On Friday I looked at some of the Billings Mustangs from the first two games of their series against Idaho Falls. The final game of the series was Friday night, so I got one more look at some of the guys and a first look at some others. For the most part, I have held off on writing much about the position guys because the camera angle and quality just isn’t good for looking at hitting mechanics, but for a week straight in August the Mustangs will once again be on Milb.tv, so there will be more to look at in about three weeks time. For today, I wanted to share some notes on left handed relievers Brennan Bernardino and Seth Varner from the pitching side of things and talk a little bit about Aristides Aquino, who went on an absolute tear over the weekend.
Aristides Aquino had himself a weekend of all weekends. From Friday night through Sunday he went 9-15 with a double, walk, four home runs, seven runs scored and 12 RBI. He hit three home runs to left field and one to center. After the weekend came to a close, he is third in the league in doubles (one behind the leaders, which includes teammate Brian O’Grady) and leads the league in home runs with nine. He is also second in the league in slugging with a .633 mark. He also has five steals in six attempts. As I noted above, I didn’t want to get much into hitters because of how the camera angle is for hitters, but he was worth talking about for a minute with how his weekend, and season have gone. One scouting note that I was able to get on him from the series was that he can get down the line. He turned in a few above-average times out of the box.
The tall left hander was drafted in the 26th round of the 2014 draft. On draft day, I was unable to track down a scouting report on him. A few weeks ago I was in Dayton and people were talking about how impressed they had been with him, so he jumped onto my radar. The numbers are outstanding. His ERA is 0.00 in 12.1 innings pitched so far this season with three walks and 18 strikeouts. Friday was the first chance I had to sit down and watch him. While the camera angle isn’t good for hitters, it is behind home plate and makes for a good view of the pitchers.
Coming from the left side he showed average overall velocity, with slightly above-average peak velocity in this game, topping out at 91 MPH. What stood out to me though was the nice armside action that his fastball had. His main secondary pitch, and the only one I saw him throw was a big curveball with 12-6 breaking action in the low 70’s. He goes to the pitch often, starting it out in the strikezone and running it across the plate and out of the zone to lefties or under the hands of righties.
Another tall lefty, Varner was drafted by the Reds in the 10th round. Like Bernardino, I was unable to track down a scouting report on him on draft day. I was able to talk to someone in the organization about him before the series began so I had a better idea of exactly what he was going to be throwing. He’s had some struggles this season so far, posting a 5.09 ERA in 17.2 innings with five walks and 2 strikeouts. He’s allowed 26 hits on the season.
Against Idaho Falls he had his worst outing of the year, allowing five runs in 2.1 innings on eight hits with a strikeout. Unfortunately that was the only game I had a chance to see him pitch in. There were some good things and some not-so-good things from the outing though. Varner was working with a fastball/cutter most of the night, throwing it in the 86-88 MPH range. He struggled to keep the ball down in the zone, and guys were teeing off on the pitch as he consistently left it up. He threw both a curveball and a slider on the night, and he also throws a change up though I didn’t see one during the game. Both the curveball and slider flashed themselves as solid pitches, but both were a bit inconsistent. The problem came though in that he seemed to slow down his arm a little bit to throw them. After I saw the first breaking ball, I knew whenever one was coming. If he can work on that and fix it as he moves forward, both breaking balls have a chance to be solid enough pitches to get hitters out.