Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
With the start of the regular season just 2 weeks away, the overriding concern is whether the team will be ready. From the hitting standpoint, the team is standing in a good position to carry themselves very nicely at this point. The one thing that we are not lacking is hitters. Added to the mix, it appears the bunt is going to play an integral part in our game plan. For example, today Jack Scanlon fooled everyone by executing a perfect bunt down the third base line fooling the defense who had the shift on leaving 3rd base wide open. Also, I saw some of our batters taking advantage of the shift hitting to the opposite field. I am hoping this year they continue the trend of being more aggressive on the bases. JD is still utilizing everyone in rotating them through all the positions on the field. It will be interesting who he finally decides upon. It appears every position is up for grabs; both infield and the outfield. As for our pitching that is a whole different story. The only pitcher that seems ready for opening day is Rafe Schlesinger. He is by far above and beyond anyone else on the pitching roster. I have not seen enough of Herick Hernandez, Drew Dwyer, Nick Robert, Myles Caba to warrant giving a valid evaluation. I think JD as number 2 has decided on Gage Ziehl who probably right now is about right but even Gage isn’t exactly a solid #2. The one pitcher who has fallen completely from grace has been Chris Scinta. Another bad outing today added to his miserable fall preseason and last week. He just lost control of finding the strike zone and when he does, he pays the price. The other pitcher I feel has had his opportunity to start and has blown it has been Ben Chestnutt. Good for one inning and possibility two but most definitely should not be in the running for a starting role. Then the big question mark is what will Brian Walters bring to the table once he is healthy and joins the rotation. All questions will start to be unraveled in a couple of weeks. Let’s hope we have a sleeper in the BP that will light up the Light.
Six innings on tap today showcasing 4, two of which are scheduled for starting roles. Scouts were out to observe Rafe and they were not disappointed. He put on a pitching clinic, striking out 8 for the 4 innings pitched of scoreless ball. The second and third innings 3up/3down all via the K. He appeared to be getting tired in the 4th walking two but finished the day without giving up a hit.
Gage on the other hand had a rough opening with an opening walk to Dorian Gonzalez, followed by getting the next two outs only to have JD Urso connecting with an RBI double, an RBI single by Carlos Perez, and finishing with Dorian returning for his second go around and singling. Not a good look for a potential starter. Gage bounced back the three remaining innings pitching scoreless ball. Did give up a double in the second with a pair of outs to Daniel Cuvet. The third was much improved going 3up/3down. His 4th was a shaky start with a lead-off single from Dorian followed by hitting Gaby. Settled in getting the next three to end his rotation for the day.
The final two innings were hosted by Chris Scinta and Slaide Naturman. A definite dropoff in pitching performance. Each got a taste of being pounced on with the long ball. Chris was the first to feel the bite. Chris walked the first two batters on 9 pitches. Did not have the first strike called until the 6th pitch. Took a momentary time out to take Jack Scanlon all the way to the right field wall only to walk the next batter to load the bases bringing Antonio Jimenez to the plate. Jack couldn’t make it over the fence but not so from Antonio who went the distance over the left field fence clearing the bases. Like his last outing, Chris had yet to record a single out. It finally took one more inning to break the ice and maybe, just maybe Chris might be on the road to redemption. After an opening single by AJ Goytia who was caught stealing second(bad call from the ump), then proceeded to get the next two batters faced. Chris has come a long way from last year where he was our go-to pitcher practically on the first call to the BP. Overused and possibly suffering from it. Hopefully, he can dig himself out of the trench he has dug for himself and return to being someone we can rely upon when the call is needed, and believe me the call will be coming. The question is who will be there to answer.
Wrapping up today was Slaide Naturman. His first inning without a run scored but ran into an opening punch by Daniel Cuvet hitting a barn burner way over the scoreboard in left. Don’t know how far it traveled but definitely over 400 feet. Slaide a bit shaken, walked Carrier and settled down striking out Jack Scanlon and and missed the opportunity of recording the 2nd out with an E5 (Dorian) putting runners on 2nd and 3rd. This brought Jimenez to the plate after recording the grand slam the previous inning. Slaide already faced Carrier and Scanlon both very capable of going long and survived. Now he had to face another long bomber tasting to drive another one over the fence. Slaide won the battle but Antonio still got the RBI with a long drive to the fence in right(SF9). He would face two more batters before his day and the scrimmage was declared over.
Offensively, another good day for the bats. 10 hits, 6 coming in the final two innings along with 6 of the 8 runs on the board. Shows a lot of what to expect from the BP which becomes critical that our starters must be able to go deep. Three batters with multiple hits: Carlos Perez 2-3(RBI); Dorian Gonzalez 2-3:and Daniel Cuvet 2-2(double,HR,RBI). Additionally, JD Urso had a double and Antonio Jimenez a grand slam HR (5RBI) capping off the extra-base hits for today.
Go at it again tomorrow which is Fan Appreciation Day scheduled for an entire day of activities starting at 130PM and ending with a 6.5-inning intrasquad scrimmage beginning at 630PM. Hope to see everyone there for a fun day at the Light .