Friday, April 25 - Asheville 2, Augusta 1
Diaz had another solid, efficient outing, giving up two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings with five strikeouts. The GreenJackets needed a longer outing from their starter to rest the bullpen, and Diaz was able to provide that. Manager Mike Goff said after the game that Diaz and Tyler Rogers pitched very well. They were certainly the bright spots for an otherwise rough, mistake-filled game for Augusta.
I didn't have my radar gun in this game, but Diaz showed good run on his fastball that led to 11 ground balls, far more than his first start at Lake Olmstead. He spotted it well to both sides of the plate and threw it with confidence, keeping it in the zone often and making hitters attack. That's not an easy thing to do against a tough Asheville lineup.
Diaz's changeup was again the better secondary, showing excellent fade and arm action. He left a few firm and high, but it was a rare occurrence for such a young arm. The curveball was again a loose spinner more often than not, so it's a pitch he needs to develop further to remain a starter in the future. But Diaz's solid command profile is on his side, and I have confidence his pitches will continue to develop.
Arroyo started at shortstop to give Ryder Jones the day off. The plan is to give each a day off every five days, so it works to where Arroyo starts at shortstop on Jones' days off.
This is my first time seeing Arroyo at the position, but he's the best defensive option they have there. There were reports after the draft stating Arroyo might have to move off shortstop in the future, but after watching him in this game, it's my opinion that he was moved off it too soon. He showed better range than advertised, he has good enough hands, and his arm and release are well-suited for the left side. Arroyo might not have major league range at shortstop, but I think they should keep him at the position until he plays himself off it.
Arroyo's bat is still struggling to come around. He's not striking out, because he makes contact all the time, and sometimes it's pretty hard. But he either finds a defender with a line drive or pounds it into the ground. He has the hit tool to succeed, but he's not squaring up as often as he needs to right now. Arroyo is very young and has all the time to make adjustments, though, so this is merely current observation and not an evaluation.
Balog was basically as advertised. He's tall and long, he throws a hard fastball with sink that helped generate 12 ground balls, and his secondaries aren't strikeout-worthy right now.
Balog nearly eliminated the crouch before driving forward that was present in his college days. Now, he's more deliberate at that point, and you can tell he has worked to simplify his motion. The torque and rotation are still there, and he doesn't take full advantage of his length and hard fastball, but he did a good job of generating ground balls against Augusta.
Balog's breaking ball has average potential, showing tight spin and good bite at times. It can stay loose and slurvy at times, too. His changeup has potential based on his arm action and length, but it's firm and inconsistent right now.
Notable Augusta lines:
Carlos Diaz: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R/ER, BB, 5 K, 11 ground balls, 3 fly balls, 3 line drives, 8 swinging strikes
Jeremy Sy: 2-3, BB
Tyler Horan: 2-4, 2B
Notable Asheville lines:
Alex Balog: 7 IP, 6 H, R/ER, 2 BB, K, 12 ground balls, 5 fly balls, 0 line drives, 5 swinging strikes
Pat Valaika: 2-4, RBI
Ashley Graeter: 1-4, 3B, RBI