Monday, July 25, 2011

Trip to Beloit Day 1

As many of you know last weekend I went to Beloit, Wisconsin with Seth Stohs of to watch three games of the Class A affiliate of the Twins in the Beloit Snappers. I am sure most of you have read Seth’s accounts of the experience and it was very good like usual from Seth. However, my accounts are going to be a bit different than his because he has seen minor league ball before as he and Josh Johnson went to Beloit last summer and he attended Spring Training in Febuary. I on the other hand had never even been to a independent ball game such as the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks or the St. Paul Saints. The highest level of baseball I have seen besides the Twins is the state tournament in Amateur baseball so I really did not know what to expect. In my observations take into account that I am not a journalist, but just a fan who enjoyed every taste, smell, sight, and emotion that you can experience at a game. I am going to break the three days into three parts so check back for more insight.

The trip really started for me early in the week as I was so excited for this trip as I have never seen a professional baseball game outside the Twin Cities so I was so excited. The excitement built when I found out that Terry Ryan, Mike Radcliff, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, Joel Lepel, and Bill Springman would be in Beloit for the weekend. That got me excited because those guys are top guys in the organization and for them to be there that weekend was a big thrill for myself.

Seth picked me up at the Dairy Queen on Thursday night about 6:30pm and traveled down to Chanhassen and got there about 10pm at night. We then went to Buffalo Wild Wings and I had the pleasure to meet The Twins Geek John Bonnes for the first time. I had him on podcasts before and had been at Twins Centric events, but hadn’t met him before. We ate and visited at BWW and then went back to Seth’s sister and went to bed to get ready for a big day the next day.

We got started at 7 in the morning and made the five and a half hour trip to Beloit and got there about 1:30. We checked into our hotel about two and got ready and got to the park about 3pm. When we got there we went into the office and asked to talk to Jeff Vohs the GM for the Snappers and they were like who are you guys and when we told who we were they were like oh yeah like they were expecting us. The marketing guy Justin Waters then took us out to meet Jeff on the field. We then spent about 30-45 minutes on the field talking to Jeff and man what a nice guy he answered all our questions in a very patient way. I was very awestruck seeing Paul Molitor on the field and then looking up in the stands during BP and seeing Terry Ryan taking notes. We then sat down and just watched BP as we saw guys hit shot after shot out of the park. I have always enjoyed watching BP so I was pretty entertained just sitting and watching batting practice. We then just walked around and checked out the facility and were very impressed how nice it was. The field was not awe inspiring, but was very solid and the kind of what you expect in minor league ball. I was kind of impressed by the new scoreboard that was put in this season. It is not fancy by any means but from what we were told it was much improved then what was there the year previous.

What impressed me the most though was Jeff Vohs and his staff and how hard they work. They worked their butts off to get the field ready, the concessions ready, the ticket booth ready. What surprised me the most was that the guys in the office Jeff Vohs, Assistant GM Matt Bosen, and Justin Waters were out there working as hard as the volunteers and the interns which you don’t see every day. In fact Jeff got on the tractor and dragged the field and then chalked the lines and that is coming from your General Manager so that really impressed me.

Now was gametime and we had great boxseats in the front row and got to see some good minor league ball. Even though the game did not go the way the Snappers had hoped it would go it was a very entertaining game. The Snappers lost the game to South Bend by a score of 10-2. Ryan O’ Rourke went 4+ innings and gave up four runs although only three were earned on only three hits along with five walks with one of them intentionally with four strikeouts. Nelson Fuentes then came in and worked two innings and gave up two runs on four hits along with a walk and two strikeouts. Ben Tootle then came on an pitched an inning and gave up a run on a hit and a walk. Bart Carter then came in and his line did not do him justice at all. Carter worked one inning and gave up three runs on four hits along with a strikeout. The thing about Carter’s inning though was all four hits were infield singles that were not hit hard at all. Jose Gonzalez then pitched a perfect 9th inning in relief. Offensively, the Snappers were led by Lance Ray who went 2-4 with a homerun and a double. Danny Ortiz went 2-4 at the plate. Danny Santana also went 2-4 at the plate. Now I am going to do some observations that I noticed at the game.

 Ryan O’ Rourke- What impressed me so much about O’ Rourke was his slider as it was very filthy. Seth and I discussed the fact that we felt that his slider is major league ready. He throws in the high 80’s to low 90’s and struggled a little bit by controlling his fastball. Left handed hitters had no shot against his slider it is that good. He struggles a little bit more against rightys and that is more controlling the fastball. Overall I am very impressed with O’ Roarke and think he can be very good and continue to move through the system.

 Nelvin Fuentes- Fuentes was the total opposite of O’Roarke when it comes to pace of the game. It seemed like it took longer for Fuentes to get through two innings than it did for O’Roarke to get through four innings. I was not impressed at all with Fuentes who left a lot of pitches up and did not do anything toimpress me.

 Ben Tootle- Tootle is a guy who is still recovering from injury and it is still a struggle. His arms and legs and flying anywhere and it is not hard to figure out why he is walking as many guys as he is. He needs to get some of his velocity back as he was hitting high 90’s before injury and now is barely hitting 90 so it will be a challenge to get him back up to his velocity level.

 Adam Bryant- I was so impressed by the 9th round pick out of Troy as he played a very good shortstop in this one. You could see the speed he has in a triple. He just looked very smooth at short.

 Lance Ray- That guy is the hitter I have been most impressed with as he hit shot after shot in batting practice over the fence. Then hit another shot in batting practice and another double. He has such a sweet swing that I am shocked that he didn’t do better early in the season but man is he hitting now.

 Danny Ortiz- I was impressed with his smooth swing that he is right on top of the ball. He plays a very good outfield and really you can tell that he is a high prospect as he is a smooth hitter.

After the game we talked to Jeff some more before we headed back to the Hotel for the night. The moment that we got back to the room I crashed from a long day, but knowing that I had a blast with two more games to go.