Thursday, August 18, 2005

Indianapolis vs Durham Game Report

I went to a day game between the Indy Indians and the Durham Bulls. I was hoping to watch BJ Upton and Delmon Young. 1 out of 2 ain't bad. Unfortunately Upton spent most of the afternoon as Durham's first base coach. He was on deck as a pinch hitter when Mark Corey got Jeff Deardorf to end the game on a groundout.

Young did play and he looked like everything he was supposed to be. It is obvious why scouts have been falling all over themselves in praising him. He's tall with a muscular, athletic build like you see in Vlad Guerrero and Jermaine Dye. He looks like if he wasn't a baseball player he could be a wide receiver or a small forward. His swing looks good too, though not picturesque in a Griffey circa 1998 kind of way. He had little or no problem handling Chris Enochs, who was having his best game of the year. He went 3 for 4, smashing two doubles down the left field line and poking a solid single into center. He also scored Durham's only run on an Earl Snyder double down the line. The kid can run and he can hit. He needs to draw more walks to be an MVP candidate, but even if he doesn't he has the talent to be a solid starting right fielder.

In the field, I didn't get much of a look at Young. He only fielded a couple of balls and didn't make any serious throws. The scouting reports give him good marks and given his athleticism and reports of classic right field arm strength, the Dye comparison crops up again. He has the talent to be a top notch player. He just needs to make some adjustments.

The Bulls also featured Eric Munson, Josh Phelps, and Fernando Cortez. Former Major Leaguers Munson and Phelps are looking more and more like AAAA guys, though some of the better ones you'll see.

Munson has that take and rake approach down to a science. He's also capable of launching majestic blasts. But his swing is a little long and looping. I saw him a couple years ago with Toledo and he looks a little more polished, but he still has the same strengths and weaknesses. At this point I think what you see is what you get.

I saw Phelps a couple years ago too when he was with Syracuse. He's more of a mystery. A couple years ago he looked like the best player on the field because he WAS the best player on the field by a good margin. He looked like he was going to walk into the Skydome and take the Major Leagues by the scruff of the neck and show it who was boss. Yesterday he looked like just another guy. He's lost out there. His plate discipline has eroded and he looks like he's just guessing. He's putting up pretty decent numbers, but it's obvious why he wasn't making the grade in Tampa.

Cortez is a second base prospect that I haven't talked about yet. I should do that soon. I like him but he's not a sure thing. He's struggling with his batting average and his walk rate. He looks good at the plate though and he didn't swing at bad pitches and he got good wood on everything he swung at. He's good defensively and he's a good baserunner as his 23 for 27 success rate in stealing bases can attest. He might stall in AAA or he might go on to become a solid player in bigs. It's too early to tell, though he has some work to do. If he makes it, think of him as Robinson Cano with speed.

The Bulls had Kevin Cash on the bench, which is a shame. I've always liked him as a kind of poor man's Jason LaRue. With a day game following a night game, his absence was not unexpected.

The two prospects on the Indians roster were Ronny Paulino and Ray Sadler. I like what I see in Paulino. The kid can play. Like Cash, he was resting following a night game where he caught. He did play though, as the DH. The Pirates like his defense though, so I wasn't going to gripe about the missed opportunity. At the plate, he looks more muscular than most catchers, especially with the batting stance he uses. He has a wide stance and he holds his bat straight up and down and farther forward than most hitters you see.

Sadler played left and was the leadoff hitter. He's played some center and might end up as a 4th outfielder, a role he'd be pretty good at. He's ill equipped as a leadoff hitter since he doesn't draw walks and he doesn't hit for the kind of average required to make up for such a weakness. He has speed, but he's been caught stealing more times than he's been successful this year. This day though he took a misplaced fastball and smacked it hard over the 418 foot sign in left center. It was announced as traveling 430 feet. I don't expect this kind of power from him. Also of note, his arm looked weak, Johnny Damon or Bernie Williams in his death throws weak. He four-hopped a throw from the left field corner to second base.

The two starters were Enochs and Chris Seddon, who is a fringe prospect. Enochs had a great game, using his fastball/slider combination to keep hitters off balance. He's had issues with walks this season, but his command yesterday was impeccable. 8 1/3 scoreless innings dropped his ERA by half a run. His fastball ranged from 86 to 90, settling in most of the time at 87/88. He's a minor league FA guy having a good day. Don't expect him on a ML roster near you.

Seddon didn't have a good day. His command was awful and he got beat up by an Indians lineup that was missing Graham Koonse and has seen the defections of Ryan Doumit, Brad Eldred, and Nate McLouth. His fastball was in the high 80's as well, working at 87-89 MPH. He flashed a painful 62 MPH changeup that made Yurendell DeCaster look like an elephant had just walked on the field. He only threw a handful of them the whole game though. And one of them bounced about feet in front of the plate. I wasn't impressed. Bad control, mediocre stuff. If has a couple more days like this one, his ERA will get into Boeing territory.

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