Mike Kaffee

Hurricanes Baseball Reporter
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With the festivities of last night’s event behind them, the team returned to scrimmage one last time in preparation for the opening weekend against NJ Tech. There were a few surprises last night as to pitching and concern as to where our hitting has gone. It was back to work today for 7.5 innings with the BP getting the call for duty. Hitting production, improved immeasurably and a few of our pitchers moved up in the depth charts, while one continues to plummet deeper into oblivion to ever be considered to have a starting role. Today also validated that one of our go-to middle relievers from last year, just is not the same as he once was. For the next few weeks, players will be juggling starting assignments. With a 4 game series next weekend, almost everyone will be given the opportunity to strike their mark.

Like Scout Day, the teams were once again divided up into two separate teams which made for a much more enthusiastic session. Ben Chestnutt and Jordan Vargas got the opening call to pitch  5 innings.

I have been very vocal as to my opinion as to Ben being considered for another shot of being our mid-week starter and today he added more fuel to the fire. I felt that the best we can ask of him is possibly one and maybe two innings of productive results. Today he gave us three, but come the 4th and 5th, he was the Chestnutt that had his “chestnuts roasted” giving up 4 runs in the 4th and 2 in the 5th. He opened facing off against Jacoby Long trying to fight his way back into contention as the CF starter. Returning to the lineup after a long absence he had a lot of ground to make up. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Players like Jake Kulikowski and Lucas Costello took advantage of his absence. Lucas’s play has been worthy enough to probably earn himself the starting slot in right. If Jacoby continues to hit like he has he might sooner rather than later return to center moving Edgardo to left and pushing Carrier into the DH slot. Lorenzo has much improved seeing the ball with his move from right to left but has a lot more to offer with his bat rather than with his glove.

Getting back to the game, Jacoby on first, with a lead-off single, gets to third on an APO by Chestnutt (E1) getting by first showing the speed of Jacoby. Lucas Costello, coming off of a 2 HR performance last night, continued to add to his resume with a SF to right. The next two innings were what we would expect from a reliever striking out three, no runs, and allowing a single hit to Lucas. the 4th inning became “roasting” time. Not completing the inning after 8 batters to the plate was enough seen. Walk, double, walk, single (squeeze bunt) before recording his first out not a very impressive beginning. Giving up his third walk for the inning was more than enough to wave the white flag and retire for another inning. The next inning was even uglier. Only half the runs on the board but Ben just ran out of gas. Opening doubles to Cyr and Torres and it appeared Scanlon was going to try to make it three but got thrown out trying to make it back-to-back-to-back doubles. Today’s outing should forever seal in the mind of our pitching coach that any consideration for the mid-week starter is forever put to rest.   

The last I saw Jordan Vargas was the 28th of Jan and received a good report card where I concluded that ” Jordan looks to be a candidate to see a bit of action coming out of the BP”. Unlike Ben, Jordan took care of business for the first three innings only allowing a lone single in the 4th to Daniel Cuvet. Tiring in the 4th, a couple of singles, HP, to load the bases managed to work himself out of it with Edgardo flying out to left. The 5th, the hitters finally found a crack in his armor and struck for a run. The striking was initially done with a lead-off triple off the right-center wall by Dorian followed up by an RBI single by Daniel Cuvet. For the second time in two innings was faced with BL and ended the inning with a K to AJ Goytia.

Myles Caba relieved Chestnutt in the 6th and had a very short session to stretch out his arm only facing 4 batters and ending with a 5-4-3 DP. Myles will definitely be a go-to person out of the BP with the possibility for a starting mid-week role later in the season or possibly next season.

While Myles was looking good in the top half of the 6th, the same can not be said for Ashton Crowther in the bottom half. Eight batters struck for 5 runs including a 3 run-distance maker off the bat of Carlos Perez. Like his teammate, Ben Chestnutt, he never saw his 3rd out. A pair of errors by Cyr and Fernandez didn’t exactly help his cause. Other than the HR to Perez, he hit a batter, Jake Kulikowski, and relinquished an RBI single to Dorian.

Nick Robert opened the 7th with Blake reaching first on a throwing error from 3rd. Two batters later, Jack Scanlon recorded his 2nd double of the day with Gaby next in line striking with an RBI single. Nick worked himself out of further damage with a 4-6-3 DP initiated by JD Ursa.

Chris Scinta who has been struggling, not so today only needed three batters to call it a day. Dorian helped him along by getting greedy trying to stretch a single into a double and getting thrown out at 2nd by Costello.

Final half inning, honors were given to Slaide Naturman. No runs but gave up a pair of singles to Long and Costello.

Other than the 4 runs by Chestnutt in the 4th and the 5 by Crowther in the 5th, the BP had a good afternoon. Still, when all has been said and done through the course of the entire preseason, no one that I could see is a stand-out for Closer. Everyone is talking about Brian Walters when he returns but that is at least March and we have a lot of baseball between now and then and even if he is the one everyone is hoping for. I am sure JD has someone in mind and we will just have to wait if the chosen one is the real thing or if we end up Closer-By-Committee.

Hitting today we saw a lot more productivity from last night and the past couple of scrimmages. One of our most prolific sessions with 20 hits spread out among 12 hitters. Five players with multiple hits: Dorian Gonzalez 3-5(triple,RBI); Daniel Duvet 2-4(RBI); Jacoby Long 3-5; Lucas Costello 2-3 (RBI); Jack Scanlon 3-4(2doubles,2RBIs). Additionally doubles by: Blake Cyr and Jason Torres.

Preseason is now behind us and we move forward to where it counts. The hitting from what they showed today is ready with our three starters (my crystal ball) of Schlesinger, Hernandez, and Ziehl ready to bring home our first sweep of the 2024 season. There will be many changes throughout the course of the season of who’s in and who’s out but I think JD will take us to greener pastures by season’s end with Omaha being the ultimate goal.


3 thoughts on “SCRIMMAGE: SUNDAY 11 FEB 24

  1. Thanks Mike for all the thorough baseball coverage. If this team gets better each week, I’ll be pleased. Go Canes.

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