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Here's the link directly to the Johnson City roster. Johnson City roster
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- Brian Walton
I was traveling through Virginia last week and managed to catch an Appalachian League game between the Johnson City Cardinals and the Pulaski Blue Jays. I thought I'd send you a few general observations.
First off, I was only able to see two of the five players I wanted to see. It was the third game of a series; the final game of a seven-day road trip. Center fielder Colby Rasmus and catcher Bryan Anderson both had the night off. Tyler Herron pitched a great game the night before. (Insert favorite curse word here.)
Secondly, take these comments with a grain of salt. I only saw one game. No need to completely pigeon-hole a kid's career after reading about one game.
Here's the box score from the game I attended if you want to check other things: box score
Josh Wilson (age 18) started the game, and had a one-hit shutout going into the fifth. Through the first four innings, Wilson threw eight groundball outs and three strikeouts. He mixed his pitches well and generally kept the Blue Jays off balance. In the fifth, he kind of ran out of gas, giving up two runs on three hits, an errant pickoff throw, and a walk. He got yanked after 4 2/3 innings and didn't figure into the win, but the kid pitched very well. He's a player to keep an eye on.
Alberto Guerrero (age 19) picked up the win in 1.1 innings of relief work. He's repeating the league for the third year. Let's move on.
David Phillips (age 20) picked up a save after pitching the final three innings. Allowed three hits and no runs while striking out five. Showed a lot of poise. He might be one to keep an eye one as well.
Starting at catcher that night was Steve Gonzalez (age 18). He's a backup catcher in the rookie league hitting .216. He hit a double and drove in a run that night, but his offensive numbers for the season aren't that great. His defense didn't necessarily stand out that night, but no one tried to run on him and his pitchers only gave up two runs.
Geoff Desmond started at first base in place of A.J. Van Slyke (before his promotion to New Jersey). His age isn't listed anywhere, but he's a college player from Arkansas State. He went 1-for-5 with a double that night. His power numbers for the season are alright, but he hasn't hit for average or got on base nearly enough for a college player at this level.
Jose Martinez (age 19) started at second base. He looked very sluggish in the field. I was very surprised to look at the season stats and only see two errors next to his name. He looks like he's learning a new position, but I can't imagine what the other position would have been. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI. His offensive numbers for the season aren't bad (.256 AVG, .353 OBP) for a middle infielder, but I'd be surprised to see him excel in the future.
Shortstop Donovan Solano's age isn't listed anywhere either. He looks Dominican, so he could be any age really. He hit a three-run double on this night and showed a pretty good glove. His offensive numbers for the season aren't that great, but he might be one to keep an eye on if he's age appropriate.
Third baseman Randy Roth (age 23) has no business on this team. He's obviously the best player on the team. He's way too good for this league. I don't know why he's playing at this level at age 23, but he deserves a promotion. Roth went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a stolen base on this night and boasts a .354 average and 1.061 OPS for the season. He is listed as a catcher, but plays a very good third base. He also looks like he could easily play second base. If anyone has any back story on why Roth is still in Johnson City, I'd like to know. He's a man playing with boys.
Left fielder Malcolm Owens (age 21) is a tall, athletic player with a body like Dave Winfield. He's also got a long swing and looks like he hasn't been playing baseball very long. He's obviously a tools guy. I don't know if he'll pan out, but it appears he's got a long way to go. He stole second and third (on a poor catcher) after drawing a walk, but also misjudged one fly ball really bad. I think he's got a lot of work ahead of him.
Daryl Jones (age 18) was one of the players I came to see. He played center field this night with Rasmus on the bench. The physical comparisons to a young Kenny Lofton are true. However, it looks like he's got a ways to go too. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on this night and looked helpless against left-handed pitching and/or curveballs. He's got a long swing that needs to be corrected. He made a couple of nice plays in the field and showed very good speed. While his night was very similar to Owens, you can tell he's got more skills and a few more years to develop them. He's not tearing up this league by any means, but I wouldn't write him off. He's just a little more raw than I expected.
Charles Carter (age 23) started in right field. He went 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBI. He showed a good glove and strong arm, but he obviously benefits from being too old for this league as well. However, unlike Roth, he's not exactly tearing the league up. At age 23, his .250 average is not very impressive at this point.
Wil Pujols (age 17) was the DH. He looks like a skinny version of his cousin Albert. He also looked completely overmatched, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Judging by his season stats (.087 AVG), I saw a typical night. His swing is a little long, but he doesn't seem to be able to hit anything other than a fastball. He fouled off a couple of those, but missed badly on everything else. At this point, I tend to agree with people from the Kansas City area who saw him play in high school and said the Cardinals reached quite a bit to take this young man in the sixth round. He may come around, but we surely could have picked him up much later in the draft.
Like I said, this is one guy's opinion after watching one game. The Cardinals won 8-2 and the Pulaski PR folks stupidly asked a Cardinals-related trivia question. I won a Pulaski Blue Jays pennant and had a great time. That's all that matters.