Sorry I haven’t been around much — been knee-deep in our draft coverage and that probably means I won’t be able to hop on here much until after the draft comes and goes. But I had been getting a few requests for Mailbagish and “FIND THE MINOR LEAGUER,” so I wanted to answer at least one in good faith with the promise that post-draft, I’ll do more on that front.
Before I get to that, though, I want you guys to check out the latest in our growing MiLB blog empire, Behind the Lens. It’s the work of video producer Joe Cronin. He’s good people and he’s on the road with myself and Lisa all the time and will have plenty of interesting insights into what we’re seeing and doing. And he’s promised that he’ll try to add plenty of pics and video along the way.
Just wondering if you can find out what happened to two Rays prospects for me.
Cole Smith and Woods Fines. I cant find Woods at all and I don’t know if Cole
quit the game. — Mike K.
By now, you may have noticed that Fines made his 2008 debut yesterday (Tuesday). He’s back at Columbus and was, well, rusty. The 2004 14th-rounder went four innings and allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits. The good news is that he didn’t walk anyone. Obviously, he’s just getting back into the swing of things. He was on the Columbus DL until now.
Smith, from what I told, was actually still with the organization and was, simply, a no-show for Spring Training. I’m guessing he’s decided to hang ’em up.
Thanks guys. I’ll be back more regularly post-draft.
Hey all. Sorry B3 has been on hiatus awhile. Me and Mrs. B3 were away for a week in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary (a complete blog post on that will be forthcoming, for those curious).
Back in the saddle now, the job has taken me to Lynchburg and Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday and today. Aside from getting driving through what I think was the worst thunderstorm ever to get from Lynchburg to the hotel here in Charlottesville, it was a very productive trip.
We got a little lucky yesterday. We came here with the objective of doing a feature on Orioles top prospect (and 2007 first-round pick) Matt Wieters. That mission was indeed accomplished, but we got a lot more bang for our buck. Turns out that Daniel Moskos was on the hill for Lynchburg and we got to talk to him post-game as well (throw in an interview with Carolina League batting leader Jim Negrych and I’d say we got our money’s worth. Look for all of this fine work in the coming days).
Remember, this wasn’t just a matchup of two first-round picks from last year. It was the guy the Pirates did take — Moskos — facing the guy everyone thought they should take — Wieters. It was pretty clear that the intrigue in that wasn’t lost on Moskos, who picked a good day (since we had come all this way) to have the best start of his pro career. He pitched into the seventh inning (6 2/3 to be exact) and didn’t allow a run, not walking anyone and allowing just three hits while striking out three. By my count, he induced 12 groundball outs (As an added bonus, he was facing Pedro Beato, a good pitching prospect in his own right. Beato had some nasty stuff, but was all over the place command-wise in the first inning, forcing his pitch count up and forcing him out of the game after four innings.).
The biggest reason for his success compared to some of his previous up-and-down outings? Fastball command. Now that may sound a little oversimplified since it’s always about fastball command, isn’t it? But it should be noted that the Pirates have asked Moskos to focus on throwing his four-seamer more often and more consistently. So some of the reasons he’s been a little inconsistent is that he’s, in effect, learning how to throw the pitch in on-the-job training. Last night, he simply had really good feel for the heater.
As for the Wieters-Moskos matchup? It looked like the catcher would have the upper-hand early, when he hit a ball opposite field off the wall in the first inning. But Moskos got him to ground out the next two times he faced him, so Round 1 goes to Moskos, though as the lefty put it — Wieters did go 1-for-3 and that’s about what people should expect from the guy.
As the resident draft guy, it sure was fun to see these guys play in person for the first time. Wieters is a ridiculous physical specimen and you wonder how a guy that big can stay behind the plate. But then you see him move and it makes some sense. He’s incredibly agile and athletic. Frederick manager Tommy Thompson was emphatic in his praise of how Wieters has handled the spotlight and about his leadership skills behind the plate. Keep in mind that he’s basically calling his own game for the first time. It’s one of the bigger problems with big college programs, in my opinion — everything is over-programmed and the coach controls everything. At Ga. Tech, Wieters wasn’t charged with anything — calls on pitch selection, location, even pickoff throws to first, all came from the dugout. Now, the O’s are asking Wieters to pick up all of those skills during his pro debut season. So far, he seems to be a quick study.
Today, I put on my draft hat and go to see Howie Long’s kid (Kyle), who’s actually a baseball player. Then we go on to watch University of Virginia tonight, so you can check out my report on that visit over at Geeking on the Draft.
I leave you with this: On the long drive down from Pittsburgh, I’m enjoying the farms and rolling hills of Virginia. Beautiful country, really. I pass by a little road-side store which sports a big sign that says, “FRIED CHICKEN GIZZARDS.” Now, I have no problem with any store selling anything and maybe that’s a delicacy in these parts. What is concerning to me is that it’s so popular that this place of business felt it would be a huge drawing card to trumpet that they carry the item.
Anyone know what fried chicken gizzards tastes like? And “it tastes like chicken” is not an acceptable response. If you want a recipe for this “delicacy,” check one out here.
I’ll catch up with y’all (see, I’m fitting right in) later.