Monday, July 28 - Augusta 7, Greensboro 3
The GreenJackets rebounded well from a rough Sunday loss to claim two leads and an eventual win Monday night, all backed by a tremendous night from catcher Ty Ross.
Ross has made great strides at the plate over the course of the season. After plodding along the first few months, he started to pick up steam around the All-Star break. He turned on the jets in July, and it's been his best stretch over the past 18 games.
Entering Monday, Ross was hitting .290/.329/.435 with eight extra-base hits and five walks in his past 17 games. It doesn't seem like a lot, but considering where he was earlier in the season, it's a great improvement. It's even bigger when his plus defensive profile is taken into account. He showed different facets of his game Monday by popping a deep home run to left-center, barreling a solid double and throwing out a speedy runner trying to steal. He popped a 1.85 on the throw.
As I've written throughout the season, if Ross can develop a higher quality bat, he's going to be a prospect. The overall numbers still aren't showing it yet, but he's starting to reach that point. He's showing the ability to adjust his swing and improve his pitch recognition over the course of a season, and fatigue hasn't been a factor in his first full season. He shows aptitude in many ways, and he's a smart player who takes charge.
He explained after the game that his swing path was too steep early in the season. He adjusted to enter the zone with a flatter path, which allows him to cover more plate and barrel the ball more consistently. He said that, along with improved pitch recognition, have been the keys to his progression this year.
The clean, level bat path is evident. He's cleaner to the zone with hands that stay inside, and he keeps his body in the box while getting better extension. The steep swing early in the season is actually helpful, because it shows he's able to separate his swing from load to fire instead of drifting. Basically, he is implementing what was good from his early-season swing and adjusting it with a cleaner bat path to improve his hit tool.
Messner gave up nine hits and seven line drives, so he wasn't fooling many batters in this start. He has to locate his fastball on the corners and show the confidence to work inside to right-handed batters with command. It hasn't happened over the course of a full start in a few weeks.
Messner's fastball was 87-91 and touched 92. He showed a decent cutter that he tried to work glove side, but it comes out fringe-slurvy at 81-85. He can spot his four-seam pretty well to the arm side at 89-91. Messner flashed a curveball with pretty good depth, but it broke a little too soon and showed early.
There wasn't a dominant feel to Sadberry's demeanor or stuff for an advanced college left-hander. The delivery effort is there, and his arm isn't quick. He struggled working down and locating his fastball.
Sadberry's fastball was 89-92 and touched 93. It was relatively straight. He didn't possess good downhill plane and lost extension over a short, stiff front side. It wasn't what I saw from Texas Tech video. His fastball was a hittable pitch without life. Sadberry's breaking ball flashed above average, but it didn't show as an out pitch to me. His command of the pitch wavered. When he spun a good one, it had good depth and two-plane break.
Sadberry has to work over his front side, combined with a shorter-than-ideal arm path. His overall profile just didn't jump out at me. I think his ceiling is a dominant left-handed reliever with a realistic fringe bullpen future.
Notable Augusta lines:
Steven Messner: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 12 ground balls, 6 fly balls, 7 line drives, 9 swinging strikes, 87-91, t92
Ty Ross: 2-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Ryan Jones: 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI
Rafael Rodriguez: 1-3, RBI
Notable Greensboro lines:
Chris Sadberry: 5 IP, 2 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 4 ground balls, 3 fly balls, 3 line drives, 7 swinging strikes, 89-92, t93
Kentrell Dewitt: 2-4, BB
Carlos Lopez: 2-4, 2B
Felix Munoz: 1-4, RBI
Brian Anderson: 1-4, RBI