EUGENE, OR-- Blake Tekotte is coming around to life in the Northwest League. A new draft signee is in Eugene taking his physical. Defense takes on a whole new role. Pitchers are moved from the bullpen into a starting role, lighting a fire for several who were demoted.
Blake Tekotte has struck out eight times in his first 13 at-bats with the Emeralds out of the leadoff role, not exactly the type of patiently-aggressive approach the Padres were hoping for out of top spot in the lineup.
Tekotte did, however, come off a few weeks off after the College World Series and has had to make an adjustment to professional baseball on the fly. Many of the players on the Emeralds roster had the benefit of a week long camp before the year began.
Tekotte felt like he may have been too aggressive early on – and that may still be true today. He singled up the guy on a 2-2 count in the first. He was then picked off first base on a 1-2 count to the next batter, breaking for second before the pitcher committed to the plate.
"It's going to come around," Tekotte said. "I am trying to do too much and trying to prove myself too much. I need to relax and learn my spots."
He then singled through the right side of the infield in the second inning to plate a run as part of a four-run frame and ended the night with three hits.
Beamer Weems was in Eugene on Thursday as he goes through his physical and blood work. Once all the formalities are complete, Weems will officially be assigned to the Emeralds. Barring any setbacks, he should be available this weekend or early next week.
"I am a ghost right now," Weems said.
After pitcher's fielding practice (PFP), Alexis Lara and Simon Castro tossed ground balls to each other. Castro had problems getting his lanky frame down to field balls during PFP and pitching coach Dave Rajsich wanted to ensure he was getting a lower center of gravity with his mitt on the dirt to field his position well.
Speaking of defense, the Emeralds are last in the Northwest League in fielding percentage and committed an error in the first inning that led to an unearned run. Jeudy Valdez, playing second base, had a tailor made double play come his way with nobody out but booted the ball, leaving the bases loaded. A double followed that scored two and the third was thrown out at home.
Dean Anna had an error in the fourth inning and Blake Tekotte committed one in the same frame, although neither led to a run. An Angel Mercado error in the fifth led to an unearned run, as he made an errant throw from his third base position – just the second time he has played the position professionally.
The Ems entered the game with the third-worst team defense in the Northwest League.
Nick Vincent got the start, sending Tom Davis to the bullpen on Thursday. The primary reason – to save their young arms after long college seasons.
"Most of our relievers will be starting in Fort Wayne next year," Rajsich said.
"The most important thing – it was the right decision," manager Greg Riddoch said.
It will also give Vincent a chance to throw more changeups, a pitch the Padres expect every player in the system to throw. He tossed two in the first inning and ended up with five for the game.
It also may have lit a fire under pitchers Rey Garramone and Pablo Menchaca.
"Menchaca was (mad) and his velocity went up," Rajsich said. "That is good. They need to know that we are going to hand them anything."
Menchaca has disappointed early in the season and the Padres have been concerned that he hasn't shown enough emotion. The message may have finally be heard.
AZL Padres manager Jose Flores got a glowing review from Riddoch, calling him a natural at his job. Flores managed the final 15 games last year for the Emeralds under the supervision of Riddoch and took over the AZL Padres after his one year apprenticeship. Flores calls Riddoch every other day to continue the mentoring process.
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