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C’s do the First Half Shuffle

After falling just short of the first half flag, the Vancouver Canadians were obviously very excited to get the second half going. Monday’s finale against Eugene was done in an hour and fifty-six minutes. I couldn’t believe it, was doing some writing, looked up and the ushers were cleaning up. That’s a fast game. The C’s finished on a high, taking the game 4-2 and winning the series, which keeps them two games up on the Spokane Indians for the next best record. An important place to be, if Everett were to go on and win the second half as well. The way the league’s playoff system works, Vancouver really don’t have time to decompress following the near miss of the first half. They need to get off to a fast start in the second and go from there.

Of course, the last two years saw the C’s in the same position, and both times they ended up winning the second half before going on to take the Northwest League title. With Everett already promoting their leadoff hitter Jamodrick McGruder and the current home run leader D.J. Peterson surely not far behind, I don’t foresee them contending the rest of the way. Spokane is the team we need to worry about.

Monday’s result was overshadowed somewhat by two post-game promotions. One was expected, while the second not so much. First half MVP Jordan Leyland and Daniel Klein are both on a plane to Lansing where they’ll join the Lugnuts today.

I mentioned that Everett may lose 2013 first rounder Peterson, which will leave a hole in the middle of their lineup. Vancouver losing Leyland has to be considered an even bigger blow. He leads or is thereabouts in every offensive category for the C’s this year. This from a guy that was demoted last year after five weeks in the Northwest League. This year he wasn’t even invited to full spring training. None of this phased him though. An intense off-season training program brought him to extended in great shape and the results have followed.

Speaking to the C’s manager, Clayton McCullough attributes a lot of this year’s success to confidence. Coming to the C’s straight from the draft in 2012, there may have been an element of ‘do I belong here?’. Jordan put in the effort to ensure he never feels that way again.

Not only had he embraced the physical work to be successful, but the California native is (or was) the most meticulous C when it comes to studying the video analysis made available to all the hitters. With that, and the work put in with hitting coach Dave Pano, he has been able to make the necessary tweaks to his swing, getting himself started earlier, seeing the ball longer, and using all fields. Spray charts are not readily available for minor league hitters, but if I had to guess, I would say over half of his hits have been to the opposite field. His home run last Thursday was an opposite field job and a big one. Two home runs may seem low, but I think his power will continue to develop throughout the season (getting away from the Nat won’t hurt either).

Dan Klein’s promotion comes as a bit of a surprise as he really hasn’t done much at the plate this year, striking out over 30% of his at bats and putting up a .183/.261/.333 slash line. McCullough was quick to point to Klein’s success from last year and his defensive capabilities when discussing the move. With Mike Reeves coming in and having such success, shifting Klein to Lansing is an ‘opportunity to get him some at bats in a new environment, give him a chance to clear his head and reset.’

The two moves means Vancouver are now one player under the 30 man roster limit. If Bobby Brosnahan remains on the DL then they could make two corresponding moves. I don’t necessarily expect that to happen. I think Seth Conner will come down from Lansing to fill the third catching position, but can see the other spot going unfilled for the time being. The C’s boss said that Andy Fermin will get a few more at bats now, as will Shaun Valeriote.

That being said, Mitch Nay didn’t start for Bluefield last night. When I threw that at Clayton he did hesitate for second before saying he couldn’t see that as a possibility, especially with ‘Justin Atkinson playing so well at third.’ Either Clayton is a very good poker player, or he really didn’t know who would be coming up/down.

Notes from the Pressbox:

Chatting with the C’s video coordinator, he said he’d heard that Anthony Alford‘s appeal to the NCAA to forego his mandatory redshirt year hasn’t been heard as yet and if unsuccessful he would return to the Jays for the conclusion of the baseball season. May explain why he was promoted to Lansing then put on the inactive list before heading back to Mississippi. Still, I can’t see how this would work, as, from what I can gather, the NCAA are notoriously slow in hearing these sorts of appeals and the decision may not come down until mid to late August, in which case it wouldn’t do Alford much good to come back for two weeks of baseball.

But hey, what do I know, any at bats he gets would be good, so what the hell, come back for a few games if at all possible.

hey, Jordan, look up (image courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

hey, Jordan, look up (image courtesy of Charlie Caskey)

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