Wednesday, April 13, 2011
With the big league club having the night off, I took the opportunity to watch the Scranton game. Observations after the jump.
Andrew Brackman-Brackman did not look good. The tall righty walked 3 in 5 innings (he threw 80 pitches, 46 for strikes) and while he never looked wild, he also failed to consistently throw strikes. In particular, Brackman’s curveball, which is supposed to be a big weapon for him, gave him a lot of trouble. Brackman left his curve up in the zone a lot and, on one memorable occasion, threw it all the way to the backstop. Fastball control was also a struggle as Brackman would hit the mitt on one pitch and then miss badly on the next. Finally, in the last bit of bad news, Brackman sat at about 87-90 according to the stadium gun. Despite the subpar velocity, hitters still did not have an easy time squaring up the pitch, which is a plus. As was stated in many publications this past winter, Brackman is a guy who you see one day and you think he’s a future ace and the next time out he looks like crap, so I wouldn’t get too worried about a bad season debut in less than ideal playing conditions.
Brandon Laird-I’m no scout, but Laird looked overly aggressive at the plate. He swung at everything and didn’t look good doing so. In the field, he was fine. There was maybe one play I can remember thinking he probably should have had, but he did not make, and it was on the first play of the game. He charged a weak grounder near the SS hole and cleanly fielded the ball but was not able to get the runner. However, the runner was Ben Revere and it was close, so…yeah.
Jesus Montero-This game was pretty much Jesus Montero in a nutshell. Fantastic hitter, but a ways to go on the defensive end. At the plate, Montero, did not show much patience as he swung at just about everything. I’m ok with this, and it makes sense in his case, because he was hitting the ball hard. His first AB produced a hard grounder up the middle that resulted in a ROE, which I thought could have been scored an IF single depending on the official scorer. In his second at bat, Montero had a funky swing where he chopped at a ball well above and outside the strike zone and just drove it into RF for a double. The third at bat featured Montero ripping one down the LF line for a double. Fourth at bat was a hard groundout to SS. In his final at bat, Montero hit the ball to SS again, but this time placed it better and was able to pick up a clean single through the hole. All in all, he had a very productive day at the plate.
Now for the defense…it was pretty bad. As I said in my previous post, Montero looked ok whenever I saw him during ST, so I’m going to assume this is what he looked like during ST games I missed. Montero gave up 3 stolen bases, each in a different way. To his credit, Brandon Roberts (2 SB) and Ben Revere (1 SB) are two of the better base stealers you will find at the AAA level. For Revere’s SB, Montero popped out of the crouch, but lost the ball on the transfer. On Roberts’ 1st SB, Montero threw an absolute no chance floater to 2B. On Roberts’ 2nd SB Montero was able to successfully transfer the ball and get some zip on it…but it bounced short of 3B. How much of this was due to working with the 6’11” Brackman, not known for holding runners, I’m not sure. However, as a big league C, you’re not always going to get to throw to a base after receiving a chest high fastball with the runner only a couple feet off the base. What I did like was that Montero did not let his troubles turn him gun shy as he kept a couple runners honest by throwing behind them. On those occasions, the arm strength was evident.
Montero was also involved in a few other noteworthy defensive plays. In the first inning, Trevor Plouffe attempted to bunt and hit a low pop up a few feet up the first base line. Montero got out of the crouch in a hurry and made a sliding, bobbling catch. One out later, Montero would be forced to go up the line towards the foul side of the 3B line to receive a throw home from Justin Maxwell. The throw was low and Montero just whiffed on it as it went between his legs, but Brackman backed him up nicely. Finally, Montero made a nice catch and swipe tag on a close play to end the 7th inning.
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