On Friday, the Rochester Red Wings released their end-of-season summary for 2022.
It was, in some ways, a story of two seasons on the field for Matthew LeCroy‘s squad. The first was one of success: the Red Wings went 35-19 in the first two months of the season, and held at least a share of first place in the division for 40 days. On June 8, they led the division by three games. The second half of the season was one of defeat, including a historic 19-game losing streak from July 16 through August 10. Ultimately, the Red Wings finished with a 67-81 record, although they were more successful in the stands, welcoming 432,580 fans, including a 8,170 opening day crowd that was the most fans for an opener since 2017.
Not surprisingly, many of the biggest on-field highlights of the season occurred during the first half:
There was shortstop Luis Garcia, who tore up the International League in the first month of the season, including the week of April 12-17, when he won International League player of the Week after notching 14 hits, 23 total bases, and a .519 batting average during a series against Buffalo. First baseman Joey Meneses, meanwhile, became a fan favorite, hitting a team-leading 20 home run while notching 107 hits and 64 RBIs.
On the mound, the first part of the year saw great pitching by both starters and relievers. Cade Cavalli overcame some early struggles to dominate during his final 13 starts with Rochester, working a 2.10 ERA. On June 4, he pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts, the only complete game of the season for the Red Wings. He won IL Pitcher of the Week for his performance in Lehigh Valley on July 7, when he retired the first 17 batters he faced. In the bullpen, Major League veterans like Tyler Clippard and Carl Edwards Jr. were mainstay during the first half of the year. Edwards, in particular, was impressive in April and early May, achieving a 0.63 ERA in 13 appearances with Rochester, including the last 15 batters he faced and 26 of the last 28. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg even made an appearance at Frontier Field for a rehab assignment.
The seeds of the down half of the season, though, came in those performances. With the parent club Washington Nationals having a last-place season, most of the best players for Rochester were called up. Transactions also played a role: at the trade deadline, both Meneses and Josh Palacios (who at one point had an 18-game hitting streak, the second-longest in the IL this season) were called up after Juan Soto and Josh Bell were traded away. Eventually, what started the season as a division contender ended up a squad that plunged towards the bottom of the standings. This service to the top club, of course, is the ultimate reason for a Minor League Baseball team’s existence, although it doubtless was disappointing for many at Frontier Field.
Still, the second half of the season had its moments and heroes. Outfielder Andrew Stevenson remained with the team the whole season and ended the season as both the team’s Most Valuable and Most Popular Player. He led the team in nearly every offensive category, and finished second in home runs in 16. He led the league in hits with 152, and came just one stolen base away from becoming the first Red Wing to steal 40 or more bases since 1981. Infielder Jake Alu proved to be perhaps the best newcomer to arrive mid-season and finish the season with the team, going on a tear in September to win the league’s Player of the Month award after hitting .409 and slugging .761 while hitting safely in his last 14 games.
Next season will begin March 31, 2023. It is far too early to say for sure who may be on the team, it is likely a safe bet to assume that some of Washington’s top players in AA Harrisburg will make the move at some point to Rochester either at the start of or during the season.
A better idea on who will be on the 2023 Red Wings will emerge during the offseason, as will what new improvements and promotions may be planned by the team’s front office.