Denise Williams photo

By Eric Garfield

Full article with videos here

This morning I went out to Twin Lakes, and I’m here now.  Unfortunately due to cloudy skies and unsure conditions for the afternoon there won’t be a ton of fieldwork and today is a bit of a chill and laid back morning.  In my notes I kept writing about some unnatural looking swings in the cage before I realized that they were doing opposite hand swings in one cage.  Jordan Cannon got into three heaters as a lefty and seemed pretty proud of himself.  I saw Zach Jarrett for the first time and he’s a pretty big dude.  He also had absolutely no trouble at all with balls spinning down and in and mashed each one harder and harder into the netting.  He has the appearance of a major leaguer.  Bigger and older than lots of the swingers here.  
They also did cage work with different types of bats and also balls. The work was specific and they used some metal bats to emphasize hand position, swinging through the center of the ball and barrel LLP consistency.  Here’s Gunnar being even more dangerous than normal.

 They also did grounder drills indoors and these are becoming my favorite thing to watch.  The fundamentals are stressed over and aver again and the guys take their chances seriously.  There’s camaraderie and competition and I can already see who is going to be fighting for chances all the way up.  Gunnar is used and drilled as a SS mostly but he does corner stuff too and he and Welk are tight.  They go at each other and we get to watch!

Encarnacion is getting more comfortable here by the day, and he smiles after a handful of good reps, which is a more common occurrence.  

Outside, the pitchers didn’t do much because there aren’t any sim games or innings so no mound work.  I’m upset but I’ll just come back tomorrow.  They did however continue the theme of unconventional practiced and I saw pitchers take grounders at different positions so here’s a capsule on what I saw-TLDR; not too good!

-Baumann has a low glove and can use his feet to get in good grounder position, not a hand reacher.  
-Jake Lyons can field at SS, and can pivot well with the ball-the fungoes came around him fast and he was not flustered-he’s showing me a lot.   
-Grayson is DEFINITELY all pitcher and no SS, he matadored one right into the outfield  -Rom at SS looked even more out of place, he’s lefty!  I said this out loud.  

Back to the cage for more hitting/fielding practice and I saw Adam Hall’s swing up close.  I can see why he hits for a high average, his hips open in coordinated rhythm, not too fast, and his eyes don’t come off the ball while his head is calm and stays in one place.  Speaking of not moving at all, in a catchers ‘stay in the crouch for 12-15 pitches non-stop’ drill, I saw not one muscle in Cumberland’s body move at all….that’s like 30-35 seconds and he didn’t adjust at all-the machine kept shooting them into his glove.  I don’t know if that translates to baseball but it was athletically impressive.  I shifted to see the SS’s again and I saw both Hernaiz and Joey Ortiz showing lightning quick feet to adjust side to side for hard shots near the corners of the cage.  Back outside to see what’s happening and I see Grayson and Knight throwing a ball designed to stay flat/spinless and you can see the hand positioning skills Grayson has.  He can make some dips and spins come out of nowhere or he can make them not happen at all.  

They’re done for the day out here and the grounds crew is cleaning up the fields.  The players are in the gym working out and it’s time for me to head to the O’s game.  

12:10pm Update-

I always want to see how a player reacts to being in the bigs a day before so I checked Janvrin’s body language and posture.  He was so focused and poised, walking in to take his turns there was no misstep.  He took his turns with his head and eyes up, standing tall even more than usual.   My bet is that he retained something from his big league experience and if I’m right he’s the kind of dude who will use his brief stay as motivation.  Good sign for the future.