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Chisoxfn
06-25-2003, 07:03 PM
FutureSox Goes to the Carolina/California League All Star Game (http://www.baseballfans.net/futuresox/article.php?story=20030625141804668)
By Jason Gage
June 25, 2003
FutureSox.com

On Tuesday, June 25th the best of the Carolina and California League met in Rancho Cucamunga, California at the epicenter, home of the Rancho Cucamunga Quakes (High A – Angels). Represent on the Carolina league roster were four Winston Salem Warthogs: Ryan Wing (LHP), Kris Honel (RHP), Ryan Meaux (LHP), and Ruddy Yan (2nd). Outfielder Jeremy Reed also got the invite, but was promoted to Birmingham a few days before the game.

Prior to the game there was an All Star Fan Fest that included a pitching contest and a homerun derby. The pitching contest consisted of a wood board with a few holes cut out of it at home plate and the pitchers would get points for throwing it through the hole (points varied depending on the hole). Ryan Meaux took part in this contest and got one point in five pitches. The Sox had no representatives in the home run derby, but lefty Luke Scott put on a show, cranking out seven home runs in the first round. He eventually went on to win the contest. Scott is from the Kingston Indians of the Carolina league and hit several bombs, one of which cleared the scoreboard in right field.

While the festivities before the game were fun, they didn't out-do a very well played and exciting game in which the Carolina League won 5-3. Ryan Wing was the starting pitcher and he picked up the victory. Wing got into a two out jam in the first inning (Hit and Walk) but got out of it and wouldn't give up another hit (2 INN, 1 HIT, 1 BB, 1 HBP). Steven Shell (R.C. Quakes – Angels) started for the California league team and took the loss. Shell gave up two runs in the second inning. The MVP, Andy Marte, ripped an RBI double in the inning.

Sox farmhand Kris Honel pitched a hitless seventh (one walk). Another Sox Ryan Meaux picked up the save despite a rocky start to the ninth inning. Meaux gave up a solo homer to the first batter and then the next batter reached on an error. That was all Meaux could stand as he induced the next better into a double play and then struck out the final batter to end the game.

My Experience:
This was the first minor league game I had ever attended and I had a great time. It was very cool getting to see the White Sox prospects up close and in person. The game was very fun and the facilities in Rancho Cucamunga were state of the art. I'd rate it up there as one of the better smaller parks I’ve been to (Cactus League Stadiums). I now know why minor league baseball is becoming more popular.

The stadium was very fan friendly and fans don't have to spend a lot of money to sit up close. The players were also very friendly, signing in an autograph session for an hour before the game (All players signed) as well as signing before and after the game for those that were interested. The stadium also had raised bleachers down the left and right field lines, which allowed fans to stand right by the bullpen and watch the pitchers warm up without getting in the fans way – very cool as it allowed me to get great shots and video footage of all the Warthogs pitchers (See Below). For those that have never caught a minor league game, I advise you to check one out.

What I saw:
Ryan Wing was the first pitcher I saw warming up. He was very friendly and had a very awkward delivery while doing his long toss. He seemed to stop his motion at a few different points. After watching him go into the bullpen and throw, I realized this must be a pre-game technique he does to keep his mechanics straight. Stuff wise Wing had a lot of sinking action on his pitches. The fastest pitch I saw him throw (Stadium had a Radar) was 90 MPH. The majority of his fastballs seemed to be around the 86-87 MPH range and had excellent movement. Wing does a nice job changing his speeds as his slowest off-speed pitch was 69 MPH. He seemed to really vary the speed of his off-speed pitches as they would go anywhere from 80 MPH to 69 MPH. The one weakness I noticed in Wing was his control. He's a typical lefty who gets guys out

I saw Kris Honel earlier at the autograph session. Mentioned to Honel that I expect to see him on the South Side real soon and his face lit up. The kid seems really confident and excited to make it to Chicago. From what I gathered, he really wants to play in front of his friends (From the Chicago Area) and family. Later on when I saw Honel in the pen I noticed how big of a guy he is. At 6'6 he has plenty of height, but he also had good size (strong). When I saw Honel an immediate comparison to Kerry Wood's body-type came to mind. I always heard Honel was thin, but it looks like he's addressing those concerns by hitting the weight-room. Seeing him pitch was something. Early in his session Honel was flashing the knuckle curve (See Honel Knuckle Curve Picture on Bottom of the Page) and it had incredible movement. The ball had great drop and I couldn't get over how easy he through it and how much control he had over it. Then Honel started throwing his fastball (Clocked in the low to mid 90’s) and that had great movement. He could cut the ball both ways and they had good action for a pitcher that throws hard. After seeing Honel in person, I can see why he's one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, and he's now #1 in my mind in the organization (ahead of Borchard).

Ryan Meaux was the last of the pitchers I saw. Meaux is much shorter then Wing (6'4) and Honel (6'6) and isn't a velocity guy, much like Wing. The big thing that stood out with Meaux was he seemed to have a good feel for pitching. He had good control and the ball had movement. He didn't really throw many breaking pitches and seemed to be a fastball-change kind of guy. I don't know whether Meaux can make it in the majors, but he is a solid minor league pitcher.

Ruddy Yan was the leadoff hitter. When I saw Yan at the autograph session he had a huge smile on his face (Had it the entire time) and seemed to really be enjoying himself. At the plate Yan didn't have a good game. He struck out in his first at bat, flied out in his second (looked like he upper-cut it; I was hoping to see him slapping the ball everywhere) and then grounded into a fielders choice (player was thrown out at home; I thought it was a questionable call). Once on the base-paths I finally got to see Yan run. The next better hit a grounder and Yan took off for 2nd. This kid has amazing speed and quick acceleration. He really reminded me of Rickey (In regards to great acceleration). After that Yan was taken out. He looked to have good fundamentals fielding the ball and his throws were accurate.

For the multimedia portion, just click on the link and it will take you to the page and it has all the links in there on the bottom.