Today was the first day of mini camp, or what used to be known as mini camp. It’s actually called “voluntary workouts”, as it isn’t a required event for any player to attend. But “mini camp” is much easier to use, as people know what you’re referring to. We posted a partial list of players who were here in today’s open discussion thread, along with some notes.
In previous years, there would be a disproportionate reaction when players either attended or didn’t attend mini camp, with the idea that a lot actually takes place here. This is what actually took place today:
1. The players talked and caught up in the locker room.
2. The players, both position players and pitchers, had their throwing programs in the outfield.
3. The infielders came in and fielded ground balls.
4. A few groups took batting practice on the field, while other groups hit in the cages.
Basically, it’s a smaller version of the early days of Spring Training. The idea that mini camp will help someone learn a new position, or lead to big strides in some part of their game during the year, probably ignores that these workouts take about an hour. They won’t lead to a huge success. That said, the extra practice can’t hurt, as you’ll see in this video of John Jaso and Josh Bell fielding ground balls (the third player is Jake Goebbert).
Clearly there’s some work to be done with each player. I’ll have more on Jaso later this afternoon. I mostly followed Jaso and Bell around today, but here are some other notes and videos.
**Jung-ho Kang didn’t have his interpreter here today, so no detailed updates there. However, he did participate in his throwing program, and was walking around fine without the use of a brace. So that’s a positive sign. I’ll try to get more on Kang later this week, as his translator should be in town by the end of the week.
**Josh Bell incorporated a new leg kick into his swing, which we wrote about many times this year. He’s always looked great from the left side, but we’ve noted many times that his swing from the right side can look awkward and off-balanced, to the point where it becomes a two-part swing. The leg kick looks to have Bell much more stable, with easier movements as he shifts from his open stance to the load position. Bell starts open to see the ball earlier, but the Pirates want him getting to his back leg quicker to set up and drive the ball better. The current version of his swing is the best I’ve seen yet, and that includes from the right side. Check out the video:
It’s a different angle, but here is video from last year during Spring Training. You can really see how the leg kick changed his stance. He looks much more balanced from both sides this year, generating some easy power, and looking improved from the right side.
As for his defense at first base, I haven’t had a chance to talk with him yet regarding his off-season work. I hope to have an update later in the week.
**During the infield drills, the Pirates had the following alignments:
1B – Jaso, Bell, Jake Goebbert
2B – Alen Hanson, Adam Frazier
SS – Pedro Florimon, Gift Ngoepe, Juan Diaz
3B – Max Moroff, Dan Gamache, Juan Diaz (spent the second half of the drills at third base)
It’s hard to predict how the Indianapolis infield will go at this point. If Hanson is in Triple-A, I’d project him at second, Adam Frazier as a super utility guy who can play the outfield, and Moroff at third, with Gamache getting time as a utility infielder.
**Here are some videos of Alen Hanson, Adam Frazier, and Harold Ramirez taking batting practice:
A video posted by Pirates Prospects (@piratesprospects) on
Ramirez looks like he’s in great shape. There were some concerns last year as he came into Spring Training, and he was benched for about a week while he got in better shape (later delays were due to a skin infection, which delayed the start of his 2015 season). Frazier has such a quick bat. I didn’t get video of Hanson from the left side (his best side), but he was looking good.