A Kernel Invasion, Weickel Performs, Keeping PVF Pristine

A series victory was not meant to be for the TinCaps, who lost, 6-3, to the Quad Cities River Bandits last night at Parkview Field.

The story of this game, as Fort Wayne Manager Jose Valentin said afterward, was that his team couldn’t execute pitches.

“Our pitchers today were struggling to throw some strikes. Too many pitching behind counts, too many 2-0 pitches, 3-1 pitches. It’s tough to watch that day by day.”

Another storyline was the appearance of Mark Appel, who was drafted first overall last month by Houston. He’s on a tight inning limit, so he only threw four innings, but he looked very advanced doing it. Appel, who played four years at Stanford, faced 16 batters and only went to a three-ball count one time, never coming close to walking a batter after that at-bat to Mallex Smith in the bottom of the first inning. Appel did give up two home runs, one to Corey Adamson and one to Gabriel Quintana, but other than that showed great command of his fastball and a big slider that badly fooled Diego Goris in the first inning.

Tonight the TinCaps open a three-game series with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, who are in their first year of affiliation with the Minnesota Twins. Of all the affiliation changes that took place in the Midwest League this offseason, I was probably surprised most by this one, seeing as Cedar Rapids had been an Angels affiliate dating back to 1993. The Kernels roster features five of Baseball America’s Top 30 Prospects for this season:

10 –  OF Max Kepler

13 –  P Mason Melotakis

14 –  INF Jorge Polanco

22 –  P Madison Boer

26 –  INF Niko Goodrum

Not included in that list is outfielder Adam Brett Walker II, who leads the league with 20 home runs. For reference, the TinCaps home run leaders, Rodney Daal and Gabriel Quintana, have six. Second on the Kernels roster with 15 home runs is infielder Travis Harrison. This team’s got some serious power. A look at the Midwest League RBI leaders also shows their dominance offensively:

RBI
Walker II, Adam Brett CR 83
* Hicks, Dalton CR 82
Bostick, Chris BEL 69
# Polanco, Jorge CR 69
Nunez, Renato BEL 67

Fortunately for the TinCaps, Dalton Hicks just received a promotion to Advanced-A Fort Myers of the Florida State League, so at least they won’t have to deal with him.

Even though those numbers are impressive, what stands out to me is how many runs the Kernels have scored: 562. That’s an average of six runs per game. The next closest team in terms of runs is Bowling Green with 470, a full 92 runs behind. The TinCaps have scored 464 runs for an average of 4.8 runs per game. I realize it doesn’t quite matter how many runs a team scores per game, seeing as a group can win 13-1, and it still just goes down as one win, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

Bryan Rodriguez gets the call for the TinCaps tonight. Things haven’t been too rosy with him on the mound lately, as the TinCaps are 1-4 in his last five starts, with Rodriguez going a personal 0-4 with a 5.84 ERA. He’ll be opposed by Tim Atherton, who received his PhD in physics, oh, whoops wrong guy…who spent last year in Beloit (then a Twins affiliate) pitching out of the Snappers bullpen.

First pitch tonight is at 6:05 rather than the usual 7:05, because the fireworks from the Three Rivers Festival are set for 10:00, and you’re welcome to watch from Parkview Field if you’re here for the game. Also, one of the best entertainment acts in all the land, QuickChange, will be here, too. No extra innings, OK everyone?

PODCAST

To hear from Manager Jose Valentin after last night’s game, listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:

NEVER GONNA STOP LAUGHING

Last night was 80’s night at Parkview Field, and so the TinCaps wore these jerseys:

Tyler Stubblefield models the latest creative designs of the TinCaps' Tony DesPlaines.

Tyler Stubblefield models the latest creative designs of the TinCaps’ Tony DesPlaines.

And TinCaps staff members dressed up like this:

tony

And like this:

brentabbyaustin

And it was awesome.

But perhaps the best part of the entire night was the musical performance put on by pitcher Walker Weickel. Having just competed in Fort Wayne’s Luscious Legs competition, we knew he was fearless, but this rendition of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” takes his skills to a whole new level:

Bravo, and a standing ovation to Walker and his backup dancers, pitchers Matt Shepherd and Zach Eflin. May this video live forever.

UP ALL NIGHT

One of the faces you may not know from Parkview Field is that of Assistant Director of Maintenance Donald Miller. He’s at Parkview Field working long hours to ensure that the facility looks as good today in year five as it did in year one. A big part of that is cleaning the ballpark after a game. John Nolan wrote a little about the cleaning crew in an earlier blog entry, found here, but now there’s a video story done by WANE-TV photographer Maverick Atteberry that you’ve got to watch.

Click here for the story: http://www.wane.com/dpp/news/local/behind-the-scenes-look-at-the-tincaps-clean-up-crew

Atteberry’s story shows what a night is like with the cleaning crew, that consists of about 30 people, cleans nearly 8,000 stadium seats, 66 toilets, and countless other areas around the ballpark. And they don’t leave until about the time you’re ready to wake up for work the next day. So the next time you’re ready to throw your cup on the floor of the ballpark, make it a little easier for everyone and find the nearest trash can.

MUSICAL GUEST

Dave Matthews Band…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

MCsig

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