I arrived in Bradenton this afternoon, after about 15 hours of driving spread out over two days, and between two drivers. I arrived in Georgia last night around 2 AM, then left this morning around 7:30 AM to arrive in Bradenton around 1 PM. Most of the day today was just getting set up and acclimated.
I stopped by Pirate City first to pick up my credentials, and to meet up with Wilbur. He has a write up of today’s events, and if you haven’t been reading them, all of his write-ups over the last few days have been excellent. I also ran in to The Toast Man from West Virginia. You might remember the article I wrote about him last season. I suggest you go to a game this year if you get the chance. Not only will you see some great pitching prospects, but you’ll also get a ton of entertainment. He wears a tuxedo on opening day.
I didn’t watch any of the players too closely today. I was focused on getting the radar gun set up. The two players I focused on were Bryan Morris and Brian Leach. Leach was mostly sitting around 90-92, although he did hit 96 on at least one pitch. Morris was throwing mostly fastballs, just like the other pitchers. He was getting hit hard, although it might have been more because the opposing hitters knew what was coming.
Morris threw a few off-speed pitches, and had some control issues on a few of those offerings. Considering he spent time in Major League camp, and only registered three innings, it’s possible that he hasn’t been working on his breaking pitches as much to date. I did see Morris hitting in the mid-90s. There was one pitch that registered at 99 MPH. I checked the reading on the Phillies’ gun (Morris was pitching against the Philadelphia farm system, including Brandon Moss), and it also read 99 MPH. I chalk that up more to an interesting reading, but I wouldn’t say Morris can throw 99 MPH, or even touch 99. It could have just been a fluke reading, although it happened on more than one radar gun, so there might have been a little something extra on the pitch. The opposing batter made contact on the pitch, but only sent a hard grounder to second for the final out of the inning.
Tony Sanchez was behind the plate, catching Morris. He had a nice throw out, catching a runner at second base. Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit, and Ronny Cedeno were alternating between hitting in the two games that were going on, which pretty much had one of them batting in every inning of each game.
I went over to McKechnie after about an hour at Pirate City. I arrived after Paul Maholm was removed from the game, and right when Jose Veras came in. I spent most of my time there talking with Pat from WHYGAVS, although we had a great view of the horrible communication play by Corey Wimberly and Garrett Jones in the ninth inning. It would be hard to see Wimberly as anything more than a utility guy in AAA for the 2011 season with how he’s played in camp so far.
As for the moves from earlier today, I was never a fan of the Garrett Atkins signing, so releasing him was a good move in my book. He was pretty much a product of Coors Field, and hasn’t had success since. It seems like the Pirates are looking for a corner bench player, capable of playing first, third, and the corner outfield spots. Steve Pearce, John Bowker, and Josh Fields are the final three remaining. Pearce and Bowker wouldn’t be a bad platoon combo. Bowker’s power this Spring has been impressive.
I got a few pictures today, which can be seen below. Tomorrow I’ll be up early and over to Pirate City, with a lot of coverage coming after I finally get some sleep. Keep track of the coverage here on the site, and by following me on Twitter.