JUPITER, Fla.–I meant to have this post up earlier tonight, but the wireless connection at this hotel room is, well, pretty much what I should have expected from a hotel that shares an office with an IHOP.
Some of the highlights from the four minor league games going on simultaneously at adjacent fields between the Marlins and Cardinals, in consultation with talent evaluators in attendance:
Florida’s Matt Dominguez made an incredible defensive play at third base, diving to his backhand side on a ground ball smashed down the line. Dominguez fielded the ball cleanly on a tough hop, got up and fired an accurate throw to first base to get the runner. “Best play I’ve seen this spring,” said one talent evaluator.
Mike Stanton’s swing has undergone renovations since the outfielder signed with the Marlins as a second-round pick in 2007. Stanton has a wider base and a lower hand setup than he had when he came into the organization, and he’s worked to reduce the length in his swing that led to 153 strikeouts in 125 games last year with low Class A Greensboro. It’s not a short swing, but his bat speed is so good that he can make up for some of the length that comes as a byproduct of being 6-foot-5 and 19 years old. Stanton flashed his tantalizing upside yesterday, homering to right-center field and later doubling off the right field fence, showing incredible strength and leverage for a 19-year-old. Everyone knows about Stanton’s power, but he also showed good strike-zone discipline yesterday.
Dominguez and Stanton formed an impressive prospect duo last year at Greensboro, and the Grasshoppers should have another strong pair of prospects in the lineup this year with catcher Kyle Skipworth and center fielder Isaac Galloway. Skipworth hit just .208/.263/.340 in 43 games last year in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but his plus bat speed and potential at the plate is evident in batting practice, and he showed good blocking skills on balls in the dirt in the game. Galloway, who signed for $245,000 last year as an eighth-round pick from a California high school, is wearing Cameron Maybin’s No. 24 in spring training. Like Maybin, Galloway is a toolsy, athletic center fielder with a wiry body, though at 6-foot-2 he isn’t as big as Maybin. The crazy thing is, while Galloway is entering his first year of full-season ball, Stanton is still one month younger than him.
Cardinals 17-year-old third baseman Roberto De La Cruz homered, an impressive blast directly into the wind. De La Cruz still shows his youth against breaking balls, but he’s done some damage against the fastballs he’s seen the last two days.
Cardinals righthander Adam Reifer came on in the last inning, throwing 92-94 mph with a 77-80 mph breaking ball, ending the game by getting Stanton to ground out to shortstop on a 2-2 fastball.
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