RC's Spring Training Notes: March 24

Because the Seattle Mariners cancelled the day's scheduled minor league games, Tuesday was a "club day" for the Royals' minor leaguers. Therefore, the minor league clubs squared off against each other in a pair of intrasquad games: Double-A vs. Triple-A, and Low-A vs. High-A. RC spent the vast majority of our time on Tuesday covering the latter, and our report on the day's action is inside.

The starting lineup for the Low-A (Burlington) team was: Patrick Norris (CF), J.D. Alfaro (SS), Eric Hosmer (1B), Nick Van Stratten (RF), David Wood (DH), Mauricio Matos (C), Antonio Jimenez (3B), Shawn Griffin (LF), Fernando Garcia (2B), and Salvador Perez (DH). Around the seventh inning, Carlo Testa subbed in for Norris, Juan Rivera took over at shortstop, Sean McCauley and Jose Bonilla took Matos' and Perez's spots in the lineup, and Jason Morales took over at third base and hit in Garcia's spot in the lineup. Blaine Hardy started on the mound for the Low-A team, followed by Barry Bowden, Derrick Saito, Brett Richardson, and Manauris Baez.

The High-A (Wilmington) team also batted ten players. Their starting lineup was: David Lough (CF), Johnny Giavotella (2B), Mike Moustakas (3B), Anthony Seratelli (SS), Jamar Walton (LF), Kyle Martin (DH), Wilson Tucker (RF), Ryan Eigsti (C), Diego Cruz (1B), and Joe Billick (DH). Alwin Perez took over at second base for Giavotella in the seventh inning, and Allen Caldwell subbed in for Tucker. On the mound, Chris Chavez got the start, followed by Jesse Carver, Anthony Bradley, Tim Melville, and Carson Bryant.

The game went 11 innings, in order to get all the pitchers their allotted innings. Wilmington won the game, 7-2, after touching Richardson for five runs over the eighth and ninth frames.

The offensive stars for the Wilmington club were David Lough and Kyle Martin. Lough went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored, and an RBI. His first double was a laser off of Saito that one-hopped the right field wall. He followed that up by blistering another double up the right field line in the eighth inning off of Richardson. In the tenth, he ended his day with a beautiful bunt up the third base line that he beat out for a single.

Lough's bunt in the tenth was a beauty

Martin went 3-for-4 with a walk, and he too had two doubles. The first was the most impressive, a shot off the left field wall off in the first inning. Martin is really squaring the ball up on the barrel of the bat right now, and it seems like he hits at least one ball hard – be it fair or foul – in nearly every at bat.

Martin is crushing the ball right now

Johnny Giavotella is also swinging a pretty hot bat right now. He looked incredible during batting practice in the morning, serving hard line drives all over the diamond. He was held hitless in three plate appearances (including a sacrifice bunt he successfully got down), but he smoked a liner to center in his first at bat. Even more encouraging, however, was his defensive play. He looked really solid at second base, and he executed an excellent turn on a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth inning.

Gio stroked a line out to center in the first

Mike Moustakas had a pretty good day at the plate as well, particularly with situational hitting. He had two sacrifice flies, and he finished the day 1-for-3 with a triple. The triple was really just a high, deep fly ball to left that was misplayed by Shawn Griffin, but it showed off Moustakas' impressive raw power.

Moose had a pair of situational successes on Tuesday

We also got our first look at Tim Melville, who pitched the eighth and ninth innings for Wilmington. He looked pretty sharp, mixing a quality curveball with a fastball that sat between 88-92 mph. Melville surrendered four hits during his two extended scoreless frames (he had to get four outs in each inning), but he struck out five batters while yielding no free passes.

Melville looked sharp in his outing on Tuesday

Nick Van Stratten had the best day at the plate among the players on the Burlington squad. The KC native went 4-for-5 with a double and a triple. He pounded both extra base hits to right-center, and his only blemish on the day was a strikeout against Melville, when he was caught looking on a 92 mph fastball.

Van Stratten continues to rake

Eric Hosmer went 1-for-5, his only hit coming in the best matchup of the day. A small crowd of coaches and scouts had gathered behind the plate to see Hosmer face Melville, recipients of the two largest signing bonuses among the 2008 draft class. Melville started Hosmer off with a 91 mph fastball in the dirt for ball one. He came back with another fastball on the outside corner, but Hosmer reached out and smoked it back up the middle for a base hit. Earlier in the game, Hosmer nearly went deep to left field on a ridiculously high fly ball. The ball was caught against the top of the wall by the left fielder.

Hosmer makes fly outs entertaining

Shortstop J.D. Alfaro was 0-for-3 at the plate, but he played outstanding defense. His best play came in the third inning, when he ranged deep into the hole to pick up a grounder and made a strong throw to retire Ryan Eigsti at first base.

Alfaro had a nice game at short

Other Notes:

As mentioned above, we didn't spend any time watching the game between the Double-A and Triple-A squads. However, we did notice Rowdy Hardy warming up in the bullpen for his appearance, and it seems as though the soft-tossing southpaw has changed his arm angle to nearly a full submarine delivery. The top photo shows his arm angle today, while the bottom photo shows where it was last year during spring training. We didn't see Hardy pitch in Northwest Arkansas last year, so it's possible that he altered his delivery during some point last season.

Hardy is now almost a full submariner

Spring Training 2008

During the morning workouts, we noticed that Joe Dickerson was working out at first base. The infield coaches were conducting a digging drill for first basemen, shooting balls in the dirt through a pitching machine. Clearly, this was an interesting development, and Royals Director of Minor League Development Scott Sharp told us the club is simply trying to make Dickerson a little more versatile. The Royals still view Dickerson primarily as an outfielder, but he could see a little time at first base this season.

Dickerson was working out at first base on Tuesday

On Wednesday, the Royals' minor leagues are scheduled to take on the Seattle Mariners. Once again, RC will most likely stay with the two lower-level clubs in Surprise, but we plan to report on the Double-A and Triple-A clubs later this week. Stay tuned.

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