There is not a whole lot can say that was not covered by the excellent gameday coverage from Rattler Radio, but I can bring some scouting insight from last night's Timber Rattler opener. I was not in any prime seats, but I got some general impressions from the opening game. Here is what I have, organized by player.
Brett Lawrie, 2B Most of us have seen clips of him hitting before, but those do not do justice to how smooth he is. I love his bat-pump timing mechanism, if you have not seen him hit, he works from an open stance with a long, slow bat pump and then makes one tap on the shoulder before lifting his shoulders and taking a big swing. He did not have a hit, but started off the game-winning rally by reaching on an error. He looked really smooth out at second base, turning two double plays and generally ranging well from side to side. I think he has a future there, but I am of course not a professional scout.
Cody Scarpetta, RSP I do not know how accurate Fox Cities Stadium's gun is, but I saw a few readings for Scarpetta in the low 90s, and it was pretty cold out there tonight. Hitters were having all kind of trouble making contact, he had 8 strikeouts and 1 walk in 4 innings. I do not think he will be in low A for all of this year, there is a lot of talent and he looks like he is well ahead of these hitters. The curveball is definitely worth its reputation as an out pitch, it was in the low to mid 70s-- it is a power curve-- and he got a ton of swings and misses on it. I struggled to find a comparison for his windup and pitching style. He is a pretty big guy, not too imposing out there, and his mechanics are smooth. He would be a "Generic 1" windup in a video game, I think. He draws back nicely and has a really clean delivery. Maybe someone else that was there can come up with a good comparison for his pitching motion.
Shawn Zaragga, C I was hoping to see him play tonight, but he was not in the opening night lineup, a minor league drifter named Sean McCraw started instead. Many of us are curious to see if Zaragga's rookie league performance can translate into his elevation to another top catching prospect in the system.
Efrain Nieves, LSP I have been excited about him for a long time, and that has not changed after watching him pitch. He is big and lanky. His mechanics remind me a bit of Manny Parra's, with a bit more length and movement mixed in-- think of a lefthanded mix of Parra and maybe Ubaldo Jiminez of the Rockies, and he uses the hands-over-head windup as those two do at times. The highest number I saw for Nieves was 88, but as I mentioned he pitched in the later innings when people in the crowd could see their breath in the cold air. He struck out 6 and walked 1 in his 3 innings. I was particularly impressed by his command and sheer filthiness of his offspeed pitches, he was getting awkward swings and misses. I am really excited about this guy and I think he, Scarpetta, and Wily Peralta (who did not pitch tonight) will be moving up in the system at some point this year.
Cutter Dykstra, CF He lined one hard single and had a few chances in center field. Nothing really stood out about him. I did not observe him to be particularly speedy, but he was not slow, either. He looks to be a solid athlete but I think a good full year in low A will do him a lot of good.
Erik Komatsu, RF He looks awfully small for a cleanup hitter. No balls were Komalished by Erik, but he did have one hit. He looks pretty smooth out in right, but we are going to need more to go off of before we can make a judgement of his potential as a prospect. As a hitter, he reminded me of the few clips I have seen of Caleb Gindl. He has a nice, tight, compact swing.
Erik Miller, LF Everybody's favorite fighting artichoke and the subject of a really good interview from battlekow last fall (check out the interview section here, several other Timber Rattlers are included), Miller got the start in left field and hit ninth. He is pretty much the opposite of Komatsu-- he is big and looks strong, and hits with an upright stance. He hit a deep double, probably the hardest hit ball of the night for the T-Rats. He could wind up on the prospect radar with a solid season in low A.
Liam Ohlmann, RRP He was not particularly impressive in his inning of work. The velocity topped out at about 85, and struggled with the control. I credit him with getting through the inning unscathed after starting out with two walks.
Brock Kjeldgaard, 1B One mystery solved-- I guess the last name is pronounced simply "Kel-guard". He did not do much at the plate, but he is surprisingly fast for a first basemen and almost stole a base. His stance looks a lot like Miller's as a tall righthander.
Michael Marseco, SS I had not heard the name before tonight's game, but Marseco hit second and played short and it looks like he had a decent season at Helena last year. His defense was solid but unspectacular, he looks to be more of a slap-hitter with not much power, however. Time will tell if he develops into a prospect capable of moving up the chain of affiliates.
That is all I have for tonight. The highlight of the game for me was watching a guy with four beers in a tray, walking back to his seat, dive for a foul ball in some seats and spill half of the beer on a kid who was also fighting for the ball. The kid got the ball, but also got drenched. Such is the price of glory.
I will be at some more T-Rats games this year, and I will work on shooting some video. Was anyone else at the opener, and if so, do your observations match up with mine?