Fort Wayne TinCaps Notebook I

Fort Wayne, IN: Rain, Cancelled flights, and a drive from Chicago. Nothing could prevent this notebook from happening. Defense, pitching and hitting – we hit it all this day – and the fans came in droves for the game as a sold-out crowd of 8,203 saw the doubleheader.

Much like the quest to arrive in Fort Wayne for Saturday's game – and it wasn't a sure thing – the TinCaps have shown resiliency this season. They have been down – and down big but have never thrown in the towel from a hitting perspective. Out in the field, however, has been a different story.

While the effort level has remained high with the bat – and kids are the same way before they realize it takes both to win games – the defensive play at Parkview Field has been shoddy.

While only two errors were credited to TinCaps players, there could have been a lot more. Playing more like a rookie level team than a Low-A squad, things weren't pretty in the opener.

"We are a really young team to be honest," catcher Jason Hagerty said. "We are going to make our mistakes and learn from them."

Everett Williams made a pair of outfield blunders on balls that should have been caught. He lollygagged to balls hit over his head, perhaps falsely reading that they were headed out of the park. Both balls were within his reach and led to runs – one gaffe helped spawn an eight-run frame.

Danny Payne played center field in the night cap and showed how it was done, tracking down a ball in the right-center gap to erase a potential extra-base hit.

Edinson Rincon had a chance to turn two but got neither when he threw high to second base – it led to two unearned runs off Nick Greenwood and one more off Miles Mikolas in the opener.

"I need to improve my footwork," Rincon admitted. "My mechanics are a little off but I am working hard." His throw went high with runs coming in piles and him trying to make a play by rushing his throw. His set was off-balance, causing the ball to ride high and pull Jeudy Valdez off the bag.

Rymer Liriano also added a throwing error tossing the ball – to an open space between third base and home.

"I make it a point that defense and pitching is going to keep us in games," manager Jose Flores said. "Aggressive mistakes and aggressive errors, I don't have a problem with. If you miss a routine ball and something that needs to be made, those are the most frustrating.

"It comes to a point where you can't use ‘these guys are young' excuse anymore. Now it becomes time for them to make these routine plays or it causes big innings."

It is a young team that is maturing but has played like the Bad News Bears at times.

Two nice plays were made. Nick Greenwood stabbed a sharp ball headed up the gut. He speared it and made the throw to first for the out. Valdez also made a great play in the eighth. Ranging to his right on a hard hit grounder, Valdez caught the ball behind his body on a slide and twirled to throw the runner out at first.

Valdez was, however, picked off first base in the eighth with the team down by three runs and swinging the bats well – another miscue from a young team.

  • Nate Freiman put on a show during batting practice. The first baseman worked his hands inside nearly every ball to drive it with authority.

    Was that the reason behind his game one success?

    "No, unfortunately," Freiman said. "A lot can happen between BP and the game. I have been lucky enough to have Torni (hitting coach Tom Tornicasa) with me all year. He is very observant. He has figured out our swings and knows exactly what to tell us to help us out."

    Jonathan Galvez was not so good. His setup was late and he was under many of the balls. He worked on trying to gain early separation but that seemed to throw off his timing.

  • Nick Greenwood threw well over his first three innings but left some pitches in the middle of the zone in his fourth inning. Throwing between 87 and 91 mph with his fastball, some thought he might be tipping his pitches in that final frame, as the Tigers affiliate was able to string together six straight hits.

    His changeup sat between 78 and 82 and his curveball showed great movement coming in from 71 to 77 mph. His two-seamer was fading back to arm side, and that was the pitch the opposition was able to pull, taking advantage of the hole between third and short.

    "He left a couple of balls up and they played pepper with him," pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said. "He made some good pitches and they found a hole too. He has given us solid innings. This is one bad game. Maybe he was tired because his pitches started to elevate. He has been extremely solid for us."

  • Miles Mikolas has a new delivery that isn't as straight over top. The result is more deception and a tougher time for hitters attempting to pick up the ball. His curveball was dynamite with as much up and down as side-to-side movement. He has progressed tremendously from the player seen in Eugene a season ago.

    Mikolas did allow three inherited runners to score and one of his own but it was helped by an error.

  • Dexter Carter lacks any semblance of confidence. About the only pitch that has been there for him early in the year has been his changeup – a plus pitch that was his third best pitch a year ago. His fastball lacks zip and he is working behind too many hitters.

    Moved to the bullpen, Carter surrendered three runs on two hits and a walk.

    "It is an effort to have him gain his confidence back to let it go instead of trying to finagle it around," Flores said. "The bullpen is a chance for him to let loose. We will see what happens."

  • A contingent of Padres officials are in town this week, including Dave Roberts. Roberts worked with Jeudy Valdez and Jonathan Galvez on their bunting techniques prior to the game.

    Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski was also in attendance to see Jacob Turner throw – he has been traveling with the team in an effort to see all five West Michigan starting pitchers.

    Jerry Sullivan relished the battle against a top prospect.

    "You have to enjoy the battle, especially when their guy is throwing inside and striking some of our guys out," Sullivan said. "You want to go back out there and get three quick ones.

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