1/16/23 : A Great Day for Baseball
Was a great day of baseball observations today on Martin Luther King Day at the Complex. When we first got there this morning we walked by legendary Skipper Charlie Manuel and said just that to him, he said everyday’s a great day for baseball - we wholeheartedly agree 👍🤓.
Met infielder Aroon Escobar’s parents and younger brother - they were on hand today to watch the 18 year old third baseman practice - nice folks - the younger brother is 16 and is a ball player in his own right 🧐. We watched Aroon take infield alongside other teammates on Carlton Field - I continue to be impressed with middle infielder Nolan Beltran - is really smooth as a fielder, good hands and strong arm - we’ve previously commented on his hitting prowess.
Situational hitting drills continued on Roberts Field - the first group I watched had to repeat the opposite field hitting round - Coach Murton called them out on it - appreciate seeing constructive feedback done immediately with communication on what was not done correctly and instructions on how to fix it - good stuff. Definitely part of protecting the standard. By the way in the last hitting group of the day Carlos De La Cruz sent multiple baseballs beyond the fences and coach Murton both congratulated him yet also had him hit a few extra pitches to work on something he spotted - it’s what player development is all about - always strive to improve.
The bonus part of the day was being able to observe up close bullpen sessions by eight pitchers on the side mounds between Ashburn and Schmidt Fields - Jose Alvarado, Tommy McCollum, Alex McFarlane, Jayden Estanista, Estibenzon Jimenez, Mavis Graves, Enrique Segura & Jean Cabrera each threw - the catchers were Gustavo Sosa, Jordan Dissin & Angel Mata.
Jose Alvarado lives in the Tampa area and has been working out at the complex for awhile now - he’s preparing to pitch for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. He threw to young catcher Jordan Dissin and delivered all the pitches in his repertoire, it’s definitely quick and up close ( we were right behind the fence just a few feet behind Jordan ) it seems even quicker - ball darts like crazy. It’s kind of scary how much the baseball moves out of his hand and the jump it has thru the catchers mitt - impressive.
Speaking of impressive - it’s the first time we’ve seen 18 year old right hander Enrique Segura throw in person - he’s referred to as “little Nola” because it’s eery how much his delivery, arm slot and pitch movement are akin to Aaron. Segura humped up on a few of his later deliveries and reportedly popped the mitt at 97 mph - but it’s the ease of his mechanics and how the baseball has distinctive life that stands out - he threw a couple breaking pitches today to catcher Gus Sosa that had my knees buckling with the break and I wasn’t even in the box 😂. Preston Mattingly gave us a tip to watch him today and we appreciate it - it was only a bullpen session but it certainly supported what we’ve previously seen on live streams from the Dominican - good stuff 👀.
I’ve been touting righty Jaydenn Estanista for a while now - the hard tossing right hander did something today that made me move up to take a closer look - from the side I saw break on what I believe were a couple sliders that simply dove both sideways and downwards - neither were close to being strikes but the movement was intriguing because it’s an area the young man has to improve in - he later broke off two curve balls when we positioned ourselves behind the catcher - he has the velo to advance - today we were excited to see secondary pitch improvement - still developing but makes this old observer want to see more - good stuff 🔥.
I believe it may have been the first bullpen sessions for many of the guys today - big arm right handers Tommy McCollum & Alex McFarlane let a couple fly - the velo is still there we saw from last year 😃 - Estibenzon Jimenez ( RH ) popped the mitt today on a few - really like him from what we saw last summer on the backfields plus he threw 5 shutouts innings for the Threshers on 9/6 to end the season - the 20 year old I believe will have a very strong year ( likely at Clearwater ) this summer. Mavis Graves has bulked up from when we saw him last fall - has a big time bender - with added strength to pop the heater it’s gonna be fun to watch the 19 year old lefty throw this year - again - you guessed it - good stuff 😁.
By the way we saw Aaron Nola himself throwing a flat ground session in left field on Ashburn Field as we were leaving the complex.
Like we started our day with comments from Mr Manuel - it was a great day for baseball.
Back at em tomorrow - Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
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Enrique Segura throwing to Gus Sosa