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Nico's Rivercats Scouting Report, Small Sample Edition

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LongTimeFan and I enjoyed the Rivercats' 10-1 pounding of the Las Vegas 51s on Saturday, disappointed that our first choice, Gio Gonzalez, and our second choice, Dan Meyer, did not get the call, and that we saw quite the known quantity in Kirk Saarloos. We had terrific seats right behind the plate, just one row away from where Gio Gonzalez, fellow starting pitcher Chris Gissell, and a couple others were charting pitches and working the radar gun. I think LongTimeFan’s official scouting report would be that Gio is a very good-looking prospect.

Saarloos pitched well, throwing 7 innings of 5 hit, one run baseball, but we all know Saarloos well and there’s not much to say from a scouting perspective (other than I wouldn’t have minded having him, instead of DiNardo, on the mound in the bottom of the 11th). Ryan Wing looked sharp in the 8th inning and Bret Prinz finished up in the 9th.

Meanwhile, I have to qualify my scouting report on A’s position players by saying that the 51’s pitching really sucked. Something called a Miguel Pinango wobbled around for 3 innings and 73 pitches and then the bullpen was horrific, led by Greg Miller, a 6’6” left-hander who managed to squeeze 5 BBs, 2 wild pitches, and 5 runs into 2/3 of an inning. He threw 34 pitches, 10 strikes. Anyway, here are a few stray observations:

  Positives

Danny Putnam  Putnam banged doubles down each line, displaying the quick and compact swing we once saw missing a lot of pitches with Oakland. If he could make enough contact, he could probably be a decent major league hitter. However, his ability to make contact with AAA pitching doesn’t really answer whether he can make contact at the big league level and he is pretty low on the A’s OF depth chart. Still, he looked good.

Eric Patterson  At least for one game, Patterson looked fine at 2B, making a couple good plays (e.g., good range and a difficult throw to lead Saarloos to first base after 1Bman Justin Knoedler dove for and missed a ground ball) and displaying no apparent weaknesses in instincts or fundamentals. He is a lot lankier than I expected, but it seems like he gets his power from a very quick swing. At the plate, he did not do much, beating out an infield squibber to third, popping up (and looking disgusted at himself for a couple seconds instead of hustling out of the batter’s box), and so on, but the bat speed was evident. He is lightning quick.

Chris Denorfia  Along with poking a single through the hole to right, stealing a base, and scoring twice, Denorfia played a solid CF, positioning himself well for the throw and firing a strike to the plate to nail the runner on a would-be sacrifice fly early on, then later getting a good jump and running down a fly ball in the alley. Denorfia has been passed by Ryan Sweeney and hears Aaron Cunningham’s footsteps, but there still seems like hope that he could make it back to the big league club at some point.

Cliff Pennington  He didn’t blow me away, but his bat speed was evident. He pulled a lot of balls well foul, suggesting that he needs to trust his bat speed and stay back more on pitches.

  Negatives

Landon Powell  He looked awful. Behind the plate, he let many pitches get by him, some for wild pitches, others coming with nobody on base. He is not naturally very mobile (is there a nice way to say “He’s really fat”?) and to make matters worse he often just stabs at the ball backhanded rather than starting to move his body as early as possible to compensate for his girth. Offensively, he looked like a .222 hitter in AAA – which, sadly, is what he currently is. I don’t know if Powell can hit well enough to play in the big leagues, but someone his weight, who has had knee operations, probably should not be catching. He certainly isn’t doing it very well - you could say that I really do take him for granite.

Travis Buck  You can see why the A’s haven’t called Buck back up. Though he was 1 for 3 with a two-run single and a BB, he often looked overmatched by bad AAA pitching, chasing several bad breaking pitches and changeups and looking far from “too good for the level of competition”. His fall from grace remains one of the bigger mysteries of the 2008 season.

  One final note: The  Rivercats’ personnel are exceptionally friendly and responsive, and make you feel like they truly appreciate your presence at the ballpark. Get up to Raley Field sometime if you can – you won’t be disappointed.