The Western Division-leading Swing of the Quad Cities are really coming together as a team here in the last four weeks of the regular season. They stand two games ahead of the Beloit Snappers (Twins). If they continue to play as well as they have in the last few weeks, I predict that the Swing will go beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time in recent history.
In the Wednesday game this week, Kenny Maiques put his 25th save on the board. The all-time QC record is 26 in a season and there's a month left to play. Tyler Herron got his 10th win for the season and seems to be back to his unhittable self. Pitching, hitting, and defense all seem to be peaking at the same time, and at the right time for a powerful push to the playoffs.
My player spotlight this week shines on Christian Reyes. The jovial, fun-loving 21-year-old brightens the room when he enters. I hesitated to interview him out of my fear of showing how little Spanish I speak. He was very patient with me and, after only one attempt at Spanish, he agreed that we should conduct the interview in English. Whew! My thanks to Rey-Rey for helping me perfect my pronunciation of my only Spanish phrase. I won't try to spell it here, but it means, "Hit the ball!"
Jon: Tell me about your best moment in baseball.
Christian: It was the day I signed. It was incredible.
Jon: What are you working on most to improve in your game this year?
Christian: I'm working on my swing. I need more power every time.
Jon: How do you balance the fun of baseball with the daily grind of the game?
Christian: My life is 95% baseball. It's not balanced! I love baseball so much, I LIVE baseball!
Jon: What's the best thing about playing professional baseball?
Christian: Moving up, getting to play baseball! Doing my job!
Jon: What's the worst thing about it?
Christian: The road trips. They're too long!
Jon: What are your hobbies?
Christian: I like Xbox. I'm into music. And baseball, of course!
Jon: If you couldn't play baseball any more, what would you do instead?
Christian: I'd coach; probably strength and conditioning.
Jon: Who is your role model in Major League Baseball? Who do you try to be like?
Christian: Yadier Molina, of course!
Jon: Finally, Christian, when do you hope to play your first Major League game at Busch Stadium?
Christian: Hmmm… October of 2010… in the World Series!
Swinging this week: Kenny Maiques is on the verge of QC baseball record history. One more save and he'll tie the all-time season record. Antone DeJesus ended a 13-game hitting streak this week, only to start another streak. Christian Reyes has been on a tear this week, raising his batting average to .303. Steven Hill remains at the top of the stats chart with a .357 BA; maybe we should call him Magnum. Nick Derba is coming on strong, too, with a .333 average and great defense at backstop. Kyle Mura has really developed his closing skills since the team abandoned the piggy back starter system. His ERA is 1.88.
Missing this week: Tim Dorn's average has dropped to .172. Although he has missed several games due to a thumb strain, he needs to show us the reason the Cards bought his contract. Daryl Jones continues to be a concern. He has raised his batting average to .215 but his defense seems to slip when his offense steps up. I still can't remember a first pitch that he has tried to hit this season. Shaun Garceau has popped up on the radar this week as well. He started out pitching dead-on this season and now it looks like he's getting tired; that's understandable for a 19-year-old in his first full season. The upside of his late-season slip for fans is that this increases his chances to come back here next season. (I know, he wouldn't see this as an up side!)
On the watch list: I'm keeping an eye on Chuckie Fick, a recent addition to the bullpen. I haven't actually seen him throw yet, but his teammates all praise his control from the mound. Marco Gonzalez sits at the top of the ERA list among Swing pitchers at 1.15. The problem is that he's still on the DL recovering from a nerve injury in his left arm. The latest prognosis is that he'll be able to start throwing again soon. Oliver Marmol shows good speed on the bases. He's still adjusting to the style of play in this league, but I think he looks promising. And, last on the list this week is Clayton Mortensen. He starts Thursday so I finally get to see him pitch. I'm impressed with his stats, but I've always preferred to see for myself what kind of stuff a pitcher has.
Next week I'll be featuring another Swing catcher, Nick Derba.
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