Here are my thoughts on the players of the Lo-A Columbia Fireflies from the game of Saturday, June 22 at Spirit Communications Park before a packed house. Columbia played the Lexington Legends, in a game won by the visitors, 4-0.Desmond Lindsay… The 20-year-old center fielder was picked in the second round of the 2015 June amateur draft, but he has not shown much at the plate yet. In the game I saw he was hitless in three at-bats with one K. He did make a fine running catch in deep center field that some major league center fielders not named Juan Lagares would not have snared.
Michael Paez… The undersized (5’8, 175) shortstop was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 June draft. Although he has not hit all that much in the minors so far, Paez was batting in the third slot in the lineup. He did knock a base hit in the first inning but was picked off first almost immediately.
Luis Carpio… The Venezuelan-born second baseman had an awful night. He was 0-4 with 2 K’s and he hit into a first-inning double play.
Gene Cone…The 22-year-old left fielder batted lead off. He smacked a hit to start the game and finished 1-4. His OBP so far this year is .408, so he is getting on at a good rate. He worked the counts a bit in the game I saw. He was a 10th round selection in the June 2016 draft.
Dash Winningham… The first baseman provided some offense, he had a single and HBP in his two official at-bats. He was an eighth-round pick in the 2014 June draft.
Colin Holderman… The right-handed pitcher started the game and hurled five innings. He surrendered two-run homers in both the first and second innings. My biggest takeaway concerning the ninth round selection of the 2016 June draft was that he was not showing the velocity expected of a pitcher who is listed as 6’6 and 215 pounds. Every time I looked at the scoreboard radar gun listings his fastball was in the mid-80s.
Austin McGeorge… The right-hander relieved Holderman and pitched two scoreless innings. The seventh round pick of the 2016 draft did not light up the radar gun either, his fastball too was in the mid-80s.
Matt Blackham… The final pitcher of the night showed the best velocity by hitting the low 90s with his fastball. He pitched two hitless innings, with no walks and four strikeouts. The right-hander has had a good start to the season with a 1.04 ERA. He is a little older at 24, and he was only a 29th round pick in the 2014 June draft. He is listed as 5’11 and 150 pounds, so the odds are stacked against him.
Please note, I will make no claim to being any kind of scout. I remember seeing Dan Norman working out with the Mets in 1978, showing off a great arm in the pre-game warmups and plenty of power in batting practice. I was wowed at the time, but, of course, he never panned out.
Due to a last minute change in the day we attended we were seated out in the right center berm area, far from home plate. Getting an idea of pitch movement was difficult from that angle and distance.
The Fireflies had only four hits in the game and two errors, and never had a serious threat to score. At one point I glanced at my brother and I noticed he was looking at the Clemson game on his smartphone, so the game was not holding his attention.
That being said, the ballpark experience was excellent, the fans were friendly and I saw a fair amount of folks wearing Met jerseys (they were far outnumbered by people wearing Tim Tebow jerseys.) The post-game fireworks show was spectacular, and the ballpark prices were reasonable ($3 to park, for example.) Any Met fan headed Columbia way would probably enjoy themselves at a Firefly game.