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Wednesday Night In Frisco

Just some notes from a fun night at the park.

Lance Berkman in his rookie year, 1985
Lance Berkman in his rookie year, 1985
Bob Levey

Hey, this won't take long. I promise. No, really. I got shit to do. So let's get goin':

-First of all, Lance Berkman was there. Yep. Looked like Lance Berkman. Running with the grace of a man with bottle caps in his shoes, controlling the strike zone like a guy who's hit .294/.407/.538 over the last 15 MLB seasons. He did run full "speed" from second base to home plate on a single to left field. He slid in safely, it wasn't the prettiest of slides, but he was safe. After the slide he briefly rolled over onto his hands and knees as though he was simultaneously catching his breath and running through a checklist to make sure his knees, hips, and pancreas weren't hurting, before hopping up and using his wounded supermodel-gait to carry himself back to the dugout. Whatever. News flash: Lance Berkman isn't Elvis Andrus on the bases, but he isn't Elvis Presley on the... wait, oh, eff, nevermind.

-Special assistant to the GM, Tony Fernandez is in town working with the Rough Riders, and man, oh, man does this guy have some energy for teaching. It was raining a bit on Wednesday afternoon, so the teams were quarantined to the concourse level batting cage for BP. That's always fun because the kids can't see where the ball lands, so they don't get caught up in it. It's batting practice for two fundamental, practical purposes; getting the body warmed up, and practicing. Fernandez appeared to be in his element. Shouting amicably at the players in seamless transitions between crystal clear Spanish and English, he and 'Riders Assistant Hitting Coach/Rangers scout James Vilade were throwing balls all over the strike zone while shouting a theoretical count at the hitter just before the ball was hurled. "Two strikes!" "No strikes!" "2-2 count!" "Shorten up!" It was fun to watch. Fernandez, whom I later learned is an ordained minister and still spends plenty of time in his native Dominican Republic, is a natural teacher. His voice and inflections and compassion mixed with a dose of hard-ass, work well for him. His 17 years in the big leagues, his 2,200 hits, his 5 All-Star appearances, and his 1993 World Series ring don't hurt either.

-Luis Sardinas has tremendous balance in the batters box. His setup is really balanced from both sides of the plate and he can drop the barrel on all types and locations of pitches. He also appeared very respectful of Fernandez. I'm trying to get a read on this kid. I've heard all the same stuff you have about his desire, and it's a bit tougher for me to tell with him than it is with other kids whose don't-give-a-shit is more apparent. He's a very smooth, easy going kid, and I wonder if that sometimes makes us think he doesn't care. But I've also seen him drop at least 2 backhanded grounders at shortstop that became plays unmade, so there's that. We'll see, but I can confirm that he's not short on talent.

-Speaking of roving instructors, Infield rover Casey Candaele was in town as well and he spent a bunch of time working with Ryan Rua at 3B during batting practice yesterday. Rua made a very nice play over there tonight on a chopper over the bag and showed plenty of arm strength. As you know, Texas is by no means loaded with 3B prospects and someone of the group of Rua, Gallo, and Robinson is going to step up and look like a contender. (But we'll always, ALWAYS miss the special fella playing there now. Do yourself, and these kids, a favor and just admit that Adrian is a once in a generation Ranger).

-Kyle McClellan is a coach. He's a coach who pitches in games sometimes, but he's a coach. Since his return to Frisco, I've seen him spend just about as much time working with and chatting with young players as anyone. If he has a genuine interest in it, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rangers hire him when his playing days are over and dispatch him to an affiliate to mold the next generation.

-Luke Jackson pitched well tonight. Probably not as well as he would have liked because he walked 4 guys and always seemed to be pitching with runners dancing around on the basepaths, but he pitched fairly well. His command wasn't very sharp, but some of his pitches were. LuJax got his first 3 strikeouts using the CB. His FB sat 93-96 tonight touching 97 a couple times. The CH wasn't as sharp as it's been the last few starts, but that'll happen. The breaking ball was inducing whiffs and was keeping the hitters off the FB. Luke was 1.5 to the plate using a leg kick and 1.25 using a slide step. He didn't lose velocity using the slide step, which is great, nor did he lose velocity as the night wore on, which is great(er). I grabbed some video of his warm up thinking you might like to see him gettin' his body goin'. Notice the grip on his CB as he's one of those dudes who uses a "spike" curve. The index finger is straight up on the ball, nail diggin' in. Kinda like a knuckle curve, but ya know, with a "spike" instead of a knuckle. It works for him, but it didn't work for the 3 guys who went chasing it with 2 strikes tonight.

-Anyway, Frisco only has 11 more home games in 2013, so you should prolly just come see this team. Starting pitchers who are prospects, infielders who are prospects, outfielders, bullpen guys, there's prospects comin' outta Dr. Pepper Park's wazooooo!

Here's LuJax:

Luke Jackson 8.14.13 (via Tepid Participation)

As always, enjoy baseball. Love Ya!