FORT WAYNE, Ind.- For the first time this season, the Fort Wayne TinCaps won back-to-back games, defeating the Great Lakes Loons 7-2. San Diego’s sixth-round pick from last year’s draft, Aaron Leasher, tossed six innings of shutout ball en route to a two-hit, seven strikeout performance.
“I think command was the biggest difference this game,” Leasher said about his strong afternoon. “In my first start, I had four or five walks, and even when I didn’t have a walk, I was falling behind in the count. So command, getting ahead of hitters, and throwing multiple pitches for strikes [was key].”
In addition to his improved command, perhaps, the most intriguing facet of his success was that six of his seven strikeouts came the second and third times through the order as he began to mix in the breaking ball and move inside with the fastball. His fastball hung around 89-90 mph before dropping to the 86-87 mph range late in the outing, but I’d expect to see a slight uptick when the Indiana weather finally warms up.
After Leasher reached his pitch limit, Henry Henry took the mound; the 19-year-old pitcher has had a particularly rough introduction to full season ball, allowing ten runs and walking six in his first two relief appearances. Yet, he was quite effective this afternoon, mixing a low 90s fastball with a 78-81 mph breaking ball. The fastball, in particular, flashed some deceptive late movement but can catch too much of the plate when he tries to paint the corner. Nevertheless, Henry played off the late fastball movement excellently against Dodgers’ top 20 prospect Starling Heredia, following a couple of them up with this breaking ball with a similar pitch tunnel:
Henry Henry makes dodgers top 20 prospect Heredia look silly with a 79 mph breaking ball down and away pic.twitter.com/GqUj6lcqpG
— madfriars (@madfriars) April 18, 2018
“We wanted to get [Henry] back in after his last performance and get him some confidence, said TinCaps Manager Anthony Contreras. “That’s why we kept him there for one successful inning and got him out of there so that he could build on that for his next one.”
Offensively, it was a slow-moving game early on. Each team only collected a couple of hits in the first five innings. Luis Campusano finally put Fort Wayne on the board in the bottom of the sixth, executing what appeared to be a quintessential hit-and-run.
Apparently, it wasn’t a designed play, but rather a strong piece of situational hitting by the promising young backstop. “It sure looked like a hit-and-run, huh?” chuckled Contreras when asked about it post-game.
Campusano himself elaborated, saying, “I saw some runners run, and I just tried to do something to participate. It wasn’t a hit-and-run, I know that. But it just kind of fell in place at the right moment and that was good for us.”
Esteury Ruiz continued his early season struggles, going 0-for-5 and stranding six. Meanwhile, Tirso Ornelas, who drew the start at center field, collected a hit and a walk but demonstrated some mechanical issues at the plate that he needs to correct. His upper body and lower body frequently look out of sync as he tries to do too much with his arms and he wrestles with timing in his step.
Tomorrow night, Mason Thompson is slated to start the series finale as the TinCaps look to make it three wins in a row.