Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
The most anticipated event for the fall preseason. Both players and coaches look forward to this event as it marks an end to a month of hard practices/scrimmages and for our new signees a whole new brand of baseball to be learned. For some, it is the beginning of their journey toward what most hope for: an MLB signing. For others, it’s cut date as after the scrimmage concludes so might their career in Orange and Green uniform. The roster has to be trimmed from the current 39 to at least 35 and probably as low as 32 as Gino and the coaches review the resume of all the players to determine who goes and who stays. While the coaches are using this day for decision-making time, the scouts, who turned out in mass, have come for their first look at the 2023 team and take copious notes of those eligible for the draft.
Prior to the start of today‘s scrimmage of those eligible pitchers available for the draft, the skills competition took place for the position players. The 60 Yard dash to determine the fastest was won by Lorenzo Carrier. It was my understanding that only those eligible competed. Outfielders competed next. Scouts were looking for strength and accuracy. My observation, no one had a rocket arm, but as to the accuracy and best throw to 3rd and home from RF, it was a toss-up between Dario Gomez and Lorenzo Carrier. The infield is pretty well solidified as to who will be playing where. The left side of the infield was a no-brainer with Yoyo at 3rd and Dominic at short being two of the best in all of college baseball. Expect Yoyo being selected in the first round. Being on the USA National Team this summer, I heard he excelled. Dominic’s arm is second to none making the impossible, possible. As to the right side of the IF, you have CJ Kayfus at 1st and Dorian Gonzalez at second. Freshman Blake Cyr has been the outstanding freshman this fall season and if anyone, has made his bid for short or second. His hitting is far ahead of his peers, but where he lacks is his defensive skills which he needs to work on. Error-prone and not the strongest arm compared to Dominic or Dorian. Expect to see him in the starting line-up next season, barring any injuries this season to Dorian and Dominic. Gino will utilize him this season as DH and PH. As to the catcher, No doubt the call will be to Carlos Perez as the primary. Coaches are high on Jack Scanlon, a transfer from Oregon who definitely can hit, but my concern with him along with our other two catchers is the quickness and accuracy of their throw. None of them are consistent in their throw to second and Scanlon in particular is high off the mark. I personally like JD Jones for his making contact with the ball rarely striking out. Probably has the weakest of the 3 on arm strength, but is closer to the mark than the other two. I don’t think any team will be hesitant to steal on any of them. All are inconsistent in their throw to second.
The conclusion of the skills competition was batting practice. I am sure the scouts were looking for swing and being able to place the ball to all parts of the field. Barring that, I noted in addition to who had the “difference maker” with their bat. For us, based on our history, small ball does not cut the mustard. It is the downtown express over the fences that are going to win us ballgames. That and being able to hit with runners in scoring position, which killed us last year not being able to do so. Three of our hitters (Jason Torres, Jack Scanlon, CJ Kayfus) collected a pair of HRs that easily left the yard. Adrian Dominguez, Gaby Gutierrez, and Zach Levenson each had one for distance. Long ball and being able to lay down a bunt are the two areas that are difference makers. Lastly, being more aggressive in running the bases is a concern that needs addressing.
Skills competition completed, we moved on to today‘s final scrimmage of the season featuring 8 of those eligible for the draft. Each pitcher had two innings to impress the scouts. Gino and JD set it up that the pitchers that the scouts wanted to see most pitched first. That being said, Andrew Walters and Alejandro Rosario were first out of the gate. Remembering my comments last week after seeing Andrew pitched, I felt he could do the team the best returning to the Closer position. His first inning reconfirmed what I observed last week. Jacoby Long opened with a double, followed by back-to-back walks to Edgardo Villegas and CJ Kayfus to load the bases. Zach Levenson struck out looking, but then commits an error,E1, on a grounder hit back to him, resulting in all runners being safe and Jacoby scoring. That is how inning one ended on a negative note. Second Inning 3up/3down. More like you expect to see from him. Gino over the holiday break is going to have to decide where he wants to place Andrew, which will be a difficult one because we don’t have three quality pitchers that can give us 6 or 7 innings and on a close game you want someone to come into the 8th inning and shut the door. This is what Andrew gave us last year. When he came in, you knew the game was over. My vote is for Closer.
Opposite Andrew was Alejandro Rosario, who was a mixed bag last year. Has the highest velocity speed, but his problem is control. Will give you a couple of good innings, but we need to be looking for someone to give us 6 or 7 which has not been in his offering. Today, he gave the scouts exactly what they were looking for striking out the side in the first giving up a hit to Yoyo who never got beyond 1st. The second inning only needed three batters to retire the side picking up his 4th strikeout. As I said, if he is hot, he is hot. when he is not, he is definitely not. Again, needs to get beyond the 5th which seemed to be his barrier last year if in fact he made it to the 5th.
The next set of pitchers Ronaldo Gallo and Alejandro Torres. Ronaldo had a terrible outing last week and if not for having anyone to replace him, should not even be considered to start. He has not had a good preseason. His first inning was the Ronaldo of old striking out 2 of the 3 batters faced. His second inning, not so. He opened walking Edgardo, followed by CJ with a single putting runners on 1st and 2nd. Double steal advanced both runners setting up an RBI single from Zach scoring the first run of the inning with Dorian completing the 5 man set with a single of his own for the second run.
Unless something happens between now and the start of the actual season, I don’t see Ronaldo is making it to be one of our starters. Again, we don’t have much to pick from as being a No Doubter.
Alejandro Torres, the other half of the duo gave us two scoreless innings doing so on the full complement of 5 batters.
The third set of pitchers, Ben Chestnutt and Carlos Lequerica has the toughest outing of the day. Each gave up 3 runs over the course of their scheduled 2 innings. Ben, who I saw for the first time last week had a great outing and I was very complimentary of his performance. Not so this week. In his first inning, he started off with a lead-off single to Jason Torres. Walked Jack Scanlon and with a single by Adrian Dominguez loaded the bases. Walked in a run with Yoyo bailing him out with Blake Cyr hitting into a 5-4-3 DP. Second inning, Dario Gomez opened with a single, got picked off at first, only to have Yoyo come back with another single, stealing second, and comes on home along with Carlos Perez who drove the ball over the wall in left-center. Ended his 5th man rotation on an Ian Farrow single. Not a good showing after a very good outing last weekend.
Carlos Lequerica had similar results with a run in his first and two in the second. One out single by Jacoby Long and Edgardo bing hit set up the first score. Runners on 1st and 2nd, CJ single through the middle scoring Long. The next inning, a no-doubter to the deepest part of the park by Kaden Martin to open the scoring in the bottom half of the 6th. Kaden has seen limited duty this preseason, hitting only. He is our only two-way player playing the OF and pitching left-handed. Also, a football player if baseball fails him. Definitely has power. Again he is one of 10 OFers. Would like to see him pitch, if able during the preseason this spring. The second run set up on a one-out single by Jack Scanlon and Ray Bermuda single to drive him in for the second run. Don’t know enough about Carlos to determine where he is at in the depth charts. Only seen him pitch once before.
Last set of pitchers Karson Ligon and Rafe Schlesinger. Thought I would see both earlier in the rotation. By the time they came around to pitch, most of the scouts had seen who they wanted and had bailed. Karson started last year and probably will do so again this season. Gino might be looking at both for other purposes. One person I did not see pitch yesterday was Gage Ziehl. Also a possible starter but might be on the IR list. Gage was last year’s set up which what Gino has in mind for Karson or Rafe or even Closer which would not be my choice. Mine, I stick with Andrew.
Both were scoreless performances with Karson going 6up/6down and Rafe had to face 5 batters with BL in the 7th before striking out a very unhappy Carlos Perez. Rafe’s final inning 3up/3down. Both in the running for starting roles either weekend or mid-week.
Offensively, only two players with multiples numbers: Yoyo Morales 2-3 and CJ Kayfus also 2-3 (RBI). One extra base hit: Jacoby Long (double) and two HRs: Kaden Martin (RBI); Carlos Perez(2RBIs).
That brings the curtain down for the fall preseason. Hopefully, the recaps have given you a better perspective on this year’s team. Still have preseason in Jan before Alum day a week prior to opening day 17 Feb with a weekend series against Penn State. Still have plenty of time to learn the players so when the season starts you will be more than prepared to know the players and enjoy the 2023 season with a better perspective on what is happening.
Enjoy the Holidays and see you back in January.