3/18/23 : Today in Spring Training
Updated: Mar 19
Major League Camp :
The BayCare Ballpark stadium was open at 11 AM for those who wanted to watch the players not making the trip for the 6 PM game against the Braves in North Port. In addition Gregory Soto threw a bullpen session in the pitching lab.
I’ll report on the Grapefruit League game later.
Minor League Spring Training :
Side Bullpens :
Eight pitchers threw side bullpen sessions on the seven mounds in front of the David Montgomery Training Center, pitchers who threw today - Alex McKenney, Kyle Hart, Noah Skirrow, Tristan Garnett, Micah Ottenbreit, Wen Hui Pan, Drew Garrett & Blake Brown
A lot of eyes on RHP Wen Hui Pan ( 20 year old signed 1/15/23 from Hualien, Taiwan ) in his first side session at the Complex. He’s got a very easy delivery and effortless release ( almost like he’s playing catch ) but the ball explodes to the plate, “cheese” some call it, his pitches were making Catcher Leonardo Rondon’s mitt pop like a glove does when it’s new and being broken in except Leanardo wasn’t using a new mitt, Pan’s fastball was just that quick and impactful 😳. Saw mostly fastballs today, it can certainly play. Good stuff.
RHP Micah Ottenbreit threw about 20 pitches as he continues working his way back to action - really like his form and today he extended past a short box session, was letting it fly a bit more. The 19 year old ( 2021 4th round draft choice - Trenton HS, Trenton, MI ) showed really well in last season’s spring camp and in fact earned an opening day roster spot with the Clearwater Threshers before getting injured, once he’s healthy again we think he’s going to do very well.
Wen Hui Pan throwing to Leonardo Rondon
Live Bullpens :
Three pitchers threw live bullpens on Carlton Field - pitchers who threw today - Victor Vargas, Jason Ruffcorn & JP Woodward
Rixon Wingrove was one of the hitters in the live BP sessions, just back from Japan where he was competing for Team Australia in the World Baseball Classic. The big fella smoked a few line drives, looks ready to go - he’s played basically year around, was a key component of the Adelaide Giants Australian League championship run in winter ball and then the World Baseball Classic.
Two Simulated Games :
Roberts Field :
Pitchers : Tyler Phillips ( 3 IP ), Jack Perkins, David Parkinson, Jonathan Hughes, Matt Seelinger, Nathan Karaffa, Mike Adams, Tommy McCollum & Max Kuhns
RH Tyler Phillips stretched out to three innings in preparation as an upper level starter, left the ball in the middle of the plate a bit too much today, good news is that he got his work in and it’s spring training on the backfields, no worries, he’s got the goods. Chad Castillo & Cameron Cannon hit home runs in the contest. RH Max Kuhns had some giddy up on his fastball as did RH Tommy McCollum, his pitches look like they are very heavy to hit - splitter offsets the express really well. Good to see Matt Kroon back in action after missing the 2022 season, he doubled in his first AB, Matty can swing the bat.
Chad Castillo has had a nice camp, shows smooth power from the left side and has adapted to first base defensively, looking for good things from him this summer.
Here’s my off season profile on him from this past November : 22 years old - 1B/OF - LH hitter - Birthdate : 4/19/00 - 2022 9th round draft selection - California Baptist This Fan’s View - Chad played in 24 games with the Clearwater Threshers in 2022 amassing 86 AB’s and hit 8 doubles and 3 home runs. He’s a solid left handed bat who has pop, we like watching his BP sessions as he’s got a very balanced swing - there’s something about lefty hitters with simple thru the ball approaches that get baseball folks excited, he’s got that swing. Defensively there’s a concerted effort to transform him into a first baseman, he played corner outfield in college. We saw numerous sessions on ground balls, receiving and making throws and pitcher flips in Fall Instructs and during the follow up camp thereafter. He just seems like a good all around baseball player - what I’ve referred to in times past as a “cardinals type player” - knows how to play, makes very few mistakes and wins games. 2023 Camp : the infield work has continued - in fact I don’t think I’ve seen him in the outfield at all.
Ashburn Field :
Pitchers : Danny Wilkinson, Victor Lopez, Yoniel Ramirez, Chase Antle, Jean Cabrera ( 2 IP ), Josh Bortka, Sam Aldegheri ( 2 IP ) & Enrique Segura
Justin Crawford had two hits, one an infield single that he legged out, has great speed. Chase Antle struck out two batters in a scoreless inning, Yoniel Ramirez worked a perfect frame, two groundouts and a strikeout.
Felix Reyes ( 21 yr old signed 2/22/20 from Bani, Dominican Republic ) absolutely crushed a high slider in one of his AB’s ( I thought it would go well over the fence in left field ) however the wind was blowing in strong and knocked it back allowing left fielder Emaarion Boyd to catch it on the warning track. Big Felix is playing third base this season ( was there again today ), he has tremendous power, if he can learn the hot corner and garner consistent contact he might just blossom before our eyes.
Minor leaguers are off tomorrow.
Scenes from today - top left to right ( Tommy McCollum, Yoniel Ramirez vs Leandro Pineda, Tristan Garnett throwing to Gus Sosa ) - bottom left to right ( Rixon Wingrove facing Victor Vargas in live BP, Tyler Phillips delivering against Matt Kroon, Micah Ottenbreit throwing to Chris Burke )
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
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