Briefly at Batavia – Part One

Leonda Markee's two-part series on player observations of the 2007 Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League begins with pitchers Jess Todd, Blake King and Josh Dew.

I had the chance to take in the July 29th game at Batavia when they took on the Jamestown Jammers of the Florida Marlins' organization.  At game's opening, these two teams brought up the rear of the Pinckney division with two games separating them.

 

Remember – These observations are made on one game, just one game.  They are not intended to be an indicator of either future performance or overall ability. 

 

Setting Up the Game - Last place Batavia had the Jess Todd/Blake King pitching tandem going while Jamestown countered with lefty Marc Lewis, a 22-year-old who was selected in the 20th round of this year's draft.    The Jammers' highest draftees are two 19-year-olds that both came out of the 2006 draft:   Leftfielder Thomas Hickman (2nd round) and catcher/designated hitter Torre Langley (3rd round).  Batavia's highest draftees are 20-year-old third baseman Daniel Descalso (3rd round, 2007 draft) and 21-year-old shortstop Oliver Marmol (6th round, 2007 draft). 

 

My seat was in the first row, behind home plate and cost $6.00.  It was 325' down both the right and left field lines and 400' to straight away center.  I sat next to two season ticket holders who said that most folks in the area were thrilled that Batavia was affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals because they were winners.  On the other hand, they also said that it was ‘demoralizing and depressing' to come to games early and watch the opposition do calisthenics and running on the field while the Muckdogs stand in their dugout and talked.  When queried on whether the Muckdogs ever did likewise the answer was a very strong ‘No, never'.   It gives them the impression that the team is not serious about the game.  The Muckdogs' uniforms are white with red pinstripes which remind you a lot of Batavia's most recent affiliation with the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

 

The Pitching

Jess Todd:  4-0, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO, 0 HR

Todd started the game and picked up the win.  He is listed at 6'0" and 205 lbs and was selected in the second round of this year's draft.  Todd is broad-shouldered and has powerful upper thighs.  There were two young men (and I stress the word ‘young' here) with radar guns and one of them was kind enough to provide his radar gun readings.  Todd pitched in the 88-90 mph range during his stint.  He had a compact delivery and was a fast worker.  The 21-year-old was aggressive and really went after the hitters.  He regularly threw inside when needed. 

 

Todd's first inning of work went so quickly that it did not get documented by yours truly as I was still getting settled in.  However, he threw first pitch strikes to 11 of the final 15 batters he faced.  Another batter singled on the first pitch he saw and only three batters saw first pitch balls.

 

Todd's pitching pattern appeared to be to get a first pitch strike on the outer corner of the plate and then force the opposition to react to him.  I admit that I am not the best at identifying different pitches but he appeared to throw primarily fastballs that had excellent tailing action.  His pitches tailed away from batters on both sides of the plate. 

 

Todd struck out eight in five innings (seven different batters).  Six of his eight K's were of the swinging variety.  However, both the first and second innings ended with his two called strikeouts and batters started fishing after that.  Todd was smart enough to take advantage of the hitters' anxiousness by placing pitches low and near the corners where batters would swing at them.

 

The only downside came in the third inning when Todd had runners on first and second and two outs.  The Jammers' number two hitter, Ryan Curry, worked a 1-2 count and then lined one back up the middle for a single and a run batted in.  The ball went past Todd without him even attempting to catch it.  My notes say ‘good reflexes by Todd gets the out'.  However, after allowing three singles in the third, Todd came back out and retired the last six batters he faced.

 

Overall, Todd was very, very impressive.  He came across as a pitcher with both a pitching plan and the ability to execute it.  Todd was fun to watch pitch.

 

 

Blake King:  3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR, 2 WP

King is listed at 6'1" and 220 lbs and he is stockier than Todd.  Todd carried his weight through his shoulders and upper thighs while King's weight is distributed more evenly over his body.  King is a draft-and-follow signee that was selected in the 44th round of the 2005 draft.  King's pitches were in the 88-92 mph range. The game slowed down a bit when King was on the mound but not excessively so.  Like Todd, King had no problem throwing inside to keep batters honest.

 

King faced 13 batters and threw first pitch strikes to six of them.  One batter singled on his first pitch and six batters saw first pitch balls.  The other three hits came when King was behind in the count, including the only run he allowed, a solo shot home run that came on a 3-1 count.  However, one of the these three hits came when the shortstop, Oliver Marmol, double clutched on his throw to first which allowed the runner to barely beat his throw. 

 

King struck out six of the 13 batters he faced, five of them swinging.  All six strikeouts came against different hitters.  With two out and runners on second and third, King closed the sixth inning off by rearing back and blowing one by Ben Lasater who is one of the Jammers' offensive leaders.  King struck out all four batters faced in the seventh but the second batter of that inning got to first when the checked swing third strike got to the backstop.  (More on that in my notes on catcher David Carpenter.)  That was scored a ‘wild pitch'. 

 

King worked the strike zone well and had a decent move to first base.  He was always aware of the base runner without looking obsessed by him.  One runner attempted to steal but was gunned down by Carpenter.  King came across as more of a work-in-process, pitching-wise, than did Todd but he is a year younger.  Still, he looked good out there.

 

 

Josh Dew: Save, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO

Josh Dew was selected in the 14th round of this year's draft.  The 22-year-old is listed at 6'5" and 225 pounds and that listed looked pretty accurate.  He was neither skinny nor bulky but did look like he could add additional muscle to his frame without it impacting his game.  Dew was a fairly fast worker and had little problem dispatching the three batters he faced.  He threw in the 88-92 mph range and got first pitch strikes on all three hitters.  Both of his strikeouts were swing-and-miss.  Dew picked up his seventh save and looked very impressive.  

 

 

In Part Two of this report, we will look at Batavia's position players.

 

 

Leonda Markee may be reached at uconncard@yahoo.com.

 

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