Last Saturday I had the good fortune of seeing the Power play and getting to talk to a few people around the organization. The Power started the game in an eight run hole but a nine run uprising in the 7th gave the Power the victory. I'd like to share some thoughts on some of the players I saw here and more will be coming on this trip later.
The good news was I was able to see Seidel, Frederickson, and Wooten pitch in one night. The bad news was Siedel, Frederickson and Wooten all had to pitch that night.
Seidel is the local kid made good out of Damian Miller's hometown of La Crosse. Seidel was a 16th round pick last year but pitched well in Rookie ball last year and had been doing well for the Power much of the year though he has struggled lately. His change-up was supposed to be his best pitch but pitching coach John Curtis mentioned he was having a lot of trouble locating it this year and that was certainly the case this outing.
After giving up a hot shot through the box to the lead off hitter he served up a change-up middle/in to the next batter and he went deep to dead center. He did come back to break what I am guessing was a maple bat on a change-up in his second inning of work and when he got that pitch down in the zone it did look like it could be effective.
His fastball touched 90 but was mostly in the 86-88 region and he also threw a curveball, which was his best off speed pitch that night, in the low 70's. Seidel got hit hard in the two innings he worked and didn't get a single swing and a miss the entire night.
Frederickson listed five pitches in his BCB interview (Thanks Battlekow) that he said he threw but when I talked to Curtis he only mentioned the fastball, slider, and change up. There had been rumors that his velocity was down and sadly when I was watching him he was working in the mid 80's and touched 89 on the gun. That wouldn't be so bad if he was dialing it back to get some more control but he was all over the place and threw 12 strikes in 32 pitches.
He had little control of his fastball and all of his off speed pitches were up in the zone. Even his strikeout came on a hanging change up. His slider really looked sluvy to me and I would guess that my pitch identification algorithm would call it a curveball. He throws it in the low 70's and it seems to have some downward movement but every time he threw it it ended up above the strike zone. He clearly was trying to use the pitch as a "get ahead" type of pitch as he threw it on the first or second pitch every time.
Wooten has kind of moved into the closers role for the Power but pitched in the 7th inning on Saturday. I believe that was his first professional win so that was kind of cool as he came into the game with the score 8-1. Wooten came into the game and threw a nasty slider at the knees on the black for strike one and proceeded to make the Delmarva hitters look foolish with that pitch for the inning he worked getting two strike outs and a weak little grounder. His slider may be a big league pitch right now as it has tremendous movement and he really locates the pitch well. He can either throw it for a strike or start it on the corner and have it fall off down and away. It really is a good pitch for him.
The bad news was his fastball was in the mid 80's and touched 87 once. He threw one split which got the strikeout on the last batter, the only lefty he faced. He is extremely polished and probably could handle A+ right now and maybe could be skipped to AA next year. If he can get his velocity back to the high 80's and touching low 90's, like he said in his interview, he can probably be an effective reliever but you just don't see too many right handed pitchers throwing a 85 MPH heater out of the pen in the show for a good reason.
I know, you are thinking who is this guy? I had no idea either until I saw him pitch. He is a 19 year old Dominican with a blazing fastball that has some serious movement to it. He touched 96 on the gun and was working in the 93-94 range all night. Control has obviously been an issue for him this season but he had it working on Saturday getting nothing but strike outs and ground balls.
It is very irregular for a guy who throws mid 90's to be a groundball specialist but Lambertus is definitely that. Maybe think of a younger Salomon Torres. He came in and stranded two runners with only one out and then got through two more innings of clean work getting two double plays in the process. With his decent strikeout numbers and large groundball splits he could be effective getting out of jams in the future as well. Lambertus' off speed pitches are nothing to write home about. I mean if he had even a decent slider to go with the fastball that would be probably all he would need but if he had that we would have heard of him by now.
He is only 19 so he is pretty young for the league and has been pitching better of late. With the down and in movement on his fastball to right handed batters he likely is going to have control issues all his career but he has the stuff to walk a few batters and get away with it. Obviously a decent off speed pitch would be a boon but Torres for instance, throws his sinker more than 70% of the time so that one pitch could take him pretty far.
The Power were held to one run on a wild pitch in the first six innings against the Delmarva started but when the bullpen came in the flood gates opened. Delmarva's starter was lefty Zachary Britton who has pitched well this year. He features a upper 80's fastball, slider, and a nasty change up that really had the Power batters on their heels.
When I saw Mat Gamel facing a lefty it was clear why he was having success against lefties as he stays in and went the other way. Gindl, not so much. He was pull happy all game as all three of the balls he put in play went to the right of the second baseman (as he was looking at it). He did end up with two hits on the night after the lefty starter left the game on a seeing eye grounder and a liner in to shallow right but while Britton was in the game he looked rather overmatched. This is something not too surprising from a 20 year old in A ball.
Defensively though is where he really had issues. When the game started the sun was setting in his eyes and badly misplayed two balls both over his head. The first was back and to his left and the sun really shouldn't have been a problem there but he took a horrible route of left then back and wasn't in the same area code as the ball slammed off the wall. The Delmarva hitter stood in the box admiring his work a little too long or he might have had a shot at three bases. The second came an inning later and a similarly hit ball was back and to his right. This time you could see him visibly shielding his eye (no sunglasses!) as he tried to get to make his way over. This ball short hopped the wall and probably could have been corralled if he had gotten over their quickly enough. There was a runner on first in this case so Gindl did gather the ball quickly and threw a strike to the cut off man from the warning track keeping the runner at third. Obviously Gindl is holding his own in this league and should easily be promoted to A+ next year but skipping a level is probably not in his future.
Fryer had caught the game before and after a long bus ride home from New Jersey he was DH'ing on Saturday. So I didn't get a chance to see him behind the plate but he impressed at the plate. He drew two walks and had an opposite field double off the wall in left. He got ahead in all five of his at bats and even the pitches he made outs on where pitches he should have been swinging at. He didn't swing and miss during the night either.
Fryer is a pretty big guy and from the sound of it didn't take to the outfield too well so I am guessing behind the plate or first base are his real options. It is nice that he has turned things around after a poor showing in rookie ball last year but you wonder what his future is in the organization. There likely are three catchers ahead of him and oodles of players who either are at first or might end up at first. Still, it never hurts to have catching depth and one who controls the plate well might make the A's or Padres salivate.
Schafer does not control the strike zone well as you might expect from looking at his stats. He was fooled badly by some breaking balls and came up empty four times with three of them on balls that were out of the zone. He did go 2 for 5 and punished two fastballs including one of only two hits against Britton (Schafer is a lefty so that is kind of meaningful).
The Sally league is a fastball league like the Midwest league. Batters are going to see a ton of fastballs as pitchers are learning to command that pitch so I suspect that Schafer is feasting on fastballs right now. That said, his line drive rate is insanely high right now and he is showing really good doubles power so the tools are there. He had a easy night in right so I won't make any comments on his defense.
Wheeler is kind of a shorter player who reminds me of Calix Crabbe for those of you who saw him play at Beloit or someplace else. Wheeler too is just 21 so he has some room to grow and there are already some nice things in his game. First, he ranged way to his left in the hole to get to a ball and then made a nice throw from his knees to just get a runner. He also showed good plate discipline getting ahead in the count several times. One led to a walk and one lead to a monster home run when a reliever came inside. He isn't very big but the ball really flies off his bat.
He did have some trouble against off speed pitches and it was rather clear the game plan was away, away, away and still all three balls he put in play he pulled. Also, he was a bit slow turning the double play and boy did he have a lot of opportunities that night. His arm also doesn't look the strongest but it probably is good enough to stick at second.
Wilson was rather aggressive at the plate seeing only nine pitches in four at bats. He did make some nice contact when he did hit the ball but did swing and miss several times as well. Wilson was playing first not third and didn't have to make any out of the ordinary plays in the field. He is a little older than Gindl and Wheeler so he should be playing well at this level at 22. The next couple of years will be make or break for him and honestly I'd rather have a guy like Wheeler who might turn into a decent player at a premium defensive position than Wilson whose ceiling probably isn't a starter as a corner infielder.