I must admit I stayed for all 27 outs in last night’s 11-0 defeat of the Clearwater Threshers by the Ft. Myers Miracle, farm team of the Minnesota Twins. No, I am not crazy I don’t think. But I find myself doing the same thing over and over again.
Particularly, this game was not easy to watch. I had to sit through a one hour and 30 minute rain delay at the start and then a two hour and 30 minutes game which was another mismatch from early on. But the Threshers do have some interesting players such as center fielder Pete Levin now in his third season with the Threshers or short stop Roman Quinn who might be involved in a play or two worth staying to watch.
The Threshers have won only 10 of their first 50 games. I have personally watch over half of them. At times I held out hope they could develop and be competitive but now that seems to be an impossible dream. Last night sealed the deal for me that this is truly the worst team in affiliated minor league baseball as currently constituted.
To start out they do not even look like a competitive team. The Ft. Myers team is built with big bodied, wide shouldered athletic players and they proved it knocking out 15 hits. Even the catcher stole a base. With the exception of several players the Threshers look like your average local American Legion team of players who you knew by watching them would never play in the major leagues.
Threshers starting pitcher lefty Ethan Stewart has more walks (39) than strike outs (27) this season and by the second inning his pitch count ballooned and he was out of gas again. He gave up six runs on eight hits before he was mercifully pulled in the fourth inning trailing 6-0.
But we can’t blame Stewart for the sixth run when his infielders botched a run down play with a runner between first and second which allowed yet another runner to score from third. This is Stewart’s second season with the Threshers so hope for his improvement is becoming wishful thinking.
Then, one player I thought who would have a break out season is first baseman Art Charles. He actually has a body built to hit the long ball but has only two home runs all season. He did scald a ball down the right field line for a double in the fifth inning. He advanced to third. Then trailing 6-0 he tagged up on a fly ball to medium right field and took off for some reason. He was thrown out at the plate ruining any chance to get a comeback rally started.
With Stewart out, middle reliever Kevin Walters came on to pitch. He shows flashes of brilliance from time to time but usually loses an idea of the strike zone at some point. He has an odd pitching line too. This season he has walked 18 batters and struck out only nine out of the pen which is just opposite of what you usually would expect but not on the Threshers staff. He uncorked a wild pitch that went to the backstop in the 6th inning with a runner on third and made no effort to cover the plate allowing the runner to score easily to make the score 8-0.
Just when you thought the pitching could not get any worse it did. In the ninth with Miguel Nunez in his third inning of pitching retired the first two batter he faced and then he too hit the wall. To the next five batters he faced, he gave up three hits and two walks to make the score 11-0 which forced Threshers beleaguered manager Nelson Prada to bring on Ramon Ovieda to get the final out in this 11-0 debacle.
Probably Prada is a good baseball man but much like Casey Stengel of the “62 Mets” must wonder “can anyone here play this game”. Prada must hope his team can at least beat Casey’s Mets who had a 40-120 record for a .250 winning percent that year.
Even last night with a left-hander on the mound for the Miracle. Prada stayed with an all left-handed hitting outfield and left-handed bats catching and at first base while two right-handed bats outfielder Nick Ferdinand and catcher Gabriel Lino rode the pines or coached first base. But, I guess that is development baseball for you. Now if the players would only start developing!
Even with a record of 10-40 for a .200 winning percent for the first half season so far, hope for a better season might be on the horizon. In the Florida State League the records of the team start all over for upcoming 70 game second half of the season. Yes, the Threshers will get a do over.
The 2014 amateur draft will take place starting June 5th. This year the Phillies draft seventh each round which means good major league prospects should be available in the early rounds. Last year the Phillies signed 29 of the 41 players they drafted. Let’s hope the Phillies can quickly signed some of the drafted players this time and assign them to the Clearwater Threshers for the second half of the season. Any thing is better for the most part than what they put on the field now.