So, the Barons didn’t suck so bad this week. I’m not going to gush about splitting a series with Mississippi, but it’s better than my previous prediction. The week didn’t start out so well, losing the first three games and looking bad doing it. Throw in a rainout on Tuesday, and things looked bleak yet again. But, they did reel off three wins in a row. So, hopefully they can carry that momentum into a significant winning streak. We had some newbies perform well and some oldies perform up to expectations.
C.J. Retherford seems to have found his stroke this week. He had been struggling mightly since his demotion from Charlotte. He was hovering near the Mendoza line at start of the homestand. C.J. hit the ball with authority all week and once again showed why I think he is capable of being a major league hitter. You can call him a poor man’s Dustin Pedroia, which is fair. But, he does exactly what Pedroia does with the bat when he’s locked in. People may be skeptical of his future, but I’m convinced he is major league caliber all the way. He just makes solid contact and to all fields. He never really struggled up unitl this year, which I think has to do with the sudden attention he has brought onto himself with his performance over the past two seasons. He may have had a poor showing in his initial tour of duty in AAA, but I think he’ll find his way back there soon enough.
Another player who has heated up this week is Tyler Kuhn. Although he has been okay most of the year, he seems to have turned a corner this week. It had been almost two months since I last saw a Barons player hit a homerun (Buck Coats), but Tyler Kuhn absolutely tattooed one to deep right center field the other night. Not only that, but he has played outstanding defense in left field too. I don’t know what his future holds, but he is an all around solid ballplayer. Plus, he shops at Dick’s Sporting Goods, along with us unwashed masses. Don’t know what he found there, I scoured the baseball section for 30 minutes trying to find something to spend my gift certificate on. I figured pro ballplayers got their gear somewhere else, but hey, whatever works.
The Barons finally starting receiving players promoted from Winston-Salem. Carolina League all stars Justin Greene and Greg Infante, as well as catcher Jason Bour. Bour had a tough day last Wednesday, making two throwing errors in the same inning that led to three runs for the M-Braves. Both throws were to first base, one fielding a bunt and the other trying to turn a 5-2-3 double play. The former rolled part of the way and past Retherford covering first, the latter sailing over Jim Gallagher’s head. I hope Bour doesn’t have issues making throws to bases. It does seem odd though that he was released out of spring training by the Reds, I hope that has nothing to do with it. The good news is that he has some pop in his bat. Justin Greene didn’t exactly light Birmingham on fire this week, but I was very impressed with his bat speed and compact swing. I’m eager to see how he adjusts to AA and if he shoots up the prospect radar. He does have a good combination of tools, so he would be a nice find for the White Sox even if he is already 24. He’s already been given a shot at batting leadoff, so we’ll see how well he does. Greg Infante has also been pushed early being brought in to close two of the Barons three wins this week. He has a smooth, easy delivery and he throws in the upper 90’s effortlessly. He didn’t pitch lights out, but he definitely flashed some serious talent. The White Sox made a good decision moving him into a closer role starting this season. I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses the rest of the year.
I also want to mention my appreciation to all of the Barons players. Friday night, my 5 month old son was the Dick’s Sporting Goods fan of the game. That person is brought up onto the first base dugout by our on field promotions guy and introduced to the crowd. All of the Barons players made the effort to come out of the dugout to see us. I wanted to say thank you to them for that, it meant a lot to me. The Barons are out of town for seven games, then the All Star break, until next week…