Friday, August 17, 2012

First impressions: Jorge Soler and Drew Granier

Jorge Soler
I attended my 13th Peoria Chiefs of the season tonight. Paid only $6 for a first row seat down the first baseline, sat with some good friends, enjoyed some peanuts and was able to snag a baseball.  Oh, and the weather was prime as well.  A great night overall.

This past spring the Cubs front office signed Jorge Soler, a 20 year old Cuban defector, to a nine year 30 million dollar contract.  That's a pretty good amount of guaranteed cash for someone that is more-or-less an unknown commodity. 

Soler played in his first game with Peoria in front of the hometown tonight and I came away thinking, "Uh-oh." 

Don't get me wrong, he's a physical specimen somewhere along the lines of a young Andre Dawson or Vladimir Guerrero.  Those two guys could do it ALL, and the potential is there with Soler as well. But, the key word is potential, and I'll revisit that word in a second.

First, lets' break down his at-bats:
1st AB  = broken bat flyout to center.  He failed to get the good part of the bat on a Low-A fastball.
2nd AB = strike two was a curveball, looking; strike three was a swing-and-miss on a low and outside curveball.
3rd AB = two more curves, both swinging this time, no contact, and another strikeout.
4th AB = got his knees buckled a first pitch curve; saw another curve, two sliders, and swung through a fastball for strike three.

 Not a lot of contact, and the contact that was there was poor.  At this point Soler reminds more of Pedro Cerrano, from the Major League movie series, than Dawson or Guerrero.

Here's Cerrano's best quote from the movie: "Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come."

Back to my thoughts on potential.  Where is the motivation for a 20 year old individual, who will be paid $30,000,000 over nine, to succeed and reach their potential.  I hate to say it, but from the way he ran to and from his position in right field, I'd say that he's already mailing it in.

In fact, his demeanor on the field had me recalling another famous baseball movie scene.

Lollygaggers!  Oh, what a classic clip.

On to the impression...

Drew Granier
 Drew Granier is not a Cub farmhand.  He's a minor league starting pitcher for the Burlington Bees, which is an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. 

In the second inning tonight Granier dislocated his non-throwing shoulder after a pitch to the Chiefs cleanup hitter, Dustin Geiger.  Granier went to the ground holding his shoulder and the trainer and manager rushed out to see him.  The trainer then stood up Granier and twice attempted to pop his shoulder back into place.  Nope, that didn't work.

The trainer then escorts him off the field and the crowd gives him the customary applause thinking that Granier's night is over.  Wait, what's he doing?  He's slamming his shoulder into the dugout wall!  He's walking back onto the field!  He's grabbing his glove and taking a few warmup pitches! 

Holy cow!  He just pulled a Riggs from Lethal Weapon and popped his own shoulder back into place AND continued to pitch! 

Geiger finished his at-bat by launching a bomb onto the berm in left field once play resumed, but Granier settled down and pitched five solid innings while giving up only two runs.  The Bees won the game 5-4.

Now, that, is a great first impression!

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