West Virginia Player Notes: Kingham, Hanson, Osuna, Polanco, Garcia, Montero
On the last day of the West Virginia series with the Lakewood Blueclaws, the Power took the game and the series, with a 4-1 victory. It was a quiet day from three of the four big bats in the lineup, but the other one was hitting the ball hard. Nick Kingham was on the mound to start the game, coming into the day with two straight appearances in which he threw six shutout innings. I’ll start the recap with Kingham’s day, followed by today’s performances from Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco, Willy Garcia and finally Jose Osuna, with game notes to follow.
Kingham gave up one run over four innings, got four strikeouts and some weak contact. His problem was the amount of pitches he threw, 80 of them total and he faced just 16 batters. He wasn’t really wild, throwing 51 pitches for strikes. His problem was a lot of foul balls with two strikes. In three of his four strikeouts, he had to battle for the out, throwing a total of 28 pitches in those three plate appearances. Kingham showed excellent velocity, hitting 94 MPH a handful of times, and sitting 91-93 all night. He threw 26 off-speed pitches, a mix of his curveball, which sits 81-83 MPH and a change-up about seven or eight MPH off his fastball speeds. All four of his strikeouts came on off-speed pitches, three of them swinging. Kingham throws a good fastball, but only three of the 54 he threw produced a swing and miss, all of those were 93 MPH. It wasn’t a real bad outing (two hits, one run, two walks, hbp), you just want to see him be able to put guys away quicker to keep the pitch count down. He’s made 21 starts with 94.2 innings pitched, so he is averaging right around 4.5 innings per start.
Hanson didn’t have much of a night, going 0-4 with a walk, but he showed some plate patience one day after an unusual (from what I’ve seen) free-swinging night. Batting left-handed, he flew out to right field twice, followed by the walk. He hit right-handed the last two times and looked pretty bad doing it, hitting a foul pop to first base the first time, followed by a weak grounder back to the mound, that nearly was a double play, which shouldn’t happen with his speed as the ball went about 45 feet. In the field, he started his day off with a fielding error on an easy grounder where he didn’t keep his glove down. He handled two other easy grounders and caught a liner right to him, although he did misread it off the bat and took a step to his left that he didn’t need to. Not a good showing today from Hanson all around.
Yesterday Polanco had two hits and a highlight reel day in the field. Today he had a quiet day in both aspects. After saying yesterday he isn’t a free-swinger, which was based on the first six days I saw him, today he went up there hacking and put the ball in play. He hit a hard grounder to first base in his first plate appearance, then flew out to left field, faced a lefty and flew out to right field, then ended it with a weak grounder to second base. Four at-bats saw less than ten pitches and he hit the ball good once, the fly balls were both medium depth. On defense, there wasn’t much to do for the outfielders. 12 groundballs, six strikeouts and two caught stealing with do that.
I will keep Garcia’s day brief, because it was ugly. He was the DH, so his day consisted of just his four at-bats. All four times he came up, he struck out and there weren’t many foul balls or called strikes. He looked lost today and he really got abused by a soft-tossing lefty named Blake Mascarello, who got him to swing out in front of three change-ups that barely cracked 70 MPH. Garcia has a real problem with off-speed pitches, especially recognition of them.
Osuna switched spots in the order with Polanco today, once day after they tried hitting Osuna third instead. He hit the ball hard all four times up today, getting two doubles, although one was a gift. He hit a hard liner to right field his first at-bat, which was lost in the sun, resulting in a double. His next time up he lined out to shortstop. In the sixth inning, he came up with the speedy Taylor Lewis on first base, and he drove him home with a double into the left-center gap that went to the wall. Osuna finished his day with a hard grounder to third base for an out, in an at-bat that also included a foul ball that was hit well. He really looked good at the plate tonight. In the series, he batted 12 times, hit the ball well in eight of his at-bats and walked in another.
* Catcher Francisco Diaz had three hits and drove home the final two runs of the night. Dan Gamache had the other RBI on a looping double over third base.
* Relief pitcher Joan Montero came on for Kingham in the fifth and lit up the radar gun, hitting 94-95 MPH the first inning. In his second inning of work he was throwing 91-92 MPH, but with two outs and two strikes on the Blueclaws cleanup hitter, Chris Duffy, Montero reached back and blew a 95 MPH fastball by him for the final out.
* Rinku Singh and Nathan Kilcrease combined for three scoreless frames to end the game. Singh has his ERA down to 2.54 in 56.2 innings, while Kilcrease has allowed just one earned run in his 19 appearances.