Ok, no fancy title today. I’m pretty mentally fatigued from the long day that started at 8am with interviews of Justin Atkinson, Scott Silverstein, Tom Robson and Shane Dawson for the Canadian Baseball Network podcast, which will hopefully be up soon. Then, after doing some writing for Grading on the Curve, I headed back to the diamond to watch some batting practice and bullpen sessions (BP and BP). Who did I see today? Read on!
In the bullpen, the first couple of people I saw were Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Ben White, the two starters from Thursday’s games. Scott Shuman, a pitcher that the Blue Jays picked up in the Rule 5 draft (minor league portion) was working on some technical things so he wasn’t working through his repertoire. I noticed that Shuman has a fairly short “backswing” on his arm motion as he’s bringing his arm into the throwing position. It doesn’t mean anything really but that might give you an idea of what his mechanics look like.
Another pitcher that I saw in the bullpen was Adonys Cardona. Cardona, interestingly, was wearing glasses, something that I didn’t see (or notice) him wearing last year. He seemed to be working on keeping his front side closed a bit longer and tended to have better control when he did that than when he flew open a bit earlier.
The last pitcher I saw in the bullpen was Matthew Smoral. The 6-foot-8 lefty is the prototype of what they’re talking about when they say a pitcher has “long levers.” He was throwing hard but he was working on a drill that had the catcher set up to the left of the plate and then to the right of the plate. Perhaps it’s an exercise to get him to exaggerate locating to either side of the plate. Start by throwing further to each side and then bringing him in. Again, I couldn’t hear what the pitching coaches were telling him but he was definitely working on something specific.
In batting practice, I saw a wide variety of players. Franklin Barreto has a narrow base for his stance, standing kind of pigeon-toed but he’s very quick to the ball and hits solid line drives. Another young Latin American, catcher Michael De La Cruz is working on switch hitting and clearly looked more comfortable from the right side.
I watched Mitch Nay and Matthew Dean in a group together today and watching the two of them swing the bat is the baseball equivalent to poetry (and not the Vogon variety either). They both their lower bodies into the swing, generating a ton of power and bat speed. Nay, in particularly, waits back and explodes into the ball and when he connects, it goes a long way.
The last group I saw had some really nice line drive hitters. It had Rowdy Tellez, who clearly had the most pop of the group, Melvin Garcia, Kellen Sweeney and Richard Urena. Urena made some very nice contact, hitting line drives, while Garcia was probably making the most consistent, hard contact, hitting the ball deep to the outfield a lot. This is probably an important year for him, and he needs to translate that good pop into game situations (more on that in part 2).
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