Spent the weekend in Casper watching a little Ghosts baseball. It was my first trip down to see them in action this season and I was looking forward to seeing if there’s anybody down there worth getting excited about.
I’ve got a few observations about certain players who made an impression over the two games I got to see (Saturday and Sunday):
Chris Balcom-Miller: I didn’t see Aaron Cook pitch when he was 20, but I imagine it looking a lot like what I saw out of CBM on Sunday. The kid ought to be after the Casper grounds crew to water down the dirt in front of home plate because just about every batted ball went straight down into the dirt and turned into a big hop. CBM’s sinker was running 87-93 on the gun and coming in to righties, and it was frankly hilarious watching Orem’s big swings turn into batted balls that nosedived into the ground and turned into two-hop outs. CBM racked up five strikeouts, three of them on off-speed pitches. It looked like he was throwing a straight change to good effect, even though I’ve read that pitch is a work in progress. His slider was pretty sporadic both in use and effectiveness, mostly thrown against righties, about 75-77 on the gun. He worked out of a couple of really tough spots and only one ball was really hit hard against him all game. There were times he would look to be in a rhythm and then go 3-0 on a hitter, which probably just means he needs to tighten his focus a bit. Overall, I’m very impressed - I saw a lot of poise, a lot of strikes, and a LOT of groundballs, and CBM looks like a legit prospect to me.
Nolan Arenado: Had three hits in eight trips over the two games while starting both at third base. The reports about his strong arm are true, as are the reports of his below-average speed. Facing all college pitchers – including a pair of first-rounders that started both games for Orem – he didn’t look overmatched with the exception of one really good slider that punched him out swinging on Saturday night. He’s got a good, smooth swing and when he makes good contact it seems like he’s guiding the ball through the hole or down the line. Even though his power was hyped, I didn’t see him swinging from his heels. He looks like a kid who knows there’s a learning curve and isn’t trying to do too much at the plate. Defensively, he did flat out whiff on one two-hopper on Sunday, but otherwise played clean and made good throws. I’ll be interested to see the power start to grow as right now I don’t think he’s really swinging as aggressively as he surely did in high school.
Mike Timlin: This young up-and-comer… oh, right, he’s old enough to have fathered every player on either team. I saw a lot of Red Sox apparel in the stands at Mike Lansing Field on Sunday when Timlin worked the seventh inning. I didn’t see any breaking stuff but the fastball sat in the low 90s and he got a double play to erase a leadoff single. I am sure the Rockies don’t expect Timlin to pitch for them this season, but it’s a nice opportunity for both Timlin and for the young players who got to spend the weekend learning from him.
Chad Rose: I didn’t see anything resembling a breaking ball in his two innings of work on Sunday, but when you’re sitting 92-95 and touching 96 with the fastball and painting the corners, you’ll be given some time to develop a second pitch. Rose just rears back and lets it rip. If a second pitch comes to him, he could be interesting.
I also liked what I saw in brief looks at Brandon Whitby’s bat (he went 2-for-4 on Sunday and hit three of his balls hard to center field), David Hernandez’s glove (looked to have very good range at short), and Avery Barnes’ legs (second fastest guy on the team behind Eliezer Mesa, who can absolutely fly – watching Mesa run was one of the highlights of the weekend). Thumbs up also goes to Hobart the purple platypus who is the mascot. Why a purple platypus is the mascot for a team called the Ghosts, I'm not sure, but platypuses (platypii?) are hilarious in and of themselves.
I tried to take some cell phone video of a couple of guys but I don’t know how it will turn out if I upload it and put it on YouTube. If it turned out OK I’ll share it, but I’m not optimistic.