It was a good all around night for the West Virginia Power tonight as they defeated the Lakewood Blueclaws by a 6-0 score. They had the attack of the lefties on the mound, going five innings with starter Mike Jefferson, followed by three from Zac Fuesser with the final inning covered by side-arm reliever Robbie Kilcrease. The bats were on, especially the four big name players on the roster, Alen Hanson, Jose Osuna, Gregory Polanco and Willy Garcia. All four of them had two-hit ballgames, with Garcia and Hanson each hitting two extra-base hits.
I’ll start with the player recaps for the big names, then add some notes at the end. I will say, as a group, there were no standout defensive plays so don’t think I overlooked that part of the game.
Hanson didn’t play the last two days since leaving Tuesday’s game after batting in the top of the first. He returned to the lineup today as the DH. I’m hoping he gets into the lineup at shortstop over the next two days so I can get another look at his defense and try to judge for myself whether he can remain at the position. There seems to be people on both sides of the fence with his defense. Hanson got five at-bats today and looked real good in two of them, the other three were so-so. He missed a bunt attempt his first time up, then was well out in front of a pitch in an at-bat that ended with a fly out to center. His next time up he worked a full count before grounding out to third. Hanson then lined a double over the left fielders head with two outs in the fifth.
The fourth time up was the first time he batted lefty in the game. Last time I saw West Virginia play, I noticed he looked real bad his first time up as a lefty, then got into a groove after that, a total night and day difference. That same exact thing happened tonight. He took some bad swings his first time up and ended the at-bat with a soft liner to second. The next time up, he took a high fastball with the bases loaded and drove it to the wall in the right-center gap, scoring all three runs and easily getting into third for a triple. An inconsistent night at the plate but you’ll take the results everyday.
His 2-5 night looks good on paper, but he was picked off twice, struck out looking and one of his hits was a slow hopper to shortstop, with a bad throw that he likely would have beat out anyway due to his good speed. I will say that the first ball he hit was a nicer liner into center field. On the first pick-off, he left well early and was in no man’s land with a lefty on the mound looking right at him. His second pick-off was a questionable call, one that Polanco didn’t like. Polanco was actually robbed of a gift hit by the official scorer. An infield pop-up between the second baseman and shortstop fell in with neither player actually trying to catch it, rather they just got out of each other’s way. Usually without someone trying to catch the ball, the scorer is forced to rule it a hit, but after a brief discussion in the press box, he decided the shortstop was closer. Polanco had a decent fifth at-bat, ending with a 3-2 fly out to right field. He fouled a pitch off his foot that put him on the ground, but he waved off the trainer.
Osuna had a real nice day at the plate, hit the ball hard three times and walked his other at-bat. In his first plate appearance, he scorched a grounder that the third baseman made a great play on to catch the ball, but he was unable to complete it for the out. He added his second hit the next time up with a hard hit ball into the left-center gap for a double. He made an out the next time up but even that was a hard hit liner to left field. Osuna walked his next time up on a full count. It’s a shame that his position on the field is first base because Osuna has a rifle for an arm. I’ve seen some short distance throws from him that are absolute lasers across the infield, usually during the mid-inning warm-ups. It’s a wasted tool at first base, something you can rarely take advantage of at that spot.
If I’m an opposing manager, I’m telling my pitchers not to throw Garcia a fastball. He punishes them. He also looks bad on breaking pitches away and he will chase. In his first at-bat, he looked bad on a couple of pitches, then smacked a liner into the left-center gap for a double. In his fourth at-bat, he looked bad on a pitch, then crushed a double off the center field wall. He also grounded out to shortstop his second time up and had another bad swing, then flew out to center in the sixth inning. I’m not going to be too harsh on a 19-year-old in full-season ball, but I will say that with some better plate discipline and pitch recognition, he should be able to hit for power and average at a much higher level than low-A ball. His defense in the last series was solid and his arm is a plus tool.
* Chris Lashmet had two hits and scored two runs, while catcher Francisco Diaz and shortstop Ashley Ponce each added an RBI.
* Mike Jefferson was throwing 86-88, had him the same speeds last series. His off-speed pitches kept hitters off-balance all night resulting in some ugly swings and five shutout innings. He came into the game with nine shutout innings over his last three appearances.
*Zac Fuesser looked real good the first inning he threw, then was wild the next frame, followed by a solid final inning against the heart of the Blueclaws lineup. He was hitting 88 with his fastball and he throws a big breaking curveball at 70 MPH.
* Zack Von Rosenberg will start tomorrow’s game, followed by Nick Kingham on Sunday.