by Eric Garfield

Full Article with Videos Here

Today it’s freezing by FL standards and in the way to the fields coach Tim DeJohn and I compared layers.  He told me where and when they’d be doing high rate double play drills today, field 2 if you’re around.  The players did a great short burst explosion contest this morning and I’ll go through my footage.  Highlights include JC Encarnacion beating Mason Janvrin who gets to top speed in 2-3 strides.  

Right now they’ve moved to sliding drills.  I don’t want Ripken or Zach Jarrett coming for my legs!  I’ll have more soon.

10:30am Update-Just got a nice little tidbit talking to a starter.  He told me that the guys who are here early as far as pitchers are all starters whose throwing programs include 30 mound pitches and a live BP every 3 days.  I had thought something like that but he confirmed it, he went yesterday so after calisthenics and stretches he was basically done for the day.  Kind of like most baseball fans he wanted to go to the O’s game and ‘watch Chris Davis.  I reminded him of his .800 spring average and he cracked up.  
2:30pm Update-I left the complex after a few talks with coaches and team staff discussing some issues I was unsure of.  Today was chilly but so many drills and pitchers establishing a usage schedule.  I am starting to like the practice environment more and more the more I see but the best part is seeing the bits of improvement that pave the way to more confidence/success.  I watched more than I filmed today as the pitchers showed similar attributes and stuff as they did two days previous.  I got some more looks at Jensen Elliott and he’s starting to warm up a bit.  Brnovich too was a focus of mine and he’s got his stuff rounding into form as he harnesses control in this early camp setting.  Fans haven’t heard or seen much of him but he’s going for the K and his arsenal is going to make people watch.  
There were diving catch drills in the outfield and that was awesome.  Guys showed some range and as usual, Zach Watson has lots.  Nuestrom showed good stride length and positioning too, it was my first look at him.  Also in the cage he was smashing soft tosses into the stratosphere testing the strength of the nets.  

I realized looking through the note pad that I am formulating profiles on each and every guy here and several have really made a strong impression with skills, focus, attitude and especially effort.  There is not a single player out here trying harder and getting more out of what he’s got than Willy Yahn.  I haven’t figured him out totally but he will not stop busting his ass or going all out so I really just want to watch.  You would too.  His teammates absolutely love him because they see it too.  He’s less blessed than other guys here but his name is William Wallace and it’s fitting.  
Also Cadyn Grenier and his grounder stopping skills and body are just made for fielding.  His swing is leveling and his contact ability better than before but not complete.  His defensive positioning, motions and feet are just natural and coaching is only helping shape these skills into a pro-ready package.  He can play D. From my pad ‘every Cadyn defensive movement demonstrates natural ability’. I want opponents hitting it on the ground near him today.  
I watched drills, hit the cage and then saw live BP’s and here are my observations:

-Joey Ortiz throwing fundamentals are his best defensive weapon. 
-Darell Hernaiz gained a few lbs but it didn’t affect his foot quickness in the slightest-good sign for more weight.  Also he likes his own sliding technique .

In the cage I watched Zach Jarrett again. He has a good initiation of motion and strong hands force the action to start happening.  I don’t know about the plane, I need to watch more.  Also he’s not a big guy so perhaps morphing into more of an uppercut may really help him.  I focused more on hands with a few guys and not much to see but I saw Thorburn with a few good knocks in a row and was using the top hand as guidance, turning it into the ball’s path.  
In the live BP’s I noted that Hammer worked in tandem with Gillispie today again.  Brnovich steps on to the hill and has slide in his first throw.  It’s great to see a guy whose straight isn’t even that straight.  Escarra laced a double off him past RF.  He’s pretty much on everything with timing.  JC is the hottest hitter through week 1 and it works because he’s got a good attitude and lots of chatter.  I wrote Brnovich is maybe even moving more than he wants at this point because they’re not all strikes and he got touched up a little.  He’s got stuff to work through to get placement but it’s a good assignment for the coaches and he seems like a good project to want to fulfill.  
Houston Roth not only threw a water bottle into the trash from 18 feet away, he had significant depth on off-speed and corkscrewed Hernaiz into the dirt.  Next guy Roth whipped a cut fastball down under Ben Brezeale’s bat (nasty) but Brezeale laced a high velocity return past the SS hole.  Great work not getting stuck.  Grenier was next and he waited out everything that wasn’t straight-I dont think there’s a count yet, and then he hit the cage low with a liner.  Good work on both sides of the ball here.  I got to another field in time to see Connor Gillispie and his battery mate today Cody Roberts finished off Joey Ortiz looking with a breaking ball that stayed tight even if high and Joey was not going to be able to swing.  Nice finish.  Roberts again is an excellent communicator.  
More Jake Lyons and I noticed he’s already looking svelt-er and we haven’t truly hit sweating weather yet.  Stuff wise he’s yet to show me a lack of anything.  Today I was directly behind the catcher and I noticed his breaking ball goes heavy on the third base side even almost outside a righty.  That angle made it pretty clear. He and Cannon worked together, TX and OK.  My last note for the day says ‘Escarra took a step in the box and laced one to deep RF/wall…he’s on fire!  
Before leaving I talked to a few more guys and got some good info on the upcoming games.  I didn’t want to talk about the MLB pipeline list that came out last bout because it’s just another list and feel like I have some disagreements.  But it was on my mind that each name on it was either at major or minor league camp and some of those guys are starting off really well.  We’ll see who is throwing tomorrow and I’ll study some video and read some hitting stuff until then.