Saturday scrimmage notes

My wife and I (and our chocolate lab) watched a couple of hours of today’s scrimmage at Baum Stadium. It’s too bad this weather can’t holdover until next weekend, although it looks like it should be good weather for the opening series.

A few takeaways:

  • The teams essentially are doing a dress rehearsal this weekend with starters vs. backups, teams wearing full uniforms, etc.

  • I’m unsure of the final score, but I know today’s scrimmage ended in an extra-innings tie. Jordan McFarland had a long grand slam in the late innings to get the backups back into the game. The hit came off a right-hander wearing No. 26, but I didn’t have a No. 26 on my roster and the pitcher wasn’t wearing a name patch on his jersey, so I’m not sure who it was.

  • Cannon Chadwick walked in the game-tying run but settled down in the two subsequent innings. He had some command problems early, but was pretty good once he got his off-speed pitch going. It looked like a slider. He could be a key arm out of the bullpen. He was expected to pitch quite a bit last year but had an injury that slowed him down.

  • Eric Cole started for Luke Bonfield in left field, and Bonfield was the designated hitter for the starting team. Bonfield probably is going to be the main left fielder, but there are going to be some days when he is only DH.

  • Dominic Fletcher made a nice play that showed why coaches like him in center field. It was a routine fly ball with the bases loaded. He did a good job of backing up and getting his feet set, and throwing a rocket back into the infield that kept the runner from tagging at third.

  • Chad Spanberger looks out of place at third base, but it appears that is where he is going to start the season. He had a fairly routine ground ball eat him up on one play and brought the first baseman off the bag on a throw on another play. I’ll be surprised if he plays that position all season.

  • Cody Scroggins looks like a real pitcher now. His velocity has hit 95 mph and he was blowing some pitches past good hitters.

  • Dave Van Horn has said Jax Biggers is the best defensive shortstop he’s had at Arkansas. He made a play today that would back up that claim. He went to the edge of the grass to make a sliding stop to his right, popped to his feet and made a jumping throw across his body to get a runner at first.

  • Van Horn has been tinkering with the lineup to put better hitters toward the top of the order. Here was today’s lineup which probably is a good indication of how it will look next week.

  1. Eric Cole, LF
  2. Luke Bonfield, DH
  3. Grant Koch, C
  4. Jared Gates, 1B
  5. Carson Shaddy, 2B
  6. Chad Spanberger, 3B
  7. Dominic Fletcher, CF
  8. Jax Biggers, SS
  9. Jake Arledge, RF

They sure seem intent on playing Spanberger at third. That was the indication that I got a few weeks ago after visiting with Van Horn. They have several options as far as defense, mainly Hunter Wilson. That’s just a shortstop playing third. He’d be fine defensively, but may not hit much.

I will say this about third, there are going to be some shots that are too hot to handle. That’s going to happen. The main thing, make the routine play and make the routine throw. Can he handle the bunt situations? That is what kills you at third. When the scouting report gets out that you can’t make plays on a bunt, that’s all you see.

Bonfield LF
Spanberger DH
Wilson 3B

I’d rather have an out 80% of the time batting in the 8th spot than have errors and an inability to play short-ball defense at any point in a game…

Spanberger will play first now that Gates is out. I think the DH will be a rotation of Bonfield, Cole and Lee, and maybe McFarland depending on matchups.