The weather has certainly been a factor in Beloit the first three days of this trip. The first two days, it was so hot. Temperatures hovered in the mid-90s and humidity was quite high. On Saturday, however, the weather was a little different and that crazy humidity finally burst into some impressive thunderstorms. Would there be baseball, or would we have to make a tough decision about whether to stay for a doubleheader on Sunday? (Note- we had already decided we would!)
Saturday morning started out well with some high-quality blog writing (my opinion, maybe not yours). At noon, Travis, Jeremy, Jed and I went to Jerseys for lunch. I have to admit that the steak sandwich is pretty great. It was fun because it was just four guys, sitting around a sports bar, chatting about the state of the Twins, players in the Twins farm system and other deep questions like Will Jeff Bagwell get into the Hall of Fame and what would we do with Stephen Strasburg down the stretch?
Although it was quite warm and the clouds were gray and the wind was picking up, it had not yet rained. However, I had received notice that the Snappers would not be having batting practice and werenít arriving at the ballpark until 5:00. It was no surprise as the weather reports certainly indicated that some severe weather was headed our way.
What it also meant was that we had a couple more hours to kill. We all agreed that a movie would be the best way to do that. So, we went over to the Luxury Theatre, and when we saw that the movie Ted was playing, we all unanimously agreed that it was the one we must see. And we were not disappointed. The four of us laughed most of the movie. Certainly not a cutesy teddy bear movie. Thatís for sure. But it was one of the better comedies I have seen in a long time. Plus, there is a baseball connection in the movie as arguably the most emotional moment occurred at Fenway Park!
Well, throughout the movie, we could hear thunder and pouring rain outside the theatreís walls. When we got out of the movie at around 4:20, it was still raining, sometimes even quite hard. We went back to the hotel where we met the infamous Jim Crikket of Knuckleballs
fame. He had driven to Beloit from Cedar Rapids and noted that the dark clouds followed him the whole way. We all sat around until about 5:30 when the rain pretty much stopped. We headed over to the field.
I was impressed. When we got to Pohlman Field, the grounds crew and the front office had just pulled the tarp off the infield and the field looked really good. Other volunteers were working furiously, toweling off the seats that were soaked from the rain. Again, the Snappers work with a smaller group and what they were able to do to get the field ready to play was remarkable!
I talked briefly with Dallas Gallant. The team had all worked out in the morning together. The pitchers had just gone on the field a half-hour earlier to run through another pre-game stretch and their daily work.
For the first time, I ventured down the third base line, past the dugout. There is a picnic area that I thought required a special ticket to go into, but it didnít. During the warm ups, I went out there and was able to get some really good pitchers. I talked to Tommy Watkins and AJ Pettersen down the line. Yes, the below picture of AJ does show him wearing a catcherís mitt. As he wrote recently at Twins Daily, when he is not in the lineup, he enjoys being a bullpen catcher.
I met Justin Rinaldi and his brother Vincent Rinaldi. They are the young guys behind Rinaldi Photos
. Youíll definitely want to check out their work here
. Also, they will be at the Snappers games the next three days and likely will post many more pictures. They now are traveling the Midwest League taking photos and they are really good.
And then it was time to start the game. When you see my July Twins minor league pitchers of the month, you will certainly see Jason Wheeler. The lefty from Loyola Marymount went 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in five starts. His first August start technically started out shaky as he gave up two runs on three hits in the first inning. However, box scores alone donít tell you that two of the singles rolled through the right-side of the infield and the other was a well-placed bunt single. After that inning, Wheeler was great. He went a total of eight innings and gave up only those two runs. He gave up a total of six hits and one or two of the other three were of the bloop variety.
Wheeler gets the loss in the 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, but he was very impressive. Again, at 6-8, Wheeler stands out. He does not throw hard, likely topping out at 90 at this time. But he has terrific control of his fastball, a very good curveball, and a changeup, and an occasional slider. In this contest, he struck out ten batters. In general, he kept the opposing hitters completely off balance.
round draft pick DJ Baxendale came in and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth frame in which he struck out the side. He pitched for Arkansas in the College World Series and then quickly signed with the Twins when his team was eliminated. He has now pitched in nine games out of the bullpen between Elizabethton and Beloit. He he pitched ten innings and given up three hits, walked on and now has struckout 22 batters. He has kind of a deceptive, three-quarters delivery and has a very sharp slider to go along with a plus-fastball.
Kennys Vargas provided the offense. In the 2nd
inning, he drilled a fastball probably 410 feet, just to the left of center field for his 7th
home run in 12 games with the Snappers. He rounded the bases, and he even did the David Ortiz, point-to-the-sky when he touched home plate. Seriously, the resemblance to Big Papi are uncanny.
Miguel Sano had a double down the right field line. He might have been able to get a triple on it but was held up at second. Sano is such a big man. Once he gets going, he can fly around the bases. There are little parts of his game that are often forgotten about, or people donít know or hear about, because all we hear about are the home runs and the strikeouts. Like yesterday, I mentioned his incredible arm. Today, itís his speed. He can really move quickly.
Eddie Rosario was held to just one hit in this game. He played second base and actually was a part of two double plays. One was on a bounding ball up the middle that he fielded, stepped on second and threw to 1B. The second was on a line drive that he threw to first to get the runner who strayed too far from the bag.
Another day, another game in which Nate Roberts was on base half of the time. He had a solid single up the middle, and later he had a long at bat that resulted in a walk.
One of the highlights for me was in the middle innings, I was going to go walk around. I like standing next to the Snappers dugout, by the on-deck circle once in a while because you get a great view of the hitter. While I was standing there, someone asked if I was Seth. I turned and said, ďYes, I am.Ē I knew who it was, but he introduced himself as Matt Tomshaw, who the night before pitched a great seven innings. Since he pitched yesterday, he was in charge of filming todayís game which means that he had a list of things that he was supposed to get video for throughout the game. The Snappers pitchers and a couple of their hitters as well. Anyway, he was between duties and it was very nice of him to come up and say hi. It was nice chatting with a guy who has obviously risen up in the eyes of prospect guys like myself since being a late-round draft pick just a year ago.
Following the game, we talked to AJ a little bit. Wang-Wei Lin came over to say hi again. Heíll be in the lineup again on Sunday. A few other players came over and shook hands. Later, Miguel Sano was walking through the crowd, and as you can imagine, several were asking for his autograph, or to get a picture with him. I have read several places that he can be a difficult sign, but in the three days that I have been here so far, he has been signing quite a bit. Frankly, he seems much more relaxed and seems to enjoy it a little bit. He has acknowledged us each day. As he was finishing up, he came over to shake AJís brotherís hand, and then he came over and extended his hand to me and we shook hands.
At that time, we went and sat down and enjoyed a tremendous fireworks display. The crowd was announced at just over 2,200 people which was great to see.
With that, we have one more game to see here in Beloit. This afternoon at 2, the Snappers will again play the Timber Rattlers. Lefty David Hurlbut will be on the mound for the Snappers. It is Prince Fielder ďBeast ModeĒ bobble arms day today at Pohlman Field so there should be a nice attendance today. Also, the weather isnít supposed to be quite so unbearable, maybe into the low 80s! A great day for a ball game.
When the game finishes this afternoon, Travis and I will be back on the road, headed back as far as the Twin Cities tonight. Then tomorrow morning, an early departure for home. So, I likely wonít get to a Day 4 report until maybe Monday. So, be sure to check out my Twitter feed for updates throughout the day and going forward.
However, I do need to give a huge Thank You to Chrissy Scaffidi, the Snappers Director of Media and Public Relations, who has helped us out tremendously throughout our time here. As busy as she is, sheís made time for us and been remarkably helpful to us. GM Matt Bosen also spent some time with us over the first three days which is very appreciative. Again, as the Snappers are working with a six-person front office, and those six have so many duties beyond whatever is in their job description, their support of myself and Twins Daily has been very much appreciated. I canít encourage Twins fans from the Twin Cities or anywhere enough that it is well worth it for you to make the trek to Beloit. It isnít that farÖ I guess itís about 13 hours each way for me, but itís likely well less than that for you to make a trip. The baseball is good. This is a good product that theyíre putting on the field. There are great prospects. There is some serious talent. The atmosphere at Pohlman Field is awesome, and the players and coaches are so accessible and for the most part, very personable. The team is going to be in the playoffs in September, and tickets are already available for that. IF you are at all able, I would certainly encourage a trip to Beloit to see the Snappers.
And now, here are several pictures from Saturday:
Pohlman Field at Night!
Jason Wheeler pre-game
Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Kennys Vargas
Kennys Vargas and Miguel Sano
National Anthem (Matt Koch Catching)