Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rock Cats Observations

Yesterday, I made it to my first Rock Cats game of the year and watched the Twins' AA affiliate take on the Connecticut Defenders (AA affiliate of the Giants). Madison Bumgarner, the #6 ranked prospect in all of baseball by MiLB.com, made his AA debut and got the win against Cole DeVries and the Rock Cats. His final stat line was very good (1 run in 7), but he didn't look particularly impressive in his first start at AA as there were a couple hard hit balls that were caught and he only had 2 strikeouts. Here are some other observations from the game:

-Toby Gardenhire cannot play first base. Maybe he just had a bad night last night, but I don't know how he can play shortstop if that's what he looks like at first. He had one error on a grounder that he missed, and there were two other plays where he did not field the ball cleanly and had to toss it to the pitcher on close plays at first. He also failed to scoop a pickoff throw in the first inning, though it was a bad throw by DeVries and the error was correctly charged to the pitcher.

-The two offensive players I was most looking forward to watching were Wilson Ramos and Danny Valencia, my minor league hitter of the month in April. Unfortunately Ramos went on the DL recently with a thumb injury, but Valencia was still starting at third base. He didn't really get tested on defense as he only had to handle a couple of easy plays, but he looked impressive at the plate. He didn't swing at bad pitches and got 3 hits, including a double, on the day.

-Defense is significantly worse in the minors than in the majors, and the Rock Cats had an especially bad night last night. DeVries had a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, Rob Delaney threw a potential double play ball into centerfield, and Brandon Roberts allowed a run to score when he picked up Delaney's errant throw and subsequently threw the ball away again. I already mentioned Toby Gardenhire's shoddy defense at first base, and Yancarlos Ortiz also had a ball bounce of his glove on a borderline call that went for a hit.

-I just mentioned Delaney, and he and Anthony Slama were the two pitchers I was most excited to see. Slama did not get into the game last night, but Delaney came on in the 8th in relief of Jose Lugo. He only faced three batters, but he looked pretty impressive to me. He struck out one and got two groundballs, though he threw one of those away as I already mentioned. The starting pitcher, DeVries, pitched very well, striking out 6 over 7 innings and allowing no earned runs. He had a big breaking ball, but none of the hitters were biting on it and he couldn't seem to throw it for strikes. Nonetheless, he had a great start which ended in a tough luck loss.

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