|The Kenai River: legendary fishing destination for tourists
and Oilers baseball players alike.
Photo credit: CC/Frank K.
Late last night I posted the Glacier Pilots’ Players to Watch. I figured, what the heck, why not rally and whip out the Oilers’ PTW while I’m at it? So I did. The following is the list of players who I have found interesting on the Oilers 2010 roster. Once again, these are not necessarily the best players, but the ones who have some interesting combination of things like talent, notable performances, background stories, prospect buzz, etc. At the end are a list of “peripheral vision” guys, ones to keep track of who are also interesting but I didn’t really have enough to write a whole blurb about. And of course, I’m always open to the idea that there could be a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered on the team, so if you’ve got a bead on a guy that I overlooked please let me know!
As an aside, one thing that I found particularly hilarious is the number of recruits who, under the “personal” section of their biography pages on their school websites, have “loves fishing” written. I’m really curious as to whether or not that has anything to do at all with their decision to play in Alaska, particularly Kenai. I’ve been reading the great book Diamonds in the Rough and it seems like the one constant in this league throughout the years has been the guys who come up to play baseball and end up spending more time on the river than the field.
RHP Kyle Barraclough
Sophomore – 6’3″ 200lb
Barraclough was the workhorse of the 2009 Oilers’ phenomenal pitching staff, leading the team’s starting pitchers in ERA (1.42), starts (9), and IP (57.0). He finished the year with a 2.61 (47/18) K/BB ration and a BAA of .178. He will obviously be a key second-year player for the Oilers in 2010. Can he do it again, or was 2010 a fluke? We’ll find out.
Tyler Grimes is a little bit amazing to me. As a freshman with Wichita State, he did pretty darn good. But I guess he’s not the kind of guy to settle for “pretty darn good” because his little project during the off-season last year was to learn to switch hit. Is that the kind of thing you can just teach yourself over the winter at 19 years of age? I don’t know. That’s why I want to watch him to find out. He’s a natural rightie, so let’s see if he can take some decent cuts from the left-handed side of the plate. There’s a little bit about this and more on the Baseball Draft Report; they seem to think he’s a pretty solid pro prospect for the 2011 draft and like his work on the defensive side of the coin. Plus “Grimes” is a sweet name.
IF/OF/RHP Stephen Piscotty
Freshman – 6’3″ 195lb
This is a guy I’m really excited about for several reasons. As a freshman he’s started every game this season for Stanford. He was a late-round draft pick of the Dodgers (and his draft stock will definitely rise). He can play pretty much anywhere on the field except catcher, and that includes pitching. Finally, I found his 2009 draft scouting video on MLB.com and I just love his swing. He looks like he’s just whipping the ball with a short stride and quick bat speed.
3B/RHP Garrett Wittels
Sophomore – 6’1″ 200lb
In case you haven’t been following the story on here (or on ESPN, or MLB.com, etc.) we’re talking about a guy who has quite the little hitting streak going. At the time of writing, he’s got the second-best all-time division 1 hitting streak to himself and he’s a mere four games shy of Robin Ventura’s record of 58 games. So, yeah, I guess the kid can hit. But what’s got lost in the shuffle here is that Wittels is also a two-way guy; he can also pitch. On the one hand, Wittels will be a big draw for people who want to see the guy who is making history, and his bat will give Oilers faithful hope that the team is going to improve upon last year’s timid offense. On the other hand, I’m curious to see if they Oilers will put him on the mound and how good he’ll be in that area.
Cody Kendall — 2009 Oilers workhorse, very effective
Jorge Marban — Solid reliever in Valley League last year. Likes fishing.
Eddie Orozco — 2008 West Coast League all-league honorable mention, ranked #11 prospect by PG and #8 by BA
Taylor Siemens — Picked all-conference, ace of NAIA WS contender California Baptist