Good Morning, Baseball

The Rainiers played some morning baseball on Thursday – which I jokingly suggested was a good preparation for when the team plays one of those 10:30 AM Kid’s Day games during the PCL regular season.

Except this was even earlier: a 9:00 AM first pitch, two intrasquad games on the Peoria backfields. One field pitted the Triple-A team against the Double-A team, and the other field had the two Class-A Mariners squads going head-to-head. I sat and watched the AAA/AA game.

In terms of weather, 9:00 in the morning is perfect for Arizona baseball. It was crisp if you were in the shade, and warm in the sunshine. The wind was still asleep after a long night of howling.

Prospective Rainiers starting pitcher Joe Wieland was pitching for the Double-A squad (so that he would face the more advanced hitters), with Mike Zunino catching him (because they’ll be working together during the PCL season). Wieland is still in big league camp and he was wearing his major league uniform, and he was facing a lineup which included several of the players who have suited up for Tacoma the last few days: Tyler Smith, D.J. Peterson, Guillermo Heredia, Leon Landry, etc.

Tacoma had top pitching prospect Edwin Diaz on the mound, which was a nice surprise. Still likely to open the season in Double-A, Diaz showed why he is considered the Mariners No.1 pitching prospect. His fastball was electric, and he showed a nice slider. The ‘smack’ of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt is loud when he’s on the mound. He wasn’t unhittable, though: when he left the fastball over the middle of the plate, it got hit hard. One veteran scout watching him work said Diaz just needs to become more consistent with his command and he’ll be ready to move up. Diaz turned 22-years-old earlier this week and there is no need to rush him.

Other pitchers who worked multiple-inning stints in this game were left-hander Misael Siverio and righty Charles Brewer. Even though they technically pitched in relief, the fact that they worked multiple innings – three in Brewer’s case – makes it appear that they are being prepped for a starting rotation spot.

Guillermo Heredia impressed again with his plate discipline and speed. The Cuban outfielder legged out an infield single on a chopper to third, and he impressively tagged up from first and took second on a not-too-deep fly ball to right-center. This set up a run, as Leon Landry followed with an RBI single to right.

Speaking of Landry, he got hosed down by Zunino when he tried to steal second base.

Both intrasquad games were over in a little more than two hours. The games were played early because the coaching staff and player development office had meetings in the afternoon.

I fly home today, just in time for the annual Cheney Stadium Pre-Season Party.

Join us on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM for stadium tours, food sampling, live music, meet Rhubarb the Reindeer (note: he’s not much of a conversationalist), and see which seats are available if you are interested in season tickets.

The event is FREE.

Links:

We’re off for the weekend – if you come to the Pre-Season Party on Saturday, stop by the Rainiers clubhouse and say “hi.” I’m supposed to be camped out in there all day.

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