This Aaron Pribanic I saw tonight was not the same one I saw a month ago in Trenton. Pribanic doesn’t get many swing and misses, he relies on pitching to contact and excellent control down in the zone. When he is up in the zone, he gets hit hard and the first two innings tonight he was not only wild but he was leaving everything up. In the 3rd inning you could tell he switched up his game plan, but for that inning and the next he was missing a lot low. When he finally put things together in the 5th inning and looked like the effective Pribanic, he was already near his pitch count.
The first two innings in the boxscore shows that he gave up seven runs on nine hits and a walk. It was every bit as bad as the stat line would indicate. There were a couple weak hits mixed in but for the most part Trenton batters were sitting belt high fastballs and getting it and hitting the ball hard. Three straight batters at one point hit the first pitch they saw and all three pitches were the same high in the zone fastball I wasn’t seeing much the first time.
Aaron threw 54 pitches in the first two innings alone. In the next three he combined for just 32 and just two hits with an unearned run to show for it. Even though he issued just one walk he was much more wild than the first time, he threw 86 pitches, 51 strikes and 35 balls, but a lot of those strikes were not where he wanted them. While it was a nice recovery from a horrible start it is still a bad sign to see just how precise he has to be with his pitches to be effective. All told he had just 4 swing and misses from batters and while he had his normal high groundball rate, those grounders were hit hard.
As for the report on the prospects in the lineup I will start at the top with Starling Marte. The kid can play baseball and can win you games in so many ways. I saw his great speed on an infield grounder that caused a rushed throw from the shortstop in which he reached on an error. I saw the speed on display in the outfield, he is a legit centerfielder and while I didn’t see any throws from him today, I saw one shot from his cannon last series and I’ve heard all the firsthand reports. We know he can hit but today he displayed the power potential we all hope he can develop, even if it pushes him into the 15 per year range. He hit a bomb to CF tonight, which hit at least 15 feet up the 20 foot wall and just to the left of the 407 foot sign. A legit show of power. He also took a walk tonight, a good sign for him because a few people question whether his plate patience will play in the majors. I saw him swing at one bad pitch the five plate appearances he had.
Brock Holt batting 2nd didn’t look like the Holt I saw the first series who displayed patience at the plate and the ability to fight off tough pitches. He was aggressive tonight but didn’t look good in any at-bat. He saw a total of just 16 pitches in his five plate appearances which resulted in three weak groundouts, a shallow flyout to left field and pop up to the catcher. He did well in the field which was a carry over from the first series.
Tony Sanchez started his night off nice at the plate with a hard line drive single that handcuffed the centerfielder and allowed Andrew Lambo to score from first base in the first inning, giving the Curve an early lead. His next three at-bats he didn’t fare so well, a weak pop up to second base and two groundballs, one right at the third baseman for an easy 5-4-3 double play. His last at-bat he walked on a very close 3-2 pitch with 2 outs in the 9th, putting the tying run on base. In the field he looked good behind the plate blocking pitches, especially when Pribanic came out in the 3rd and 4th innings missing low. Nothing got past him and a few he blocked got just feet away but he pounced on them quickly with runners on base and no advancement. His throws on the 2 steals didn’t look so great, both high and not a lot on them, both looked like great pitches to throw on and he would’ve got them with a good throw.
Andrew Lambo wasn’t with Altoona last time I saw them, and except for a few at-bats on TV, this is the first time seeing him play for me. He looked aggressive early, swinging at the first pitch he saw of the night which he laced for a single to right field. His next two times he looked bad against the lefty pitcher, striking out and grounding out. He changed his approach the last two at-bats and worked walks in each. He looked a little faster than I expected, especially coming from a kid with just 12 steals in five seasons. In the field there was nothing of note for him. I’m hoping he’s in the lineup the next three games so I can get a better read on him. One thing that he did which I liked and took note of, was go hard but clean into second base with his slide during the Sanchez double play.
Quincy Latimore was also up there hacking his first two times, twice putting the ball in play weakly on the first pitch he saw resulting in outs. His next at-bat he drew a 4 pitch walk but there really wasn’t any close pitches, still a good sign from him after those first two times up. His 4th at-bat was even better as he drilled a 2-1 pitch into the LF/CF gap for a double. I have to remind myself of two things when I see Latimore: he is still just 22 and he still needs to learn to take more walks or at least be more selective at the plate. There is nothing wrong with taking a first pitch strike if it’s not right down the middle. He has the tools, he is quick and he showed off a good arm twice during the game, and we know the power is there. I’d like to write him off after a .270 OBP this far into the season but I can’t after watching him play. He does something impressive every game that gives you a glimmer of hope for him.
Finally we come to Matt Curry. When I first saw him he was fresh to AA and still in the low-A zone at the plate. He looked real good at the plate that first time and I left the three game series impressed. Since about a week after that he has slumped badly so I was interested in seeing the difference. His four at-bats tonight all had one thing in common. On one pitch in each of them he took a weak swing and missed. The first three at-bats had something else in common though, he hit the ball hard each time. He was credited with two hits but only one was legit, a nice liner to right field in his first at-bat. His 3rd time up he hit the ball hard but right to the first baseman who looked like he went for the 3-6-3 double play too early and lifted his glove resulting in an obvious error in my book, and a hit according to the official scorer. In his last at-bat he struck out swinging. Curry looked pretty good in the field, unlike the first series. He’s not too mobile around the bag but he made all the plays and he had a decent amount of work today.
I will be in Trenton likely for the next three games covering the team and reporting back on each game. The scheduled starters the rest of the series are Phillip Irwin, Michael Colla and Kyle McPherson. It will be the first time I’ve seen Colla start and the first time I will see Irwin and McPherson start since last year for West Virginia. The only batter of note that I did not get to see today was Jeremy Farrell, who did not make the start yesterday either, so he could have some minor injury keeping him out but still on the active roster.