Disclaimer: When you fail to get any photos of the players you actually filmed to go along with your recap, the obvious choice for the lead shot goes to the guy who provided all the necessary pitch velocities. So, here you have 2016 8th-rounder Stephen Woods throwing a knuckle curve back on Wednesday. Thanks again, Stephen!
After coming up empty Friday afternoon at Milwaukee Brewers camp in Maryvale, thanks in part to a green, almost-see-through tarp attached to the backstop cage that blocked any human shorter than 5'0" (or any camera tripod) from effectively viewing the game, the Giants traveled to Mesa where thankfully the Oakland Athletics have arguably the best backfields set-up in the Cactus League.
San Francisco's High-A lineup on Saturday was absent of a few key players who are sure to highlight 2017's San Jose Giants opening-day lineup, like outfielders Bryan Reynolds and Heath Quinn, as well as shortstop Ryan Howard. But spectators got a look at the raw power and quick bat speed of miracle man Gustavo Cabrera, who planted a home run over the left-center field fence in the second inning.
Cabrera also flied out twice, one of which fell just short of the warning track.
High-A lineup: Brandon Van Horn, Tyler Brown, Kelvin Beltre, Gio Brusa, Zachary Bowers, Gustavo Cabrera, Skyler Ewing, Christoph Bono, Anthony Marks, Conner Menez
Switch-hitting outfielder Gio Brusa, who hit 10 home runs and slugged .495 with a 231 ISO in his professional debut with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in 2016, was quiet in Saturday's High-A game until his fourth plate appearance, where he smoked a opposite-field double over the right fielder's head, landing at the base of the wall.
Brusa should find himself in San Bernardino for the San Jose Giants' season opener on April 6 as part of a potentially lethal heart/middle of the batting order.
Over on the Low-A side, the stories of the day came from the pitcher's mound where two young Dominican arms showcased their potential. Right-hander Raffi Vizcaino and lefty Sandro Cabrera are likely bound for Augusta to fill their roles in the GreenJackets' starting rotation.
Low-A lineup: Mikey Edie, Kevin Rivera, Jacob Heyward, Byron Murray, Nathaniel Javier, Mike Bernal, Cody Brickhouse, Malique Ziegler, Robert Antunez, Alec Bostic
Vizcaino was first to throw, inducing a few swinging strikes early to pique my interest. He used four pitches during his outing: fastball (90-94), cutter (88), changeup (80), and curveball (76-80). In the strikeout ending at the 0:30 mark (video below), it appears Vizcaino uses the cutter for strike one and the curveball for strikes two and three, the third of which leaves the batter way off balance.
Vizcaino even implemented a little Cueto-esque quick pitch in there for good measure — pitch four of the 10-pitch at-bat coming around the 0:45 mark.
Next was Cabrera, the lanky left-hander known for his deceptive delivery and big, sweeping breaking ball, best evidenced starting at the 0:33 mark of the video below. Throughout the outing, Cabrera displayed a fastball (89-92), a changeup (84), and a curveball (79).
In his United States debut last June, Cabrera had the same breaking ball working. But when comparing the two outings (video from his 2016 debut below), it is apparent that Cabrera has improved on the deceptiveness of the pitch. In 2016, his motion is noticeably slower right before throwing the curveball. In the most recent footage, it appears Cabrera has honed a more consistent motion to make his fastball and curveball deliveries similar.
Cabrera saw only 42.2 innings in 2016, spent mostly with the AZL Giants where he tallied a 1.13 WHIP. An Augusta placement would surely set him in motion for a larger workload in the new year.
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