Birmingham Barons 7/28/13 In-Person Game Review

I caught my second Birmingham Barons game this year on Sunday July 28th, as they once again paid a visit to the Tennessee Smokies. On the off chance anyone from the Barons reads stalking of your team continues later this week, already have tickets, so keep up the hot hitting!

This was my second game of this matchup this season, here's a writeup for the first. The Barons won this game 8-5, and it really wasn't that close thanks to some hot hitting and some solid pitching.

Let's start with the pitching. Spencer Arroyo was on the hill for the Barons tonight and did a nice job. Here's your chance to meet him:


Spencer did a solid job in this game, it's clear why the 24 year old has a solid ERA in the low 3's on the season and why he's worked his way up steadily through the minors. His fastball wasn't overpowering, topped out in the 89-90 range (as noted before, you have to correct the gun in Smokies Park by about 3-4 mph up to get to reality), but he kept the Smokies offense off kilter all day. He got in trouble in the first inning and Javier Baez made him pay with a long 2 run home run the opposite way (really impressive shot, one of those balls you knew it was gone from the sound). But, after that, he really mixed up his pitches well. He struck out 6 in 6 innings and earned them. His fastball was used well to set people up but his offspeed stuff really put people away. A number of those strikeouts were of the sort that the hitter was completely out in front of the pitch, swinging before it got to the plate and looking bad in the process.

Arroyo might not have the fastball to dominate the big leagues but he controls it well and pairs it with a solid ability to fool batters on offspeed stuff. He'll probably move up to Charlotte next year and if he can keep up a decent strikeout rate he's got a shot to be seen in the big leagues. I don't know if moving to the bullpen could help him pick up a couple mph on his fastball, but if it could, that might put him over the top, particularly since he comes from the LH side.

Here's David Cales, the 2nd pitcher to come in.

Have less to say about him. He was ok, again not an overpowering fastball, got 3 strikeouts in 2 innings, has a solid ERA to boot, did the job.

The final pitcher was J.R. Ballinger, who comes out with a sidearm pitch from the right hand side.

He got in a lot of trouble in the 9th. Fastball again in the high 80's, but guys were hitting him hard. 3 run home run again by Javier Baez made the game a lot closer than it was, the home run wasn't killed like the one in the first inning was, but made it over the fence.

Let's go to the hitters. There were a few guys I hadn't seen before, first on the list leadoff hitter Marcus Semien.

This dude knows how to look good in a beard. Here's some video:

The thing I noticed about Marcus was that he had a really good approach at the plate. The pitchers were nibbling against him and he kept making them pay, he was ahead in the count almost every time he was up. He stole a couple bases in this game but I'd mostly write those off, the pitchers really weren't holding the Barons close in this game, he took them without a throw each time. He had the big hit in the game, a 2 run single. Otherwise, didn't really kill the ball but made some solid contact most times.

Brandon Jacobs, the return in the Matt Thornton trade, was my second newbie on the day. Brandon is looking at us here, Semien is looking away.

Here's a base hit and a strikeout:

Jacobs is another guy with a solid approach. He was more aggressive than Semien but I liked how he worked a count to get his pitch. He hasn't homered yet with the Barons but there's definitely some power in his bat, he drove the ball to the wall in CF on one of his outs, had a good sound off the bat too. His couple singles were also well-struck.

Unfortunately I get to complain about Jacobs a bit though. In the 8th inning there was a popup down the LF line. Tough play, long run, but I don't think Jacobs read it well and I didn't like the route he took, he went to the line first then had to turn and come in rather than going straight to the ball, and consequently it dropped before he could get there. The next inning, he made 2nd base after a single with IIRC only 1 out, then took off for 3rd on a groundball to the shortstop. He shoulda stayed put at 2nd base and forced them to take the out at first, but instead he was thrown out at 3rd and I think he would have scored on a single by the next batter if it wasn't for that baserunning error. So, solid with the bat, a couple noteable miscues elsewhere.

Dan Black is the remaining 1b at Birmingham now that Wilkins has been promoted to Charlotte. Not sure I realized he's a switch hitter before.

Black was raking doubles all night. Definitely a run producing bat at this level. But, again, a couple miscues on the bases, got caught trying to stretch a single into a double and thrown out trying to steal third. I wish I'd been taking video of that stolen base attempt, basically imagine Adam Dunn trying to steal third, that's about what it looked like. He was out easily enough that I was guessing it was a hit and run where someone missed a sign. I didn't see whether he looked at the batter so I can't be sure, but no way he should be trying to steal 3rd late in a ballgame.

Saladino was in at 2nd base tonight. Again, like Semien, made the pitchers work a lot, drew a couple walks. Almost had a really good play on a popup where he went a long way, but the ball bounced off his glove. Sorry to him about getting him with his eyes closed.

Solid game by Keenyn Walker. I know his numbers aren't good on the season but he was good here. Couple solid singles, didn't look overmatched, stole a base when they actually tried to hold him on.

Finally, really really good looking game for Trayce Thompson. Last time I saw him he was totally in-between, wasn't timing pitches well at all. This time, he gave the left-hand side a workout with several solidly hit balls that way, including a deep home run to left that was hammered. Probably cleared the wall by a good 30 feet, was down the line some but I'd guess 360-370, easily out of most parks, ball was nailed. He's got his timing down a lot better now. He's still young so I can see how he'll go into some slumps like he was in when I first saw him, but he was right on the money in this game.

Oh, and worth noting Trayce also covered some serious ground out in center. There were a few balls hit near the wall, in both right and left center, and Trayce was right where he should have been and got to them. To get over his head it had to leave the park.



That's it for today. Get me someone nice to see later this week, ok Ricky?


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