GOODYEAR, ARIZ. -- On Friday, the Oakland A's traveled to Goodyear Park to take on the Cleveland Indians. You can check out our FanPost recap from community member "What's On Second," but here are some extra notes I took while watching from the stands. Today, Jeremy Koo and I were joined by Torrey's Tacos, who was also in attendance.
The result of the game wasn't ideal, as the A's took the loss, but it's the Cactus League so that matters zero percent. Furthermore, just like on Thursday, the damage was done by the opponent in an eight-run inning, and all of those runs were given up by pitchers (R.J. Alvarez, Seth Frankoff) who have no chance of factoring into the Opening Day roster; only Alvarez has any real shot of appearing in Oakland at all this year.
I'm not gonna lie, I am not good at scouting pitchers. When I have the TV camera angle at home I think I can get a good grasp on it, but when watching live from the stands or press box I just don't have a lot to offer.
That said, I happened to be sitting right in front of an actual scout who was clocking the pitchers with a radar gun. He informed me that Hahn's fastball was operating consistently at 94-95 mph, and topping out at 96. Torrey's Tacos also noted that the curveball looked as devastating as ever. If you're looking for signs of a healthy Hahn, I can't imagine what else you'd want to see. He got hit hard by the first two batters of the game (Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez), but after that the Indians did virtually nothing against him. The only other notable hit he gave up was a double by Santana in the 3rd, which seems like a good time to mention that Santana is a really freaking good hitter (career OPS+ of 122).
On Twitter, former scout Bernie Pleskoff expressed concern about Hahn's arm in the 1st inning, noting that he "looks like he's dragging his right arm." I'm not sure what Pleskoff saw, but I'm not going to pretend like I know more than he does about analyzing a pitcher's mechanics; whatever it was it went away quickly because he changed his mind after the 2nd inning. For her part, Susan Slusser disagreed with any questions about Hahn's health, given that his velocity was strong and his secondary stuff was sharp. Via Slusser, catcher Josh Phegley was highly impressed with Hahn's outing and called his fastball "electric."
The utilityman is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster, but he's a great bet to appear in Oakland sometime this season when a need arises at ... well, just about any position. What has impressed me most about him this spring is the power he's shown. I don't know if it's real or if it's one of the many mirages of the Cactus League, but it's something to keep in mind.
It started with this homer on Monday against the Giants.
I thought that was a double off the wall when it left the bat, but it sailed over for a homer. I bring up that hit because it paled in comparison to the shot he launched on Friday, a towering drive that may well have ended up in the parking lot for all I know. Unfortunately, it hooked juuuust foul, so you won't see it in any box scores. I know, I know, we're talking about a long foul ball in a March exhibition game on a scorching day in which the ball carried off of everyone's bat -- even Eric Sogard hit a double to the wall in right. But the pop that Ladendorf showed this week is something I'll keep in mind if/when we see him later this year. And, to tie it all together, after that towering foul ball he poked the next pitch into right field for a clean single. It was an excellent at-bat all around.
After a disappointing Thursday in the field, Franklin Barreto reminded us why he's a highly touted prospect: his bat. He absolutely smoked a drive off of MLB pitcher Felipe Paulino, and it easily cleared the fence just to the right of the batter's eye. (Note: In Goodyear, the huge batter's eye doesn't count as part of the wall like it does in HoHoKam; Joey Butler of the Indians hit a massive shot off the top of it and it counted as a homer.) Barreto's homer must have gone around 425 feet to the opposite field, which is mighty impressive. It reminded me of Danny Valencia's majestic shot from Thursday, and may even have been slightly bigger.
Catcher Josh Phegley also flashed his pop. He hit a towering drive to left, and while I think it probably would have been knocked down by the marine layer in Oakland, it carried and carried in Goodyear until it cleared the wall. Earlier in the game, he'd hit a shot that looked like it had a chance but fell just short on the warning track. Oddly, in terms of initial reaction off the bat, I was more hopeful about the eventual flyout than I was about the one that went for a homer, but either way Phegley reminded us that he can really launch it.
Finally, both of Mark Canha's hits came on particularly hard contact. His double in the first inning was a smash and wasn't that far from leaving the yard itself. Later on, he smoked a grounder through the hole on the left side for a single. I spent all offseason tabbing him as a breakout candidate, and nothing has changed ... as long as he can get at-bats in the A's packed lineup.
Once again, it's crucial to note that the ball was really jumping today. It seemed like everyone was hitting it hard, just like on Thursday, so take all of these notes about power with however many grains of salt you wish to add.
Matt Olson drew a pair of walks in his only plate appearances, and the first one in particular was well-deserved. I didn't get an exact count, but he had to have seen at least 10 pitches. He fouled off several tough pitches, took a few close ones with his sharp eye, and ran the count full before getting his free pass. What I didn't see was a guy who was struggling to make contact. Remember, if a hitter routinely works long, deep counts, he's going to pick up some strikeouts along the way. As long as he also gets some walks out of it, while capitalizing on the instances in which he does get his pitch to swing at, the Ks are an acceptable byproduct. We'll learn a lot when we see what he does in Triple-A Nashville this year, finally free of the winds of Double-A Midland.
Jaycob Brugman is a personal favorite of mine. First off, the PA announcer pronounced his name BROOG-man, which caught me by surprise because it means I've been saying it wrong in my head for two years now. More importantly, he ripped a liner to right field, but unfortunately it went straight at the outfielder for an easy catch. But again, the contact was hard.
That's all for today. The A's lost the game, but I can't stress enough how little that matters. Their starter, racked by injury questions all winter, looked phenomenal. Their MLB hitters made great contact, and a couple of the prospects followed suit during a spirited comeback attempt. The defense looked clean, highlighted by a nice running catch by Sam Fuld early on. The only downside was that R.J. Alvarez still can't control his powerful stuff, and he and Seth Frankoff got shelled. That's a tradeoff I'll happily take.