The View From the Press Box - Kane County Cougars (Wrigley Field Edition)

Tonight's game was certainly eventful. It was the first minor league game at Wrigley Field, Ryne Sandberg's return to Wrigley (well, he's been there many times I'm sure, but this time as a manager), a new Midwest League attendance record (31,103), and, of course, I got to cover the game for

As I've done with the previous two write-ups, I'll type up a few comments about what I saw of some of the A's prospects. We will start with the first round pick, Jemile Weeks.

As Taj reported here, Weeks hurt himself in the first inning. Here's what I wrote about it in that fanpost:

I don’t think it’s been reported anywhere yet, but word from Nuke (Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula) is that it’s a hip flexor injury.

It didn’t look particularly bad, other than him going down. He hustled out a routine grounder, almost beat it out, and just past the base he did a face-plant into the dirt. It looked just like he ran so hard and on that last step lost his footing (I’m not describing this well, but I’m trying to say it didn’t look like an injury). He laid there for a second, slammed his helmet down, and then was eventually helped off the field. Not carried, but definitely helped off. He was replaced in the lineup by Michael Richard, who later made one of the silliest errors I’ve ever seen in my life. More on that later.

One thing I should mention that's a little bit funny. Because of the rain/game suspension, there was a little bit of chaos concerning manager and player availability after the game. So at one point, the Cougars media director, Shawn Touney, had Aaron Nieckula on a cell phone. 3 or 4 beat reporters and myself were all huddled in a press box bathroom asking him questions. I didn't ask anything because the only thing I wanted to know was about Weeks and somebody else took care of it, but I just found the situation a little funny.

Ok, so, here are some other notes:

Petey Paramore looks like he is starting to find his way in professional baseball. He had a couple hits tonight, including a bases clearing double that gave the Cougars a 6-5 lead. He jumped all over a mistake pitch (count was 0-2) and drilled it to the gap in right center. Really nice hit and the ball just jumped off the bat.

He is also very, very slow. Very slow. Like you know how guys like Paul Konerko are slow? Well, imagine someone took a sledgehammer to Paul Konerko's right knee. Then they set his left leg on fire. Yeah. Slow. Ok, perhaps I'm being slightly hyperbolic but Paramore was thrown out at home in the same inning as the double on a single to center. The throw was strong, but offline. I'm still a little shocked they even had a play on Paramore. He didn't fall down like Jack Cust in Baltimore, but...that would've at least been a better excuse than "slow as can be."

Oh, and he struggled to block one ball in the dirt. It went as a wild pitch, but it looked like a ball a really good defensive catcher would've blocked. Not going to make an overall judgment on one play though. He also couldn't throw out a runner on a pitch out. That runner was 14 for 17 in steals coming into the game. The throw wasn't bad, just late. Make of that what you will. Without video, I can't say if he has a weak arm or a slow release or what.

"Legendary" Larry Cobb can rake. He's the sleepiest of sleeper prospects, but I really like watching the guy hit. He doesn't belong anywhere near center field, but the A's should try to get him out of Kane County. I think he could handle Stockton, and a double jump to Midland might not be a bad idea. He's already at the age where taking it slow isn't going to help. May as well take a risk and see what he can do.

Reliever Jason Glushon pitched 3 innings, gave up 1 run (that shouldn't have happened because the runner left third waaaay early on a sac fly). He struck out four, including striking out the side. He has a slider (I think) that was filthy. The Chiefs hitters just looked silly up there.

But he pitched 3 innings because Jamie Richmond really struggled. I'm disappointed in him. He's just hittable. And it seems like if he's giving up 1 hit, he's giving up 5. I wonder if it's a confidence/focus thing. He gave up back-to-back homers in the 2nd (including one to a guy named Rebel Ridling. I hope the A's find a way to get him because that name is awesome). He was yanked after giving up 3 singles in the 5th.

MIchael Richard both impressed me and made me scratch my head like a confused little boy. Offensively he had one nice at bat that resulted in a bloop single. He was fooled by a breaking ball, flailing at it. The next pitch was the same thing, and even though he was fooled again, he managed to hang back just long enough to flip the ball into shallow center. It was nice to see.

He's a bit of a wreck defensively, but he made a couple nice plays. I even wrote down that he made a couple nice plays. Then there was the run down play. With a runner on second, a grounder was hit to Justin Frash at third. Frash (who can dance, by the way) tossed it to Matt Ray at second. Ray ran the runner towards third and flipped the ball to Richard who was standing around 30 feet from third base. He caught the ball. He went to tag the runner. I looked down to mark my scorebook. And Richard dropped the ball. Somehow. I'm a little confused. But the runner was safe on the error.

Outfielder Todd Johnson can hit a little bit. The system is loaded with OF prospects, but I liked his swing tonight. It's the first time I've seen him play. He had a couple hits.

DJ Hollingsworth is an itty bitty little Elfsteinian guy. He's listed at 5'9" 175. He was hit by a pitch and walked. Man, he's soooo tiny for a corner OF and he's not Juan Pierre fast or anything.

And, finally, I feel bad for the third base umpire. In the 6th inning, a Chiefs player hit a ground ball down the third base line that was very, very clearly fair. The umpire got all excited, pointed foul two or three times and then realized his mistake. He pointed fair, but it was too late. The hit was a double, and would've been a double even with the right call, but because he called it foul they play was dead. Oops. That ended up being one of Glushon's strike outs.



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