Image: (Tim Phillis – TCP Photography – courtesy Lake County Captains)
Lake County 5, Fort Wayne 3
Logan T. Allen pitched five shutout innings in his professional debut versus the Lansing Lugnuts last Wednesday, and he followed that up with another five innings of scoreless baseball versus the Fort Wayne TinCaps Wednesday, May 12.. Allen’s ability to command and effectively sequence his three-pitch arsenal(fastball, slider, changeup) to get outs was one of the calling cards evaluators brought up when the Indians used their 2nd round pick (56th overall) of the 2020 MLB Draft to take him, and they were on display tonight.
He used his slider and changeup early in counts versus hitters to get called strikes and whiffs, and caught hitters looking with the fastball. The natural run on Allen’s fastball made me assume he threw a two-seamer/sinker and a four-seamer until he said otherwise in the postgame press conference. Three of the first seven batters Allen faced went down looking, and four of the seven Ks he accumulated during tonight’s game were delivered via called strike threes. Allen frequently got ahead of hitters with the changeup and slider by pounding the zone and getting whiffs by going beneath the zone with his secondary pitches. He also went inside with his fastball, keeping the heater off the middle of the plate.
Allen got into jams with multiple runners on base during the fourth and fifth innings but was able to escape unscathed. Manager Greg DiCenzo gave Allen credit for bending but not breaking when opposing hitters put him in the first high-leverage situations of his professional career.
Allen’s line: 5.0 IP, 5H, 0R, 7K, 2BB, 82 pitches/55 strikes
Logan Allen got four of his seven strikeouts on four pitches or less. He also worked very quickly, as he and catcher Bryan Lavastida seemed to be on the same page throughout the five innings Allen worked through. He consistently repeated his mechanics and looked very smooth from his first pitch to his last. Allen was extremely aggressive, and the fact that he was effectively pitching backward from the first inning is a telltale sign of that. He went to both sides of the plate with his pitches and elevated the fastball to change hitters’ eye levels effectively. Allen’s ability to sequence his pitches and command his arsenal also helped him navigate out of the aforementioned jams he was in unscathed, along with the hitter’s counts he got himself into late in games.
Jose Tena is another talented and athletic infielder with a contact-oriented approach in a Cleveland Indians farm system that has a plethora. He was a part of the lauded 2017 J2 signing class along with his High-A Lake County teammates 2B Aaron Bracho, SS Brayan Rocchio, and OF George Valera. Tena signed out of the Dominican Republic for $400,000 dollars and is a cousin of Franmil Reyes. Tena went 3-4 with a home run and a stolen base. He scored three of Lake County’s five runs, absolutely fulfilling the role leadoff hitters are supposed to fulfill: getting on base and scoring runs.
In addition to the stolen base he swiped, Tena led the aggressive and effective baserunning attack that the Lake County position player group has embarked on to start the season. He advanced to second on a groundball in the first, stole third, and scored on a George Valera sacrifice fly to centerfield. In the bottom of the fifth inning, he scored from second base on an infield single by Bryan Lavastida. Raynel Delgado, Bryan Lavastida, and Joe Naranjo all had successful attempts at swiping bags in the win, with Victor Nova being the only runner to get caught trying to steal.
When asked about the team’s base running aggressiveness is a part of the Captains game plan, manager Greg DiCenzo said “he encourages guys to be themselves on the basepaths,” and to “take opportunities whenever they appear”.
The Captains stole five bases in their Tuesday night win and took another four Wednesday, in addition to aggressively tagging up on balls put in play. Look for this athletic, intelligent, and aggressive Lake County Captains team to use their speed and baserunning skills to manufacture opportunities to score runs whenever possible.
Top prospect George Valera was subbed out of the game in the fourth inning. He did not appear to be hurt, although he has had his fair share of injuries over his first few years in professional baseball. Considering this is Valera’s first stint in full-season ball, I would not be surprised if the front office decided to ease him into the swing of things by subbing him out of games and giving him rest much like they did when he was with Short-Season Mahoning Valley in 2019.