4/9 Clinton Lumberkings at Kane County Recap

It was a cold and rainy morning when I set out for 5/3 Ballpark today, but I was pleasantly surprised by the nice weather when I got to the stadium. The, uh, extreme availability of seats today allowed me to sit behind the plate and behind the 3 scouts who showed up to watch Pierce Johnson pitch. It was a good game, and the Cougars won it on a Jeimer Candelario line-drive in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Three Good Things I Saw

Rock Shoulders Looks Legit. In what is becoming a recurring theme in these recaps, I am singing the praises of Roderick Shoulders. He absolutely crushed a ball for a line drive home run, his second of the season, but what has impressed me the most has been his approach at the plate. He fouled off strike after strike today, waiting for a better pitch to hit, and took a lot of close balls. He looks fantastic so far.

Pierce Johnson’s Fastball. As I wrote after his first outing, Johnson had trouble maintaining velocity after the first inning, and was sitting 88-90 in his final inning. Today was a refreshing reminder that Johnson can bring it – he sat 92 and touched 96 in the first inning, and maintained velocity through all 5 innings, touching 93 a few times in his final frame.

Pierce Johnson’s Off-Speed Stuff. For Johnson’s final time through the order, KC’s manager mixed in many more off-speed offerings, and it looked sharp. Against the top of the Lumberkings order, Johnson k’d two with a mix of 92-93 mph fastballs, a good 84 mph change-up with fade, and a hard 81-83 mph slider. The slider could use some work I think, as it looked like it started breaking early a few times, but overall Johnson looked great when he was allowed to use all of his pitches in a sequence.

Three Bad Things I Saw

Jeffrey Antigua’s “Fast”ball. I don’t know if I’m crossing some line here by ragging on non-prospects, but man Antigua had some issues today. Apart from opening way too early in his delivery, he threw nothing harder than 75 mph to the first two batters he saw. The two Lumberkings players charting pitches in front of me were audibly laughing at his lack of velocity for the entire outing.

Gioskar Amaya‘s Contact Struggles. I saw Amaya swing through two 90 mph fastballs to strike out today, and he’s had a lot of swing and misses at the games I’ve been at this season. He’s gonna need to fix that to have any shot at higher levels.

Jeimer Candelario’s Instincts on Slow Rollers. A few times today, and once on Saturday, Candelario has been hesitant on charging slow-rolling grounders. It isn’t due to a lack of ability – I’ve seen him make a few very nice plays charging the ball – but because he’s not judging the situation well. On Saturday he assumed the pitcher would make the play (though the pitcher was a lefty and had a much more difficult play because of it), and both times today it seemed like the same issue. He really needs to just go all out on those balls before being called off, rather than assuming its not his play.

Other Notes

  • Dario Pizzano, the Clinton LFer, made one of the best catches I’ve ever seen at any level today. Pin-Chieh Pen stung a liner to Pizzano’s back & left, and Pizzano took about four steps and made a leaping, diving catch over his shoulder. It was incredible.
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