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The Yak Attack

After my Replacements post yesterday, I toddled off to the Nat to see the 4 replacements + Taylor Cole in action.  I had hoped to do a quick write up on how those 5 got on, but unfortunately work (and a little bit of life) got in the way.  So now we’re 3 days removed from that game.  Bad news is that my memory of what everyone did may be a little affected.  Good news is that I went to the opening game of the Everett series yesterday at the Nat.  So I not only got to see Dwight Smith Jr, who didn’t play against the Yak, but also got a larger sample size of the other players.

So….immediate impressions.  Taylor Cole was good, as his line suggests, but I can’t help being slightly disappointed with his velocity.  He sat at 88mph for most of the night.  He did touch 90mph a few times, but I don’t recall any of them for strikes.  The run he gave up was on two doubles, both were 85mph fastballs.  I know I’ve said before that Taylor will be given a bit of time to bed in after taking 2 years off from baseball, but to eventually advance up the ladder (which his numbers suggest he can do) he will need to add a few ticks to his fastball.

Jason Leblebijian (JL) was ok.  He had 4 hits over the 2 games, but nothing was hit particularly hard.  Everything was pulled to the left side, either through the hole or dumped over the SS’s head.  Defensively I don’t remember anything of note.  Not that he did anything wrong, just nothing really hit his way.

Art Charles (Sir AC) Art went 0 for 3 with a BB on Wednesday.  Despite the 0’fer I was impressed.  He has a very patient approach, really waits on his back foot, and looks for his pitch.  2 of the 3 outs were absolutely smoked.  Yesterday, he was rewarded for his efforts, going 3 for 4.  His two singles were hit hard, but it was his HR that opened eyes.  Hit to dead center field.  If you’ve  been to the Nat, you’ll know how impressive that is.  Must be at least 390 feet with a 20 foot wall.  And it was no paint scraper.  That’s major league power.  Defensively, Sir AC made a mistake going for a ground ball hit to 2nd, meaning no one was covering 1st.  Other than that, nothing really to note.  Obviously, I came away quite impressed with Sir AC, shows genuine power with a good eye.  A decent combo.

Carlos Ramirez I really don’t get Carlos.  He had 3 hits yesterday, including a triple in the gap where he showed some nice speed around the bases.  He doesn’t exhibit a ton of power though, nor does he project.  He has a very long, lanky frame and doesn’t help himself out by swinging mainly with his upper half.  He has an odd hitch with his knee which suggests he’s trying to load up, but he just doesn’t seem to get his trunk involved.  This creates a hole for him on the outer half, and he really struggles when pitchers go away from him.  That being said, his plate discipline (and coverage with 2 strikes) has improved from when I saw him shortly after his call up.  On Wed, in the 9th, against the Yak’s closer who was touching 95, Ramirez fouled off 5 or 6 tough pitches before blooping a single into right.  Yesterday he drew a BB on a full count pitch after fouling off a couple more.  Still, I’d like to see him keep his bat through the zone a bit longer, using his legs to drive the ball to both fields.  Defensively, Ramirez has a good arm.  Yesterday he limited an Everett hitter to a double with a strong throw near the bullpen in right.  I haven’t really seen that many balls hit away from him so not sure what sort of routes he takes, but he does have speed so, if gets good breaks, could end up covering a lot of ground in the OF.

Dwight Smith Jr. (DS Jr) I only got to see DS Jr yesterday where he went 1 for 4 with a triple.  The 3 bagger was a shot down the line which the right fielder struggled with (to be perfectly honest, Everett’s RF’er struggled with a lot of balls hit his way y’day).  The rest of DS Jr’s day wasn’t worth writing home about.  A couple of lazy fly balls and a swinging strike-out on an inside FB bookended a HBP.  He seemed to be getting jammed quite a bit.  This suggests his swing is a bit long at the moment.  Possibly a product of over-trying after his call up.  This is pure speculation though, let’s hope DS Jr figures out the Northwest League soon.  Defensively, DS Jr has good speed.  He misplayed a double off the wall when he tried to make a catch that hit about 15 feet up.  He’ll learn the subtleties of the Nat soon enough.  With DS Jr in CF, Ramirez in RF, and Newman in LF the C’s outfield is flat out fast.  Something that plays well at Nat Bailey.

Speaking of Matt Newman, I’ve never really been a big believer. He’s 5’10” 170 pounds and doesn’t hit for any power.  However, over the two games I watched last week, he put together some great ABs.  Everything he hit, he hit hard, with 3 extra base hits and a shot that just missed being a home run which he got gunned out at 2nd on.  Even his outs yesterday were hit hard.  In fact, I’m not sure if the heat at the Nat caused the ball to travel a bit further than normal yesterday but there were a lot of balls caught on the warning track.  It seemed we were looking at the Everett OF’s numbers a lot.

All in all, The Replacements should play a very big part of Vancouver’s push for a second straight playoff berth.  There has been some struggles at the plate, but let’s hope yesterday’s breakout game is a sign of things to come.  Defensively, the 4 show + potential, especially the two outfielders.

The C’s have a 2 game lead over Eugene with 14 to go for the 2nd half title.  I wouldn’t rule out any more movement, but if I were a betting man, my guess that most will be done on the pitching side, so let’s hope The Replacements get hot and help carry Vancouver on a title run.

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