Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A game in Cedar Rapids, Part II: The battery

Catcher Tyler Grimes listens as
pitching coach Gary Lucas shares
some wisdom Monday.
(Photo by Linda Vanderwerf)
There are 13 active pitchers on the Cedar Rapids roster. Four of the names are of particular interest to me: J.O. Berrios, the teenager who pitched for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic; Hudson Boyd, a high draft pick in 2011; and Tyler Duffey and Mason Melotakis, two of the college relief aces the Twins drafted last summer and are trying as starters.

As luck would have it, I saw none of those four Monday. Brett Lee, a lefty, started; he gave up six runs in five innings. He walked four, struck out five, hit a batter, committed a balk, gave up six singles and a double and got little help from his infield defense. Tim Atherton, a righty from Australia, gave the Kernels two strong innings of relief (only two fair balls hit off him) and earned the "W"; Steve Gruver, another southpaw, finished with a strong eighth and a shaky ninth for the save.

Nothing grabs me there for commentary.

The catcher was a another matter. Tyler Grimes was drafted in the fifth round in 2011 as a shortstop out of Wichita State. He signed immediately and was assigned to Beloit, an aggressive placement by Twins standards. He hasn't moved up; this is his third season in the Midwest League, and he has a career batting average of .209 in low A ball.. The first two years he was a shortstop; this year the Twins have moved him to catcher. He hasn't played an inning elsewhere.

He didn't look bad back there to me. He picked off a runner at first base to end the first inning. He handled a pair of popups without much difficulty.

And at the plate he smacked a pair of hits, a single and a double, in four at-bats.

I don't know if Grimes is going to make it as a catcher. It seems clear that he wasn't going to make it as a shortstop. A lot will depend on how well he hits, obviously, and while there is precedent for a player to hit better when playing a less demanding position, that's not what's happening here.

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