Peoria Recap 3-17

You know something important is going on when Bud Black, Josh Byrnes, and a large contingency of players are all standing behind the backstop watching the beginning of the High A game. What was the cause for the excitement? Joe Ross was taking aim against live, non Padre, hitters for the 1st time this spring, and his battery mate was fellow 1st round pick Austin Hedges.

3 pitches into the game and you could tell why the Padres fell in love with Ross. He has a free and easy delivery, but the ball just explodes out of his hand. He was consistently hitting 92-94 on the gun and topped out at 96. He primarily threw a fastball and curve mixing in a change every once in a while. He showed good movement on all his pitches, moving in and out of the plate. You could tell some rust was still present as he left more pitches than normal up in the zone. While the Royals hitters didn't miss many of these pitches it got on them so quick they could do little other than foul it off.

After catching a few bullpens during early practice before hitting the cage Hedges was out to show Black/Byrnes and co.. that he was more than worth the 3 million they gave him to pass on UCLA. One of the things that impressed me about Hedges was his framing. Ross throws a nasty curve ball that goes from 1-7, and Hedges catches it on the inside corner and the glove doesn't move an inch. Anything catchable was framed perfectly. Hedges also showed off his cannon nailing a perfect throw to 3rd trying to catch a runner. Offensively, you could just see the confidence coming out of Hedges as the 2011 instructional league MVP, got up to the plate. While he ended the game 0-2, BB, RS, you could already see the difference between the videos of his swing in HS compared to now.

Other news and notes

Who will be the Ft Wayne 1B? With no real prospect ready to take over for Conor Powers (who will be in Lake Elsinore), we knew someone from the OF would move to 1B. Who would guess the answer is Jose Dore? Dore was taking groundballs earlier in the day and then was the starting 1B in the game. No official word has been made yet about whether or not this move will be permanent, but he did a good job picking a ball out of the dirt.

Jace Peterson and Cory Spangenberg were taking fielding practice early in the day and both looked about as smooth as could be. Jace showed his range by moving seamlessly into the hole and making a 360 spin and throw. Cory is slowly but surely erasing any doubts that he can stay at 2B. He was able to charge the ball, and make the difficult transition from glove to hand on a few slow rollers.

Duanel Jones… wow! Jones isn't the biggest looking guy, but when he makes contact with the ball he just flies. The 18 year old came up in the 2nd and broke the game wide open by just ripping a pitch into the gap for a bases clearing double. His next AB leading off the 4th he just CRUSHED a ball over the LF wall for a solo HR. The best sign that a player did something good is when Bud Black cracks a smile after your AB. Jones is ticketed to be the Fort Wayne starting 3B, where we get to see how he adjusts to the cold.

Donavan Tate is back… again. After an offseason rehabbing his wrist he is back and gearing up to go. He was making a few fantastic catches in CF including 1 in the gap where he spun around and threw a bullet to 2nd to double off the runner. Tate struggled at the plate striking out on a hanging change, and added to it with a couple pop ups with runners on. You could feel the frustration as he is still trying to get back to game speed with the bat.

John Barbato just toyed with hitters similar to Kotsay toyed with pitchers. No location problems today as all 3 of the pitchers he threw were crisp and on target. He struck out the 1st batter on 3 pitches before getting the next 2 hitters to weakly popup and ground out. Barbato was the 4th pitcher used in the game and as he was taking his warmup pitches you could just hear the difference. Barbato sat in the mid 90's with great movement on his curve. He might have been added by the hitters swinging at balls, but his overall outing was quite impressive.

Mark Kotsay was playing in the game and was just toying with the pitchers. Kotsay saw at least 5 pitches in every AB before lining a single in the 5.5 hole in the 1st, solid single to RF in the 2nd, and a walk in the 3rd. Kotsay looked the same age as he did the last time he donned a Padre uniform. Best part of the day was seeing Stubblefield foul the ball off against the screen, and when no one went to get it Kotsay, in the on deck circle, went after it. When one of the Padres pitchers came out to get it instead Kotsay raced him to the ball, got there 1st and flipped him the ball. The young pitcher said "Thank you sir," which Kotsay replied "please never say that to me again." Great stuff in Peoria

Nate Freiman took a knee after his batting cage session and he looked to still be at the same height as Dan Robertson who was walking by at the time.

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