Today was a camp day. After their morning drills, the players gathered on Ashburn Field to watch a home run derby. Participants included Dylan Cozens, Darick Hall, Danny Mayer, Deivi Grullon, Ben Pelletier, Carlos De La Cruz, Alec Bohm among others.
I arrived as the contest started with Cozens reaching the parking lot while I navigated over one of the balls he put there. They had a PA announcer and the players cheered for their favorites.
They followed a 7-out format that included a golden ball that counted as 2 HR when the batter reached six outs. Each batter had a different coach as his designated pitcher.
The excitement grew as participants were eliminated and the fans’ favorites emerged Dylan Cozens and Deivi Grullon reached the finals, Grullon on a titanic blast on a golden ball (counted as two HR) to steal victory in his bracket from Alec Bohm.
Grullon opened A 7-0 lead in the finals. Cozens, resplendent in his tank top, crushed 7 HR to right before recording an out. His pitcher, Chris Truby, challenged Cozens to hit one to left, and the round ended in a tie.
Grullon failed to hit a HR in the 3-out overtime. Cozens ripped off his shirt and ended the competition on his second swing. Many of Cozens jacks cleared the scoreboard in right field. He launches them to a height that seems destined to die on the track, but the ball just keeps carrying in a way that others don’t (or can’t) to unexpected distances.
A short time later, they started their intrasquad games. Jerad Eickhoff and Ranger Suarez squared off on the back field. I watched Eickhoff labor through three innings. He issued three walks while I was there. He threw a lot of off speed pitches. His FB was 87-90 mph.
Roman Quinn started in CF. He walked in his first at bat. On an infielder’s throwing error, he tried to score from second when home plate was unguarded. Eickhoff recovered in time to apply the tag, but it was reassuring to see Quinn running so confidently.
I retreated to Schmidt Field to watch Ben Brown. Schmidt is the worst field for pitch velocity. Brown threw an unusually high number of off speed pitches. He got strike outs on both his FB and CB. I asked Ben afterward if my perception of increased reliance on off speed pitches was correct. He said yes, that he was developing better feel for it. Confidence in a solid CB can only help his FB.
Looks like Connor Seabold is headed to Reading. He was the designated bunter whenever his team got a runner on base. I saw him successful on one of two sacrifice attempts.
Nothing today. But, Rob Brantly and Sean Rodriguez took part in the AAA/AA game. Guess Josh Martin is down here somewhere, too.
There are 196 players in the minor league camp – 109 pitchers, 20 catchers, 42 infielders, and 25 outfielders. There are 350 players in the organization.
After the affiliated teams go north or move across the Complex, XST will be augmented with about 20 players from the Dominican Academy. Subtract 100+ and add 20+ and the remaining 120 or so players might each get their own locker in the club house.
Well, that’s all until tomorrow.