I learned today that Midwest League doubleheaders only last 14 innings by rule (I was disappointed to see that only a hundred or so people stuck around for the second game of the day, though). Given the developmental focus of the league, it makes sense. No reason to run through a bullpen or wear out your regulars by playing two full games, especially on a cold April afternoon.
Despite the short games, Cougars hitters put plenty fo runs on the board today, winning Game One 7-3 and Game Two 4-3. Im going to combine both games for the recap sections for the sake of brevity (and because I left the 2nd game in the 5th because my fingers were frozen solid)
Three Good Things I Saw
Rock. Freakin. Shoulders. Dude is honestly crushing every pitch he sees right now. He is the living embodiment of “locked in”. He’s taking pitches, he’s fighting off bad strikes in 2-strike counts, he’s adjusting to breaking stuff, and he’s smoking pitches when he gets them in a good part of the zone. He went 5-6 today with a double, 2 home runs, a walk and a strikeout. I know he’s not exactly a huge prospect but if he can keep the k’s down he’s going to find himself on a lot of system top prospect lists this fall.
Marco Hernandez‘s Defense. I’ve ragged on his defense a few times in these updates, but today he made a handful of good plays, highlighted by a charging play on a slow roller up the middle that he finished with an absolute laser of throw from an off-balance position.
Teoscar Hernandez‘s Glove. And Bat. And Speed. The River Bandits’ Center Fielder had an up and down type of day, going 2-8 with a double and a triple. But the final line is not what stood out. Seeing his tools on full display for the first time is a sight to behold. On a line drive to CF off of the bat of Vogelbach, Hernandez raced back and made a wonderful over-the-shoulder catch. At the plate, Hernandez made extremely solid contact with two pitches, turning one into a double and the other into a triple. He’s interesting to watch run, because at 6’2″ he doesn’t look to be moving that fast, but his long legs let him glide around the bases with great speed.
DOUBLE HEADER BONUS BULLET: Pierce Johnson vs. Carlos Correa. Johnson’s approach against Correa in the 5th was fantastic. Johnson, who’s fastball had been 88-90 most of the day threw a 92 mph fastball on the first pitch that Correa was way late on. The next two pitches were 91 mph fastballs, and then Johnson struck Correa out looking on 92 mph gas at the knees. It was awesome watching him find an extra few mph’s and shove it against the best prospect in the league.
Three Bad Things I Saw
Dan Vogelbach’s Footwork. Anyone clamoring for the Cubs to give Vogelbach a chance in the OF should have seen him at 1st today. He only made one bad play, but oh man was it bad. On a slightly high throw from Candelario, Vogelbach got tripped up on his own feet and ended up with his wrong foot on the bag, which forced him to leave the bag to catch the ball. It was not graceful. This play, and the lack of height to make up for footwork problems, illustrated why so many doubt his ability to even play 1st base at the big league level.
Dan Vogelbach’s Approach. I haven’t charted his at bats, so I’m not entirely sure of the validity of this, but it sure seems like Vogelbach is hacking away up there. His walk rate is way down (though it is very early), too, and that is a symptom of this. Watching him at the plate right now is difficult. I’ll have a more detailed post about this soon, but it’s a bit troubling to see him have so much trouble early on.
Game 2 Lineups. This is a really whiny point, I understand that. But I was really hoping that Rio Ruiz would play both games so I could get video of him after moving over to the 3rd base side of the stands for the second game. Alas, no Ruiz in Game 2, and therefore still no video of him (the video of him from the first QC-KC series is horribly corrupted). It’s a shame, because I liked him when I saw him in the first series.
- Pierce Johnson had a very good day on the mound, striking out six and only walking one over five innings of work. As I mentioned earlier, he was 88-90 most of the game, but he was touching 92 in the 5th, which is good to see. He also made Teoscar Hernandez look like a high schooler on a 3rd strike breaking ball. His stuff looked pretty sharp from where I was, which is encouraging given the long rest since his last start.
- That nice play Teoscar Hernandez made on a Vogelbach fly ball? The fact he even had to make that play is astounding. Vogelbach barely flicked his wrists at the ball and he sent it 380 feet.
- Tayler Scott looked good from what I saw of him today. His final line wasn’t very impressive, but he seemed to be working almost exclusively on his fastball (that touched 90 a few times), because I only saw one breaking ball in the first 4 innings. Video of him soon, hopefully.
- Jeimer Candelario looks impressive at the plate. He’s seeing off-speed stuff very well right now.