Zack Dodson started off looking a little shaky Wednesday against the Phillies. But he quickly shifted to dominance.
In a 3-2 win, very much a group effort, with Dodson the star of the show. His wildness got him into trouble in the early innings, but he mixed in a consistent fastball that topped out at 91 mph, throwing it 86-90 through four innings. 61 pitches later, he’d allowed just one run on four hits, with three strikeouts.
Despite early trouble locating, he managed to not walk anyone. Also impressive was his trust in his defense. Even with guys on base, he kept his cool and pitched to contact without making mistakes on the inner half of the plate. If someone hit off him, they didn’t get much from it with an infield that was solid the whole game.
Dodson was economical, but it took some time for him to get comfortable. He was wild out of the gate, particularly with runners on. He induced a good number of ground ball outs, and started to mix his pitches and speeds much more fluidly after the 2nd.
Don’t blink, or Josh Bell might just be around the bases by the time you look. Seeing that considerable speed on display is no small thing, considering he underwent season ending knee surgery last year.
“I’m really just getting my timing back,” he said. “I’m starting to feel stronger later into games, so that’s a good sign.”
Bell was the Pirates second round pick in 2011, receiving a five million dollar bonus, and began his pro career with the Class-A West Virginia Power. In 15 games the outfielder hit .274, before the crushing injury when he was running the bases. He had surgery on the meniscus in his left knee.
“My goal for this spring training and season is health,” he said. “But baseball is a mind game. The mental aspect isn’t harder than the physical. It’s controlled chaos. I’m just trying to build my body back up.”
Player Notes From Clearwater
*Lance Breedlove had a tough outing, giving up six runs in a short appearance.
*Carlos Mesa hit a triple.
*Quinton Miller had a six run inning, with the final two coming in the 7th, before he was pulled.
*I liked Dilson Herrera’s pop. He hit a ball hard to center field for a single.
*Also, on Bell, I’d never seen him in person before and I could see the physicality that the Pirates, and scouts, like a lot about him. His broad shoulders and strong arm give him excellent power potential, as well as value defensively. He had good balance, due to a wide stance. In one at-bat his patience improved from earlier in the game, and he read pitches well. He fouled off about 5-6, then won the at-bat with a single to center. He also had a three-pitch at-bat, fouling one off, sat back on what looked to be a cut fastball, then, despite grounding out, hit it hard. Just missing getting it through.
*Wyatt Mathisen has quick hands and raw power. A compact build.
*Kyle Haynes pitched well, allowing a single and a walk in the 9th, but kept his cool and got out of the inning. He got the final out getting a guy looking. He never seemed rattled or distracted by the runners on.