"He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have."
"Today I didn't even have to use my AK. I got to say it was a good day."
Scouting Report Week V: "Contentment" and/or "The Paul Manieri Embolism".
Entirely too quick recap:
Tuesday v. Eastern Illinois: Win. 11-2 (Predicted: Didn't. Probably not going to predict mid-week games happening on Tuesday from now on due to turnaround time from this column. I would have predicted a 7-1 win, though).
Friday v. LSU: Loss 4-2 (Predicted a 1-0 win. I was still basically right, as Beede threw his best game as a Commodore and save for a slightly bad coaching decision *see second guesses* and some odd errors, this would have been a 1-0 win. Not going to stew on it anymore).
Saturday game #1 v. LSU: Win 5-3 (Predicted a 3-2 win, which is close enough).
Saturday game #2 v. LSU: Win 9-3 (Predicted a 5-7 loss, but in the greater scheme of things, I predicted a 2-1 series win, and was right. Would have switched this prediction following Friday's unfortunate/unlucky loss. Side note: this was my favorite game of the year).
Overall Record: 18-3
Player of the series: #3 SS Vince "Senor Racha Caliente" Conde
Mr. Hot Streak played a hell of a series, going 7-11 with 2 2B, 4 RBI, 1 intentional BB, and excellent bat control which lead to the series of "hit and run" calls Corbs made which really put the Tigers away on Saturday. He's always solid in the field, but his bat's streaky. When he's on, he's on. When he's not... let's not talk about it. This weekend, he was on. That's why he's Senor Racha Caliente!
Pitcher of the series: #32 RHP Hayden "The Cold Stone K-Reamer" Stone
The K-Reamer is quickly becoming my favorite pitcher on the team (or third favorite behind only Fulmer and Beede). On game #2 of Saturday's double header, Tyler Ferguson, who had been solid in his first three innings, couldn't find the plate in the 4th. With two outs, bases loaded, and the Dores clinging precariously to a 3-2 lead, the K-Reamer did what he does best, and reamed LSU 1B Tyler More with an inning saving K. He then told pitching coach Scott Brown he could go on home, and finished out the game with ease. Long live the Cold Stone K-Reamer!!!
Game line: 5 and 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, and his first win of the season!
Honorable Mention: #11 RHP Tyler Beede
He took the loss, but was amazing. See more below.
This was a great series, both in the way we battled in taking a series from a fellow top 10 SEC team and it was just a great series to watch. Friday, despite the loss, showed Tyler Beede finally reach his massive potential. He took his first loss of the season on an odd technicality of baseball scoring which, to this day, makes no sense whatsoever. While in the game, he tossed up 7 and 1/3 innings of absolute dominance, outdueling the supposedly more polished Aaron Nola in front of every scout alive. *I'll elaborate on this more in the scouting report below.* When he was taken out (about one batter too late, in my opinion), the baserunners he left on scored on an error, resulting, in effect, in two unearned runs that he had no effect on, that will not change his ERA, but as he was responsible for them, he took the loss. Blargedy. An empassioned plea to the baseball gods: can we finally change this ludicrous rule? In other situations, like when no pitcher goes 5 innings, the head coach is allowed to determine which pitcher, based on performance, gets the win. Wouldn't it make more sense if, in situations like this, where the starting pitcher has nothing to do with the runs that scored (especially if they're the result of an error), and the pitcher clearly dominated while the reliever following him just didn't have it, we allowed for the loss to be attributed to the person more responsible for it? Shouldn't baseball, the game with more math than any other, follow logic?
Still, other than what I will mention shortly in one of my second guesses of the week, I took more good than bad from this loss. In the past, Beede was more an arm talent learning to pitch-one with an obvious mechanical flaw and the propensity to completely lose control from time to time. This year, I've seen a different Young Beedah, one that's fixed his one flaw and is completely locked in. Still, even though I could see this seismic shift in his previous four starts, the duel with Aaron Nola was always going to be his first real test of the season. He aced it. Tonight, he was the best pitcher in the country. He's locked in. He'll lead the staff. He will not lose again all season.
On Saturday's afternoon game, Jared Miller continued his Andy Pettite impression, and rode a 3 run first to an easy win. He's just so damn solid.
Saturday's late game unleashed the bats and added to the legend of the Cold Stone K-Reamer. Needless to say, I liked Saturday.
Second Guesses No One Asked For: "The Paul Manieri Embolism"
It doesn't have to make sense. It's a damn good pun. Regardless...
#1: Friday March 14th v. LSU- Bottom of the 2nd:
We had Nola on the ropes. Wiseman led off the inning with an infield single up the middle. Conde followed with a beautiful hit and run (which was a great call by Corbs), and Nola hit Harvey, loading the bases with no outs. On the bench were better hitters in Kyle Smith (.286), Jason Delay (.300), Karl Ellison (.333), and Tyler Campbell (0-7, but I've seen good things in the past). At this point, Jared Miller was listed as DH. The strategy behind listing a pitcher who won't see game action that night as your DH is precisely for situations like this. Based on the situation, and especially who was on the mound, Corbin should have gone for the big inning. Kyle Smith has to be your call here, as he was more likely to produce a positive result than who Corbin actually went with-Ro Coleman. In Smith, you've got four potential outcomes. 1) He breaks the game open with a HR or extra base hit. 2) He plates two with a single. 3) He plates one with a sacrifice or double play. 4) He walkes or gets HBP, plating one. 5) He strikes out. With Coleman, you have four potential outcomes, in order of likelihood: 1) He pops up, plating none. 2) He walks. 3) He plates one with a sacrifice. 4) He strikes out.
You don't need a mastery of probability to know who you should go with. Coleman had a productive at bat, flying out just deep enough to plate the speedy Wiseman, but managerial decisions need to be judged in a Kantian manner, and I do not understand Corbin's intent at all. He could have inserted Smith (or any of the other bench players mentioned) and had a higher likelihood of a positive outcome. By now, Corbs needs to be objective and stop trying to convince himself that Coleman is Tony Kemp 2.0. He's just not. He might yet be, but this year, he's not ready. See the scouting report below.
#2 Friday March 14th v. LSU- Top of the 8th
With one out and two on in a 1-0 game, Corbin made the call to the bullpen and, correctly, took Tyler Beede out of the game. In the past, with Sonny Gray in particular, Corbin would allow his pitcher to talk him out of this, often long past the point of arm-tiredness. He's getting better at this, and knows that we have an oft dominant bullpen this year. He's getting better at trusting it. However, when he brought in Brian Miller in lieu of Carson "Rick Vaughn" Fulmer, I nearly exploded. Fulmer is the most dominant bullpen arm in the country, was well rested, and was warming up in the bullpen. He can get 5 outs. Here's the thing... even if Corbin didn't feel comfortable with Fulmer getting a two inning save, you still bring him in, as it was the most important situation of the game, and it called for a strikeout pitcher who won't blink at the pressure. Now I'm not saying Miller let the pressure get to him, but he's more of a pitch-to-contact pitcher who relies on deception. You have to go with Fulmer there. Corbs didn't. Hopefully, in the future, he will.
Scouting Report: #11 RHP Tyler "Young Beedah" Beede (He gave himself this nickname. It's his rap name. Ah, the folly of youth.)
Game Scouted: Friday vs. LSU
Game Line: L (Can we finally change this crazy scoring rule, baseball?) 7 and 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
Season Line: 4-1, 0.84 ERA, 32.1 IP, 14 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 40 K, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, .128 B/AVG
Quick story: Tyler Beede was born a lefty. His older brother, who Tyler idolized as a kid (like most younger brothers do until they grow old enough to have their own lives, and then they're dead to me), was a right-handed catcher. As young Young Beedah wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps, and no catcher in the history of catchers has thrown with what the Italians call "il sinistro," he thought, screw you, dominant hand, I'm switching. A few year's later, he's firing 96-98MPH fireballs, hard to pick up change-ups, and knee-buckling curves and generally befuddling batters everywhere. (*Author pauses, takes ball to his backyard, throws Carl Lewis-esque twenty foot dying duck with his left hand, almost tearing his other rotator cuff. Dream crushed.*) Again, HE'S DOING ALL OF THIS WITH HIS NATURAL NON-DOMINANT HAND?!?!?! WHAT KIND OF FAUSTIAN BARGAIN IS THIS?!?!?!
The Good: He's our best pitcher since David Price. We've had multiple first rounders since the big lefty, such as Mike Minor and Sonny Gray, but the way he's throwing, he's clearly ahead of them all, and just a tick below David "Mr. Cy Young" Price, himself. He's been sitting 94-96mph on his fastball, with the ability to kick it up to 98mph when he wants. He's throwing his change and curve for strikes, and, while in past years, he had the tendency to hang on too long to his curve and spike it at or before the plate, or have his hips fly out and yank a fastball so far outside the catcher had no chance at it, he's commanding everything this year. Scott Brown's tweaked his wind-up from a full wind-up to a more controlled, half-step wind-up which is keeping him completely balanced, and he's been hitting his spots with precision now, rather than just blowing people away. He's a pitcher now. He's dangerous.
In the weekend preview Q & A with "And the Valley Shook" (http://www.andthevalleyshook.com/2014/3/14/5508242/chalk-talk-previewing-vandy-with-anchor-of-gold/in/5274115), I was asked how great Beede is. This was my response:
Well, he turned down $3.5 million (allegedly) from the Toronto Blue Jays to don the Black and Gold (side note: any other high school pitcher projected in the first two rounds who wants to do the same, just send a quick note to Tim Corbin or Scott Brown), but that doesn't begin to tell the story. The past two years, he was an arm talent with nasty stuff learning how to pitch. This year, he's figured it out, and is a pitcher with freak-nasty stuff who will swallow your soul (I may have gone a bit too far into the hyperbole well there... tough to say). His heater sits in the 96-98mph range all game. His curve is a hard-spike and is basically unhittable. Both grade out as plus-plus pitches. He's got a change and was supposedly messing around with a slider, but he's basically a fastball/curve pitcher.
In his first two years, you could see the dominant potential, but there was always the risk of a 3-4 walk inning crippler in which his internal GPS is spinning on "recalculating" and he just couldn't find the plate. He was a first or second team All-American (depending on the publication) last year, but he still had this one ticking time-bomb of a flaw. He'd lose his balance, lean back, and elevate pitches, or he'd hold onto his curve too long and make the catcher look like the goalie in Slap Shot. This happened in the NCAAs last year and was just crippling. This is going to sound like I'm picking nits, as it was his first and only loss of the season, but against Louisville, the loss of control time-bomb exploded and he only went 2 and 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks. In the previous tourney game against U. Illinois, he only went 4+ and gave up 4 runs (two earned) on two hits and five walks.
In his four starts this year, he's hitting his spots consistently, not walking anyone, and the only runs he's giving up are on the rare occasion that a batter makes contact, and the force of Beede's fastball causes it to go over the fence. It's simple physics, and is just something that you have to live with when you've got a power-arm pitcher. Here are the comparison stats regarding wildness:
Last year: 5.6 BB/9, 1.25 WP/9
This year: 1.8 BB/9, 0.36 WP/9
Well, all that was before he out-dueled Aaron Nola, hitting his spots with precision, and generally making LSU's lineup, including potential '15 first rounder Alex Bregman, look silly. His "wildness numbers" are now: 1.67 BB/9, 0.28 WP/9, and he's passing the eye test with flying colors. Simply put, he's the best pitcher in college baseball right now.
The Bad: His rapping. W/r/t his pitching, there's nothing bad this year. There are slight imperfections, sure, so I guess I'll mention them now. Beede, like other power pitchers before him, will give up the occasional solo shot based solely on how hard he throws the damn ball. This is not something he can really change, but I'm pointing it out so baseball novices don't flip out when he gives up the occasional HR due to the simple physics of him hucking the ball at superhuman speeds. When a batter makes solid contact at the right angle, it's going to go. There's nothing you can do with this. Further, though he's hitting his spots, it's not with the surgical precision of an Aaron Nola (to be fair, I don't think I've ever seen a college pitcher with Nola's ability to put a ball in a one inch window, with movement, no less) and there's little movement, as he relies largely on a 4 seam fastball. Again, this is only because I'm searching for imperfections.
The Ugly: This: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woGF1jlP-Zs
Scouting Report: #1 OF/DH Ro "Not Tony Kemp" Coleman
Game Scouted: Friday vs. LSU
Game Line: 1-3, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 2B (bloop, CF dived, ricocheted off his glove), 1 SAC FLY
Season Line: .162 BA, 4 R, 6 H, 1 2B (bloop), 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .189 SLG%, 5 BB, 2 HBP, 8 K, .289 OB%, 1-3 SB-ATT
If you've been paying attention, you'll note a good deal of my second guesses of Tim Corbin have revolved around his usage (misusage, in my opinion) of freshman speedster and seemingly Tony Kemp clone Ro Coleman. At this point in his development, he should only be used as a pinch runner and late-inning defensive replacement. Tim Corbin doesn't see that. Tim Corbin looks at Ro Coleman and sees the love of his life, Tony Kemp. Perhaps I'm being a bit hyperbolic here, but psychologically, what Corbin's doing is no different than a man whose girlfriend leaves him, and then immediately starts dating a girl who looks exactly like the one who left. These men are trying to fill a hole in their heart, and this is entirely understandable. When we, as friends or fans, respectively, notice this, it is our duty to point it out until they realize just what it is they are doing to themselves and those around them.
Tim Corbin, allow me to be your heavily bearded Robin Williams. Tony Kemp left for the pros. It's not your fault. (Manly embrace.) It's not your fault.
It's not your fault.
Now that that's over, onto a brutally honest scouting report of Ro Coleman, based not on potential, but on his current play:
Offense: He's got a good eye, and with a miniscule strike zone, this is his main weapon for the time being. With the bat, he's a non-entity. More optimistically, he's simply not ready for prime time. His bat-speed is lagging and he lacks the power to drive grounders through the infield. Further, outfielders, knowing his lack of any sort of power, play extremely shallow and cut off anything but the expertly placed bloop single. His speed should make him a lethal drag bunter, but he doesn't yet have the bat control to make this a real weapon. In short, all the tools Tony Kemp had in order to overcome his lack of size are, well, lacking in Ro Coleman.
In a recent Baseball America scouting report of Phillies prospect Carlos Tocci, J.J. Cooper said of Tocci exactly what I would say of Coleman (http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/phillies-carlos-tocci-hopes-for-bigger-and-better-things-in-2014/):
Tocci played almost the entire 2013 season at low Class A Lakewood as a 17-year-old. Scouts and managers liked his swing and loved his outfield defense. But soon after they mentioned his defense, scouts would almost always point out that Tocci was simply too skinny and not strong enough to put any fear in a pitcher. Even when he squared balls up, too, often nothing good happened.
Tocci hit .209/.261/.249 last year for Lakewood. He didn't hit a triple or home run all season. Much of the time, he couldn't sting the ball enough to get it through the infield.
At the moment, Coleman and Tocci are the same player. Blisteringly fast, but not ready for prime time.
Defense: He's speed, again, is an asset. If he's able to improve his routes to the ball, he could be a plus CF, and his potential range would ameliorate his lack of production with the bat. However, we've mostly seen Coleman as a DH thus far, and in the few games his played in the field, he hasn't seen much action. Hence, most of this is idle speculation.
Baserunning: He should be better here, right? Watching him zip around third Sunday left the broadcast booth (with guest Derek Mason) swooning. The kid's got wheels. Never have a stop sign from the third base coach wheels. Score from first on a long single wheels. Tag up from shallow center wheels. And yet, he's 1-3 on stolen base attempts this year, getting picked off this weekend by a not-that-great move. Again, the "not ready for prime time" label applies. This is an area of the game where he should dominate. Simply put, he doesn't yet.
*Author's Note: Andrew VU '04 is a writer, educator, and ne-er-do-well living in the whirlpool of despair (Baton Rouge, LA). "Scouting Report: Something Something Burt Ward" will be a weekly column written and posted every Sunday evening throughout the 2014 baseball season. In it, the writer will second guess at least one key decision made by Coach Tim Corbin, provide a frighteningly quick recap of the week's games (I'm just giving scores, you crum bums, so if you want more, read the damn box scores your damn selves), and write up a full scouting report on one pitcher and one position player. He might think up some other features; he might not. He could do a lot of things. He's smart. Not like everybody says. He's smart and he wants respect.