Three-batter minimum: At the Double-A level, pitchers are out there to pitch, says coach Vince Horsman.
MANCHESTER — There has been plenty of debate about Major League Baseball’s decision to implement a rule that will force all pitchers to face at least three batters or stay on the mound until the end of a half-inning unless they’re injured.
The goal is to reduce the number of pitching changes and the amount of dead time.
The rule won’t be in place at the major league level until next season, but some minor leagues — including the Eastern League — are using the rule this season. New Hampshire Fisher Cats pitching coach Vince Horsman said he doesn’t expect the rule to have much of an effect at the minor league level.
“Honestly, in the minor leagues that would have never affected us last year except for the playoffs when we were able to match up a little bit, kind of like what would resemble a big-league game,” Horseman said before New Hampshire’s game against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Friday night. “In the minor leagues, everybody’s pitching, everybody’s going to go out there and very seldom do you go out there and take a guy out after one or two batters. It really doesn’t come into play too much.
“I understand the theory behind it, just to keep the pace of play going. I get that, but, again, how much is it really going to affect the minor league guys? The minor league guys are all out there to pitch and very seldom do you ever use a reliever situationally.”
The rule may reduce the number of situational matchups in a game, but it doesn’t eliminate them. A team can still bring in a pitcher to record the final out of an inning and then start the next inning with a different pitcher on the mound.
“If I bring in a lefty to face a lefty in the eighth and it retires the offense then I can still make a move,” Horsman said. “Say we were down by two and all of a sudden we go up by one, now you can bring in that designated closer guy. I understand why it’s there, but I don’t know how it really affects down here.
“Even if you struggle out there a little bit I’m probably going to let you go out there and pitch because the minor leagues are all about development. You’re not really going to develop if you’re just one batter here, one batter there, unless it’s a situation at the end of the year in the playoffs where we’re trying to win now. Right now the wins are nice, don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to go 50-80 during the course of a season, but development always comes to the forefront when it comes to the minor leagues for me.”
Fisher Cats manager Mike Mordecai when asked how many potential major leaguers the Fisher Cats have on this year’s roster:
“One of my coaches, Jimy Williams, who managed in Boston for a little while, I had him as a third-base coach in Atlanta. Jimy’s a very good baseball man and he always made a statement to me about Double-A. He’s like, look: If a player can make it to Double-A, I’ll call him a prospect then. If they can’t get to Double-A, I’m not going to label them a prospect, so right now it seems like we got about 25 prospects in there and I’ll just leave it at that. If you can get to this level, you’re not too far away.”
Zach Logue is scheduled to be the Fisher Cats’ starting pitcher tonight for the third game of their four-game series against Binghamton. Logue, who played at the University of Kentucky, is the only left-hander in New Hampshire’s starting rotation. The Blue Jays selected him in the ninth round of the 2017 draft.
“Command guy,” Horsman said. “Three-pitch guy. Fastball, curveball, change. Had a really good spring. Made the club out of his spring. Had a nice year in the Florida State League too, between the Florida State League and Lansing. It’s nice to have a left-hander in the rotation. Kind of right in the middle of the righties. So far I’ve liked what I’ve seen. He doesn’t beat himself. He’s gonna make you beat him and he throws strikes.”
Binghamton manager John Boles spent the last five seasons as Pawtucket’s manager. He also managed in the Eastern League with Portland from 2011 to 2013. … The Fisher Cats had six left-handed hitters in their starting lineup Friday night. It’s 306 feet to the fence in right field at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. “Hopefully we can take advantage of that,” Mordecai said. … MLB.com lists Binghamton shortstop Andres Gimenez as the No. 2 prospect in the New York Mets’ organization. Baseball America rated Gimenez as the Mets’ No. 1 prospect last season.
Fisher Cats win, 5-4
Kevin Smith's two-out RBI single in the 11th inning gave the Fisher Cats their first victory of the season, a 5-4 victory over the Rumble Ponies on Friday night. The Fisher Cats rallied for two runs after Binghamton scored once in the top of the 11th.
Kirby Snead (1-0), the fifth Fisher Cats pitcher, earned the victory by pitching the 11th, allowing one run.
Kacy Clemens had a two-run single in the third inning for New Hampshire, which outhit Binghamton, 10-8.