The Hickory Crawdads continue to touch up their pending application on owning Municipal Stadium after splitting a doubleheader on getaway day in Hagerstown.
Hickory is now 10-2 in their last three visits to the Hub City after winning Game 1 8-1 and losing Game 2 in extra innings 6-5.
I don't plan on getting too detailed on the game itself,but rather concentrate on the evening and the Pirate minor leaguers that I saw over the series.
The evening was fun,my brother got to go on field and ham it up with the Suns guy with the microphone and I was able to sample some of the most revolting food known to man along with some pretty good stuff.
This was Feed Your Face Monday,so I decided to try as much on the menu as I could and try some food that I normally pass on.
This brought some good and bad stuff to the palate.
The good:The french fries were really terrific.Really good stuff.
If you try FYF night,try the fries.
Soft Pretzels and Popcorn are not bad either,especially the popcorn which is highly salted (which I like).
If you are attempting to keep your salt intake down,keep that in mind.
The Average:The nachos are OK,not great,but certainly nothing terribly wrong with them either.
The cheese saves the day in more ways than one.
The Bad:The popcorn chicken had the texture and taste of a burnt brick.
Awful and I had two witnesses that attempted them too,so that is not me on a tirade either.
The hot dogs are bad.
I mean really-Would you eat this??
No way around that unless you use the cheese from the nachos to disguise the taste of the dog.
The worst thing is that it seems like most dogs are badly undercooked and come with these bizarre looking red stripes all over it,which makes it look like something that the Cardassians cooked up on Deep Space Nine.
Things are improving with the food,but the finish line is a long way from arriving.
As far as the Crawdads go,another mixed bag.
Pitching wise,Brad Lincoln looked very sharp,Duke Welker was solid and Michael Felix pitched well in his two appearances,but I am not sure if the pitching was that good or a weakened Hagerstown lineup was that bad.
I talked to Felix before the series finale and discussed that some of the Lynchburg Hillcats had said that he had found his control in spring training and that they were surprised that he had been assigned to Hickory instead of Lynchburg.
Mike told me that was a good thing as shortly after the season had started his mechanics had went off kilter and it took a while for him and pitching coach Jeff Johnson to correct those issues.
Felix fired three shutout innings and earned the win in Game 1.
I really like Lincoln's stuff a lot and have higher hopes for his future than I did before the series.
A fastball that stayed in the neighborhood of 93 and a super breaking ball makes me cautiously optimistic about a breakout season next year.
I would like to see him use his change more,but for now I am pleasantly surprised about how nicely his fastball has returned.
A final note on Lincoln-there is no way that he is six foot as listed-5'10 is a better bet.
I stood right next to him and I had at minimum 2 inches on him and I am 6'1.
Welker pitched well against the Suns,but I am more reserved on the Duke.
The umpire appeared to have a generous strike zone on the night for Welker and Hagerstown's Colton Willems and when you combine that with a weak hitting team and far from overwhelming stuff to me the jury is still out.
I do look forward to getting a second look next season at the Arkansas product.
The position players are a point of concern.
Matthew Hague,a third baseman from Oklahoma State,continues his meteoric rise through the system as he hits everything hard.
Hague was hitting hard outs in the series and drilled a long homer in the visit as well.
Hague was a 9th round pick in the June draft and has already jumped State College.
I would even say Hague could make a Lynchburg visit,but the Pirates apparently are committed to keeping Jim Negrych in Lynchburg all season.
The other 2008 draftee is struggling a bit at the plate as third round shortstop Jordy Mercer (also from Oklahoma State) isn't adjusting to the SAL pitching as well as Hague.
Mercer seemed sure handed at short,but seemed to be bewildered with the wood.
His bat speed seemed fine,so I think that is not the issue.
I don't place too much on college players struggling initially as they have had a long season already,but I will keep an eye on Mercer's plate issues early next season.
I liked what I saw of catcher Andrew Walker,but he was injured in Game 2 and sat out the next two games.
Walker should be the Lynchburg receiver next year.
Other than outfielder Erik Huber,who showed some power flashes-Hickory's bats appear to be kinda weak as the final Ed Creech draft class begins to creep through the system.
A few things to have some optimism about,but overall,I am not too excited.
On the signing front
I was able to get everything signed by Hickory.
Brad Lincoln was super accommodating and Duke Welker signed everything as well.
Welker was not super chatty as he was the starter that day,but he signed for all.
Mike Felix and Charles Benoit talked a bit as they signed.
Benoit got his first look at his Lynchburg card from this season and showed the card to teammates.
Bobby Spain signed despite a cast on his hand in a very nice move and Jordy Mercer signed the only card that I had for him.
Some complained about Mercer,but he signed my card right away and gave me no problems,but I did see him not sign for others.
A funny note on the final night.
I had some extra stuff that needed to get signed so I deputized Corey to help out and he was down to just Hickory skipper Gary Green and tried to get him between games.
But as Green approached,Corey began to shout for "Bob".
After about five shouts for "Bob",I told Corey-"his name is Gary".
Laughter then ensued as Corey then laughed and asked rhetorically "where did I get Bob from"????
Corey consider yourself lucky-If I didn't have a Bob around already,you would have became Bob last night!!!!
I need just one Hagerstown player to finish the Suns set with the players that are on the roster.
Pitcher James Lehman is the only current need..
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Cardassian Dog-Ryan Heimberger