Colton Cain pitched a solid game but I couldn’t help but leave there slightly disappointed in his start. The results were definitely there and he got a ton of swing and misses, but the velocity I had heard about the prior day was a tick slower, or a lot slower depending on which gun you believe at the ballpark.
I have always heard that the Lakewood gun was pretty accurate and it seemed that way prior to tonight for this series and even after Cain left it was in line with what I heard so believe what you want. The Lakewood gun had him mostly 86-88 on his fastballs topping out at 89 numerous times. The West Virginia gun had him at 88-89 all game hitting a high of 91. Since I was tracking by the Lakewood gun I’ll give you a breakdown of their speeds and I got all but 2 of the 24 batters he faced. I had 71 total pitches of which 52 were fastballs and they were the following speeds.
89mph: ten (all between the 5th and 18th batters he faced)
He was throwing a changeup occasionally which registered between 80-83 and he featured a curveball that was 75-79. He doesn’t throw his changeup too often, but when he does he really sells it with his arm action. I noticed despite the low difference in speed the few changes he threw were effective. His curve is more of a slurve and that his fastball has a rise to it and that was very evident by the amount of letter high fastballs he got swing and misses on tonight. I was impressed that Jeff Locke had 12 swinging strikes when I saw him last week but Cain actually had 17 by my count and all but three of them were fastballs.
It was definitely an impressive showing by Cain tonight. He did tire late but he was likely at his pitch limit when he left after six. The speed was the only disappointment really. I had heard him hitting 93-94 and prior reports had also had him there but even on the faster gun he was 3 mph off.
Briefly on the other pitchers because there are a ton of AB’s from this game. Jason Townsend was sitting 91-93 during his two innings topping out at 95, the high speed of the day for either team. He didn’t do too well with his breaking stuff giving up a few solid hit balls off the occasional ones he threw. Zac Fuesser pitched one inning and threw all fastballs which is disappointing in both the amount he threw and the fact he never broke out his curveball which looked real good when I saw it in a prior outing. He was between 84-88 on the Lakewood gun, 2 mph higher on the WV one.
Porfirio Lopez pitched real good for 5 innings, the run he allowed should’ve never happened. Rogelios Noris called Mel Rojas off a ball in the gap that he had to dive for and he dropped. Rojas looked to have a much easier play on it but backed off anyway. Lopez was 87-90 on the Lakewood gun featuring a nice curve that he was throwing for strikes and getting swing and misses on when it was down in the zone. Victor Black pitched briefly and it was his 2nd day in a row pitching. He topped out at 90 and gave up two singles but a bad play by Daniel Grovatt cost WV the game. Grovatt just flat out missed a ball that bounced right in front of him, he may have taken his eye off the ball before it was in his glove but it got past him and the winning run in the 15th inning scored easily.
For the prospects at the plate, Andrew Maggi had a tough day going 0-5 but he works the count well, twice going full and once getting called out on a questionable strike call. He drew two walks and had a tough 4th AB when he tried to get out of the way of an inside pitch and the ball hit his bat rolling weakly to the pitcher. His last AB was a little poor as he grounded out weakly early in the count with the bases loaded in the 14th. Other than that he showed great patience, good speed on the basepaths and he is a solid fielder making his fair share of non-routine plays over the course of three games.
Justin Howard had an amazing game in that it was a total mirror image of his first game. He walked 5 times despite not being pitched around once. That was a far cry from his first game of the series where he was up there hacking at everything. When he did put the ball in play he hit it solid both times, once result in a solid single to RF. I also like the hustle that Howard displays in the field and on the basepaths. He definitely isn’t a speedburner but he’s always going at 100%.
Daniel Grovatt had a long day that obviously ended badly with the outfield error. He grounded out his first AB followed by a hard liner right to the CF on the first pitch. He then drew a full count walk followed by a swinging strikeout also on the full count. He got set down quickly his 5th AB striking out on three pitches,the last one looking. By the time his last two AB’s came around he was up there hacking and although he made nice contact, twice it resulted in one pitch outs.
Rogelios Noris doesn’t see many pitches he doesn’t like and it’s surprising he gets anything to hit ever. He went 0-6 today with a walk which was an intentional walk. His other six AB’s he saw a total of 15 pitches with five of them coming during a strike out swinging. He hit the ball well to LF twice but had nothing to show for his night. He did track down some deep outs in LF but he had that one poor play which resulted in the tying run in the 13th. I like his athleticism but it would really be nice to see him take some pitches once in a while, just be more selective at what he swings at because he gets a lot of weak contact despite his power.
Mel Rojas Jr. had the best hit ball for a second game in a row, a hard double down the LF line his first time up. He ended up with four hits in the game but that one was easily the best. His other hits were two infield singles to 3B and a bloop just over the head of the leaping shortstop. If he wasn’t hitting just .251 this year his game would be a perfect example of the saying speed doesn’t slump. The good thing about seeing him this series was the fact he looked bad swinging at two high pitches his first AB in game one but his following 15 AB’s he made nice contact, worked the count a few times and only struck out one more time. He has good speed and gets nice jumps in the outfield. You can tell he is a little raw in his game but after seeing him I felt a bit better than I did before when I was seeing him hit .240 with no homers and a low walk total in the boxscores.
Eric Avila had a bad day, he went 0-7 and made an early error. He only hit the ball hard once all night and that was his last AB when he hit a deep drive to LF that was caught. After hitting the ball hard three times yesterday and having nothing to show for it, he really earned his 0-7 this game. He was swinging early just like Noris and total he saw just 20 pitches, less than 3 per AB and he never reached 2 balls in the count. His fielding definitely needs work, his glove, his footwork, his throws to 1B all are below average but he does have decent arm strength so I wouldn’t rule out the position. Normally he would be at State College this year as a 2nd year player in the states but they moved his aggressively, perhaps too soon.
Last we have Elias Diaz and he was the most impatient player at the plate. He saw 15 pitches in his 7 AB’s, never reached two balls and had just a single to show for his night. He did hit the ball hard up the middle one other time but the pitcher made a nice jumping catch to snare the high hopper and record an out. His single was a nice hit between 3B and SS and it scored the go ahead run in the top of the 13th but other than that he had five other AB’s without a hard hit ball or seeing a lot of pitches. Behind the plate he looks quick, he did have some trouble with balls in the dirt with Lopez on the mound but he also made some nice stops. He has a very strong arm, looks to be very accurate but he needs to get rid of his throws quicker, he has a slight pause when his arm is up high and ready to throw before he unleashes a strong throw but he’s very young and like Avila was promoted aggressively. I think Diaz is handling the jump much better though.