TAMPA, FL - Once again it was the pitching that stood out for the Yankees in minor league Spring Training action on Saturday. The Tampa Yankees lost 2-1 but Jonathan Holder and the Charleston RiverDogs handcuffed the Phillies for a 6-2 victory on the other field.
Jonathan Holder started the game for Charleston and made quick work of the Phillies, retiring all six batters he faced in order. Sitting mostly 92-93 mph with his four-seamer and breaking in a brand new two-seamer that averaged 90-91 mph and and showed good movement, and continued flashing the relatively new cutter that sits 87-88 mph, he struck out three batters in two scoreless innings, and threw a lot of strikes with all five pitches. He was all business on the mound.
The Tampa bats were quiet most of the day but outfielder Nathan Mikolas reached base all four times he stepped to the plate. He went 2-2 with two walks. Both singles were sharply hit to right field and he scored the only Tampa run in the loss.
Tampa Starting Lineup: Bryan Cuevas, Nathan Mikolas, Matt Snyder, Matt Duran, Leonardo Molina, Alvaro Noriega, Billy Flemming, Dominic Jose, Jordan Barnes, and Collin Slaybaugh.
Charleston Starting Lineup: Jorge Mateo, Gosuke Katoh, Dustin Fowler, Chris Breen, Abiatal Avelino, Conner Spencer, Eduardo De Oleo, Alexander Palma, Frank Frias, and Allen Valerio.
Mike Ford was on the bench most of the day for the Tampa Yankees but made the most of his one at-bat, driving home the lone Tampa run with a booming double to the right-centerfield fence, scoring Mikolas.
Chris Breen continues to swing a powerful bat for the RiverDogs. He went 2-4 in Charleston's victory and hit the ball hard all four times up. He began the afternoon hitting a booming two-run double to centerfield that one-hopped the wall, scoring both Gosuke Katoh [1-3, run, 2 K's] and Dustin Fowler [0-3, run] in the first inning. He singled to left field sharply later in the game and both of his outs were sharply hit line drives. He has looked locked in at the plate.
Holder wasn't the only RiverDog hurler who looked strong on Saturday. Cale Coshow retired all six batters he faced too, including three strikeouts of his own. He sat 95-96 mph with his fastball and mixed in an okay changeup and slider. It was the fastball that he was locating and that batters couldn't sniff, however.
Charleston shortstop Abiatal Avelino, like Breen, has been getting on base frequently in the early going. He went 2-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and even stole a base. He began the game by ripping a triple into the right field corner and later scored on a Conner Spencer RBI sacrifice fly, and later legged out an infield single before stealing second base on the very next pitch. He grounded out sharply in his third and final plate appearance.
Left-hander Rony Bautista made it 16 straight Phillies batters retired in a row [after Holder and Coshow pitched], retiring the first four batters he faced before an error by backup shortstop Graham Ramos allowed the first Phillies' base runner. Sitting 93-94 mph and showing a great slider, he then retired the last two batters he faced. He looked particularly strong with his offspeed pitches.
Like Ford, Miguel Andujar was on the bench for most of the afternoon but made the most of his one opportunity. He singled sharply to centerfield in his lone at-bat. He has been absolutely stinging the ball early in camp.
Caleb Smith started the game for Tampa on Saturday and has a signature start of sorts; the stuff was downright nasty but he had a hard time commanding it. He sat mostly 91-92 mph but popped 94 mph, and both the changeup and slider were moving a bunch, but he had a hard time throwing his pitches where he wanted. He walked just one batter but left a couple of fastballs up in the zone which led to three hits and one run allowed over his two innings of work.
Left-hander Caleb Frare had a very similar outing to Smith in his first Spring Training appearance. He too sat mostly 91-92 mph, popped a couple of 94s, and his secondary pitches were moving. He struck out two batters in 1.1 innings but was also the victim of some bad luck. He allowed a swinging bunt base hit and an actual bunt base hit, and then allowed a run on a hard-hit single. Otherwise though the stuff looked really good.
There were a few Yankee relievers that showed similar stuff on Saturday. Andre Del Bosque, Matt Wotherspoon, and Angel Rincon each sat 91-93 mph with their fastballs, they each showed really good sliders, and they each struck out at least two batters [Rincon had three] in their respective two innings of work.
Allen Valerio [1-2, BB, RBI, 2B], Dalton Smith [1-2, 2B, K], and Frank Frias [1-2, run, K] each hit the ball hard for Charleston on Saturday.
News from the Dominican academy; shortstop Diego Castillo has been the talk of camp down there with his overall game but in particular with his hitting ability. Team officials over from the academy this week have been raving about his advanced hitting ability.
There is some bad news already in camp. Outfielder Kendall Coleman broke his thumb in Friday's Spring Training opener and will be out six to eight weeks.