Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
OH ME, OH MY. Today was supposed to be a peek at what to expect with high expectations of great things to come, but it just wasn’t to be. The major concern was whether the new class would have what this team needs the most, and that being quality pitching. Yes, today was only the first day and we only got to see 2 of the 18 pitchers on the starting roster, but one left today with a bad taste that mediocrity is all JD was able to recruit for the coming season. Brandon Olivera and Alex Valentin, both freshmen, I can summarize their performance with two words: No Control. It makes no difference how good our bats are, with no pitching you saw where that took us last year. The one thing they were expert at was their ability to issue a walk. Between the two of them, 7 batters,(Olivera 3, Valentin 4) earned free passes to first. Probably could have been worse but only facing 5 batters each per inning limited the damage to a minimum. For the first two innings, no hits were surrendered by either, and bad base running and being thrown out kept the game scoreless. Then came the third and final inning and both Humpty Dumpties fell off the wall.
First pitch by Brandon Olivera to start the preseason came at 430 PM. Lucas Costello, a senior transfer from Wake, did not have much to swing at with the first walk of the day. After Eric Fernandez, a freshman, flew out deep to center, two consecutive walks issued to Daniel Cuvet and AJ Goytia. Jack Scanlon, one of our two returning catchers threw out both trying to steal second.
Alex Valentin had similar issues with control walking Antonio Jimenez, a freshman, and Lorenzo Carrier,redshirt sophomore. Luckily for Valentin, bad base running by Jimenez got him out of what could have been the initial run of the preseason. Scanlon hit a line drive to left and Jimenez thought the ball was going to drop and was 3/4 to third before he realized oops and tried to get back to second but never even came close.
For both pitchers, they managed to get through the first with no hits and no runs but 5 walks between them. This does not give anyone a warm fuzzy feeling.
In the second inning, both pitchers calmed down a bit again giving up no hits or runs and Brandon recorded the first K of the preseason against veteran Blake Cyr. Alex did likewise with a 3up/3down inning also to including his first strikeout against Mystery Man. I call him this because he was wearing #41, but could not be found on the roster. He must have been a walk-on from the tryouts that were held last month.
In the third and final inning, the bats finally came alive which would have knocked both pitchers off the mound. Gaby Gutierrez, returnee, started off the inning walking, setting up Renzo Gonzelez, returnee, with the first hit and first run of the game with a triple off the center field wall. Two batters later, Antonio Jimenez, doubles in Renzo with a liner down the LF line. The third run comes across on a 5-3 ground out by Carrier followed by a bad throw to third in an attempt to get Jimenez trying to advance to third. The bad throw gets by the third baseman scoring Antonio which would end the inning (5 batter Rule)
For Brandon, he failed to see his final out ending the scrimmage with BL with only one out. Jake Kulikowski, a freshman, opens the inning with a double, advancing to third on a PB. Jason Torres, returnee, brings him home on a SF to center. A walk, single, and another walk loads the bases. Luckily for Alex that is where it ends with the 5th batter of the inning.
Not a great day,pitching-wise. Have to remember this is the first time both freshmen, are facing off against collegiate hitters. They might have been lights-out in HS, but this is a whole different world. Hopefully, with seasoning, they will progress. That or they will be spending a lot of time in the BP collecting dust.
I Can’t say much offensive-wise with the limited appearances today but 2 of the 4 hits today, the doubles by Jake Kulikowski and Antonio Jimenez are new names to the roster and both freshmen. Good to see Renzo, triple today, has not lost his magical touch from last year. Hopefully, JD doesn’t have a short attention span in not utilizing him more. He saw action in the OF and 1st last year but not as a pitcher which he is also able to provide.
As for the newcomers on who to look out for, I was told to keep my eye on Daniel Cuvet, who is supposed to be the second coming. At 6’3″ 237 lbs he presents an awesome presentation at the plate and is supposed to be something else with the bat. Word has it that he will be starting at third (most probably) with Jason Torres moving to first. I watched him play third during warmups and has excellent movement and a very good arm. The same can be said of Antonio Jimenez. Most impressed with his work performance at short. Also working SS was Dorian Gonzalez who lost his position last year to Blake Cyr at second. Didn’t see anything from Blake to see whether his defensive prowess has improved and he learned how to throw the ball with authority over the summer. The talk that I have heard is that the replacement duo for Yoyo and Dom will be Cuvet and Jimenez but we have a lot of baseball ahead of us and things will start taking shape
As I earlier stated this was just a peek preview and very little to be learned from today’s scrimmage. The one thing I can say and will continue to say is if our pitching performs as they did last year it is going to be a very, very long season. I don’t care how good our hitting is. No Pitching, no wins, and definitely no Omaha.
By the end of Saturday, we will definitely have a much better look at what 2024 has in store for us. Next Scrimmage, Thurs scheduled for 3:30 PM.