Three days in April with Clearwater

NOTE: Front page promotion. Interesting stuff! - WC

Over the last three days, I've attended three games at Brevard County's Space Coast Stadium between the Brevard Manatees and the Clearwater Threshers. For anyone who's not aware, the Threshers are the Phillies' A+ affiliate in the Florida State League, while the Manatees are a Milwaukee Brewers farm team. I kept some notes during the games to give you guys an idea of what I saw. My notes are below, and any questions will be welcomed. For the first game, I sat directly behind home plate, about 9 rows up. For the second and third games, I sat at the outer edge of the infield along the third base line, 3 rows up. The most memorable part of the first game for me was that the seat in front of me was empty, but the two seats next to it held Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Cosart, who had the night off to do scouting on the other team. The crack TGP scouting team is proud to report that both of them like sunflower seeds. Without any further ado, the recaps.

The park:

Space Coast Stadium is a symmetrical park. 340 feet to the poles, 370 in the power alleys, 404 to center field. The left field fence is 4.5’, right field is 8’. The predominant winds comes over the left field fence, due to the sea breeze. For the first couple innings, sunset is a potential visibility issue for the SS, 3B, and LF in the case of pop-ups.

Game 1 (Manatees 7, Threshers 2):

Starting lineup:
CF Jiwan James (2-5, 2B, HR)

LF D’Arby Myers (1-4, BB, 2K)

RF Leandro Castro (1-4, 2B)

1B Darin Ruf (0-4, 2K)

DH Joe Savery (2-4, 2B)

C Sebastian Valle (1-4, 2B)

3B Travis Mattair (2-3, HBP)

2B Cesar Hernandez (0-4, 3K)

SS Troy Hanzawa (0-4, 1K)

SP Trevor May (4 IP, 5 K, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 5 ER, L)

RP Joseph Esposito (2 IP, 2K, 1 BB)

RP Adrian Alaniz (2 IP, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 ER)

Starting conditions: 74 degrees, wind blowing from left field pole towards 1B.


May still has major control issues. I didn’t keep a pitch count for him, but he only lasted 4 innings, giving up 5 runs, and I think he only had three or four first pitch strikes the entire time. He did hit 93 on the radar gun, but mostly hovered around 91 for the fastball (both the stadium gun and the one the Manatees off-duty pitchers had agreed on speed). Esposito looked solid in relief, but without much raw stuff. Note that there was only 1 walk for the Threshers the entire game.

Game 2 (Threshers 4, Manatees 2):

Starting lineup:

CF Jiwan James (1-4, BB, K)

LF Brian Gump (2-4, K)

RF Leandro Castro (1-4)

DH Darin Ruf (1-3, HBP)

1B Joe Savery (1-3, BB)

3B Travis Mattair (1-4, 2K)

C Kyle Lafrenz (1-4, K)

2B Cesar Hernandez (1-4, K)

SS Troy Hanzawa (0-3, 2K, BB)

SP Tyler Cloyd (6 IP, 93 pitches, 61 strikes, 32 balls, 4K, 1BB, 2ER)

RP Jordan Ellis (2 IP, 24 pitches, 16 strikes, 8 balls, 3K, W)

RP Justin Friend (1 IP, 14 pitches, 9 strikes, 5 balls, 1K, S)

Starting conditions: 73 degrees, wind blowing from left field pole toward 1B.


Cloyd is an odd duck – I’m not sure he hit 90, but he was hitting a bunch of different slots for speed. A lot of first-pitch strikes, and a lot of swinging strikes. Ruf and James each reached base on an error. Gump also got on base due to catcher interference. The eighth inning was a comedy of errors for the Manatees. James led off and got to first on a fielding error by the second baseman, who bobbled a hard but manageable grounder. Gump then got on with the interference when his swing was deflected by the catcher’s mitt. Castro laid down a nice sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Ruf lined out to shallow right, with nobody advancing. Savery then received an unintentional walk, albeit in four pitches, as the pitcher missed painting the corners. Mattair, to that point, was 0-3 with 2 strikeouts and a weak grounder to third. He promptly scorched the grass down the third base line, with the ball rolling all the way to the corner for a base-clearing double.

Game 3 (Threshers 9, Manatees 4):

Starting lineup:

CF Jiwan James (1-4, BB, K)

LF Brian Gump (1-5, K)

RF Leandro Castro (1-4, BB, HR)

DH Darin Ruf (2-3, K, BB, HBP)

1B Joe Savery (1-5)

C Sebastian Valle (3-5, K, 2B, 3B)

3B Travis Mattair (4-5, K, 2B, HR)

2B Cesar Hernandez (0-4)

SS Troy Hanzawa (0-3, BB)

SP Julio Rodriguez (5.1 IP, 83 pitches, 51 strikes, 32 balls, 5K, 3BB, 1HBP, 2ER, W)

RP Ebelin Lugo (3.2 IP, 56 pitches, 38 strikes, 18 balls, 2K, 1BB, 2ER)

Starting condition: 84 degrees, wind blowing from RF pole to LF pole


It warmed up for this game, as there was a wind blowing out to sea, instead of coming in off the water. Rodriguez is one of the young pitchers on the staff, at 20. His command was a bit shaky at this game, with a couple wild pitches getting by Valle; however, 2 of the walks were in the first inning, and he had a no-hitter going into the sixth, where he got one batter out, then promptly gave up two hits. One scored on a wild pitch by Lugo, the other scored when Lugo gave up a bloop single to center. Lugo’s competent but not brilliant. The offense struck quickly in this game – James led off with a Jimmy Rollins double, swinging at the opening pitch. He scored when the Manatees’ second baseman muffed a Gump grounder. Gump was picked off stealing, while Castro flew out to left field. Ruf, Savery, and Valle all hit singles. Mattair hit a double, but Valle was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. They struck again in the third, with Castro walking, Ruf and Savery getting outs, Valle hitting a double (and knocking Castro in), and Mattair going yard. The fifth saw another Valle/Mattair pairing, as Ruf walked, Valle hit a triple, and Mattair hit a single to drive Valle in. The last run came from a Castro solo shot in the seventh.

Total batters stats:

James 4-13, 2K, 2BB, 2B, HR

Myers 1-4, 2K, BB

Gump 3-9, 2K

Castro 3-12, BB, 2B, HR

Ruf 3-10, 3K, BB, 2 HBP

Savery 4-12, BB, 2B

Valle 4-9, K, 2 2B, 3B

Lafrenz 1-4, K

Mattair 7-12, 3K, HBP, 2B, HR

Hernandez 1-12, 4K

Hanzawa 0-10, 3K, 2BB


The ups: Even though James was "only" 4-13, I like him. He’s still an athlete rather than a baseball player, sometimes taking ugly routes in the outfield, but he is fast. If he can learn, he’ll be a solid ballplayer. I don’t think he’ll be much of a power hitter (the home run squeaked over the 8’ wall at about 360 feet), but with his speed he could make a good leadoff batter at any level. Valle also looked very good. His arm is somewhat weaker than I like, but he’s a good, patient batter with acceptable speed from the C position. Mattair also caught my eye as an interesting player. He’s a tiny bit older than James, and definitely has plenty of power. The 4-2 game, in which he had 3 RBI, impressed me because he took a line drive off his right shin in either the second or third, was obviously hurting, but played the rest of the game very competently. He also has a good arm.

The downs: I don’t like Ruf at all as a player. He’s slow, even for a first baseman/DH, and isn’t a good fielder. I came away less impressed with Savery than I expected. Part of that may have been because he was batting behind Ruf (his line would probably have been 4-12, BB, 3 2B if he was behind a faster runner), but his hitting seemed off in this series. The upside is that his 8 outs were 6 flies to 2 grounders, with 4 of the flies being to the outfield. Hernandez and Hanzawa are defensive players. A combined 1-22 with 7K from your middle infield hurts. Hanzawa’s not going to go anywhere. At age 25, his bat won’t develop. Hernandez apparently hates dirt. 6 of his 7 non-strikeout outs were grounders. The last was a line drive straight to the third baseman.

The neutrals: Gump, Lafrenz, Myers. None of them seem exceptional. They’re filler players who’ll be there to fill out minor league rosters for years to come. Leandro Castro was another neutral. He had a good plate approach, and rarely had a quick at-bat, but I’m not sure he’ll be a right fielder at higher levels. I still like him, but I didn’t see anything that impressed me.