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Hammond Notes - March 25

Posted by ashbury , 25 March 2015 · 1,288 views

Today we skipped the major league game and spent our morning and afternoon on the back fields. But only after watching some of the major leaguers doing drills on the front field. Looked like they were concentrating on the pitchers making their throws to bases - I wonder if the snafus in yesterday's game had anything to do with that. :)

Had a nice chat there with TDers John Bonnes, Jim Crikket, Halsey Hall, and beckmt (I believe only one of these names appears on any of these gentlemen's birth certificates). Baseball on a warm southwest Florida day is even better with friends old and new.

The two "A" games started at 1 pm, both against corresponding Rays affiliates. We mainly watched the nominal Cedar Rapids team managed by Jake Mauer, and I took one short peek at the Ft Myers team managed by Jeff Smith. I mention the teams this way, rather than a hard and fast A/A+ classification, because the players themselves were a mishmash from the rosters that were published only a few days earlier. Things change fast in spring training as the major league roster gets pared down and the ripple effect works its way down the organization. I'm sure what we saw today was a close approximation to the final assignments.

I didn't keep a scoresheet, but I did jot down a few thoughts. (Oh, and you'll notice there are no photos; bummer, I forgot to reinsert the memory card into my camera after downloading last night.)

Baby faced Stephen Gonsalves started for the Kernels. He proved to be a very tough draw for the Rays batters, just as a highly touted prospect should be. He notched two strikeouts to start the game, and then had a truly wicked liner come right back to him, one that somehow ended up in his mitt instead of somewhere less lucky. That was probably the hardest hit ball against him - I think he gave up one seeing-eye hit and altogether he had a sparkling day.

My one look at the other field was in what I assume to be starter Chih-Wei Hu's final inning of work. When I strolled over, it was first and third with nobody out. I don't know for sure how he got into the jam - a Rays coach briefed me as maybe a hit and an error - but he worked his way out nicely, with the batters having difficulty dealing with the movement on the ball. Hu doesn't have the fastball that evaluators like, but so far he has had nothing but success in his two years in the low minors, and like a fool I am thinking his ceiling could be front of the rotation. No one else on the planet has expressed such optimism - so I'll be gloating when he starts Game One of a World Series - one of these days Real Soon Now.

Catcher Brian Navarreto nailed a runner trying to steal second, to end one inning, and I'm not sure I ever saw a bigger grin on a player's face when he headed back to his dugout. And he had a right to be pleased, I thought - a really good throw.

Jorge Fernandez contributed a no-doubter home run to left.

Late in the game Brandon Poulson came in to pitch for one inning. His reputation for wildness appeared deserved - and while sometimes you hear "effectively wild" he wasn't very effective either. Jose Velez preceded Poulson and seemed to have good velocity (AshburySteven groaned when I attempted "Velezity") but he was pretty hittable, yet he escaped without too much damage. Kuo Hua Lo pitched a couple of innings and gave up some solid shots that I think plated a run. I haven't given you a very good idea of the scoring, because I fail to keep track in games like this, but I think the final score was about 4-2 in our favor.

Tanner English legged out a single, hit to short, that many other players would not have.

And speaking of short players, Rays 2B prospect Oscar Sanay is listed on b-r.com as 5'7" but at the plate he looked not much taller than substitute catcher Brett Doe crouching. The above-mentioned Tanner, listed at a generous 5'10", no doubt towers over him. I don't remember much about what he did, he just caught my eye.

Much more the prototypical looking player is first baseman Tyler Kuresa. His fiancee sat near us, and we chatted pleasantly about him and random other topics, as the game went along. Hint to Seth - he might be a good one to interview in depth - I know now for instance he takes pride in his defense at 1B. (Another of those Spring Training pleasures is watching Tom Kelly proceed onto the field in foul territory and coach his defense, in-game. Kuresa got a tip or two that way today.) The lefty looked good at the plate today, hitting an at'em ball to CF for an out and getting a nice sharp single to RF, suggesting that his good showing in Elizabethton was no fluke last year. A Rays lefty with a vicious sidearm delivery did strike him out on what appeared to be a low offspeed pitch on 3-2 after an otherwise good battle. So he's someone I'll add to my Players I'll Be Watching list this year.

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GMinTraining
Mar 25 2015 08:46 PM

I heard AA lost for the first time this year in camp.     I also heard AA roster is changed from what we read the other day due to MLB cuts.