Inside The Ports: 1st Week Pitching Notes

At the start of the 2008 season, the Stockton Ports boast one of the top pitching staffs in the minor leagues, according to many scouts around the California League. Stockton correspondent Paul Muyskens returns to give us his first-week impressions of the talented staff.

Fautino De Los Santos
De Los Santos has been throwing hard.
De Los Santos was throwing in the low-90s to high-80s for most of his six innings on Opening Night. He seems to throw harder than any other Ports' pitcher despite several throwing at the same speed as him. Three wild pitches on opening night and a hit batter was his primary downfall as the hit batter along with wild pitches led to the two runs he allowed. He only walked one and with a better defensive catcher he probably only would have had one wild pitch and an Opening Night shutout.

Except for a bunt single, the other four hits he allowed were all through the air. He was pretty impressive pitching with runners in scoring position, not allowing runs. I expected to see a lot of strikeouts swinging but only one of the six wasn't from watching a strike-three called.

In the second start, he looked more dominant than his first start after a bad first-inning. De Los Santos got the lead-off batter of the game to ground the ball to second base but an error allowed the batter to reach and start a four-run top of the first. One of the runs was unearned but it almost looked like he was trying to overthrow or make too good of a pitch to make-up for the lead-off error and he paid for it by allowing two hits and a homer.

He only allowed two hits in the next four innings, as he struck-out seven, including the side in the second and the final two batters of his last inning. All but one of the five hits he allowed were through the air again and despite his getting plenty of outs through the air, it looks like he'd be better off trying to keep the ball on the ground all of the time.

Henry Rodriguez
Rodriguez has had two strong outings.
Rodriguez pitched out of a nice jam in his first inning as a Stockton Port after a lead-off walk, a stolen base and an error had a runner on third with no-outs. He was able to get out of the inning without allowing the run thanks to two strikeouts. He retired eight straight after the lead-off walk with five strikeouts. Rodriguez allowed very few balls to be put in play in the air except for the back-to-back doubles in the fourth which accounted for the lone run he allowed. The first strikeout was looking and then his final seven were all swinging, as most of his strikeouts should come this year.

Rodriguez also looked even more dominant in his second outing of the year, as he allowed just two flares to left for singles. He struck-out the side in the fourth inning for seven K's in the first four innings of play before seemingly trying to get quicker outs by having balls put in play. He struck out one in his final two innings to finish with eight strikeouts in six innings, allowing just two hits and two walks. He has five walks on the year and every time he has walked someone, he has responded by striking out the next batter.

Brett Anderson
Anderson has yet to allow a run.
In his first outing, Anderson induced ground balls hit right to his infielders all game long as eight of the 11 outs recorded in the field were on balls hit on the ground. The first two hits he gave up were on jam-shots that stayed in the infield that the runners were able to beat out with the lone non-infield hit coming on a grounder up the middle with two-outs in the sixth. He had a span from the second to the sixth where he retired six straight and nine out of 10 with his lone walk thrown in. His was by far the most dominating performance of the opening series. Anderson doesn't seem like he is as much of a strikeout pitcher as De Los Santos or Rodriguez but struck out six all swinging.

I made the trip up to Modesto for the Ports' first road game of the year and was rewarded with another gem of a pitching performance, as Anderson went six shutout innings, striking out seven and allowing two hits and two walks. The first hit he gave up was again on a ball that jammed the batter that the batter was able to beat to first. The lead-off batter got a hit in the second inning and then stole second and was the only runner to reach scoring position, as Anderson didn't allow another batter to reach past first base.

Trevor Cahill
Cahill threw a seven shut-out innings in his first start.
In his first start, Cahill hit the first batter of the game and then proceeded to record outs on the next 10 batters with three strikeouts. A throwing error on Frank Martinez broke Cahill's streak and he gave up his first hit of the game right after that on a line-drive to right. Cahill got out of the inning without allowing a run with his final strikeout of the night, his fourth, and a ground-ball to second.

Cahill got himself into trouble again with another hit batter and an infield single that had two runners on with just one out. He got a ground-out that the defense was unable to turn into a double-play but then got the final out himself as he picked off Anthony Jackson who was trying to get to second. Cahill retired seven straight batters before being pulled after seven innings.

Cahill keeps the ball on the ground the majority of the time when the ball is put in play. He struck-out eight and allowed five hits in five innings to move to 2-0 on the year Friday night in Modesto. He walked his first batter of the season and allowed his first run of the season while recording his third hit batter.

Jared Lansford
Lansford has some tough-luck in his debut.
Lansford lasted just 3.2 innings in his debut and looked good for the first three innings before a horrible fourth inning. He recorded four straight outs to start the game with two strike-outs, showing good speed on his fastball. He got unlucky after allowing a double and an infield hit leading to a run or he would have had zeros put up on the scoreboard for the first three innings.

It looked like the batters the second time through were looking for the fastball and taking the high pitches and lacing them into the gaps, as Lansford allowed three singles, two doubles and hit a batter, resulting in four runs before being removed from the game. Despite the poor fourth inning, he still showed signs of things to hopefully look forward to after a disapointing last year dealing with injuries. He will make his second start of the season Saturday night in Modesto.

Relievers

Patrick Currin - Looks like he has regained his first-half form from last year that made him an All-Star before a horrible second-half of the season. He has eight strikeouts in six innings and was unlucky in allowing just his second run of the season on Friday night, as he was removed and the next reliever threw a wild pitch before getting the final out of the inning.

Arnold Leon - He has looked as equally impressive as the first four starters despite his limited innings coming out of the bullpen. He allowed just one hit in two innings while walking one and striking out two in his debut and then struck out one allowing one hit in his second appearance. Leon's most impressive outing of the season came Thursday night in Modesto, as he didn't allow a hit and walked just one as he really looked to over-power the Nuts' batters with his fastball as he struck-out four. Without a doubt he should be in the rotation and may have been if it wasn't for his eventual departure to Mexico to finish this year.

Derrick Gordon - The left-hander has a pretty solid off-speed pitch that he needs to throw more often. He gets batters to swing and miss, as he has six strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Gordon struggled controlling his fastball that is in the low- to mid-80s and has seen it harder at times.

Graham Godfrey - He struggled with three walks in his debut but has since found his control, not walking any and striking-out eight in 5.2 innings. He seems to throw a fastball in the high 80s that hitters have struggled to put in play, and when they have it has been for extra-bases leading to an eventual run.


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