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State College Spikes: A Report From Mahoning Valley

I went to see the State College Spikes in Mahoning Valley tonight. Here are some thoughts:

-P- Jason Creasy (2011, eighth round, $250,000 bonus) sat at 88-91 MPH. He sat at 90-91 in the first inning, then dipped down into the high 80s after that. He threw mostly fastballs, as you'd expect, although he also threw occasional breaking balls, which came in at around 71 MPH and were terrible. They didn't break much, and he didn't have any idea where they were going. His command of his fastball wasn't much better, and Scrappers batters really whacked him -- even a lot of his outs were hard-hit. Creasy just turned 20 last month, and of course it would be silly to be too hard on him at his age, but it looks like he has a long way to go, and it would be nice to see more of these big-bonus pitchers have success right away.

-P- Lance Breedlove (2012, 23rd) and Tom Harlan (2012, 13th) pitched the remaining innings. College guys who pitch in relief at this level aren't typically prospects, but here's what I saw. Breedlove is a smaller guy than Creasy. He threw 87-88 MPH but had good movement on his pitches and better command than Creasy, which makes him a better bet for immediate success in the low minors. Harlan is a broad-shouldered, 6-foot-3 lefty, which might sound exciting, but he only throws about 86, with some sort of slider-y breaking pitch that comes in at around 77.

-P- It's impossible to get definitive impressions from hitters from seeing them for one game. Fortunately, I guess, there were several who I didn't have to really pay attention to, because the Spikes lineup contained a number of guys who haven't distinguished themselves as prospects. Among the remaining players, the ones who stuck out the most for me were Barrett Barnes (2012, supplemental round, $1,000,000 bonus) and Chris Diaz (2012, 11th round, $100,000 bonus). This is, of course, what you'd expect, since these guys were both drafted out of big college programs (Barnes from Texas Tech, Diaz from NC State) that should have prepared them well for this level of the minors, and you'd hope that their performances at State College this year will be springboards to Bradenton at some point next season.

-P- Barnes went 0-for-4, but he had a walk, and one of his outs was a hard-hit ball to the warning track that the right fielder made a good play on. He also appears to be pretty fast, which you've probably been able to tell if you've watched his highlight video.

-P- Diaz made a great play early in the game to get to a ball deep in the hole at short and gun the runner down at first. It would have been a praiseworthy play if a big-leaguer had made it. He singled in the third on a ball that barely left the infield, but he stole second easily, getting an enormous jump. I have no idea how good his bat is, but he certainly looked like a baseball player out there.

-P- Jodaneli Carvajal (2008, Dominican Republic, $350,000 bonus) obviously can run, but he didn't have much of a game offensively. He went 2-for-5, but one of those hits was on an infield single where he had to run outside the base line to avoid being tagged, and he was called safe. The Mahoning Valley pitcher was furious about that. Carvajal attempted to steal second after singling in the seventh and probably would have made it had Samuel Gonzalez not been hit with a pitch on the play. He then darted to third on a wild pitch. In the ninth, he came to bat against Scrappers reliever Enosil Tejeda and got owned badly. Tejeda started by throwing two fastballs right down the middle, and Carvajal waved at both of them. Tejeda kept throwing fastballs, and Carvajal fouled a couple of them off, not really catching up to them. Then Carvajal got caught looking on a breaking ball that obviously fooled him completely. Carvajal played at West Virginia for a while this year and struggled before heading back to State College. He's hit well for the Spikes so far, so let's hope I caught him on a bad day.

-P- D.J. Crumlich and I suppose also Rodarrick Jones and Ryan Hornback were the other potential prospects in that lineup. Crumlich and Jones both doubled, and Crumlich showed a good arm at third while throwing out a runner, but other than that, nothing they did stuck out much to me.