Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
Final day of the fall preseason had a very large showing of MLB scouts on hand to watch 7 pitchers who were draft eligible displayed their abilities in what they hope will leave a lasting impression and possibly taking that next big step towards a major league career. Prior to the scrimmage, they had the skills competition to determine the fleetest of foot and best throwing arm from our outfielders. Taking the honors were Jacoby Long for the fastest and Lorenzo Carrier for the best arm. As for batting practice, saw many a ball flying out of the park and you heard from some watching that they wish they could see the same during the regular season. With all the pop coming off the bat that left the park, not a single one was seen to do so during the actual scrimmage. The pitching was as expected dominating over the hitting, but still there was a fair amount of hits rendered; more than I would have expected. While the hits were being punched out(15), 5 for extra bases, the runs were kept fairly much in check. I felt Gino showcased the pitching order in the order he felt presented the best chance of making it to the next level and the pitchers that the scouts most wanted to see. The one pitcher not seen due to his eligibility was Carson Palmquest who I give the best of the best. The question with him: starter of finisher. This will be the ongoing question until we see the scorecard as to the starter come Friday night 18 Feb against Towson
Each of our 7 hurlers threw 2 innings apiece starting with Jake Garland and Alex McFarlane. Both are probably leading contenders for the weekend starting roles. While Jake won’t overwhelm you with super speed(high 80’s) he must be throwing a good deal of junk striking out 5 of the 6 batters he faced. Only a walk to Carlos Perez blemished his perfect outing. Definitely made his points. May not have enough speed for the scouts to wet their appetite. On the other side of the coin was Alex whose ball travelled in the high 90’s. Saw the gun once or twice record 97. With all that speed, with contact with the bat, the ball finds the openings quicker. While he pitched two scoreless innings, he had his moments of concern. In the 1st inning one out back to back singles by Henry Wallen and Lorenzo Carrier had runners on the corners. JP Gates and Gaby Gutierrez (two of our better Hitters) were not able to get the job done. In the 2nd inning, a triple by Jacob Burke, tried to stretch it home after the ball got by 3B, and was easily thrown out at home as Jacob went airborne trying to dive over the catcher. That was the first in many seen today in poor choices in base running.
Andrew Walters and Jordan Dubberly were matched of in the next set of 2 innings. Andrew had an easy 3rd going 3 up/3down with a pair of strikeouts.His second inning was led off with a single by Jacoby Long who stole second. This was the first of 7 steals today, all successful, which showed a lot more aggressiveness that I have seen this preseason. Long advanced to 3rd on a miscommunication with Pitelli throwing the ball into center. One out single by Yoyo brought in the run . Opposite Andrew was Jordan who got off to a shaky start. Zach Levenson led off the 3rd with a single, advancing to second on a PB, and crossing plate for the first run on an RBI single by Dominic Pitelli advancing to second on the throw in. Dominic not satisfied with the view at second easily steals third. This set up the second run with Carlos Perez registering the second run with a 1-4-3 ground out which ricochet off of Dubberly’s arm.
Next set of pitchers had Anthony Arguellles and Ronaldo Gallo. Anthony opened with a double by Zach Levenson who also had the itch to stretch a double into a triple and easily cut down going into third by the throwing arm of Lorenzo Carrier. 6th had a runner on third set up by a one out single by Henry Wallen, stole second, and advancing to 3rd on throwing error by the catcher. Ronaldo had a scoreless first inning on an unusual DP. Long had a one out walk followed by CJ Kayfus flying out to left. Long got carried away with himself went to second and after seeing the mistake of his ways went back to first but forgot to retouch second enroute back to first and was called out for this omission. The following inning, the 6th, not that fortunate. Three walks, PB,WP resulting in one run and a SF by Carlos Perez scoring a second run.
For the last draft eligible pitcher Matt Raudelunas he was teamed up against Alejandro Rosario (not daft eligible) who only pitched one inning and gave one of the better performances going 3up/3down. Matt saw a few runners on base in his first inning on the mound but only one run scoring with an opposite field (shift) single by Jacob Burke bringing in Yoyo who opened the inning with a double. 5-3 DP got Matt out of the inning with that Sole run. A lead off double in the 8th by Edgardo Villegas which only saw Edgardo reaching 3rd before Ariel Garcia striking out ended the preseason 2021.
Offensively, several of our extra base hits were accounted from our OFer not using sunglasses and having the ball lost in the sun. This is inexcusable and they should never have left the dugout without them. I blame the coaching staff but the players should know better. Hope lesson learned. Offensively, aside from no sunglasses, we had 6 players in multiple numbers. This is the most I saw the entire preseason. Yoyo Morales 2-3 (double,RBI); Dominic Pitelli 2-2 (RBI); Henry Wallen 2-2; Lorenzo Carrier 2-3; Jacob Burke 2-3 (triple,RBI); Zach Levenson 2-3 (double). Additionally, Edgardo Villegas (double); JD Jones(double) included in today‘s honor role.
This puts the wrap of the fall preseason. Before signing off for the 2021 season let me throw out my starting lineup for opening day as I see it at this point. Probably updated before opening day but from what I have seen I leave you with my crystal ball forecast: 1B: CJ Kayfus; 2B: Henry Wallen; SS: Dominic Pitelli; 3B: Yoyo Morales; C: Carlos Perez; LF: Gaby Gutierrez; CF: Jacoby Long; RF: Jacob Burke DH: JP Gates. Starters: Carson Palmquest, Jake Garland, Alejandro Rosario, and Andrew Walters (midweek).
The outfield we are loaded as been typical for us the past several years. RF is where I had trouble with. Didn’t know where to stick Burke because he plays CF and Left. Carrier can hit and has been playing right but he can’t field. You also have Renzo Gonzalez and Zach Levenson who are also good hitters and of course Edgardo Villegas who has really improved and likely candidate for right. This is a rich OF and whoever is hitting will be starting. For consistent hitting, right now I stick with What I listed even though RF is a total question mark. Catcher is a toss up between Romero and Perez. They are both going to be used and the night they are not playing possibly DH. Another selection for the DH rotation is Lorenzo Carrier who a hitter and far outweighs his fielding skills. The scouts I spoke with since I was late for the skills competition had Carrier with the best arm. This has always been our weak area and opposing teams have taken advantage of this. The last position I had as a toss up was second in which I really like Jose Izarra and would not be surprise to see him starting at second sooner than later if Wallen falters. Everything I see in my crystal ball is based on an injury free outlook. It is a long season, so expect many changes as has been every year.
Let’s hope our starters stay long, and our hitters do likewise. We have HR power in our lineup. What we don’t have is a BP Which is possibly our Achilles Heel. All will tell in just a few months when we host Towson for the kickoff 2022 season.