Before we get to Sunday’s games, here’s a brief chat I had with John Conniff, of MadFriars.com, about his impressions from a recent trip to Portland:
Ducksnorts: The big names at Portland, of course, are Chase Headley and Matt Antonelli. How do they look so far this year?
Conniff: Obviously by the numbers that they are putting up not that great. The big difference that I could see from them this year from last at San Antonio is they are both having trouble adjusting to the fact that Triple-A pitchers can throw strikes early in the count with their secondary pitches and have better fastball command than Double-A. Consequently they are both hitting behind in the count it seems nearly every time and are forced to try to hit pitches that they don’t want to or strike out.
It was interesting watching Headley on my last day in Portland, when he was able to get ahead in the count on all four at-bats; he drove the ball into the gaps, resulting in a pair of doubles and a single that should have been a double.
Ducksnorts: With Luis Rodriguez on the DL and Oscar Robles being claimed on waivers by Philadelphia, is there anyone in the organization who can play a legitimate shortstop at the higher levels right now?
Conniff: No, it’s the weakest positions in the whole system. Sean Kazmar in San Antonio has some potential defensively, but his bat is a big question. Edgar Gonzalez, Adrian’s older brother, is having a nice year, but he’s more of a utility option. [Marshall] McDougall, who has been getting the majority of the time, is more of a third baseman filling in.
Ducksnorts: Who has surprised you, either positively or negatively, on the Beavers in the early going?
Conniff: Antonelli’s slow start is the big one, but then again he’s been cold for awhile. He hit .229 in August for San Antonio, .214 in the Arizona Fall League, .150 in spring training and now .195 in his first full month in Triple-A. Now you can make some good arguments that he was pretty tired in his last month at San Antonio and in the AFL, spring training statistics are worthless and not many people are hitting in Portland right now — but still it does send up a few red flags, mainly he might have to become a little more aggressive early in the count.
The biggest surprise on a positive side, even though I didn’t get to see it because he was just coming off of the DL, were the raves that Will Venable was receiving for his play in center field — which after what I saw in San Antonio last year I didn’t think he was capable of. Both the Padres and the local guys in Portland, who will rag on a player if they don’t think he is playing well, were impressed with his ability. His swing has also improved quite a bit and he’s driving the ball more.
One other factor that was affecting everyone in Portland is that the weather in April is truly miserable. It rained every day I was there and the games were played in forty degree temperatures, which I think screwed everyone up.
Ducksnorts: Last question — After the games what is there to do in Portland, and where do you go to eat?
Conniff: Portland is a really nice city to walk around, very quaint and kind of funky. Powell’s City of Books is a great place to browse, and Portland is full of great Asian restaurants and New York style delis. If you have to pick one place to go eat, hit Jake’s Famous Crawfish, a few blocks from the stadium — a little expensive, but great food and ambiance.
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Thanks again to John for stopping by and giving us the lowdown. To the box scores…
Triple-A — Portland 9, New Orleans 5
Edgar Gonzalez (3B): 0-for-4, BB, E
Jody Gerut: 2-for-3, HR, BB
Chase Headley: 4-for-5
Brian Myrow: 2-for-4, HR
Chip Ambres (CF): 1-for-4
Nick Hundley: 1-for-4, 2B
Craig Stansberry (SS): 2-for-4, 2B
Matt Antonelli: 0-for-2 (didn’t start)
Cesar Ramos: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 SO (9 GO)
Adam Bass: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 3 BB, 0 SO
The Beavers scored six in the bottom of the first. Must be nice… Gerut could receive another look with the big club before long, especially if Jim Edmonds fails to provide sufficient (or any) evidence that he’s worthy of a roster spot.
Double-A — San Antonio 5, Corpus Christi 3
Drew Macias: 2-for-5, 2B, HR
Chad Huffman: 1-for-3, 2 BB
Kyle Blanks: 0-for-5
Mike Ekstrom: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 HR, 0 BB, 3 SO
Neil Jamison: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 1 BB, 0 SO
High-A — Lake Elsinore 13, High Desert 11
Cedric Hunter: 5-for-6, 2 2B
Rayner Contreras: 3-for-5
Eric Sogard: 3-for-5
Mitch Canham: 1-for-4, BB
Kellen Kulbacki: 1-for-5
After going 1-for-17 in his previous four games, Hunter sat on Saturday. On Sunday, he knocked five hits on Sunday. Guess that moved worked okay, huh? Sogard pushed his batting average back above .400 for the season.
Low-A — Cedar Rapids 4, Fort Wayne 1
Luis Durango: 1-for-3
Andrew Cumberland (SS): 0-for-4
Justin Baum: 0-for-4
Bradley Chalk: 1-for-4
Felix Carrasco: 1-for-3, BB
Yefri Carvajal: 1-for-4, SB
Mat Latos: 3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 HR, 1 BB, 3 SO
Geoff Vandel: 4 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 HR, 0 BB, 2 SO
More coverage at OurSports Central.