Bell, Diaz Come Up Big For West Virginia

Josh Bell went 3 for 4 with a late home run that provided some breathing room in West Virginia’s 7-3 win against visiting Greenville in the first game of a doubleheader at Appalachian Power Park, but it was catcher Francisco Diaz that knocked in three runs prior to that to give the Power an early lead that it managed to hang on to.

Francisco Diaz had two hits and drove in three runs in West Virginia's 7-3 win against Greenville on Wednesday.

Francisco Diaz had two hits and drove in three runs in West Virginia’s 7-3 win against Greenville on Wednesday.

Diaz singled in the third to drive in two and then another single in the fifth inning brought Bell in to score.

“The thing with Frankie is every time he’s in the lineup he does something the help us win the game,” West Virginia manager Michael Ryan said. “That’s a special type of player. he takes his job very serious as far as calling the game and what he does behind the plate. The three big RBIs today were huge. He’s just a baseball player, man. He loves being at the field, at the stadium and takes pride in what he does.”

Bell finished the day a combined 3 for 7 with the home run, two RBIs and four runs scored.

“(Bell) is working his tail off in the cage and working extremely hard on his defense as far as his jumps and trusting what he can do on the field,” Ryan said. “He’s running the bases extremely well. He’s just playing baseball.”

Of course, hitting in front of Stetson Allie has not hurt Bell’s production either.

“I’m sure that helps a little bit,” Ryan said.

**

The reporters jinx was in play in West Virginia’s second game.

The Power led Greenville 7-0 with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, so I made my way out of the Appalachian Power Park press box and down near the field so I could easily slip into the clubhouse following the game.

Half an hour and six runs later, West Virginia managed to hang on by the slimmest of margins for a 7-6 win.

“It was one pitch from (Josh Smith) that let that affect the rest of his outing,” Ryan said of the near collapse in the final inning. “Going from thinking that he should have been out of it to not thinking that he still has some work to be done. I didn’t like everyone’s body language afterwards.”

Joely Rodriguez had another strong outing for West Virginia. He allowed Betts to reach base in the first inning but promptly struck out the next three batters he faced and settled in for a solid performance after that. When he was finished, Rodriguez had thrown six innings and allowed no runs on four hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Ryan said it was the sinker and two-seam fastball that were working for him on Wednesday.

“Joely with his start today really saved us not just for tomorrow but for the next two days by saving our bullpen,” Ryan said. “He set us up nice for this road trip. (The first inning) carried him to be able to really spot his two-seamer and trust it.”

**

Wednesday’s two wins gave the Power seven wins in its last eight game and a four-game sweep of Greenville. West Virginia, from both the wins and losses standpoint and the player development standpoint, started the season slowly in April but have turned things around on both fronts so far in May.

“We want to pitch it, we want to pick it up and we want to run the bases. That’s what we’ve been doing and it’s a recipe for success,” Ryan said. “We’re starting to play better in close games. We’re not putting pressure on our defense. The nervousness is going away. We’re very aggressive on the bases and we’re getting outstanding pitching which is the story of what we’re going to be.”

 

Author: Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg is a beat writer and analyst for PiratesProspects.com. He is the former sports editor of the (Fairmont) Times West Virginian and has worked at the Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and the (Ashland, Ky.) Independent. His freelance work has appeared in newspapers all over West Virginia and he has written for The Associated Press with stories posted to several major media outlets (ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, FoxSports.com). Tom graduated from Marshall University in May 2010 with a degree in Print Journalism. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomBraggSports

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  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.smalley.35 Andrew Smalley

    I’m quite sure that this site – at least according to Tim – would vehemently disagree with the notion/assertion that “protection” (as that word is commonly understood) plays any part in what type/frequency of pitches that a batter will see. Especially, when said batter is in the Minor Leagues.

    In other words, protection is a myth in the Majors; protection is factually non-existent in the Minors.

    CD

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.sweetnich Joe Sweetnich

    Stetson Allie – My guess, which is like an opinion, which everyone has (and we all know what I’m referring to) in a month will be hitting .275

  • http://pbsacademyorlando.com Slugger14

    If he continues to stick with his offensive approach and makes adjustments to to how they may or may not be pitching him he’ll be fine. The key is he has shown the progress which is what minor league baseball is ALL about. You have to remember this guy has only been swinging the bat for (2) months in GCL and (month/half) in A-ball. Do you know how HARD it is to hit at any level. He is 22 years old he has a little time don’t YOU think! And lastly, give the kid a little props. I am glad you stated, “My guess, which is like an opinion”. But, explain what are you referring?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Hoping Bell and Allie become a fearsome combo for us in the footure.

    An old man can dream, can’t he?

    :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

    Joe you have nothing to support your guess/opinion. You think just because Allie failed as a pitcher he will fail as a hitter?

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.sweetnich Joe Sweetnich

      Chris,

      On Allie, he was a high draft pick as a pitcher. His SO% is too high as a hitter. Granted he is doing well at A ball, but he is slightly old for that league. Still see him as a very long shot to be able to make it to Pittsburgh one day.

      And to answer a previous question, the old quote “an opinion is like an — hole, everyone has one”. Of course, this is all my opinion.

      It will be interesting to see how Tim and others move Allie up the prospect list the next time they put one out. I still don’t see him in the top 15.

  • TNBucs

    I may have missed this, but what’s up with Eric Wood? I’ve noticed he hasn’t played in a few days. (I think Wood is our most underrated prospect.)

  • NorCal Buc

    Joley Rodriguez??? Was he the return for Adam LaRoche?, if my memory serves me correctly (hahaha, my memory……..)

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.sweetnich Joe Sweetnich

      No NC Buc,

      I think Joely was a minor league FA from the Dominican. The return for Laroche was, as I recall, Hunter Strickland and the no bat shortstop named Diaz (from the Red Sox).. We just lost Strickland to the Giants a few months ago (DFA’d off 40 man).

  • http://pbsacademyorlando.com Slugger14

    Chris.
    You are missing a check point! This kid is re-learning how to hit a the professional level- “it takes time”. If he wasnt so athletic it might be a different story. To say he is slighty old, common man, too many uneducated baseball people do not understand the process. Look at the names on that list- its all a guess! Are some of those guys having his type of season to date. Its not a race it is a marathon. He may very well be heading to Pittsburgh- who knows?