Berrios, Buxton and the Boys
by, 05-31-2013 at 10:53 PM (836 Views)
The Cedar Rapids Kernels are in my neck of the woods this weekend so I headed over to watch them face the Kane County Cougars tonight. Jose Berrios was starting so I was greatly looking forward to it. He wound up going 5 2/3 innings and looked pretty good. He only gave up three hits and had four strikeouts.
He had a pretty rough start to the game. He issued a walk to the lead off hitter. After recording an out he threw a wild pitch, which left a runner on third with one out. That runner would come home on a single, but would be the only guy to score that inning despite the wheels almost coming off. The next batter grounded to short and Niko Goodrum fed Jorge Polanco for a taylor made double play, but Polanco dropped the throw.
There have been some reports about Berrios being rattled easily or perhaps being too emotional. This seemed evident here as he was noticeably upset and the pitching coach immediately came out to calm him down. He then issued another walk to load the bases and was circling the mound and scoffing at a few calls. He then got the inning ending double play he had set up two batters before.
After avoiding that train wreck he really settled in. I was thoroughly impressed by his ability to shake off a rough start and work through it. The high amount of pitches that inning might have ended his night a little early as he wasn't able to get out of the 6th, but it was one of those nights where the Box Score doesn't tell the whole story.
His fastball was sitting at 92 and he cocked back and got 94 a few times to get strikeouts. His change up wasn't used much but looked interesting. He definitely wasn't afraid to throw the curveball. He threw it a few times in counts where he was behind. The fastball must have some late life on it or something because it was blowing guys away at 92. Watching him I was getting kind of a Johan Santana vibe...maybe cuz of his size or the speed on his fastball but he was pretty overpowering at times. Very fun to watch.
Other than Berrios there were some bright spots. One bummer was that Byron Buxton was the DH so I didn't get to see him play the field. But he left an impression still. His speed is unreal. He legged out a fielder's choice then promptly stole second practically standing up and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Watching him run is worth the price of admission. I feel like when he gets on base he has an automatic green light to go whenever he wants.
The big standout to me tonight was first baseman, Dalton Hicks. He mashed the ball in each of his at-bats. He had three hits. One was a double. But even his singles seemed to be crushed. He's a beast so it should be very interesting to see his development. I was impressed by him though. If I remember right, he got buckled by a few good breaking balls, which seems to be a constant with young hitters. I am a fan now for sure, though.
I was less than impressed with Jorge Polanco's defense. Small sample size obviously. But he had a rough game at second. He did make a spectacular mid-air, between the legs tag on a stolen base attempt. But he botched two double plays and he was part of a trio to let a ball drop in shallow center. I know it's just one game so I'm not too worried but he just had a rough game so I was a little underwhelmed by him is all. I'm sure he's perfectly fine over there and today was an abberation.
All in all, this is a great team to watch. So much talent all across the diamond. I could go on from what I saw, but I will leave it with the things that really stood out. But if you get a chance go out and watch the Kernels, I doubt you'll be disappointed.