Catchers as Catalysts
It’s the final day of the TinCaps’ quick three-day stint here in Dayton, Ohio, and Fort Wayne plays today for a sixth straight win. The TinCaps swept the Great Lakes Loons at Parkview Field last week, and now are looking for a three-game sweep here against the Dragons. Despire their less than stellar 12-23 record, the Dragons have not been swept in a three-game series yet this season.
Some notes for today’s game:
-Fort Wayne’s five-game winning streak is its longest of the season. A six-game winning streak would mark the first one since July 16-22, 2012, which was the team’s longest streak of the year last year.
-Over the first two games of this series, the Fort Wayne catchers have been the catalysts for the offense. Saturday Dane Phillips went 3-for-5 with a home run, and yesterday Rodney Daal went 4-for-4 with two home runs and four runs batted in.
-TinCaps starting pitchers have gone at least five innings in every game (10) this month. The starters’ ERA is 2.51 during that stretch, when the team has gone 10-3.
-Walker Weickel looks for his first Midwest League victory, and just the second win of his professional career tonight. The pitching matchup features two first-round draft selections, in Weickel (#55, 2012) and Dayton’s Robert Stephenson (#27, 2011). Stepehnson, who is from Martinez, California, was taken two sports behind Fort Wayne’s Joe Ross. The Dragons righthander is coming off the best outing of his pro career, having dominated Lansing on Wednesday, throwing six innings, allowing three hits, no runs, no walks, and striking out nine.
Air time is 6:40 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com. I hope you’ll join me.
LIFE ON THE ROAD
I had lunch today at Jimmie’s Ladder 11, a restaurant near the University of Dayton. It’s built in what was once a firehouse, constructed in 1896. When the firehouse was built, the fire department relied on horses to take them to the location of the fire.
Here’s a cool little piece from the restaurant. This is a railing, that was behind where I was seated, and it’s got Monopoly “Chance” and “Community Chest” pieces in it, surrounded by dominoes. The support for the railing, according to the information listed on the back of the menu, is made from the old radiators that were in the firehouse, and the original brass fire pole in the fire house.
FROM THE DUGOUT
TinCaps middle-infielder Maxx Tissenbaum blogs throughout the season, and today put up a new post, writing about the team’s current winning streak. He also included a great anecdote about his first-ever trip here to Fifth Third Field in Dayton:
“Let me flash back to June of 2008. I was a high school Junior, and had just been selected o play on Team Canada during its spring Dominican Summer League trip. I was beginning to receive letters from both college and pro teams requesting more information on both my playing, and my academic careers. When I found out I’d be away from home for 10 days I knew I’d be missing out on the excitement of checking the mail to see who wanted me to fill out what forms. I told my parents that I wanted them to call me every time someone sent me baseball related mail, and told them to open it and read it to me. I came home from one of our games against the DSL teams and had my daily phone call with my mom and she joked “okay it’s time to commit mail fraud,” a running joke over the course of the week. What she read next floored me. I had been a relatively obscure player in terms of the prospect rankings, and so I was totally off guard when she told me that the New York Yankees had sent me a huge package. She read to me that they wanted me to go to a workout in Dayton, where I’d be evaluated by scouting directors, cross-checkers and other pro scouts from across MLB. I freaked out, I wrote it in my calendar, and put in on my computer I made sure there were reminders everywhere. When I came home I made sure to rearrange the exam I had scheduled for the morning of the workout. My parents and I traveled to Dayton, and I walked through the home plate gate of 5th 3rd Field where I met the scout who had invited me. He handed me a Yankees batting practice jersey and cap, and told me to head to the 3rd base dugout. I sat there putting on my spikes with about 50 other high school kids in either Yankees, Reds, Diamondbacks or Tigers uniforms. We were all wide eyed, and I’d assume more nervous than any of us let on. The workout was a blast, I got to work with all sorts of pro scouts and coaches, got to play with and against some of the top players in my graduating class and to top it all off I was in a GORGEOUS minor league stadium. Let’s just say it was one of my best baseball memories.”
To hear my Sunday Conversation with TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin in which we discuss his durable six-man rotation, his dilemma at catcher, and how important his wife, Ilka, is to his family, listen below:
It was Mother’s Day yesterday, and when you do a little Googling, you’ll find this great MLB.com photo from 2005, where Jose discusses how important his wife is:
WISLER ON THE MOVE
Padres farmhand Matt Wisler, who was with the TinCaps last season, spending almost the entire season as a 19-year-old, was promoted to Double-A San Antonio this season after just six starts with Advanced-A Lake Elsinore. That is not a normal rate of progression. In fact, it’s much faster than normal. Corey Brock of MLB.com has a great story on Wisler today, and his rise through the farm system:
“He’s pretty calm out there, but he’s got that bulldog inside of him,” Hedges said. “He’s not the guy who is going to have these crazy antics or start pumping his fists. He just goes out there expecting himself to get every hitter out. When something doesn’t work, he digs even deeper and still finds a way.”
Better still, Wisler doesn’t claim to have all the answers about pitching. He’s been a sponge with his pitching coaches along the way. His coach in Fort Wayne last season, Willie Blair, now bullpen coach for the Padres, helped Wisler sharpen his slider.
“From last year to this year, my confidence is so much better,” Wisler said. “I know I’m going to get guys out. I trust myself more. I feel better from the stretch. I’m learning how to pitch to guys more. I learned a lot last year about facing guys, seeing what they can hit, what they can’t hit.”
No Doubt…take it away!