TPR Notebook: Rays Versus Orioles
Notes and thoughts from today’s game.
- Nate Karns spent the afternoon tinkering with his fastball command and changeup. Yes, again. Karns tried spotting his fastball east to west, and it’s a good sign that he’s got the east portion down. The west part proved elusive, however, as his fastball often leaked over the plate. Karns’ changeup location was spotty as well. Still, he retired all 12 batters he faced.
- Jose Dominguez showed why he’s a site favorite. He toyed with Adam Jones to begin his appearance, breaking off consecutive sliders before slinging a 95 mph fastball over Jones’ stick. The pitch was more middle-middle than anticipated—catcher Rene Rivera wanted the uptown funk—but therein is the beauty of Dominguez’s fastball: it’s so good that he possesses greater effective command than his loosey-goosey ways suggest. Factor in a solid slider and he’s going to pitch in the late innings.
- Ryan Brett’s fuzzy beehive-looking beard causes him to resemble J.P. Howell.
- Mystery man Robert Zarate threw his fourth inning of the spring. He still lands closed and pitches in the low-90s from a three-quarters arm slot, yet his arm action looks cleaner now than it did during his time with the Hanshin Tigers. Zarate threw a pair of breaking balls, both noteworthy for different reasons; while a hanging curveball resulted in a Steve Pearce home run, the slider saw him drop down to a side-arm slot a few times, likely to gain deception. Expect him to spend the year in Durham.
- Jhan Marinez hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012, but he’s someone Tommy and I have kept tabs on. His low-to-mid 90s fastball has life and his slider is good enough to profile as an out pitch. Alas, Marinez just can’t throw strikes. Last season he walked more than seven batters per nine innings at Triple-A, and him becoming chummy with the strike zone at this point is akin to a hippopotamus learning to jump rope; it’d be a blast, but it just ain’t his nature.