Thoughts on Springfield

Well I am back from Springfield with pictures in hand.  They at first were deleted but we were able to buy software that restored most of them.  How great is modern technology.  Or if you think of it a different way, it is kind of scary.  No matter if you delete an item, you can still go back and retrieve it.

Possibly,  the coolest thing at the park is the Colby Rasmus T-Shirt Jersey.  Both of my kids got a red one and  I got my wife a pink one.  Really cool for a minor league park.  When I asked Colby what he thought about having his own shirt, he just smiled with this funny and grin and replied, “It’s Cool.”

I would like to thank Matt Gifford, Springfield’s GM, for his great hospitality.  I got a tour of the facilities and they are top notch.  When walking in to the stadium, my first thought was that this was the big leagues.  There is nothing minor about it.  Some impressions of the team:

SS Jose Martinez–Without a doubt, I came away impressed with him more than anyone.  Let me add that I had seen Colby and Anderson before, so I knew what to expect.  Martinez’ ability was a complete surprise.  He has above average range at short with a strong throwing arm.  He makes good contact at the plate and is really hard to strike out.  Also, at the plate he has surprising pop.  He has average speed on the basepaths.  His body type reminds me of Edgar Renteria.  Springfield was really nervous when losing Tyler Greene, but Martinez has been an admirable replacement in the field and provided much more offense.

CF Colby Rasmus–Defensively, Colby is big league ready.  He gets great jumps of the bat and covers a lot of ground in center.  His arm strength is already stuff of legend in the Texas League.  At the plate, he has tremendous power but is still quite pull happy. 

3B Juan Richardson–A good minor league hitter.  But remember he is 28 and in Double A. 

LF Cody Haerther–Cody has been hampered by injuries this year.  He has good range in left and a slightly above average arm.  He has good doubles power at the plate and is quicker on the basepaths than expected.  Cody needs to really concentrate on making contact especially with such a log jam in the outfield at both Springfield and Memphis.

RF Amaury Marti–He is definitely one of the nicest people I have ever met.  Very respectful and you can tell he is really glad to be back in the US.  His nickname is “The Body” and there is no doubt why.  He is chiseled like a body builder.  I think his arms are bigger than my legs.  An awesome specimen for sure.  He is slow to the ball in the outfield and doesn’t get very good reads.  He has an above average arm.  He has average speed and almost seems muscle bound when running the bases.  His pitch recognition seems to be lacking but there is no question about his power.  He is as strong as anyone I have seen in the minors this year.  But he is 32 years old and even though I would love to see him make, I just don’t know how much time the Cardinals should invest in him.

C Bryan Anderson–I know that it has been extremely hot and being behind the plate is the worst place one can be during this weather.  But I feel that Anderson has regressed since I saw him in June.  Now I know I only watched 2 games so I am by no means here to draw conclusions.  Back in June I wrote that he needed work but seemed to be getting better with his footwork behind the plate.  Now it seems like he needs a whole lot of work behind the plate.  He took stabs at quite a few pitches behind the plate instead of shifting his body.  He has a strong throwing arm, but he is slow in getting the ball to second.   But his ability to hit left me with no questions.  His most impressive at bat of the 2 nights was actually an out.  He hit an opposite field shot that the left fielder caught up against the wall in the left center field gap.  He is still only 20, so maybe more power is to come.

2B Juan Lucena–His lack of power has been documented lately and I could not agree more.  Lucena makes good contact but with little pop.  What he does give you is a good contact hitter who strikes out very rarely.  But he doesn’t walk very often either.  He has good range, especially to his right with an above average arm.  He is really good with the turn at second.  He has good speed on the bases.  I could see him as a poor man’s Placido Polanco.  Probably not an everyday player but possibly as a decent utility player.

1B Mark Hamilton–I really wanted to get the chance to see Hamilton.  He has really good power but a long loopy swing.  So far the Texas League pitchers have taken advantage of this.  He is not real smooth at the bag.  He is not nearly as good defensively as the guy he replaced, Mike Ferris.  He is really pull happy as witnessed by the shift used when he was up.  I can say that is the first time I witnessed that at a minor league game.

PH Mark Shorey–He has a nice short stroke at the plate.  He seems to really know how to hit as witnessed by his smooth transition from Low Class A to Double A.  Really an underrated player in the system. 

P P.J. Walters–This was the second time I had seen Walters pitch, the last being in late May at the Quad Cities.  He still hides the ball really well but on this night he had very little command.  With his lack of “stuff”, if Walters can’t hit his spots, it will usually mean a short outing.  If Walters is to advance, he must have command of all his pitches.  Walters does have a good pickoff move for a right-hander. 

P Eric Haberer–Must have been the heat, because the lack of command was contagious.  On this night, Haberer struggled from the get go.  He had trouble with command and was not hitting his spots.  If not walking the opposing batters, he was leaving to much over the plate.  He was surprising as he hit 92 and worked 89-91.  His delivery is odd in that he starts in almost a stretch position and then steps back parallel to the rubber before making his pitch.  Also, the delivery is very slow and deliberate. 

RP–Chris Russ-Worked 93-95, mostly 95, and touched 97.  Needs a lot of help with control and his offspeed pitches.  It is totally amazing to me to see a guy who is 28 years old that can touch 97 on the gun still be at Double A. 

RP–Nick Webber–A really big guy that works 88-90 and can touch 91.  Has really struggled of late, with his command.  He is leaving way too many of his pitches over the plate and when you throw in the high 80s/low 90s that will usually get you in to trouble.  It almost seems that a promotion would do him good.  Maybe he has gotten to comfortable at this level and could use another challenge.  I had a chance to talk to him before the game and he seems like a good guy.  He signed for my kids and even took a picture with them.  Luckily, this happens to be one of the three that was not lost.

RP–Zachary Zuercher–Really good lefty that projects as a LOOGY at the big league level.  Lefties are hitting below .150 against him.  He hides the ball well and can touch 91.  He biggest area of weakness is his command and needs to cut down on the BBs to reach the next level.

RP-Matt Scherer–Big middle reliever who looks like he would throw much harder.  Averages more than a K an inning even though his fastball sits in the low 90s.  Uses his large frame to get good leverage coming to the plate.  Needs to do a better job against lefties. 

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