Indianapolis at Rochester, Game 1

[Great diary - Charlie.]

I live in Rochester, and the Indians are in town for four games.  Both teams lead their IL divisions, but several of the better hitters on each side are now in Pittsburgh or Minnesota.  But both sides still have quality pitching.

Both teams are now mostly overage, but scanning the rosters, Rochester is younger.

Tonight it was Jason Miller for Rochester against Sean Burnett.  The velocities noted here are all from the stadium scoreboard.  If you see a ?, it means there was no reading or I missed it.

I have found the Frontier Field gun to be fair, possibly even on the low side.  Last year Zach Duke consistently threw 88-89 in a 7 inning CG at Frontier.  That was also in mid-June.  Later in Pittsburgh, the "TV" gun showed him throwing consistently in the low-90's.

I've also seen consistency with the Frontier readings and with scouting reports on other players.

The Indianapolis pitching was promising, the hitting was not.

Sean Burnett labored early, but got into a groove later.  He changed speeds well, but using the gold standard of Zach Duke, he wasn't impressive.  Duke threw 88-89, but threw his great curve 66mph, and hit every mph in between.

Burnett also did a good job of changing speeds, just not as dramatically, nor as efficiently.  Here was his first inning, by velocity, against each batter:

Andres Torres - 84, 86, 86, 87, 86--F8
Jason Bartlett - 86, 89, 83, 88, 88, 88--ground single
Josh Rabe - 88, 88, 86--5-4 (Taber Lee made a horrible relay, should have been a DP)
Kevin West - 88, 86, 87, 76, 88, 81, 72--K, looking

That's pretty good.  21 pitches, but I like that he didn't overuse the "junk."  Just spotted his fastball, established it, and then dropped two nice curves and froze the Red Wings best hitter.

His second inning was interesting, and I thought I was going to see a pattern, but it never developed.  His velocity was lower than in the first.  I thought maybe this was it--he can't sustain his velocity and that's why he's been getting bounced around.  But that didn't end up happening:

Chris Heintz -- 81, 85, 81, 81, 83--tapper back to Burnett
Garrett Jones - 85, 86--grounder to first, unassisted
Shawn Wooten - 85, 86, 88, 86--line single to RF
Glenn Williams - 86, 87, 85--bloop single over SS
Gil Velazquez - 86, 83, 82, 75--K, swinging at a curve in the dirt.

Again, that's pretty good, although I'm wary of the velocity.  AAA and AAA/ML shuttle players (AAAA players) are full of guys with guile, but who can't throw consistently hard enough to get major leaguers out.  If you're not throwing 88, I don't think you'll make it.

A very impressive 3rd inning:

Torres - 78, 78--curve tapped back to Burnett
Bartlett - 71, ?, 81, 84--K, looking.
Rabe - 80, 74, 83, 78, 88, 86, grounder to SS

Nice sequence on Rabe, and I raised my eyebrows when he muscled up to 88.  I didn't expect to see that again.  Nice 12-pitch inning.

His fourth was most impressive, by sheer production:

West 83, 81, 77, 76--K, swinging.
Heintz - 71, 79, 87, 79--tapper (3rd of the night) back to Burnett
Jones - 71, 86, 87, 86, 81--K, swinging

He was clearly keeping the Wings off balance, and hitting 87 twice in the inning was again a mild surprise.  If you added 8mph to all these pitches, I'd think he was a super-prospect.  As it was, he just seemed like a good AAA pitcher who knew what he was doing.

I don't mean to be overly negative.  He pitched well.  Just not well enough to get excited to see him in Pittsburgh any time soon.

He pretty much did the same in his fifth and final inning.  He gave up two sharp hits, both on fastballs (84 and 87mph).  But he induced a 4-6-3 DP to end the inning, also on a fastball (86mph) - one pitch after a visit to the mound from Jeff Andrews.  He also hit 89, his fastest pitch, in this inning.

Again, it was encouraging, in relation to his season so far.  But he really just seemed like a lefthanded Josh Fogg.  Could be a future contributor, but don't wait for him, and don't be afraid to move him if someone wants him.

But let's get mildly encouraged by Jonah Bayliss, who recorded his 10th save.  He came on with one out in the 8th.  Bayliss hit 94 warming up:

Torres - 90, 91, 89, 91, 90, 90, 89--BB
Bartlett - 91 (ball, visit to mound), 90 (strike), 77, 78--K, swinging at those last two changeups in the dirt.
Rabe - 93, 93--grounder to SS.

In the 9th:

West - 93, 92, 84--short fly to RF
Heintz - 94, grounder to SS
Jones - 93, 78 (ripped foul, probably sitting on it), 93--K, swinging under the gas.

Bayliss - 20 pitches, 15 for strikes.

I wish he was 22 instead of 26 in August, but he was a college player and this is his 5th year in pro ball.  I can see him in the Pittsburgh pen this year and for the next several years.

The offense was much less encouraging/interesting:

Rochester's Jason Miller is an almost-24yo lefty.  He was making only his second start, and pitched from the stretch, regardless of whether anyone was on base.  He consistently threw in the high-80's, throwing 90 or 91 five times.  He had a good curve and change, and cruised through the Indians for four innings.

Rajai Davis is as fast as advertised, beating out one infield single and nearly did it again, and stealing second easily.  He was behind many fastballs and didn't hit a ball out of the infield.

Adam Boeve showed good bat control and bat speed.  He hit the ball solidly three times, but only reached on an error on a sharp grounder up the middle.  He looks like a player, that is, he passes the eyeball test.  He's well-built, athletic looking.  He waited nicely on a changeup that he grounded to third.

Carlos Maldanado homered to left.  He had a quiet night behind the plate.  He looks like a catcher.  Hard to say if he could be a cheaper and/or better replacement for Cota.  He also K'd while being overanxious his third time up.  Red Wings reliever Ricky Barrett had thrown five straight balls, and Maldanado came up and swung at the first pitch which was probably high.  He later went around on a changeup in the dirt, but got the call.  The makeup call came on the next pitch when he took a ball that was probably high, but was rung up by the plate ump.

Maldanado also must be one hell of a bunter.  In the 8th, with runners on 1st and 3rd and one out, they squeezed with Maldanado.  Twice.  He fouled the first one off.  The second pitch was in the dirt and Maldanado didn't offer, but Chris Richard was easily nailed scrambling back to third.  Seemed like Maldanado would be just as likely to get a sac fly than get a bunt down, but perhaps that's just the Pirate way.

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