Tuesday's (10-28) Baseball Practice Notes

This afternoon's practice was full of offense as four balls left the yard during the intrasquad game. In today's notes, we take an in-depth look at the hitters and where they may be placed in the starting lineup if the season started today. And as always, all the details from today's action.

The offense was back this afternoon on another warm day out at Sunken Diamond.  The team played a 6 1/2 inning intrasquad game with the final score registering 7-6. 

White Team
1. Jim Rapoport
2. Jonny Ash
3. Jed Lowrie
4. Donny Lucy
5. Ben Summerhays
6. Cameron Matthews

Rapoport blasted his first home run of the fall, a shot to deep right field.  You wouldn't guess it from looking at him (Rapoport is 6'0", 175 and that height listing is probably a little generous), but he's actually quite strong.  It showed today when he smoked the home run and he in fact just missed a second home run later in the game.  Rapoport finished the afternoon 2-for-6 with three RBI.  Summerhays had a strong game as he went 2-for-3 with a couple of hard hit singles and two walks.  Summerhays broke out of a mini-slump with his performance today.  This is guy who doesn't appear to be afraid to work the count and of course has tremendous power.  Still refining his game though to achieve success at this level. 

Another nice day for Lowrie as he continues his torrid fall with the bat.  The sophomore infielder homered to left today, his second round-tripper of the fall.  If you recall, Lowrie didn't hit any home runs last season, but that will change this year.  Finally, a nice practice for junior Cameron Matthews.  Matthews went 2-for-4 which included a home run to left.

Blue Team
1. Brian Hall
2. Adam Sorgi (did not play)
3. Danny Putnam
4. John Hester
5. Ryan Seawell
6. Joe Ayers
7. Ryan Kissick

Not a surprise here that Hall and Putnam led this team.  Hall went 3-for-5 with three singles and two RBI.  Meanwhile, Putnam had what has seemed like a standard day for him this fall.  The slugging outfielder finished the afternoon 3-for-6 with a home run, double, and three RBI.  Even his outs were hit hard.  This guy looks ready to start the season today and is primed for another huge year. 

Yesterday I took a close look at the pitching staff.  Today it's time to examine the hitters.  This team appears to have all the makings for another very potent offense.  Putnam has been ripping the ball since Day 1 this fall (although to be fair he's really been performing at a high level since last fall).  I think he's ready to take the reigns and become the go-to-guy in this lineup.  Generally, Coach Marquess puts his best all-around hitter (average and power) in the #3 slot in the order and I think that's where Putnam will hit.  In the alumni game, John Mayberry, Jr. hit fourth and if I were to draw out a lineup card right now, I think that's a good spot for him.  Will Mayberry match Garko's 18 homers from a year ago?  Very likely not.  But, between Putnam and Mayberry I think they can match the combined 30 homers that Garko and Quentin put up last season (with Putnam leading the way).  Will Mayberry, Jr. come close to hitting .400 like Garko last season?  Probably not.  But, I think this offense 1-through-9 could very well be more balanced than last year and they should be able to put up the same numbers (as a team) as last season.  I'm very interested to see if Mayberry will be able to take a leading role on this offense this year.  From what I've seen this fall, I think it will happen.

Obviously, Sam Fuld will hit leadoff and play center field.  Of the players in this lineup, Fuld is my preseason pick to lead the squad in batting average.  I can't think of a better guy you'd want to hit leadoff.  The #2 position in the lineup is an interesting one.  Last year, Jonny Ash hit second against right handed pitching while Brian Hall hit second versus left handed pitching.  It's very likely that these will be the two players hitting in this position again this year.  A couple of things to consider.  If Ash hits second, that likely means three straight lefties at the top of the order, something Coach Marquess may not want.  But, Hall may not be able to utilize his tremendous speed if he hits second.  I think it's less likely that Hall will attempt to steal bases if he's hitting second because that means Putnam or Mayberry will be at the plate and you don't want to run yourself out of an inning when those guys have a bat in their hands.  If Hall hits toward the bottom of the order, than expect him to run wild this year.

As of right now, the middle of the batting order will probably include Chris Carter, Jed Lowrie, and Donny Lucy.  I'm hopeful that Carter will be able to stay healthy this year.  If that happens, watch out, he could put up some amazing power numbers.  Lowrie has been a standout player this fall and, in my opinion, will have a breakout year.  I don't know if Lowrie moves up to the #5 position as typically that spot is manned by one of the main power hitters (which is why Carter could end up here).  I like Lowrie in the #6 hole.  Kind of acts as a second leadoff hitter, one for the bottom part of the lineup.  May not be outside the realm of possibility to see Jed move up to #2 either.  Finally, it seems that Lucy has a handle on the starting catching position right now.  His defense is certainly an asset and I'm sure he's anxious to finally get a chance to play everyday.

Under this alignment, the bottom of the order would have either Hall or Ash and likely Chris Lewis.  Top-to-bottom, I very much like the looks of this lineup.  Other players including Adam Sorgi, Chris Minaker, Ben Summerhays, Jim Rapoport, and John Hester could also find their way into the lineup somewhere based on what I've seen this fall.  Summerhays and Hester being more of a power-type hitter while Sorgi, Minaker, and Rapoport are more likely to play the role of the table setter.


A couple of notes about the pitchers this afternoon.  I was most impressed with Jonny Dyer and this has been a recurring theme during the fall.  In four innings, Dyer allowed one run on three hits.  He walked just one and struck out five.  One inning in particular was very impressive as Dyer struck out the side going through Ayers, Hall, and Putnam.  Dyer pitched in 21 innings (5.14 ERA) last year as a sophomore, but I think is ready to play a bigger role out of the bullpen this season.

Mark Jecmen had his first nice outing of the fall.  Jecmen continues to display much improved control, but unlike his other performances this fall, today Jecmen was able to keep the opposing hitters of the scoreboard.  In three shutout innings, Jecmen surrendered two hits while walking none and striking out one.  Once again, numerous scouts out to see the towering 6'8" right hander.

Jeff Gilmore was roughed up a little bit, but I thought still looked good and was around the plate.  In 3 2/3 innings, Gilmore surrendered three runs on five hits with a walk and two K's.  Gilmore was victimized by a Putnam double to deep center and Lowrie's home run.  Finally, Logan Ardis had a tough day at the office.  Lots of hits and runs with a few walks mixed in for Ardis today.

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