Considering I’d only seen the Goldpanners twice prior to this game, and hadn’t seen them at all in their “semi-ABL” 2011 season, it seemed like a fitting end to the 2012 season to see them one more time. That being said, I have to confess that I was a little anxious to bring this one to a close; there’s few things I love as much as Alaska Baseball but by the final week of the season it was really starting to grind on my life being at the ballpark several times a week, and the pile of information to sort through and make something out of grew bigger with every game I attended. So this sunny Friday seemed like the perfect time to wrap it all up.
This game matched Tanner Mendonca of the Goldpanners up against the Chinooks’ Ryan Sullivan. Both pitchers went six strong innings. Mendonca gave up three earned runs and struck out seven for the win; Sullivan picked up the loss with five earned. Matt Nadolski got the three-inning save for Fairbanks. The Panners’ Michael Zeblo was the offensive star of the game, going 4-for-4 with 5 RBIs, most of them courtesy of a grand slam. Joey Epperson added a homer for the visiting team. Paul Politi and Casey Munoz each had 3 hits. For the Chinooks, Scott Kalamar belted one over the fence and tallied three hits for the day. Catcher Adam Humes was 2-for-4.
The Panners beat the Chinooks by a final score of 7-4.
Tanner Mendonca (Sacramento State) has not had an especially good season, stat-wise, but he made a good showing in this start. The two things that impressed me most, overall, were good velocity and a selection of pitches. His four-seam fastball came in as high as 91-93 but he was also dealing more of a cut fastball in the high 80′s. His velocity remained consistent beyond the opening innings. His offspeed pitches consisted of a curveball in the low-mid 70′s and a change-up in the low-mid 80′s with really good sink. His breaking stuff was solid, and he drew strikeouts both swinging and looking in the game. I think what’s missing is a better “feel” for all those pitches; better command of the zone and a more conscious approach to mixing them. I’m going to go out on a limb, though, and call this guy a prospect.
Matt Nadolski (Santa Rosa JC) picked up the three-inning save. I’d seen him bat before but this was the first outing I’ve seen him pitch. His fastball came in around 87-89 and he put that up against a slow curve.
Brady Renner (Lee) didn’t get a hit in the game, but he put the ball in play several times. He showed a pull tendency in this game. His running time down the line is about average.
Joey Epperson (Santa Barbara College) had his first home run of the season but it was a big one, all the way out to the deepest part of the park in straight-away center.
Chad Carroll (James Madison) put the ball in play to both left and right field; he handled an outside pitch well to single into the right-field gap. He was gunned down trying to steal.
Kevin Casey (Lafayette) sprayed the ball to all parts of the field. He’s really not a fast guy but he squares up nicely and hits the ball hard; not too many of them stay on the infield. He showed good physical play in a collision at the plate.
Kurt Schlangen (Minnesota) hat one at-bat in this game and hit safely, and then stole off of Humes. Interestingly enough, Schlangen has nine steals this season. In case you haven’t heard my rant already, I hate it when catchers can run. Why waste a perfectly good pair of knees? Move the guy to right field. But I digress…
Paul Politi (UC Davis) is another guy who seems to use the opposite field well. In this game he hit one to right for a single; I’ve seen him hit the long ball out that way too. He got a whole lot of one to center field as well in this game, but there was too much park for it to get all the way out.
Michael Zeblo (Davidson College) sure swung the hot bat in this one. He hit the grand slam, of course, for his second home run of the year. He’s definitely more of a line-drive hitter than a “big fly” hitter but he has the power to get them over; he might pick up some more home run power in the future. He is a switch hitter but he did the majority of his work from the left-handed side and drove the ball hard to all fields.
Ryan Sullivan (Westmont College) of the Chinooks cruised early in his start before getting roughed up in the 6th. He looked like he was throwing a little harder this time than he was before — 84-86 mph on his fastball, versus his previous “peak” of 85 — with a curveball that settled in around 75. His curve looked very effective at fooling opposing batters. He mixed his pitches well, using either for a strikeout, and worked down in the zone through the first five.
Griffin Gum (Alabama Birmingham)…first pitch swinging much? With a season tally of 27 strikeouts and 7 walks, it’s pretty safe to say that Gum is a free swinger. He’s an aggressive guy with decent speed, and that’s good; a little plate patience and he could be something.
Brent Fukushima (Westmont) showed a pull tendency in this game. He hit one right at shortstop but stuck with it and reached on an error. He would go on to swipe second base, totally stealing on a Nadolski curveball. Plus speed. Once again, he showed good defensive skill at second, this time to rob Casey of a bloop hit.
Stockton Taylor (Everett CC) hit the ball to the deep part of straight-away center. It was ultimately an out but he bats the ball around the park well. Most impressive was his barehanded defensive play to take away a bunting hit from Joey Epperson. Very nice pickup and throw.
Adam Humes (Northw00d) demonstrated another solid throw-down to second. He’s hovered right around 2.0 seconds on his move and, though I’ve seen him make a few errant throws, in this game in particular and on the season in general he’s been right on the money. He still sprays the ball around the park well.
Drew Turbin (Yavapai). Ditto what I’ve said before. Great glove; ranged out into the field well to make an over-the-shoulder catch in right. First pitch swinger.
Scott Kalamar (Seton Hall) gave me two impressions that hadn’t occured to me before, and I wish I had more season to watch him to try and verify. A small sample size here, but he seemingly had a pull tendency and the ability to put the bat on the ball. He put the ball in play often; his strikeout rate seems to have gone down in the second half of the season. Most notably, he fought off an inside pitch nicely for a drive up the middle. He did well when leading off, reaching on a grounder up the middle and flashing pull-power with a homer to right. He stole a base on Mendonca; my observations tell me that he’s not a fast runner and he doesn’t have a lot of stolen bases on the season, but as you can see, he’ll take one if given the chance; I’ve said time and time again that he’s an aggressive guy.
And that’s that for my player notes in 2012. In addition to, and possibly instead of, consolidating these into the standard scouting report I intend to launch a new type of article here; a “Prospect Notebook” on as many players as possible. It will be like a biography, statistical analysis, and scouting notes write-up all in one.
It was a beautiful day and many photos came out well. Check out my Picasa gallery of Goldpanners and Chinooks photos. As always, a few of my favorites are linked below: