Game two of the four game series in Lakewood, saw the West Virginia lineup explode for nine runs, with the highlights being home runs from Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco. Zack Dodson picked up the win with two runs over six innings, with both runs coming in the first inning. Just like yesterday, I’ll have the individual player reports on Hanson, Willy Garcia, Jose Osuna and Taylor Lewis, as well as Polanco, who didn’t start Monday’s game. Starting first with the pitcher.
Dodson has had a rough year so far and his first inning made it look like he was in for another long night. The leadoff hitter reached on a well-placed bunt, followed by a bloop into center field for two soft hits. After a double play, which was hit hard but well-placed, Chris Duffy crushed a hanging breaking ball into right field. As I mentioned yesterday with Duffy, he shouldn’t be in this league but the Phillies seem to love their affiliate in Lakewood and there always seems to be 2-3 players that are too old and good for the league.
After that, Dodson went the last 5.1 innings giving up just three singles, so he really settled down. There was some good and some bad with his start. He threw a lot of strikes and there weren’t too many hard hit balls, although the big ballpark helped him twice in the sixth inning with two catches right against the wall. Zack wasn’t throwing hard most of the game, with plenty of pitches in the 85-88 range, but he has a very easy motion and he seemed to be able to turn it up a notch. With two outs in the fourth inning, he hit 90-91 five times. It the sixth inning he hit 90 a couple more times.
Dodson looked like he was graduating from fastball academy and was taking his final exam tonight. He threw a ton of fastballs, not to mention that he threw 90 pitches, which is the highest total I’ve ever tracked for a West Virginia pitcher. Most of his fastballs were down in the zone and as I said up top, he threw a lot of strikes, with just one walk on the night. The walk may have been an “intentional” walk, as it was to Duffy in the 6th inning and it looked like he wanted no part of him. The bad about his start was that he was throwing a tick slower than when I tracked him last year and he didn’t get many, if any swing and misses. I usually note them when I see them and don’t remember any. I was impressed with his command, which has been off at times, and with his poise after giving up two early runs. I would’ve liked to have seen more off-speed pitches, he threw almost as many in the sixth inning (7) as he did the other five innings combined.
Hanson has impressed me at the plate and tonight was a very good night for him. In his first two times up, he showed great patience, working two walks. His third time up he switched to the left side of the plate and for the first at-bat, it looked to be much weaker than his right from the night before. He had a couple awkward swings from the left side and grounded out weakly to first base in his third at-bat of the night. He swung at the first pitch his fourth time up and hit a hard liner to left field that was caught. His last at-bat resulted in the hit of the night, a long home run to right-center. He put a real nice swing on the ball, giving him multiple hard hit balls over two days from each side of the plate.
He showed nice hustle on the base paths at one point and again showed off his range in the field. He looks like he could definitely stick at shortstop, if he could just clean up his throws. He made a poor throw to first base on an easy grounder right at him with a slow runner, with the throw being saved by Osuna for the out. He is still just 19 so he has plenty of time to work on that major weakness.
Speaking of major weaknesses from a 19 year old, Willy Garcia has trouble recognizing a breaking ball and it showed again today. He hit the ball hard twice today but looked real bad in his other three at-bats, all resulted in strikeouts. Willy made a very nice catch against the wall, which was the defensive play of the day. He didn’t have any throws to make in the game but pre-game he was showing off the arm during fielding drills and it’s impressive.
I feel a bit cheated now after seeing Polanco play. Wish he was in the lineup for game one, but he made up for that tonight. He pulled a nice line drive homer to right field. He also hit the ball hard in three of his other four at-bats and he showed off impressive speed, stealing three bases. Polanco has deceptive speed, he has long legs and doesn’t look like he’s running hard but covers a lot of ground quickly. The only problem I saw with him was a ball hit over his head in the eighth turned into a bases clearing double. It was a well hit ball and would’ve been a nice catch if he made it, but he seemed to turn it up a gear when he realized how far it would go. Basically, it didn’t look like he was running full speed until it was too late. I think he misjudged off the bat just how hard the ball was hit. Still, it was an overall impressive day from him.
Jose seemed to get lost over a first base these last two games. If I didn’t know better, I probably would’ve just dismissed him as an average player. He grounded out to third on the first pitch he saw of the game, then two at-bats later, he flew out to center on the first pitch. In between, he hit a nice liner into right field for a single, his only hit of the game. He also hit the ball well in his fourth at-bat, lining out to deep center. Jose didn’t make great contact his fifth at-bat, hitting a shallow fly out to center field. He hasn’t looked bad or good in the first two games but there are still two more left in the series. He is 19 years old as well, so just holding his own in this league is impressive.
I’ll still track him, but unless Lewis steps up in the third game, I probably won’t make note of him again. I like his speed but haven’t seen much from his at-bats as of yet. He doesn’t hit the ball like the four players above have shown thus far. He was in left field tonight with Polanco back in the lineup, and he made a decent catch against the wall in the sixth. Not much else of note with him. He has nearly three years on Hanson, Garcia and Osuna, and two years on Polanco, so you would like to see more from him before you put a prospect label on him.
** Rinku Singh pitched 1.2 innings. He looked impressive with the first five batters, striking out three of them, with numerous swing and misses mixed in. He was throwing 84-86 with some deception in his delivery. He couldn’t get that last out, allowing three hard hit balls and a walk, allowing three runs. He seemed to lose a little speed too, down to 83-84 for the last few batters.
** Nathan Kilcrease was hitting 90-91 consistently and throwing off-speed pitches as well with very good results. He made quick work of the four batters he faced. He is small and compact, listed at 5′ 6″ and 170 pounds, but really pops the ball in there.
** Eric Avila has shown good defense, something the Pirates really worked on with him last year. Total night and day difference from his first trip into Lakewood last year. He is hitting .310 in limited action and doesn’t seem to be as free swinging as last year when he swung at a lot of first pitches.