Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Spring Training story from Brewerfan.net boards
I was just relaxing at the game yesterday (Sunday) with my 3 year old son. We went to the game played at Maryvale and sat in the Right Field lawn seats. My son brought a small collection of his matchbox cars and a small fold up matchbox playset. It wasn't long before another little boy, about the same age, came over and asked if they could play together. The boy did not speak too much english but they had a great time playing anyways. The boy's mother sat off in the shade but came over to make sure it was ok for them to play together. Midway thru the 3rd inning, the boy's father showed up and called out for him. The boy got up and ran over and was telling his father how much fun he was having playing cars! The little boy brought his father over to say hi... As I looked up, it sure as heck was Yovani Gallardo! Maybe I should have expected as much as the little boy had a custom fit, #49, Gallardo Brewers jersey on... Yo was in street clothes and it amazed me that no one recognized him but me! He introduced himself to me and my boy! He thanked us for allowing his son to play! My son reached up and gave his boy the matchbox car that he had taken a liking to! The moment was so great that I didn't want to ruin it by asking for a picture or autograph. I told him I was a big fan and hoped that he got back soon! He said the rehab was going great and he was expecting to get back on the field soon! We shook hands and they were off! What a great moment for me and especially my son! Spring Training is AWESOME!!!!
And this is another Brewerfan.net poster's first hand view of Spring Training
I got back last night from a weeks worth of games at Maryvale and elsewhere, and thought I would give a player-centric report of my trip.
Let's start with catching and go from there. Kendell is hitting and throwing very well right now. He seems to have severe opposite field and middle of the field tendencies, and like many of the Brewer regulars, started pretty much every one of the six games I saw. It would not shock me if he did not have a home run all year, as his swing is compact and single and double based. While Brewer players were stealing bases frequently, and with extreme ease, Kendell gunned down one runner, and was close on the other attempts. Vinny Rottino started the one "B" game they played when I was there, and was playing well. Clearly a maximum effort kind of guy, I think Vinny got double the catching reps of Munson and Rivera. Randy Choate was going off one day in the pre-game outfield near the stands about one of the catchers hanging him out to dry (I believe it was Rivera) by insisting on throwing a fastball instead of a slider to a hitter that Choate knew would feast on his fastball. Munson hit a double high off the batter's eye during one game some 400 feet away - so his power off the bench would be the reason he would beat out the others.
Prince was in a foul mood on 3/3 because a fan was razzing him hard about his contract as he was leaving the field via the tunnel in the 6th inning. Prince launched a few f bombs and challenged the fan to come down to him and say that. Prince then said he would not be signing any more autographs (he was signing again on Wednesday after taking Tuesday off), and the fan was escorted out of the stadium as some fans awaiting autographs were very perturbed. Prince does not have his stroke going at all yet, and was very frustrated, swearing after a couple of ground outs during my time down there. He was also hit twice in one game, and really straed down the pitchers....I would love to place a bet on whether Prince will serve a suspension for charging the mound this season.....I would almost guarentee that to happen.
Ok, a little out of sequence, but I have to talk about Braun. What a freaking beast. Just lazers lazers lazers all the time, whether it be the games or batting practice. On Tuesday i shagged balls during batting practice on the left field berm, throwing down the practice balls for the pitchers that had gotten hit out. During one stretch where Braun was having an extended session, I felt like I was under artilliary attack as Braun hit 9 of 10 pitches out to basically the same area. The three run homer Braun hit on Friday was an amazing at- bat, just measuring the pitcher till he got one to nail. Cameron has been working extensively with him on his outfield play - 45 minutes straight during Tuesday morning. Braun twice made great throws to nearly get a guy trying to stretch a single - with Weeks flubbing one that got called a Braun error (it should have been Week's error). Braun is a hard worker, and he is really putting his all into learning the outfield
Weeks on the other hand looked brutal defensively - with poor footwork being his main issue again. Weeks worked the count consistantly - striking out several times on 3-2 pitches. He crushed a long home run during a game the Brewers lost - and looked like he was in fine form in general batting. Corey Hart, on the other hand, looked lost batting the entire time I was there. Flailing at outside pitches with no power behind the swing, maybe Hart just needs to get that lanky frame going, and will start to crank it up - I saw he had a Rbi single yesterday. He looked great in the outfield, making several plays that were difficult look routine. If Braun does what I think he can defensively, the outfield d should be an actual positive. Cameron looks very good overall, showing power and obvious leadership - especially in his cameraderie with Weeks, Fielder, Gwynn. Those four guys were hanging together every time they had an opportunity from what I saw. Cameron looked fast, and played in pretty much every game, working out of the 2 or 3 hole. Gwynn looked very comfortable at the plate. While he will never be a .800 OPS guy, i could see him producing a hollow .300 batting average at some point. Gross looked solid, as did Kapler, actually. Kapler is a brickhouse as is Nix. They are both bodybuilder types. Neither did anything to embarrass themselves at the plate, with Kapler having a couple "clutch" hits. Our triple A outfield is going to be quality, for what it is worth, as even Brad Nelson was impressive offensively at times, producing a 3 run opposite field 400 foot homer one game.
Hardy looked like his stroke was in good form, and he was one of the kinder and friendlier players there - always smiling and signing the autograph requests for children. Hall was drawing raves in camp for his defense, and he indeed looked natural and smooth there. Among the youngsters, the coached absolutely love Alcides Escobar - as during the B game Ted Simmons compared him to Reyes of the Mets with his amazing speed and smooth defense. His hitting was iffy in the games I saw - but his d could be borderline gold glove caliber right now, if not soon. Hurricane Irribarran also looked very good, and he shocked me a little bit - I would say he is a legitimate 2nd base prospect, and I was not really expecting to see that. I bet he is up with the Brewers at some point this year, whether it be as an injury replacement or in September. LaPorta is just an animal...cocky and confident, he just exudes a superstar kind of vibe. He foulded one hard off his foot or shin on Friday, and I hope he does not miss time. He has huge thighs, but seems athletic, and did not see him look out of place in the outfield. I think he can handle left, but right I am not sure about. Gamel looked great on two plays during the Monday B game and made 2 horrid plays during that game, with Simmons saying after one missed line drive, that "he just HAS to make that play". Gamel struck out twice after that poor play, and I got the impression it was bothering him. In minor league camp, he did not seem to show the power I was expecting.
Other minor league players that made an impression were Cole Gillespie - really nice guy with a sweet stroke; Jonathon Lucroy - drew RAVE reviews from the catching coaches for his catching style and framing. It is hard to draw a crowd just catching a ball, but LuCroy did it, as several passers-by stopped during a catching session on Friday; Lorenzo Cain was really struggling with his swing, but seems to be getting noticed for his athleticism, as he was in the major league camp for the majority of the time, while Ford was in the minor camp the entire time; Charlie Fermaint looked like he did not give a hoot; Chris Errecart was practicing, and looked really good at the plate. Pitching wise, the one guy in minor league camp that stood out was Jeffress. Holy cow does he have amazing stuff...just an electric fastball, and a big league average curve or better. He threw 70 pitches or so during a live batting practice session on Friday, and made guys like Ford and Fermaint look lost. A coach from British Columbia that was there said that it was the most impressive performance by a pitching prospect he had ever seen. I think if he can get his personal life straight, he is a potential number 1 starter.
Capuano looked tentative and lacking in confidence, unlike Villanueva, who just projects poise. Bush was a picture of frustration on Wednesday, and he seems to be fighting his command. Gallardo was walking around well, and Sheets looked excellent on Thursday. Any other players I have forgotten just ask.