Sorry for the capital letters in the title everyone but man was it refreshing to see Jameson Taillon casually strutting to the mound, snagging the ball with his mitt, and promptly launching a 92 MPH fastball for his first warm up pitch. Today, on a three inning limit, Taillon was on rehab in my backyard in Erie and boy was it fun. In addition to the tall right hander was a slew of interesting prospects who I got to witness for the first time. I'll try to provide a recap of each's performance defensively and offensively for the game and some take away's I had.
Jameson Taillon (RHP)
Absolute electric stuff (no Charlie Morton, not you) for his three innings. Completely dominated the AA Seawolves. On the stadium gun his 4S was 94-96, 2S was 91-93, change at 86-88 and curveball around 80-82. His mechanics were fluid and he looked relaxed from both the stretch and windup. Didn't show any discomfort with anything and demonstrated what it looks like when a MLB pitcher goes up against AA hitters. Line on the day: 3IP, 6 K, 1 BB, 1 H.
Kevin Newman (SS)
Defensive: Didn't have a lot of action during Taillon's innings but once Garcia and Lakind began their innings, Newman showed off some skills. Demonstrated incredibly quick reactions, good routes, and a snappy, quick release on his throw. Nothing to suggest he can't handle the position at the next level.
Offensive: Very relaxed stance. All reports of his command of the strike zone are legit. Worked deep counts in each at bat with little to show except sound contact on two and a strikeout. I don't know enough about hitting to diagnose what could be holding him back but, to me, everything seemed in place for a very good gap hitter.
Kevin Kramer (2B)
Defensive: Great range. Quick reflexes. Goes all out on any ball hit his way. Strong arm and looks to have plus defensive skills. Definitely looks like he can handle 3B or SS if needed.
Offensive: Mechanics of swing are beautiful. Uses a small leg kick, barrel is in the zone for a long time and and allows him to really drive the ball. Doesn't swing for the fence. Good eye. Consistently hit the ball hard.
Edwin Espinal (1B)
Defensive: Has the build of Bell but with more weight/pudge to him. Moves well at the position. Didn't show his arm at all. Good footwork. Played every ball hit to him with ease. Looks confident and comfortable.
Offensive: Great hit tools. Lots of power. Crushed a homerun off the hockey arena in left field. Line drive swing. Good contact. May be a bit pull happy.
Connor Joe (RF)
Defensive: Good instincts. Average to above average movement on hit balls. Strong arm (gunned Detroit prospect Christian Stewart who was trying to stretch a single into a double). Could definitely handle RF in Pittsburgh.
Offensive: Refined approach at the plate. Looks to hit opposite field. Very smooth swing. Can see the power potential. Looks relaxed and focused. Sound strike zone judgment.
Jin-De Jhang (DH)
Offensive: Seems to be working on a lot of different things at the plate. Mechanics are jerky and he does not seem confident. Out in front of the ball quite a bit. I am not sure but he may have been coming back from an injury? If anyone can confirm, that may lead to why he looked so raw at the plate today.
Looking at the top four in the Altoona lineup - Newman, Kramer, Joe, and Espinal - each seems to be very good judges of the strike zone. I can't quite put my finger on it but just the eyeball tests makes you go "these guys are better baseball players". Not much else to report. Mathisen was out of the lineup, Heredia didn't throw. Our old friend Mike Zagurski is still pitching, now regressed back to AA for Erie. Any other questions regarding the game, let me know.