9/15/22 - Fall Instructs - Day Three
A much better day weather wise, sunny and low humidity. We got to see outdoor batting practice for the first time in camp. All of the drills in camp are made more interesting for the participants by making team competitions out of them. That includes BP where points are totaled for the five rounds that include situational hitting and driving the baseball.
Jefferson Encarnacion ( 21 years old ) took part in BP, it’s great to see the young man and his beaming smile back in action. He’s worked diligently to return from multiple knee surgeries dating back to the summer of 2021. Jefferson is a left handed hitter whom I remember watching in 2019 Fall Instructs, he’s got a classic swing with easy drive and power - what we saw today in the cage was the same impression we had then - kid can hit.
Jefferson Encarnacion today
It’s just BP so won’t get carried away … but there were quite a few positive impressions made today. Darium Guttierez ( 20 years old ) from Cuba launched multiple balls beyond the left field fence. He’s powerfully built with a thick frame and didn’t have a lot of pre swing hand movement - straight and square thru the baseball - got the bat head out in front and drove thru easily - very impressive. Gavin Tonkel ( 19 years old ) looks physically stronger which makes sense since he spent a great deal of time this summer in the weight room while recovering from an injury incurred in extended spring training when he slammed into a fence post at the Yankees Complex chasing a fly ball. The speedster drove the ball with authority in today’s BP session sending quite a few behind the outfield wall - great to see.
Chase Castillo ( 22 years old ) has brute strength power from the left side of the dish - he can hit ‘em a long way. Quickest hands in the box today that I saw belonged to Justin Crawford ( 18 years old ) and Bryan Rincon ( 18 years old ). Crawford has a smooth swing with little wasted motion or energy from the left side - he was turning on pitches and driving them hard to the pull side - it’s a thru the ball all in one motion swing from the initial hand set. Rincon is a switch hitter but I was particularly impressed from his left hand side short and very quick swing - ball jumped with the bat speed generated and there’s room for more extension - right handed he seemed slower but that’s perhaps because I saw lightning from the left side 😎.
Hao Yu Lee ( 19 years old ) has all the goods as a hitter, he’s quick, powerful and has a lot of fun - a competitor who was animated in a fun way during today’s competition - he’s a popular teammate and it’s easy to see why - seems to really enjoy playing baseball. Nikau Pouaka-Grego just turned 18 two days ago - the now “old man” 😂 hasn’t let the aging process effect him - drove a few behind the right field fences from the left side of the dish - along with Lee he’s what I describe as “professional hitters” - they both just have a real good idea on approach and have skills that stand out, hand quickness, eye-hand and bat speed. Fun to watch.
But it’s just BP so don’t get as excited as I do when I watch hitting 🤓.
Jorge Garcia & Darium Gutierrez await their turn as Raylin Heredia works in the cage
Fielding Drills today :
One of the catching drills today was a long toss in the outfield with the shin guards on - it’s designed to push throws with top spin and angle towards bases - by elongating the distance and asking the catchers to extend thru on a line drive type throw rather than lift as you would normally see in long toss the drill is designed to get arm position in place as well as getting the ball to the bags quicker. Gustavo Sosa ( 21 years old ) is another who’s seemed to add some more strength since we saw him last - powerful use of legs witnessed in both BP and throwing drills.
Corner infielders were working on pushing the glove thru the baseball in grounders on both forehand and back hand plays - it’s something we saw coach Dickerson do this past spring with the big club. The middle infielders often used a pancake like glove today intended to soften the ball receipt in the hands and quicken their flip on balls up the middle for turns at second base. Second basemen also spent a good deal of time of positioning of their feet on receiving throws at second - crossovers and to the side of the base as well as push offs behind the bag if the throw drives them that way. Cole Moore ( 23 years old ) is a really good fielder over at first base, enjoy watching his footwork and glove skills - folks falsely assume that first base is an easy position - there’s a true skill set to being a good one - from what I’ve seen Cole’s a good one over there.
Got a chance to chat baseball with quite a few of the coaches and players today - that’s what is cool about instructs - the pace is slower as the emphasis is on teaching, I’m always looking to understand and more often than not coaches are willing to answer and explain. I truly enjoy watching the practices and seeing player’s skills that can further develop into perhaps someday enabling them to play at CBP - for a baseball junkie like myself it doesn’t get much better - weird I know 🥴.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️