Tonight I got a chance to see several State College Spikes players for the first time this year. The Spikes had a bad game, losing 11-4, with five errors on defense. Ryan Hafner, who has had a strong year this year, had one of his worst outings, giving up two homers and six runs, with only three earned. After the game, Spikes manager Kimera Bartee held a very brief meeting with the team, threw on some shorts, and left the stadium. Here were my impressions from the game.
This was my first time seeing Hafner in a start. I’ve seen him throw before, but never in a start, and never this much. He’s had a great year this year, although tonight wasn’t one of his best outings, and possibly his worst. He was ranging from 86-91 with his fastball, but mostly sitting in the 88-90 range. He was having a bit of a problem with his control, leaving a few balls up, which led to two home runs, and a few other hard hit balls.
After his second home run of the game, coming in the 4th inning to make the score 6-2, he started increasing his velocity. His next several pitches were 89-92 MPH. His control on those pitches wasn’t strong, as he issued a four pitch walk, followed by a a few pitches up in the zone, leading to a fly ball to the wall in right field. I talked with Hafner after the game, and he mentioned that the higher velocity was due to frustration.
He’s had strong numbers this year, and he was getting the ball down on a few occasions. His fastball has some good movement when he drives it down, sending it low and away to right handers, and jamming left handers inside. However, he did have the issue of leaving the ball up, which makes me think that he could have the same issues in 2012 that Zack Von Rosenberg has had this year in West Virginia. Both pitchers throw in the upper 80s, topping out at 91. Both had good numbers in short season ball. However, because both pitchers have a tendency to leave the ball up, they’re prone to getting hit hard, especially when they’re pitching in the 87-91 MPH range. Von Rosenberg has made some strides this year, especially late in the season. Don’t be surprised if we see the same rocky path from Hafner next year.
I try not to base too much on one game for hitters, and this was the first time I’ve seen Dickerson, so it’s all I have to go by. Offensively, he went 1-for-4 tonight with two strikeouts. The plate patience was a downside, although his hit was a good one. The catcher was setting up low and away, and Dickerson took it opposite field, which is always a good sign. The reports I’ve read say that he can hit to all fields, which is always a good sign for a player’s potential to hit for a strong average. It’s also a good sign to see a player hit the ball where it’s pitched, rather than reaching out and trying to pull the ball, which usually ends up as a weak grounder.
Defensively, Dickerson looked bad. He showed some range issues on several plays. One play saw a hard hit grounder go by him to his right. Another play saw him make a diving stop on a one hop just to his right, although he was slow getting up and didn’t make an attempt to second base. He ranged to his right again later in the game, toppling over on a grounder. He also had a 3-6-3 double play ball, but threw wild to second, skipping the ball to the bag and putting it around Ashley Ponce’s ankles to make a play impossible. His value ultimately comes from his offense, and he’s got some power potential with a nice swing, but his defensive skills looked bad tonight.
The 37th round pick of the 2011 draft hasn’t had a high average so far in State College, but he’s recorded a hit in almost every game. Jones continued that tonight with an RBI single to left field in his first at-bat. Like Dickerson, he hits the ball where it’s pitched, and just missed out on a single in his second at-bat thanks to second baseman Pedro Mendoza playing close to the bag on a bouncer sent back up the middle. He’s got some speed, although he’s not overly fast.
Joan Montero – He was throwing in the 90-92 MPH range, along with a mid-80s slider, but his control wasn’t good.
Derek Trent – He showed a strong arm behind the plate, and put the barrel on the ball for a nice double in the fourth. He did allow a passed ball through his legs.
Ashley Ponce – He showed a lot of aggressiveness on the base paths, taking three bases on balls in the dirt (although only one was recorded as a stolen base, since he didn’t warrant a throw on the two instances where he stole second). He also displayed a nice arm from shortstop.
Taylor Lewis – He’s got the speed and range to play center field, although he doesn’t have a strong arm, and has some issues with bad routes.
Junior Sosa – Like Lewis, Sosa has a lot of speed, but ran some bad routes in right field. He also showed some bad plate patience, swinging at a lot of stuff he should have been swinging at.
The Pirates Prospects season ending tour will continue for the next three days from West Virginia, where Zack Dodson, Zack Von Rosenberg, and Jameson Taillon are the projected starters. I will be reporting live from the game, with a recap and more player insight afterwards. If you’ve enjoyed the reports so far, show your support to the site by purchasing a copy of the 2011 Prospect Guide, which is now on a season ending clearance sale.