Stetson Allie lasted just six batters in his West Virginia debut, retiring only one, but the Power prevailed over the Hagerstown Suns, 5-3. Strong relief from Mike Jefferson, Jordan Cooper and Emmanuel de Leon, who combined to allow just one run over 8.2 innings, keyed the win.
CONTROL PROBLEMS ABOUND
After showing much-improved command during spring training, Allie suffered a flashback to his problems in 2011. He walked the first four batters he faced, each one on five pitches. He managed to fan the fifth, but hit the sixth, ending his night. He missed badly numerous times and was charged with three wild pitches. Fortunately, Jefferson fanned the next two hitters, so Hagerstown got only two hitless runs. The Suns got another hitless run in the second with the help of a walk and a hit batsman. On the night, West Virginia pitchers walked ten. The Suns did not put a ball in play until their eleventh batter and did not get a hit until a ground ball went off Cooper’s leg with one out in the sixth. The only other Hagerstown hit was a grounder that Eric Avila muffed in the eighth for what should have been scored an error.
Although all four West Virginia pitchers struggled at times to find the strike zone (the ball/strike totals at minorleaguebaseball.com, by the way, are extremely inaccurate), the three relievers were very effective. Jefferson threw 4.2 hitless innings, walking three and fanning four. He doesn’t throw hard, but his change was very effective. Cooper went two scoreless innings, allowing the first hit and two walks. He relied mainly on his fastball, but had a couple stretches in which his control faltered. De Leon mostly dominated in the last two innings, as he fanned four. He’s very similar to Diego Moreno, whom the Pirates sent to the Yankees for A.J. Burnett. Like Moreno, de Leon is short for a RHP (6’1″) and stocky, and has plus velocity, just a shade less than Moreno’s, as well as good movement. He got most of his outs with the heater, mixing in an occasional slider. De Leon is still only 21 and hasn’t pitched a great deal, due to some injury problems. He could turn into a strong relief prospect if he stays healthy.
OTHER PLAYER NOTES
**Josh Bell had another uneven night at the plate, going 2-5, both singles, with three strikeouts. One of the singles was a gift, a routine grounder on which the third baseman whiffed. The other was a nice piece of hitting in Bell’s last AB. With a runner on third and two outs, he fell behind in the count, but he shortened up his swing and laced an opposite field hit to plate the run. Otherwise he struggled. In contrast to last night, when he was victimized by changeups, tonight he frequently swung through fastballs over the plate.
**Alen Hanson added another two hits, but one was a double on a routine flyball that two outfielders allowed to drop between them.
**Jose Osuna continued to hit in bad luck. He went 1-4, with two hard smashes right at the third baseman.
**After struggling on a deep drive last night, Gregory Polanco made two nice plays at the fence in center. On the second one he hurt his shoulder running into the fence. He stayed in the game, but did not take warmup throws prior to the last few innings. Don’t be surprised if he misses a game or two.
**Jefferson picked two runners off first, but both beat Osuna’s throw to second.
**Avila hit a deep drive to left that would have been out of nearly any park, but he got only a loud out from it. The Hagerstown ballpark has an extraordinarily deep left field, so deep that both teams have played their outfielders with an extreme shift over to left, regardless of who is hitting.
**Catcher Elias Diaz struggled defensively. He made several very wild throws, although Jodaneli Carvajal and Willy Garcia prevented any damage with alert backup plays. Diaz also failed to catch a foul pop-up that would have ended the game. Fortunately, de Leon got a game-ending punchout on the next pitch.
**Garcia hit a blast to straightaway center that resulted in a call I’ve never seen before. The play came with runners on the corners and one out. The centerfielder dropped the ball at the fence for an error. The runners had tagged and Hanson scored from third, but Garcia was declared out for passing Bell at first.
**To get an idea of just how young this Power team is, here are the ages of all the starters tonight, including the pitchers and DHs:
Hagerstown: 23, 23, 22, 23, 23, 25, 22, 21, 22, 23
West Virginia: 21, 21, 21, 19, 21, 19, 19, 19, 19, 20