Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Game Notes, April 11, Indy vs Ottawa

I went to the monday night game featuring Ottawa and Indianapolis. It was a warm night with some sprinkles here and there, but no rain, which was feared. The crowd was sparce, but no less sparce than you'd expect on a monday night.

There was a light wind blowing in over the RCA Dome and convention center from right field. It knocked down some fly balls, making a pretty pitcher-friendly Victory Field an even friendlier place to be on the little bump in the middle of the infield.

I sat down the first base line, 3 rows up, just past the visitors dugout. It's right next to where the autograph hounds congregate before the game. This is a part of the game that I don't care for. I like autographed stuff as much as the next guy, but for the most part the autograph process itself is like making sausage or legislation. Watching the process ruins the joy of the product. This is a minor league game. I can see waiting and hounding Alex Rodriguez for an autograph, but is the demand for signed Tim Byrdak cards really enough to warrant this kind of trouble? Oh well, these guys are just filling a niche. Like scalpers, they're a part of today's sports landscape, whether it gives me the willies or not. At least these guys are only obnoxious before the game starts. That's better than hecklers, who are usually obnoxious for about 6 or 7 innings depending on their tolerance level and ability to pay for multiple $5 beers.

Onto the game. Neither team is loaded with really remarkable prospects. The Indians have a handful of 2 1/2- 3 1/2 star prospects like Ryan Doumit, who has raised eyebrows with a very quick start. They also have some pitching talent on hand, but Ian Snell, Zach Duke, Bobby Bradley, and Corey Stewart were unavailable. The Indians started Justin Reid, who looks more like a potential long reliever in the big leagues than he does a big starter. It looked like he worked mostly with a high 80's sinking fastball, mixing in a slurvy-looking off-speed pitch that registered about 80 on the gun. He gave up a lot of hits and certainly wasn't overpowering, but most of the damage was done on ground balls that turned into base hits. His command was reasonably good and he didn't walk many hitters, maybe 1 or 2 in the 5 1/3 innings he pitched. I didn't count. He's a standard sinker-slider guy who might get caught up in the AAAA trap.

Doumit is a catcher with some pop. He's had some injury problems in the past. His defense gets passable marks. It was hard to get a read on how well he throws in this game because Ottawa didn't really challenge him very much. He only made one throw, and that was on a steal attempt where the pitcher threw the ball in the dirt. He blocked the ball, but because of the delay, he had to rush the throw and sent it into center field. Brian Reith was throwing the ball in the dirt quite a bit it seemed, and he did reasonably well, only letting one ball get by him all night. Also notable, Doumit runs pretty well for a catcher. He looked like he had average speed, which is something I didn't expect. He didn't do much at the plate, but he didn't look bad. He has a quick bat and he didn't swing at bad pitches. He rapped a single into left field to lead off the Indians 6th inning. It was a rope.

I mentioned Reith. He's a known commodity with a lot of service time built up with the Reds. Something I never noticed with him is a peculiar part of his delivery. His upper body has a pretty normal set of mechanics, but he has a noticable hitch in his lower body. He lands with his front knee slightly bent and straightens it out after he lands to where it is almost stiff. It looks like it would be very hard on that knee. I'm far from an expert on mechanics though.

Rich Thompson has been a hot topic for the Indians as he carries a reputation for excellent defense in center field. He didn't get many chances to show that off tonight. He is a speed demon though. If he can get on base at a decent clip, he can be a real assett as a reserve outfielder in the majors.

One player on the Lynx was 1999 first round pick and former big time prospect Keith Reed. It's easy to see what scouts loved about him. He's a big, strong, athletic kid who looks great in uniform. It's also easy to see how he fell off the prospect wagon. His swing looked good, but he had no real plan at the plate, at times flailing at a breaking ball well out of the zone and then on the very next pitch watching a fastball in the zone go into the glove for a strike.

Side note: One of the revolving ads on the out of town scoreboard was for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. I was surprised to hear they still made that stuff. The last time I saw a real like can of it would have been in my dad's fridge, probably during the Reagan administration.

The best prospect on the field for the Orioles was Eli Whiteside, who smashed a line drive to the deepest part of the field for a ground rule double. He looked good behind the plate too. He should at least be a decent backup catcher at the next level. If he can keep producing at the plate as well as behind it, he could have a career as a starter.

Walter Young was the big star of the night. And when I say big star, I mean literally as well as figuratively. He's a huge man. He's Calvin Pickering big, though he's built differently. Much of Pick's weight is concentrated in his lower body. He has huge legs and an ample posterior. Young carries much of his weight in his torso, which is beyond thick. Anyways, he went 4 for 4 with a solo home run to the right field power alley, directly into the wind. It was a very tall shot that would have bounced up and hit the scoreboard if it weren't for the wind slowing it down. It's pretty obvious that he's a pull hitter. All 4 hits were to the right side, 3 on ground balls between the second baseman and first baseman, and the one deep shot. In the 10th inning, he was intentionally walked with 2 out and 2 on. Jeff Miller walked the next batter to score the deciding run.

Jacobo Sequea shut down the Indians in the bottom of the 10th to get the save. He was showing the same combination of a low 90's moving fastball and a low 80's slider.

I hope to go to Tuesday's game featuring the same teams, and hopefully one of the Pirates better pitching prospects.

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