When the 2018 minor league season started, several minor league experts pegged the Clearwater Threshers as having one of the best teams in minor league baseball. The Threshers are off to a dreadful start losing four of their first five games. So what has gone wrong?
We could cite the pitching staff where top starters Sixto Sanchez has not pitched with the minor league department’s never ending “flu” excuse and Nick Fanti,who has been rehabbing forever over at the Carpenter Complex. Throw in the ever changing lineups of the Clearwater team and you have a formula for a 1-4 start.
Last night’s mess was a prime example. They have never had the same lineup two games in a row so far this season. I looked out and wondered who was in left field. It was Mickey Moniak who was supposed to be the team’s centerfielder. He was replaced in center by Adam Haseley who was the team’s starting left fielder.
The infield was no better off as chaos continues to reign there as well. Third baseman Luke Williams was at second base for the first time in his career after 205 starts at third and promptly committed two errors. Booting a ball too, Jose Gomez was at shortstop after starting opening day at third base and then started a game at second base. The only guy who has taken well to position change, Raul Rivas, was at second on opening night is now the third baseman.
All of these moves have come after only five games of the new season. What has resulted is indeed tremendous lineup flexibility but at what cost to player development? Moniak is hitting .105, Haseley .200, Williams .167, Gomez .071, and Rivas is hitting .167 after getting his first two hits of the season last night.
Another odd way to develop talent was not playing left handed hitting Darick Hall last night with a lefty starting for Jupiter. Hall drove in a run on Saturday against Dunedin and needs to learn to hit lefties now if he is indeed considered an every day major league prospect.
I like how the Toronto Blue Jays are developing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. By playing them every day at the same position they are tearing up the Eastern League in hitting while learning to play defense. Guerrero is hitting .333 and Bichette, .391, read HERE.
The top Phillies prospects are off to extremely slow starts. While No. 1 draft picks Moniak and Haseley struggle in Clearwater, it’s been just as bad for top international signing right fielder Jhailyn Ortiz at Lakewood. Ortiz has started the season 0 for 14 with 6 strikeouts in four games. He has not changed positions. Maybe he should. It worked for Rivas! The future outfield of with all them in it looks a long way off, if ever!
The good news from last night’s Threshers 9-4 pounding in the loss to Jupiter were the home runs of Edgar Cabral and Jose Pujols, watch HERE, and the hitting of Austin Listi, watch HERE. The bad news was Cabral could not control the running game as Jupiter went 4 for 4 in stolen bases. He also was charged with a passed ball. Pujols also maintained his career strikeout rate by striking out twice. He now has struck out six times in 13 at bats this season.
The Jupiter series resumes tonight at Spectrum Field as excitement builds to get a peek at tonight’s lineup card when posted with magic marker on the whiteboard in front of the concession stand. It would appear Clearwater’s hapless manager Shawn Williams is under orders to have a different lineup card for all 140 games this season. It’s going to be another long season for us long suffering fans in the stands and maybe even player development!