My son and I made the one hour trek out to Baseballtown for our first Reading Fightins game of the season. We’ve both been looking forward to this since the season started. For my purposes, this roster is loaded with a variety of young talent at all levels of development. For my son (who is 12 y.o.), it’s a great atmosphere to take in a ballgame and one of the easiest parks to collect autographs in. Let’s just say he did well in the latter category. As I begin this report, I will admit I was a bit distracted by my son’s exploits throughout the evening, being selected as a Junior PA Announcer as well as playing the Memory Match Game (and winning 6 tickets to a future game as well as $60 in oil change coupons for me). But I tried to watch as much as I could of the game and here’s what I saw:
Tom Windle – Of the “Big 5”, Windle is the one I’m least excited about but I was still thrilled to get to see him in person. It’s no secret that Windle’s outing was a disaster and having never seen him before I have little to offer in explanation other than he was behind in the count all night long. From what I’ve read, he’s never had major control issues so I was a bit surprised to see this out of him. It was tough to see from our vantage point whether he was just missing spots or nibbling early in counts. The possibility also exists the team was limiting one or more of his pitches, but that is uncommon this early in the year. The one thing I do know is that his FB velocity was down. 89-91 was the norm with a few 92-93 mixed in, down from the 92-95 he showed prior. One thing I did like was that as much as he struggled, he didn’t show it on the mound or after the game. He seems very composed.
Roman Quinn – Just wow! This kid absolutely stands out on the field. One of the things I expected to see and didn’t was a slash-type hitter. He dispelled that myth for me in spring training and further so at this game. He really shows some consistent pop and the ability to drive the ball rather than slap at it. And his speed is ridiculous. He gets to EVERYTHING in the outfield and really looks to be able to track fly balls well. It was odd to see him get to a ball he shouldn’t and then drop it late in the game but it was just one of those nights I guess. My only concern is the strikeouts. He had three on the night but if he cut those down, this kid really looks legit. He definitely passed my Eye Test!
Aaron Altherr – Altherr is another one of my favorites but I found myself picking tons of holes in his game last year. We’ve been trying to watch more of him (and this whole team) on the MiLB.tv package so far this season and Altherr seems to be a much different hitter this year. Without seeing numbers, he seems to be working deeper in counts and showing more discipline at the plate. He also looks to be leveling out his swing a bit more and hitting more line drives rather than trying to lift the ball. I hope all of these trends continue because his defense is very solid and ability to play all three outfield positions is beyond valuable.
Art Charles – Charles was one of the kids I was most excited to see in game action on this night. We had seen him in Clearwater this March and I was intrigued by his power but curious about how his swing translated to game action. I was pleasantly surprised. As Charles moves up through the system, he will likely struggle with better pitching but at this point he is definitely able to hold his own. If he can alter his approach and become a better hitter, Charles should be able to stick around as a fan favorite but may never develop into a big time MLB prospect.
Gustavo Pierre – Much of what I just typed about Art Charles applies here for Pierre. After seeing him in Clearwater, I wanted to see him in a game but wasn’t as impressed as I was with Charles. There are definite holes in his approach and swing but the difference to this point is that the pitchers are finding those holes against Pierre. He looked impatient and undisciplined at the plate and was shakier in the field than I expected. Unfortunately for Pierre, you just can’t walk that little and be considered a prospect.
Brian Pointer – I’ll be very honest, I had to look Pointer up at the beginning of the season as I’ve never heard of him before and don’t remember him from Spring Training. To this point, he doesn’t seem like he’s found a niche in his game, not really defining himself as a hitter or a slugger or a defender. Watching him in person, I got that same impression. Then I looked back at the box score and realized he had a home run in the game. I remember seeing it but don’t remember Pointer hitting it. I think part of it was the distractions of the night but not completely.
All in all, another fun night in Reading for me and my son. It’s pretty apparent that no matter which game you get to, you’ll get to see on the “Big 5” pitchers and several other high ranked prospects. And on a personal note, they are all fantastic people. And even in the midst of a big loss, there are plenty of positives to take from the game. With my son’s own baseball season getting under way my time at minor league games may be limited for a while, but I’ll get to as many as I can.
Image of Roman Quinn taken by Baseball Betsy