Friday, July 23, 2004

A look at the future.... 

Here's my first (and only, at least for a long while) minor league report! As I had hoped, I went to see the Tacoma Rainiers game at Portland. This was my first time going to an away game, as all the previous games I went to (M's and Sonics) took place in Seattle. It sure was a little funny when I was like the lone voice rooting for the M's prospects (while most everyone around me had weird looks at me). I had a pretty good seat, just 3 rows back from 3rd base. However, it was rather difficult to judge inside and outside pitches from that angle. I also got to the game a little late, but just in time for the last part of the big scoring 2nd inning the Rainiers put up. The bases were loaded with Jeremy Reed at bat. Then came a wild pitch to score a run and advancing all runners, and after that a single to center by Reed to score two more to cap a 4-run frame. I don't claim to be a scout, and I simply lack the experience to be one. I just enjoyed watching the game and soon enough forgot about assessing players. Though I did manage to remember some details of certain performances I saw. So, without further ado, here goes nothing. (My version of game wrap)

Tacoma 9R, 12H, 0E, Portland (SD) 3R, 8H, 3E

Clint Nageotte: 6IP, 6H, 3ER, BB, 4K, HR (W 5-6, 4.89)
He was perfect through 3, then gave up a lead-off single in the 4th on a full-count fastball. His real problems came in the 5th when the lead-off man got aboard again, and then suddenly he lost his command just enough to be hittable. The first run scored on an infield single to 3rd base, but nothing after that as he got out of a bases loaded jam. In the 6th he might've run out of gas a little, giving up a single then a HR, but that's about it. It seemed like a decent outing for him, especially the beginning part of the game when he dominated.

Randy Williams: 2IP, H, BB, 3K (3.27)
A strong throwing lefty who was slightly wild, falling behind hitters quite often, but only gave up 1 walk. He was hard to hit with 3 Ks.

Tim Christman: IP, H, K (4.50)
As most of the crowd in the stands left by then, he went through a quiet and uneventful ninth to close out the game.

Jamal Strong, LF: 3-4, 2R, BB, 2SB (.313)
His speed was surely a huge asset, as he stole two bases and forced two throwing errors. (One by catcher Ramon Hernandez when he stole 2nd, and the other had "Ichiro!" written all over it; beating out an infield single to the first baseman who threw it away with the pitcher covering late at the bag. Both times the Rainiers ended up scoring a run during the play.) His defense out in LF looked a little suspect, however. There was a foul ball to LF into the Portland bullpen area just outside of the LF line that looked catchable, but somehow he couldn't get it. (My view was obstructed so I didn't know if he dropped the ball or plainly missed the catch.) And then there was another play that should've been an error if there wasn't a runner on first. It was a shallow fly to left, he came in for the ball but it hit the heel of his glove and dropped to the ground. He then quickly picked up the ball and fired it to second base for the force out. A terrible catch, but heads up play by Strong to erase a runner (and an error). I understand that he's probably a good defensive outfielder who's just having a bad day though.

Micky Lopez, 2B: 0-3, R, BB, K, HBP (.264)
Nothing much doing with his bat, while unspectacular but effective on the field.

Jeremy Reed, CF: 1-4, 2RBI, BB, 2K (.262)
He delivered with 2 outs in the 2nd for his 2 RBIs, and walked once. But he also struck out looking and swinging. He didn't agree with the call for his looking K and discussed it with the umpire some... all the while the ball was in play. (The same play as the previously mentioned Hernandez throwing error.) In this particular game he wasn't very impressive at the plate, but then he never looked overmatched either. On the defensive end he seemed to have some decent routes to the balls and he made all the plays that he should have, and he surely doesn't have Randy Winn's arm.

Jose Lopez, SS: 1-5, 2B, RBI, K (.285)
Since he hit his double in the first inning, I missed it and only saw him going 0-4 the rest of the night. His defense looked alright too except for one play which he bobbled the ball a little but recovered to make a throw to first in time. (The runner on 2nd advanced to 3rd on the play, however.)

AJ Zapp, 1B: 2-5, HR, 2R, RBI, 2K (.292)
He showed power, hitting a shot of about 380-feet to RF. (My distance estimation could be wrong as it was the opposite side from me.) He looked like a dead pull hitter somehow, with all three balls in play going to the right side. His second K was ouch because it was with 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd. He played steady defense on first, but he was no John Olerud.

Ryan Christianson, DH: 1-5 (.188)
Nothing much going for him tonight other than singling to left with a ground ball through the hole. Didn't look like having much power on his swings, especially on the one swing he had that hit a weak liner/pop up to 3rd base that didn't leave the diamond. (Looked like typical M's baseball in the first half.) He may still be facing a long road to reestablishing himself?

Greg Dobbs, 3B: 1-5, 2B, R (.293)
Much like Jose Lopez's case, I didn't get to see his hit. He didn't look like drawing walks all night because he usually had 2-strike counts (as he fouled off pitches and such, kind of like Jolbert Cabrera in this one aspect). There wasn't much for him to do defensively at third, other than the one run-scoring play in the 5th when he dove to his left, cutting off the ground ball headed into the hole, got up and threw to first just a tad late to get the runner.

Brian Moon, C: 0-5, 2K (.250)
Other than pulling one deep but just outside of the LF foul pole, there was nothing to account for offensively for him. He seemed to be an alright defensive catcher though, handling the sometimes wild looking pitching staff just fine. Dan Wilson II??

Greg Jacobs, RF: 3-3, 3R, 2RBI, SB, HBP (.270)
Put in a wonderful performance tonight, even though all his hits were singles. The M's announcers (or at least Rick Rizz and Dave Valle) should like him lots... "he hustles, always looking to take the extra base." He had virtually no chance to show what he can do defensively though.

Well that's all for the report, folks! I hope I did ok on this.

It was also interesting to see some familiar names in the Portland lineup, including Ramon Vasquez, Ramon Hernandez, Kerry Robinson, and Jose Nieves. With the family discount tickets of $2.99 being such good seats, I'll be seriously considering going again when the Rainiers roll into town again! Though I wonder how different the lineup would be by then.

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