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'Tron Thoughts from Hickory-Greenville 4/14/09.

Had some great seats for the game tonight between Hickory and the Greenville Drive (Boston's Low-A affiliate).

I was with my Dad so we had to leave after 12 (his knees and back can't handle sitting for that long) so Iexited before Wee Joe Ortiz's apparent appearance, but I got to see some good stuff.

Tonight was all about the pitchers:

Cliff Springston: I'd never heard of him outside of a casual mention or two, but the kid can pitch. Smallish lefty with a bit of a long, deliberate delivery where shows the ball to the OF a bit on the back end and then kind of springboards himself forward. Very Casey Fossum/Doug Davis-like. Missing bats is gonna be a problem for him going forward, but he's got an advanced feel for pitching. Pitched in the high 80's most of the night, hitting the 90's on occasion and pumping it up to 93 on one pitch, though the stadium gun was very hit or miss tonight so I don't know if I really believe that 93. He had absolutely fabulous control and really went after guys. No nibbling at all from him. Nice little breaking pitch, too. Very impressive. Had a no hitter though I think 5, and really shouldn't have had any earned runs... the first "hit" by G-Ville was a hard hit grounder right to Matt West that he managed to kind of move out of the way of a little, then make a little-league stab at and play off his shoulder. When the "hit" sign went up on the scoreboard all the people in my section just laughed. Horrible home team official score decision there.

My one main beef with Springston was the difference in his delivery when he was throwing his fastballs versus his off speed stuff. He really slows down his delivery and arm speed when he's throwing his breaking ball or change. My Dad and I were having a good time calling fastball or off speed before the ball left his hand. He got by with it tonight, but at the higher levels he's gonna have problems unless he corrects that shit.

Yoon Hee-Nam: Another guy I hadn't heard much about. Little lefty came in to relieve Springston and was pretty impressive. Very slight guy with a high leg kick and a big step-over move that allow him to throw pretty hard. A max effort-y delivery. Pitched so hard and had so much movement in his delivery that his jersey went from tucked at the beginning of each inning to completely untucked by the end. Reminded me a little of Scott Kazmir in terms of both build and mechanics, though obviously with lesser stuff. His fastball was hard (low 90's, a little harder on average than Springston's I'd say), but straight, and several guys got in some pretty good swings at it. His curve was really impressive. Got a couple of guys swinging follishly at it and had a couple of guys look just absolutely baffled as they stood by with their bat on their shoulders as it went by for a strike. I really liked what i saw from him. 

David Paisano: Not a lot of hard hit balls by G-Ville tonight, but the hardest hit was a long drive to the RCF gap (which is the deepest part of a big ballpark, 420ft) that looked like a double off the bat, but Paisano made that shit look easy. Glided in and was able to settle under a ball I thought he might not be able to get to even on the dead run. Impressive.

All that talk about how he could play ML defense in CF right now... I believe it. Didn't get to see him throw other than warming up in the OF so I'll try to get a report on that since it's supposedly the strongest part of his game.

On offense he looked... well, bad. Overmatched. I'm no hitting coach, but he didn't seem to be getting into a good hitting position. Big leg kick that seemed to put him off balance as he tried to get into his swing.

I'm not about to write someone as talented as he is off after one game, but man did he look bad up there.

Matt West: He didn't look great at the plate, but no one really did tonight. He at least seemed to be locked in and staying on the ball and did hit a couple of hard foul balls.

But, defensively he looked butt ass terrible. Like truck stop hooker bad. The one ball he played into a "single" was a pretty easy grounder he just butchered. Got a real thick lower half on him and doesn't have real quick feet. I can't believe this guy played SS in high school. He's got a strong arm, I'll give him that. But let's just say after 12 innings of amateur-as-hell scouting by me, he's got a lot of improving to do if he wants to stay at 3b.

Eric Fry:
A list of things Eric Fry was unimpressed with tonight:
* Playing the field. (He DH'd.)
* Making outs. (Only one of our dudes who put good wood on the ball all night. He had 2 of our hits and reached once more an error by hot-shot Sox SS prospect Oscar Tejeda.)
* Stealing bases. (Got thrown out by a good five feet on a feeble steal attempt.)
* Being tall. (He's a little bowling ball of a dude. Taller than Warren Newsom, but same general size and shape. Strong kid, though. Not fat.)

Clark Murphy: Not too impresive, but it was only one game. Big kid who looked like a hitter up there, for whatever that's worth. Didn't look real comfortable around the bag at first, but didn't make an huge mistakes. Looking forward to seeing more of him.

Edward Martinez: The defense is for real. The kid flashed some real leather at SS, and definitely has the tools to be a plus big league defender at either SS or 2b. The bat, though, is going to be a problem. Little (the listed 5'9" is laughable) slap-and-dash hitter who looked lost up there at the plate. I'd love to say we have another MIF prospect worth watching, but unless his slap-and-dash skills increase markedly over the next few months, this already 21 year old is destined to be major league quality defender relegated to hitting 9th in the lower minors.

Michael Almanzar, (Red Sox): I know, I know... it's the Red Sox guy, but man was he impressive. It was hard to take your eyes off the kid. Carlos Almanzar's boy is tall and lean and just looks like an athlete in everything he does. Didn't look real great at the plate, though he didn't look overmatched at all.

But oh my god the defense. He made two great plays tonight charging in balls, the first of which would've made Adrian Beltre blush. Little slow hopper he came in at a full sprint, bare-handed on the dead run and fired to first in one motion to get a fast runner. Made the throw without breaking stride, too. It was a thing of beauty. You don't expect to see plays like that in the minors, certainly not in low-A.

Easily the most impressive position player on the field tonight, and it wasn't even close.

If he fills out, watch out.

I'm headed out again tomorrow and Thursday so I'll try to do write-ups for those games, too.

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