Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Night Out At USA Baseball

A lot of the games that I attend in person are Durham Bulls games, but I have decided to do a little bit better job at showing off some of the great baseball that is around central North Carolina.  We may not have a Major League team, but there are plenty of minor league and amateur baseball games around here.  Tonight I took a short 10 minute excursion up NC55 to the USA Baseball training complex to watch the College National Team battle a college team from the Chinese Taipei.  The USA Baseball Stadium is small, but a really nice complex.  

Here's a look at the field.  Not a huge crowd, but definitely some die hard baseball fans were in attendance.  There is a scout section behind home plate which was pretty full too.  The College All-Star team consists of a group of very good college players.  There are a few that I would love to add to the roster, but I am sure there is a reason that they are elsewhere.  Here's a look at this year's squad.....

The starting pitcher for tonight's game was Thomas Eshelman from Cal State Fullerton.  Eshelman was the College Freshman pitcher of the year in 2013 for the Titans and also made the Baseball America All American Team.  Eshelman is a big guy, but seems to rely a lot on control.  USA Baseball does not have a stadium radar gun, but there are so many scouts around the stadium you can just kind of listen and figure out how hard they are throwing.  Eshelman seemed to live in the low 90s.  Taipei had one big inning against the right-handed pitcher who exited the game with a 3-3 tie.  Here is Eshelman warming up in the first.....

The next pitcher into the game was more impressive than Eshelman.  In fact, it was Eshelman's teammate from Cal State Fullerton Justin Garza.  He's short (5'11) and only weighs 170 pounds, but he has an arm.  He reminds me a lot of Marcus Stroman who I saw pitch at Duke.  Garza may be short, but he has an arm.  

Garza seemed to be sitting in the mid 90s and had some sort of second pitch which he flipped up from time to time.  Hitters seemed completely off while Garza was in the game.  Several sites have him projected as a first rounder.  Seems like a legit talent.  He threw a no-hitter last year at Fullerton....

I also spent a little bit of time checking out shortstop Alex Bregman who should be another first round draft pick next year.  I would guess he'd be in the top half of the first round.  The LSU shortstop is extremely polished in the field and has a good bat for a middle infielder too.  He made a great play in the field tonight, but I did not get any pictures or video clips of him.  Another night.  Here's a clip of him hitting a home run against Houston in the NCAA regionals last year.  

Last player I will share tonight is Tate Matheny who is the son of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.  If you know me away from this blog you are probably aware of the fact that I am slightly hard on the Cardinals manager.  I went into this game with a clear mind and paid a little extra attention to this Missouri State All American.  Matheny was playing centerfield tonight and was batting fourth in the lineup.  Here's his first at-bat which resulted in an RBI single.  

Matheny did a great job of going the other way with that ball and getting the run home from third.  I have one more video of a Matheny at-bat, but he flies out.  

Matheny also made a great play in the field during the game.  A Taipei batter hit a ball towards the right-center gap.  Matheny had a bad read on the ball and actually broke in at first.  He ran back and to his right, reached up over his shoulder, and made a leaping catch to take away a double or triple.  

Overall it was a great night to take in a game at the USA Baseball complex.  The game ended in a 5-5 tie (Ann Coulter would be irked) in extra innings.  The two teams play a few more games this week.  I might have to go back and check out Louisville pitcher Kyle Funkhouser.  


  1. Great pics and reporting.

    Go Cal State Fullerton. That's my alma mater. They've always given us a great baseball program.

  2. Garza was filthy. He's going to be a really good pitcher.