Threshers Drop Home Opener 5-2; April 9, 2015

The Threshers opened the 2015 season with a home loss to the Dunedin Blue Jays.  The game featured two rehabbing major leaguers, Michael Saunders as DH for the Blue Jays and Domonic Brown in RF for the Threshers.  Neither figured in the scoring.

These are not the Matt Boyd/Dalton Pompey/Dwight Smith Blue Jays that were so dominant in the FSL last season.  But they have restocked with prospects Mitch Nay (#11), Dawel Lugo (#18), and Matthew Dean (#19) who each hit opposite field home runs.  Pitcher Jairo Labourt (#13) stymied the Threshers thru the first four innings before tiring in the fifth and sixth innings.  The left-handed pitcher struck out Domonic Brown swinging in his only two ABs.

Matt Imhof breezed thru the first two innings.  He locates the ball pretty well so his lack of velocity was not a concern early.  That 5 of his 6 first outs were recorded on fly balls to the outfield was a bit alarming.  (FWIW, the stadium gun on 21 of Imhof’s first 24 pitches registered 85, 87, 87(F7), 87, 87, 90, 89(F9), 88, 97, 83, 83, 88, 82, ?(F8), 84, 85, 81, 87(5-3), 85, 79, 87(F9), ?, ?, 86(F7).)

Imhof’s string of 6 retired batters ended with a single off SS Devin Lohman’s glove to start the third inning.  After another fly ball to the outfield, the runner stole second base.  He remained there on a ground out to Mitch Walding at third base.  Imhof had almost escaped the inning when a soft ground single up the middle was just out of the reach of both Lohman and second baseman Drew Stankiewicz.  Imhof ended the inning with a pickoff –  1-3-1-4-2-6.  (Imhof threw 18 pitches in the inning, he touched 88 once.)

Imhof gave up a first-pitch, line drive single to start the fourth inning. He followed that with his first and only walk on his third (of four) full-count of the evening.  His next pitch was a sharply hit ground ball toward the left field corner.  Walding gloved the ball while moving to his right and took an additional step to touch the third base bag to force out the runner.  He turned and threw to Stankiewicz for another force at second base.  Stankiewicz pivoted and fired to Zach Green to complete the triple play.  (only 1 of the 7 pitches I recorded was as fast as 87.)

Imhof finally got burned on a fly ball when Mitch Nay led off the fifth inning with a home run to right.  He recorded a pop up and two ground balls to end the inning.  (14 pitches, 4 fastest at 86.)  My count is not exact, but I had him at about 64 pitches.  It seemed that he threw predominantly strikes in the first inning.  But my rough count over the final 4 innings was 49 pitches – 26 strikes, 23 balls.  He moves the ball around well to make up for his velocity, but the stadium gun may be a little fast.  If so, he’ll need to keep the ball down to stay successful.

Mark Leiter pitched the next 2 innings.  He lit up the gun at 90-91 mph.  His first batter dribbled a ball through the 5-6 hole into left field.  A hit-and-run ground out moved the runner to second.  He scored on an opposite field home run to right by Dawel Lugo.  Leiter responded with a 3-pitch strike out and was quickly ahead of the next batter when he was squeezed on 6 of the next 9 pitches.  After a base on balls, he retired the third out on a fly to right.

Leiter came back strong in the seventh inning.  He got a first-pitch come-backer for the first out and a 4-pitch strike out for the second.  He got the third out after an 11-pitch battle that ended on a 2-2 fly ball to right.  His fast ball was still 90-91 during the inning, but he threw a lot of 83-84 changes and a couple of slow curves to keep the batters off balance.

Edubray Ramos came on to pitch the final 2 innings.  He recorded 4 ground balls and 3 fly balls.  Unfortunately, one of the fly balls was an opposite field home run by Matthew Dean with one-out in the ninth inning.  He had just watched the previous batter ground out to third on a 79, 82, 94, 94, 85 progression, and was evidently sitting first-pitch, fast ball.  Even so, he didn’t get around on the 95 mph offering and drove it to the opposite field.

Ramos stuff looks nasty.  He throws hard and gets some movement.  The stadium gun had his fast balls at – 94, 93, 95, 96, 95, 96, 94, 94, 94, 95, 93, 93, 95.  Chris (StatsKing) King was behind the plate with a gun on him and had him at 92-94, T96.  So, the stadium gun could be maybe 1 mph to fast.

In addition to the triple play, the defense was sharp.  Aaron Brown crashed into the wall in RCF to make an inning-ending catch in the first inning.  Andrew Knapp had to play goalie on several balls in the dirt.  Only one got past him and didn’t figure into the scoring.  Mitch Walding had 6 assists and a putout.  Aside from starting the triple play, he made a great stop behind third and a strong throw to Green at first.  He also had to charge a couple of soft choppers and make quick, controlled throws to retire batters.  Clearwater commited no errors.  The only criticism would be the rundown after the pickoff.  Too many throws.  Here’s the Aaron Brown catch (from a Jeremy Carlson tweet).

Aaron BrownCatch

Offensively, I’ve seen these guys more productive.  They collected 7 hits and a walk.  Two other runners reached on errors.  Three of the 7 hits were doubles.  Knapp was the offensive star going 3-4 with a 2B and an RBI.

He singled in the first after Willians Astudillo reached on an error, but both were stranded.

Stankiewicz reached via a walk in the third but was forced out by Astudillo who was thrown out on a steal (delayed, I think).

Green opened the fifth with a line drive single and moved to second on a wild pitch.  He reached third on a ground out.  With two outs, Lohman’s two-out ground ball was mis-handled and Green scored.  Through the first 5 innings, the Jays starter had struck out 3 batters (D. Brown accounted for 2 of them).

Andrew Pullin doubled in his first at bat in the sixth inning after replacing Dom Brown on the field the inning before.  It was a solid line drive deep into the LCF gap.  He scored on Knapp’s RBI single.  After a fly out, the Jays bull pen took over and struck out the next two batters.  The Jays bullpen recorded 5 strike outs over the final 3.2 innings.

Knapp one-hopped the wall in LCF for a double with two outs in the eighth and was stranded.

Aaron Brown lined a one out double into LCF with one out in the ninth and was stranded.

Here’s the box score –

  • Stankiewicz, 2B   1-3; BB, K
  • Astudillo, DH         0-4; CS
  • D. Brown, RF          0-2; 2 K
  •    Pullin, LF              1-2; R, 2B
  • Knapp, C                 3-4; RBI, 2B
  • Cozens, LF, RF      0-4; K
  • Green, 1B                1-4; R, 2K
  • A.Brown, CF           1-4; 2B, K
  • Walding, 3B           0-4; K
  • Lohman, SS           0-4


  • Imhof      5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 1 WP
  • Leiter      2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
  • Ramos    2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR

David Whitehead takes the mound tomorrow night in Dunedin.

17 thoughts on “Threshers Drop Home Opener 5-2; April 9, 2015

  1. A little concerned about Imhoff’s outing. I know it’s 1 start but too
    many flyballs and velo not very good.
    On the other hand, Knapp may be primed to break out. His calling had always been his bat. On D he needed a lot of work last year. Seems like he did a good job last night. Maybe we have our catcher of the future.

    1. I think Kleven could be considered to be the Threshers #1 pitcher based on a whole year at Clearwater. He also can throw consistently in the 91 to 93 range and put in a full season and was very durable. Velocity aside, in fairness to Imhoff, that was his first game at a higher level than he has pitched at before.

  2. I Just don’t understand. how you draft someone who cant break ninety in third round? what did they see in him. Hope knapp comes on strong we need some bats.

      1. Then someone is lying cause when I sit behind scouts, Imhoff never touches 90. Maybe he’s saving himself for the majors. He is going to be a HR producer.

  3. Its a nice lineup, I’m confident that they’ll hit and score runs must nights. Its interesting that Knapp is batting 4th, and its great to see him respond right away.

    1. If you’ve been following the minor league ST games, Knapp has been hitting like a maniac and not only has he done well against very advanced (AA and AAA) competition, he’s been hitting home runs too. We need a couple of guys in the system to take a huge step forward, the way Posey and Bumgarner did before the Giants started going to the WS every other year. It would be great if Knapp was one of those guys.

      1. Agreed, he is a high pick after all and he’s hit well since his shoulder healed up. Dreaming that Knapp can become Posey like is some dream though. One thing I notice about our system is that other than Quinn there’s not much speed. Maybe there’s a few guys who can get to the 15-20 steel range but no one who can reach the 25-30 range.

  4. Okay, guys. I’m going to replace my typed box score with a link to the official MiLB box score for the Threshers’ game. I usually check what I have against it anyway for accuracy. If nothing else, it’ll save me some time preparing game reports.

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