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Feature
 
 
Toby on Assigment: Day 5

Harrmann
on 03/14/2003

 
As my vacation here in Arizona winds down, I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't get to see the minor leaguers play in any game situations, but my patience was rewarded on Thursday as all three squads went through intrasquad scrimmages. The actual games start on Saturday, the day after I leave, but watching players play other players from their same team can be just as interesting as watching players play other teams. This way, at least I know who everyone is.

I decided on watching the kids in the A-Ball camp, as I've paid the least attention to them so far this spring. It was pretty much like a normal game, though both sides' lineups cards ran about 12 players long and no one had to go in order. There was more or less a new pitcher each inning.

There were quite a number of people milling around the minor league side of the Brewers' complex. When I first got here last Sunday, there were probably half a dozen people total watching any of the practices, but on Thursday there were upwards of about a hundred people at any given point. In fact, there were probably more people on the minor league side at the height of its popularity than there were at the end of the Brewers' game against the Rangers

At the A-Ball intrasquad game, there were somewhere around 40 people at one point, which prompted Don Money to note that there were more people there than at some of the Beloit games. Maybe they should have handed out magnetic calendars or something.

Back to the game, here's what I saw:

Gilberto Acosta made a few nice plays at shortstop and worked the count well twice, fouling off a number of pitches and walking. He doesn't have a powerful swing, but he might be a guy that could walk 60-80 times down the road.

Josh Alliston is a big guy and really bore down on the hitters. His fastball had some pop, but his breaking pitch hung out a little bit through the zone, and he got hit hard off of it once or twice.

Dane Artman pitched well for a few batters before losing his control both down and up in the zone.

Jason Baker had a nasty breaking ball (it looked like a slider from my angle) that made a couple of hitters look silly. His fastball wasn't overpowering, but he placed it well.

Dallas Bates made a nice play in left field. His bat leaves something to be desired, but he has a strong body and might be a player down the road.

Paul Bell impressed me last spring and continues to do a lot of little things well. He sort of reminds me of a raw Ronnie Belliard.

Craig Breslow had a lot of movement on all of his pitches, and was almost unhittable, which lead to a walk or two and a strikeout or two.

Ozzie Chavez launched a triple down the right field line that had some legs under it. I still think that with his swing, he could develop a little bit of pop eventually.

Geno De Salme is a soft tosser who has to locate his pitches very well, and he did a good job of that today.

Pedro Esparragoza looked a little bit tepid at some points, being slow to block balls in the dirt. However, he did make an awesome snap throw to first to pick off Matt Serafini, and he called a good game.

Jeff Eure played a pretty good third base, though he was out of position a couple of times and had to be corrected by the coaches. His overly big swing haunted him at the plate as he struck out once and didn't make solid contact the other time.

Prince Fielder looked super-confident at the plate and hit the ball solidly twice, resulting in one hit. He didn't make any mistakes on defense, but didn't look smooth there.

Mitch Franke was lost at the plate and not a heck of lot less lost on defense at first.

Jeremy Frost looked athletic behind the plate and showed a decent, if not overly quick, swing.

Hector Garcia had one big knock just foul down the left field line, but wasn't that good otherwise, chopping a number of balls into the dirt.

Andri Gomez was a little slow of foot at second base, but he has a nice, compact swing at the plate.

Bo Hall carried around a video camera to either side of the field to record pitchers on tape. He was very athletic and set up the camera well.

Steve Hunt didn't really impress me with his swing.

Terry Mayo started the game at pitcher and was the only pitcher to go two innings that I saw. He threw hard (I'd guess in the low 90's), but was consistently wild low. He did get a lot of ground balls, and if he can learn to hit spots low in the zone, could be effective later in the year. He has a heck of an arm and the build to a pitcher.

Taylor McCormack continued to look good at third base. He has a nice swing, but takes some weak cuts and needs to be more confident in his abilities.

Manuel Melo has a very light swing, but somehow gets some decent pop out of it from time to time. He needs to take more pitches and use his natural speed when he gets on base.

Mario Mendez has a fun time playing the game, which is evident in his play. He made a number of nice plays in center field. He gets decent loft under the balls he hits, but his swing is long and has holes. I think he has the ability to get his hands through the zone more quickly and cut down on the holes.

Gabriel Mendoza wasn't overpowering but had good control and changed locations well. He relies on good stuff for strikeouts, not power.

Greg Moreira is an imposing figure on the mound and looks the part of a major league workhorse. However, he doesn't yet have the ability to hit spots and while his fastball is good, his breaking stuff is not close to ready.

Josh Murray took 6 pitches and struck out, proving that sometimes it does indeed pay to swing.

Derek Patterson has a pretty smooth swing. Defensively, he threw at least 3 balls into centerfield from catcher.

Ricky Pijuan is a big kid with some get-up in his long swing. Having about 4 major-league caliber prospects in front of him at first base won't help him.

Francisco Plasencia drove a ball hard into the gap in his only AB. He was barely cut down at home plate on an inside-the-park home run attempt.

Guilder Rodriguez is flashy on defense but his swing is about as weak as they come. He needs to add muscle and work with a hitting coach for a long time.

Vinny Rottino looked good at third base. At the plate, he took some pitches, but didn't have a great swing.

Matt Serafini has a big uppercut swing and has definite power potential. He also makes good contact for the size of his swing.

Mike Shwam threw a good inning and looked healthy. His fastball had some pop.

Chas Terni was solid on defense at shortstop and looked very mature on the ballfield. Even if he isn't overly productive, he seems to be a guy that will be able to teach the younger guys a thing or two.

John Vanden Berg was pretty athletic behind the plate, though he still projects to be an offensive catcher.

Tom Wilhelmsen didn't pitch, but ran around a lot. He's goofy.

Lendon Willis is very raw in the field and at the plate, but he has a good body and passes the look test for a potential major leaguer. He just needs work.

As for the Brewers, it was hot and the game took a very long time. There was a pretty decent crowd at the beginning of the game, but by the end, everyone that was left was scurrying to leave as quickly as they could. It was one of the more entertaining games of the spring that I've seen. It also helped that I was almost nailed in the crotch by a line drive into the stands and that Marcus Hanel tossed me a ball after the game.

Glendon Rusch looked pretty bad on the mound. He threw his first pitch for a strike almost every time, but also had a number of 3-1 counts and left the ball flat through the zone on many occasions. He got hid hard, and in the this case, the box score does not lie. Mike Buddie pitched like Mike Buddie. He was effective, got a lot of weak grounders, and looked like he could eat even more innings. Valerio De Los Santos also looked solid, if not a bit erratic. John Foster looked very good early on, but seemed to wear down quickly and lost almost all control by the end of his appearance. Ben Diggins looked as bad as Rusch, leaving everything through the zone up and flat. He really needs to work on his offspeed stuff. Watching Derek Lee induce a double play ball was fun.

Dave Krynzel continued to hit the ball hard, but once again, most things didn't find holes. He also took a couple big swings at balls he shouldn't have swung at. He worked the count fairly well, not swinging at early pitches as much as he has recently. Wilton Veras looked solid in the field and seems to have a good idea at the plate. He might be a guy to watch in AAA. Brooks Kieschnick solidified his bid to make the team as a pitcher/outfielder/first baseman with a very good show at the plate and a good arm in the outfield. Keith Osik also continued to impress me with his defense and skills at the plate. Royce Clayton stayed hot.

One more day down in Phoenix, and then I have to head back to the cold confines of Minnesota. The report for Friday will be up sometime late Saturday or early Sunday, depending on when I get back to St. Paul. It has been a blast down here and I already can't wait for next spring!

 




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