Another pair of A-ball games today, this time against the Phillies. The highlight without a doubt was Nick Kingham, who threw four impressive innings apart from a brief glitch at the start of his last inning. I didn’t see the first inning, which went 1-2-3, but Kingham consistently hit 93-94 with very good command in the second and third innings, allowing just an unearned run. He threw a few curves, most of them looking sharp. He seemed a little off at the start of the fourth, throwing only 90 and allowing a 2-run HR on an 84-mph pitch that appeared to be a flat slider, but he rallied quickly, went back to throwing 93 and retired the next three hitters. I think Kingham will be a must-see for those who can make it to West Virginia Power games this year.
The other starter, Tyler Waldron, was less impressive. He sat at 89-91 and didn’t show any impressive offspeed stuff. He gave up a lot of hard-hit balls.
Most of the other pitchers were guys who are probably battling for spots in the West Virginia bullpen. None really stood out. I saw Jesus Brito–the bounty received for Brian Bixler–pitch for the first time since his conversion from 3B. He threw 90-91 with a slider and weak command. He got hit very hard. Lefty Orlando Castro, who was something of a sensation last year when he made a big showing in the GCL, also threw. When I saw him last summer he was sitting around 90, but today he was throwing in the mid-80s. According to Tim that’s what he’s been throwing all spring.
Another pitcher today was Cesar Lopez, who seemed like a decent prospect when the Pirates signed him out of Cuba. He was throwing 90-91, which was better than last year, with a big, slow curve. His command was poor and he struggled today. Kevin Kleis also saw some action. He’s a big guy, 6’8″, and his velocity was about the same as Lopez’ today, but he seemed to drive the ball down effectively and he had little trouble.
As usual, it was harder to get an impression of the hitters, since I generally only saw a couple at-bats from each. Samuel Gonzalez continued to swing the bat well, as did Rodarrick Jones. Josh Bell grounded out his first time up, then laced a single to right on a pitch up and in that he did a nice job of swinging inside-out on. Bell also reached over the fence in left to rob a HR, although I didn’t see it. Jared Lakind came in late and ripped a double to right. He appears to be one of the more improved hitters in camp. Alen Hanson drew applause with a Jeter-esque leaping throw from the hole to get a hitter at first. (Yeah, I know, I’m just saying the play resembled Jeter.) Ryan Hornback–a JC catcher drafted last year mainly on his defensive rep–cut down a runner stealing even though the pitch was a high, slow curve. Yhonathan Barrios also had a couple good defensive plays and showed a good arm from third.
Won’t have much for a while–the next two days are camp days. Arrrgh.