Fall Ball: Day 1 Notes

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Excuse me, Mr. Simmons. Are you planning to pitch like that during the 2010 season? The Owls could use a lefthanded reliever with a solid changeup, a burgeoning breaking ball and a low-90s heater with late bite down in the zone. If Monday was a preview of what's ahead, cool.

Look, there is no need to get all excited about Anthony Rendon (The OG: "It's good that he looks like he's still having a good time out there.") rolling out of bed and collecting three hits and two RBIs, or Rick Hague, Michael Ratterree and Steven Sultzbaugh notching two hits apiece. Hague drawing that walk in his first at-bat was a plus, especially considering the live chat conversation on his disturbing strikeout-to-walk ratio last season (69-to-22). The staff tied the problem to his looping swing on fastballs away, an issue that has since been corrected.

One two-way player with potential that I failed to mention earlier: Fr. RHP/OF Tyler Spurlin (The Woodlands High). He opened the game DHing for Taylor Wall, who played left field (don't ask) and was the final pitcher of the afternoon for the Gray. Spurlin has a "good arm" with a "workable breaking ball" but, like the other youngsters, he "must command the strike zone."

Tony Cingrani started for the Blue and had some issues (four runs allowed on four hits and three walks), but not the sort of problems that caused The OG to blink. As he recalled, Josh Geer was "murdered" in his first three fall outings prior to the 2005 season. It all worked out.

Fr. OF Will Maxwell (Marietta, Ga.) showed a good line-drive stroke, but that's one crowded outfield. Keep an eye on him and chart his progress as the pitchers get their repertoires going.

As for Simmons, The OG said: "He was a plus. He threw a lot of good pitches. If he continues on that path he can help us."

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Rendon showed great power last year with a frame that still looked like it had a lot of room to grow and get stronger. Did he beef up/visually mature much in the off-season?

Also did he favor the ankle at all? Either while at the plate or working at 3B? If his sweet stroke has remained untarnished by the injury, he could be in store for a huge sophomore year.

Talon: Rendon is one guy who doesn't look that much bigger than last season, although I would submit that he is stronger. He doesn't need it, really, because he generates so much power in his quick wrists. And he looked completely at ease on that ankle, both at the plate and in the field. - MK

I guess that's the magic of Dr. Clanton at work.

I'm trying to remember, will the 2010 Baseball season be the debut of the new Nike threads?

Talon: Nope, the new threads will come in 2011 ... if The OG doesn't put up too much of a fuss. Mizuno has been very, very good to the Owls in recent years. - MK

Thanks for the notes, and the piece of about Hague's swing. Interesting stuff.

Simmons now sits in the low 90's? That's a pretty sizable improvement, isn't it?

The free passes bring back some ugly flashbacks from last year, but are understandable at this time point.

Your thoughts on the new catcher?

Can't wait to hear how tomorrow's slate of pitchers look.

At Ease: Simmons probably sat at 88, but he hit 90-91 several times. Perhaps it's the new arm angle? Perrott had one play that caught my eye - an aggressive pick-off attempt at third base after a pump fake to second. The ball sailed into shallow left field, but the confidence Perrot displayed was a positive. - MK

I assume you mean't Majestic who supplies the uni's. Mizuno supplies the shoes.

Tiki: Yes, of course. The question referenced the threads, but the apparel deal also calls for new shoes. The OG likes Mizuno. He really, really, really likes Mizuno. - MK

The top of the line Nike baseball cleats (which are issued to the other baseball programs with Nike contracts) are really nice though, certainly they look to be of a higher caliber than the dingy Mizunos the Rice team usually sports.

However, as you say, it is evident that the OG likes Mizuno. He's been wearing the same exact, infield dirt stained pair for at least 5 years.

Talon: Hey I'm a Nike guy, so you don't have to sell me on the product. The one thing about Mizuno that I agree with The OG on is the customer service. Mizuno sent reps (direct from the home office in Japan, it appeared) to fit the Owls a couple weeks back and the effort shown was exemplary. There was some serious TLC going on in front of the Owls' dugout, and when you see that sort of commitment from any company, you as the customer want to keep the relationship alive. - MK

I always found the Mizuno's cleats for players and the coach's Mizuno's the most comfortable. The only issue with the Mizuno's is that you have to order a half size larger than what you normally take.

Thanks for the update MK. Besides the 90s Simmons was putting up where there any other pitchers hitting that kind of velocity?

penja: I was upstairs working the in the press box when Boogie and Cingrani (who reportedly touches 90) were pitching, so I didn't get mph readings on them. It wouldn't surprise me if Spurlin could hit 90 - he seems to have a good arm. The only reason I mentioned pitch speed on Simmons is because, well, it's Simmons. He pitched at Kingwood High but hasn't gotten his career (hitting or pitching) off the ground on South Main. If he is turning the corner, his progress is worth documentation. - MK

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