PP: Which hitter impresses you the most on the Battle Creek roster?
Jeff Hem: I would have to say Eric Duncan. What impresses me about Duncan is at 19 years old he already has developed the mind sight of trying to hit the ball to the opposite field. He's more of a doubles hitter right now than a homerun guy, and I can think of several times when the outfield has played him to pull and he's sprayed a double to left-center.
PP: As you are the broadcaster, which player that plays or has played with the BC Yankees this season creates the most excitement? Why?
JH: Matt Carson has probably created the most excitement simply because he's done so much offensively in the short time since he's rejoined the ballclub. He started at High-A Tampa, and since his "demotion" he's maintained a positive attitude. His arm in the outfield is unbelievable too. When the opponent tries to advance a base, more times than not Carson can get the out or make the play close.
PP: Paul Thorp has done a great job as the Battle Creek closer this year. What kind of ritual or special approach does he have? Most closers take on a persona, what would you describe his as?
JH: I don't know that Paul has any odd rituals. What I can say is that he's not extremely tall and maybe not the most muscular guy on the team. But that doesn't matter in a closer. You need someone who can get guys out. Thorp can strike you out or he can make you get yourself out. Either way, he's been very consistent.
PP: Which player that is currently playing or passed through Battle Creek this season, in your opinion will make it to the big leagues the quickest?
JH: Melky Cabrera, who is now playing in Tampa, was certainly at a level much too high for the Midwest League. He's done quite well in Tampa. He's a very talented outfielder who hits for a high average. If his power numbers continue to develop, then he'll continue to rise through the organization.
PP: What Battle Creek pitcher has shown the most potential?
JH: Very tough question...at this level the guys are so young, so the potential is present in each of them. Tyler Clippard, at 19, is one of the younger pitchers. His fastball has significant movement, and for a young pitcher to have so few walks (15 in 80.2 IP as of 7/1/04) is impressive. Also, Brandon Harmsen has been very good for Battle Creek. He began the year as a starter and struggled. Then he flourished as a long reliever, and has since returned to the starting rotation. He's 7-0 on the year. He throws strikes more consistently than any other pitcher on the staff.
PP: As an announcer you have seen a lot of dramatic moments. Which BC Yankee has the best flare for the dramatic?
JH: Carson's late-inning at-bats are always fun to watch, as he continues to deliver clutch hits. The single most dramatic moment of the season, at least to me, was Elvys Quezada's no-hitter on 5/24 at South Bend. That was the first no-hitter I've seen live, no to mention having to remain calm to call the game.
PP: What do you think of Abel Gomez in regards to his skill and potential?
JH: I think Gomez has unlimited potential. In fact, as I type this the Yanks are coming off a great outing last night (7/1) from Gomez. He struck out 10 West Michigan Whitecaps, tying his season high (also against West Michigan). As Steve Renko puts it, you just never know what you're going to get from him. Walks have troubled Gomez, and when he throws strikes consistently and can throw his curveball at any time in a count, he's on the verge of being almost unhittable. Good live fastball, and like most 19-year-olds, he needs to develop that consistency.
PP: Earlier this season, Elvys Quezada tossed a no hitter. What skills did he display that day that you saw that allowed him to dominate? What was it like to commentate that game?
JH: What a game that was! Quezada had an unbelievable curveball that night, and you could tell he was so confident in it. He could have thrown the hook on 3-2 count with the bases loaded that night. The only reason he didn't have to is because no one could get a hit. To call that game was very special to me. It was my first live no-hitter, and certainly the first in my young broadcasting career. Everything fell in to place that night for Elvys, and it was so exciting to witness.
PinstripesPlus.com would like to give out a special thanks to Battle Creek Yankees Broadcaster, Jeff Hem for his time and efforts in answering these questions.