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Eric-OH

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Everything posted by Eric-OH

  1. I found a decent example of different angles to come at drafted players while looking at mymlbdraft.com. This one with the same prospect. They’ve got University of Miami pitcher Slade Cecconi mocked to the O’s in the initial competitive balance round at pick 30. The O’s drafted him in 2018 in the 38th round. Now he’d be hearing a totally different sales pitch as far as where the rebuild is from the very same people who tried to acquire his services a couple of drafts back. As a job landscape, Sampson is saying that employment for someone like him is now more readily available to get and hold then it is with the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, etc. It’s true today, and when the major league contracts expire, maybe even more. That’s not fast track or posturing, that’s available depth chart positions in high(er) places. Sell the opportunity and hopefully more of the organizational depth becomes like Toby Welk and his draft class. Targeted and maximized talent identification. Cecconi would be intriguing in that now, he probably couldn’t do better opportunity wise and he’d get paid so much more to do it. I wonder if he’s good enough to be picked in that slot.
  2. Hope you’re right. The orange and black part is why we care and always will. Not hard to think this could be painful and extremely beneficial for them as men. City Slickers puts it all in perspective!
  3. No more answering your questions, your pattern of insulting whatever the answers are can stop here. The two fringe roster types were not Diaz or Mountcastle. I took time to clearly outline they’re part of the O’s future. Fringe roster guys=DJ Stewart/Sisco. Whatever my habits are, I’m wide open as far as criticisms or suggestions or support. I don’t have a need to disagree with those who see things differently. You, at least in posts (the only way I know you)seem to do that. We both care about the O’s succeeding, that’s what is important. Interpreting David Sampson’s thoughts or my perspective on them has no value, not even to this thread.
  4. Ok guy. I tried. Base your opinion on one year (you just wrote last season) and two completely fringe roster types if you’d like. I’m allowed to agree anywhere and what I agreed with is that the O’s will be selling and have something to sell. Feel free to see it differently. Your posts are too critical and it seems you don’t always have room to understand people’s different views. You’re the only one. Not cool. It’s a pattern where you try hard to make evidence to fortify your own takes. No hard feelings but we also disagree on Hall, GRod and most certainly Grenier. I like the differing opinions. I’m not going to insult your point of view. Don’t make this stuff not fun for others.
  5. Ok, I hear ya. There’s two guys that have a big role in what the O’s will be. And also two guys who probably don’t and may have missed their window. Mountcastle is definitely one, and it’s obvious what’s going on with him. He’s done all he can do, I fully agree. If you see that as enough evidence to make an assessment I can understand it. I’m looking for lots more and guys who are the meat of the rebuild. If you want to say a GM’s system graduates players slowly because Sisco or DJ Stewart aren’t big leaguers we don’t see it the same way. That’s ok, I’m willing to listen. Maybe I think more 5-7 years ahead than 1-3. Either way there’s better talent on the organizational roster and that’s priority no 1.
  6. Fast? Nope I wouldn’t use that word and now I can’t evaluate under normal circumstances. There are no more normal circumstances. How can we say what Elias’ style is when we have so little to go on? I don’t want to make a generalization but who are players who should have been at other levels that were held down? And, on the other hand has there been even one guy on a fast track? I see no real strong reason to say either....Comparing today’s regime and evaluating them against the style of the ones before it has little value. I trust the new more than the old, but I trusted the old too. No biggie. Also, I would place my agreement with what will be coming from the organization’s side of the table as far as offers or selling points. Opportunity. The major league players and their contact status would probably have very little bearing on these players years and several developmental rungs away from reaching them. Some of these kids will be out for a cash grab, some will want playing time and a chance to prove themselves. That’s one side of the bargaining table. When the O’s offer someone a chance to sign on and rise, there will be competition to fortify that process and there will be spots available at multiple levels. That’s actual. How many innings, at-bats, starts, appearances are truly available and going to be distributed is up for debate. The O’s have smart personnel people in place to determine that.
  7. Awful to have to face that now. I feel for you like these guys, it’s an extended family. Not at all comfortable. Similar to @Tony-OH point from a previous post, hopefully the lessons from being in a challenging profession like this will be there for him. Your support probably means a great deal too.
  8. Think you’ve got it, and you also said it better than he did. He was backwards! I agree with this too. Strangely, I like the Marlins and don’t have too much ill will towards Sampson. He could have said it better.
  9. You’re so right. Lots of experience for you on this, much less for me. You’ve seen some guys that you scouted turn out well and that’s got to mean so much to you. It’s a hard line to balance and for lots of players in the minors a difficult way of life which could be focused elsewhere. In lots of cases that’s definitely for the best when the call to move on is made. Somehow, in some competitive manner the Orioles will be better. This is an uncomfortable part in that process and your perspective is accurate to look at that other side.
  10. Good point. Reviewing the list, there’s prob more than just a handful who wanted to explore other options on their own. Still, any cut or rejection has some sting to it.
  11. Thanks for organizing this. One day it’ll feel better. Today, there’s no way not to feel for em. Very young guys, they still have plenty of life ahead of them.
  12. Thanks @cboemmeljr. Not the best feeling today. Nobody likes people getting fired, released etc. Your support is as beneficial to these guys and this culture as anyone. Hope you’re not feeling too bad swallowing this gulp of reality. 👊🏻
  13. Spend some time in or around minor league baseball and you’ll get the sense that adversity is always right around the corner. It is. In a strange culture, you will have to befriend your direct competition and work as hard to eliminate them as you do to support them and hope that they are not the player that will end your career and take away an exceptional opportunity. In some cases this guy could be your roommate or throwing partner. In no way a regular work environment. Bus trips make guys closer but years of batting cage sessions, drills, rain delays and especially comebacks make players form a unique bond that lasts years. This is not an office or sales center. Support a minor league team or city and you’ll actually get to have some of that family feel extended to you as a fan….it’s one of the best things about baseball. The Orioles made an impossibly difficult call and 37 players at once faced the hard truth of their opportunity being interrupted or even worse, over. It’s a lengthy list and every name has a different background and level of experience. There’s no value in making a sweeping generalization so here is an opportunity to say that watching you guys play and improve the organization is a privilege from my seat. I adjusted my life to observing you and telling fans what I see. One of the reasons I do it is for the chance to do more, the grind is the grind. That’s the way I respect your contribution, by letting fans know about it from a close perspective. Still, I feel like I should say thanks. The decision makers are decent people and are faced now with a different and harsh pressure. That’s unfortunately what the combination of pandemic and lack of success brings about. This is by no means an enjoyable process for anyone involved. It is harsh. If you support the team you have to hold strong to the thinking that success is coming soon and prudent, gut-wrenching calls must be made. Strangely, this process and undertaking will make departments better as they learn from the effects of their cuts just like they would following promotions or trades. Baseball has some shreds of bad in it to make the good seem great and for these players, they’re dealing with the absolute worst right now. There is simply no way to not sympathize with them. Improving the system from the bottom up is a monumental task. Still, lots of humans are involved and now is a time where everyone is understandably sensitive. To the players on that list, I wish you lots of baseball even though it’s not going to be in orange and black. Your competition and contribution will make success happen. Real fans realize that. I hope you land on your cleats and never ever get a real job. Good luck.
  14. Totally with you. It’s something that would have happened anyway on a normal baseball calendar, but 37 at once is pretty significant. They lost a team. It’s pretty sad. I bet we’re eye to eye on the players too. Just stinks......
  15. You’ve got to feel for these guys. They’re all facing a squeeze unlike the one they’re used to....we’re all human and helpless is an awful way to be. Tell them the OH family is thinking of their circumstances.
  16. A rough day. Sorry for that player and the group as a whole. An extremely difficult set of circumstances for any team.
  17. After watching a handful of these guys, I have to say it’s a list without too many guys I disagree with. Absolutely no part of me would be surprised to see Trevor Putzig latch on with a new team and impress people with his skills in the box. Also Carlos Baez and I communicated yesterday and that’s kind of sad. He’s got great baseball energy..... This move has been coming for a while and it’s not less impactful now that it came. How can you not wish the guys well and hope they find a way to keep playing ball.....
  18. It’s hard to disagree with your sentiments, and I don’t. These are highly unique circumstances and I see value in hitting a wall and seeing a strong response to get over it. The choices are made with an eye on the future, perhaps the longer term future and this group is a mix of the sooner and the later. Thanks for the perspective. I wonder who an educated observer would replace them with and why. I had tough decisions and most of them were bullpen pitchers that have proved to be ‘ready’. Tim Naughton and Luis Perez were ones who stood out.
  19. There are lots of factors that could be at play here. No matter what names are on the list it'll be intriguing and I’ll be curious as to the rationale behind the choices.
  20. Living in Sarasota, I’m almost always close to the Orioles Spring Training complex, Ed Smith Stadium. In fact I walk my dog by there at least once a day-most days more. The last few days there’s finally been some action so I thought I’d post it here. Since the sport was put on pause, the players lot has had a handful of cars in one cluster. As of Monday, the cars were moved around the lot and spaced out. There have been Sarasota County vehicles parked in reserved spots and today the one I saw had the label ‘Facilities Management’. From working in the stadium I know that this staff needs to come and inspect the grounds and buildings regularly and be present during large scale events. That’s a sign. On the fields/practice area there were mowers on riding mowers throughout the morning on Tuesday. Also there was some type of grounds crew tending to the dirt on the mound. Today, one day later, the tarp remained on several mounds. The batting cages have also been placed at home plate which usually is a clear indicator. These few changes have been over the last 24-48 hours. Consistently there have been sprinklers but other than that until the last few days it has been totally without action within the fences. Maybe I’m reading too much into what’s really nothing. However I did have the chance to talk to a Stadium employee this past weekend at a community food drive in the parking lot. He indicated that preparations are very slowly being made to have equipment spaced adequately and that they’re waiting with an anticipatory slant that something will happen soon. If there’s any other information I come across in any way I’ll be sure to share it.
  21. The Orioles taxi squad of 20 players gives the organization a blank canvas as far as how to mix a bit of winning and a greater share of development but because of the fact that their 26-man roster isn’t concrete and would have been flexible in a normal season, the team has some room to go in a variety of directions with their choices. Fan interest should be taken into some consideration but the progress of the team’s youthful nucleus is in every way a top priority. Really, the only priority. Winning in 2023 and beyond is by far the Orioles’ singular focus and that should not change due to this particular season. Unfortunately for the purposes of this squad, the players who represent the most upside in the system may be too young (age and experience)and their respective developmental tracks wouldn’t benefit from facing MLB ready players....today. I’d love to see DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez get some innings in against top level bats but this isn’t the time as I see it. Both are very close, among so many others, but now isn’t the time to rush that window in any way. Fans would get so much out of seeing Gunnar and Hernaiz in the infield and especially in the cage, but they’re about to turn 19. Most of the cuts I made came due to age/experience and that’s not really a bad thing. It’s a difficult factor to balance like most other decisions when making cuts or rounding out a roster. On the other hand, due to the O’s relative non-contending status they can be less rigid, much more future focused and also transparent. Why not have some fun and introduce a few players who have been rehabbing or showing well in the minors for a bit? I think if the list includes names who will be on an Orioles team that contends in the near future then some experience in this setting can be highly beneficial. Remember that every team has the same issues to face and tough calls to make yet some still plan to treat this season as a playoff march and need their taxi squads to have more experience than upside. I like the leeway and lack of pressure, at least for whatever 2020 will (may) represent. The 26-Man Roster I Used: C-Severino/Sisco INF-Iglesias, Alberto, Ruiz, R. Nunez, C. Davis, Velazquez, R. Martin, Valaika, OF-Hays, Santander, Mason Williams=13 PITCHERS-Means, Cobb, Wojo, K. Stewart, LeBlanc//Castro, Fry, Harvey, Givens, Armstrong, Bleier, T. Scott, Tate Plus 4-offense:Mountcastle/McKenna Pitchers: Kremer/Lowther Taxi Squad: Infield-A Hall, Grenier, Mason McCoy, Yahn, Bannon, Escarra Outfield-Neustrom, Jarrett, Janvrin, Yusniel Diaz Catcher-Rutschman, Cumberland Pitchers:Akin, Cody Caroll, Sedlock, Zach Matson, Isaac Mattson, Alexander Wells, Baumann, B Zimmermann. Thoughts: This was not easy list to make and there were several versions before landing on this list. Yes, OF Mason Janvrin was drafted just a year ago and started 2019 in the rookie leagues, but he’s also an excellent athlete whose game begs to be seen. And he played college ball. If a guy’s game is ‘advanced’ then maybe this is an ideal environment to see some of that shine through. At the very least, as a late-inning defensive replacement Hyde could do a lot worse. Also, this squad is a way for the skipper and coaches to learn the abilities and skills of some guys they may not see otherwise. That’s crucial in a fluid roster situation like this one. The team is fortunate to have near MLB ready talent in arms so Wells, Akin, Caroll, Tate, Lowther Zimmermann and Kremer get to measure themselves against some of the game’s best. That’s long been a priority so now it can happen. In spring training these guys were used in multiple situations so this process can continue as the team’s scouts can gather data from more in-game performance. I see that as a net positive and that’s before examining a reduction in innings and the potential effects there. Also the 2021 Orioles can finally start to turn deadline deals from seasons past into players or conclude that’s less than realistic and move on even younger. Zach Matson is a left hander with extreme spin rates and movement. His walk rate is far from ideal and he’s only thrown 147 innings in the minors however he’s 24 and has size and mound presence. He pitches with confidence in his stuff and I’d like to see what happens if he gets off to a good start. I’m optimistic his plane altering movement would frustrate lefties out of the pen now. There were a few other choices, mostly too young. Dalton Stambaugh is a southpaw with ridiculous movement also. A different lefty Zack, this one named Muckenhirn may be about ready too. The other pitcher named Mattson (with 2-T’s) is a righty and he’s ready for a bullpen role today. There was one pitch at minor league camp that had every witness sounding approval and it was a Isaac 12-to-6 curve with immense depth. Fastball with sizzle at 94/breaking ball with drop, Isaac was my choice over David LeBron and this was a close call. LeBron probably ticks higher on the heat, but Mattson mixed it with other offerings a smidge better in the limited chances I saw. If Mattson ended up as a closer it wouldn’t be a surprise. Now we can find out if that’s within reason. Baumann is someone who oozes readiness. His stats, his answers in interviews, his seriousness while working, his aptitude and stuff are all currently present and high level. There is no doubt in my mind that his time is either now or very close to now. A bout with underperformance or adversity would not deter the Baumann I’ve been watching closely for a couple of seasons and he’s a leader as well so let’s get him some experience ASAP. I don’t like to project or speculate, but thinking of a fully mature Baumann leading the Orioles reformed rotation 20-40 months from now is what helps me sleep at night. Agree or disagree, he’s generated some serious momentum and I’d want to see it continue. This is an open and unique time for that. When the idea of ‘taxi squads’ was introduced he was the first name I thought of. The second name I thought of was outfielder Zach Jarrett. When I saw him and fellow outfield pick Robert Neustrom at minor league camp they both stood out immediately due to their size. Both are tall and thick and wouldn’t look out of place in a run producing spot in a lineup. Now, we get to make that happen on some scale. An opportunity to see two minor league sluggers’ swings slightly more often than a late inning spring situation is of value. Maybe not the same value as 400+ABs in a minor league campaign but worth its share in developmental currency. Janvrin and Neustrom both demonstrated with sound and steam the necessary throwing ability in drills. Yusniel Diaz is so close to major league ready. Ryan McKenna represents a question mark to me and I’d like some direction as far as his future. Like many observers I’d love to see him face a full seasons’s worth of tough matchups and respond positively but he needs a chance to compete now and I think he’s earned a spot. Like many other offensive choices on this team, he’s a perfect candidate for an almost MLB version of the O’s. Mountcastle looks to be so advanced that I’d consider a role for him as soon as games start. His bat impresses me that much. Mason McCoy has little else to prove in the minors so he’s deserving too. Grenier’s ability in the field is in doubt by absolutely nobody so he gets the nod as does Adam Hall who in a normal setting would be off to a hot start, getting on base and scoring runs and shooting up the lists of prospect evaluators. Not a bad infield nucleus. Add to it Bannon who has impressed me in person both in games and practice situations, and Willy Yahn who shows well everywhere and gets a reward for that grind. Instant fan favorite with Willy and little kids would start rubbing their hands in the dirt at the plate like the versatile performer who maximizes his abilities everyday. Rounding out the infield for me would be lefty first baseman JC Escarra and he also gets a nod for his hot hitting spring session and development. A 25 yr old power corner with a decent eye got MLB spring ABs for a reason and I can mix that rationale with his impressive cage development and try to see what’s there. This is a setting where that development can be prioritized. Catching is key because so much of what the franchise accomplishes soon is tied to a handful of young pitchers and their respective battery mate Adley Rutschman. So Rutsch gets a head start on a few of them by joining this squad along with Brett Cumberland who I picked over Daniel Fajardo and Bryan Holoday due to his overall skills and Evan Gattis-like no BS mentality at the plate. He certainly carries himself like a big leaguer standing in the lefty box and he’s not waiting out an AB to get a pitch to steer towards that right field corner. I loved it, now let’s get to see more (or at least some instead of none)of it. His numbers were solid but his attitude can rub people the right way. In the limited chances I saw, Cumby got it done so here he gets his nod. Catcher is full of difficult choices for today and the near future. Overall, the group of hitters is probably guys I’ve seen more and know better. It’s hard to not just pick a top 20 prospect list but this is a setting where the words readiness and deserving don’t carry the same weight they normally do. That in itself is very strange. But this represents a group that can both develop and supplement the skills and direction of the big league club while laying down a stronger, more educated foundation for the years that matter most. PS-The last cut was a rough one, they were all difficult choices, and I tried to force a place for Ryan Ripken without being able to find one on this list. It’s not due to him being Cal’s son it’s because he brings a highly intelligent baseball mind to any setting. There’s lots of value in that. If there was one more spot he’d have it.
  22. Thanks for reading. They are good kids but really really good baseball players too!
  23. You’re welcome @Juan Hernaiz We look forward to seeing Darell and his team on the field as soon as possible.
  24. Thanks @Tony-OHI think if we did it a month from now they’d be a little less patient. Maybe by then we’ll have a clearer picture for 2020.
  25. It’s February 26th and my toughest decision is whether to wear shorts or jeans to the Orioles Spring Training game that evening against Atlanta. Somewhere in the middle innings a Brave shoots a grounder into the hole and the O’s shortstop gets to it, spins and…..lets out a weak throw that barely makes it to first after a few bounces. Being a defense first baseball observer my dissatisfaction is obvious to my seatmates, future Orioles infielders Darell Hernaiz, Gunnar Henderson and Toby Welk. Shaking my head I remind the guys that plays like this are too common and their collective response was ‘we’ve got this’ with a youthful smirk. I think they’re right. I’ve watched both Gunnar and Darell-the H&H boys, from their first days in Orange and Black and have always wanted to talk to them about their experience and their similar tracks to pro ball. In the 2019 MLB Draft, Gunnar was selected in the second round out of the John T. Morgan Academy in Alabama and Hernaiz in the fifth round from Americas High School in Texas. They’re both 18 years old, born in the summer of 2001. They both play the infield with sizzling skill and as the days of minor league camp wore on I saw elements of high level chemistry and watched their footwork, throws and especially positioning play off each other. It was the beginning of what could be an elite double play combo down the road and the fan in me is beyond excited at the possibilities. I’ve been eager to let O’s fans know some more about the future so I was glad the pair had time to get in touch and talk baseball. Both Gunnar and Darell were very eager to talk when I proposed the idea. Starting off their pro careers in the Gulf Coast League, both players debuted on a championship team as the 2019 GCL Orioles won their division. Being drafted in June, by July they were both performers in a lineup that scored often. Hernaiz got going a couple weeks ahead of Gunnar and had his eyes on improving his team’s record from 2018 and raising expectations from the jump. “I feel like our draft class totally changed that from the day we got there, then we got G and we just started rolling…..I really never felt the other team would actually beat us”. From the stands I felt the same way and expected the O’s to win every time. It is significant to know that the players do too, there’s nothing like confidence. When Henderson was added to the team, taking his first official swings on July 11, he was eager to get rolling but fully aware that his squad was a darn good one. “They were on a winning streak so when I got there I just wanted to help keep it going. We kept winning and carried it all the way to the end. I hated the way it ended but really enjoyed my first year”. Clinching their playoff spot late, they were prepping for the postseason when Hurricane Dorian ruined any chances of more games. So they didn’t get a ring, instead they proudly got a banner in Ed Smith Stadium. It was a fitting end to an excellent campaign but these guys stay looking to tomorrow. That’s part of the appeal as far as the youth movement, forward focus. Being so young and having so much of their baseball future ahead of them, these two in particular seem like the pandemic is only a temporary break and baseball is currently a big part of their daily life. I asked about health, eating and baseball activities and all are tracking positively. The Orioles shipped some equipment to west Texas so Darell could continue adding lbs through the lay-off. “I got dumbbells from 5-50 so I do exercises limited to those….definitely still feel good and strong” Gunnar has a unique setup during the pandemic too. In fact, I may be a little jealous. “I’ve been pretty fortunate to have a weight room to go to with nobody around! And my mom has been cooking just about every night. I have cooked the meals with the Orioles as well’’ Fans can take a deep breath knowing that the future infielders are staying on top of their health but what about baseball specific activities or training? How are their skills staying razor sharp like they were when camp shut down? Darell gets to take advantage of the resources provided to him by his high school team, the Blazers. “I’ve been throwing 3x a week and hitting at my high school. My swing feels good as ever! Hitting on the Americas fields should be nothing new to Hernaiz as he batted over .400 and had 15 extra base hits in his senior year. I watched Darell get better at barreling the baseball and driving it with power to the fence so it’s great to know he’s continuing to grow offensively and focused on repeated connection. Henderson gets his reps in at Morgan’s facilities and on this Tuesday night had recently finished up a session. “I’ve been throwing 3 times a week and my high school opened back up….just got done hitting. I take ground balls after I hit every time. My dad hits ground balls to me”. Darell’s staying on top of his glove work as best he can. Finding capable partners isn’t so easy when you play ball like these guys do. There is no way to replicate the expert level instruction that the Orioles player development staff has going for them. The infield guys work their players hard and with purpose and that’s as big league as it can get. “I’ve taken a few [grounders] but not a ton. It’s tough finding people that want to put in the work here where I live”. Coming from a pro baseball background where his father reached AA, Hernaiz knows what it takes to perform on the professional level and he has a great drive to keep improving. This is another example of a young player using a chip on their shoulder to motivate himself. I recall our first conversation when he told me that he has plenty to prove. So far so good. When looking at a pair of young players like these I don’t feel the need to speculate on where they’ll play in the field but it’s been a point of contention, especially for Gunnar. At 6-2, 200 he’s not small and to some that means a move off of SS which is where both players lined up splitting reps and at-bats evenly in their first year. I love the process of seeing a player find their spot as opposed to making a decision or forcing a fit, and I watched it every day. There’s loads of infield skill to develop including quickly rising speedster Adam Hall, 2019 draft pick Joey Ortiz, ground ball magnet Cadyn Grenier, slugging Welk, and early camp standouts like Willy Yahn and Jesmuel Valentin. Competition mixed with upbeat, smart coaching has already put both teenagers on an accelerated track upwards. Despite watching and filming a large percentage of their practices, I had to ask about positional assignments for 2020. Gunnar will be focused on Cal’s old spot. “As far as I know stay at short” That answers that. Darell hadn’t had that talk specifically. “We were getting to that point in spring training but they never told us” I noticed multiple situations. Almost every drill had Hernaiz at second base where he showed the hyper quick hand/foot combo and instincts to make every play there but when former big league shortstop JJ Hardy came over from Orioles camp he spent a while talking defense with Darell. I saw pre-pitch positioning, posture and fluidity to the max with Darell at both spots so he’s got an excellent foundation to stay at either one. “I felt good with my boy G! If we have a season, I assume we’ll be a double play combo” I remember a second at camp where I allowed my O’s fantasies to flow and I thought about not getting the most out of Schoop and Machado playing alongside each other and how much it would mean to have two mashers in the middle infield growing together. The more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t help but to see it. These guys have actual baseball chemistry, they fit. It’s hard to put into words but they run on and off the field like they’ve been teammates for years. They yell encouragement like they know how to lift the others’ game and it works. Watching a fungo go from a 95 mph sizzler to an efficiently turned 4-6-3 double play in their hands, I worry less about that play in the hole not made against the Braves and think more about the tempo and rhythm on display right in front of me. Country music got him amped up on the daily (I can now name Dixieland Delight in one note), but the prospect of playing with Darell has Gunnar fixated on what’s coming. “Ever since we first met each other I felt a bond with D so I can’t wait to use that on the field”. Speaking of sweet sounds, that should be music to the ears of Orioles fans no matter how despondent the rebuild or baseball slowdown has made you. The future is young, skilled and displaying a very positive attitude and mindset. Looking back at their first season in pro ball there were lots of big plays, hits and rallies being part of a winning team. The quality of opponents is a huge factor and handling that higher skill level is crucial. Watching these guys hit the ground running and fight through adversity early on was an excellent indicator. I wanted to know when it became clear to them that pro ball was an entirely different game. Hernaiz recalled a tough plate appearance against a high quality arm. “Mine was against the Rays and I faced a first or second round pitcher from college. He threw me a fastball I was way late, then he threw me another one and I took it right down the middle and I swung at a curveball in the dirt”. “I’ve never looked so bad in my life, haha but you make your adjustments and eventually figure it out. By the end of he season I felt good and ready to go though….just the learning period I guess” He ended up batting .263 and getting on-base 37% of the time so he figured it out pretty well. Not inclined to waste his time sitting on first base, he kept the offense moving going 5-5 in steals. By the way, the Rays pitcher who got him was fireballer Seth Johnson, a second rounder from Campbell College who Tampa is very high on and is respected in prospect circles. Henderson’s welcome to the pros moment came courtesy of the Red Sox’ lefty Jorge Rodriguez, an excellent speed changer with movement all over the place. Scouts and coaches agreed he was the one of the best pitchers they faced in the rookie league. “That’s when it hit me, when I faced that lefty from the Red Sox because I was battling and I thought I had him figured out. Then he dropped a change up and I had no idea he had one!” Well, he most certainly does. Along with a slider and well placed heat. Rodriguez carved up the young Orioles over his 3 appearances racking up 21 strikeouts in 14 innings although they were able to beat him once. He’s an opponent I’ll have my eye on for a while. And he represented an excellent measuring stick for the prospects I’m focused on. These two players stand out because they’re similar in lots of ways including youth, last names starting with H, skill sets/level and especially attitude. Even their statistics in their debut seasons are strikingly aligned. Their performance at the plate will carry the most weight and that’s where some great differences shine through. Gunnar bats lefty with a wider, longer stroke and Darell is in the righty box with a tighter, shorter more direct cut. Following through the ball at impact, Darell has a much more power alley pointed swing and line drives it with electricity. Henderson’s follow through is loftier and has the backspin to go opposite field with touch. I recalled a sim game at-bat where he inside outed a fastball and drove it to the left field fence right on the line on one bounce. These guys are blessed with abilities at the plate and possibilities so it brought out another topic I’m curious about, player data and how to utilize it. The focus was a big adjustment for Darell. “We were more into advanced data and about technology this year. I try to hit the ball hard and the coaches know about that stuff”. Gunnar had to get used to a new way of processing what he’s doing in the batter’s box. “I like the rapsodo machines that show your exit velo and ball flight”. Instructors like Minor League Hitting Coach Ryan Fuller have to love the challenge in front of them with eager young players like these. It’s easy to see the process of maximizing that’s ahead of them and look at it optimistically, even in the face of an uncertain short term future. That brings me to the final point I’d been eager to discuss with them, or any team member involved in the organization’s rebuild. Oriole supporters have been looking to the future for a while. What is it like to be part of that future and how easy is it for them to see that things are moving in a positive direction? According to Darell, he’s ready. “I think it’s great that we might someday turn the situation around. We have great talent on the minor league side but nothing is given...we need to earn it. Everyone needs to prove that and work collectively in order to bring a championship to Baltimore”. Gunnar seemed just as eager, an attitude reflective of the youth in the system. “I can’t wait to hopefully turn everything around. Like D said it’s earned not given. It all starts in the weight room and repetition on the field so I can’t wait to see how everything turns out”. To fill the gaps in free time for now they’re both happy to chill with their families and play video games. Darell didn’t play anything but baseball after middle school where he did football and hoops so he watches lots of movies. I told him UTEP reminded me of Tim Hardaway, he thought I would have guessed the film Glory Road so maybe he’s a real movie expert. Gunnar has a younger brother who he can teach baseball and basketball but they’d both rather be back on the baseball clock getting into their seasons. I remember how happy they both were to not know what day it was at camp, just keep grinding it didn’t matter. Now there’s no focus on a calendar for different reasons but these players are still demonstrating that growth mentality that made them ideal fits for the improving Orioles. My hope is that you have a little bit better idea of who Darell and Gunnar are as guys and players. It’s been a pleasant surprise at how much progress they’ve already made and I can’t wait for the future of the H&H boys making their way towards Camden Yards and bringing this high quality baseball to Baltimore.
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