeat their ML club will be moot, since this High A team will become the ML squad in a few seasons.
Until then, a mishmash of blue chippers and stars in the making continue to smash records and bludgeon mismatched opponents in the depths of the lower minor leagues.
Not surprisingly, the High A Analbum Covers rule the roost in nearly every statistical category. Offensively, they're far and away the best team per league in Canseco. With 1295 team runs in a mere 144 games on the season, they lead in run total. As a team, they're hitting a staggering .334 on the season.
Led by can't-miss whiz kid Jose Alvarez, who, in his first season, has hit .385 with 160 RBIs and 46 SBs, the Analbum Covers have indeed pounded opposing starters all season long. Yet it's been young 1B Nerio Springer who has turned heads; his RBI total on the season stands at 177. In total, the lineup has 7 hitters with 100+ RBIs, and most players are hitting well north of .300.
Even so, in a feat that's unlikely to be duplicated anytime soon, Augusta also leads High A in runs allowed. Their team ERA (3.30) is the lowest in the league.
Staff ace Timothy Reed (20-4, 2.84 ERA) is a 23-year-old righty that most scouts have projected as a future Major League ace. He has the ability, some observers believe, to pitch in the Majors tomorrow if the organization so chooses.
Behind him? There's fellow Cy Young candidate Charlie Chase (18-3, 2.64 ERA), along with one of the minors' most talented pens.
If the spectacular High A team keeps this up, Augusta really will have something to play for come the end of September.