Every season that I’ve covered here, there has been one team that has eluded me until the season is on the downhill stretch. In 2010 it was the Glacier Pilots and in 2011 it was the Oilers. For whatever reason, every year there is one team that draws a schedule that just doesn’t complement my own. This year it has been the Goldpanners (although my Miners attendance has been unusually light as well so far). So you can imagine how good it felt to finally cross the last team off my must-see-ASAP list.
The game started out as a duel between Jacob Rhame of the Bucs and Jack Vander Linden of the Goldpanners. Rhame gave up one run in the second but was otherwise stellar, dealing eight strikeouts in eight innings of work, over which he spread four hits and two walks. Vander Linden was almost as good; he surrendered a three-spot in the first but finished 8.1 frames without giving up another. The Panners came back to tie it up in the 9th, and then went on to score two at the top of the 12th. A Bucs rally almost evened it again in the bottom of the inning but they fell just a run short. The Goldpanners won by a final score of 6-5.
Matt Nadolski was 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs for the victorious team from Fairbanks. Kevin Casey also had a pair of hits on the game. For the Bucs, Brenden Kalfus, Jordan Brink and Garrett Mattlage hit safely twice, while Mattlage and Ryan Leonards drove two runs in.
My Goldpanners notes for the game are a little light because, being my first time seeing them, I just have bits of info that I can’t really fit into a bigger picture. I hope and plan to see them at least a couple more times this year and get a better handle on them. On the plus side I got video of nearly every right-hand at-bat for both teams, so I will have plenty of scouting videos this off-season and can incorporate a breakdown of their batting mechanics into my future scouting notes. But here’s what I’ve got so far:
On the Goldpanners’ end, Jack Vander Linden (Georgetown) had an impressive start. He handled eight innings effectively and took a stab at the ninth before getting the hook. His total pitch tally on the day was 124 pitches, the most I’ve seen of a pitcher this season by a good margin, and he threw 80 of them for strikes (65%). He’s a tall, slim guy, standing 6’5″ with projection. He’s mostly a fastball-change pitcher who showed an occasional curve. Vander Linden’s troubles mostly came in the first. All three of his walks occurred in the opening frame as did 3 of his hits. After that he scattered four hits and one earned run over 7.1 innings; that’s a quality start and a good outing in itself right there. Obviously that’s not the way the game works but the point to take home is that Vander Linden showed good mental make-up to kill the rally and contain the damage to one inning.
Blake Miller (Western Oregon) looked good with the leather at first. One good play was the final out where he leaned into the beer garden to bring back a pop foul. He had a long fly (ultimately an out) the other way to the right field track.
Kevin Casey (Lafayette) looked like another good defensive player. He showed nice glove work in general including a good charge-and-throw play at second. With the bat he squared up nicely with a solid, loud crack of the bat. He even pitched an inning and had a good curveball chase strikeout.
Paul Politi (UC Davis) played smoothly and made good throws across the diamond from third. Good gritty play to lay out for the stop and come up with the throw in time. He looked a little apprehensive on the basepaths; he was almost picked off when he hesitated on a passed ball.
Brady Renner (Lee) didn’t look perfect in CF — he took a late break that let a fly drop — but he looked rangey and showed good effort on a lay-out play to block a ball and hold the runner.
Alex Schmidt (Washington) made the most of a pinch-hit at-bat, pulling a line drive for two RBIs.
Casey Munoz (Santa Clara U) used the opposite field for a line drive hit into the right field gap.
Some of my Bucs notes are a little more well developed, but others that aren’t I decided to leave in. I figure there’s nothing wrong with keeping a quick bullet-point in the post if all those bullet-points might add up to something later. Here we go:
Jacob Rhame (Oklahoma) was very impressive in his start for the Bucs. He’s a fastball change-up guy who showed good control to get ahead with first-pitch strikes often. He had especially good command of his change-up and got the corner calls. He did occasionally let a pitch go wild but overall he was pounding the zone. His control was good through six innings; he looked a little bit worn out by the 7th. At 6’1″ 220lb he likely doesn’t have a lot of projection, but he is a freshman and has time to get a better feel for another pitch.
Danny Susdorf (UC San Diego) showed good speed to steal third base. I rolled the tape of his swing back in slow motion and it looks like a solid contact cut. His front knee comes straight just a second before contact and he’s squared up nicely at that point. It seems like he stays back on his back foot a bit. Not a power cut, but a high-average consistent-contact approach where he can put the ball in play and let his wheels get him on. I pulled up his stat line to see if it corroborates my story and he’s hitting .321 with 12 steals 22 games into the year.
Brenden Kalfus (St. Mary’s) flashed his arm with a strong, perfect throw from left field. He gunned down Zeblo to save a run.
Austen Williams (Texas State) mixed his pitches well, using the offspeed frequently to set up his heater.
Garrett Mattlage (Texas State) was effective in the field. He went for the big play well, attempting (unsuccessfully but attempting nonetheless) a lay-out snag for one play and making a solid charging off-balance throw out in another.
Ryan Leonards (Louisiana Lafayette) showed plus speed, running a 4.10 to first base. He used the whole field but most notably pulled a two-run bomb to left field, against the wind. Big batspeed allows him to spray hits and occasionally pull for power.
Jordan Brink (Fresno State) looked pretty swift and really aggressive on the paths. He dove into first, which is considered to be by many to be a bad idea. But if it was good enough for Pete Rose it’s good enough for me, and I give credit any time someone gets their shirt dirty going hard.
This was a good day to take photos! The sun was shining in the mid-afternoon and I had a good seat to relax and catch the action from. I had almost 500 “raw” shots; by the time I pared them down (part of the reason this took so long to get out) about 300 good ones remained. Click here to see the entire gallery! Or check out some favorites below: