ON THE ROAD AT SPRING TRAINING-#Blue Jays and more #Astros

Before I discuss some items about the Blue Jays and Astros, I have to share this experience I had on the drive back to my hotel from Kissimmee.

So I’m listening to the radio and suddenly a voice comes on and says..,”We interrupt this program because the satellite receiving station is in line with the sun. This happens twice a year.” Yikes-I felt like I was stuck on Mars with Matt Damon. I have never experienced that before.

OK-so now I can talk about the Blue Jays and Astros. I just had to share that little technical phenomenon.

The Blue Jays traveled with few, if any, regular players. That’s alright with me because I like to see prospects. I do, however, think fans buy tickets to watch bigger name players than yesterday’s Blue Jays travel roster.

Marcus Stroman started for the Blue Jays. He really is actually only 5-8 even though he’s listed at 5-9 in some publications. Either way, he isn’t today’s prototypical big body pitcher. But don’t let the size fool you. Stroman can pitch. He has a complete arsenal and when he keeps the ball down in the zone he is very tough to hit. I saw very little solid barrel of the bat contact off him. He did yield a home run to Colby Rasmus. But he struck out three and induced three ground ball outs in his two innings of work. He threw strikes and showed the confidence of a veteran.

Stroman will have to anchor a pitching staff that may be suspect. They have some quality starters, but the depth is not as great as a contending team may desire.  Their pitching is a bit thin as well due to indues to Aaron Loup and Bo Schultz, both slated to work out of the pen.

Ambidextrous Pat Venditte is a candidate for a bullpen job. I love watching him switch his glove from one hand to the other and face hitters pitching from either hand. He must declare which hand he will be using prior to the at-bat. He is most effective against same-side hitters. There is a buzz in the stands when fans who haven’t seen him figure out he is pitching with both hands. No doubt about it, he is really fun to watch. Naturally a right-handed pitcher, Venditte learned to switch-pitch from his dad. He has a slow, wipe out slider while pitching left-handed to left-handed hitters.

Venditte uses a pie shaped glove that has six fingers.

Domonic Brown, once a highly touted prospect with the Phillies, was the designated hitter in the game. He smoked a triple that was misplayed in the outfield, but it had some true backspin. I still think he tries to pull everything way too much and his long and aggressive swing is still evident. The power exists. Can he ever make the necessary adjustments? If so-he can play. If not, he’ll be a 4A type guy.

I don’t see Dalton Pompey making the club. If he can’t start in center field he needs to get development time every day in the Minor Leagues. The talent is there, but he needs to see pitches every single day for the entire season.

If Venditte and Ben Rowen both pitch out of the Blue Jays bullpen they will form an interesting mid-innings duo. Venditte will pitch with both hands and Rowen will pitch with his knuckles almost touching the ground. The submariner can fool hitters when they get only one look at that delivery. It really is tough to pick up the pitch.

I spoke about the Astros in my last blog. There are some crumbs remaining that I want to discuss.

As a scout, I wish Carlos Gomez would tame his swing a bit. He is really aggressive to the point of being violent at the plate. His swings and misses bring lots of fresh air on a warm day in Florida. I think a shorter, quicker path to the ball would serve him so much better. He would increase his contact rate and still generate enough power to hit the ball to the gaps or over the wall.

Another free swinger, but not quite as violent, Jonathan Singleton has to be taken seriously as a game-changing, damaging, impact power hitter. I saw the power once again. It will be difficult to live with his strikeouts, true, but he can end a game right now. With power in such demand in the game, he has to play-especially against right-handed pitchers. Just slip him in the lineup, let him swing and see what happens.

Physically, Singleton reminds me of a slightly leaner Price Fielder. Right down to the beard, Singleton has the size, the shape and all the moves of Fielder with less consistent contact.

I’m always amazed at the power generated by Luis Valbuena. A feast or famine type hitter, he showed the power in his bat again yesterday. I think he’ll get lots of playing time at third base and elsewhere due to his versatility. In yesterday’s game, he played shortstop. I’ve also seen him play second base.

Scott Feldman started the game. He can give the club plenty of innings when he’s as healthy and strong as he looked yesterday. I like Feldman because he keeps his team in the game with solid command and a good repertoire. The club has solid starters with Keuchel, McHugh, McCullers, Feldman, Fister, Fiers, and even Dan Straily if needed. That’s a pretty solid and deep group of available arms.

I’ll probably see the Astros one more time before I leave Florida. I just like watching their young guys play baseball.

Tomorrow: Washington and Miami

Thank you for following me @BerniePleskoff and for reading my blog. I’ll be highlighting every team I see this spring on this site.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.

 

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