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Cannonballs coming: Keller, Ogle, Kranick all look good

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-- Austin Meadows drove in five runs as Indianapolis (67-70) beat Toledo, 7-5.  Meadows was 2-3 with his fifth AAA HR.  With Kelvin Marte, who was scheduled to start the game, called up, the Indians went with a bullpen game.  Justin Masterson and Jhondaniel Medina each threw three scoreless innings and Jason Creasy two.  Edgar Santana then got torched for five runs in the ninth, but managed to finish the game.

Max Moroff:  1-2, 2 BB
Jose Osuna:  1-3, BB
Jason Rogers, Elias Diaz, Willy Garcia, Dan Gamache:  all 2-4

-- Altoona (73-61) lost to Binghamton, 3-1.  Brandon Waddell gave up three runs on seven hits over six innings.  He walked two and struck out four.  The Curve had only five hits, all singles.  Jin-De Jhang was 2-3 with a walk.

Kevin Newman, Barrett Barnes, Eric Wood:  all 0-4
Miguel Rosario:  IP, H, K

-- Bradenton (69-64) started the Post-Polo Era with an 8-1 win over Jupiter.  Mitch Keller made his high A debut, throwing six shutout innings.  He allowed five hits and a walk, fanned seven, and threw 58 of 88 pitches for strikes.  Keller was interesting to watch after I saw Braeden Ogle and Max Kranick (see below) pitch for the GCL Pirates.  All four have good fastballs, although Keller has more velocity.  In fact, he was throwing 96-98 in the first inning today, sitting at 94-97 after.  The biggest contrast was in command, as Keller naturally is more advanced.  He generally got on top of the fastball and drove it down in the zone, although he occasionally climbed the ladder and got hitters to chase high hard ones.  The hitters caught up to the fastball some, but it was mainly in the first two innings, when Keller threw little else.  Once he started mixing in his curve, which he did in the third inning, the hitters had more trouble with the fastball.  Keller's curve was tight, similar to Jameson Taillon's, and he located it well after the first two or three, when he was a bit wild with it.  Both the fastball and curve got plenty of swings and misses.  Keller didn't go to his change much against a mainly right-handed lineup.

Cole Tucker did what I've mostly seen him do at the plate this year, which is hit routine grounders.  His swing looks like it's all arms and elbows, as he doesn't seem to incorporate his lower half much.  He had one hard hit single today in five ABs, the others all being ground outs.

Pablo Reyes took over center for Polo and looked like . . . an infielder who just moved to the outfield.  He swung the bat very well at least, hitting two hard singles.

Kevin Kramer went 0-4, but he looked good on the double play pivot as the Marauders turned three 6-4-3 double plays.  On one, the runner was almost on top of Kramer when he received the flip from Tucker, but Kramer stood in and made the play.

Wyatt Mathisen went 3-4 with a double.

-- West Virginia (68-65) beat Columbia, 7-6, in ten innings.  Taylor Hearn started and threw four scoreless innings.  He gave up three hits and a walk, and fanned six.  Hearn threw threw 45 of 65 pitches for strikes, with about two-thirds of those pitches coming in his first two innings.  The Power took a 6-0 lead into the fifth, but Yunior Montero and Julio Vivas combined to give up six runs in that inning.  There was no more scoring until Daniel Arribas led off the tenth with a double and eventually scored on a single by Jordan George.  Arribas finished 2-5 with two doubles.  Logan Hill went 2-3 with two walks and his tenth HR. Scooter Hightower threw four scoreless innings, striking out six.

Mitchell Tolman:  0-3, 2 BB
Stephen Alemais:  1-4, 2B

-- Morgantown (33-37) beat Batavia, 3-2.  Stephen Meyer had a good start, allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings.  He walked none and struck out three.  Chris Harvey went 2-4 with a double.  Will Craig was 0-2 with a walk.

-- Bristol (25-41) lost to Kingsport, 3-2.  Victor Fernandez went 2-4 with his second HR, a two-run shot that tied the game temporarily in the eighth.  Starter Ike Schlabach gave up two runs over five innings.  Adrian Valerio was 1-4.

-- Braeden Ogle (pictured) threw five strong innings as the GCL Pirates (22-34) lost the first game of a doubleheader to the Tigers East, 4-2.  Ogle relied mainly on a fastball that sat at 92-93 with good life.  He showed good command considering that he was just drafted out of high school; better, in fact, than Keller in the two games I saw him pitch right after he was drafted.  Ogle's command was a little shaky in his first two innings, then was outstanding in the third, when he struck out the side, before he seemed to tire in the fourth and especially the fifth.  His velocity faltered in those innings, too.  His secondary stuff is rudimentary at this stage.  His change is a work in progress, which is typical for a rookie level pitcher, and he's just starting to throw a slider.  His fastball was good enough that he was able to throw it by hitters even when he got it up in the strike zone.  Ogle finished with one unearned run allowed on three hits and two walks.  He fanned six.  There were no balls hit hard off him, as the hits consisted of two infield rollers and a checked-swing bloop.

Max Kranick started the second game, won by the Pirates, 4-3.  Similar to Ogle, Kranick's fastball command came and went, but he showed good enough life that he was able to get strikes with it even when he wasn't locating it well.  His velocity was 91-94.  Kranick's curve, a 73-mph pitch that he commanded well in this game, was much more advanced than any of Ogle's secondary pitches.  Kranick faced only three hitters in the third inning, resulting in a walk, strikeout and groundout, but he threw a lot of pitches to them and came out after two and two-thirds innings, probably due to a tight, single-inning pitch limit.  He finished with one hit and two walks allowed, and four strikeouts.  Like Ogle, he didn't allow any hard-hit balls.

The position players with the GCL team aren't a strong group, as you can see just by checking the batting averages in the two box scores.  There are arguably only three hitters who are even modestly interesting.  Two, outfielder Jeremias Portorreal and catcher Gabriel Brito, were called up from the DSL recently due to some injuries that left the team short on hitters.

Portorreal was in his third DSL season and suddenly started hitting in July.  He has good size and looks like he should hit for power, athough he hasn't so far.  He's not speedy and figures to stay in a corner.  He seems fairly patient, although he chased some bad pitches in his first two times up in game two, striking out both times.  He was 1-7 on the day.

Brito was in his second DSL season, with both seasons shortened by injuries.  He caught game one and made contact all three times up with nothing to show for it.  He did show a good arm.

The other, possibly interesting position player in the GCL is Yondry Contreras, a toolsy center fielder who was the Pirates' top international signee before the 2015 season.  He's built a lot like Tito Polo:  slightly stocky, with good speed.  He's had major contact issues, which were in evidence today as he seldom took any pitches, except for one walk he drew in game two.  He had a couple groundball singles and went 2-5 on the day.