Today's intrasquad game marked the final tune-up for four key pitchers before the opening series…
Monday's (1-26) Baseball Practice Notes
The game started with a bang as Brian Hall clubbed a solo homer off the top of the wall while facing Jonny Dyer in the day's opening at-bat. Dyer settled down to retire the side after the home run and then fired a scoreless second inning against the Fuld team. Dyer's third frame was not so pretty though. Danny Putnam led off with a beautiful two-strike opposite field double off the top of the wall. Jed Lowrie then laid down a perfect bunt which he beat out for a single. After Donny Lucy popped out, Lowrie came up again and ripped a single to left to score a run. Chris Minaker followed with a ringing double off the wall in left and then Jim Rapoport reached safely on an infield single. After a Ben Summerhays fly out, Jonny Ash smoked a triple to straight away center field that one hopped the wall and then Putnam concluded the six run inning with a line drive single to center. Quite an impressive hitting display.
O'Hagan was the other starting pitcher today and he fared much better. In his three scoreless innings of work, O'Hagan allowed just one hit while striking out two. It was a very solid preseason for O'Hagan and you can bank on the senior right hander seeing plenty of action here in 2004.
Meanwhile, Matt Manship had a difficult outing today. Manship had an excellent fall, but he's been very up-and-down here in January. He dominated (no hits allowed) in his first appearance of the fall, was roughed up in his second outing, rebounded in his third appearance (five scoreless innings) before getting torched today. I don't think it's a cause for alarm as Manship is facing some very talented hitters, but the sophomore right hander will most certainly be working on a few things in the bullpen before his expected start this weekend.
Manship breezed through his first inning of work 1-2-3. In his second frame, he walked Summerhays to lead off and then Ash ripped another extra base hit, this one a double down the left field line to score a run. Manship quickly retired the next two hitters before surrendering a mammoth home run to left off the bat of Donny Lucy. Lucy hasn't hit for a very high average this preseason (after a very nice fall), but he's shown flashes of what he's capable of (case in point - both of his homers have been off Romanczuk and Manship). Hopefully Lucy can put it all together this season when he finally gets a chance to play everyday. One thing is for sure, his defense is excellent. And I've also been impressed with his improved patient at the plate in that he's drawing a lot more walks than I'm used to seeing.
Getting back to Manship, the Texas native struggled in his third and final inning of work as he gave up a Ryan Seawell three-run homer after a single and a walk. I mentioned in yesterday's report that frosh catcher Josh Corn reminds me of Ryan Garko. Well, Seawell kind of reminds me of now departed Carlos Quentin. Seawell is slightly smaller at 6'1", 200 lbs, but it's a similar body type to that of Quentin. He's still developing his power as at this point Seawell is more of a gap hitter, but he's no doubt a very physically strong corner outfielder. It will be tough for Seawell to see any significant playing time this season with Stanford's loaded outfield, but look for him to play a big part in the Cardinal's plans in the year's to come.
Drew Ehrlich had another very solid outing in today's game. Ehrlich was hit hard throughout the fall although he did manage to fire five scoreless innings in his final outing of the fall season. He's carried that success over to the preseason as Drew compiled a team low 1.84 ERA this month. Ehrlich did not walk a batter while striking two in his 3 2/3 innings of work (one earned run). I like what I'm seeing from Ehrlich and I'm hopeful he can be a contributor out of the bullpen this year.
* Five different players on the Putnam/Lowrie group had multi-hit games today. Lowrie finished 3-for-6, Minaker 2-for-4, Putnam and Rapoport 2-for-5, and Ash 2-for-6.
* Over on the Fuld/Mayberry team, Seawell went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI, Fuld finished 3-for-6, and Sorgi and Carter went 2-for-5.
* There's no denying the incredible hitting ability of this team. Not only are the projected starters all very talented hitters, but this Stanford team has plenty of depth to go with it. John Hester is a very capable back-up catcher who will most certainly get some starts this season. Adam Sorgi is the most likely freshman to get immediate playing time. The middle infielder has a sweet left handed swing and can spray the ball to all fields. He's also an excellent defensive player and if he doesn't start, could be brought in the game late for defensive reasons. Chris Minaker is a vastly improved hitter this season and is versatile in that he can play three infield positions (second, short, and third). Freshman Jim Rapoport is as fast as they come and while he'll be hard pressed for any starting time in the outfield this year, he'll certainly be the first man off the bench to pinch run and can also be used late in contests for defensive purposes. Sophomore Ben Summerhays is also a bona fide left handed power hitter that can be brought in off the bench.
* One aspect of Chris Lewis' game that I continue to notice is his ability to draw walks. Lewis has a very good eye at the plate and isn't afraid to hit with two strikes. Drawing walks in the #9 hole in front of Sam Fuld will only further aid this offense.
* I'm starting to think that Jonny Ash's two home runs in Omaha last year weren't a fluke. He crushed two balls to deep center field today (one went for the aforementioned triple, the other was caught). Don't expect Jonny to all of a sudden put up big power numbers, but I bet he'll pop a couple when people least expect it.
* Tuesday will be the final preseason game of the season (weather permitting). Wednesday is Bay Area College Baseball Media Day up in San Francisco and Thursday the team is expected to conduct one final practice before beginning the 2004 campaign on Friday night versus #4 Cal State Fullerton. A Fullerton series preview is on the way.
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