Ash with a big day at the plate
The Cardinal offense flexed their muscles in today's high-scoring intrasquad game out at Sunken Diamond. The team is just four days away from beginning the 2004 season and by all accounts, the Stanford hitters are ready to go. Read on for which hitters shined at the plate today along with notes on a veteran pitcher who may be turning the corner.
Today's game was filled with offensive excellence as
the Putnam/Lowrie hitting team smoked the Fuld/Mayberry, Jr. hitting
team by an 11-4 score in eight innings played. The Fuld/Mayberry,
Jr. team did actually out-hit the Putnam/Lowrie squad by a 14-13
margin. Meanwhile, David O'Hagan and Drew Ehrlich were the most
impressive hurlers on the mound today.
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
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
* 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.