Just got back from watching the Naturals drop their opener 3-2 to the Missions. Some nuggets that I observed in-between making sure my kids didn't get hit by foul balls:
Chris Dwyer started tonight. In the Naturals program this year, they list some "Bests" from the pages of Baseball American (I'll list them below, though many of you have likely seen). Dwyer is listed as "Best Curveball" in the organization. We saw it a few times tonight, but not much else out of him. He struggled with control from the first pitch. He settled down a bit after giving up 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk in the first inning, but his complete line of 4IP, 4H, 3ER, 3BB, and 4Ks was less than promising, and he never looked dominant.
Blake Johnson came in for the next 3 and was solid, but not spectacular. He pitches to contact well and only gave up 3 hits in his stint. Sisk finished the game with 2 strong innings.
Christian Colon: Batted in the 2nd spot and absolutely crushed a ball for a first inning homerun to left field. He had a second hit and was then caught stealing, but I was pretty impressed with his plate coverage. He still doesn't take enough for my taste though. In the field, he was never really tested, but did impress with a relay throw to gun a runner out at the plate.
Wil Myers: Man he looks young. No doubt he has some real pop though. Sound is different off of his bat vs. the other guys. He singled in his first at bat and that was all from him, but he has good ABs and battles well. His play in RF was a little scary. Specifically, he turned a routine fly ball into a 3 turn adventure late in the game, but to his credit he made the catch. He'll be fine with some experience just because of his athletic ability. Plenty of room for him to fill out still too. He could add power.
Salvador Perez has an absolute cannon arm. Dwyer practically begged a Mission to steal early in the game with a poor hold. Dude got a HUGE jump and Perez gunned him down by a full step. It's the real deal.
D. Rob still looks fast. And still looks like he can't hit.
Player of the night for me was definitely the underdog of the team, Nick Van Stratten. He played the kind of game you love to watch, specifically in the field. He showed off a surprisingly strong arm twice: once in doubling off a runner from first base after a flyout, and again in teaming with Colon to throw a runner out at the plate. The highlight of the night though was his homerun saving grab over the wall to save 2 runs. This was really a great, major league caliber catch. Add to all of this his incredible hustle, and the fact that his walk-up song is "Your Love" by The Outfield, and you can't help but love this guy.
All in all, a more pedestrian team than last year, but Colon, Myers, Bianchi and VS will be worth watching. And I can't wait to see more John Lamb.
Finally, the lists from the program (cited from Baseball America). I assume this was as of the end of last year's season.
Best Hitter for Average: Eric Hosmer
Best Power: Mike Moustakas
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Wil Myers
Fastest Baserunner: Jarrod Dyson
Best Athlete: Derrick Robinson
Best Fastball: Yordano Ventura
Best Curveball: Chris Dwyer
Best Slider: Aaron Crow
Best Changeup: John Lamb
Best Control: John Lamb
Best Defensive Catcher: Salvador Perez
Best Defensive Infielder: Humberto Arteaga
Best Infield Arm: Mike Moustakas
Best Defensive Outfielder: Jarrod Dyson
Best Outfield Arm: Jordan Parraz
Projected 2014 Lineup
C - Salvador Perez
1B - Eric Hosmer
2B - Mike Aviles
3B - Mike Moustakas
SS - Christian Colon
LF - Alex Gordon
CF - Brett Eibner
RF - Wil Myers
Starters: Greinke (thus my end of last year assumption), Lamb, Montgomery, Duffy, Dwyer
Love that we are back in full swing at all levels again.