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Everything posted by Eric-OH

  1. Thanks for reading. They are good kids but really really good baseball players too!
  2. You’re welcome @Juan Hernaiz We look forward to seeing Darell and his team on the field as soon as possible.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. It was fun. Just learning about this particular class, it seems the pedigree and experienced arms are a slightly unusual multitude compared to past and predicted future drafts. I like the idea of a guy being young for his year and athletic ahead of that age so Wainwright was that for me. Can’t wait to add talent in a few weeks!
  6. Thanks for the info and advice. It was a positive experience and I’m scheduling research for 2021 to be better prepared. We got our second man at 2 so let’s hope he works out somewhere in the O’s lineup.
  7. Thanks. Finally! He was glad to pimp his teammates and coaches, pretty good signs! I was pretty surprised that the layoff isn’t driving him up the wall but he seems ok.
  8. Thanks @Frobby! That is not a comp I’d want but you’re not too far off. It’s getting tough to come up with stuff as the cycle of content is halted with zero game action and it still feels as unplanned as when it started. I’ll do my best. I think we all know that getting a profile out on Nick Roth was a matter of when, not if. Thanks for the support.
  9. Tonight at 8:45 on ProspectsLive I’ll be drafting for the O’s as the rebuild talent add continues. Pretty exciting stuff! Who should we take? https://twitter.com/prospectslive/status/1256225045388689409?s=21
  10. With the Last Dance airing on ESPN, Michael Jordan tales and first hand accounts are being shared now that haven’t been before. I’ve always been so curious about his time experimenting with pro baseball and where that desire came from. This short piece has some new quotes including an update on the arm who gave up Jordan’s first tater....ouch. As an athlete who could do so much on his own, MJ deserves credit for recognizing that true success in sports still and always will depend on being part of a team and he needed to remind himself. To me, that’s the essence and the beauty of minor league baseball. Growing and learning from failure while developing a singular focus aimed upward is why the grind works on the farm. Jordan, considered the greatest sports performer in the history of humanity wasn’t opposed to this concept. Embracing it showed more of the real him than any jump shot spun into a net ever could. I hope you like the read. I bet this guy could have cracked a roster somehow.... https://www.mlb.com/news/featured/michael-jordan-the-real-story-of-his-baseball-career
  11. I love to pull for the Marlins. I review their prospects like the Orioles’. It brings back great memories of my Ft Lauderdale living grandma being excited in the early 90’s about us bonding over both basketball and baseball too. She was right, I loved them and having a team in the south and the NL to follow with her. The Fish are almost always horrible yet somehow have had some of the best players in the game on their roster and have a pair of rings in a very brief history. They’ve got underdog appeal to me. Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and Christian Yelich are good but don’t leave off Jose Fernandez, Josh Beckett or Conine.......easy guys to root for too. The fish challenge their fan base in every way so the people who truly follow them are baseball lovers, I respect that I much. And the pair of titles validates that for them, strangely. They’ve also been forced to center their focus around pitching and defense based strategies and I prefer that over homers hit and given up. Still, as much as I like them they’re a solar system and a half behind the O’s. In my dream World Series, the Birds sweep the Fish and make it a blowout.
  12. Before going to bed tonight I noticed a couple of transactions in the Orioles minor league system and they both appear unique. First of all, it appears that one of the instructors, Ty Moore has been added to the active roster for the Frederick Keys. Moore is 26 and has 3 years of pro experience in the Pirates system. He played Independent League Ball in 2018 but appeared to be transitioning away from playing and towards coaching. Maybe he’ll be an official player/coach? On Twitter Ty is listed as part of @Orioles Player Development. Next up was also an addition to the Keys roster, 22 year old corner Samy Apolinar. Samy’s had one year of pro ball under his belt, as a 20 year old on the Angels DSL squad in 2018. He has no stats for 2019 but there are some pics of him in the O’s Gulf Coast bullpen and dugout so perhaps his addition was updating a roster/list. In that 2018 season he hit .174 and slugged .250 in 172 ABs so he’s got some growing to do. But his shoulders seem broad and he weighs over 200 lbs so maybe it can be expected. I’ll keep my eyes open for other moves.
  13. Absolutely......glad to be part of your Orioles community. Enjoy.
  14. Continuing with the 2019 Ironbirds season, I’m following along and so far they are 3-2 preparing to finish out the series at home against Tri-Cities before heading to Hudson Valley. Ryan Conroy starts again and on the games first pitch he gets hit for a long double to left. Bouncing back immediately he gets a K on a split to infielder Deury Carrasco. He ended up giving up a single run in the first. The bottom of the inning made it seem like this would be the Birds’ night as runs were even easier. After a Joey Ortiz walk, Jean Carmona went opposite field to left for a double that set up the Birds with guys in scoring position. Alex Murphy didn’t have a good AB, but catcher Korey Lee couldn’t hold righty starter Jayson Schroeder’s offerings and two passed balls led to two runs. After an inning it’s 2-1 Aberdeen. The second starts with Carmona on a full spring into short right center to catch a sinking liner. A true web gem and a very difficult play to make. His speed got him close to being in position for this tough play as he cut Johnny Rizer’s angle and ran toward the big guy to make the play. Awesome grab. I wrote holy s! Next play, was even stranger as a loner hit first base before bouncing up and waiting in midair for Juan Montes to glove it and tag the runner slickly. After a pair of Conroy walks, he gives up a single but it’s run-free as Dalton Hoiles absolutely pegs Hector Martinez. Nice arm on that Hoiles guy huh..... I loved to see the D on display, despite the pitching needing it, and although the Birds did make it easy and run away scoring 12. The highlight of the game was broadcaster Michael Lehr’s chat in-studio with Mike Elias. He loved the progress of the pitchers under Chris Holt who he proudly brought over from Houston. Randomly he said that Holt has innate abilities to see and correct problems that guys don’t even realize they have like Dallas Litscher getting more break on his curve by adjusting his fingers. Holt saw it and adjusted it according to Elias. The entire organization getting on the same page as far as development is huge for Elias and at this time (June 2019) that’s his top priority. Interestingly enough, Tri City is an Astros affiliate and Elias scouted and drafted most of the players on both squads. An offensive explosion took place while Elias was talking and I saw Carmona drag a bunt to first that he had wrapped up after 3-4 steps.....he can absolutely burn that baseline! What a way to impress the boss. They put up 4 in the inning and got to 6 before adding 6 more later to cover up some less than good pitching from Conroy and Yelin Rodriguez who followed him. A since released arm Parker McFadden and GCL reliever Jose Alejandro both had one of a pair of Aberdeen appearances respectively to finish up. I liked Elias talking about the system and his ability to scout more than the game. But I can’t leave out 3B Toby Welk bringing his average up to a nice .364 with a 2-5 and 2RBI. Next game featured Kevin Macgee starting and it was a boring loss. There was not many times where I grabbed my pad and thought, ‘note this’. Actually there were none, but I did like to see reliever Jason Montville bounce back with a damn good performance; 4.2 IP, 5 hits, 6 K’s. It made me look a bit more into this pitcher that I liked so much from the GCL. I discovered something about him and the Orioles that definitely stood out. Montville’s college in California called St. Katherine’s is a tiny private school who only has a few hundred students. The athletics participate in the National Christian Collegiate Athletics Association and the baseball team’s coaching staff features Tom Brunansky and Doug Stange. There’s been 3 years of baseball at St Kat’s and they’ve had 4 total players go pro. Montville, Tucker Baca, John Ryan and Dallas Litscher. The Orioles must like what they see out there, at least a little. So I skipped to the opener of the series at Hudson Valley and was pleasantly surprised by different broadcasters and lots more angles, even replay! The Ironbirds enter at 4-3 and the starters are Litscher against Rodolfo Sanchez. The game’s first pitch is laced under SS by Clay Fisher and 3B Irving Ortega popped in next to whack an RBI triple. A sac fly by 1B Ian Evans gets them another run and the frame closes out with Aberdeen starting out up 2-0. Litscher takes the mound and is working so fast he looks out of rhythm. Speedster Greg Jones sees some inside heat to get to 2-2 from 2-0, but Litscher misses afterwards walking him. He gets out of the inning and the Ironbirds add on again in the second as 2B Andrew Fregia knocks in Jaylen Ferguson with a double to deep left. After an inning and a half, the Ironbirds are up 3-0 and should be feeling good. I’ve waited to see some tension or adversity strike his team early and this game is where they started being tested. Manager Kevin Bradshaw, who I’m growing to like even more than I already did (a lot) came out of he dugout in this game 3 times to either fight for a player or tell the ump they were wrong and each time, the vice grip of game pressure was a bit tighter. Litscher was so much slower by the 4th inning he had NO rhythm and had already had a 3rd where he gave up a pair of singles and a walk, mixing in a WP for an earned run. Dallas has a pair of pitches from my perspective, a straight one and a breaking one that snaps in to righties. He hit his spots a bit (46-76 strikes)but couldn’t finish guys off and couldn’t escape some bad 3-ball counts. It wasn’t an inspiring performance but all that being said he only gave up 3 runs in 5 innings despite his 6 traditional base runners and 3 total wild pitches plus a hit batter. Rodolfo Sanchez, the starter for the Rays affiliate was locating his curveball for strikes to righties with ease and did it to start and finish counts. He located much better with breaking stuff than heat tonight, I was a little impressed. After a walk in the fifth, Irving Ortega looks shot out of a cannon as he gets to third on an Ian Evans single and I like Ortega’s fiery attitude.....a lot! What a pleasant surprise. Bottom 5 and Litscher looks much better but he’s forced to get 4 outs after catcher Luke Ringofer can’t get the wild strike 3 in his grip to throw out Greg Jones after the K. More adversity to follow as reliever Felix Bautista brought his worst to the bump next. It’s a 3-3 tie in the 6th and as the game tightens up, Bautista walks the leadoff hitter. The pitches didn’t seem close but Irving Ortega was seen yelling at the ump to look closer. Bautista looks affected and throws up a meatball that corner Jacson Macgowan belts into right. Two on, no out, bad start to the 6th. Bautista bounces back to get a swinging strikeout next to catcher John Embry. Confidence as he started him off with a big curve. Maybe too much confidence on display as the first pitch to the next batter Hill Alexander featured a double steal. With a pair of runners in scoring position Bautista gave up a poorly timed double that should have plated a pair but for an outstanding Andrew Fregia relay started by RF Tristan Graham that pegged Macgowan at home. Really great turn and fire shown by Fregia, the camera even caught the whip of the ball in the air. Perfect toss. Bautista averted disaster there and gets the next hitter to ground out, finishing up down by a run, 4-3. Highlights later include Clay Fisher getting picked off 1st by a lefty but somehow beating a bad throw to second and Kevin Bradshaw coming out to argue on behalf of runner Juan Montes being ‘tagged’ behind the back passing first. Felix Bautista in the 8th inning had a sequence where he threw a pair of wild pitches, needed to be calmed by catcher Lenin Rodriguez twice, Ortega once and took 1:24 seconds between pitches before taking even longer the next one. He gave up only one, making it 5-3 but his body language and actions needed to be better. I’m eager to see what happened to him after this because it was a terrible performance for a guy with some decent stuff and a bit of experience too. Late in the 9th, the Birds rallied to get one and maybe extend the game, but Andrew Gross finally shut the door on them. The player of the game was lefty relief pitcher Steffon Moore and he got 7 outs in between Rodolfo and Gross, all on K’s. I have a feeling that after this game the team was dressed down and ripped to shreds. The performance left a lot to be desired, although could have been worse. The skipper and several players were frustrated and whatever standard they needed to play to, through 8 games and 4 wins had only been partially met. I have lots of info on Bradshaw from watching him and he is unquestionably a difference maker and gap filler in terms of development. I can’t wait to see him manage this team to success knowing how hands on an and active he’s going to be at camp. This is a loud and proud leader and one who knows his experience is a wonderful asset in terms of education. He also has some serious funk on BP pitches but can groove them on a line for dozens of throws in a row. Bradshaw can be heard in so many of my videos cheering on both players and instructors and now that I know his M.O. I want to see him run the game as much as his roster plays it out. In any event, they’re 4-4 and probably should be a game better. I’ll keep watching and let you know what there is to see as they continue the 3 game weekend set at Hudson Valley.
  15. No problem. I’m glad to do it, I’d be rewatching these games anyway so glad to have a forum to post what I see. This is how I’ll pass some of the time that I now have and learn a bit more about the players. Thanks for the support
  16. This is from years ago and I look for it online all this time. It looks like the guy who voiced it put it on YouTube a month ago. Enjoy. https://youtu.be/pdAFWuZTiVQ
  17. That is awesome. You had a career! Jeff Tackett had an efficient pop up and throw from what I remember. Congrats on the rings, way to see it through.
  18. For lots of reasons, TB is an organization to follow. My preference is the quality quantity of their depth. It almost seems like they don’t have many organizational type players with little or no future, especially compared to other teams. Everyone gives something, it’s very eye-opening. I don’t know about their system like I do the O’s but they seem to end up with serious and developing talent every single time I look. Also, we need Tork to get that ranking up rapidly!
  19. Boredom has replaced baseball, not ideal for the first week of April. I have no info, no data, no games and even worse no practices to evaluate so i went for what in my mind is the next best thing, re-watching the 2019 seasons. Thanks to @weams I found out that every minor league archived game is available at milb.com. I started with Aberdeen as I knew their season results but wanted to watch the season play out. It took one game for me to learn A LOT about Ryan Conroy. When his spilt is working, A-level hitters are reduced to children flailing at something they think they see! I’m through the first couple series and one was not televised, vs Brooklyn Cyclones (June 16-17) but the development has already been significant. I’m going to watch as much of each team’s season and share what I see with you. I’m bored and coping with being without baseball this way and I’d hope this gets me through the weeks. After the Ironbirds, I’m going up to Delmarva and they also had a good season so I’ve got that to look forward to. Some early thoughts: Let’s start out with 3B Toby Welk and his footwork early on at Aberdeen. It was rough. He’d get to balls, straighten his body to throw across the diamond and send it feet East or West of first base. He ended a few innings with accurate putouts, but started rallies for opponents by not making plays. I was unpleasantly surprised, especially considering I have so much video of him showing smooth and balanced throws from camp. His throwing base is big because he’s big. When he rushes the action, everything is off from the feet up and in my eyes I hadn’t seen that happen until I watched video from June 2019. So let’s give some credit to both Welk and the infield coaches at Aberdeen for clearing this up and rounding off those rough edges. Toby’s bat will move him up, but reducing the potential for defensive flaws can only help. Back to Conroy and his splitter. I watched this pitch drop in the same exact plane time after time and hitters swung directly over it. Ryan would center this offering and didn’t get a decent swing against it in the season’s first game. My notes: ‘Conny is DIFFERENT with this working’. His opponent was one if my favorite non-Oriole pitchers, Hudson Valley (TB) starter Dayveion Whittle. Whit was nasty but Conroy our threw him. Also I have video of Conroy practicing an A-level pickoff move, and he used it in a game....it worked! He had an even better attempt later but the runner was back in time. Base runners were not a serious issue, at least not in this game as Conroy allowed only 2 in his first 6 innings. The season’s first hit was a smoked single through the 2B hole by speedster Jean Carmona who shows elite movement skills. He was on camera while swinging more than once (camera moves and there’s only 1)and he does an excellent job of keeping his head steady through the plane. It helps him stay on the ball and finish off the act of guiding the ball through holes. I hadn’t seen Carmona so I liked this. Catcher Cody Roberts and outfielder Rob Neustrom were finishing off a rehab assignment so Roberts both caught and DH’d to get his bat warm. After showing some legs by beating out an infield single (and earning pickoff throws?), I was keyed on Roberts’ ability to make himself move. He demonstrated elite quickness at passed balls/wild pitches hurling himself backwards out of the crouch to pounce and pivot. I was impressed with this in drills, but blown away at how he makes himself move from the crouch. The organization’s Catching depth chart has so much to show. Infielder Clay Fisher nabbed his first hit of his career, a triple. Conroy finally fatigued in the 7th but fought through an awful inning and only gave up 1. Roberts helps him out by ending a rundown at 3rd by going after the runner with aggression and in my notes I wrote ‘Cody=involved with lots of good results’. Infielder Irving Ortega had a good AB that he turned into an RBI double to add on later. Lefty Yelin Rodriguez came in next and started his appearance off by plunking a batter. Fielding a bunt next he was smooth and had a nice short turn to first for the out. Another relatively easy 1-3 putout and then a K and Yelin was done with only one base runner. Carmona led off the bottom 8 and this guy just sailed around the bases ending up standing at 3rd with no throw. He is so fast on the bases, minor league camera operators be warned. Cody Roberts does something positive again and knocks Carmona in, Ironbirds are up. Righty Marlon Constante came in and ‘grabs save chance by the horns’ helping the Birds win their opener, 2-1. Nice W! The next contest featured lefty Kevin Macgee, yet another arm I hadn’t seen. He throws a good solid curve to LHB’s to move to a better count and tries to put heat up for a finisher. He got their catcher, Embry to try and beat him for the K. Toby Welk made a great play ranging to his left on a slow bouncer to finish the first. He stepped ahead of SS Joey Ortiz and in an organized manner, gathered and fired across for the out. Improvement. Johnny Rizer hit his first pitch seen for his first pro hit and I like his aggressiveness at the plate. Maybe not a lead off hitter but definitely an offensive performer. Cody Roberts had a single off a 2-2 count and he’s forcing me to notice his contributions. Catcher Luke Ringofer threw out his opposite number trying to steal and a sign was missed, this guy was out by 3.5-5 feet....not close. Next up was Welk’s first hit, a single over the mound off a 2-2 change. After Macgee’s short stint in came Moise Nolasco who I’d seen extensively in the GCL. There were problems on the bases when he came in, and he reduced them by one with a pickoff of his own. Next however came an RBI triple before Nolasco got an out to end the frame. He was unflappable and consistent with his delivery just like I remember. This game didn’t end well because the next pitcher, lefty Jason Montville wasn’t on his stuff. He showed some athleticism and a well placed 1-2 slider under a RHB’s wrist to get a swinging K but was hittable and not fooling batters. He popped off the mound with haste trying to field a grounder and end the inning but he gave up runs and it was late. Montville is someone who I liked at the GCL but I didn’t realize he was there as a demotion and this particular performance may have started that ball rolling down a level. He’s not in baseball as of today. So a split in the first 2 games. Next up is Tri Cities, the HOU affiliate. I got to watch lots of the big guy, 6-7 righty Leonardo Rodriguez who looks like a 7-footer up on the mound. LRod showed me some reasons for concern, most notably a lack of lower body athleticism and no out pitch. If he could generate torque with his butt/legs he could be absolutely devastating but he doesn’t do that well, at least not in this outing. When his pitches snap and hit their spots, it’s his legs doing the work but it didn’t happen enough. I wrote ‘better feet/legs would put some power/putaway in his stretch’. He’s so tall and long-legged that a slight mis-movement throws off a complicated process and the pitch sails. The other starter, named Manny Ramirez impressed me not with overall stuff but he sat at 94 and got 3-4 extra mph when he needed to. Swinging AJ’s we’re his strength and he threw it straight but he can add juice when he needs to. My thought: ‘bullpen arm’. He struck Welk out on 3 pitches, not one of them worth offering at. Rodriguez gets out of a self induced jam in the 3rd due to Joey Ortiz’ hyper quick reaction to a grounder starting a tight 6-4-3 turn that the ump got right. Now is a good time to talk about Ortiz’ ability to make quick movements. His throws have steam and his body is behind them in one powerful stride. His pivots and transfers show flawless placement and precision. He beats out double plays. He takes extra bases. This is a player who doesn’t appear fast or quick-twitchy but when the ball is in play his speed matches it, and it shows at every opportunity. To me, that’s exciting. I cannot wait to watch his campaign with this perspective. Everything that everyone tells me is how his offense separates him and I won’t argue. But it seems he’s more of a total ball player than I’ve suspected. That’s a damn good sign for his future. He even has a bit of a jump in his throw for the extra steam and it makes a difference. There was more Leonardo letdown as he let guys on and made errors trying to pick them off. Walk, pickoff error, wild pitch=a run. Next inning Rizer smacked a double that looked gone off the bat. Righty Juan Echevarria started off the next frame and promptly gave up a run, the score is 3-1. A quick rally included Welk laying down an A+ bunt w 2 runners on and he reached forcing an error that scored a run. This bunt was perfectly placed and nobody was ready for it. Nice call skip! Next up was corner Juan Montes who hit a 2-RBI single and the Birds take the lead heading into the 9th! Echevarria couldn’t contain the Tri-City bats and big righty Felix Bautista came into the 9th with the bases loaded. 3 outs later the Ironbirds were winners and Bautista locked up the save. Good game. I’ll have more observations later and hope that you are finding some way to enjoy some baseball instead of none. At least now I have games to look forward to.
  20. Of course, I would be surprised too. There are positive signs in his profile to be sure but skipping all of A does seem like a filing or pre-roster arranging situation. I’m looking everyday and trying to find out what I can. I’m also just about out of video to look at from camp so if you’re in any way looking for something to watch O’s minors related from 2020
  21. Definitely a sad and significant loss to the Ed Smith family. I hope his voice is echoing in heaven.
  22. Great question. I played all four years at my high school and was varsity 3 of them. We were not that strong but well coached in fundamentals which I absolutely loved- and we beat a couple Baltimore Co squads full of peers while taking more losses than we’d want. I was very Rey Ordonez-ish in that batting me 9th was a sound strategy but hitting ground balls near me was not. I would take grounders all day after school and go home to throw tennis balls off my garage for hops. Most of the time I played second and went 0-3. A walk would be an immense accomplishment. There weren’t many. The highlight was practicing and playing with people who were my friends and being part of a team.
  23. This isn’t my stat, I did think he had some top quality starts though....I was at his second best vs TOR. I liked Daniel and I hate the Jays so me and my dad were pumped! In no way surprised that he had some garbage starts to mix in though. And there you have the story of Daniel Cabrera.
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