SAL Championship Series: Suns Doubles Drop Gnats in Game One

A: @ Hagerstown Suns 6, Savannah Sand Gnats 1 

Cessa Delivery (Devyatkin)After two really sharp games in the Divisional round, the Gnats played a team-wide meh game in the opener of the SAL Championship series.

One game at any time of the year does not make a prospect. The playoffs – one outing for a pitcher, or a few game for a position player – really should not change my perception of a player, especially one I’ve seen 10 other times in a year. And yet, I’m going to have trouble shaking this last look at Luis Cessa. He was solid all year, and is a solid prospect. On the other hand, on Monday, he gave up lots of loud contact including four doubles in his five innings of work. His line: 5 IP, 6 H (4 2B), 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. I just wanted to see better from him. He showed little feel or adjustments.

The Suns, a team that led the SAL in OBP and runs scored, stood in there and took very comfortable swings against him nearly about all night long. Yeah, he was working against a bette lineup in Hagerstown than Steven Matz or Gabriel Ynoa did in their first playoff starts against Augusta last week, but the comparison between Matz and Ynoa’s level of dominance in round one and Cessa on Monday was quite striking. Cessa did not locate well, did not command the inside of the plate, did not sequence well/manage the game and did not have his best stuff. And yet, it was just one start. And he left the Gnats a chance, down 3-0 after five innings.

Meanwhile, despite drawing four walks, the Savannah offense was basically quiet. The Gnats collected four hits all night, all singles. In the first five innings, they dealt with hard-throwing RHP Jake Johansen who was touching 97 and working nearby. The Nationals drafted the 6’6″ right-hander in the second round this June out of Dallas Baptists. After 10 basically dominant starts in the NYP (1.06 ERA/ 22 H/42.2 IP), they gave him two starts in the SAL to finish the regular season and a playoff look. The way the Nationals have treated Johansen seems pretty different from the way the Mets use their collegiate arms. In 2011, the Mets drafted Cory Mazzoni in the second round and in 2012 selected Matt Koch in the third round. In both cases, the team sent the pitchers to Brooklyn, under pitching an inning or two at a time every fifth day, in the summer that they were drafted.

Jeurys Familia worked a 1-2-3 sixth inning with a strikeout on 12 pitches. He looked like a guy who belonged in AAA or the big leagues who was getting his work in. He located a few fastballs well and then missed on a few.

Game two is Tuesday night.

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