In this week's mailbag, Todd Morgan answers questions about how two Stockton outfielders stack up;…
Live From Stockton: Ports vs. High Desert
Scot Drucker started for the Ports in the last of a ten-game home stand and the series finale versus the High Desert Mavericks, the Royals single-A affiliate. He pitched well despite getting into trouble in several innings and was Houdini-esque in escaping jams.
Mavericks' center fielder Ransel Melgarejo doubled to lead-off the game, but Drucker was not fazed and retired the next three batters in succession. High Desert began the second with two singles. Drucker again responded by shutting them down 1-2-3, including two strikeouts on curveballs. Drucker turned to this pitch for four of his five strikeouts. He got several right-handed hitters to flinch out of the way of balls that started at them and then broke sharply toward the plate.
The Ports gave their starter early run support by scoring two in the bottom half of the inning. Mavericks' starter Billy Buckner, no relation to that Bill Buckner, walked first baseman Nate Espy to lead-off. With one-out, catcher Landon Powell singled to center. With third baseman Myron Leslie up, the runners advanced to second on a passed ball. Leslie then pulled a ball down the first base line and the ball hit the bag, bouncing away from first baseman Rusty Brown, allowing both Espy and Powell to score.
Buckner was equally as effective as Drucker, but walked three batters while striking out only one. He consistently changed velocity on his fastball, throwing it anywhere from the high 70s to the high 80s and had good success with his location. This, plus the fact that his changeup is about the same speed as his slowest fastball, kept the Ports off-balance at times. He pitched five innings and allowed three runs.
Drucker had his only 1-2-3 inning in the top half of the third. The Ports responded by getting him another run in the bottom half of the inning. Right-fielder Luke Appert worked a full count before walking to start the inning. Richie Robnett, playing center field, then hit the first pitch he saw hard into right field that went for a double. With one out left fielder Travis Buck hit a sac fly scoring Appert and giving the Ports the lead 3-0.
Mavericks' third baseman Ed Lucas launched his first home run of the season on the first pitch of the fifth; the first of three High Desert would score off the Ports' starter. Drucker's curve failed him once to lead off the sixth as he hit Brown to lead off. Designated hitter Mike Stodolka hit a hard double to right field. With runners on second and third and one out, left-fielder Geraldo Valentin singled to center scoring Brown with Stodolka advancing to third. Alternating outs and hits at this point, Drucker got another curveball strikeout on right \-fielder Brian McFall. Lucas then drove in his second run of the game on a single to right field. Drucker made sure his last pitch of the night was an effective one, mixing things up by using a fastball to catch third baseman Wilver Perez looking for strike three.
Travis Buck began the bottom of the sixth with a single, but the Ports were shut down after that by reliever Jarod Plummer. The game was turned over to the Ports bullpen in the seventh and Trent Peterson received some help from Powell to keep the Mavericks from getting a runner into scoring position. After a four pitch walk to shortstop Irving Falu with one out in the eighth, Powell cut Falu down trying to steal second. In addition to his good defense, Powell had another solid day at the plate, going 1-for-3 with a run.
The Ports threatened to score again in the bottom of the eighth when Espy and Buck led-off with back-to-back singles. Powell laid down a bunt to sacrifice both runners into scoring position and Leslie was then intentionally walked to load the bases. This move proved to be a smart one, as designated hitter Tommy Everidge and second baseman Gregorio Petit both struck out to end the threat, swinging the momentum toward High Desert.
Peterson left the game in the top of the ninth with a runner on second and two outs. Elvis Avendano came into the game and allowed a RBI single to Falu and an RBI double to Brown and the Mavericks took a 5-3 lead. The Ports were unable to retaliate in the bottom of the 9th and this was the final score.
Ports Offensive Standout: Buck went 2-for-3 with an RBI and did his part to try and reignite the Ports offense with an opposite-field single to left field to lead off the bottom of the sixth.
Mavericks Offensive Standout: Lucas went 3-for-4 with two run, two RBIs and a homer. His single started the rally in the top of the ninth and scored the go-ahead run.
Scouting Report of the Night: Scot Drucker Drucker came into the game with a 2-1 record and an ERA of 3.57 after suffering his first loss of the season in his last start. His fourth start of the season was a lot like his other starts: he pitches well and gives up hits, but keeps his cool enough to minimize the damage.
He is a control pitcher who will strike out several batters, walk maybe one or two, but ultimately he keeps his team in games. His low three-fourths delivery makes his curveball break like a slider at times, but it is a plus pitch. Starting it down the middle he can get righties to chase it away. When he starts the pitch inside, its sharp break will back them off before it breaks toward the plate.
He works his mid-high 80s fastball on both sides of the plate and sets up his off-speed pitches well. His change isn't devastating, but it is effective. He uses a low-medium effort delivery and would be best used as a back of the rotation starter or long reliever at higher levels. His pick-off move is good for a right-hander. He is a smart pitcher and the resources he will have available to him as he moves up in level (better video analysis, scouting reports, etc.) will no doubt benefit him a great deal.
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