There is something to watch in this farm system every night.
It’s just not always what you expect.
Tonight, I was gearing up to watch some great pitching performances. Turns out, it was a great night for offense.
Especially in Bradenton.
That team shows promise in spots one through nine on offense. They’ve got some young prospects getting their first look at full-season A-ball, in a league with pitchers who can be 3-4 years older than them on some nights.
Take tonight’s game, for example.
The Marauders offense chased off 22-year-old starter John Beller in the first inning. They added five runs in 1.2 innings against 23-year-old reliever Will Guay.
That offense tonight…
1. Jasiah Dixon, LF – Age 19
2. Sergio Campana, CF – Age 19
3. Maikol Escotto, SS – Age 18
4. Endy Rodriguez, DH – Age 21
5. Dariel Lopez, 3B – Age 19
6. Jase Bowen, 2B – Age 20
7. Hudson Head, RF – Age 20
8. Norkis Marcos, 1B – Age 20
9. Eli Wilson, C – Age 22
Escotto and Lopez each homered. Head picked up two hits, with a double. The entire offense combined for 14 walks. Escotto stole two bases, and Campana stole his seventh base of the year.
If there’s something to watch in this system every night, then the first place to check would definitely be this offense.
“That group is so fun to watch. Makes me feel like a little kid when I watch them play,” Pirates’ farm director John Baker said to me earlier this month. “I think sometimes even more exciting than what you see on the field from that group is the comradery and the bond they have in the dugout, and the energy they bring to baseball every single day.
“I always loved watching the Bradenton games this year in Spring Training, just because of the energy in the dugout, guys running out onto the field to celebrate with each other for other people’s success. The constant patting on the back and hugging, and us constantly trying to remind them that we’re living in these COVID restrictions and protocols, and we can’t just all hug over everything, but you just love to see the relationships that are being built there. Those guys are all impressive.”
Baker added some quick thoughts on some of the youngest guys on the team.
“Escotto coming from the Yankees, you watch him play in the game, he moves like a Major League player,” Baker said. “Mojica has got a beautiful swing. So does Dariel Lopez.”
That group is so young that they make 20-year-old prospects like Endy Rodriguez and Hudson Head — both acquired in the Joe Musgrove trade — seem… well… old. And yet, Rodriguez and Head are also consistently facing older pitching in this league.
“We’re really happy to see that this is the stimulus that they’re getting, and that they’re adapting so fast to the demands of professional baseball,” Baker said. “Our challenge with that group is how are they going to respond to 120 games after missing a year. I think that challenge is consistent with the rest of professional baseball.”