The Birmingham Barons may not have had the season that they had hoped for in 2023. The Barons finished the season 51-87, fourth in the Southern League North and last in all of the Southern League. Birmingham also finished their season with a home and away split of 22-47 and 29-40, respectively. The Barons collected four series victories on the year with another three-game series victory when they played the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in July.
Birmingham across the season wavered in production at the plate and from the mound. The Barons at the dish ended the season with that second lowest batting average in .232 and the lowest OPS in .696. Birmingham from the bump finished the season with a league worst 5.62 ERA and WHIP in 1.60.
More specifically from the plate, the Barons capped the year off with 1093 hits, 638 runs, 199 doubles, 10 triples, 135 home runs and 585 RBI. Birmingham finished in the middle of the pack in hits and walks, however, they finished last in stolen bases with 129.
Taking deeper at the season pitching numbers, the Barons pitched a total of 1196.1 innings allowing 1201 hits and 747 earned runs to go with 1297 strikeouts and 24 saves. Birmingham ranked last close to the bottom, if not the bottom, of the league in all of those statistics.
As far as individual performances go in team sports, the Barons had two standouts that started and finished the season as a member of the Magic City: Luis Mieses and RHP Matt Thompson.
Mieses was the Barons Iron-Man this season as he played the most games in 115. The 23-year-old finished the season leading the team in hits (108) and doubles (26). Mieses also ranked tied for second in triples (1) and RBI (48). The outfielder was a rather consistent offensive and defensive component to the Barons success this season.
Thompson was the lone pitcher from the original starting rotation. The right-hander finished the season with an overall record of 6-15, his record does not depict how he performed. The Chicago White Sox No. 22 prospect finished the season with 27 starts with the Barons. In his appearances, Thompson allowed 110 hits and 67 earned runs to go with 136 strikeouts in his 124.1 innings pitched for the Barons.
The Barons were so much more than just two players as throughout the season they made a lot of transactions that changed up the team, 151 to be exact. Among the roster moves the Barons saw a lot of top ranked prospects, MLB rehab assignments and everything in between. Birmingham was home to a lot of names throughout the year, including Colson Montgomery, Eloy Jimenez, LHP Garrett Crochet, Edgar Quero, Jose Rodrigeuz and Tim Elko.
Looking at all of these numbers can only tell one side of the story of the season. The 2023 Barons are way more than their stats. Below is the season looked at on a month-by-month basis.
The Barons in the month of April finished with a 9-12 record and collected their first series win of the season against the Blue Wahoos. Among the nine wins by the club, Birmingham kicked off the regular season with a road win against the Tennessee Smokies.
In the win, Luis Mieses ignited the season with a 4-4 performance to go along with two RBI. This not only boosted the Barons confidence, but this also boosted Mieses’. The Santo Domingo, Dominican native would go on to finish with a team high in hits with 22 and doubles with seven, while being tied for second in RBI with seven in April.
Other position players that performed in the month of April were Taylor Snyder and Yoelqui Cespedes. Snyder led the Barons in RBI for the month with eight as well as tied for first in home runs with two. The infielder also finished the month with the third highest number of hits with 14 in 62 at-bats. Cespedes had a similar month as Snyder with finishing second in hits (15), tied for second in RBI (7) and tied for first in homers (2).
In the month, the Barons were more than just their plate appearances. Birmingham saw a remarkable start to the season from two RHP in Alejandro Mateo and Cristian Mena. Both of them finished the month with two wins, which lead the Barons, and led their respective roles in strikeouts.
Mateo ended the month with nine total appearances, all coming from the bullpen. In his appearances, Mateo allowed six hits and one earned run to go with 17 strikeouts in his 10.2 innings pitched. The reliever also finished the month with two saves in his lone two opportunities.
Mena capped off the month with four appearances, all coming in starts. In his previous appearances, Mena allowed 18 hits and nine earned runs to go with 31 strikeouts in 19.0 innings pitched. Mena achieved his strikeout total thanks to two starts where he had nine and 10 strikeouts.
The Barons were also gifted the first of three different times that White Sox southpaw Crochet would rep their uniform on a MLB rehab assignment. In April, Crochet had one appearance out of the bullpen. In his outing, Crochet allowed zero hits and zero runs to go with one strikeout in his 1.0 innings pitched.
The Barons in the month of May finished with a record of 7-19 and collected zero series victories. In May, Birmingham saw the rise of two of their brightest players, Alsander Womack and RHP Chase Solesky.
Womack had started his season with the Barons towards the end of April, however, he showcased in May because he was called up from High-A Winston-Salem. The infielder finished leading the Barons in hits with 24 as well as tied for the most games played with 24. Womack had three home runs, 11 RBI, two doubles and .247 batting average. The 24-year-old was the spark plug of this team as he was always the one to bring the energy when the team needed it the most.
Another outstanding performance from the plate in the month of May was Rodriguez. The Chicago White Sox No. 8 prospect finished the month leading the team in home runs with five and RBI with 15. Rodriguez also collected 22 hits, four doubles and five stolen bases.
Those two dominated the plate as Solesky and LHP Jonah Scolaro shined on the mound.
Solesky finished his three starts of the month with an ERA of 1.93 and a record of 2-0. In his appearances, Solesky allowed 14 hits and three earned runs to go with 12 strikeouts in his 14.0 innings pitched. The right-hander battled through some adversity to start the year and really found his stride in May before being called up to Triple-A Charlotte.
Scolaro was another call up that paid off for the Barons. In his first three appearances since being called up from High-A Winston-Salem, Scolaro earned an ERA of 0.00 and a record of 1-0. Taking a deeper look at the appearances, Scolaro allowed four hits and zero earned runs to go with 11 strikeouts in his 7.2 innings pitched for the Barons.
Crochet continued his MLB rehab assignment into the month of May with two more outings. In his May appearances, Crochet allowed 5 hits and four earned runs to go with three strikeouts in his 2.1 innings pitched for the Barons.
In the middle month of the season, the Barons really started to catch their strides on both sides of the ball. Birmingham finished June with a record of 11-14 and one series victory over the Chattanooga Lookouts. Among the wins, a handle full of Barons separated themselves from the pack.
From the plate, Mieses continued to hold his crown for most hits on the team by leading them in the month with 26. The outfielder added seven doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI. Mieses commanded a .295 BA and a .822 OPS. The numbers from Mieses were aided by a 6-6 performance at the plate in which he accounted for four runs, six RBI, a double and three home runs, a 18-4 win over the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
Mieses wasn’t the only Baron in the 20’s with hits as Womack, Moises Castillo, Adam Hackenberg and Bryan Ramos joined the party.
Womack continued his stellar performance in Double-A with 23 hits, five doubles, one home run and 12 RBI. Castillo also corralled a good amount of hits in 21, nevertheless, his main contribution came from his 15 RBI, tied for most in the month with Ramos. Ramos finished the month with 20 hits, two doubles and four home runs to go with his 15 RBI.
The Barons welcomed their second MLB rehab assignment onto the team in Eloy Jimenez. Jimenez spent three games with the Barons and had eight at-bats. In his at-bats, Jimenez had one hit and two RBI.
Turning it over to the mound, RHP Matt Thompson and LHP Ben Holmes were the standouts from the bump.
Thompson as stated before finished the season with a lopsided record not in his favor, which does not depict how well he pitched. In June, the right-hander showcased his talents with a 2-2 record and a 3.60 ERA in five starts. In his appearances, Thompson allowed 24 hits and 10 earned runs to go with 30 strikeouts in his 25.0 innings pitched.
Thompson was the starter with the most success, but Holmes was near flawless in his role. Holmes finished the month with a 0.79 ERA, 1-1 overall record and four saves in his five opportunities. In his outings, Holmes allowed eight hits and one earned run to go with 12 strikeouts in his 11.1 innings pitched. The left-hander did not last too long in Double-A after his stellar performances as he would spend the rest of the year in Triple-A.
Despite a great month prior, July was not the strongest month for the Barons. In July, Birmingham went 6-17 and won a three-game series against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. In the Barons defense, this was the month of change for the Barons roster as they had 24 roster moves. Even with all the new faces it was Xavier Fernandez that dominated the month at the plate, while LHP Haylen Green aided from the bump.
Some of the new faces for the Barons were Edgar Quero and Ky Bush, who the White Sox acquired in a mid-season trade with the Los Angeles Angels. Quero, 20-year-old switch hitter, jumped right into the top three of the White Sox prospects as he sits No. 3. Bush had a similar leap as he finds himself at No. 9 on the prospect list. The duo did not start to find their footing in July as much as they would in the months to come.
However, Fernandez was as scorching hot as you could be to kick off the month. In 16 games, the 28-year-old finished the month with 26 hits, six doubles, five home runs, 18 RBI and a 1.213 OPS. Fernandez also finished the month with an extremely efficient BA in .406 before heading up to Charlotte for the rest of the season.
Green had a similarly efficient month as in five appearances collected a 1.35 ERA and two saves. In his appearances, Green allowed three hits and one earned run to go with seven strikeouts in his 6.2 innings pitched for the Barons. The southpaw also finished the month with an outstanding 0.90 WHIP.
Crochet made his second stop down to Birmingham in July for 0.2 IP. In his innings, Crochet allowed one hit and struck out two.
In the second to last month of baseball in the Barons season, they displayed their most wins on the season. Birmingham finished August with a record of 13-15 and parlayed that with a series victory over the Rocket City Trash Pandas. August also was a month for the rest of the new faces to come aboard the Barons bus in Colson Montgomery, Wilfred Veras, Tim Elko, RHP Nick Nastrini.
Montgomery played 14 games in Double-A during 2022 and batted .146, not a start he wanted in Birmingham. The 21-year-old this time around played 22 games in the month of August with a BA of .250 and an OPS of .850. Montgomery finished with 20 hits, five doubles, two triples, two home runs and 16 RBI.
Veras was also called up last season to Double-A for 12 games and he finished with an .267 BA. The 20-year-old finished 23 games in August with a .372 ERA (Led the team for the month) and a 1.008 OPS (Led the team). Veras ended his month with 35 hits, 12 doubles, three home runs and 23 RBI.
Elko may not be on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospect for the White Sox, but he displays talent like one. The University of Mississippi alum finished his first 20 games in Double-A with a .313 BA and an .821 OPS. Elko ended the month with 25 hits, two doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI.
The trio of new faces carried the offensive success, while Nastrini and Eder did their parts at the bump.
Nastrini was sent to the White Sox in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers and finished the month with a flawless 3-0 record and a 4.22 ERA. The right-hander started four games for the Barons with a WHIP of 1.27. In his starts, Nastrini allowed 20 hits and 10 earned runs to go with 31 strikeouts in his 21.1 innings pitched for the Barons.
LHP Fraser Ellard also was a stud on the mound for the Barons as he appeared in five games with an 0.00 ERA. In his five appearances, Ellard allowed two hits and zero earned runs to go with seven strikeouts in 5.0 innings pitched.
The Barons finished off the season going with a lackluster 5-10. However, Birmingham capped off 2023 with their final series victory against the Chattanooga Lookouts. The Barons players continued to fight until the very end of the season as the offense had the same contributors, while the pitching staff had a player in a new role shine the brightest.
Ramos, Montgomery, Veras and Elko all finished the month with over ten hits each and accrued the most RBI in the month. The offense was without Rodriguez for the later part of the season as he was promoted to Triple-A, yet the offense still improved as time went on.
The pitching staff was a little of the same story as a bunch of hurlers were sent up to Charlotte for the remainder of the season. The Barons, however, found a key role in the pen for LHP Garrett Schoenle, who started the year as a starter. Schoenle finished off the final 15 appearances of the year as a relief pitcher and had a near flawless transition. The lefty allowed 15 hits and 14 earned runs to go with 32 strikeouts in his 22.1 innings pitched.