Always like to get out to the ball park early to watch batting practice. Sure the BP pitchers throw straight softballs from about 40ft. away but it can tell you a lot about the hitter. Over at Ashburn and Schmidt Fields this morning the six catchers in camp were taking BP. It is always worth your time to stop and watch Erik Kratz take batting practice. The ball just jumps off his bat especially when compared to Valle and Schneider who were in his hitting group. Pitch after pitch just jumped off the Kratz bat. He looks lean and ready for a big season. Hard to believe this guy is not likely to make a 25 man roster in the major leagues barring injury.
Over on Carlton Field the infield coaches were working with Laynce Nix who was taking ground balls at first. Polly Polanco had just arrived to do the same at third. Over at Bright House other infielders likely destined for AAA were headed over to take ground balls as well. Pete Orr, Kevin Frandsen, Hector Luna and Michael Martinez just finished taking PB at Bright House and were likely headed over to Carlton Field.
As I arrived at Bright House, Ruben came bounding down the steps as most of the veteran players were under going physicals back in the clubhouse. A big Wills Eye Institute van was parked outside the back entrance to the clubhouse. Ruben arrived on the field in time to study the final hitting group of the day take some swings consisting of Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Harold Garcia, Luis Montanez and Tyson Gillies. All of them ticketed for the minors but expected to play in spring training games.
Galvis is also interesting to watch in BP. Freddy, batting right handed did get a pitch up in the wind and drove it over the fence in left into the visitors bullpen. Freddy has more pop than he gets credit for. Montanez, a former first round , third overall draft pick of the Cubs back in 2000, made his first appearance of the spring. He dropped the barrel head of the bat on a couple of knee high pitches and drove them over the left field wall. Montanez has been primarily a minor league left fielder who has hit .223 in several “cup of coffee trips” over the years with the Orioles and Cubs. He hit .321 with 7 homers last year at AAA but showed little speed getting thrown out in six of 10 stealing attempts.
Now that everyone is in camp, expect to see some intrasquad games over the next few days as they prepare to play Florida State on Wednesday afternoon and open the Grapefruit League season next weekend against the Yankees.