With the Astros struggling at the Major League level, I have turned my attention to the future. My favorite team to check on is the single A, Lexington Legends because this seems to be where the Astros like to send former first round picks. So, when I noticed that the Legends would be in nearby Rome, Georgia this past weekend, I played the Father’s Day card, and drug my wife and three children to the home of the single A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Rome is about an hour from my place and about an hour from Atlanta. First of all, let me say it was really cool to see guys like Jio Mier, Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Kvasnicka, Delino Deshields, Adam Bailey, and Chris Wallace in action. However, after being there for a few minutes, I realized it’s kind of lame to travel an hour to watch your favorite team’s single A affiliate play a road game. It seemed especially awkward considering the atmosphere at State Mutual Stadium in Rome. The fans seem to be a close-knit community that love the players and the Braves organization. This is probably aided by the fact that the parent club is about an hour south on I-75. The people in front of us were the parents of Braves 2008 2nd round pick, Tyler Stovall.(Check out this guys walk/IP stats) Stovall gave up 4 runs, which his dad pointed out were unearned, in the 11th inning the night before. Everyone there seemed to know the player’s names and backgrounds. The atmosphere was very different from the atmosphere at AA games in Chattanooga that I have been to. In Chattanooga, most people at the park don’t care about the Dodgers or know that they are in some way affiliated with the Lookouts.
Everybody at the ballpark was friendly and the family and I had a great time at a wonderful facility. I did not pay 100% attention to the game because I wanted to entertain my 3-year old daughter and twin 19 month old boys and make sure they had a good time. However, here are some things I noticed about the Legends between ice cream runs and My Little Pony conversations:
* Starter, Mike Foltynewicz, has good mound presence and seems to have better stuff than his numbers suggest. There were plenty of swing and misses, but only 3 k’s in 5 innings. He gave up 2 runs on 8 hits but never looked frazzled or upset. The second run came on a single past first baseman, Tyler Burnett that Brett Wallace, an average defensive first baseman, routinely gloves. Burnett doesn't look like a bad fielder. It looked like he just froze up, not knowing whether to cover first or go get the ball.
* The outfield defense didn’t miss any sure catches. But they did take strange routes to balls. Bailey missed a ball that an above-average fielder might have made. The infield defense by Kvasnicka, Mier, and Deshields really impressed me. I watched Dee Gordon a lot last year for the Lookouts, and I expected similar erratic defense from the Legends young infield. They looked incredibally polished, however, which surprised me, especially in the case of Deshields.
* Enrique Hernandez, Mier, Wallace, and Bailey looked really good at the plate. They each showed the ability to work the count, wait for their pitch, and draw a walk or drive the ball. Mier was 2-3 with a double, a HBP, and a walk. Wallace had two hits including a home run, Hernandez had two hits and two walks, and Bailey also had two hits and a walk.
* Deshields struck out 3 times and seems frustrated with his offensive performance. He did not let it affect his defense however.
* The Legends seem to have much more polished talent than the Rome Braves. It showed offensively, defensively, and on the mound. The Braves pitchers threw much harder than the Legends and got more K’s. However, they also walked more batters and the starter, Aaron Northcraft, seemed flustered by the Legends patient approach at the plate.