|2008 First Round draft pick|
Aaron Hicks, #31, warming up
before the game
In the first inning, Wimmers struck out Eury Perez, the first hitter he faced, looking. He also gave up a double and a single, but was the fortunate recipient of a 9-2 Evan Bigley to Chris Herrmann play at the plate to save a run. In 53 degree weather, Wimmers' fastball was initially registering 86 and 87 on the radar gun, but got up to 89 as he warmed up. His offspeed stuff was just under 70, and definitely fooled some hitters.
|2010 First Round draft pick Alex Wimmers|
warming up before facing his first AA competition
The fifth inning would be Wimmers' last. After Josh Johnson, who previously homered, led off the inning with a bunt single, the next two batters singled -- one on a grounder to third that was ruled an infield hit. All of the sudden, the bases were loaded with no outs. The #3 hitter for Harrisburg then grounded back to Wimmers, who alertly threw home for the force out. That would be the last hitter Wimmers would face. Delois Guerra came on in relief, and gave up a run-scoring single before retiring the side. That run, of course, was charged to Wimmers. In the end, Wimmers' line for the day was good: 4 and 1/3 innings pitched; 2 earned runs; 6 hits; 3 strikeouts (2 looking); 2 walks. He threw 83 total pitches (I had 50 as strikes) in fairly chilly conditions, and I imagine he was on a pitch count this early in the season, and this early in his professional career. Wimmers was solid in his debut. There was definitely room for improvement, but he looked ready for AA competition, and I look forward to seeing him in action again.
Because this is a fan blog, and I'm a fan of Alex Wimmers, I'll say this, too: he wasn't out of gas in the fifth inning. 2 of the 3 hits he allowed that inning were a bunt single and a slow chopper to third that a better third baseman might have converted for an out (as it was, the runner beat it out by just a half step). Wimmers thereafter gave up a routine line drive single, and then made a nice play on a weakly hit, high-bouncing chopper back to the mound. So in his final inning, only 1 ball was solidly struck. If this was June or July and 85 degrees out, I would have liked to have seen Wimmers stay in there and get out of the jam.
|Though he got into a jam in the fifth inning,|
Alex Wimmers definitely looked capable of facing
If you're looking for the hero of the game, though, look no further than Aaron Hicks. Up until tonight, he was not playing well. I felt justified in questioning whether he was, in fact, ready for AA ball. His first at-bat was frustrating. With a runner in scoring position and two outs, Hicks flailed weakly at two offspeed, well off-the-plate pitches, before grounding out to end the inning. In fact, at one point early this evening, Hicks was batting .077. Everything changed, though, after a tough 9-pitch at-bat in the bottom of the third inning, when Hicks, batting right handed, hit a no-doubt, 3 run homer to right center field. New Britain Stadium has what I would estimate to be a 15 foot tall fence all around the stadium, and Hicks' tater easily cleared the wall. In his next at-bat, Hicks lined a sharp single up the middle to score Evan Bigley. All of the sudden, he had 4 RBIs through only 5 innings. On the night, Hicks ended up 2-for-4, with a homer, 4 RBIs, a strikeout and a groundout, and 2 runs scored. It was a solid night, and had to be both relieving and exhilarating for Hicks.
|After a 2-hit, 4 RBI|
performance, Hicks was the
clear choice for player
of the game
|It was a beautiful, if chilly, night for outdoor baseball|