Sunday's (10-12) Baseball Practice Notes

Day 2 was much like Day 1 with a couple more impressive pitching performances. See which veterans have started strong on the hill along with another freshman hurler who dazzled in his fall debut. In addition, check out some detailed infield positioning notes. Read on for a full practice report from Sunken.

Today's practice session once again began with batting practice.  After BP, the catchers and infielders took part in their pregame infield routine (identical to what they do prior to every game).  This was a very revealing drill as we saw probably where the coaching staff anticipates each particular infielder seeing the most time at this season.  Here's where each player lined up:

C- Donny Lucy, John Hester, Josh Corn
1B- John Mayberry, Jr., Ben Summerhays
2B- Chris Lewis, Joe Ayers
3B- Jonny Ash, Chris Minaker
SS- Jed Lowrie, Adam Sorgi

Some things to take from this.  First, it appears Lowrie will be given a chance to win the starting shortstop position.  I think this is a good spot for him.  Jed possesses an outstanding arm (remember that he can pitch too) and very soft hands.  Ash can play either second or third, but I think is suited better for third, at least here at Stanford.  Lewis probably has the upper hand at second base although I think he's the weakest defensive infielder of the returnees.  Because of this, I think it's doubtful that we'll see Lewis at shortstop much, but rather more at second or third.  Minaker is extremely versatile and I think will push for time this season.  He looks improved with the bat (much stronger) and if he doesn't play much this year, I anticipate him seeing plenty of action starting next season (third base seems likely).

One notable player missing from this drill is Brian Hall.  The senior Hall doesn't look to be totally healthy right now as he looks to be suffering from some sort of an arm injury.  I say this because he's not doing any throwing at all.  He hasn't been participating in any infield drills and when he plays the outfield during intrasquad games, he's under handing the ball back into the infield everytime.  Still, it should be noted that Hall is swinging the bat and running very well, so I think it's just more of a precaution.

After this infield drill, the team took part in an outfield catching and throwing drill.  Pitching Coach Tom Kunis was on the mound throwing live pitches to hitters (mainly Brian Hall, another giveaway that he's not totally healthy as all his other outfield teammates were participating in the drill) while a full defense manned the field.  The infielders were instructed to let every ball get out to the outfield so the outfielders could come up the ball and throw to various bases (live baserunners were participating here as well).  A few things to take from this drill:

* Lewis played both corner outfield positions here.  He showcased a good arm, but did have some fielding problems.  More outfield experience should help.

* Sam Fuld and Danny Putnam don't have overpowering arms, but they certainly are very accurate.

* Jim Rapoport looks very smooth when going over to catch fly balls.  A lot like Fuld in that it seems he's effortlessly going over to haul in deep fly balls.  More on Rapoport a little later.

* Fuld was doing his thing in the outfield.  A couple of outstanding diving and sliding catches.

It was after this that the team started their second intrasquad game of the fall.  A lot like yesterday in that the pitchers, for the most part, had their way with the hitters.  The rules were the same as all the pitchers were only throwing fastballs and change-ups while they had a ten-pitch limit per inning.

Drew Ehrlich and David O'Hagan were the two starting hurlers.  Ehrlich was roughed up quite a bit as the senior righthander retired seven batters in his four innings of work while surrendering four runs on six hits (many of those were hit very hard).  He also walked five batters, something you usually don't see from Ehrlich, but again, each batter started with a 1-and-1 count, so the walk totals were probably a little inflated.

O'Hagan was nearly unhittable this afternoon and that speaks volumes considering he was without his knee-buckling curveball.  O'Hagan also retired seven batters in his four innings, but only allowed one base hit and no runs.  Like Ehrlich, O'Hagan walked five while he struck out two.  Had he been able to use his #1 strikeout pitch though, I think his walk numbers would be way lower. 

One pitcher vs. hitter battle that caught me eye concerning O'Hagan was when he went up against Putnam with the bases loaded and two outs.  Putnam worked the count, before popping out harmlessly to second base.  Both Ehrlich and O'Hagan were consistently throwing in the 86-87 MPH range.

The final two pitchers to see time on the hill were junior Jonny Dyer and freshman Matt Leva.  I thought Dyer pitched very well, especially considering he was without his best pitch (the curve).  Dyer set down ten batters in his four innings while allowing three hits and one unearned run.  He walked two and struck out three.  Dyer was spotting his pitches well including a beauty of a change-up to strike out Mayberry, Jr. swinging.

The story of the day on the mound though had to be the freshman Leva.  Standing only 5'10" and weighing just 155 lbs., Leva was setting down the opposing hitters with ease.  And I thought Leva did a better job than Reynolds yesterday against the probable starters in the Cardinal lineup.  He retired ten batters while giving up just one hit and no runs.  Leva walked two and struck out three.  The one AB that caught my eye was when Putnam came up to bat.  Remember the count is 1-and-1 to begin the at-bat.  Leva first threw a change-up just below the knees that Putnam offered at and missed and then came back with the exact same pitch, this one a little lower (about ankle high) and again Putnam swung over the top for the strikeout.  That told me that this guy is for real. 

A relatively quiet day for the hitters as they adjust to facing live pitching for the first time in awhile.  Of the returnees, Sam Fuld was the top performer as he went 2-for-3 with a couple of singles to right along with two walks.  Donny Lucy had a 1-for-3 afternoon as he hit a few balls very hard.  Jed Lowrie had another extra base hit when he smoked a double to deep left center field off Leva (the only hit the young pitcher allowed).  And Chris Minaker, despite going 0-for-2, lined out both times on two incredibly hard hit balls.  Again, it looks like he's gotten a lot stronger.

The two freshman hitters that caught my attention were Jim Rapoport and Adam Sorgi.  I'll start with Sorgi.  Again leading off for his hitting group, Sorgi began an inning by dropping down a perfect bunt down the third base line catching everyone off-guard as he easily beat it out for a single.  Facing Ehrlich, Sorgi also ripped a triple to deep right center field.  Rapoport had a 1-for-3 day with a hard hit single to right.  He also showed some incredible defense in center field with two headlong diving catches on balls hit to shallow center.  If Rapoport shows he can handle college pitching this season, he's going to see some playing time.  No doubt, this guy is a player.

One other hitting note, freshman catcher Josh Corn had a very nice hit this afternoon.  Against Dyer, he ripped a double to deep center field that one-hopped the wall.  His next time up, it looked like Corn was going to have another hit when he looped a ball into shallow center, but on came Rapoport with one of his diving catches.

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