Monday's (10-13) Baseball Practice Notes

Day 3 of fall practice saw a new group of pitchers on the mound led by one right hander who came through with the top performance of any hurler thus far. In addition, three hitters left the yard this afternoon with big home runs. Here is a complete report from practice.

The third day of fall practice saw the Stanford baseball team take part in their third intrasquad game of the season.  While four pitchers threw in each of the first two games, today's action saw only three pitchers on the hill.  The first pitcher to throw, and easily the most impressive hurler of the afternoon, was sophomore Jeff Gilmore.  Gilmore pitched only 2 1/3 innings last season as a freshman, but is coming off a big summer in the Alaska League, and is expected to join the regular rotation of pitchers this year.

Gilmore probably wasn't at the same disadvantage as a lot of the other pitchers considering the change-up is his best pitch (pitchers still aren't throwing any breaking balls).  In his four innings of work, Gilmore allowed just one base hit and no runs.  He walked four and of the 11 batters he retired, eight were by way of the strikeout.  His change looked top notch today and when he backs up that change-up with a fastball, it made him nearly unhittable.  In fact, his fastball had a cutting action on it, which prompted many of the hitters today to complain that Gilmore was throwing breaking pitches up to the plate.  That's how good his stuff was this afternoon.  And again, each hitter started with a 1-and-1 count, so the walk and strikeout totals were a little higher than usual.

The second pitcher to throw today was 6'8" junior Mark Jecmen.  Jecmen was very up-and-down this afternoon, but I thought it was an encouraging outing nonetheless.  In two of his four innings of work, Jecmen easily set down the opposing hitters, many by way of strikeout.  His other two though, he was a hit around a bit including surrendering a mammoth home run off the bat of Danny Putnam.  On the bright side, Jecmen only walked two batters this afternoon and I thought that was good to see especially considering the hitters already had one ball to their credit before they stepped in the box. 

The highlight of the afternoon for Jecmen was in an at-bat against Sam Fuld.  Jecmen froze Fuld with a 2-and-2 fastball at the knees on the outside corner for a called strike three.  Sometimes he just shows these moments where you wonder why he hasn't been able to put it all together and become a successful college pitcher.  Maybe this will be the year.

The third and final pitcher to throw today was freshman righthander Logan Ardis.  The first thing that caught my eye when observing Ardis was his pitching motion.  He uses a high leg kick and there's lots of arms and legs in his motion.  Reportedly, Ardis' best pitch is a curve ball, so it will be interesting to see where he stands with his full arsenal of pitches. 

This afternoon, Ardis started off with a bang.  In his first two frames, Ardis set down seven hitters (he didn't reach his ten-pitch limit in one inning, so he worked a 1-2-3-4 frame) while walking two and striking out two.  His location was great, right around the knees.  Ardis then looked like he got a bit sloppy with his location in his final two innings of work as he allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits, most notably two home runs.  I see a very bright future for this kid at Stanford, but the verdict is still very much out as to whether he'll pitch a significant amount of innings this season.

All in all, it was another fairly quiet day for the hitters.  Of the eight runs scored this afternoon, seven came on home runs.  The first was the Putnam two-run blast off the batter's eye in dead center field off Jecmen.  Ben Summerhays lined a double down the left field line just prior to Putnam's round tripper.  The second home run of the day was a Donny Lucy grand slam homer over the 335 foot sign down the left field line.  This one came off Ardis.  The last home run of the afternoon came off the bat of Chris Carter as the slugging lefty launched a ball to straight away center field off the batter's eye for a solo shot.  Again, this home run was given up by Ardis. 

* Carter definitely is being hampered by an injury that won't allow him to run.  He's still not playing any outfield and when he hit his home run this afternoon, he just walked back into the dugout instead of rounding the bases.

* The only hit off Gilmore today : a single up the middle off the bat of Jonny Ash.

* Lucy has looked very impressive with the bat thus far.  He's showing much better patience at the plate and of course he hit the home run today.  It will be worth watching to see how Lucy fares once the pitchers start throwing breaking stuff up to the plate.

* Very average defense was played today after two nearly error-free ballgames the last two days.  Both Ash and Chris Lewis made errors at third base while Jecmen and Ardis each uncorked wild pitches (the Ardis wild pitch scored a run).

* Brian Hall is showing excellent plate discipline this fall.  I haven't seen him chase any bad pitches out of the zone and he's drawing a ton of walks.  If Fuld doesn't leadoff for some reason, Hall would appear to be a likely candidate.  Again though, things could change when the pitchers start throwing curves and sliders.

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