MANCHESTER, N.H.–Travis Snider was the main attraction at the Double-A Eastern League All-Star game, and he didn’t disappoint the hometown fans.
The New Hampshire (Blue Jays) outfielder cleared the second fence in right field routinely in batting practice, then won the home run derby with 12 home runs (you can watch the video here). The lefthanded-hitting Snider, a heavy-bodied slugger at 5-foot-11, 245 pounds, showed well-above-average power for a 20-year-old with his bat speed and sweet swing from the left side.
"I started off slow, but we were able to find a spot, and (hitting coach Ken Joyce) was putting them there, and finally I was able to relax and let it fly," said Snider, who wore No. 99 during the game. "Good things happen when you just don’t think and hit, and I was able to fortunately go out and do that today."
New Hampshire manager Gary Cathcart, the North Division manager and Snider’s manager last year with low Class A Lansing, was among those impressed.
"He understood that whole scenario today of how it was going to unfold being the hometown guy in the home run derby," Cathcart said. "It kind of took him a couple rounds to get going, but it almost looked like he started doing it because he knew he was going to do it in those last couple rounds. When he came in, I just said to Kenny Joyce and (pitching coach) Dave LaRoche, ‘The young legend just keeps growing.’ He’s just one of those guys. You know, think about it: three years from now he’s going to have five years of pro ball and he’ll be in the big leagues and he’ll only be 23. It’s just a pleasure to be able to watch him for two years now."
In batting practice, Akron third baseman Wes Hodges (Indians) showed a smooth swing that generated power to all fields, particularly pull power to left field. Hodges easily lifted several balls over the fence in left-center field, a pitcher-friendly 380 feet away from home.
Reading catcher Lou Marson (Phillies) hasn’t hit for great power this year–his .422 slugging average is just 101 points higher than his .321 batting average–but he showed solid power potential in BP. Just as he did on Sunday at the Futures Game, Marson put on an impressive showing, launching some balls over the fence and showing the ability to drive the ball deep to every part of the field.
The South tacked on a run in the top of the eighth when Reading shortstop Jason Donald led off the inning with a double, took third base on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on a ground out. Donald, 23, showed limited range at shortstop, but at the plate he consistently squared up balls and showed a line-drive approach in batting practice and in the game, displaying an advanced feel for hitting. He finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk.
In the game, the South Division jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Reading center fielder Greg Golson hit a solo home run to left field. Golson, 22, went 2-for-5 with a home run, but it still wasn’t an impressive day. Golson’s home run came on a hanging curveball out over the plate and up in the zone. Just a few days after struggling at the Futures Game, Golson looked choppy in BP, hitting balls on the ground without consistently driving the ball with much authority.
The South carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth, when New Britain’s Luke Hughes (Twins) hit a three-run homer on a 3-1 fastball left up in the zone from Altoona righthander Pat Bresnehan (Pirates).
"I’ve been watching him do that to us for three months here in New Hampshire," said Cathcart, whose New Hampshire team will host Hughes and New Britain today. "So that’s why I told him when he came around third, ‘You’re just getting warmed up, aren’t you?’ … For me, if he didn’t have those two injuries that he’s had this year, he’d easily be in Triple-A. He belongs in Triple-A, and I’m sure he’ll get there pretty soon."
Hughes, who put on a hitting clinic on Sunday at the Futures Game, took another solid BP but failed to hit any home runs yesterday in the home run derby.
"I was a bit disappointed not getting at least one out," Hughes said. "I know I’m gonna get a hard time from the boys this week, especially tomorrow as soon as I get in I’m sure I’m gonna hear it, but at least I can say I at least got one out there when it counted, which was good."
The North held on, adding another run in the bottom of the frame on back-to-back doubles from Connecticut third baseman Olmo Rosario (Giants) and Trenton center fielder Austin Jackson (Yankees) to make it 5-3, the game’s final score.
None of the game’s best pitching prospects–Orioles righthander Chris Tillman, Red Sox righthander Michael Bowden, Phillies righthander Carlos Carrasco, Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil and Nationals righthander Jordan Zimmermann–threw a single pitch in the game. A few pitchers did flash potential as solid bullpen arms, most notably the Mets’ Bob Parnell.
The Binghamton righthander sat with his fastball at 93-94 mph, touching 97 a few times. Parnell, who in 105 innings has a 3.94 ERA and a 76-49 K-BB mark, allowed a home run. With his non-fluid arm action and additional velocity in a one-inning stint (as a starter he operates in the low-90s, touching 95), the 23-year-old Parnell could end up in the bullpen, though the Mets will likely given him the opportunity to continue starting.
Reading lefthander Josh Outman has already made the conversion from starter to reliever this year, putting up a 3.20 ERA in 70 1/3 innings with a 66-37 K-BB ratio. Outman, 23, worked at 90-94 mph as a starting pitcher, but his fastball sat at 94-96 mph yesterday, well above-average for a southpaw. Outman struck out two batters swinging and induced a ground out.
New Hampshire righthander Zach Dials has had a solid year, throwing eight innings for high Class A Dunedin before his promotion to Double-A, where he has a 3.34 ERA in 32 1/3 innings with a 31-8 K-BB ratio. Dials, who turns 23 on Tuesday, Dials used a 91-92 mph fastball and an effective 85 mph slider.
Bowie 22-year-old righthander Brad Bergesen (Orioles) started for the South Division and was efficient, using 10 pitches in a 1-2-3 inning. Bergesen is not a prolific strikeout pitcher–he has just 46 in 97 1/3 Double-A innings, an average of 4.3 per nine innings–but he keeps the ball on the ground and in the strike zone. Bergesen has walked only 18 batters in Double-A (1.9 per nine) and has a 1.53 groundout-to air out ratio. His fastball showed sink at 89-91 mph, and he complemented it with a 77-81 mph changeup that he used to attack Snider (who flew out to right field against Bergesen).
Bergesen’s Bowie teammate, Bowie righthander David Hernandez, pitched the fourth inning. Hernandez struck out Snider, allowed a groundball single to Murphy and induced a double play from Hughes. Hernandez showed a 91-94 mph fastball, an 84 mph changeup and a 79 mph curveball.
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