Peoria, AZ: The San Diego Padres Low-A and High-A squads spent the second straight day at home. There were quite a few interesting moments from action on Sunday and Monday, including the progression of several players that hope to make a statement with rosters assignments looming.
The game ended in a 5-5 tie; as with most spring training games in the lower minors, the main goal is to get everyone their at-bats and get the pitchers to face as much live hitting as possible, all within the confines of pitch counts.
Everyone likes middle infielder Jeudy Valdez's actions on the field and at the plate. Has some speed and ability to shoot the ball into the gap. In the field, he has very good range and came make the spectacular play. The big problem is how consistently he will be able to perform. In today's game, he made a great play going to his right and then booted a routine ground ball with the next batter.
Outfielder Everett Williams looked good in his lone at-bat. On a 1-2 count, the left-handed hitting Williams hit a rope down the left field line. He appeared very confident at the plate with good strike zone judgement.
Second baseman Ryan Skube, the son of Padres' hitting coach Bob Skube, hit a big home run late in the game over the left-field wall on a two-strike pitch to tie the game at 5-5. Skube, who played last year in the Arizona, is in the hunt for a middle infield slot in a very competitive field in Fort Wayne.
"It was a 2-2 count and I was looking for something I could drive," Skube said. "It is always a grind when you start going, battling some soreness, but it feels good."
Everyone loves third baseman Edison Rincon's bat and power potential, but his glove is a different matter. In infield practice, he appears to stab and fight grounders, and in the game, he misjudged an easy foul pop-up, which ended up falling next to him.
Jonathan Galvez appears that he will be the everyday shortstop at Fort Wayne this year and was very fluid in the field, making all the routine plays and turning a stylish double play with Valdez.
The High-A ball team beat the Chicago White Sox High-A squad 4-3. Some sparkling plays but the real excitement was watching the shouting match between one of the White Sox coaches and the umpire, which resulted in an ejection.
MadFriars 2009 Player of the Year Cody Decker has been seeing a lot of time at first base and saved his fellow infielders from some errors with some nice plays around the bag. Decker who is in great shape for the spring should get significant playing time at first and possibly in left field.
According to roving catching instructor Duffy Dyer, there has been no talk of moving any player from a different position to catcher. Decker caught bullpens in the offseason and plans to tell whomever his coach is that he is available at the catching position if needed.
Little known fact, Decker was recruited out of high school by USC as a catcher/third baseman but ended up playing first base for the UCLA Bruins. Until high school, he had always primarily been a catcher.
Michael Watt, the pitcher that was acquired from the Dodgers for Greg Maddux a few years ago, put on a great performance going three innings without allowing a hit, walking one and striking out two. Everything from the lefty was low and hard and catcher Griffin Benedict did a great job behind the plate handling the moving two-seam fastball.
"It felt really good," Watt said. "The ball is coming out of my hand really good right now. Everything is going well. Repeating my curveball and going after hitters was the focal point. I had a couple of walks in the first game but felt better commanding the zone."
Vince Belnome, the star of last year's Eugene Emerald's club, appears to have a hammerlock on third base for the Storm. The left-hand hitting Belnome had two RBI and consistently hit the ball hard. There is a possibility that the Storm could open the season with six of their eight everyday players hitting from the left side, a huge advantage in the Diamond which favors left-handed hitters.
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