Briefly at Batavia – Part Two

Leonda Markee's two-part series on player observations of the 2007 Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League concludes with a review of the ballpark along with seven position players and even the umpires!

Part two looks at some of Batavia's position players and Batavia's park.  I waited to discuss the park until this section because the position players are the ones most affected by it.

 

The Park – The only other short-season A ballpark that I have visited is the New Jersey ballpark where the team formerly played as the New Jersey Cardinals through the 2005 season.  When that franchise was purchased and moved to State College at the end of the 2005 season, the ballpark owners were unable to bring in another affiliated franchise because their park facilities did not meet league standards.

 

With that understanding it is unfortunate that Batavia's facilities do not compare favorably with those in New Jersey.  Except for the relatively insignificant fact that Batavia's concession stands are permanent versus New Jersey's which were portable and moved in on game days, New Jersey's park and playing field were simply better.  The Batavia stadium is fairly small and the playing field resembled one that a high school might use.  There was a clear delineation between the infield and outfield and I do not mean the grass.  There is a hump/ridge that goes from first base to second base and then on to third base and the outfield appears to slope away after that point.  Both first and third base look like they are in holes because there is an incline along both baselines as you approach the base.  The scoreboard was difficult to see because the sun was shining directly on it as it sat above right-center field and there were a number of lights missing which made it hard to figure out the numbers being used at times.  The only significant area in which Batavia is superior to New Jersey is that the player facilities are located within the complex while New Jersey's were located within a public health club that was on site. 

 

It is not realistic to expect Batavia's ownership to build an entirely new stadium.  However, they should provide an adequate playing field and they have not. Overall, it looks like some fairly tough field conditions on which to play.

 

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.  My last eye-witness report came in July 2005 when I visited the short-season A team when they were in New Jersey.  The most impressive regular in those three games is no longer in the organization.  I probably witnessed the best three games that guy played in his professional career.  (In my own defense it should be pointed out that the most intriguing guy I glimpsed played only one game.  He was an undersized outfielder with excellent speed and an absolute cannon for an arm named Sean Danielson.)

 

 

The Hitting

Generally speaking, the batting stances were conventional.  Charlie Pelt's stance was every so slightly more open than the others and his stance still fell within the ‘normal' range.  Any comments on defense included here were obviously dictated by how the game played out.  Do not draw any conclusions if comments on defense are not included for specific players.  Sixteen of the 27 recorded outs came via the strikeout which means the defense did not get a lot of opportunities.

 

While not all the players that took part in the game are discussed, those that are mentioned below are listed in the order they batted.

 

Shortstop Oliver Marmol (6th round, 2007 draft):  0-for-3 with a sac bunt

Marmol is listed at 5'10" and 165 pounds.  He is slender with good bat speed.  The 21-year-old batted lead-off.  He did little from the plate but did lay down a nice bunt in the 5th that went between the pitcher's mound and third which he barely missed for a hit.  That sac bunt advanced two runners and set up a two-run double by Will Groff. 

 

Defensively, Marmol showed good range and an accurate arm except for one glaring play.  In the sixth inning he fielded a grounder but double-clutched his throw which was low and just a tad late.  That play was scored an infield hit against Blake King.   He easily handled two 6-3 ground outs, one of which was a very nice play.  After Blake King allowed a solo home run with two out in the eighth to narrow Batavia's lead to 3-2, the Jammers' designated hitter, Torre Langley, sent one up the middle.  Marmol ranged behind second, gloved and threw off-balance to Charlie Pelt at first for the third out.  Marmol also fielded a pop out to shallow center.  Given the infield ridge that Marmol has to deal with every home game, he gets a great deal of slack.

 

Will Groff (29th round, 2007 draft):  1-for-4 with a double, two runs batted in and three strikeouts

Groff was the game's designated hitter and batted out of the two spot.  All three of his strikeouts were swinging and he did not show much plate discipline. 

The 22-year-old did connect in the third inning for a two-run double to right-center but was immediately picked off second by the pitcher before a pitch was even thrown to the next batter.

 

Third baseman Daniel Descalso (3rd round, 2007 draft):  1-for-2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch

Descalso batted third and hit from the left side (he is right-handed).  Descalso is a physically solid, muscular player, particularly so for a 20-year-old.  His physique is far more developed than most of the other starters with the exception of catcher David Carpenter and first baseman Charlie Pelt.  In his first at bat he drove a ball left over the plate for a solid single to right-center.  He walked on five pitches in the fifth (the pitches were close and required a pretty good eye) and my notes have him subsequently stealing second.  The official game log has him advancing to second on a wild pitch but my memory has him running as the pitcher delivered the ball to the plate.  Descalso was hit in his lower right back by a pitch to lead off the eighth but was forced at second on the next play.

 

First baseman Charlie Pelt (29th round, 2007 draft):  1-for-4 with a run scored and two strikeouts

Pelt hit fifth and is another hits lefty/throws righty.  My notes indicate that he may have had a slight upper cut to his swing and his batting stance is ever slightly open.  His sole hit was a solid single to right on the first pitch he saw during his first at bat.  His second at bat was a very hard hit fly out to the warning track in dead center, about 397 feet, approximately three feet shy of the centerfield wall.  He wore a shin/ankle guard on his right leg during his at bats.  Defensively, Pelt played first base and handled his position quite well.  He made an excellent stretch to glove a low throw by Oliver Marmol in the sixth inning and fielded a fairly hot smash in the third inning for an unassisted out.  Pelt is physically well developed, as you would expect from a player who will turn 23 in December.   

  

Centerfielder Tommy Pham (16th round, 2006 draft):  1-for-4 with a run batted in and one strikeout

Pham hit in the six hole and looks more slender than the 180 pounds (at 6'1") listed on the roster.  He had a weak pop out to second in his first at bat.  Pham grounded out to short on a 3-1 count in his second at bat but the play was close due to Pham's speed.  He struck out looking on a 1-2 count after fouling off two pitches the next time he came up.  Then after three at bats in which he was less than impressive, Pham nailed the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning and drove it into left-center which allowed Collin Fanning to score from second for an insurance run.  He lost no time in stealing second but was stranded there.  

 

Defensively, Pham's failure to hit the cut-off man in the third inning led to the only run allowed by Jess Todd.  He tried to throw it all of the way home from center which resulted in the ball landing somewhere around the pitcher's mound.  On the other hand, Pham's fine grab on a line drive to left-center by lead-off man Bryan Petersen in the sixth inning likely prevented subsequent runners from scoring.  Blake King proceeded to give up three singles and a wild pitch that inning but escaped without harm due to a caught stealing and a strikeout. 

 

All in all, Pham looked like what he is…inexperienced and young.  There were glimpses of his promise.

 

Catcher David Carpenter (12th round, 2006 draft):  1-for-1 with a run scored and two walks

Boy oh boy do I wish this guy's bat would come around because his work behind the plate was pretty darn good.  Carpenter hit seventh and was the most physically impressive player that I saw.  He looked taller than the 6'1" listed on the roster.  Carpenter twice showed off a strong, accurate throwing arm:  once in the second inning when he nearly picked off the runner on a snap throw to second and then again in the sixth inning when he helped bail Blake King out of a jam by nailing Ryan Curry on his attempted steal of second.  His one defensive lapse came in the seventh inning.  With the count 2-2, the lefty-hitting batter checked his swing on a pitch inside.  The umpire called him out (delayed call) but Carpenter appeared to have ‘assumed' that Batavia would not get the call and did not appear to make his best effort to get the ball.  The ball ended up rolling to the back-stop and the runner went to first.  The look on Carpenter's face as he retrieved the ball (he was about a foot away from me) said it all.  He knew that he had messed up.  The scorer called that a wild pitch but it was catchable.

 

Carpenter, who turned 22 on July 15th, was perfect at the plate that game, hitting in the eight spot.  He walked to load the bases on five pitches in his first at bat and then walked again (and subsequently scored) on a 3-2 count in his second at bat.  Carpenter led off the seventh with a single to right-center on the first pitch and was sacrificed to second where he was stranded.  He was the second most impressive position player in the game as he combined overall excellent catching skills and good plate discipline.

 

Second baseman Ross Oeder (28th round, 2007 draft):  1-for-1 with a run scored, a run batted in on a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt

First, the guy's last name is pronounced ‘Aid-er', not ‘Oder'.  For what it is worth, Mr. Oeder was the best total package out there on the July 29th game.  At 5'9" he is the smallest player on Batavia's roster but he looked to be a legitimate 5'9" (unlike, say, Sean Danielson who sure does not look to be his listed 5'8").  Offensively, his sacrifice fly to deep left field in the second inning drove in Charlie Pelt for the first run of the game.  After Carpenter walked to open Batavia's half of the fifth, Oeder bunted a beauty to the first base side which the first baseman fielded.  Oeder's speed and flexibility caused the first baseman to miss the tag.  After being sacrificed to second by Marmol, both Carpenter and Oeder scored on a double by Will Groff.  In the seventh, Oeder again got down another beautiful bunt, this time to the third base side, to advance Carpenter. 

 

Defensively, Oeder displayed very good range and a strong arm.  His best play came with two out in the third inning.  With runners at first and second and one run already in, the Jammers' number three guy, Ryan Anetsberger hit a dying quail into shallow right.  Oeder raced back and caught it over his left shoulder.  (The game log is just flat out wrong.  The play was made by Oeder, not Fanning.)  It was the best play of the game.  Oeder also ranged behind the second base bag to initiate a 4-3 ground out. 

 

Oeder showed that he can handle second base and utilize his good bat control to create opportunities.  (He strikes out about once every 5.6 at bats so far this season.)  But he needs to walk more to off-set his total lack of pop.  Still, he did look promising.     

 

 

Umpiring –

These comments probably should have been included in Part One, but ‘better late than never'.  The umpiring was better in this game than it was in the three games I saw in New Jersey in 2005.  It is a little odd to see only one field umpire.  The home plate umpire was a bit inconsistent which led one big mouth to say ‘You'll never get promoted if you keep calling that pitch a ball!'  (O.K. that big mouth might have been me but I will point out that the umpire started calling that pitch a strike and Jess Todd has me to thank for it too!)  Generally the home plate umpire did a good job as he did not inject himself into the game.

 

Maybe it was due to my fairly low expectations but the Batavia team actually impressed me somewhat.  The pitching was very good and the defense was more up than down.  They played hard and the offense had some bright spots.  Good luck to all of them!

 

 

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

 

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