BRADENTON, Fl. – Minor league camp hasn’t fully kicked off yet, with only early players arriving at this point. It’s almost their version of pitchers and catchers reporting, except there are about two full infield groups in the mix as well, along with a few outfield groups. The full camp reports on Sunday, and the first full workout takes place next Tuesday.

So far this week, it has been a lot of the same stuff — batting practice, bullpen sessions, and fielding drills. The only change each day has been the bullpen sessions, with the difference being the various pitchers who are throwing each day. Today, the routine changed in a big way, as live batting practice started for a few guys. My focus was on Gage Hinsz, who was an 11th round pick in 2014, and one of the more promising young pitching prospects in the system, with the ability to touch 93 last year. Here is a video of his live BP today.

Of course there was also batting practice, and Sean and I got some video of Austin Meadows. We were shooting at the same time from different angles, so there are some repeat swings. I wish I could have put them side by side so you could see the swing from different angles at the same time, but we didn’t coordinate that ahead of time (translation: I thought Sean was only taking pictures). Meadows has one of the best swings in the system, and extremely quick bat speed through the zone.

Finally, here was a fun drill for the infielders. They were practicing turning double plays, with no one knowing where the ball would be hit. The catch? There was a four second timer that would set off a loud tone at the end of the countdown. Four seconds is 80 Grade speed from the right side, or Plus Plus speed from a left-handed hitter. So if they can turn a double play in that amount of time, they can get almost anyone out.

It all happens too fast to tag fielders, but here were the guys at each position:

First Base: Edwin Espinal

Second Base: Mitchell Tolman (who needed a few breaks as the only second baseman today, and got some relief later from Adrian Valerio)

Shortstop: Cole Tucker (no throws to first), Adrian Valerio, and Alfredo Reyes

Third Base: Ke’Bryan Hayes, Connor Joe, Jordan Luplow

A few of the highlights to watch for:

**49 second mark: A nice pick from Connor Joe on a slow chopper, although the throw to second was a bit high.

**54 second mark: Adrian Valerio with the turn at shortstop. He is so smooth, and this gives a glimpse of why he’s one of the best defensive shortstop prospects in the system.

**1:01 mark: Ke’Bryan Hayes with a quick, smooth release and a strong throw down to second, starting a 5-4-3 double play that gets an elite runner.

**All throughout: Great work by Tolman at second base making the quick turns and throws, especially since he had no break.

**1:26 mark: This was the end of the drill. Gary Green said if they got this one, Brian Esposito (hitting at the plate) would buy the infielders dinner. But if the infielders didn’t turn it, they’d have to buy all of the coaches dinner. Jordan Luplow made a great play to start it off, and they turned a quick double play. However, Green said he forgot to hit the button for the countdown. They tried it again, but the ball ate up Valerio at second (who ran over to help out Tolman). The third time was successful. I’m not sure how serious the “Esposito buys dinner” challenge was, but those were two of the quickest plays at the end.

For those who are in Bradenton and aren’t making the trip to Disney for the game tomorrow, practice at Pirate City starts at 9 AM.

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  1. Hi Tim,new subscriber here, very happy to have access once again to the most comprehensive coverage in MLB, sorry for the holdout !

  2. I take a lot of nature photos of birds and sunsets and clouds…Meadows’ swing is more beautiful than all of them.

  3. I’d really like to see Meadows stand next to Cutch or Cole or someone I see regularly on the Bucs. When he’s swinging by himself, he doesn’t look 6’3, 200lbs.

  4. Hey Tim on a slow news day you can go back and repost Meadows hitting with the side by side view you mention…could be a nice filler…

        • What makes it possible is being able to plan in advance. Our planning was “oh look, Meadows is hitting. I’ll get video from the cages and you grab some photos from the side.”

              • I know having a wireless sync system would not work for you. That’s why I originally mentioned your need for a gear upgrade. I did not believe you were using two dedicated video cameras and I remembered your mentioning buying a new DSLR for site use. DSLRs do not have genlock inputs.

                Even at thirty frames per second, a one or two frame difference between the two cameras may appear during a side by side of a single subject. Moreover, the internal clocks of the two cameras may differ. So, even if the two camera persons managed to press their record buttons at the same moment and even if each camera began recording at the same moment, differing or unstable clock rates within each camera would appear as out of sync video in a side-by-side presentation that lasted for a while.

                These technical issues do not mean that you can’t do a side-by-side presentation of, say, a Meadows at-bat. It means the presentation might look clunky to the viewer.

                • Exactly why we didn’t do it. And really, we’re not getting much added value by doing that, especially not enough to upgrade our equipment. The only reason I mentioned this at all was to explain why you were seeing the same swing twice.

                  • Right. I did not believe Pirates Prospects had deep pockets and did not want to see a $10 per year site fee increase meant to purchase gear that would not be put to much or profitable use. I also did not want you to chase after a goal that, given your current circumstances, you would achieve only because of blind luck.

          • There was so much going on at the same time on three fields this morning that it had to be difficult to plan a shot or a video. When that was going up on the upper field, some serious BP was going on on the lower field. Osuna and Allie were hitting well, but the kid that impressed me the most today was Elvis Escobar, a smallish LH hitter who one-hopped one to the fence in LC at the 375′ mark, and then continued to paint the LF foul line with strong line drives, and mixed in line drives up the middle. Kevin Newman also looked very good with the bat and the glove.

            Pirate City is a hoot and a great place for any intense fan to find more than enough to keep you occupied. Sorry I did not see you there or I would have made an effort to introduce myself. I got my ST fix and now we are off to Orlando. Looking forward to the game with the Braves tomorrow.

  5. That looks like so much fun. You could pay me about $90K a year to practice baseball everyday. I’d do it in a heartbeat.

  6. I don’t have hardly any idea what I’m looking at when watching pitching videos but I could watch fielding drills all day.

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