No. Baseball Betsy and I did not watch which could be one of the best keystone combination not in major league baseball together in the same game but we came about as close to it as possible yesterday in a Gulf Coast League game at the Carpenter Complex Ashburn Field and later in a Florida State League game at Brighthouse Field in Clearwater. And their names were not Rollins and Utley.
We saw major league quality infield play in both games by shortstop J.P. Crawford for the GCL Phillies and later second baseman Carlos Alonso for the Clearwater Threshers. Both players topped off their games by using their bats to play major offensive roles as well with a key triple by Crawford to break open his game and a ninth inning base hit by Alonso later in wins over the GCL Pirates and the West Palm Beach Cardinals.
I got to thinking how great it would be to see Crawford and Alonso play on the same team even if it were for only a game or two. They are two of the best defensive infielders I have seen play this season in minor league baseball. It might not be too far fetched. Often players from the GCL squad are given a game or two with the Threshers. We saw Gustavo Martinez play several games in center with the Threshers coming from extended spring training before he joined the Williamsport Crosscutters in the NY-Penn League. We have been amazed by the pitching of 20 year old Gustavo Gonzalez for the Threshers since he made the jump from extended spring games. And yesterday recent draft pick pitcher Danny Child made the jump from the GCL Phillies last week to pitch an inning of relief for the Threshers.
Crawford has been something special in the games I have seen him play in the GCL. Yesterday was no exception. He made several plays to his right into the hole at short and effortlessly threw out the runners at first. He started a quick 6-4-3 double play and made a nice catch of a soft liner over his shoulder just on the outfield grass behind short. He is so silky smooth defensively with soft hands and a strong accurate arm but I can’t over look his bat and speed. The ball explodes off his bat from the left side. He lined a triple down the right line and turned what would be a double for most hitters into a two run triple. The extra base hit broke open a close game which was finally won by the GCL Phillies 8-3 over the GCL Pirates.
Later last night it was Carlos Alonso’s turn to shine at second for the Threshers. In what seemed like an innocuous out at the time on an attempted steal of second, he took a short hop throw from catcher Logan Moore and applied the tag all in one fluid motion to get the runner to end the top of the seventh and keep the score at 5-1 for the Cardinals. It was Alonso’s 400th chance at second this season of which he has handled successfully. He has committed only one error there all season. No major league second baseman has a higher fielding percent at second base than does Carlos playing in the Florida State League. He has been a magic man at second all season earning his right as a well deserved Florida State League All-Star.
Alonso was also key at the bat in the ninth inning last night when the Threshers came from four runs back to score five runs and pull out a 6-5 win over the Cards. His single drove in a key run and eventually scored which paved the way for the big inning. He is second in runs scored and fourth in walks in the FSL. Still it was his great play at second base to get the attempted base stealer that ended the seventh inning which kept the game within striking distance for the eventual Threshers win.
Though Crawford is off to a great start in the GCL going 29 for 79 for a .376 average, Alonso is also having a big season at the bat too hitting .267 getting his 92nd hit of the season in last night’s game. Crawford might be a No. 1 draft pick only 17 years old and will not turn 18 until Nov. 1st and Alonso is a 25 year old minor league veteran, the play of both of them this season I will not soon forget.
We have been fortunate to see both of them in action as we did yesterday in winning performances on adjacent fields in Clearwater. It would be nothing better than to see both of them on the field for the same game at the same time. Without a doubt we would be seeing a major league quality keystone combination in the infield without the need to go to a major league park.