As someone mentioned in the last thread about Bristol, this was really poor timing for a visit, all things considered -- it's hard to get anyone too excited about rookie ball when the Pirates are trying to acquire Jon Lester. I went to Bristol's game tonight against the Princeton Rays, though, and I'd like to make a record of my thoughts before I forget them. Maybe I'll draw attention to this post again in a few days.
-P- The Pirates lost, 4-2. For our purposes, that doesn't matter, although Bristol does not seem like one of those minor-league towns where the fans don't care if you win. There was a ton of grumbling in the stands about the Pirates' struggles in general and the pitchers' struggles to throw strikes in particular.
-P- The stadium in Bristol isn't jaw-dropping or anything, but it's nicer than a lot of ballparks in the low minors. The seats have more legroom than any ballpark I've ever been to anywhere, and there isn't a bad seat in the house. It's also just a couple hours south of Charleston, so you could make a pretty nice Pirates minor league trip between those two towns. (The trip will get even better once the Pirates have their Morgantown affiliate up and running -- you can almost draw a straight line connecting Pittsburgh, Morgantown, Charleston and Bristol.)
-P- Figuring out what you're watching in rookie ball, especially when you're just passing through town like I was, is almost impossible. Many of the players aren't done growing yet. One of the Rays players tonight was 17. The pitchers who aren't coming out of college are throwing mostly fastballs. The guys who did go to college have a huge advantage over the younger players. There was no radar gun at the stadium. And so on.
All that said, here's what I did see:
-P- Billy Roth, a bigger-bonus player from the 2013 draft, started and threw mostly fastballs, some in the zone and some not. Edgar Varela, Bristol's manager, told me before the game that Roth is really just getting used to being a pitcher -- he was a two-way player in high school. He's obviously pretty raw.
-P- Miguel Ferreras, a 22-year-old from the Dominican, followed Roth and struggled even more to throw strikes. He definitely looks like a pitcher -- he's 6-foot-5 and big, with a bulky lower body. But again, he's raw.
-P- Palmer Betts, a 20-year-old junior college player from the 2014 draft, pitched next and was much better, although he relied more on offspeed stuff than Roth or Ferreras did.
-P- Catcher Tomas Morales hasn't hit much this season and has played sparingly in his minor league career so far, but he threw out two runners today and looked capable defensively.
-P- Jerrick Suiter, the Pirates' 26th-round pick out of TCU, looks like a man among boys out there -- he's a big guy who knows what he's doing at the plate. What he doesn't have is power, and he'll need to develop some to make it to the big leagues. In the meantime, Bristol probably isn't the best test for him -- Big 12 pitching was probably much tougher.
-P- Nick Buckner, another bigger-bonus 2013 guy, struck out in three of his four at bats today.
-P- I didn't know much about Daniel Arribas coming in, and from watching him (he was playing first base and is a bit small for the position, although his usual position is catcher) and seeing that he was from Miami, I assumed he was a ringer from a college program. Nope -- he was born in Miami and grew up in the Netherlands. He's a fairly good hitter who already has hit for average and has a reasonably good approach at the plate, so he probably bears watching.