First-Rounders Duel, Johnson Talks Quintana, So Long For Now

Saturday saw the TinCaps go to extra innings against the Great Lakes Loons, and emerge the victors, 4-3, in the opener of a four-game series. Roman Madrid allowed a 10th-inning run but notched his 20th save of the season, helping Fort Wayne hang on an snap a three-game losing streak.

It was a treat yesterday to watch Great Lakes starter Julio Urias, a 17-year-old from Mexico, work for even just three innings. For a guy the Dodgers found while on a scouting trip to watch Yasiel Puig in Mexico, that’s a pretty good discovery. The Loons starter has a limited innings count, and understandably so at his age, but he looked like he could easily dominate a Midwest League lineup if allowed to pitch a start of six or seven innings. He showed off a fastball consistently in the low to mid 90’s, a good changeup and a stellar curveball that has a late, downward break and was baffling to TinCaps hitters. Urias struck out five batters in three innings, only allowing two singles.

He began the baseball season as a 16-year-old, and did a little digging, finding no 16-year-olds having played in the Midwest League since at least 1990. As far as 17-year-olds go, three of them have pitched in the league since 1998, with one of them being Felix Hernandez, who saw three games with Wisconsin in 2003. It’s entirely possible Urias could be here again next year, as he would be 17 for a majority of the season.

Today it’ll be a battle of first rounders, with the TinCaps sending Max Fried to the hill against Dodgers 2013 first-round pick Chris Anderson.  Anderson, a native of Minnesota, was taken 18th overall this year, five spots behind Fort Wayne’s Hunter Renfroe. The Loons pitcher is only scheduled to go about three innings, or about 50 pitches, but no more. Coming off his college season at Jacksonville University (FL) where he threw more than 104 innings, he’s just here to see limited action.

Speaking of Renfroe, we’ll look to get an update on him today. He left yesterday’ game in the eighth inning after being hit in the hand by a pitch. Tune in for our pre-game show at 2:45 today, as we’ll talk with Jose Valentin to get the latest on Renfroe and what’s happening in the TinCaps clubhouse. You can join me and John Nolan on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne and everywhere else.


In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, John Nolan chats with Padres Minor League Field Coordinator Randy Johnson:

Here are a few selections from the chat…

On Gabriel Quintana and his defensive struggles at third base this season:

“Gabriel, most of the time, he doesn’t use his feet as well as he should…He’s got a very accurate arm. He’s not the quickest guy out there and we’ve talked about maybe using him at first base or maybe second base in instructional league, but by no means does that mean we’ve given up on him at third base. He’s got the actions you’d like to see, just not as consistent as you’d hope.”

On how Johnson can help a player like Quintana improve during the season:

“The hardest thing you have to do with these kids is keep them confident and aggressive. Most kids when they’re scuffling, and I had happen to myself in the past, you lay back on balls and you don’t want the ball hit to you…Aggressive errors are OK, but when you’re lazy and you’re not getting yourself in position it’s unacceptable. He’s staying aggressive and he’s trying hard. It’s frustrating for the pitchers, I know, and it’s frustrating for him. We almost gave up on him at third base three years ago, but we like the strides he’s made as far as his technique. Hopefully next year he’ll come in and have better confidence and start off better and we’ll see a more consistent fielder in Gabe next year.”

On what he’s noticed different between the TinCaps in the first half vs. the second half:

“I never thought they’d play as well as they did in the first half.  It was exciting to see and it was outstanding for them to get in the playoff like that. We expect them to be around .500. I think some of these kids are getting worn out. A lot of these guys it’s their first real full year and it’s taxing. It’s a long season. Our starting pitching staff , pretty much all of them it’s their first full year in baseball..You look around the field and a lot of the guys are in the same boat. It’s hard to keep them focused, to keep them from burning themselves out. They all want to work so hard and occasionally you have to tell them to step back and sometime less is more.”


On Friday the Phillies, who are 53-69 and 21.5 games out of first place, deicded to fire Manager Charlie Manuel. Matt Gelb, the Phillies beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a nice tribute to the skipper, including this note on Manuel’s linguistic adventures:

“Everyone laughed at the way Manuel said things. Brad Lidge had a hibiscus injury, not a meniscus problem. Domonic Brown did not fracture his hamate, he broke his ham bone. Martin Prado became Pardo, and we started calling him Don. That was Manuel’s greatest trick. Humor is required to survive 162 games of baseball and six weeks of spring training. “You hear his country accent and think he’s a little bit slow,” Jimmy Rollins said, “but he’s sharp as a tack.”

Manuel once said he keeps five copies of Ted Williams’ Science of Hitting in his house. Four are in bathrooms and another is in the den. Five more copies reside in a closet just in case a visitor has somehow never read the book.”

Photo courtesy of the AP

Photo courtesy of the AP

Manuel was a Midwest League player at one time, starring for the 1967 Wisconsin Rapids Twins. He later came back to manage that team in its last season in 1983.


Double-A Baseball has already provided us with the one-pitch strikeout earlier this season, and now the Eastern League brings us the walk-off walk…sort of. As the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays) were attempting to issue an intentional walk to Reynaldo Rodriguez of the New Britain Rock Cats (Twins), pitcher Alan Farina winged an intentional ball over his catcher, allowing the winning run to score.

Click here to see the video (courtesy of Deadspin).


In case you weren’t aware, a new sports television network, Fox Sports 1, launched yesterday morning. Some of the big news over the summer regarding who the network would have on the air was about the two anchors they hired: Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. The two used to do the Canadian version of SportsCenter together, and come with a long history of being a talented and funny duo. Much has been written about whether Fox Sports 1 can be a challenger to ESPN, when it comes to both live sports and highlight/talk shows, but only time will tell. However, FS1 released a “best of” video from the first show with Onrait and O’Toole last night, and it’s pretty funny:

My favorite part comes at the 1:00 mark with the NFL promo. It’s just so off the wall that it cracked me up. Hopefully more funny things to come from those two.


Electric Light Orchestra…take it away!

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


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