The Clearwater Threshers are making progress back to playing winning baseball. But last night was a bump in the road. They loss to the Dunedin Blue Jays 10-9 in 10 innings. It was an interesting game which told us much about the talent the Threshers put on the field.
Both teams are mostly evenly matched record wise: Both are playing under .500 baseball. As a team, neither has played well to start the season. Minor league baseball is not about winning or losing, it’s about player development.
This type of game has told us a lot about player development since it had just about every kind of situation to evaluate how the talent would react. The Threshers got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
However, their starting pitcher after a strong start had to be removed after only 59 pitches. They fell behind by five runs after seven innings. They came back to tie it with a 5 spot in the top of the eighth. They then lost the game in the tenth thanks to the bush-league rule that puts a runner on second base when starting each extra inning to speed up the game.
We have listed five situations in the game to comment on that tells us a lot about player development or lack thereof:
1. Mackenzie Mills lost composure on the mound after a two out error in the fourth inning. Then four unearned runs scored before the third out of the inning. Up until that point, he was in command. At one point he struck out three of the four batters he faced in the first and second innings. Watch one of his strikeouts HERE.
2. Darick Hall has a major league bat. He went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk and 2 RBIs last night. But his best at bat under pressure was pulling a 3-2 pitch with no outs to first to move the runner on first to second base to get him in scoring position in a tie game in the ninth inning.
His weakness is that he appears to have little range at first as ground balls went by him to his right and left for base hits. The pace of play runner scored the winning run on a hard hit ground ball that went by Hall between him and the first base line into right field. The Threshers do not believe in the “no doubles” defense I would suggest! Watch his double HERE.
3. Mickey Moniak, Jose Pujols and Luke Williams continue to struggle. The three of them went 1 for 15 in the game with a combined 9 strikeouts. Moniak did hit a RBI double. With a runner in scoring position on second base and one out in the top of the ninth in a tie game, both Moniak and Pujols took called third strikes.
4. Adam Haseley continues to impress. He has hit in 9 of his last 10 games for a .349 average in those last 10 games. Last night he went 2 for 5 with a run scored. Despite this, his OPS is still only .705 for the season. Watch one of his base hits HERE.
5. Aaron Brown is quickly showing closer potential even though he has yet to register a minor league save. In his last two games, he pitched three shutout innings late in the game. He has struck out five and walked only one in those two games. In last night’s game in the bottom of the ninth he struck out the batter with his final pitch in his outing on a 94 mph fast ball to force the extra inning. Watch HERE.
The Phillies’ Florida State League team is certainly playing better baseball than earlier in April but still more work needs to be done by all the guys. With some players we can see progress in some areas but with other guys not so much. The jury is still out for most of them whether or not they will ever play in MLB.