1. The Phillies organization is apparently reinventing the bunting game. I call it extreme small ball. I am not a fan of the sacrifice bunt other than by a pitcher. Just do not like to give up outs. In Saturday’s second game of Reading’s doubleheader in Portland Maine, Manager Dusty Wathan had Roman Quinn square up and sac. bunt with runners on first and second with no outs on a 3-0 count. He had just squared and took three pitches out of the zone. He was able to beat out the sac bunt from the left-handed batters box as only Roman can with his speed for a base hit.
Last night in Manchester, New Hampshire, Wathan again had Quinn bunt with no outs and this time a runner was on first with Reading trailing 4-3 in the top of the ninth. The old rule is you never bunt on the road trailing in the ninth inning. Quinn was successful in moving the runner to second but was just out at first bunting from the right-handers batters box. Reading lost the game as the runner was stranded on second. The irony was that Quinn was going for the cycle at that bat in the top of the ninth after hitting a triple, double and single in earlier at bats in the game.
2. Matt Imhof goes tonight for the Threshers in Jupiter Florida. He was the opening night Thursday starter for the Threshers. His fastball sat in the high 80’s. I saw 90 pop up once on the new speed gun on the Threshers scoreboard. Somewhat surprised that a No 2 draft pick from the 2014 draft does not have a fastball that sits in the 90’s. But he is a lefty so he has a lot of movement on his pitches. Another lefty Brandon Leibrandt, a sixth round pick from last year’s draft, started Saturday night for the Threshers. His fastball sat at 90-91 in the first inning on the scoreboard speed gun but dropped to the high 80’s in later innings. His out pitch is his change-up.
3. The most impressive starter I have seen for the Threshers has been righty David Whitehead. Friday night in Dunedin his fastball sat in the low 90’s and he hit 93 in his final inning in the sixth as he seemed to get stronger as he reared back to pitch out of a jam. But it was his curve ball in the 70’s that kept the Blue Jays batters off balance and helped him strikeout eight of them over six shutout innings. Watched Aaron Nola’s Florida State League debut with the Threshers last year at Lakeland. His fastball was at 93 on the Marchant Stadium scoreboard.
4. Mark Leiter Jr. has been impressive as a Threshers middle reliever. We spoke with Mark during a “meet the players” event last Wednesday night at Bright House where he told us this would be his first time as a reliever. Though he gave up a home run in his first relief outing Thursday night, he showed major league stuff in his second outing against the Blue Jays on Sunday. He pitched 3.2 shutout innings of perfect middle relief retiring all ten batters he faced in order helped by a strikeout, throw out double play after he faced his first batter. Leiter finished up striking out his final two batters he faced with sharp, late breaking sliders. His fastball sat at in the low 90’s.
5. Threshers closer Edubray Ramos seems to have good stuff with his slider but was hit hard Sunday coming on in the eight inning after the Threshers had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the inning. He started throwing a fastball sitting only at 94 which led to a blown save. After he gave up two runs and three hits, pitching coach Steve Schrenk came to the mound and then his next pitch was amped up to 96 on the Dunedin scoreboard. He went on to pitch out of the inning without further damage but it was too late as the Threshers went down 4-3 to the Blue Jays.