Fall Ball: 10/16 Notes

After a couple of strong days for the hitters, the pitchers bounced back during Sunday's intrasquad game. Greg Reynolds maintained his strong momentum with another impressive performance on the mound. But despite the overall strong pitching, it didn't stop freshman Brent Milleville from yet another eye-opening game at the plate.

Friday and Saturday featured plenty of offense out at Sunken Diamond during the intrasquad contests, but that all changed on a warm Sunday afternoon at the ballpark.  The top pitching group took the mound with again Greg Reynolds making an impressive statement that he's ready to take a leading role on this staff. 

For Reynolds, it was another dominant three-inning stint of keeping hitters off balance with a hard-breaking curve ball and fantastic change-up while mixing in a power fastball to blow the opposition away.  Perhaps the only thing holding Reynolds back as we move forward could be his lack of innings at this level.  The 6'7" towering right-hander saw very little time in the starting rotation during his first two years on the Farm.  But when you look at how he finished the '05 campaign and then his dominating summer in the Cape Cod League, those experience concerns start to melt away.  Only time well tell if Reynolds can become a legitimate Pac-10 starting pitcher, potentially out of the Friday starter spot, but the early indications from the fall show continued improvement and confidence from this emerging star.

On Sunday, Reynolds had essentially just one hard hit ball off him during his three innings.  Leading off the third, Brendan Domaracki launched a Reynolds offering to deep right center field for a triple.  He scored when the next man up, John Hester, flied out to center field.  Reynolds though, would finish his outing in style as he followed the Hester sacrifice fly with consecutive strike outs of Michael Taylor and Grant Escue to retire the side.

The only other hit Reynolds allowed was an infield single off the bat of Jim Rapoport (high chopper to second that the speedy Rapoport beat out).  Reynolds walked just one batter and struck out three.  And the scary thing is that it looks like he's far from reaching his peak this school year.  Reynolds probably wasn't too thrilled with his high pitch count (for three innings) on Sunday as a handful of hitters remained in their at-bats by fouling off two-strike pitches - before ultimately being retired.  As Reynolds continues to refine his game, he could become that dominant ace starter the Cardinal badly need.   All the signs are very positive early this fall from Greg Reynolds.

Matt Manship had an identical pitching line to Reynolds in terms of innings (three), runs allowed (one), and hits allowed (two) on Sunday.  Manship had a couple of minor control problems (two walks), but the experienced right-hander still managed to limit damage whenever he got into trouble.  The velocity is there right now for Manship combined with a very impressive breaking ball.  He struck out two during his stint on the mound.

Nolan Gallagher also had a fine performance on Sunday with just one earned run and three hits surrendered in 3 2/3 innings.  Not nearly as overpowering as Reynolds, but still equally as tough to hit, Gallagher doesn't appear to be going anywhere as a key member of the Cardinal pitching staff.  He walked two batters and struck out one on Sunday.

Finally, Jeff Stimpson saw time on the hill and like the trio of hurlers mentioned above, also proved to be difficult to hit.  Over his three innings, the junior yielded just one run on three hits.  Stimpson is showing off the good stuff that we saw most of his freshman season which is an excellent sign that he may be ready to return to a key role out of the Cardinal bullpen.  The one red flag for Stimpson has been his control early this fall.  After three walks in his first time out (2 2/3 innings), he again walked three batters on Sunday.  It appears that Stimpson is still searching for consistency with the location of his pitches and that could be the deciding factor on whether the coaching staff has confidence in him in the late-inning spots this season.

Surprise, surprise, again the hitting star was freshman Brent Milleville.  After a perfect effort on Saturday, the Kansas native again had a game to remember.  Milleville finished 3-for-3 with two singles and a home run in this intrasquad game.  His first single was an extremely hard hit ground ball through the middle against Manship.  His final at-bat saw Milleville single to left field versus Stimpson to bring home a run.  Those were sandwiched in between a solo home run to straight-away left field against Gallagher.  The shot was a high, towering blast just to the left of the scoreboard and ended up as the only earned run Gallagher would surrender on this day.  Not only has Milleville put up the best numbers of any of the freshmen thus far in the fall, but his production at the plate has been tops on the entire team.

All signs point toward Milleville contributing immediately this season, but there does appear to be one aspect to his hitting game that could use improvement.  Nearly every single one of Milleville's hits have been to the pull side of the field which could potentially be exploited by some of the better pitchers at this level.  If there's one thing the Cardinal coaching staff stresses to the extreme though, it's to use all fields when hitting.  The Stanford hitters spend an incredible amount of time going the opposite way and so Milleville will no doubt learn as the year progresses.  There's no questioning his raw power though.  And if you make a mistake anywhere near the middle or inner portion of the plate, you're going to pay.  He's hitting everything hard right now and it's been quite a sight to see.

Other News and Notes:
* John Hester continues to be an RBI machine early this fall season.  On Sunday, Hester delivered three more RBI's - the sacrifice fly off of Reynolds and a two-run double to deep left field against Gallagher.  Hester has eight RBI in the first six games of the fall (17 at-bats).

* Adam Sorgi had the other hit off of Manship - an RBI single to center field.  Sorgi is playing exclusively at shortstop and second base alternating with Chris Minaker and a handful of freshman at each position.  Sorgi didn't play any third base last fall either before the coaching staff made the switch before January practices.  Seniors Chris Lewis and Minaker are the most likely candidates to garner most of the playing time at the middle infield slots, so a switch back to third once January hits could be in the cards for Sorgi (unless Mark Marquess decides to make some dramatic changes with the infield defense).

* The triple for Domaracki was his third of the fall.  The sophomore outfielder, who has been swinging a hot bat thus far, has three of the four triples hit during these intrasquad games.  Milleville leads the team in doubles (5) and home runs (2) through six games.

* Three returning pitchers will likely not see any action during fall ball this year.  Juniors Matt Leva and Logan Ardis are nursing arm injuries.  Leva, who took the summer off to rest, is doing some light throwing on the side which is a welcome sign.  Meanwhile, sophomore Erik Davis is not injured, but is taking the fall off and will rejoin the team once preseason practice begins in January.

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