The station that carries the San Antonio Missions games on radio also features a show called “Down on the Farm Radio.” I was pumped, thinking maybe I could learn more about Padres prospects that way. No such… it’s about actual farms. You know… hog reports, monster lizards, and what not.
It’s an old-school country station, and the tunes of George Jones, Johnny Cash, George Strait, and Mel Tillis streamed through my headphones before the game. It was like tuning into KLAC AM 570 when the Lakers (basketball mattered then) were between games back in the day. (Amusingly, if entirely irrelevant, KLAC is now owned by a company based in San Antonio.)
I flipped back and forth between the Missions and the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The TinCaps would put on the better show, with right-hander Keyvius Sampson working six perfect innings on Opening Day. Sampson, the Padres fourth-round pick in 2009, had his heater working on a cold, damp night:
The first three or four innings I think I threw all fastballs — maybe with one changeup. After that I mixed in a couple curves, but it was pretty much fastballs all night.
In the fourth inning, the announcer said Sampson’s fastball was running 88-89 mph. Sampson struck out the side in the first, fourth, and fifth innings. Although his first four strikeouts were swinging, half of his 10 strikeouts ended up being of the called variety.
Sampson was a little more efficient his first time through the South Bend lineup, but his line looks good no matter how you slice it:
Order AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO Pit Str 1st PA 9 0 0 0 0 0 4 41 25 2nd PA 9 0 0 0 0 0 6 46 31 Tot 18 0 0 0 0 0 10 87 56
Sampson threw 64 percent of his pitches for strikes and fanned 56 percent of the batters he faced. That works.
On offense, the guys I tracked were center fielder Donavan Tate (batting second) and left fielder Everett Williams (batting third). Tate went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts (one swinging, one looking) and was credited with a stolen base when South Bend botched a pickoff attempt. Tate was picked off but the defense couldn’t convert it into an out. Williams went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch. It was a 2-1 game, 44 degrees at first pitch… you were expecting a hitting clinic?
Speaking of which… did you know that Kory DeHaan, who once laid down a sacrifice bunt while batting third for the Padres, is now the hitting coach for Fort Wayne? Did you know that legendary hitting coach Charlie Lau, who worked with George Brett and Tony Gwynn among others, hit just .255/.318/.365 in the big leagues? Did you know that Walt Hriniak, a disciple of Lau (and backup catcher on the inaugural 1969 Padres team) who went on to coach Dwight Evans and Frank Thomas among others, hit .253/.333/.253 in his brief big-league career?
The other interesting tidbit from this one is that converted outfielder Yefri Carvajal made his pitching debut and worked a scoreless eighth, protecting a 2-0 lead. Did you know that former Padres right-hander Willie Blair is the TinCaps’ pitching coach?
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Meanwhile, at Northwest Arkansas, the Missions won their opener, 3-2. Right-hander Anthony Bass worked six strong innings and got just enough offense to make it stick. I didn’t listen to much of this one, being so riveted by Sampson’s performance, but I did catch a few tidbits.
Blake Tekotte (batting leadoff) went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, Jaff Decker (batting third) went 1-for-3 with a walk, and James Darnell (batting fourth) went 1-for-3 with a double and a sacrifice fly. Decker had two nice plate appearances against southpaw Chris Dwyer (rated the no. 66 prospect in baseball by Kevin Goldstein), drawing a five-pitch walk in the first and lacing a 3-2 pitch into center field for a single in the third. Darnell’s double, a ground ball just inside the third base line, came in the ninth.
Incidentally, if you’re going to listen to a Padres minor-league game tonight, make it San Antonio. Right-hander Casey Kelly, acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, makes his organizational debut.
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Speaking of organizational debuts… Anthony Rizzo, another part of the Gonzalez trade, made his on Thursday. The Tucson Padres played their first ever game and won, 18-14. The game featured 38 hits, but remember that this is Colorado Springs.
Batting cleanup, Rizzo went 2-for-7 with a double and four RBI. Logan Forsythe, playing second base and batting second, knocked two homers and drew four walks. I’ve got Forsythe as the Padres no. 13 prospect. One game (especially in that environment) doesn’t mean much, but it’s a good start. I liked what I saw of Forsythe in Peoria this spring, and I’m not the only one.
Wade LeBlanc worked 4 1/3 innings and served up three homers. His ERA stands at 16.62. Everyone got hammered, so don’t read too much into that. Don’t read too much into the offensive performances either. Much like Camelot, Colorado Springs’ Security Service Field is a silly place.
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Back here in California, the Lake Elsinore Storm played host to the San Jose Giants and lost, 4-0. Reader Didi was at this, another cold and damp affair, and offers the following assessment of right-hander Matt Lollis:
Lollis is a big boy and his breaking balls are impressive, though I don’t know what they are… something that just drops down… He was pitching up and away to lefties a lot.
Didi notes also that the home run Lollis allowed to San Jose’s Ryan Cavan came on a pitch that missed with location and that Lollis almost fired a ball to the backstop. This jibes with what I saw of Lollis at spring training. I’ve got him as the Padres no. 12 prospect but, as was the case with Chris Young, his mechanics will require a lot of maintenance. Lollis oozes potential but don’t expect him to advance quickly.
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On another note, I plan to offer minor-league coverage this year. It won’t always be like this, but it will… actually, I don’t know yet. If you’ve got any ideas, I’m listening…
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- Patient Padres help Harang win hometown debut (Padres.com). We’ve discussed the third inning of Tuesday’s opener that helped drive Madison Bumgarner from the game. Quoth Chase Headley:
I watched a lot of that with [former teammate David] Eckstein when he was here … how we would sacrifice some at-bats just to grind on the pitcher and to try and make him work hard.
- One Small Thing Is Missing From Opening Day Weekend (Platoon Advantage). Speaking of Eckstein, have you noticed how many former Padres second basemen have seen their careers come to an abrupt end after leaving San Diego? Mark Loretta, Josh Barfield, Marcus Giles, Tadahito Iguchi, and now Eck. Okay, Loretta hung on for a few more years and Barfield had that one awful season in Cleveland, but the rest of those guys… nada. Kinda weird, huh?
- Bridges, beers, and…BASEBALL (Woe, Doctor!). Bryant gives his take on the home opener.
- Losing to the Padres (Bay City Ball). Speaking of which, not everyone loved plate umpire Marvin Hudson’s strike zone.
- Shutdowns, Meltdowns, and Saves (FanGraphs). Fun with relievers…
- Strong Start For Baseball in Several Local Markets (Sports Media Watch). From the article:
…in St. Louis, the Cardinals’ March 31 season opener against the Padres drew a 13.3 rating on Fox Sports Midwest, the network’s highest rated Cardinals season opener ever.
Yeah, playing the Padres will have that effect. You’re welcome. [h/t BBTF]
- Visualizing Declining Standards for Retired Uniforms (Beyond the Box Score). Steve Garvey did more for the Padres than Kent Hrbek did for the Minnesota Twins? Methinks something is amiss.
- Honesty (Joe Blogs). Some days, I can’t decide whether I love Joe Posnanski or hate him. Mostly I love him… but damn, he makes life difficult for the rest of us…
- Female baseball pitcher tossing heat, turning heads in Georgia (Yahoo! via BBTF). Quoth former Padres right-hander Joey Hamilton:
I think she’s legitimate… I’ve seen and coached with a lot of boys pitchers the same age, and she has got just as much or more talent than half of them.
- Inbox: Will Cantu get more time at first base? (Padres.com). Corey Brock answers reader questions about the buried Aaron Cunningham (who homered for Tucson on Thursday), the erratic Aaron Poreda, and other players not named Aaron.
- Will the fans show up? (Inside the Padres). Tom Krasovic delivers the sad truth:
For now, the Padres remain indebted to hundreds, sometimes thousands of these fans of other clubs who pay for choice seats in San Diego.
It’s flattering to be thought of as a vacation destination but also annoying. Avenging Jack Murphy offers thoughts on a similar theme.