Timber Rattlers Training Camp Notes – Day 3

The Timber Rattlers practiced on field #5 on Sunday.  That would be the field with this view from the right field corner:

That white block in the distance just above that green screen would be the sign for Maryvale Baseball Stadium.

That white block in the distance just above that green screen would be the sign for Maryvale Baseball Stadium.

Bullpen work.

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And drills…lots of drills.

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March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 009

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The time to break for lunch was here before I knew it. Then, it was time to play the game…against the Dayton Dragons with a special guest appearance by Brewers pitcher Will Smith:

IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K

IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K

The Timber Rattlers loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning.  Omar Garcia doubled.  Angel Ortega had an infield single and David Denson walked.  But, a force play at the plate and a 1-2-3 double play ended the inning with no score.

Juan Santiago pitched the top of the second and it was over so quickly – K, F8, F9 – that I didn’t have time to take a picture of him.

The Rattlers got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second.  Chris McFarland reached on a bunt single, went to second on a ground out, and stole third.  He scored on a Mike Turay sacrifice fly.

Barrett Astin entered as Wisconsin’s pitcher in the top of the third and worked around a one out single.  Astin, Milwaukee’s third round pick out of the University of Wisconsin Arkansas in 2013, is rated as the #22 prospect in the organization by Baseball America.  They note that Astin, a closer for the Razorbacks in 2012, “flashed a fastball at 94-95 mph that had heavy sink and induced groundballs regularly.”  But, when he moved to the Arkansas rotation in 2013, his “fastball was less electric, setting more at 88-92 mph under the increased workload.”  More on Astin from fellow Arkansas alum Matt Erickson later in this piece.

Garcia, a 7th round pick in 2013 from Miami-Dade Junior College, picked up his second hit of the game with a leadoff single in the third.  Garcia, #26 in the organization according to Baseball America, played center and made some nice catches today as Johnny Davis got the day off.  The latest edition of the Prospect Handbook has this as an opener for him: Garcia has the one dominant tool that cannot be taught – speed.  An 80 runner, he has been timed at 6.3 in the 60-yard dash prior to the 2013 draft.  Despite batting right handed he’s a tough out even on routine grounders to the left side of the infield.

The Rattlers did not score in the third and Astin worked a 1-2-3 fourth.  That led to the bottom of the fourth and the Rattler bats coming out of their slump.

Tucker Neuhaus singled and McFarland followed with a triple to make it 2-0.

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After a pitching change, Markson walked and – after a popup for the first out – Francisco Castillo bunted.  That turned into a throwing error that allowed McFarland to score, Markson to take third and Castillo to move to second.  Garcia was next and his single, hit #3 on the day, drove in one run.  Angel Ortega’s sacrifice fly got Castillo home.  Later, Garcia scored on a wild pitch and Wisconsin’s lead was out to 6-0.

Astin went out after that big inning and tossed a 1-2-3 top of the fifth.  That was great to see.

Astin went back out for his fourth inning of work in the sixth and got two quick outs, but gave up two singles and a triple to let the Dragons get on the scoreboard.  But, what was really notable in the sixth inning was Garrett Cooper taking a spot at third base:

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Of course, the first ball put into play in the top of the sixth inning was a grounder to Cooper’s backhand.  He made a nice play and a strong throw to first.  He received a cheer from his teammates and manager for his efforts.

Preston Gainey, a 2013 Timber Rattlers pitcher, entered the game in the seventh:

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Gainey worked around a pair of singles with a strikeout and a 4-3 double play.

Ortega tacked on a run by himself in the seventh with a triple:

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And he scored on a wild pitch.

Working with a 7-2 lead, Gainey pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and went back out for the ninth. The Dragons got a pair of singles off him to start the inning. Last year, that situation seemed to snowball on Gainey. But, he got out of it with a roller up the line for a 1-3 putout and back-to-back strikeouts.

Matt Erickson’s comments on Gainey will be at the end of this post, but last night – when the band got back together – David Chavarria mentioned that Gainey’s velocity was up and he was getting some good downward movement with his pitching. He’s also pitching with a bit more of something and – like I said – Matt will cover it in his comments.

But, even with the top of the ninth over and the Rattlers up 7-2, the teams agreed to play the bottom of the ninth and the top of the tenth to get their pitchers some work.

The Rattlers tacked on a pair of runs in their extra at bat.Paul Eshelman had an RBI double and Nathan Orf followed with an RBI triple.

Josh Uhen, a Wisconsin native and a 5th round pick out of UW-Milwaukee in the 2013 draft, pitched the top of the tenth.
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He allowed a leadoff single, got a 4-6-3 double play, walked the next batter, and finished the game with a grounder to second.


Meanwhile over in Brevard County’s game, they also won big with a 9-1 victory.  I didn’t see how the runs scored, but I did hear that Taylor Brennan hit an opposite field home run for the Manatees…So there’s that.

Monday will be a short day for the Rattlers. There will be no practice in the morning and they don’t need to be at the complex until just before the bus leaves for the Padres complex in Peoria, AZ at 1:00pm AZ TIME.

I’ll be at the game.

The column is up on the website, if you would like to take a look.


Matt Erickson on Sunday’s Game (9-2 win): We had good tempo on the mound. Our pitchers attacked the zone and we made plays behind them. We were error free no extra bases and when you can do that, you put yourself in position to win games.

Matt Erickson on Barrett Astin (4IP, 4H, 2R, 0BB, 0K): Whooooo, Pig Sooey! He’s our Arkansas boy. I thought the first inning he got away with some mistakes…He was up in the zone and got a couple lineouts and fly ball. But, then he settled in over the next couple of innings…got down in the zone…got some ground balls…and that’s where he has to be. He’s gotta get ahead, down in the zone, and mix pitches. He’s a competitor. I’ve noticed that. I don’t get a lot of time to see these kids pitching in Spring Training, but he competes.

Matt Erickson on Chris McFarland (2-for-3, 3B, 2 RUNS, RBI): He’s moving very well and there’s a little sense of urgency to his game because we have a lot of numbers in camp, especially at that second base position. But, he’s done a nice job. He’s answered the bell. If you go just off spring training numbers, he’s probably our most consistent player.

Matt Erickson on Preston Gainey (3IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 4K): Grit! There’s a lot of good things being said about him in our meetings. This was actually the first time I’ve had a chance to see him pitch with our working group and he did a nice job. He’s pretty much what they advertised. He’s got a little more life on his fastball. He’s going after hitters. He didn’t have much control of an off speed pitch throughout last year and that was something that he was developing through the summer. He looks like he’s mixing it well through spring training to get people off his fastball.

Matt Erickson on Garrett Cooper at third base: That was something that was a buildup through last fall at instructional league. He’s a big kid. He’s athletic, he got nice feet for a guy that’s 6’-5”, and nice hands. Bob Miscik, our infield coordinator, banged him some balls at third base last fall and that’s something that were going to continue to do with him. Depending on the personnel that we get up in Wisconsin he may need to play first and third for us.

Matt Erickson on Tucker Neuhaus (1-for-3, RUN, 0Ks): Inconsistent. He’s a young guy and you can see the potential that he has. He’s another guy that the game’s real fast for him right now. He’s done a nice job in spring training of trying to slow the game down and have some pre-pitch thoughts so he knows what to do with the baseball before it is hit to him.

Yesterday (Saturday: Two errors, 0-for-4, 3Ks) was a tough one for him and he wasn’t feeling real good about it. But, that’s the game of baseball. Each day is different. He comes out today and he could do no wrong. He had a couple of really nice plays at third base and swung the bat well, too.


How might one *try-out* for the Timber Rattlers?

You may not tryout directly for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Please see this link at MiLB.com’s FAQ for an explanation.


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