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It's a rare and enjoyable occasion when I get to attend a game in person that features Blue Jays prospects, but that was the case last night as the Skychiefs visited Ottawa. So now, whenever someone sarcastically demands whether I've ever actually seen any of these prospects that I write about, I can say, "Why, of course; I saw three of them in June." Today's report focuses heavily on the AAA game here in the NCR last night; Dunedin had the night off while New Hampshire won and Charleston lost.

Ottawa 6 Syracuse 1

Box score
Game report

Batter’s Box North convened at Lynx Stadium last night, as Mosely, Mark and Stephen T showed up at 6:30 as planned; half an hour later, in rushed the host of the event, late again. A few mea culpas later, we were ready to start the game.

I won’t give you the blow-by-blow description of the game – you can find that here – and there were only three players really worth watching anyway.

David Bush started and pitched much better than his final line (6 2/3 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) might indicate. Seven of the hits were singles, most of which were dinkers and dunkers that fell into the outfield; the double and the triple were scorched, though. But the Lynx hitters rarely looked comfortable; Bush was around the plate all night (as the BB/K line clearly demonstrates) and made very few mistakes. His fastball was working; there were a lot of surprised swings and misses from Ottawa batters who perhaps hadn’t thought Bush could throw that hard. Bush is supposed to be in the low 90s, and to our minds he was throwing at least that hard through much of the game. It didn’t seem like he was able to locate his slider very often, however, which left him vulnerable, although he threw what appeared to be some lovely change-ups to punch out batters on two-strike counts.

Bush is a compact package; the program listed him at 6’2”, but we were doubtful about that and would guess closer to 5’11", maybe 6 feet. But that’s not really a problem for a control artist like him. He has a minimalist, smooth delivery and seems like he'll have no issues with consistency or mechanics at all. He works fast: gets the ball back from the catcher, gets set and is ready to go again. He appears composed on the mound, though you could tell when he was unhappy with a pitch he’d made, which happened a few times. He fields his position very well, and seems to be pretty athletic.

One key aspect of his game, however, came up in discussion at the ballpark, and was noted by NDG in the minor-league thread: Bush appears to suffer from the lack of a reliable out pitch. Stephen, who was keeping score, noted that 4 of the first 5 hits off Bush came on two-strike counts; more than once, he allowed a base hit on a flat 0-2 count. Getting ahead of the hitters is not a problem for Bush – 8 Ks, a lot of them swinging, and 0 walks – but putting them away is sometimes a challenge. Perhaps if his slider had really been biting, he might have been able to shut down the opposition bats; as it was, though, he hung in very nicely and battled. In the 5th, he loaded the bases with nobody out (including two of those two-strike counts), but a fly ball, popout and strikeout later, he was out of it with only one run.

With 2 out in the 6th, Bush finally started to labour; he threw 8 pitches to the last batter he faced, who singled. He left with 2 on and 2 out, having thrown 116 pitches. Mike Smith entered the game, and a double and single later, 3 runs had scored and Bush’s line was effectively ruined. He deserved a better fate; he pitched very well, gutted out at-bats when he didn’t have his best command, and overall was pretty impressive. The only blemish was the inability to put a bunch of hitters away; it’s one thing to get ahead of Darnell McDonald and give up a single with two strikes, but it’s another to do it to David Ortiz and get launched over the wall. But then again, he finished off 8 hitters with a third strike quite nicely, so we're not talking chopped liver here. Bush has talent, command and composure, and that’ll take him a long way. If he finishes guys off consistently when he has the chance, I still think he’ll become a solid #3 starter in the majors.

Russ Adams was batting ninth when I first saw the Skychiefs in April; tonight he batted leadoff and showed why. In his first at-bat, he skipped an opposite-field double down the left-field line. In his second at-bat, he dropped a pop single to centerfield. His third time up, he struck out swinging; in his 4th PA he walked after falling behind 1-2. Coming up for the 5th time in the 9th, he whacked another double into right field. It was a very solid night at the plate for the shortstop, who raised his average to .283.

In the field, it was something of a mixed bag. He made a fine play in the 4th inning when he ranged to his right and tracked down a dying quail in very short left field with 2 on and 2 out. And he handled most of the grounders hit his way smoothly and cleanly. But in a key sequence in the 7th inning, he double-clutched on a grounder and just missed getting the runner as a result. We were unsure, lacking the benefit of replay, whether he was waiting for the first baseman to cover the bag or whether he just got the yips and couldn’t unload; my sense was more the latter.

And there was a strange play in the 3rd. Adams was on first and Jorge Sequea was on third with one out. Adams was stealing second on a strikeout when he appeared to pull up; the catcher threw to second and they appeared to have him in a rundown. But then the Ottawa first baseman threw to Sequea to try to nail him; both runners evaded the subsequent tag attempts and the Chiefs ended up with runners on 2nd and 3rd, with Adams credited with a steal. Again, we weren’t sure if it was a double-steal gone awry, or whether Sequea tried to break for home during the rundown, or whether Adams simply had a brain fade. But on this occasion, I think it was probably a variation on the first option; Adams is said to have excellent instincts, and I think he made the best of a broken play. But, like any young player, every so often he seems to drop a clunker out there. Who knows? I still think he’ll look very good in a Toronto uniform, and if the glove isn’t quite ready yet, the bat sure seems to be pretty much there.

Not much to tell you about Gabe Gross; he started off 0-for-2 before walking (after falling behind 0-2) and later singled in a run (off Bruce Chen, of all people); but he lined very hard back to the pitcher in the first, and overall had himself a pretty decent evening at DH. Simon Pond singled twice, but that was pretty much it for the interesting stuff. Mike Smith throws hard, but that appears to be pretty much all he does, and I can’t imagine he’ll be in the organization a whole lot longer.

Good game and good company; we’ll do it again in August when the Skychiefs make their third and final visit to the City That Fun Forgot.

New Hampshire 8 Trenton 6

Box score
Game report

Kind of a motley game here. John-Ford Griffin doubled twice and walked, scoring twice and driving in one run; a positive development for him. DH Maikel Jova also scored twice and drove in a run with 2 singles and a walk. A double and single were recorded by Dominic Rich (3 RBIs) and Danny Solano (1 RBI), while Justin Singleton singled twice and walked as well. If that sounds like a lot of baserunners, it is: the Fisher Cats put 19 runners on the basepaths.

On the mound, Gustavo Chacin was staked to a 4-0 lead after 2 innings, and promptly served up a three-run homer to someone named Mitch Jones. But he hung on after that, and ended with 9 hits and 4 runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings, walking 1 and 4 strikeouts. Brandon League and Jordan DeJong combined for 2 mostly mediocre relief innings (5 H. 2 R, 1 BB, 0 K) before Adam Peterson came in to shut the door for 1 1/3 hitless innings, striking out one. Any evening when a Yankee farm team loses is an evening well spent.

The Florida State League is on its midsummer All-Star Break. The Dunedin Blue Jays reached the halfway point of their season at 37-26, leading the Western Division by 2 ˝ games over Sarasota and tied for the best record in the FSL with East-leading Palm Beach.

Kannapolis 6 Charleston 3

Box score
Game story

Not a happy night in Charleston, as Alley Cat hitters struck out 15 times to earn the wrath of manager Ken Joyce, who afterwards accused some of his players of “giving up out there” (see game story). Ouch. Centerfielder David Smith singled and tripled, scoring one run and driving one in, but his was the only extra-base hit of the night for Charleston. Clint Johnston and Robinzon Diaz each contributed a single and a walk.

On the mound, Shaun Marcum had a rare poor outing. He allowed 4 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in 5 2/3 innings, but at least struck out 6. Afterwards he admitted that he couldn’t get any of his breaking stuff over consistently, and had to rely on his fastball all night, with predictable results. Only Mark Sopko provided solid relief, striking out 2 in a perfect inning.

Your Three-Star Selection:

The Third Star: David Bush, Syracuse, who pitched better than his final numbers indicated and struck out 8 against 0 walks.

The Second Star: John-Ford Griffin, New Hampshire, who doubled twice, scored twice, walked and drove in a run

The First Star: Russ Adams, Syracuse, who reached base 4 times with 2 doubles, a single and a walk.
Minor-League Update: June 12 | 17 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_DS - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 09:26 AM EDT (#58379) #

What would you think the difference would be between a guy like Bush and Josh Towers? Both seem to have very similar M.O.'s. Is Bush's stuff that much better than he could avoid AAAA status?
_Jordan - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#58380) #
DS, I think the principal difference at this point is in home runs. Towers, for example, has allowed 26 HRs in his last 200 Triple-A innings, while Bush allowed 10 in 151 A/AA frames last year and just 5 in 77 this season. Granted, power is more plentiful in the upper minors, but I think Bush just has heavier, nastier stuff. And Towers struck out about 20% fewer batters in his minor-league career than Bush has thus far. I have to run and can provide a more detailed answer tomorrow, but that's my first impression.
Coach - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 10:12 AM EDT (#58381) #
Jordan, thanks for the eyewitness account and I'm glad you guys had fun. On TV, it looked like Bush had so much spin on the slider, it kept diving out of the zone, and they were laying off it. Though I wasn't watching every pitch, I didn't see him try to throw it higher, for called strikes, very often. So I wouldn't say it wasn't biting, but would agree that he could locate it better. Today's game will also be televised for Rogers customers in Ontario, beginning at 6:00 on the community channel.

Nice to see JFG get the second star. That was his first professional start as a 1B, by the way. The Cats are now 6-1 vs. Trenton, going into a day-night doubleheader -- it's Ozias at 1:05 this afternoon; Banks tries to lower that 18.00 ERA at 7:05 tonight.
_NDG - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 10:34 AM EDT (#58382) #
Coach, I'd like your opinion on something. One thing I was thinking with Bush is something I sometimes see in Halladay as well. While they have great stuff and command, it seems to me that they sometimes throw the same pitch in the same location too many times.

Last night, as I mentioned and the BB North crew also noted, Bush was getting a lot of swinging strikes but gave up an abnormal number of two strike hits. On TV it seemed like all his pitches were in the same location (sliders low and out of the zone, fastballs low and in and low and out). I sometimes wonder that even though he's making his pitch, the hitters are 'adjusting' to the pitches.

I also find Halladay to be somewhat afflicted with this at the Major League level as well. Halladay always seems to be ahead of hitters, gets to two strikes a lot but doesn't strike out that many (relatively). One thing I noticed last year is that Halladay's about average in terms of getting batters out with two strikes on them. You would expect with his stuff he'd be a lot better than average. My theory (feel free to call it crap if you want) is that he throws too many pitches in the same location, and some hitters are able to time them a few pitches into the at bat.

Hentgen yesterday threw his 85mph heater high several times (and got at least one swinging strikeout on it), Maddux and Mussina will both throw a high change-up once in awhile. I'm assuming that these pitchers do this to mess up the hitter. Wouldn't Halladay and maybe Bush be helped by doing the same thing?
_NDG - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 10:45 AM EDT (#58383) #

One thing I noticed last year is that Halladay's about average in terms of getting batters out with two strikes on them.

I did this very unscientifically by comparing Halladay to other pitchers ... I don't actually know what the average pitcher does with two strikes. However if anyone has this info, please share.
Coach - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 11:37 AM EDT (#58384) #
NDG, I'm not going to offer any theories about Bush based on watching him throw 40 or 50 pitches last night on TV. I tend to agree with you that Halladay would get more strikeouts if he mixed in the high heater, as Lilly and Batista did successfully earlier this week.

However, Doc prefers the one-pitch out, and his whole approach is geared to induce grounders, so unless he "needs" the K in a given situation, I presume he's still trying to do that no matter what the count. I do agree that Roy tends to throw almost everything at (or just below) the knees, which certainly has worked for him. He goes east and west extremely well, but he rarely climbs the ladder like many other power pitchers.

Would going upstairs more often make him even better? Maybe, but the truth is, while I do coach teenage pitchers, my strong suit is hitting, so my opinion is hardly the definitive word on this topic. I will ask Gil Patterson about our impressions the next time I see him (likely during the Tampa series) and get back to you.
Gerry - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#58385) #
I caught the Syracuse game on tape this morning. Jordan you summarized Bush pretty well. Bush throws four pitches so I think the lack of an out pitch is not as critical as with some other pitchers. I thought his location was off on some of his pitches. He left some pitches in the middle of the hitting zone. The criticism of Bush has always been that he is too much in the zone and you can see that. If he can refine his control a little bit more to spot his pitches better I think he will be OK.
_NDG - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 12:03 PM EDT (#58386) #
However, Doc prefers the one-pitch out, and his whole approach is geared to induce grounders, ..... He goes east and west extremely well, but he rarely climbs the ladder like many other power pitchers.

I agree, but I sometimes wonder if that's the reason he gives up so many homers. Also, I'm thinking more to set-up hitters for when you do need the strikeout.

BTW, I know as fans we sometimes act like we know more than the players/announcers/managers. In this case however, Its just something I've noticed and wonder about. I am not suggesting that I know better than Halladay how he should pitch!

I also agree that we shouldn't make judgements on Bush based on one game, again it was just something I noticed and it reminded me of Halladay.
_StephenT - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#58387) #
I certainly enjoyed the company of the Bauxites. Mosely somehow picked me out of the crowd or I might have missed the whole thing. Mark has me almost sold on the Rogers PVR. And it's amazing how Jordan can recall all of the above information when he made frequent trips to the beer stand and didn't take any notes.

After 6 innings, Bush was at 99 pitches. He came out for the 7th and struck out the #8 batter (Jack Cust), gave up a bloop single to the #9 batter, and then got a groundball to third which Glenn Williams failed to turn into a DP (just got the lead runner). So Bush was at 108 pitches when the #2 batter, Garbito, came up. Garbito fouled off 6 pitches before blooping the 8th pitch into shallow right. That put Bush at 116 pitches and presumably that's why he was taken out. 14 of Bush's last 15 pitches were strikes and none of them were hit hard. I guess he has a starting pitcher's endurance.
_Mark - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#58388) #
A few other random thought to complement Jordan's excellent writeup:

* David Bush looked quite good. He was generally keeping the hitters off-balance, throwing a high fastball quite a lot (90-92 mph?). He struggled with his breaking pitches at times and it didn't look like he was throwing them for strikes much. Other than in the fourth inning, where Ottawa loaded the bases on 3 straight fairly well-hit singles to lead off the inning, he wasn't getting hit hard. And, he got out of the jam very effectively. There were a number of flares and other more softly hit balls that went for hits. Sitting where we were, behind the Syracuse dugout, makes it difficult to judge the location of pitches like you can with the center field view you get on TV, though.

* We pondered whether Lynx Stadium is a pitcher's park. I don't know if there was a strange effect wiht the wind; flags on a nearby Canadian Tire were flapping, but a couple of flags in the ballpark were limp. In any case, no ball even hit the outfield wall on the fly. BP 2004 gives the 2003 park factor as 986, so I guess it is. I've been to the stadium a number of times over the years and HRs are rare.

* Former Giant regular Marvin Benard didn't look very comfortable at the plate with an 0 for 5. Gross had a walk, hit and a steal. Pond had a couple of nice hits, including a double, and he scored the only run. Adams has been much discussed already but my overall impression of him is quite positive.

* Noah Hall had a couple of misadventures in right field. Turned the wrong way on a long fly and missed a tough catch off a sinking liner (would have been a fine play, but still catchable).

And a few "atmosphere" notes

* Once again, the winner of the musical chairs contest was the smallest contestant, the little girl with the red visor.

* Next time we'll have to sit in section JJ or KK and grab one of the seemingly dozens of foul balls hit there.

* A young girl sitting in front of us (who obtained a ball from the game) was getting repeatedly whacked in the face by another girl wearing a large red foam Lynx hand.

* If you ever read a Lynx box score, multiply the "paid attendance" by 1/3 to derive the "actual attendance"!

A very nice night at the ballpark.
Coach - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 05:08 PM EDT (#58389) #
The Fisher Cats scored nine times in the first three innings on their way to an 11-1 rout of the Trenton Thunder in the first game of their day-night doubleheader. New Hampshire set a team record with 16 hits. John-Ford Griffin hit two doubles for the second straight game, tying a franchise record with 4 RBI and taking over the team lead with 32 RBI for the season. Justin Singleton hit his second home run in as many days, a solo shot in the fifth for his team-leading ninth of the season.

Aaron Hill (3-for-4), Dominic Rich (2-for-3), Danny Solano (2-for-3), Anton French and Tyrell Godwin joined Griffin in producing multiple-hit games for the Fisher Cats. Todd Ozias went 6 innings, allowing a run on eight hits to improve his record to 5-3 with his first road win of the season.

Thanks to the lovely and talented Mike Murphy for the update; Josh Banks takes the mound at 7:05 in the nightcap.
_Steve Z - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 06:44 PM EDT (#58390) #
COMN for a interview with Jeff Francis. Anyone know when the final Olympic selection will be made? If Francis is still in the minors in a month, he could very well be Team Canada's ace!
_StephenT - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 11:01 PM EDT (#58391) #
It was quite different at the Lynx game tonight (here in Ottawa). First time I've seen a "LYNX OVERFLOW PARKING" sign on Belfast Road, a 10-minute walk from the stadium. Unlike last night, the lineups at the few concession stands were very long. I spent 32 minutes in one line to get dinner, missing some middle innings. Announced attendance was 5785.

I saw Aquilino Lopez's 2 innings. 6 up, 6 down, but one was a fly ball to the warning track in left, and Adams had to field a hard-hit grounder. I was more impressed with Nakamura: a pop up, 2 strikeouts, and lots of tentative swings with a 1-run lead in the 8th. Apparently Kevin Frederick is the "closer", who gave up a shot over the centre-field fence to pinch-hitter Jack Cust to blow the save. Other than that, Frederick was fine, and I didn't mind the extra innings after missing some in the middle. A Glenn Williams homer to centre off Darwin Cubillan in the 11th was the game winner.
_Tassle - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 11:17 PM EDT (#58392) #
Josh Banks: 6 innings, 3 hits, 3 walks, 7 k's, no earned runs

I think he's okay.
_Brian W - Saturday, June 12 2004 @ 11:58 PM EDT (#58393) #
It looks like Charleston is suffering from the same problem as Toronto... they can't drive in any runs. In today's game they drew 17 walks plus 2 hit batters, which along with their 5 hits gave them 24 runners. They only managed 6 runs and stranded 14 runners in 9 innings.

That has to be the worst display of pitching I've ever seen. Lexington started the game by walking the first three batters. They put three runners on without a hit in the first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. And despite all that it was still tied after 8. Reading the game log (COMN) is quite amusing.
_steve - Sunday, June 13 2004 @ 02:24 AM EDT (#58394) #
ump must have had a tight strike zone. both teams high on walks
_R Billie - Sunday, June 13 2004 @ 03:18 AM EDT (#58395) #
Hill was 4 for 9 on the day to push his AA average to nearly .280. Griffin had two more doubles today in the first game but went oh-for in the second game with a couple of K's.
Minor-League Update: June 12 | 17 comments | Create New Account
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