Results tagged ‘ 2014 Spring Training ’

Timber Rattlers Training Camp Notes – Final Day

Final day for me in Arizona, that is.  The Timber Rattlers will break camp on March 31 to head to Appleton.

This day started a bit later than the others.  Monday was a “Show-n-Go”, meaning there was no practice this morning and the bus was leaving for the San Diego Padres minor league complex to get the players over to the game in time to stretch, warm up, and get ready to play.

It has been a long camp without a lot of rest.  So, the minor league staff decided to let the players take the morning off to rest up for the game.

The plan worked.  The Timber Rattlers defeated Fort Wayne 9-5 and Brevard County topped Lake Elsinore 3-1.

Zach Quintana was the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers and had a really nice day with a line of 4IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 2K and we’ll let Matt Erickson talk about him at the end of this post.  (Spoiler: He likes him a lot).

March 24 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 004

Quintana was a third round pick of the Brewers in 2012 out of Arbor View High School in Las Vegas Nevada.  He spent 2012 in the Arizona League and was 3-4 with a 5.82ERA in 13 games – four starts.  Last year, he was in Helena and as 4-4 with a 6.95ERA in 14 games – all starts.  Quintana has struck out 81 and walked 54 in 109-1/3 innings during his minor league career.  Again more on him later.

March 24 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 007

Wisconsin jumped to the early lead with three runs in the top of the second.  Tucker Neuhaus reached on an error and scored on a one out double by Jose Pena.  A single by Paul Eshleman put runners on the corners.  A two-out single by Omar Garcia knocked in Pena.

Then, a play happened that will be part of discussions over the next few days.

Nathan Orf doubled to right-center.  Eshelman scored easily. Garcia was flying around the bases from first and looked like he would score on a close play.  Then, the cry went up, “Get the bat! Get the bat!”

Orf had dropped the bat in the batters box blocking home plate better than any catcher could have done it.  No one went to get the bat and it remained right in any path Garcia would need to slide into the plate.  He was out and the inning ended.

Quintana pitched a 1-2-3 2nd.

In the bottom of the third, there was a runner on first with two outs.  When I recreated the Wow! signal on my scoresheet.  If you didn’t click the link – or don’t follow SETI like I do.  The Wow! signal was heard by radio telescopes that are focused on outer space in a search for intelligent life.  The scientist on duty that day saw what would be expected in a signal from an alien civilization on the read out, circled it, and wrote Wow! on the readout.

My Wow! signal was a 6-4-3 double play that started with an amazing diving play by Angel Ortega at short, continued with a great turn by Orf at second, and concluded with a pick at first by Garrett Cooper.  Wow!

Quintana wrapped his 60-pitch appearance with a scoreless fourth inning that started with an error by Ortega (no Wow! signal here) and a single.  But, Quintana got out of the inning with a fly ball and a routine 4-6-3 double play.

Fort Wayne got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth with a run off Trevor Seidenberger (2B, SAC BUNT, SAC FLY).

Then, the Rattlers put together a big inning in the sixth.  The first five Rattlers reached base.  Neuhaus walked, Clint Coulter walked, and Pena’s sacrifice bunt wound up being thrown into left field by the catcher to let Neuhaus score.  Milan Post, a catcher from the Netherlands who signed with the organization just under a month ago, also walked to load the bases.  Steven Halcomb followed with a two-run single to score Coulter and Pena.

March 24 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 008

Johnny Davis tried to bunt his way on with runners at second and third, but was retired on a close play at first while neither runner could advance.

Chris McFarland (RBI single) and Charlie Markson (Sacrifice Fly) wrapped up the inning and the Rattlers were up 8-1.

The score became 9-1 as Pena drove in another run with a RBI to sent Jose Sermo hom in the top of the seventh.

Estevenson Encarnacion got the first out of the bottom of the seventh, but an error seemed to rock him a bit.  The TinCaps went single, walk, RBI single, two-run single, RBI single, walk, before the second out was recorded on a strikeout by Encarnacion.  Jorge Ortega entered the game and got the final out with a fly out to left and the Rattlers lead was 9-5.
March 24 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 012
Ortega pitched a scoreless eighth and Angel Ventura pitched a scoreless ninth and that was the way the game ended.
Then, I got some comments from Matt Erickson.  Some you can read here.  The rest are on

Matt Erickson on Zach Quintana: He competes in the zone. This is the second spring training in a row that I’ve seen him. He was good last Spring Training and we fought to get him on our roster last year. But it was decided that he was a little too young. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t work his way onto our roster this year and is a part of our staff.

Today he mixed well. He was down in the zone. He got ahead of people and got groundballs. And that’s what we’re looking for.

Matt Erickson on Nathan Orf: He just finds ways to get on base. He’s been hit by a pitch four days in a row. When he swings the bat, he finds the barrel. When he gets on base, he’s a heady base runner. Today he stole a base. The other day he had two dirt ball reads. The day before that he went first to third. He doesn’t have a tremendous amount of speed, but he’s got great awareness and is a good base runner.

Matt Erickson on Johnny Davis: He is lightning in a bottle. If we can find a way to get him consistent contact at the plate, he is going to be very dangerous. And that’s not to say he’s not going to make some mistakes on the bases. Because he’s still learning there. He’s still very raw and didn’t even play baseball in high school. But, he’s a guy with a great personality. He brings energy to the field and he’s really, really eager to learn. He’s fun to teach.

Matt Erickson on Angel Ortega: That 6-4-3 they made, that was a diving play to a barehand flip to a shorthop. Orf had a great turn and [Garrett] Cooper was involved with the pick. That was a collective effort on that play.

The next play was a semi-routine grounder that he doesn’t get a glove on and he misplayed it a little bit and got the in-between hop. But, he’s going to make a lot more good plays than mistakes. He’s a pretty darn good defender and we’ll throw him out there and see what happens.

March 24 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 014

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.

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 004


March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 006

And drills…lots of drills.

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 008

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 009

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 011

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 018

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.

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 024
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:

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 026

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:

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 028

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:

March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 030
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.
March 23 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 037
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.

Timber Rattlers Training Camp Notes – Day 2

We got the band back together! I’ll explain that and have a recap of the Rattlers game against the Beloit Snappers later.  First a few pictures.

There was a drill today about throwing to players on the run and leading them.  Like throwing to a base as the other fielder was coming over to cover:

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 004

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 005

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 006


Garrett Cooper at first.

Garrett Cooper at first.

Angel Ortega at short.

Angel Ortega at short.

A little work out of the cage during batting practice:

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 011
March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 014

and in the cage:

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 010

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 016

Saturday’s game was played over at the A’s minor league complex. Here is the starting lineup:

Taylor Williams was the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers.

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 017

Williams pitched three innings, allowed one hit, walked one, struck out four, and faced the minimum thanks to this guy:

The catcher.

The catcher.

Coulter threw out a pair of runners who tried to steal second in the first inning. Then, Williams went out and threw a 1-2-3 second and a 1-2-3 third with a pair of strikeouts in each inning.
David Otterman ran into some trouble in the bottom of the fourth when he came on in relief of Williams. The inning went Walk, single with E8, walk to load the bases, wild pitch to score a run, walk to reload the bases, E-5 to score a run, RBI single, RBI single…end of the inning.

Yes. The inning ended with four runs in, no outs, and the bases loaded.

In minor league spring training games, a team can ask for an inning to be ended to save on pitching. Otterman used 27 pitches to face those eight batter in the fourth inning and was expected to come back out for the 5th. To spare him the pitch count, the Rattlers tapped out of the fourth.

Otterman bounced back with a scoreless fifth inning. The leadoff hitter doubled and went to third on the third error of the game on Wisconsin. But, a shallow fly ball to left, a walk, and a 6-4-3 double play ended the inning.

Tyler Linehan pitched a pair of scoreless innings to keep the game a 4-0.

Wisconsin got on the scoreboard in the top of the eighth. Steve Halcomb reached on an error and went from first to third on a single by Johny Davis. Chris McFarland drove in Halcomb with a sacrifice fly.

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 032

But, Tyler Spurlin allowed a two-out, three-run double in the bottom of the eighth and the Rattlers were scoreless in the 9th.

FINAL SCORE: Beloit 7, Wisconsin 1

NOTES: Wisconsin Manager Matt Erickson said that Taylor Williams, “Comes as advertised and he comes at you.”

Jim Callis in this post at MLB Pipeline advertises Williams this way:

Williams began his college career at Washington State, but he played sparingly as a freshman in 2011 before transferring to Mount Hood Community College in Oregon and then Kent State. There, he grabbed attention in February 2013 when he struck out Kris Bryant, the eventual No. 2 overall pick, three times.

Williams mixes his low- to mid-90s fastball effectively with a slider and changeup. His delivery has some effort to it, though he is athletic enough to largely compensate for it.

Sounds good to me.

Erickson noted that Coulter’s two throws to second base to throw out those would-be base stealers in the first inning were timed at :02.03 and :01.97…as in seconds….and were right on the bag. Coulter is making strides behind the plate.

Coulter also had a ringing double to left in the fifth inning. However, he was doubled off second when Angel Ortega’s line drive in the hole was caught with a diving backhander by the Beloit shortstop.

For the second day in a row, the Rattlers struggled on offense. Omar Garcia reached on a bunt single in the third, Coulter doubled in the fifth, Francisco Castillo had a infield single in the sixth, and David Denson had an infield single in the seventh. Those were the only four hits in the first seven innings. The Rattlers got two more hits in the game: the single by Davis in the eighth and a single by Charlie Markson in the ninth. Six hits in the game. Three of those hits left the infield.

The Brevard County game was going on one diamond over at the complex and I turned around to check out that action occasionally since there were several former Timber Rattlers in action over there. Of note:

  1. Chad Thompson got the start and pitched two innings on his road back.
  2. Chad Pierce pitched in relief
  3. I turned to see Victor Roache hit a long home run.


    Man...I am gonna miss this sight.

    Man…I am gonna miss this sight.

  4. Cameron Garfield also homered and has been hitting very well this spring.
  5. Yadiel Rivera played short and Orlando Arcia played second for BC in this game

I went out to dinner with the Rattlers staff tonight and David Chavarria joined us later. When Matt Erickson, Jeff Paxson, and Chavy get together that is called “Getting the Band Back Together.”

Chavy said that I could use one quote and it was this, “You can’t use this.”

I won’t mention anything said in the discussion. But, I just thought of my column for the website.

To close out this post, here are a few views of the minor league complex of the A’s:

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 033

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 023

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 024

March 22 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 034

The Rattlers game wrapped early.  So, they stopped to watch the end of the Brevard County game.

The Rattlers game wrapped early. So, they stopped to watch the end of the Brevard County game.

Timber Rattlers Training Camp Notes – Day 1

Photos at the top.  Game recap in the middle.  Quotes from Matt Erickson at the end.  More on Timber Rattlers website.

Practice started out on Field Six of the Maryvale Baseball Complex with a meeting:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 001
and moved to stretching.

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 002on to a bullpen session

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 004then, rundowns

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 005

on to defensive drills:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 007and on to Batting Practice:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 009

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 010
After a lunch break there was a game on Diamond #7.

The Timber Rattlers Starting Lineup:
Johnny Davis – CF
Nathan Orf – 2B
Taylor Brennan – 3B
David Denson – 1B
Clint Coulter – DH
Charlie Markson – RF
Jose Pena – LF
Dustin Houle – C
Steven Halcomb – SS

Starting Pitcher: Tristan Archer

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers lost to the Dayton Dragons on Friday afternoon by a score of 8-2.  Dayton jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and – by my count – the Rattlers were held to three hits.  (Note: Johnny Davis could have been given a hit by a homer official scorer on a tough hop right at the second baseman in the first.)

I’ve gone back and forth on how to do this report and I thought that this  was where I was going to put the .mp3 of postgame interview I did with Matt Erickson.  BUT, I don’t quite have the hang of this new recorder…So, I transcribed his answers about some of the players in the game….Which took a lot of time.  WOW.

So, a brief recap of the game with some photos.  Then, Matt on some of the players AND why today was a big day in the Erickson house back in Appleton.

Tristan Archer.

Tristan Archer.

Dayton scored three runs off starting pitcher Tristan Archer (21st round, Tennessee Tech) in the first inning.  The leadoff batter had a double that looked foul, but it wasn’t worth the argument in March.  The next batter blooped in a triple down the line in right.  The third batter had a sacrifice fly.  The clean-up hitter – Aristides Aquino (#24 Prospect in Reds Organization) – followed with a home run.  Aristides Aquino is tall:



The Rattlers loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning but could not score against Nick Travieso (Reds #8 Prospect).  Dayton added a run in the second on a lead-off triple and the Rattlers being unable to turn two to get out of the frame on a slow grounder to short.

The Rattlers did get a run – without a hit – in the third.  Travieso hit Nathan Orf, walked David Denson, and walked Clint Coulter to load the bases with one out.  Charlie Markson drove in Orf with a sacrifice fly to right.

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 017

Chris Razo, who came out of the bullpen in the top of the third to escape a jam, pitched a scoreless fourth, but allowed two runs on a bunt single, a double, and a bloop double by Aquino.

Devin Williams got into the game in the top of the sixth for the Rattlers:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 020He allowed an unearned run over one inning of work with one hits, no walks, and no strikeouts.

The Rattlers got back on the scoreboard against a pitcher by the name of Austin Muehring…not related…

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 023

Omar Garcia walked, went from first to third on a single by Francisco Castillo, and scored on a wild pitch by Muehring.

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 024
The Dragons added one more run in the top of the ninth as a runner from third scored as the Rattlers were unable to turn an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.  I tried to get a photo of the high leg kick of Rattler pitcher Scott Lieser, but…I couldn’t time it right.

After the game, there was another meeting:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 030

And after the meeting I talked with Matt Erickson.  The first part of our conversation were about the camp so far, what kind of team the Rattlers will be, and a few of the players who may be in Wisconsin  if not at the start of the season – at some point during the season.  Those quotes can be found in this story on the Timber Rattlers website.

The second part of our conversation turned to the game against the Dragons and certain players.

Erickson on the game: Today [Dayton] swung the bats really well.  They not only put the ball on the barrel, they bled us to death…Usually you can survive one or the other, but not both.  So they did a nice job with the bats.

Our pitching has been pretty solid for the most part of keeping us in ballgames and getting us ground balls.  But, today [Dayton] found a lot of barrels.

Erickson on Tristan Archer (2.2IP, 5H, 4R, 2BB, 0K):  Tough first inning.  Right off the bat there was a ball hit down the left field line that may have been foul…who knows?…The he got a blooper down the right field line and before you know it it’s 1-0.  Then, I thought he threw a pretty good breaking ball to their clean-up hitter…the ball was down in the zone, but [Aquino] put a good swing on it and hit it out of the ballpark.  So, [Archer] was down 3-0 before you knew it.  But, he did a nice job of continuing to compete on the mound and going after hitters and making them swing the bat…I thought he did a nice job of keeping his composure and trying to continue to command the strike zone.

Erickson on Devin Williams (IP, H, R, 0ER, 0BB, 0K): I’ve only seen him one other time.  He’s been jumping around from group to group.  But, he’s an athletic body.  When we do our PFPs in the morning, he bounces off the mound.  He’s got a loose body, a nice arm, and the ball comes out nice.  I think he’s learning right now to try to create more tilt to his fastball so he can command the bottom of the zone.

The other day he did a nice job of getting ahead and what I liked was that his missed were down – not up – in the zone.  If he can – at an early age – consistently get that tilt to his pitches, I think he’ll be alright.

He’s one of the guys we’ve been talking about, but I’m not sure if he’ll be on that [Timber Rattlers] Opening Day Roster or not.

Erickson on Taylor Brennan (0-for3, BB, K):  He had a nice day.  He’s a guy who – last year – was a defensive project.  He’s got big time power in his bat and he’s cleaned up some of his batting practice of being able to hit the ball to all fields and not just swinging as hard as he can.  He’s working on his hitting ability and not just his power.  I thought he did a nice job of that today.

Some of his earlier at bats, I thought he took some out of control swings in hitter’s counts.  But he was able to cut it down and drove two balls to both gaps in the game today.  He showed some good glove work on a backhand and a diving play.  He is somebody we’re excited about and hopefully we get more chances to look at him in Appleton.

Erickson on Clint Coulter (0-for-2, BB, K): I talked to him a few days ago in the dugout and – just in conversation – he was letting me know how much more comfortable he feels.  Not only physically in his lower half, but also just going through a spring training once before and having a better idea of what it’s all about.

Everything was really new to the young man last year and he’s admitted that it was really fast and he wasn’t sure what to expect.  I think right now he is slowing it down a little bit and he’s got a ways to go – there’s not doubt about it, but I think about four days ago he had seven innings behind the plate and I looked over at [Trainer Jeff Paxson] and I said, “Hey! That’s the best I’ve seen him catch in a year and a half.”  So there’s some definite improvement to what he’s doing.

He’s a tough kid, a strong kid, and he’s going to get more chances.

Erickson on Jose Pena (2-for-3):  He’s a guy – the last couple of years – who has shown some power in Helena and down here in Arizona.  I’m pretty sure we’re going to get a look at him in Appleton this year.  He’s probably earned that opportunity with some of the offensive numbers that he’s put up.

He’s a guy that we are trying to get him better in the outfield as far as his lower half and his athletic ability out there.  But, he’s got an absolute cannon for an arm.  So, I think he can probably play either [right or left].  We have him projected in left field right now, but if there’s a need in right field he definitely has the arm to do that as well.

Erickson on MERCER vs. DUKE:  Go Bears!  When [the bracket] came out, I sent [my wife Julie ] a text and I said, “Hey! Mercer’s in the tournament!  Unfortunately, they got Duke in the first round”. {NOTE: Julie is a graduate of Mercer}

We talked about it over the last few days and she was all gung-ho.  Yesterday she said that she picked Mercer in the pool…She’s putting Mercer shirts on the kids and she was locked in today all day during the game.

We were getting updates through Pax.  Then, we were getting updates through our training room.  Charlie Greene, our field coordinator, is a die-hard Duke fan and – unfortunately – this morning I came in and said, “I think the Mercer Bears are gonna get ’em.”…Not really believing it>

But, that’s what ‘s awesome about sports.  That’s why we play the games.

I texted back to my wife and said, “Make sure you use that as a teaching moment for our son.”

Nobody in the world thought that Mercer had a chance except – obviously – Mercer.  It’s a great win for that program and my wife and here alumni friends are pretty excited.

%d bloggers like this: