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Instructional League Notes; Saturday (10/1)

I ventured over to Bright House Field in Clearwater today to see our prospect-stocked instructional league team take on the Phillies. I took along a notebook, but not a scorecard, and took ten pages worth of notes on the game, detailing when Fernando Perez picked his nose-type of detail. But to post them all here would be a waste of your time and mine, so I will just move along to the important stuff.

-Among the top propsects that played: Jeremy Hellickson (starter), Shawn Riggans (DH), Shaun Cumberland/Fernando Perez (OF), Henry Wrigley (1B), Matt Spring (C), Austin Coose (reliever), De la Rosa (3B), and John Matulia (OF). Reid Brignac and Chris Nowak did not play.

-I was very impressed by Wrigley and Cumberland. Wrigley had some bulk behind him, and He looked kind of like Jonny Gomes in terms of skill set. Shaun Cumberland was much the same, except with more of an emphasis on speed. Twice did he drive the ball into the OF gap for a triple, getting good wood on the ball.

-Shawn Riggans hit the ball hard. I couldn't tell you how many hits in how many ABs, or doubles, that kind of stuff, but he did look impressive in temrs of making contact. He was also a pretty nice guy, I taled to him for a little bit about his second half, his injury, and his prospects of getting to Durham next season. Very nice guy. One completely useless factoid: I counted two tatoos on him, one peaking out above his elbow, and one sneaking up just above the jersey on his back. Riggans also exchanged words with the home plate umpire after a questionable call, but it didn't get heated.

-Hellickson pitched okay. He only went a couple of innings, and while he had good stuff, he walked too many hitters. The people following him, I couldn't tell you their names, were pretty good, and the Philiies' four runs up until the tenth were mostly because of defense.

-Apparently there is no limit on batters in Instructional League. I counted 10 or 11 batters per cycle, as Fernando Perez led off. Of course, there were still only nine fielders, but it was kind of odd. Another oddity? 10 inning games. They did not stop playing after nine, and that would have really benefited the Rays, considering the fact that Coose gave up four runs in the tenth.

-The defense was just terrible. It was hot (I sat in the sun and am now feeling awful sunburns), and the sun was bright, but the Rays' errors were not confined to fly balls. Over a span of two pitches, the infield made two errors, and longer-term, made three errors in three ABs. The two teams combined to commit nine errors.

-The Phillies scored four runs in the bottom of the tenth off of Austin Coose to tie the game at eight. The inning just kept dragging on and on, and once I realized it was 1:30, I had to leave so I could go down tro South County, write a game preview, then go to the game early to get a bobblehead doll. So I didn't see anything past the bottom of the tenth with the score tied at 8.

-Some little notes and factoids on the game...Matt Spring did not impress me, he wasn't anything special at the plate and made a horrible throw that cost the team a base, he didn't do well...The umpires were wearing Midwest League hats, I wonder why they chose MWL umps for the game, my guess would be that they would use FSL umps, but whatever...Shaun Cumberland's nickname from the coaches is "Cumby"...Josh Johnson, of Hudson Valley, hit the only home run I saw, a shot into the left center field bullpen...Jim Hoff, a Rays scout, was very nice, he showed a sincere interest in me when I was sittin g next to the Rays' dugout taking notes, he encouraged me to keep it up, and did not talk down to me, and I appreciate that...Al;so nice was Shawn Riggans, who engaged me in conversation...Among the coaches in uniform I recognized were Cam Bonifay, Steve Henderson, and Jim Hoff, I also believe the Princeton manager was there...The hilarity for me in the game was before the awful bottom of the tenth inning, when one of the coaches was bantering back and forth with the umpire, saying "That Michelob Ultra will taste so much better for you if you widen the strike zone"...When  he made a questionable call, the coach said "I guess he doesn't want it to taste good.

Those are my notes for today.I believe I will copy the roster to Word or something so that when I go next Saturday, I can bring a scorecard and take notes on the back. I am unable to go to any of the games during the week, but I will be there next Saturday at Naimoli when we play Pittsburgh. Hopefully Brignac, Mann, Houser, Nowak, and some of the others that I didn't see today will be in action.