West Virginia beat the Lakewood BlueClaws in the first game of the four game series in Lakewood tonight, by an 8-3 score. Joely Rodriguez wasn’t as sharp as he has been recently on the mound, but he still looked pretty good and his relievers picked him up. Stetson Allie had just one hit on the night, but it created quite a buzz in the stadium. Junior Sosa had three of the Power’s 12 hits and everyone but Josh Bell reached base at least once, seven of the players getting on base multiple times.
I come to these games more in the scout mode than game reporting, looking to get info for the annual Prospect Guide and our rankings. With that in mind, here are the players I kept a close eye on, with some extra game notes below. At the end of the series, I will have thoughts on all the players I saw.
The Power Hitters Were On Tonight
One player I was interested in seeing was leadoff hitter, Max Moroff, the 2012 draft pick in his first full season of pro ball. Moroff drew a five pitch walk in his first at-bat and never took the bat of his shoulder. His second plate appearance was even better, a four pitch walk that followed a one out single by Junior Sosa. Moroff didn’t feel much like swinging even in his third at-bat when they threw him strikes. He went down looking on five pitches. The fourth at-bat was predictable, no swings, although he did bunt a 2-1 pitch to move Junior Sosa to third base with one out. Moroff got a fifth plate appearance and finally swung the bat, hitting a single up the middle that made the score 6-3 in favor on the Power in the eighth inning.
Dilson Herrera worked a full count in his first time up, drawing the second walk to start the game. Next time up, he drove a liner to medium deep center, deep enough to allow Sosa to move to third base on the play. Herrera had a pop out to shallow right field on an 0-2 pitch in his third at-bat. He grounded out in his fourth at-bat, failing to score Sosa from third. In his fifth at-bat, he lined a single to center field for his first hit of the night. He looked good at the plate during this first impression.
After two straight walks to start the game, Josh Bell, batting lefty, swung at the first pitch and hit a hard grounder to the second baseman that was booted. It was an error and scored Moroff with the first run of the game. In his second at-bat, Bell hit a long flyball to left/center that reached the warning track. Lakewood isn’t a hitter’s ballpark, so it is possible that drive would have been out of most other parks, he just hit in to the wrong part of the wrong park. Bell grounded out to second base on the first pitch of his third at-bat, then struck out swinging in his fourth at-bat. He also struck out his fifth time up, swinging at some pretty bad pitches, a couple high ones he fouled off and a last pitch that almost hit his front foot. Very poor approach in his last plate appearance.
Stetson Allie saw five pitches in his first time up, hitting a soft liner on a 2-2 pitch right at the first baseman to double off Bell. In his second at-bat, Allie hit the first pitch to center field, a high pop-up on an off-speed pitch. Allie crushed a line drive in his next plate appearance, getting robbed on a diving catch from the left fielder. He struck out swinging his fourth time up.
Allie’s fifth plate appearance was one that stunned the crowd. As I said with Bell, this is not a hitter’s park. Allie made it look small though with a homer to straight away center field that looked like it went at least 450 feet and was hit very high in the air. When you hear people describe majestic homers, that is what you should picture here. It was his league leading 14th homer of the year.
Eric Wood walked on four pitch in his first at-bat, a wild first inning for the pitcher that saw three walks and a run. He hit a weak grounder to shortstop in his second at-bat, getting retired on a nice play by top prospect Roman Quinn. Wood flew out to right field on the first pitch of his third at-bat. He doubled to right his next time up, a line drive down the line, which was followed immediately by the same exact hit in the same place from DJ Crumlich. Wood singled in his last at-bat, though I missed it with the talk about Allie’s homer in the press box.
Raul Fortunato homered on his first swing of the game, a line drive shot over the left field wall. He fouled out to first in his next at-bat, taking a big swing in the process. In his third at-bat, Fortunato hit a liner into the right/center gap, going to second on the bobble. The hit scored DJ Crumlich from first base, who had walked and was running on the pitch. Fortunato grounded out to first base in his fourth at-bat and showed great speed getting down the line to make it a close play. He grounded out to shortstop in the ninth, though he reached on a fielder’s choice.
Rodriguez With Odd Outing
Joely Rodriguez gave up a lead-off single to top prospect Roman Quinn. He then got the next batter to hit into a double play, which involved a nice play on a short hop by Herrera. Rodriguez got the last batter of the first swinging on a 90 MPH strike. He was 87-89 most of the inning. Just a note on the speeds, a scout had him 3 MPH higher all night and that is where Rodriguez has usually been, so you may want to factor that in to his report. The stadium gun was on for everyone else though and it may have had to do with the stadium gun having trouble picking up the ball from the lefty out of his hand, instead getting the home plate speed.
In the second inning, Rodriguez had a long battle against cleanup hitter Art Charles, who ended up popping up. He then got the next batter on the first pitch to line out to right field. He got a groundout to second base to end an easy inning.
In the third inning, Rodriguez allowed a run on a long double to center field that looked to be misjudged by Junior Sosa, not sure if it was catchable, but he didn’t get a good read or jump on it. The run came around on a slow grounder from a righty down the first base line. He was able to retire the side with no other damage, getting a strikeout and double play. Like in the first, Rodriguez was sitting 87-89 MPH.
The fourth inning started with a soft comebacker to Rodriguez that went off his glove. Dilson Herrera changed directions and came in to make a nice bare handed play. The next batter went down looking on an 89 MPH fastball on the outside corner. Rodriguez issued his first walk, a two out free pass to power hitting first baseman Art Charles, a lefty. He ended the inning with his fourth strikeout.
Rodriguez hit 90 MPH early in the fifth, retiring the first batter on a foul to 3B, with a nice play by Eric Wood by the stands. He walked the next batter, another free pass to a lefty. The next batter hit a groundout to Herrera for another nice double play to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Rodriguez gave up a lead-off triple on a full count to start the inning. He went full count on the next batter too (Quinn), then gave up a homer, which ended his night. Ryan Hafner came in to relieve him. Rodriguez was hitting 90 consistently in the inning.
It was the first time Rodriguez had allowed more than one earned run in a game since April 19th, seven starts ago. He ended up with the no-decision.
**Ryan Hafner looked good in his 2.2 innings, allowing two walks in the eighth inning after retiring the first seven batters he faced, two by strikeout. He got another out after the walks before being replaced by Kyle Haynes. Hafner wasn’t throwing as hard as he was last year, but last year he wasn’t throwing strikes either. He was 89-91 tonight, about 2-3 MPH off last year.
**Kyle Haynes was throwing harder than anyone else on the night, hitting 94 MPH. He also looked good in his brief outing, getting some odd swings and working the corners.
**Dilson Herrera’s defense and heads up base running were very impressive. It was a nice all-around game from him.
**Game two of the four game series is tomorrow, with Orlando Castro on the mound against Shane Watson, a first round pick from 2011.