First off, for those unaware (and who don't follow me on Twitter, which if you're not, and you use Twitter, you may as well follow me @TigsTown), Friday was an abbreviated day on the back fields. All games started at 10AM, with the A-ball clubs and Double-A/Triple-A squads facing off against each other. Connecticut also hosted the Long Island Storm, a semi-pro team.
The four full season clubs played just five innings, with much of the lineup consisting of reserves that haven't seen a ton of at-bats yet this spring, while they also maintained continuity in the rotation for the pitchers going every fifth day.
After the abbreviated games, save for some long tossing, lifts and the occasional bullpen, the players had the afternoon off. This is the clear indication that cuts are on the way, as the coaching staffs typically utilizes the free time to have meetings and discuss players and begin to narrow down rosters. It can be a sad day for many, but unfortunately, an inevitable part of the process.
But beyond that, there were some important takeaways from today.
Danry Gets One-on-One Attention
The first of those is some more info on Danry Vasquez. We've seen in the past that players that the organization has invested heavily in get extra work in from time to time, and Danry is no exception. When the games ended and most of the players headed to the locker room, Vasquez was held back for multiple hours, getting additional on-field instruction, practicing technique on fly balls and then getting some additional schooling in the dugout after from a pair of front office members. This sort of treatment is reserved for star players, and should make it clear to fans just how big a piece the Tigers figure Danry can play in the future.
And on that note, expect Danry's future to be in left field. The coaching staff plans to stick him out there, and in attempt to accelerate his development, is only having him practice there to learn to read the ball off the bat. Even when fielding in batting practice, Vasquez is in left.
Extended Spring Players Get a Look
In addition to Vasquez, who is expected to be at West Michigan this spring, the players in extended spring got the chance to get in some game action, and a couple of players stood out.
The first was Harold Castro, TigsTown's #28 prospect, ranked so highly for his natural hitting ability. For those that haven't read his prospect profile, it's a must read, and fits him to a tee. In one at-bat, Castro fouled off a half dozen pitches (some of which he probably shouldn't have swung at to begin with) and did so comfortably and with ease. Just 18 years old, Castro could find himself being moved quickly.
One arm that had his ups and downs was Gregorio Solano. At times, he struggled with his control, walking multiple batters in just a couple of innings and at times unable to even get the ball near the plate. But the velocity was for real, and even if the ball wasn't near a strike, was getting plenty of swings and misses.
Flying Tigers Loading Up
Finally, on the Lakeland side of things, the team has had its share of struggles the past few years in competing in the Florida State League. However, if things hold as they are at the moment, that will be no longer.
Expect the Flying Tigers rotation to be made up of Alex Burgos, Brian Flynn, Kevin Eichhorn, Kyle Ryan and Luis Sanz. While only Burgos can find himself in the top 20, Flynn, Eichhorn and Ryan all are in the back half of the top 50 and could make a big jump with a strong showing, while Sanz impressed many with his run in Connecticut last year.
The lineup in particular though should be loaded. At the moment, the Flying Tigers' lineup looks to feature Avisail Garcia, Daniel Fields, Nick Castellanos, James Robbins, Hernan Perez, and as of just the past couple days, Tyler Collins. It's also likely that either Rob Brantly or James McCann (catchers are always the last position to get worked out) will be the man behind the dish most days. Quite simply, there will be a ton of thump coming from that group.