We went and saw Abilene Christian (again) play East Central University. The main reason I wanted to go see them was because Jordan Herrera, the reliever that impressed us last time, was starting for ACU. Here is one video of him:
Like any normal person, I obsessively categorized nearly every pitch and made half a page full of jumbled notes. His fastball tended to stay high and to the left (that is inside to right-handed hitters, and outside to left-handed pitchers), but he left the fastball down the middle for a sac fly. As one would expect in a transition from a reliever to a starter, he had less swing and miss stuff, giving up quite a bit of fouls. He got 3 strike outs on 7 swinging strikes with 15 looking strikes. He had some problems with his breaking ball, as he left it up too many times and got hurt when he left it down the middle. When its good, its nasty and low and away from righties, but you would like to see more of it acting like that. He was also able to locate one of his breaking pitches on the low inside corner to righties. Control problems were notable, as he had 3 wild pitches and 21 balls (versus 22 non contact strikes). He had a needlessly long at-bat that turned into a walk against a not very good hitter. He seems to be considerably poorer against lefties,which is something he needs to clean up if he is going to be a starter. He seemed to lose velocity and effectiveness as the game wore on, and had some questions about put away ability as a starter. I really thought they left him in too long, and he was the victim of back to back drops. He gave up 6 fly-balls and 3 other infield fly-balls, and most of them were soft fly-balls. He walked 2 batters, with a questionable hit by pitch, with only 3 ground-balls versus 4 fly-balls. In the end, I wasn't as impressed with Herrera on Saturday as I was a couple weeks ago, but he throws hard (he appeared to throw harder than a guy that I know was clocked at 88 MPH), and could be a draft prospect as either a reliever or starter. Here is another video of Herrera:
East Central's starting pitcher was Eric Fredrick, a 6-4 lefty from Pima Community College. There, he was very unimpressive, with a 4.92 ERA and 5.4 K/9IP and more walks than strikeouts (in high school his ERA was 4.3). Here is him throwing:
He doesn't throw real hard, and even with his size he still would fit in the "crafty lefty" category. He got some called strikes on a breaking ball, which can neutralize righties. He also got a swinging strikeout on a breaking ball out of the zone to the number 9 hitter. However, the ball was getting scorched of his bat, and he was staying high in the zone and ran into some control problems in the 3rd. He did find a nice low fastball in the zone to get a couple strikes on Rodge Macy (more on him later). I was impressed with that, but wanted to see more and as his previous statistics would indicate, he wasn't consistent with it. One positive thing that was out of the ordinary was that he definitely got better as the game went along. That is, it didn't help hitters that they had seen him 2 or 3 times, which means he is not a "one trick pony" and can showcase different pitches to get out hitters. On the defensive side, he seemed stiff and was not a good fielder, and made a disastrous throwing error. As "stiff" would suggest, he wasn't very fast at getting to first. In my mind, he isn't much of a pro prospect, as he doesn't have velocity or consistent command. The bad high school and community college statistics did surprise me though after watching him pitch.
Here is a second look at the Abilene hitters, most notably Conway and Macy. Kyle Conway DHed again, which was disappointing, as I wanted to see him field. I will just assume he isn't very good in the field (or else he would be out there), and is a bat only prospect. Speaking of bat, here is Conway batting:
Conway drew a 7 pitch walk, and his only swing was a foul. He had a 4 pitch ground-ball, with 2 foul-balls in the at-bat. He was pitched outside in the 2nd at-bat, and pulled a line-drive and got a double on a 4 pitch at-bat. He also had a 3 pitch foul-out.
Rodge Macy was the guy I really liked the first time I saw Abilene, as I really like his patience and pitch recognition (and Conway's is pretty good too). Macy was little bit disappointing, with two 5 pitch strikeouts, one swinging on a high fastball, and a check swing strikeout. He did have a 4 pitch walk, and a 3 pitch grounder for a single. Macy did come in to catch late, and had a meh arm. If he can catch even okay, it enhances his offensive value. As expected, here is some video of him hitting:
Some other notes from Abilene Christian's lineup:
Duncan Blades played 3rd base instead of first like last time, and it appears he fits that position better. I'm still not sold on his bat, but he had a long at-bat and hit the ball hard his third time up (after two very forgettable plate appearances).
I was again impressed by catcher Emmett Niland's arm, but he dropped an easy fly-ball. He doesn't block the ball very well, which is a problem because of his small size for a catcher. All they wanted him to do was bunt it seemed, which tells you all you need to know about his bat. Tyler Eager dropped an easy fly-ball (Bruce Gerhardt also dropped a similar one) as a centerfielder, and nearly made a nice diving playing and missed that as well. He does have a decent arm. Chuck Duarte had a nice double, and Ryan Luckie pinch hit and got a hard double, and runs pretty well.
Brady Rodriquez, who started the last game we saw and really struggled, was used as a lefty specialist, got a lefty to ground-out and then was taken out. 6-4 230 right-hander Michael Curtis was then brought in as a reliever.
Curtis uses both his size and his reaching back to gain velocity. He had a high leg kick and seemed to hide the ball well. However, his breaking ball is slow and stays up. He threw a wild pitch, and gave up lots of fouls. His first two at-bats were 1 pitch (fly-out and infield fly-out on a pitch out of the zone). He got a ground-ball on a breaking ball in a 3 pitch at-bat, and jammed a guy on the 5th or 6th pitch of at-bat that turned into a grounder. He got yet another grounder on the 4th or 5th pitch pitch of an at-bat, a 3 pitch ground-ball, a 2 pitch hard ground-ball, and a 6 pitch ground-ball. While they didn't hit the ball too hard off of him, the no strike-outs seem to imply that he doesn't have a swing and miss pitch (and it certainly didn't look like it watching him).
East Central Lineup:
Jeff Schmidt played some nice defense at 3rd, but looked overwhelmed in his second plate appearance. He had a 6 pitch fly-out, where he chased a low pitch. He had a strikeout, a flyout, and got jammed on a long AB for a grounder.
Jeremy Stein chased a low pitch for an infield fly-out (one of 2 such fly-outs), and had an ugly 3 pitch strikeout. As one would guess, Stein didn't hit for much (an OBP of around .330), but stole 17 bases (out of 18 attempts). Ethan Gold had a 3 pitch soft fly-ball, a 4 pitch fly-ball, a line drive single, a ground-ball on a long AB, and a 2 RBI fly-ball. Greg Hamrock had real questions about his pitch recognition, with a ground-ball and an infield fly-ball (he did scorch a line drive just foul). Hamrock hit .330 at Rio Hondo College. Jonathan Ramos fell for a breaking ball, had a 1 pitch fly-ball and a long walk. Ramos was decent at Indian Hills Community college, with a .335 batting average and .424 OBP (with 1 homer). Gilbert Guardado didn't hit for much at San Diego City College, with a batting average of around .270, and it isn't surprising watching him hit. He is listed at 5' 8", but that is very generous. He had 2 ground-outs (8 pitches seen in total), and struck out chasing. Chris Montgomery was the catcher, and it appeared that he had a good arm. He doesn't have much of a bat though (not in junior college or at East Central), as he had 2 straight 1 pitch at-bats, a line drive sac fly, an ground-ball, an infield fly-ball, and a hard line drive. Joel Pirez was one of the few guys that started that didn't go to junior college. While listed as a catcher, he played 1st base. He had an ugly drop on a foul ball, a 5 pitch ground-ball off a high fastball, tried to bunt for a hit unsuccessfully, a line drive, and a 6 pitch ground-ball. I really wasn't impressed with any of these hitters.
The only hitter left was Rick Hepworth, who I found interesting, and I still can't tell if its in a good or bad way. He stood at 6 foot 7, so freakishly tall for a baseball player, and is built to only play first. In 2011, he hit just over .300 and actually pitched some (but is no longer listed as a pitcher). He has not much bat speed, and was way late on a bunch of pitches. He also was a baserunner, but had long really patient at-bats. He had a walk, a deep fly-ball, and a 3 pitch ground-ball.
We stayed for the first inning of the second game of the double hitter to get a look at both starters.
Clint Cooper of Abilene Christian:
He seemed to keep the ball low using a low arm angle, but he hit a batter. He gave up a hard hit grounder to a lefty on the first pitch, which was low. He struck out another lefty looking, and he was trying to keep it outside to lefties, producing grounders.
Will Grimes of East Central is 6-3 (even though both Cooper and him were listed at 6' 3", Grimes was clearly taller) but kinda skinny at 195. Here is him:
He has a big slow delivery and it seemed like he had more velocity than Cooper. Tyler Eager had problems catching up with his fastball early in the count but eventually hit it hard when he did catch up. His breaking ball cut middle in to right handers. He also hit a batter, and made Conway look bad on a check swing and later gave up a deep fly-ball on 4 pitches. He got Macy to ground-out on 3 pitches.
Thanks to my girlfriend Rachel for helping, mainly with the videos.