The Potomac Cannons are struggling in the second half of the Carolina League season -- partly because of their success in the first half.
The Cannons posted a winning record and earned a playoff spot in the first half, and some of the players who helped get them there were rewarded with promotions.
Center fielder Chris Denorfia and first baseman Tony Blanco, two of the Cannons' top hitters, were called up to Class AA Chattanooga on July 1. Blanco led the Carolina League in home runs most of the first half; Denorfia was among the league leaders in several offensive categories. On top of that, Potomac's top starter, Rich Gardner (8-3, 2.50 ERA), was sent up to Chattanooga July 5.
With the middle of their order gone, the Cannons have struggled to produce offense at times, including a six-game losing streak to start July. Outfielder Brad Correll, who moved up the order to bat cleanup, is one of the players trying to pick up the slack for the promoted players.
"Losing that many home runs from the lineup definitely makes an impact," said Correll, referring to the 28 round-trippers Denorfia and Blanco combined to hit. "Without those guys in front of me, I don't see as many good pitches."
Besides Correll, Potomac is relying on second baseman Kevin Howard for offensive production. He is now the team's leading hitter with a team-best .304 batting average, 10 home runs and 52 RBI.
The offense has show signs of life in recent games -- Potomac collected 46 hits in a series at Winston-Salem.
* CANNONS ADD MEDLOCK: The Cannons received pitcher Calvin Medlock from lower Class A Dayton on July 14. The right-hander earned the promotion after going 8-3 with a 2.57 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings.