A few notes and observations from my day at the Carpenter Complex today. Tyson Gillies was not in the lineup again today and was in the dugout massaging and pointing to an area below the back of his knee that appears to still be troubling him. After a disappointing year last year and his lack of playing time this Spring, Gillies is clearly behind the regulars competing for jobs in Reading and Lehigh Valley. A stint in extended Spring Training may be needed to get himself right before heading North.
Drew Naylor threw the ball well in 4.2 innings against the Blue Jays AAA team, giving up just a run. Justin DeFratus impressed bouncing back after giving up two hits to the first two batters he faced, to induce a strikeout and a double play ball to get out of a jam. In his second inning on the mound, DeFratus walked a batter and the inning ended on a fly ball caught up against the wall, however, with that being said, I came away very impressed by both his “stuff” and his poise.
I couldn’t have been more impressed than I was with Phillipe Aumont, He dominated in an inning of relief work in the AA game, striking out two and throwing 11 of his 17 pitches for strikes. He gave up a walk after starting a hitter off 0-2, but came back and got the next batter to fly out to end the inning. Without overstating this, there was several audible gasps at how silly he made a couple of the BlueJays look combining a very hard fastball with a knee buckling 12-6 curve for a strikeout. The last time I saw Aumont was in a start he made for Reading last season in which he was just awful. No command, no control and no poise. In this limited sample I watched, he was simply a different pitcher. More confidant in both himself as well as his game.
You can’t walk by the AAA game without paying attention to Ryne Sandberg. He gets your attention and respect because of the way he played the game. It seems certain that things are going to change, at least by way of attitude in Lehigh Valley. On multiple occasions as his guys were walking out to the field, Sandberg would yell, “need some hop guys…look alive out there.” It is something small but notable after watching many a lackadaisical effort in Lehigh Valley last year.
Chris Frey, a pickup from the Rockies organization in the AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft impressed with how fluid he is in CF. Frey was voted the best defensive outfielder in the Rockies system last season and got caught in the proverbial numbers crunch with Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez ahead of him in Colorado. While probably never going to be an everyday player in the Major Leagues, Frey (a University of Arizona product) appears to do everything well (absent a lack of a power game) and would be an asset to keep around for an organization that is troubled by their lack of defensive depth in the OF. Ironically, the one thing Frey does not do is hit for power, and he led off the AAA game with a homer.