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Mahoning Valley observations

July 4, 2009
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Editor's note: Andrew Zajac was at Eastwood Field on Friday night to see the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in action and shares his thoughts on the game and what he saw.

I attended the July 3rd game in Niles, OH and to my surprise saw Ross Atkins there and gave him a, "How's it going, Ross?"

Anyway, on to the notes:

RHP Marty Popham got the starting nod and pitched a dandy of a game, going six strong innings. He only allowed three hits and didn't walk a batter, while striking out six. He has excellent command of all of his pitches and has a dominant fastball. Most hitters seemed over matched at times looking for the breaking ball and getting the ole number one.

1B/OF Jason Smit is an intriguing prospect. He has fairly good plate discipline and and when he makes contact with the ball, it explodes off the bat. Smit has a decent amount of raw power, especially for his size. However, he needs to improve his wide stance and he also tends to take big cuts at the ball, which results in some swings and misses. Smit has good speed and can cover a lot of ground in the outfielder and is a good defensive center fielder as he made a great grab tonight. He has a lot of potential and I talked to him before the guy and he's a great person to talk to.

3B Kyle Bellows is a heck of a third baseman. He has a way above average arm at third and his glove is superb. He has great plate discpline and has power potential. If Chisenhall were to be moved to another position, Bellows would most likely be the guy to be the future in Cleveland (in my opinion), especially with the lack of depth at the position in the system. While it's still very early in the game (no pun intended) to project prospects this far out, I do believe he possesses a lot of potential. One thing that is for sure is he will provide some much needed depth in our system for the next few years.

1B John Allman's range at first is somewhat limited, but he a great baseball player who never gives up on a play and has the heart to go all out.

RHP Cory Burns has a great late inning arm and could move through the system fairly fast.

C Dwight Childs has a cannon for an arm behind the plate, but he still needs to muscle up. Defensively, he is above average and keeps every ball in front of him behind the plate. He still is a work in progress offensively, though.

The team as a whole is still growing. They have many pitching prospects that have potential and their offense is very streaky. Batters need to work on plate discipline and pitching wise, throwing breaking balls for strikes is their weakness. The team as a whole as decent quickness on the bases and many of their pitchers have power arms (striking out batters), rather than the finesse type we're accustomed to (i.e. Jeremy Sowers). With the team they currently have, they will definitely contend in their division and give teams a run for their money.

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