September 23, 2011 Leave a comment
in·struc·tion – noun – 1. the act or practice of instructing or teaching; education.
Today was a first for me. So far in my baseball broadcasting career the terms ‘Instructional League’ (hereon known as ‘instructs’) had just been this idea. Where do you go after the season? Instructional League? What’sthat? As Peter Griffin once demonstrated, it’s like stumbling into the Beyond section at Bed, Bath and Beyond. The casual fan knows what it is, but they couldn’t tell you if you asked.
So today I wandered out to the backfields at Pirate City to check Instructs out. Quite frankly, it’s pretty much exactly like Spring Training, but in the fall. Fall Training might be a better way of putting it. Three of the four PC fields had activity on them, with one hosting live BP sessions, the second hosting batting practice, and an inter-squad scrimmage on the third. I spent most of my time checking out the scrimmage, but glanced over to the live BP’s now and then.
- Live BP, by the way, is when hitters take batting practice off a pitcher instead of a coach. Instead of seeing 60mph fastballs they see whatever that pitcher has in his arsenal – it’s pretty much like a real game without fielders, baserunners, runs, outs or peanuts. There are also no innings, when the pitcher’s done, it’s over.
As for the game, a handful of current, former and future Marauders were on hand. Jameson Taillon started for the road team. You would have to presume the 2010 No. 2 overall pick is destined for Bradenton at some point in 2012, having spent all of this season in Low-A West Virginia. Anyway, this was the first time I’d ever seen Taillon. The kid gets a lot of hype for his live fastball, but man his curveball is insane. He struck out the first two batters he faced, dropping a hook right off the edge of the table and in on the hands for K No. 1. It looked like the thing didn’t even start to break until it reached the plate. The success was short lived, however, with 2011 Florida State League batting champion Ramon Cabrera taking Tallion deep to right as the game’s third batter.
It turns out the game was catcher’s duel early. Former Marauders backstop Tony Sanchez hit an absolute bomb off Zack Dodson to follow Cabby, tying the score at one. The ball cleared the two-story, 335 foot fence in left, clanging off the metal roof of the batting cages before rolling back down to the pavement walkway.
Some other news and notes:
- Former Marauders catcher Eric Fryer, who made his MLB debut this summer with the Pirates, is in instructs and played third today.
- Former Marauders 1B Calvin Anderson, who spent all of 2011 as a DH, seeing not one out in the field, is back at 1B. He was working on converting to the OF this past season.
- Second baseman Gift Ngoepe is fast, ranging almost behind first base to get to a ball. He could potentially play for Bradenton next season after starting in West Virginia before getting hurt.
- Bengie Gonzalez made the nicest play I’ve seen from him all year. The shortstop made a diving catch to snare a
line drive off the bat of Wes Freeman.
- South Atlantic League all-star Daniel Grovatt had the hilarious moment of the day. The outfielder, and owner of Kelson Brown’s 1982(?) Volkswagen Golf, was drilled by a pitch, but stayed in the box to finish his at-bat. He took the next pitch for ball three and walked. Doing the math on his way to first, Grovatt returned to home plate to finish his at-bat again. It was an expensive choice, with Grovatt breaking his bat on a bloop double one pitch later. Quincy Latimore drove him in with a single up the middle.
- Marauders righty Jeff Inman threw a perfect inning
- India native Rinku Singh pitched an inning – the first time I’ve seen the lefty throw. He walked a batter, that’s all.
We can cross Instructs off the bucket list.
Till next time,