The Astros are on a long road trip right now. Actually, it is more of a commute trip. They are in the middle of a 3 game series with Johnson City & then have a 3 game with Elizabethton. Both of these are within an hours drive of Greeneville so they travel back in forth on game day. They follow the 6 commute games with an off day and then a trip to Danville, which is one of the furtherest points from Greeneville in the the Appy.
Seeing I wouldn't have a chance to see DeShields play for a week after he arrived, I decided to travel to Johnson City last night and see him and the Astros. It was an odd game. This team has had a great deal of change in the last few days and they are still trying to get their feet under them.
On Deshields at bats:
1st at bat was a medium pop up down the third baseline in foul territory handled by the shortstop. Appeared alittle anxious in the box.
2nd at bat was a soft pop up to second base. DeShields stopped running about a 1/3 of the way down the line.
3rd at bat he was greeted by a curve for a strike, a called strike to on the edge and then a swinging strike three. This was the 3rd out in the inning. He was still slowly walking back to the 1st base dugout when the 3rd base coach reached the 1st base line. Some frustration appeared to be showing.
4th at bat he goes deeper in the count but strikes out swinging again.
5th at bat, he had two strikes on him and tried to fight off a pitch that was a bit high. He didn't get a good swing on it and flew out to left center.
Overall assessment: He is now 1 for 9 in the Appy. it doesn't appear that he is used to struggling. How he handles this will tell us a great deal about young Mr. DeShields. Not impressed with his body language after bad at bats.
DeShields in the field. He had several chances on the night. He took very good routes to balls. Johnson City has an odd shaped stadium. It has a berm in right field from the line to center field and right & left join in corner. Center is 430 feet away from the plate. This picture gives you some idea of the odd nature of the outfield there.
He handled routine liners and flies okay. No drama there. He made two nice plays on balls hit hard to the wall. One was over his head in the corner. He played the ball well, hit the cutoff man and had the catcher held on to in, would have had the gut at home. The second was a sharply hit ball to left center. He made a slightly looping approach to be able to field the ball and have the right angle to throw to second. He made a good throw and the tag was applied for an out.
One play I thought he tried to do too much. It was a fly ball where he and the left fielder converged. The left fielder called for it initially but DeShields called him off. He had to lunge for the ball and that momentum carried him toward left field. A runner was tagging from 3rd on the play and made it home easily as the throw was 15 feet up the 3rd base line. I thought it should have been the left fielders ball.
Late in the game, he made two gaffs. One was credited for an error and one was not. Both involved coming in to field balls that were rolling slowly and pulling the glove up too quickly and leaving the ball on the ground. The first came on a pick off play at 2nd that ended up in center. He missed the ball on the first time through but no harm as runners didn't advance. Later in the same inning, he came in on a ground ball, missed it and allowed runners to advance and was charged with an error.
Overall assessment of fielding. He showed some promise as a fielder. I can forgive errors of effort, as long as he is able to learn from them. I am not sure if the lapses late in the game were issues of focus or not but it will be something I watch later. I want to see him make routine plays well as well as the exceptional plays. Especially if they are planning to move him to 2nd base.
As you can tell, I am not gushing about what I saw. But in fairness to him, he is a 17 year old kid who has in the last week, signed a contract in Houston, travelled to Florida for a few games and then plopped in the Appy League with a pile of expectations. I know that comes with being a first round pick but let's give him a little time to get his feet under him before we judge too harshly.
Roberto Pena looked solid behind the plate. Quick release nailed a runner at second. Put the bat on the ball well most of the time.
Saw some nice productive outs from the bottom of the line up in the 4th. With a runner on second and no outs, King & Heradia both hit ground balls to the right side to move the runner around.
Jhonny Medrano had a rough night at 1st. The first error was on a ground ball to his right. He got there but took his eye off the ball and it hopped up his arm. The second as on a pop fly in the grass behind him. He got under it but muffed it. That put runners at 1st and 2nd with no one out. The next play resulted in his third error. A soft liner that he charged and caught but then tried to double the runner off second with a back handed throw. It was wild and resulted in runners advancing.