The A-ball games at Pirate City today featured two left-handers who put up strong numbers in A-ball last year. Zack Dodson and Zac Fuesser took the mound on opposite fields, taking on the New York Yankees’ A-ball teams. Both southpaws threw three innings, and the results in each game were strong.
Dodson allowed just two hits in three shutout innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. He was sitting 91-93 MPH with his fastball.
“That’s good, especially at this point in Spring Training,” Dodson said of the outing. “I gotta get down a little bit better. Been working on some mechanic things with [West Virginia pitching coach] Willie Glen, who has been helping me out a lot. So it’s nice to see that, but I still gotta get the curveball better, get a little bit better with the change-up.”
Dodson has been focused on staying strong on his back side during his delivery, and taking the work with Glen from flat ground to the mound. In the past he’s struggled with his control, with a 4.2 BB/9 ratio in 2010 at State College. He improved on that last year, with a 2.0 BB/9 ratio in 66.2 innings at West Virginia, although there were times when his command was inconsistent.
“I’m happy with the progression I’ve made, but with that said I’ve still got a long way to go,” Dodson said. “Like I said, I’ve still gotta work on my command. I’ve still gotta get the ball down, and the most important thing I’ve got to get ready for the season and give my team everything I’ve got.”
Fuesser got off to a strong start with two shutout innings. He gave up some damage in the third, with most of his runs allowed being unearned runs. The left-hander finished with three runs, one earned, on two hits in three innings. He struck out five, walked one, and threw 35 of 53 pitches for strikes. Fuesser was sitting 86-89 MPH with his fastball, and showing a nice curveball and change-up. Video of his third inning can be seen below.
NEW SWING FOR DEREK TRENT
Derek Trent had a strong season at the plate in his senior year at East Tennessee State. The catcher hit for a .351/.450/.620 line in 208 at-bats in 2011, on his way to being selected in the 31st round by the Pirates. Trent didn’t carry his hitting over to the pros, with a .197/.317/.296 line in 142 at-bats in State College.
The Pirates worked on adjusting his swing in the off-season, focusing mainly on Trent lifting his leg up a bit more during the swing.
“There was a few things that we did, just trying to get my swing in sync more,” Trent said today. “It seemed to work out well so far, and I’m getting comfortable with it.”
The results the last two days have been good. Trent homered yesterday, and hit another one today in the eighth inning of the A-ball game against the Yankees’ minor league camp.
“I’m getting good pitches to hit, and I’m getting the barrel on it, so I got lucky a couple of them got out,” Trent said. “I’m just trying to get good swings off, and I’m seeing the ball well right now.”
The catcher is still working on the new swing, but he’s starting to get used to it, as can be seen by his performance the last two days.
“There’s still some adjustments being made, but I’m definitely feeling more comfortable, and it feels good so far, so we’ll see what happens with it.”
-Wilbur Miller was at Pirate City today, and has a rundown of his thoughts here.
-Dan Gamache hit a home run to right field.
-Trent Stevenson pitched two shutout innings, allowing one hit, no walks, and striking out two. He was 88-89 MPH with his fastball.
-Taylor Lewis showed some good situational hitting. With runners at first and second he placed a single over the shortstop’s head, bringing in a run. Lewis moved to second when the center fielder bobbled the ball.
-Jason Townsend threw a scoreless inning of relief, sitting around 90-91 MPH. He almost got out of the inning on four pitches. He got a first pitch ground out, hit a batter with his next pitch, and got a would-be double play ball on his fourth pitch of the inning. Gift Ngoepe threw high to first base, pulling Chris Lashmet off the bag.
-Rodarrick Jones hit an RBI double to the gap in the bottom of the ninth inning, tying the game and putting runners on second and third. The Yankees ended the inning after the at-bat due to the pitch count.
-Samuel Gonzalez is a big catcher at 6′ 0″, 180 pounds. However, he’s got good speed for his size, and showed some hustle today on the bases. Gonzalez hit for a .302 average last year in State College and had a hit and a walk today.
-Josh Bell played the second half of one of the A-games and went 0-for-2.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Here is Zac Fuesser’s third inning, which is the only inning of today’s start in which he struggled.