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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

9/5/22 : Staying the Course

West coast trips for Eastern division teams have been challenging in general regardless of rank in the standings but a .167 winning percentage isn’t stuff to write home about 🤪especially when attempting to secure a playoff position.  It will be cause for some fans to perhaps consider abandoning ship.  Those that do likely just jumped aboard over the past couple of months anyways 🥸 - no worries can always climb back on when it goes well again. 😁

That’s not to say that things don’t need to turn around quickly - simply put there’s not many games left in the regular season so a prolonged swoon at this point is certainly not desirable.   It’s yet another time to turn the page in a marathon season, everyone knows that, from my perspective looking at the opponent log is the wrong approach - simply put if ya don’t play good baseball even teams with losing records will beat ya.  One game at a time - stay the course.

When things have gone well for this year’s club it’s been an all hands on deck contribution.  They can’t lose the circling of the wagons and next man up attitude that came to fruition when Bryce Harper was injured.  Having Bryce back in the lineup is a huge advantage but it can’t become a crutch either - good teams win as teams with multiple individual contributors.

We’ve watched Ranger Suarez since he was pitching in the low levels of the minor leagues - he’s a young man who’s never shown any fear for any baseball situation and that’s continued in his big league career.  One thing we also know is his temper which is primarily internally driven and sometimes results in a loss of focus.  Outwardly it’s not shown but the flare burns inside, it’s the same passion that’s driven him to the show but also can be a detriment.  We’ve seen him have some runs where performance has wandered but he’s always bounced back - just stay the course - if he’s healthy the number of innings thrown isn’t an issue, when he finds the sustained inner calm zeros will be posted back on the scoreboard for the opponents.

The club has reached into the minor leagues for multiple contributing parts often this season, Falter, Sanchez, Hall, Vierling, Stott, Maton, Munoz, Appel and Bellatti are players who’ve all had shining moments.  Dalton Guthrie is the latest to get a chance - he’s persevered throughout his career overcoming injuries and seasons where stats weren’t indicative of abilities.  Last season when he was promoted to AAA Lehigh Valley things took off - he hit .354 in July of 2021 with an OBP of .393 before an injury set him back.  This season he’s been more than solid even while converting to basically a full time outfielder.  Dalton is a gifted athlete who’s speed is a true asset but his bat to ball skills and ability to drive the baseball consistently is what earned him his shot.  When I did a spotlight article on him on July 9th he attributed his offensive success as follows  “I think just getting more at bats has made the difference. I’ve just learned from more reps really as simple as it sounds and have stopped guessing at pitches. My approach is to just hit whatever I see that looks like a pitch I can do damage on.  Some guys can guess as hitters but I just can’t.  Makes for a frustrating game when you guess wrong.”   His dad Mark was a major league pitcher who played 15 years in the big leagues with 8 different organizations, he was a world champion in 1991 as a member of the Minnesota Twins.  I asked Dalton when I composed that article if his dad ever offered advice - he laughed and responded “He came the other night actually to my game, I believe he said “Wow that looks a lot faster in person than on tv 😁.” I told him then that many fans don’t realize the talent level that hitters face in pro ball - even on the backfields I often see big time velocity and pitch movement - Dalton said “Oh it’s no joke. There is serious talent on any minor league field.”   He now gets the chance to show his skills on baseball’s biggest stage - hard work and belief pays off - not bad for a fella I’m sure that over the course of years there were internal debates as to what he might become 🤓.

When Dalton was promoted a spot had to be opened on the 40 man roster, twenty one year old shortstop Luis Garcia was designated for assignment.  Luis has an infectious smile and personality and a loyalty/sense of belonging  to/with the organization many players often feel to the club that originally signed them.  He hasn’t had a good season, a broken hamate bone required surgery earlier this summer and cost him down time from April 23rd to June 30th.  I still believe there’s big league ability - while the fielding hasn’t been as consistent this year as in past seasons, he’s got excellent skills, arm, glove, reads and instinct.  Last season with Clearwater we saw a glimpse of offensive skills when he hit .309 in August and drove the ball with 5 doubles,3 triples and 4 home runs.  This summer has been to put it mildly a challenge.  I reached out to Luis and told him not to worry as it will all work out - either he’s claimed by another organization with a chance at a new beginning else clears and re-joins his teammates to conclude the season.  The naysayers will make disparate remarks but that’s to be expected - it’s much harder to stay the course and help push thru difficulty.  I had a very wise baseball development person once tell me “ it’s easy to support when things are going well, ya earn your money helping those who are struggling to figure it out”.

Lastly - from one who watches this system like religion 🤪 - keep an eye on a couple arms in Reading - no I’m not talking about the right wings of Andrew Painter & Mick Abel - by now you should know they are stellar, but I’m talking about Griff McGarry & Andrew ( Drew ) Baker.  Both have big time arms - upper nineties to triple digits capabilities.  Baker in his last few outings has pounded the strike zone with heaters and a wipe out slider as an offset.  McGarry, when he’s consistent with delivery ( not falling off to the side ) has outstanding stuff - when he’s commanding the zone he’s lights out.  Don’t sleep on Billy Sullivan either - another right hander with high velo and movement that when he pounds the zone is very tough to hit.  When they put the “PHAH” philosophy in motion and trust their capabilities good things usually happen.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️ - stay the course and don’t lose faith 👏

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