Batteries- Kane County @ Beloit May 12

Posted by timahuwe on May 13, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Shortly after the Prospect Prius rolled into Beloit's Pohlmann Field, I was reminded again that kids like to move around quite a bit.

Twenty minutes before first pitch, I turned in my first pair of Box Seat vouchers, and netted front row behind the home plate umpire seats. I do enjoy minor league ball. While Beloit won 6-1, Kane County left the field the happier team. Today, it was all about the batteries.

Bobby Wahl started for Beloit. A hard-thrower I was monitoring his draft year, it seems his pitch movement isn't there.  He throws hard, but all the contact seemed solid against him. Surprisingly, the bullpen started stretching in his second inning of work, and he was done after three. He fanned two through three, but it seems the A's are grooming him as a reliever. I'd have liked to see him pitch trhe fourth, but the reliever who followed him, Brent Powers, is the best player I've seen on Beloit in two games. His numbers are ugly, but he allowed no hits or walks through four innings.

Tyler Skulina was on point. After struggling with the mound against the leadoff man (a four pitch walk to Boog Powell), he was solid for the next three innings. Powell mis-timed his jump, and was hung out to dry between first and second, and was picked off. Skulina fanned four of the next five hitters. His second inning showed him at his best. The first pitch caused a pop-up to second. The first pitch to the second hitter was a FB on the black for a strike. The next pitch was a swing-and-miss breaking ball. The 0-2 pitch was close enough to be swung at, but wasn't. The fourth was a swinging strike. The next hitter swung through a first fastball. The next curve was missed also. A chin-high fast ball set up another off-speed pitch, which was a swinging strike.

None of the hitters did anything with him until the fourth. A bouncer through the middle, about three pitches on the black the ump didn't give him, and some rain led to a four run inning. That frame will make it look like a bad outing, but it wasn't. Skulina was the best player on the field. Dribblers in the rain (great name for a rock band) and a tight strike zone cost him a win. He was good in the fifth, but the game was largely decided.

Michael Wagner followed Skulina to the mound. Wagner was scouted by the Cubs very heavily. When scouting Wagner, the brass noted Kris Bryant hitting over 30 homers in college. Okay, maybe I have that backward. Wagner has a three or four pitch repertoire, works quickly, and really ought to be starting in the Midwest League. He will be soon, likely. The only real damage was an opposite field homer by lefty BJ Boyd. That closed out the scoring, and briefly preceeded the night's sad moment.

After Powers went his four, Beloit called on Tyler Vail to pitch the eighth. However, on one of his pitches, something went very wrong, and the ball hit the backstop on the fly, half-way up. The training staff quickly ran to the mound. A jacketed A's official swore, ran to an open location, and called Billy Beane (or one of his deputies) on his cell phone. As things clarified, I realized I may have watched the last warm-up pitch of Tyler Vail's career. Hopefully not, but I expect he'll be on the DL very soon.

Will Remillard is going to be in The Zygote 50 once I get it updated. A defense-first college catcher, he has owned the Midwest League the last three weeks. Not only did his double drive in the Cougars only run (in the second), it sounded like it was hit by a guy that is a good hitter. I'm not sold on him as a thrower (gunning down base runners), but as weak as the Cubs catching situation is, I see Remillard as meriting a call-up to Daytona as soon as early-June.

In other words, though the Cougars lost, their batteries had a better day. And that cheering on progress trumps getting bent out of shape over a loss, I am more comfortable at minor league games.

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