The high winds on Sunday affected Bannister's performance
Of course, his outing ended with a scare. Immediately after a Royals coach announced that Bannister was facing his last hitter, the batter lined a pitch off of his left knee. Bannister recovered to pick up the ball and record the out, and then dropped to the ground. Trainers and coaches rushed to his aid, but after a minute or two, Bannister was able to walk off the field. He didn't seem terribly concerned about his knee afterward, but he did mention that it was starting to swell up a bit as he was driven back to the clubhouse. Luckily, it doesn't appear that he'll miss any significant time.
Mozingo threw well in his outing on Saturday
Of course, nobody was more impressive than Fisher. Saturday's intrasquad game was our first opportunity to see Fisher throw to batters, and it didn't take long for us to realize that his ridiculously excellent numbers in the Arizona Rookie League the last two seasons were no fluke. Indeed, the young lefty was on full display, hitting corners with ease and dropping his plus curveball at will. His curve has a very sharp two-plane bite, and left handed hitters in particular seemed to have little chance at making solid contact. Fisher struck out several batters in his brief outing, including Lubanski, and nobody got good wood on any of his offerings.
Fisher was dominant on Saturday
Fisher's teammates rave about his ability to hide his fastball, which appears as though it's coming from behind his body. Shortstop Chris McConnell told RC that even though Fisher's velocity doesn't seem overwhelming, it appears to come in much harder than it actually is, due to his deceptiveness. Fisher will be a very interesting guy to watch this season, as he'll finally get a chance to face off against more advanced hitters, most likely in the Midwest League.
McConnell cruises into third for an RBI stand-up triple
McConnell explained to RC that because of the hitch, he would often drop the bat head and pop up pitches that he should have been able to capitalize on. The problem appears to be fixed now, and his performance in the intrasquad games has been very solid. He followed up a 2-for-3 on Saturday with a 1-for-3 effort on Sunday, including a stolen base and an RBI triple to deep center. Hopefully McConnell is well on his way to putting his forgettable 2006 season behind him.
Pimentel is an imposing presence on the mound
Van Stratten is a local kid from Winnetonka High School
We also got our first look at Nick Francis, who the Royals selected in the 15th round of the 2006 draft. Francis is an imposing physical specimen – his build is similar to that of Shane Costa – and the ball was jumping off his bat during BP on Sunday as he sprayed low line drives all over the field. Francis generates impressive bat speed with a huge swing, and he appears to be a guy who could generate some solid power numbers as he develops.
Nobody was hitting the ball harder than Francis on Sunday
On the other side of the physical spectrum is speedster Derrick Robinson, last year's fourth round pick. Robinson hit in the group after Francis, and we were very encouraged by the cuts he was taking from the left side of the plate. Last season with the Arizona Royals, the switch-hitting outfielder hit .357 from the right side of the plate, but just .194 from the left. However, on Sunday Robinson actually looked much better hitting left handed than right handed, serving line drives up back up the middle with ease.