AFL Live: Eppler Working on a New Pitch, Williams Added to Fall Stars Game

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The AFL reminds me of the early days of covering the Pirates’ system on this site. Back in 2009/2010, the Pirates had very few prospects, and most were in the lower levels. This meant that a lot of games left you waiting for the 1-2 actual hitting prospects in the lineup, and hoping that an interesting pitcher was going in order to have something extra to watch.

Today, Glendale had Austin Meadows in the lineup, which didn’t provide many opportunities to see a Pirates prospect in action. Fortunately, two things happened. First, Glendale had a big day on offense, which led to more plate appearances from Meadows. Second, Tyler Eppler came on for an inning in relief.

Meadows didn’t do much at the plate today. He went 0-for-4 with a walk, while hitting two easy fly balls, and one hard hit fly ball for a sac fly RBI. The walk was impressive, as he battled back in the count and fouled off a few close pitches to stay alive. That was followed by a three run homer by Kyle Farmer.

Austin Meadows went 0-for-4 today, with a walk. Photo Credit: Tim Williams
Austin Meadows went 0-for-4 today, with a walk. Photo Credit: Tim Williams

Eppler struck out the first two batters he faced, then gave up a single on a grounder up the middle. He followed that up with a groundout to shortstop, getting out of the inning. Eppler was sitting 93-95 MPH with his fastball, and was working on his slider, which has been a focus for him this year. He entered the system with a curveball, but wasn’t seeing good results with the pitch. The Pirates switched him to a slider this year, and he’s been focusing on adding more depth to the pitch in order to bury it low in the zone and in the dirt. Eppler is another one of the interesting pitchers who could emerge as a rotation option in the majors in the next few years.

Trevor Williams was added to the Fall Stars Game roster today as a replacement. I heard today that he has been hitting 95 MPH in shorter outings this fall, although he usually sits 89-92 as a starter. If he pitches tomorrow, it will be the first time I’ll see him live.

An amusing moment took place at the end of today’s game. One of the Glendale pitchers was tossed by the third base ump in the ninth inning with one out after making comments from the bench about the strike zone. The manager went out to argue the decision to throw the player out, and after what appeared to be a calm conversation, the umpire tossed the manager. The manager then said he didn’t say anything, and refused to be tossed, heading back to his spot in the dugout.

At this point, the second base umpire (who I assume was the crew chief) walked in and said the manager needed to go. This led to the manager blowing up, and a funny situation with the manager dropping a lot of F-bombs, while a dad sat in the front row behind the dugout, with his three young kids all holding earmuffs through the argument.

Since the stadium was pretty empty, you could hear the argument, which got pretty childish. The umpire said he was going to walk the manager out of the stadium, and the manager said that no one was walking him out. That led to a power struggle where the manager refused to leave until the umpire returned to his position, while the umpire refused to return to his position until the manager left. The manager returned to the dugout, while the umpire stood outside waiting for about a minute. Then the manager walked to the other end of the dugout and walked off the field.

Overall, it was one of the biggest ump shows I’ve seen. It all started over the fact that the third base umpire couldn’t let a few comments from the dugout slide with just two outs left in the game, and then couldn’t let a comment go from the manager.

  • Not to get to far off the subject, but this is exactly what happens in the schools. No respect for the teachers and no support from the admin. Rules are the rules and the manager knows he has to leave. Charles Barkley was wrong about not being a role model. I wonder what the three kids were thinking?

    • Not just schools, the attitude towards any kind of authority is always seemingly negative these days. Damn kids and their MySpace…

    • No respect for teachers is in no way a new thing. People seem to forget their childhood and how kids have always disrespected teachers.

      But my comment will be followed by the “in my day, we didnt do what these darn kids do.” Idk, seems like a new version of “kids these days aint like we were”.

      Healthy dose of respect is needed, as is a healthy realization that kids are gonna act up and that deference to authority isnt always what you want. Kids mess up, teachers overstep, etc etc.

      • Challenging authority can be a healthy thing too, after all, absolute power corruts, absolutely…I always get a kick out if parents who glorify their own misbehavior as kids then get pissed at their kids for doing the same thing.

  • Tim…I would argue that it was one of the biggest manager shows.

    The rules state that once you are tossed you HAVE to leave the dugout area. The manager refused and then decided to make the ump look bad and turn it into a power struggle.

    What the ump did was totally correct. He refused to start the game until the manager left. There is no “I’ll leave when you go back to your position” rule. That was just the manager and his ego trying to get even with the ump.

    • Agreed, I know some of the umps today seem to get their jollies from power tripping, but at the end of the day they have the final say…the constant and blatant disrespect for umpires in the game is one of my pet peeves abut American sports in general…particularly basketball

      • Mike…I was also a former High School basketball ref.

        I was lucky…within the PIAA, there were very few coaches who flaunted authority. Once they got that first technical, they were ‘chained’ to their seat and if they pi$$ed either me or my partner(s) off, they were gone.

        • Ugh…yeah I did some summer league reffing, that Is about as thankless of a job as you can find…

      • I know it is a tough job and players and managers can overstep their bounds but If they don’t want to have situations like this then don’t give quick hooks to players. Everybody deserves their say within reason. At this level, players need to just shut their mouths because they haven’t earned anything yet…but at the MLB level giving a player or manager the hook quickly is just an ump putting himself in a position where he is bigger than the game. Nobody comes to see the ump…except maybe leefoo’s family.

        • I agree for sure…the Cervelli ejection in particular this year is a great example, umps have to show a better understanding of the game and not toss people just to flaunt authority. I just think it’s becoming a one sided thing where the assumption is the umps are always the guilty party In this kind of mutual assholery…I also would agree no one goes to watch the umps, but they really are a part of the spectacle…players and managers try to work officiaters all the time so even though they should just be separate from the game mearly officiating, fans, players and managers alike are all guilty of involving umps by trying to sway them one way or another

        • And honestly there are plenty of times the grief given umps is DESERVED. How about those “foul tips” against AJ this year? Or the strike calls a foot off the plate? They’re human and if they’re going to use that excuse then they have to let the players and managers the same courtesy. Again the game isn’t about them…NO ONE goes to see the umps. Period.

    • As i said above, thats not so slyly ignoring the reason the entire thing started….the home plate ump tossing the coach. Seems like a really weak reason to toss a coach if he’s calmly discussing the reason for his player being gone.

      Seems like the home plate ump had just as big an ego as the coach, since he dont want no coach calmly discussing stuff with him. There absolutely has to be a place in the game for a coach to calmly discuss things with an ump he feels arent okay. Wasnt arguing balls or strikes, wasnt screaming, wasnt worthy of a hook.

      • I dunno, seems like the whole thing actually started because a pitcher said something about balls and strikes and getting tossed…I agree, not really worth the ump getting peeved about, but it is indeed within the umps rights to toss someone arguing balls and strikes…seems like a not do sly way of ignoring the true beginning of two parties power tripping to me…

        • Tossing the player seemed fine, the manager getting tossed seems like a product of the ump being mad at the player still and not wanting to deal with anything.

    • Seriously? Remember when the ump threw out Cervelli early in the game? Umps are out of control…there are 2 outs left. YOU are not part of the game…just know your role.

  • I guess the pompous training for these umps starts early.

    • As an ump what can you do in that situation when the manager wants to be an a-hole?

      I ump’ed for 14 years and occasionally had a player like that. All you can do is hold up the game until the player/manager goes. It’s not like you can call the cops.

      • Seems like everything was handled fine until the manager was tossed. Unless the manager was using some serious language (which Tim insinuates didnt appear to be the case) seems like the ump was a bit upset and took it out on the coach.

        A coach coming out to defend his player is gonna happen, so as long as he’s not over the line with language/anger and its not a 5 minute thing i see no reason for ejection. Eject the player, discuss it with the coach for a minute or two, move on.

      • You can not be a complete ass and not let stupid things like that cause you to throw out a player/manager especially at that point in the game.