— Here’s Dellin Betances talking about his outing tonight…
— Tonight, the Thunder improved to 16-15 with their 2-0 win over Reading. That would be the first time they’ve been over .500 since their Opening Day win. As of now, this team reminds me a lot of the 2009 squad. Not really a compliment. That team was somewhat allergic to .500, but remained in the playoff race until the last series of the season.
I’m not sure this team has the consistency to be any better than that team was, and there are serious concerns once the premium starting pitching (see: Banuelos, Manny and Betances, Dellin) leaves. But Tony Franklin is forever an optimist…whether he’s wrong or right will only be determined by time…and he’s pleased with the progress the team has made since that first victory.
“What I hoped for at the beginning of the year, because I didn’t really know what this club was going to do, was make steady progress. And I think we’re starting to do that,” Franklin said.
“We haven’t done it, but we’re starting to do it. What we’re starting to do is get more wins, play more efficient baseball. (I judge that) based on what I see. Do I have to talk to them as much as I did the first week? No I don’t. Did I tell them once and they’re doing what I asked them to do now? Yes. Are they taking the initiative on their own and doing things they didn’t do in the first week because they didn’t know what the league was going to be about? Absolutely, that’s what they’re doing. Are they looking to me when they’re not sure and asking questions? Those things are happening. So I think in all of those areas, we’re starting to make more progress.”
— Betances was probably a little better than the numbers would indicate tonight. I think people are going to look at the walk total and be a little freaked out, but as Josh Norris pointed out after the game in our chat with Franklin, he was missing in spots where he wasn’t going to get hurt. However, walks are never good, and Franklin did concede that Betances’ control does need to improve.
“He didn’t have great control tonight,” Franklin said.
“He racked up a few pitches, but he was able to hang in there for five innings. But he wasn’t really sharp with his control or his command, but he made some good pitches when he needed to. That’s the mark of a pretty good pitcher. He needs to be a little bit more consistent with control of the strike zone. But the guy has got some tremendous talent.”
Betances touched 95 MPH on the radar gun tonight. He threw 76 pitches, 41 for strikes. He allowed just one hit, walked four and struck out seven without allowing a run. His ERA dipped from 1.38 to 1.00. And it all happened with Jose Gil behind the plate, with Austin Romine getting a day off.
“I think they both go to his strengths as much as they possibly can,” said Franklin when asked if he noticed a difference between the way Gil worked with Betances in comparison to Romine.
“That’s what catchers are supposed to do, go to their strengths, no matter what’s going on. However, if something’s not working for them that night, I think they would go to that. But no, I don’t think there’s a difference. I think they both did a pretty decent job.”
— Nice work by Cory Arbiso and Josh Schmidt out of the bullpen tonight. Four innings, three hits, one walk, five strikeouts combined. Schmidt put two on in the ninth…but escaped and got his first save of the season. Fernando Hernandez had pitched in four out of the last seven games and was not used.
— That was a pretty non-descript, somewhat forgettable game. Sac fly by Austin Krum, bloop single by Melky Mesa…yep, those are your key plays. Drive home safe, kids.
— Manny Banuelos pitches tomorrow against J.C. Ramirez. Ramirez is the 17th-ranked Phillies prospect via BA. Speaking of Banuelos, I spoke to him before the game about how he learned English…and, if you’ve seen the videos I’ve posted of talking after games, you know his English is actually very good. Thought it would be an interesting little story to share…so I’ll have that sometime after I write the Norton story.
— Here’s a stupid “nobody cares but me” story. To date, the only Futures Game I’ve done was in 2008. Someone asked me in the comments who the one player I really wanted to see was, and my answer was Phillippe Aumont. I’d interviewed the-then top Mariners prospect on the field before the game, and there was a lot of buzz around him at the time…so he was the one guy I really wanted to see.
He was the one guy between both teams who didn’t play at all. Fast forward three years later, and I finally got to see him with Reading tonight. He looked very, very good. Check the video I posted in the in-game updates of his three-pitch K. He too hit 95 on the gun tonight.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com