Now that summer ball is almost over, summer has finally come to Alaska! We got a little break from the dreary weather for a sun-soaked, low 70′s, perfect day for baseball. It had been a while, a little too long in fact, since I’d seen a Miners game, so you know where I was headed on such a beautiful evening.
Jon Maciel threw five shutout innings, giving up two hits and two walks for the win. Frank Martinez contributed three RBIs in the form of his first homer on the season, and Nate Ring hit safely twice. Ross Mitchell gave up two earned runs over 5.1 innings and struck out six, but errors would come back to haunt him as the Oilers tacked on another pair of unearned runs. Jimmie Reed, Aaron Luchterhand, and Jake Long combined for six strikeouts over 3.2 innings of relief; Tino Lipson and Clint Freeman had a pair of hits a piece while Chris Taladay drove in two runs. But it wasn’t enough, and the Oilers prevailed by a final score of 5-3.
The full game box score is available here. Now, let’s have some player notes…
For the Miners, the best looking pitcher of the night might have been Jake Long (E. Tennessee State). First, for full disclosure, I have to say that I’m a little biased in Long’s favor because we met him at the pancake breakfast and he was a pretty cool guy. Going into this game, however, I didn’t perceive him as much of a “follow”. My mind was changed when he came on to pitch. His fastball was decent in the 88-89 range consistently; as for his other pitches it looked like he was dealing a harder curve (mid to high 70′s) with late break and a change-up about 80. So, he was working with a decent repertoire of pitches and he was very deliberate about his selection. He came into a jam (bases loaded, no outs) and slowed the game down. He allowed a run on one hit but other than that he pretty much mastered the inning. Control was better than the first time I saw him. Good stuff, great mental make-up.
Ross Mitchell (Mississippi State) got the start. He isn’t a real hard thrower, but by mixing his pitches well he picked up six strikeouts. He struggled early on but got out of the first largely unscathed; after two innings he was cruising until the sixth.
Peter Kaplan (Harvard) can throw pretty hard, around 90-91 with the fastball. He looked pretty sharp getting two quick strikes on the first batter but ended up walking the bases loaded. He showed a curve in his warm-ups and occasionally against the three batters he faced, but he seemed reluctant to go to it, instead leaning on his heater. And since he couldn’t hit the zone with the fastball, he had trouble getting an out.
Chris Taladay (Central Florida) had an interesting time at third base. He made an absolutely awesome quick-reflex snag for an out, but on another occasion, a bad hop ate him up. He showed a strong arm from across the diamond, which I have noted in the past. He also pulled an offspeed pitch to the left field wall for two RBIs.
What is there to say about PJ Torres (Austin Peay St.) that I haven’t already said? Still think he’s a solid defensive catcher with great pop to second base. Showed more sub-2.0 second throws down in this game. He looked a little less accurate than usual (i.e.: not absolutely perfect) but if you see a guy make enough throws he’s going to miss one or two. He didn’t do anything with the bat but he could have, theoretically, saved a run with his arm.
Bobby Boyd (West Virginia) is a fast, scrappy player. He had a nice piece of two-out hitting and managed to escape a double-play by digging hard for first.
I saw Aussie Aaron Luchterhand (Arkansas Tech) for the second time. He’s another one whose fastball came in mid-80′s. He looks like he has some projection to him so it might pick up a tick. He came armed with a slow curve that he used for the strikeout. He did well getting ahead in the count.
Tino Lipson (UC Davis) had a pull double to right and legged to first base with average-plus speed.
Clint Freeman (E. Tennessee St.) drove one with authority to straight-away center to pound the batter’s eye. Still love that guy’s swing.
Erik Harbutz (Wichita State) didn’t do much but looked like a tough out. He had a long at-bat against Maciel where he hit about a dozen or two fouls.
Moving on to the Oilers, Nigel Nootbaar (USC) is one of my follows so I was stoked to see him take the hill. His heater peaked around 90 and settled in about 88. He brought out a hard breaking ball with about a 10 mph differential. I’ve seen the pitch before; I don’t know what he’d call it but it looks to me kind of like a slow splitter or a hard curve; the break profile is pretty much 12-6. His fastball looked like his meat and potatoes and he brought out his breaking stuff for the out. He came into the middle of a mess and successfully killed off the rally.
Jon Maciel (Cal State Long Beach) got the start for the Oilers and brought the heat around 87-89, ringing it up to 91. Against this he had a sharp 12-6 curve in the low 70s that just fell off the table. I don’t see a lot of projection. He isn’t stocky but he has a mature athletic build.
Jordon Hein (Cal State Bakersfield) refused to let Long fan him. He had a good piece of two-strike hitting to turn on a hard fastball after a couple offspeed pitches and pull it into right.
John Straka (North Dakota State) had a brutal curve; he pulled the string and dealt it about 72-75. Against this he dealt a 87-90 fastball. Either one were used as an out pitch.
Frank Martinez (Cal State Bakersfield) showed pretty much the same thing he’s shown me every time: awesome sub-2.0 second pop to second base, and ability to use the whole field. What he displayed for the first time this season is a bit of pull home run power. His three-run bomb — his first homer of the year — cracked it open for the Oilers. I still think he’s mostly a line-drive hitter but the way he pounds it right on the screws and consistently drives it to the wall, there’s no doubt he’ll hit a few round-trippers.
Mark Garcia (UC Riverside) didn’t quite have the velocity that I expected, at least not in this game. He was throwing around mid-80′s with the fastball. But he mixed his speeds well, used the offspeed stuff to get ahead in the count, and then brought the heat to blow it by.
Alex Staehely (Creighton) looked a little faster in this game than usual; not sure if it’s him or just me but worth noting. Regardless, he continued to show pull tendencies.
Nate Ring (Cal State Northridge) really is not afraid to jump on the first pitch; he demonstrated that again tonight. He did so for a single, and added another single on two strikes in a different at-bat.
I got a few good photos. At this point of the season I’m trying to gather as many last-minute scouting notes as possible, and I’ve already got almost everyone’s face shot, so the camera doesn’t get used as much. But I posted a gallery up on the Picasa site, and I’ve got a few favorites linked below: