I’d hoped that right about now I’d be on a plane home to California, but weather in Texas has the flight schedule hopelessly FUBAR‘d …
I got down to Viera for the Brevard County Manatees’ Game #2 of the Florida State League championship series. The Manatees, a Brewers affiliate, play out of Space Coast Stadium which is the Washington Nationals’ spring training facility. It’s decidedly low-end, a brick structure with a rutted grass parking lot. A local told me that Viera was once swampland. I’m glad I didn’t try to park when it was raining.
The Manatees lost Game #1 8-1. They took a 3-0 lead in Game #2, then 4-1 on a solo homer by 2B Mike Bell, but defensive FUBARs in the top of the 7th tied the game at 4-4. We left after seven innings — after all, we had to uphold California tradition and leave early. That turned out to be the right move, as the game went eleven innings iwth Clearwater winning 6-4.
Brevard County’s starting pitcher was a 24-year old left-handed Aussie named David Welch, who looks pretty good if he can get his mechanics straightened out. Welch’s four-seam fastball was regularly at 90-91 MPH until he ran out of gas in the top of the 6th, and dropped down into the 85 MPH range. He had a really nice 12-6 curve and a good changeup. His problem was that he’d step too wide with his lead foot and as a result drag his arm. Not only would he lose his location but also 2-3 MPH off his fastball. Clean that up and he might be a decent prospect.
It was kinda weird watching two teams that didn’t play Angels-style baseball. Watching either the parent club or one of the affiliates, I’ve been programmed to expect a certain style of play, and a certain degree of developmental discipline. The Florida State League is the same level as the California League, but I saw basic mistakes more typical of Rookie-A.
The only Angels’ connection I could find was the Manatees’ hitting coach, Ken Berry, who was the Angels’ center fielder in the early 1970s.
As mentioned earlier, the wireless connection in the motel was FUBAR, so the only way I could get out was to cable into their router in the lobby. I’ve been unable to closely monitor Angels baseball, but had to chuckle when I saw that Orem whupped Idaho Falls two straight to take the Pioneer League South Division title. The Chukars had a far superior record during the regular season, but Tom Kotchman manages to get the best out of his players in a short series. Now he has the luxury of two off-days before hosting Wednesday night the winner of the Helena-Great Falls series.
Too bad the Bees couldn’t win one game out of the three in Sacramento, which would have put them in the PCL championship series against New Orleans.
Anyway, I’m held hostage by American Airlines, so I’ll be on-line when I can. At least nothing is happening for a couple days … Oh, I have the fall instructional league roster, and will post it when I get home.