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maurice
04-23-2007, 05:22 PM
This trip, I got to see 3 games and wish I stayed longer. Birmingham Barons baseball is a pleasure. Interesting prospects to watch on pretty much every SL team. Unusually knowledgeable and enthusiastic local fans. Extremely accessable players. $3 parking. $8 for excellent box seats. Brand new plastic seats now that Hoover sold the naming rights to Regions. Easy 2-hour flight from Chicago. Temps that are 20 degrees warmer than Chicago. Large numbers of Chick-fil-a's and BBQ places. Free admission to Aldrige Gardens and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The extremely excellent Oak Mt. State Park. It's all good.

Baseball-related comments to come . . .

maurice
04-23-2007, 05:50 PM
Let's start with the excellent pitching staff (and an aside re. the opposition).

I got to see 1-3 in the rotation. I've seen Russell and Gonzalez at least twice before, but this was my first look at Egbert, so I was pretty excited. They didn't disappoint. In fact, they pretty much dominated the Biscuits lineup, including the unfortunately named Evan Longoria who became increasingly frustrated (and whiny) as the series went on. Pretty impressive, considering that he came into the series with a 1.119 OPS. Lots of popups and a couple of GIDP from Longoria. I think I only saw him hit 1 ball hard, and it was caught. He also didn't show much of an arm at 3B.

Russell was just as I remembered. Low- to mid-90s FB. Occasional change of arm angle. Unimpressive secondary stuff. He's able to dominate most minor-league hitters (including Longoria) with his FB, but I still think he'll need to come up with something else to get MLB hitters out. He doesn't have great control, but he doesn't walk a lot of guys either. He's also a tough dude. Took a hard shot off the shin (ouch) but kept on pitching.

Gio also was more of the same. Good fastball. Good curve. Makes many hitters look down-right stupid. Lots of goofy swings, popups, and broken bats. Totally dominating when he's got his good control, but it slips away at times. He had one particularly bad control inning, but bounced right back after Lucy told him to relax and just hit the mitt. It seems like the Sox are still treating him with kid gloves re. # of pitches / innings, but he's in good hands with Richard Dotson.

Egbert was very impressive. I was concerned that he would be just a junk-baller who was good at getting minor-leaguers to ground out, but that wasn't the case at all. He has a major-league fastball and uses it early and often. His ability to induce a ground-ball is becoming legendary. He also has beautiful mechanics and decent secondary pitches. Keep an eye on this kid.

I also got to see Ryan Wing, which was a bonus. The scouts at the game were impressed to see his fastball back up near 90 MPH. He also has his slider back. If he can harness his control and stay healthy, he might just put himself back on the map this year. OTOH, he's still a max-effort pitcher with sloppy mechanics, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Vasquez was extremely wild. HBP, WP . . . he even missed the bullpen catcher multiple times while warming up. (So did Wing.) Most of the strikes he threw were swings-and-misses on his breaking ball. I can see why Sox scouts wanted this guy, but he's got a long way to go.

Dewon Day looks like the real deal. When he's throwing strikes, he completely dominates, though he fell behind hitters a couple of times. Good, hard FB and good slider.

Somebody asked about Bittner recently. He's throwing sidearm and didn't look too impressive giving up the lead.

UserNameBlank
04-23-2007, 05:56 PM
Thanks for the reports!

Also, did you see what else Egbert throws besides his fastball?

maurice
04-23-2007, 06:04 PM
Now on to the position players. Much less depth here in terms of prospects, but there are a few notables.

Donny Lucy is absolutely raking. Hitting for AVE, hitting 2B . . . he's even stolen a few bases. He feels that he's finally turned the corner and adjusted to the pro game offensively. If he's right, that's great news, because he's definitely good enough defensively. The pitchers like to work with him. He calls his own pitches, and they rarely shake him off. He's mechanically sound with a quick release and the ability to block balls in the dirt. About the only criticism I have is that he failed to get a sac bunt down, fouling it off twice, but he's gotten plenty of bunts down in the past.

I'm not a huge Chris Getz fan. He doesn't stand out statistically, so he really needs to defend and do little things well to make a MLB team. He's very good on the balls he can reach and turning the DP, but he has limited range at 2B. I've seen him bunt and advance runners, but I've also seen him K trying to hit a HR with the winning run on 3B and less than 2 outs.

Valido is really struggling at the plate. He has a long swing with a huge hitch that he needs to work out, but he's working hard to shorten it up and hopefully will come around. He's already a very good defensive SS and a good base runner. It's the ugliest swing I've seen since Fields was in BHM, but that worked out pretty well.

Still to come: Kelly and Collaro.

Tragg
04-23-2007, 08:16 PM
Maurice - thanks for the reports. Where did yall stay?

maurice
04-23-2007, 08:33 PM
Where did yall stay?

Here (http://marriott.com/hotels/travel/bhmhv-renaissance-ross-bridge-golf-resort-and-spa/). I had a free room cert.

maurice
04-23-2007, 08:47 PM
When final rosters were announced and Schnurstein was assigned to W-S, I wondered who would play 3B for the Barons. The answer (at least for now) is Chris Kelly. He has a pretty good bat, but not good enough to make it to MLB as a 1B, so this is his best shot. He didn't get too many chances, but seemed to catch the ball well. Throwing is still a work in progress. He bounced a couple of easy throws . . . but so did Longoria, and he's a top prospect. (Apparently, there will be a bash Evan Longoria theme to my posts.) Kelly started the season slow offensively, but the 25 year old totaled 32 2B, 20 HR, and 77 RBI in 133 games for W-S last season.

Tom Collaro appears to have taken a huge leap forward in his second year at Birmingham. After a meek .213 AVE in 2006, he's mashing the ball in the early part of this season (1.000+ OPS) and his numbers would be even better if he played in a more hitter-friendly park. I saw him hit balls high off the high and deep OF walls in Birmingham that would have been sure HR almost anywhere else. There's no doubt that this large man packs a ton of power. The question is whether he'll make enough contact. Despite his recent success, he's still striking out a ton. He's not a great defense player and takes some interesting routes, but probably has an adequate arm for RF. I question his baseball intelligence. His got picked off 1B by the catcher because he wasn't really paying attention and didn't hustle back to the bag after a pitch was thrown and didn't bother to slide. The next day, he almost got thrown out at 2B on an easy double, because again he wasn't hustling and didn't bother to slide.

That's all folks.

Daver
04-23-2007, 08:55 PM
I've always liked what I saw from Schnurstein, spray hitter that uses all fields, decent glove, but no power to speak of, which may end up getting him moved to second base.

maurice
04-24-2007, 12:27 PM
I forgot to mention that Dr. James Andrews (aka the greatest sports medicine surgeon in the world) is the Barons' team physician . . . which is nice.

SoxxoS
04-24-2007, 12:29 PM
Love these reports - Thanks maurice

Britt Burns
04-25-2007, 11:05 AM
Gio also was more of the same. Good fastball. Good curve. Makes many hitters look down-right stupid. Lots of goofy swings, popups, and broken bats. Totally dominating when he's got his good control, but it slips away at times. He had one particularly bad control inning, but bounced right back after Lucy told him to relax and just hit the mitt. It seems like the Sox are still treating him with kid gloves re. # of pitches / innings, but he's in good hands with Richard Dotson.

Egbert was very impressive. I was concerned that he would be just a junk-baller who was good at getting minor-leaguers to ground out, but that wasn't the case at all. He has a major-league fastball and uses it early and often. His ability to induce a ground-ball is becoming legendary. He also has beautiful mechanics and decent secondary pitches. Keep an eye on this kid.

IDewon Day looks like the real deal. When he's throwing strikes, he completely dominates, though he fell behind hitters a couple of times. Good, hard FB and good slider.



Just curious, if you had to select the better pitch, would Gio's curve rank above or behind Day's slider? I've heard both are plus-plus pitches, and as I've never seen Day throw I am curious to how he stacks up.

Thanks!!

maurice
04-25-2007, 12:51 PM
if you had to select the better pitch, would Gio's curve rank above or behind Day's slider?

I couldn't answer that. They're both K'ing S.L. guys left and right.