Opening Night in A-Ball: A Slam and Five Hits for the First Rounders

A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 6, Palm Beach Cardinals 5 

Nimmo Stance ST '14Batting second, and playing CF, Brandon Nimmo was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a strikeout.

TJ Rivera’s fifth inning grand slam snapped a 2-2 tie and put St. Lucie ahead for good. The 25-year-old Rivera played his first professional game at first base in this one, while going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, and 5 RBI. This will be the third separate season Rivera has played at St. Lucie after earning a promotion from Savannah in 2012. I thought coming into this year, that Rivera had a chance to break spring training as a backup middle infielder in AA, but the BMets are only carrying two middle infielders: Wilfredo Tovar and Matt Reynolds. Rivera is probably a more productive hitter in advanced-A than Cole Frenzel or the recently released Chris Garcia.

Gabriel Ynoa’s night was not crisp: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. He did not work a single clean inning in his six tries. He induced 10 flyball outs.

 

A: Lakewood BlueClaws (PHI) 6, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 3  

Despite early scoring opportunities, the Gnats could not move the scoreboard until the bottom of the ninth, when CF Patrick Biondi launched his first professional homerun, a three run shot to right field. The left-handed hitting also singled into center in his first at-bat and dragged a bunt for a knock in his second to finish 3-for-4. Biondi went 50 games with Brooklyn without homering in 2013 on his way to a .249/.348/.301 line. He spent much of his offseason working out with the Barwis crew since the gym is about 40 minutes from his Michigan home. Biondi also showed off his speed, cutting off a ball in the right-centerfield gap, to hold a runner to a single.

SS Gavin Cecchini had a solid night at the top of the order, going 2-for-4. The 2012 first rounder singled sharply on a grounder that nearly hit the second base bag in his first AB, and slashed the first pitch he saw in the eighth for a clean single to right. He lined out to left field in the third inning, and bounced out up the middle to end the game in the ninth. He’s clearly trying to work up the middle of the field in batting practice and was able to take that approach to the game Thursday. He nearly made a spectacular play defensively in fourth inning. With a runner at third and two down, he fielded a chopper on the rightfield side of second. However, his throw to first was errant.

1B Dom Smith was 1-for-4. He singled up the middle in his second AB. He launched a fly ball to rightcenter in the ninth, that was his best piece of contact, but at Grayson was merely a harmless fly ball out.

Robert Gsellman did not look really sharp in his first start of the year. He did not work a clean inning in his six tries. On the other hand, his changeup got some bad swings. He did not throw many curveballs, but when he did, I thought it was a better offering than he showed with Savannah in 2014. The 20-year-old’s line: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

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