Effectively Wild Is Dead, Long Live Effectively Wild

“The point of this entire enterprise is to entertain us with baseball games. The point of it is not to decide who is the best team. The illusion that that is what we’re doing has long been a powerful draw to sports. But it is ultimately not the point. There is no scenario where the universe will care or remember who the best team was out of this collection of collections. It only matters inasmuch as we create this illusion that it matters.

If you lose even the illusion, then it becomes problematic. But the point is not to have the illusion: the point is to entertain people and make them forget that we are all dying right in front of each other — that this is just this horrible, rotten slog to rigor mortis, that we are going to lose everybody we know, that we are going to lose everything we have and the only way to distract ourselves is by separating our day into distractions.” – Sam Miller, Effectively Wild (ep. 551)

This is one of my favorite quotes. I can admit I’m not the best-read person, try as I might to get better, but for whatever reason, this little bit from countless hours of baseball podcasting has stuck with me. Since I first heard it, I don’t think there has been a baseball game I’ve seen where I haven’t had this soliloquy pass through my mind. There’s something about pointing out the seeming banality of life and all the inconsequential investments people make in it that I find a strange sense of comfort and amusement in. I don’t find life as empty or pointless as Sam’s impromptu sermon might suggest – judging by the tone he delivered it in, I doubt he does either.

However, Sam is right in his assessment of the game of baseball. It’s something that does distract us from our lives, our pains, and all the stuff we’d rather not think about. It’s a game that plays to our primal instincts of competition – a game that masks itself as a bastardized Darwinian experiment, trying to identify which team is most fit to be the champion.

I would further affirm that baseball, and life itself, matters only as much as we let it matter. For many people, baseball does matter. They’ve let it matter. It’s that aforementioned perfect distraction. Maybe that’s part of the beauty of the game – that we have created such an amazing thing that we can’t help but want to hand over our time, energy, and even livelihoods to be a part of it. It’s so tantalizing. Maybe that’s an ugly thing too. All that time and energy and talent could probably be put to more meaningful causes in terms of utility.

It’s a bit of a paradox. Can something that doesn’t really matter, well, matter? It probably helps me sleep at night to think so. As someone whose path in life is still very unclear, I’d like to think that regardless of what pursuits I commit myself to, some sense of meaning will follow. Wanting to matter or be a part of something that does seems like a universal desire.

For Sam, his stop is approaching. His departing from the wonderful distraction, as he might put it, is firmly in sight. While I’m sad he’s stepping off and continuing on elsewhere, I am at the same time thankful the podcast will chug along with Ben Lindberg still strapped in and Jeff Sullivan coming in for Sam. I have great respect for Sam, Ben, and this podcast. I’ve found it to have great meaning to me in my life and for me that’s worth sharing. For me, what they’ve created mattered.

In times of joy, the podcast was there, eagerly awaiting its chance to add to my felicity through its whit and whimsy. When faced with the morbid side of life and mourning the loss of close loved ones, Sam and Ben were there to comfort with their evergreen banter. Maybe more than anything else, they served as a constant in times of uncertainty.

I’ve not been on this earth long enough to say where coming out ranks in terms of possible uncertain events one could have in his life, but for me, it seemed as daunting as anything could. I’m grateful to have had something I could find such enjoyment – such meaning – in during that period of my life. But then I take this experience, and I remember the last part of Sam’s great lecture:

But the point is not to have the illusion: the point is to entertain people and make them forget that we are all dying right in front of each other — that this is just this horrible, rotten slog to rigor mortis, that we are going to lose everybody we know, that we are going to lose everything we have and the only way to distract ourselves is by separating our day into distractions.

Perhaps it was all just one big illusion, a form of escapism. A distraction that only mattered because I let it matter.

But what if it all wasn’t? The logical part of me has already relegated baseball to being a distraction. Why shouldn’t a podcast about baseball just be an extension of that distraction?

I just don’t think that’s what the podcast has been for me. It didn’t make me forget about all the worst things in my life, it reminded me of all the good things and even added to them.

I hope when Sam looks back on his time with Effectively Wild he finds that it mattered and that it wasn’t just a big distraction – something that only served to entertain. In seeing how much a silly baseball podcast could matter to me through the good, bad, and uncertain, it made me want to be more diligent in my interactions and interests.

Being able to challenge others to be better, more intentional people seems like something that has inherent meaning. I’ve come to find that the pursuit of meaning can often be found in the people we impact. If two guys I’ve never met can so often remind me about what I love, how much can I do that with people I know in my life?

I don’t want to separate my day into distractions, I want to separate it into reminders – for me and others – of all the beauty that’s still out there in this world and in each other. For me, Effectively Wild hasn’t been a daily distraction. It’s been a daily reminder.

Childhood Myths and Addison Russell

There comes a time in every person’s life where the innocence of a closely held childhood fantasy becomes corrupted by the cruelness of reality. No, Santa wasn’t the one leaving presents under the tree and the Tooth Fairy is just a silly fib. Like a candle burning to the end of its wick, these hackneyed wise tales lose their luster and eventually they fade off gently into that good night. We grow up – time and the world around us demands we do so.

I consider myself lucky. The hardened cynic I am at 22, my ignorance proved bliss for far longer than it objectively ought to have been allowed. I don’t know why I was so lucky to have been able to have clung to one of these juvenile fables for so long. Perhaps the beauty of baseball is that in allowing ourselves to become immersed in a child’s game, we are able to retain a modicum of youth in the process.

Regrettably, I don’t remember how old I was or where I was when I comprehended that Santa, the Easter Bunny, Barney the dinosaur, and the laundry-list of other childhood fantasy figures weren’t real. However, thanks to my advanced age and this documentation, I’ll never forget where I was or how it felt to realize that Addison Russell’s eyes are not in fact blue.

Yes, I had been living in a lie. Maybe it wasn’t as morally impure as lie. Maybe I just accepted a myth because it was something I had always believed and was never forced to confront. Now, I know what you are thinking: Kelvin, you fool, have you even seen Addison Russell before? How could you possibly have thought this?!

Like a child who creeps out of bed on Christmas Eve to see a big man in red – the child’s shrewdly dressed up father of course – leaving presents before scurrying back to bed in the guilt of this peep, I found myself convinced by a carefully crafted illusion.

Do you remember the Addison Russell trade? Of course you do. Prospects like Addison Russell aren’t traded every day. It’s something that sticks with you. A player so promising, so young, traded so soon. The potential of a player like Russell at the time was only matched by the potential hotness of the takes on the trade.

What stuck with me were the images. The pictures of Addison Russell. Subliminal in their posturing but lasting in their impact. Have you seen this picture before?

MLB: Oakland Athletics-Photo Day

How about this one?

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Maybe even this one?

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I had. They were engraved on my soul, unable to be expunged. In the over two years since the trade, forgotten for me are the players involved. Oh, how insignificant they all seem now. I am now only haunted by these pictures that I saw in the aftermath of the trade. Both laced in columns and the product of many Google searches. Ones that allowed a great myth to take hold. Perhaps some of you are still where I was on the morning of October 20, 2016, still believing Addison Russell’s eyes to be blue. These pictures only confirm your childlike belief, like waking up to half-eaten cookies on Christmas morning – if Santa didn’t eat them, then who else could have?! I’d encourage you to stop reading now if that is indeed the case. Save what little childlike faith you can still have in this grand trickery.

For those of you still here, reading with judging eyes, I hope you can see how even a wizened old soul like me could allow myself to be caught embracing one of these mythical hopes. The deception was too strong and my overlords all too willing to perpetrate such lore.

I don’t know why those images stuck with me or why at some point I didn’t question why I believed in the blueness of Addison Russell’s eyes. It wasn’t until after game five of the NLCS that Tom Virducci hit me with a bucket of cold water. At last, in his postgame interview with Addison Russell, I was confronted with my youthful ignorance.

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No longer could I deny or ignore reality. I’m ashamed for not opening my eyes earlier. Part of me feels bitter. Why were these earlier pictures made to fool me in the first place? Why did Addison feel the need to lead me on for so long? Why did others around me feel the need to disseminate these images and reinforce my belief in such a senseless fable?

I probably have no one to blame but myself. Baseball is a game that keeps me feeling young. Perhaps this was escapism taken to an extreme and in it, I brought myself back to a childlike state and as a result grasped onto a childish belief. Aside from the shame of not realizing the truth, I feel no better for having this knowledge. The comfort of ignorance felt better than the coldness of my new reality.

Fixing Corporate Pandering That Is Killing Baseball

No one could blame you for not knowing. It is human nature to not realize a mistake until the time for reckoning has come. Yet here we are, on the eve of judgement with no one presiding as our, the fan’s, advocate. Like a disease killing from within, baseball has eaten the under-cooked steak containing the pervasive parasite more commonly known as corporate sponsorship.

Almost inescapable, these little bugs seemed harmless at first. Free Domino’s pizza after a no-hitter, a #DomiNoNo if you will, appeared to be an agreeable proposition. The game trading a small slice of its soul for a medium pan pie of two-topping deliciousness was acceptable by most reasonable standards of soul apportionment. Even Pepsi sponsored t-shirts tossed into the stands at games weren’t so bad – they’re great sleep-shirts!

If only the slope hadn’t been so slippery, the incubation period so short.

Before anyone had the time to invest in a vaccination, things metastasized beyond our most desolate nightmares. Bobblehead nights presented by State Farm. Kids jersey giveaways presented by Chevrolet. Hot dog concessions brought to you by Farmer John. Grand slams branded as Papa Slams.

This all leads me to the most fatal sponsorship of them all: the branded salute to the troops. They’re inescapable. Take for example the Budweiser Salute to the Heroes done in the second inning of each Diamondbacks home game. While honoring first responders and the military is certainly a worthy cause, this fails on two levels. First: salutes and honorings shouldn’t be subject to corporate dollars. In the recognition of people who’ve made a difference, all the world should stand as one and thank those who are deserving of our praise. Attaching corporate partners to these salutes is degrading and is nothing more than an opportunity to profit off the sacrifices made by others.

The second failure may be the most damning. While few would argue against honoring those who’ve made a difference, many, if not all, MLB teams are ignoring an important group. A group that is as storied as many of the everyday heroes who garner recognition – military, police, firefighters, and paramedics most notably. While these people may not be fighting any wars, they are fighting the good fight. I’m of course talking about Cardinals fans.

Known to many as being the best fans in baseball, Cardinals fans have long been the caretakers of the game. Putting tradition, history, context, and dignity above all else. While many of the rabid dogs rampaging against old schools of thought and tradition are trying to destroy the game of baseball, Cardinals fans are busy applauding the sacrifice play. Baseball always has been and always will be a team sport. The notion of individual sacrifice is not lost among these advocates of baseball. They understand that sometimes the greater good involves the shortstop bunting over the leadoff man to set the table for greater things to come.

Knowledge and humility seldom meet but these traits are basic characteristics for those in Red Bird Nation. A Cardinals fan would never, ever, impose an unsolicited thought upon an opposing fan. Their respect for the game runs too deep. Yes, they might stand and applaud a pitcher after a satisfactory outing and even decorate the opposing team with approval after an impressive play or performance, but these displays are done out of a solemn understanding of the meaning of the game of baseball, not out of grandstanding and a need to feel important.

There are few reasons to preclude these heroes from our formal moments of recognition. Their understanding of sacrifice, teamwork, honor, history, tradition, and dignity rivals that of any of the other groups we bask with our appreciation. This isn’t to diminish the courage and sacrifice others have made, but it’s to advocate for the forgotten heroes.

This is a wrong that can be righted. An injustice that has a remedy. The merit of recognizing these people has been established. What better way to begin combating the bastardizing of the game than to honor those who work hardest at preserving the basic tenants of America’s Pastime? Teams like the Diamondbacks can start down the track of healing baseball and the fans from the game’s rampant greed. That’s why it is important that during the Cardinals’ impending visit to Chase Field, the Diamondbacks shelves their Salute to the Heroes and replaces it with a Salute to the Cardinals Fans.

While this may not address the issues of corporate sponsorship, it at least gets the game to start recognizing the right people. Once society has moved to a higher place, a place where the sight of a fan sporting the iconic image of the birds on the bat is held in veneration, people will demand that the stewards of the game become the ones who bring us the game.

Angel Stadium of Anaheim can embrace the Trout Farm presented by Viva El Birdos and Rally Squirrels instead of Rally Monkeys. Across the country, Fenway Park could unveil the Green Monster, adorned with images of legendary Cardinals fans like Jon Hamm and Nelly. Even the rival Cubs could have Kris Bryant bobblehead night with him wearing a Cardinals jersey – all made possible by The Best Fans in Baseball.

Imagine a world where stadiums could sport the name Birds on the Bat Ballpark or Fredbird Field. Teams like the Reds could be renamed the Redbirds. This is a world where the ideals of baseball unassumingly reside. The whole nation could be Cardinal Nation. Gone is the bald eagle and in is the cardinal. In today’s global environment, a time might even come where Cardinals players could become cardinals at the Vatican. They are certainly pious and moral enough.

While the game may not currently be in a place where it could handle such a drastic changing of the sponsorship guard, there is no doubt that these hollow corporations don’t understand the game of baseball the same way the Cardinals and Cardinals fans do. I hope that the game I so dearly love can come to see the ever-apparent reality that it has been corrupted. Progress starts with acknowledging the true heroes among us.

Scorpion Summary – 10/22/2015

The seventh inning has proven to be an eventful time during a baseball game. There’s stretching and singing and wild lead changes if one looks to the MLB playoffs for any direction. Thursday afternoon in Old Town Scottsdale provided all of the usual spoils and then some. The highly promising Cardinals prospect, Alex Reyes, took the mound in an at times dominating fashion. Former wonderkid Jurickson Profer started his climb back towards the majors in majestic style. And, of course, there was the usual seventh inning drama. With one out in the seventh, Robbie Rowland of the Cardinals served up a fat fastball that Mike Gerber of the Tigers aptly punished into the right field bullpen for a grand slam to give the Scottsdale Scorpions a 6-4 lead. That former wonderkid, however, provided the largest bit of drama during the game. With two outs in the ninth and his team down by one, Profar hit a full count fastball over the right field fence to tie the game. The Saguaros scored the game winning run in the 10th off a Yadiel Rivera single for a final of 7-6.

Seeing Red

Alex Reyes is a fun kid to watch pitch. That is, of course, putting it quite mildly. His outing on Thursday was as close to must-see action as one can get in the Fall League. Reyes’ opening act in the first was a masterpiece. Eight pitches thrown, three outs recorded, all fastballs. There’s no point in breaking into the secondary repertoire if not needed and it wasn’t needed for Reyes in the first. The fastball was electric. 94-96 in the first, topping out at 98 mph. Athletic off the mound, he helped his own cause in the first with a stellar play in the field, leaping to make a grab on a tall comebacker. He mostly maintained that level of pitching from there. In the second, he showed a changeup at 89 mph and a few curveballs from 76-78. The curveball was more impressive than the fastball. The yakking 1-7 break was borderline unfair for most of the Scottsdale hitters. If he can command the changeup and curveball consistently, he can accomplish most anything.

He did work himself into some trouble in the second, courtesy of spotty fastball command, but escaped without any damage allowed. The third inning was arguably his finest. The velocity ticked up on all his pitches. The fastball was 96-98, changeup at 87-89, and curveball topping out at 80. He started ahead 1-2 on his first two batters and struck out Mac Williamson on a ball in dirt with a 3-2 count. The fourth inning was the only time of laboring for him. Keeping the velocity from his previous inning, he easily struck out his first two batters of the fourth, Sam Travis and JaCoby Jones. All the trouble came with two outs, which likely is the only thing that kept him from working into the fifth inning. He allowed a four pitch walk, sandwiched between two singles – the latter of which scored the only run he allowed in his quality four innings. After a brief mound visit, he rebounded to strike out Stuart Turner with a hot 97 mph fastball above the zone after a seven pitch at-bat.

The Cardinals prospect impressed in his four innings of work. He allowed only the one run on four hits, two walks, and four strike outs. He’s a name to keep an eye on in future Fall League starts and in the minors next season.

Profar’s Progress

September 27th, 2013 – 755 days ago. That is the last time the 22-year-old Jurickson Profar appeared in the field during a regular season game. After tearing his right shoulder muscle in 2014, he finally had surgery on it in early 2015, causing him to miss the 2015 season. Seeing him in the DH slot for his first action in the 2015 Fall League was a welcomed sight. Book-ending the game with his mark, he hit a double on the first pitch he saw in the first inning and eventually scored the game’s first run. He wasn’t done yet. He came back to the dish in the ninth and after working a 3-0 count, he surrendered two strikes to draw it full. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, a 95 mph fastball, he smack a game tying home run to right with his team down to their final out.

Rafters Wrap-up – 10/20/15

The Rafters came into play Tuesday sporting a 3-1 record after taking the first matchup against the Surprise Saguaros on Monday. The bats, however, continued to be quiet during play on Tuesday, managing to bring home only one run in a 3-1 loss. Not even Gavin Cecchini, who has been an on base machine for the Rafters, could provide any relief. He went 0-for-3. The game was most notably highlighted by a cast of D-Backs in the lineup and on the mound. Right fielder Daniel Palka collected one of the Raters’ three hits on the day and catcher Oscar Hernandez scored their only run. Yoan Lopez, seeking to continue his climb back from his AA doldrums, manned the bump for the Rafters.

A partly cloudy afternoon quickly turned into a cold gale and uncomfortable day. This also could easily be a metaphor for Lopez’s second start in the 2015 Arizona Fall League. His day started off comfortably and though the fastball was a tick slower than where it was in his first start, it was still consistently sitting in the 90s and topped out around 96 mph. The fastball command started off well and appeared to have improved from his first start and while he did leave a slider up in the zone that was smacked to left field, his slider command was working for him as well. In the second inning, he deftly set up an 85 mph slider for a weak groundout after painting two fastballs to take change in the count 0-2. This pattern continued for him in the inning, using the fastball to set up the slider. Trouble came in the third inning where his command betrayed him, walking his first two batters of the frame. Things didn’t get any better from there. Sandwiched between two bloop hits was a sharply hit single to center field that scored the first run of the day for the Saguaros. He was also hit off the leg, it appeared, by a hard-hit comebacker. He stayed in the game for a couple more batters but was pulled after recording the second out. In all, he recorded only eight outs while allowing three runs to score on five hits, two walks, and one strikeout.

Lopez pitched pretty well for his first and second innings and overall, I thought he looked better than his line would indicate, though he did tail off towards the end like he did in his first start. He threw 66 pitches, 41 for strikes, and his fastball was working better today than in his first start. It should be interesting to see if he continues to start off well only to tail off in his coming Fall League starts.

Catching Question

Oscar Hernandez’s defense continues to be questionable. He made some nice plays on balls in the dirt during Lopez’s first start but he caught some trouble behind the dish today. In the first inning he did a poor job of blocking a fastball in the dirt – trying to stab at the ball instead of attempting to smother the ball – which allowed runners to advance to second and third. Later, in the fourth inning, he was charged with a passed ball that allowed the leadoff man to advance to second.

Double Trouble

Cardinals farm hands Patrick Wisdom and Mike Ohlman tagged Lopez for two of his runs in the third. Wisdom singled with the bases loaded to drive in the first run and two batters later, Ohlman drew a bases loaded walk that brought in the Saguaros’ third and final run of the contest. Aside from his 2-for-4 day at the plate, Wisdom also showed off his arm in the eighth inning after making a nice backhanded grab on a Jack Reinheimer chopper. He made another nice play on a chopper later in the inning but it was ruled foul.

Rein Man

D-Backs second baseman Jack Reinheimer started off his afternoon on a rough note, booting a fairly routine grounder on his glove side to open up the bottom of the first. One could see that he was determined to make up for it in the field as the game went on. He made a quick read on a lineout in the sixth inning and later made a majestic, sliding, backhanded grab on a ground ball to retire the Brewers’ Michael Reed. His plate appearances, however, were lackluster. After walking in the first and successfully pulling off a double steal, he went hitless for the remainder of the affair.

Rafters Wrap-up – 10/19/15

The first week of the Fall League brought with it inconsistencies from both the weather and the play of the Salt River Rafters. Perhaps the only constant from the first week was courtesy of Gavin Cecchini. MLB Pipeline‘s #4 prospect in the Mets system commenced the first week in his Fall League campaign by reaching base seven times in nine plate appearances. Once again, he found himself in the middle of the action on Monday opposed by the Surprise Saguaros. Finishing the afternoon going one-for-three with a walk (he also lined out sharply to the center fielder), he scored the Rafters’ only two runs of the game in a tenuous 2-1 win.

The main attraction of the day was Ian Clarkin, who was taking the bump for the Saguaros for his first Fall League appearance of the season. The Yankees pitcher has had some pacing issues in the past but those were nowhere to be found today. Unfazed by the pitch clock, Clarkin posted a respectable four innings of work showing shaky, at times, command with the fastball and changeup while also flashing some plus stuff from his knee-buckling curveball. He opened up his first inning of work mostly with the fastball, sitting in the low 90s, consistently at 92 mph. It wasn’t until the second inning that he brought out the curveball, sitting 74-75, starting off two of his first three batters with it. After loading the bases on a potpourri consisting of a single, a walk, and a catcher’s interference call, he was able to induce a double play ball on a well spotted 91 mph fastball. The third inning is when he allowed his only run of the day – the aforementioned Gavin Cecchini sharply doubled to left field on a fastball up in the zone and promptly was driven home by a Dominic Smith on a well hit ground ball to center field off of a low fastball that caught too much plate. Clarkin quickly regained his composure as he picked off Smith at first and struck out the Blue Jays’ Roudy Tellez on a fastball to retire the side. He came back out for his final inning of work, a 16-pitch fourth inning including a walk after staring ahead 0-2 and a strikeout to conclude his afternoon and the inning. While I don’t recall him throwing his changeup for a strike, he was able to work his curveball for strikes and he wasn’t afraid to utilize it first-pitch and early in counts. The fastball looked average at times, but he was able to draw five swings and misses with it in his final two innings of work. He’s not a guy who will blow you away with velocity, but the fastball does have some movement to it and the curveball looked to be the plus pitch of the three with a looping 12-to-6 break and solid command.

Palka Moves

Daniel Palka of the Diamondbacks continues to impress with his arm. With runners on second and third and no outs in the third, Lewis Brinson of the Rangers hit a fly ball to right that seemed deep enough to score on. Palka set himself under the ball and fired a strike back to the infield, causing the runner to retreat back to third. Between Palka and Gabby Guerrero, there are some loaded arms in the D-Backs’ system. Not to be left out, Palka also had a decent day at the plate, working an 0-2 curveball from Clarkin the other way for a single in the second and singling on a middle-middle slider in the eighth inning.

Miller Heat

In relief during the eighth inning, the Diamondbacks’ Adam Miller came out pumping heat. Showing almost exclusively fastballs, he was hitting 97-98 with ease and topping out at 99 mph. The balls were leaving the bats about as hard as they were leaving his hand, however. Though he worked a complete inning with only a single allowed, two of the three outs were sharply hit fly balls to the outfield and the other was a loudly hit ground ball to the shortstop.

Showing Some Glove

There was one fluky defensive misplay by Tyler Austin of the Yankees, however, other than that, the defense in the contest had a solid distribution of well positioned fielders and excellent defensive plays. Aledmys Diaz, a shortstop from the Cardinals system, made two ranging plays in the bottom of the second inning, including his starting of an inning ending double play on a backhand snag of a grounder. Also of note was the defense of Emilio Guerrero. In the top frame of the second inning, he tracked down a ball in foul territory to make an extended and over-the-shoulder catch to end the inning. Guerrero also showcased his arm throughout the game with several strong and accurate throws over to first base.

Rafters Wrap-up – 10/14/15

You win some, you lose some, and you wish the game had a mercy rule some. Tonight’s 13-3 loss by the Rafters was a prime example of the last scenario. Kyle Freeland of the Rockies and Myles Smith of the Diamondbacks combined to allow 12 runs off of eight hits, five walks, and two home runs while retiring a scanty five batters. By the fifth inning, the Scorpions top four hitters combined to go 8-for-13 with two walks and four extra-base hits. JaCoby Jones of the Tigers – who was victim to one of Diamondbacks outfielder Daniel Palka’s throws last night – had the most impressive showing of the bunch. Jones absolutely crushed two home runs to left field, both off of fastballs.

The aforementioned Smith had a particularly poor outing, showing no control of his fastball whatsoever. Sitting in the low-to-mid 90s with the fastball, he spotted the Scorpions three walks in an inning of work, one walk coming with the bases loaded after throwing a tight slider to jump ahead 1-2 in the count and another walk immediately after on four pitches. His slider, between 85 and 90mph, was interesting, though he seemed reluctant to use it to work himself back into a count. Nevertheless, it appeared to be his best pitch, with some tight break as it reached the plate. A former fourth round pick who ranked 108th on Baseball America’s pre-draft top 500, Smith spent most of his 2015 season in the Midwest League posting a 1.27 ERA in 21.1. IP with 29 strikeouts and 9 walks.

All in the Family

Gabby Guerrero, the nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, didn’t get to showcase his strong arm in right field, which was almost as sad as the game itself. He was able to show flashes of the Guerrero genes at the plate, however. He sets up in the box very similarly to his Uncle Vladdy, keeping his feet mostly square with a toe tap that pulls his load towards his left side. He’s able to range his swing with very good extension while still getting some power behind the baseball on balls low and away. He showcased an up-the-middle approach, driving a single into center field in the second inning, blistering a moonshot home run to left-center in the fourth, and grounding out on a ball to the shortstop in the sixth and eighth innings. The approach was aggressive, naturally, seeing only ten pitches combined in his four plate appearances. He has yet to live up to his inflated Cal League numbers, not surprisingly since most hitters tend to rake there, but flashes of his potential made a couple of appearances tonight.

The Other Guy

The other Fall League prospect representing the Diamondbacks who was part of the Mark Trumbo trade, along with Gabby Guerrero, is Jack Reinheimer. His night didn’t open on a high note as he struck out promptly on three pitches, the final one being a swing and a miss on a ball low and away. Happily, he was able to redeem himself in the sixth inning on a double to left-center field that came on a mistake fastball. He sets up in the back of the box with a slightly open stance. He makes enough contact that if he adds a little strength, he might be able to find some doubles power. In the field, his defense at short looked above average. His footwork and reactions appeared sound and he made a solid throw to first on a weak chopper up the middle, though it was just tick late. It would seem he has the ability to stay at short, and bat might make that the only viable option.