Next Level: Baldwin Owns Base Paths, Maness the Mound
James Baldwin III continues to struggle mightily overall at the plate, but the Los Angeles Dodger farmhand is one of the leading base stealers in all of minor league baseball.
The 2010 Pinecrest graduate, and fourth-round draft choice of the Dodgers, swiped two more on Sunday to help the Great Lakes Loons of the Advanced A Midwest League defeat Beloit 10-7. In the top of the fourth inning, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound center fielder stole home on the front end of a double steal.
It was the 38th steal in 42 attempts for the son of former major league pitcher James Baldwin. Jace Peterson of Fort Wayne leads the league with 39 in 46 tries.
Another son of a former major leaguer, Delino DeShields Jr. of Lexington (Ky.) in the South Atlantic League, appears to be the runaway minor league leader with 71 thefts in 83 attempts.
Batting just .210 this season, Baldwin as had a knack for coming up big at the plate in marathon games.
Last Friday, his run-scoring double in the top of the 13th inning proved to be the difference in a 2-1 Loon victory over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Earlier in the season, he had a walk-off double in the 16th inning that beat West Michigan 6-5.
When it comes to control pitching, it would be hard to match the performance this season by Seth Maness at any level of organized baseball.
Drafted in the 11th round by St. Louis in 2011, the Pinecrest and East Carolina product won his fifth game in a row for the Springfield Cardinals Saturday night.
He did not allow a free pass in a tidy seven-inning, 100-pitch performance that set up a 4-1 Cardinal victory over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Now 8-1 at Springfield and 11-2 overall, including a month with the Cards’ Palm Beach (Fla.) farm team, the right-hander allowed one run and six hits while striking out six batters.
In a total of 123 innings at the two stops, the right-hander has walked only seven batters and hit one. His ERA of 2.12 for the season is one of the best in the Cardinals’ minor league system.
Kary Booher, who covers the Cardinals for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader put it this way: “When Seth Maness pitches these days, it’s sort of like a grunt on the factory line punching the time clock, quietly going about his day and then punching out at the 5 o’clock whistle.”
After giving up a game-tying single in the third inning, Maness retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced.
A two-run homer by catcher Audry Perez gave the Missouri club the lead for good.
Booher called it “yet another, cough-cough, ho-hum performance ….” by Maness who talked to him afterward about his approach against a team he was facing for the third time.
“Today, it was a lot more fastballs and trying to move it in and get them off the plate a little bit and just work those corners,” the always-purposeful pitcher said. “I had pretty good command to the outside of the plate and inside, and was able to spot up some fastballs for strikeouts.”
Springfield now has a 6 ½ game lead in the AA Texas League North with a record of 21-8 in the second half of the split seasons.
Contact Charlie Bergmann at email@example.com.
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