Last night, I made my first trip to Altoona since 1999. It was then that, as a wide-eyed 15-year-old child, I watched in awe as Adam Hyzdu launched yet another home run to left. This was my first glimpse of most of the Curve players, and there were a few that I was very interested to see.
Obviously, Jose Tabata is the prospect to watch at an Altoona game. He looked very much like a talented young player in an advanced league. At times, he looked a bit out of sync at the plate, struggling to put a good swing on the ball. He hit a couple of fairly routine groundballs, and also popped a couple pitches just out of play down the right field line. He seemed to be pulling off the ball a bit on a few pitches. Of course, he showed flashes of his talent. He singled sharply back up the middle, catching the attention of the opposing pitcher in the process. In his final at-bat, he drove a ball to the track in left-center, about 390 feet from home plate. It was tracked down on an impressive play by the center fielder. He also stole third on a double steal, though his speed seemed to be just a tick above average.
I liked what I saw in Shelby Ford. He seemed very comfortable at the plate in going 2 for 5. He also showed off some pop, driving a ball 380 feet with an effortless swing. He seemed to have some decent speed, easily legging that drive into a triple.
Jamie Romak singled in his first at-bat, catching me off guard a bit. He followed that up by walking, striking out and homering. Thatís the Romak I know. Due to the high strikeout numbers, I expected to see some huge holes in his swing. But he made pretty consistent contact, making it apparent that it is his general approach that needs tweaked. He went fishing on the strikeout, but otherwise looked pretty impressive with the bat. I have been a fan of Romakís since he was acquired, and I was encouraged by my first in-person look at him.
James Boone hit a bomb to right, the ball disappearing through the rollercoaster track beyond the fence. Impressive shot.
I knew going in that Brad Corley had poor plate discipline. He struck out three times, chasing pitches all over the place.
Jonel Pacheco looked decent at the plate. I don’t know much about him, but I recall that earlier in the season, Frank Coonelly mentioned him as a player to watch in Altoona. He’s put up mostly mediocre numbers this year.
Reliever Juan Mateo looked very good. He has quietly pitched well since being acquired from the Cubs this season, posting a 2.32 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 17 walks in 62 innings. He threw almost all fastballs, sitting consistently in the low 90ís and touching 93. He didnít display overpowering stuff, but located the fastball well both inside and away. It was a nice little performance.
Yoslan Herrera pitched pretty well. He showed good velocity, dialing it up to 92 on occasion, and was efficient with his pitches. It would have been an encouraging start if he were about four years younger.
Jim Negrych did not play.
All in all, the Curve were teeing off on a last place team. They battered starting pitcher Jean Machi, sending him to the showers after just two innings. The bats cooled off a bit after the bullpen got involved, but it was a fun game to watch.
It appears that Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters was also at the game. He proved to possess better investigative skills than I do, and came up with some speculation on the PTBNL in the Jose Bautista trade.