Thursday, July 10, 2014

Minor league trip: Ryan Eades

Ryan Eades follows through on
a pitch Wednesday in
Cedar Rapids. (Photo by
Linda Vanderwerf)
I am spending a few days in Iowa taking a look at the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Twins Midwest League (low A) affiliate.

The 2014 Kernels are not a strong team, certainly nowhere as good as the 2013 edition was. The true prospects in the lineup are scarce to nonexistent. (I base this on the lack of high-round draft picks and guys who got write-ups in the preseason prospect books.)

The talent is in the pitching staff, and those pitchers are not getting much support.

A case in point would be the hurler I saw Wednesday night, Ryan Eades.

Eades was Minnesota's second-round pick last year, a right-handed pitcher out of Louisiana State. On Wednesday he went five innings, allowing six hits and five runs, all earned.

I promise, he pitched better than that line. He struck out nine men and walked just one (the last batter he faced). Two of the hits were bunt singles. The first three runs scored when the Cedar Rapids center fielder made an ill-advised dive for a single; it got by him and went to the wall for an inside-the-park home run. The other two runs scored after Eades left the game.

Nine strikeouts in five innings is pretty impressive. He entered the game with a K-rate of 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings, so this was far above his usual performance. Eades throws with some velocity, and got several of the strikeouts with off-speed pitches located around the knees.

On the bad side: He didn't get off the mound well for defense, which might have been part of the problem on those bunt singles, and I didn't like his body language when his third baseman booted a grounder. There were two bases stolen on him, both easily, and it wasn't for lack of effort on holding the runners. Lots of pickoff throws, plenty of slide steps, but he couldn't stop the runners.

Eades took the loss in a 5-2 game. He's 5-9 with an ERA of 6.54, which is pretty ugly. What I saw in this one game says he's better than that.

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