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Eyeball Scout Checks In From The Cactus League

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Armed and dangerous with his 1980s cassette tape recorder, the Eyeball Scout was on the prowl yesterday before being blinded by the horrific sight of the A’s coughing up 15 runs on an estimated 37 hits.

Before I drop the curtain on the small sample theatre that is my observations of Friday’s and Saturday’s games, here’s what you have to look forward to, or dread, depending on your point of eww.

I was able to tear future-hall-of-famer Max Schrock away from a Sudoku puzzle he was beginning to solve at his locker. Assuring me I would not disrupt his Sudoku rhythm (I could not live with myself if I got him out of the zone and he retired with two blank squares), the 5’8" contact machine and I chatted about low K-rates, 2B defense, other positions, fishing — I think you will enjoy this interview and I hope to transcribe it over the next 72 hours. Stay tuned.

Next, I craned my neck for a prospect I look up to, literally: 6’5" Matt Olson. Olson is a candidate for nicest man on the planet and tried his best to explain the explicable: how do you recognize pitches better than the next guy, in the 1/100th of a second you have to judge? We also touched on 1B vs. RF, his laid back temperament, and solving simultaneous quadratic equations with two variables. Or I may have just dreamed that last one. What, you don’t also dream about Matt Olson and algebra?

Finally, I sat down with "Chapman: the other white Matt," fresh off of stubbing his toe, cracking the nail, and being yanked from the lineup. This is why the song "Bad Day" was a hit — we’ve all been there. At first, Chapman proudly unveiled his Master’s Degree from the School of Baseball Clichés, and while you’ll be pleased to know that this Matt wants to help the team, work hard, and stay within himself, you’ll possibly be more pleased to know that after I stomped hard on another toe Chapman relaxed and offered a glimpse of his personality and how he hopes to be remembered.

Now when you interview one guy known for contact but two guys known for their fair share of whiffing, you have to expect you’ll strike out a little. Hopefully, though, you will enjoy these interviews as I prepare them to run on AN over the next couple weeks. Next year, I’m thinking of expanding my horizons and interviewing someone whose name does not begin with "M-a" but we’ll see.

As for the first two games, the Eyeball Scout can confirm that when Renato Nuñez hits the ball he indeed hits it with impressive authority, but that he appears to be very "on the fly averse" when he throws from 3B. Good luck in LF — I still fear DH will prove to be his best position.

Richie Martin looks like a "true SS" — smooth, fundamentally sound, with a strong arm — and Franklin Barreto has a smooth and easy swing only in need of plate discipline.

As for the pitchers, Kendall Graveman’s sinker was in mid-season form when we saw him, Manaea’s stuff erratic, but neither means much the first week of March as we know what those two bring to the party. I am interested to see Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs today, along with A.J. Puk, and will report back with alacrity (that’s a hangover, right?)

That’s a snapshot from the Cactus League on this overcast Sunday morning. Now to begin transcribing........