Maness Shines in Double A Pitching Debut
Seth Maness barely had time to set his feet on the ground after traveling from Palm Beach, Fla., when he pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning for the Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals Monday night.
The former Pinecrest and East Carolina star, who was the 11th round draft choice of St. Louis last June, received credit for the 4-0 home win over the Tulsa Drillers. He was promoted to the big club’s AA Texas League team after compiling a record of 3-1 at Palm Beach, where he didn’t walk his first batter until his 42nd inning.
Maness allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings against the Drillers, while striking out eight and walking one. Only two Drillers got as far as second base. The walk was only the second the right-hander has allowed in 52 2/3 innings this season
Earlier Monday, Pinecrest coach Jeff Hewitt talked about some of the keys to his former player’s success on the mound.
“What has really brought Seth’s game to the next level is his ability to throw three pitches at any time,” the coach says. “When he was with us he could throw the breaking ball at any time so he had two great pitches. Then when he went on to ECU he developed a change-up.
“What he does is exploit your weakness. When you have the pinpoint control he has, he really makes it hard on a hitter.”
Maness was 21-2 as a pitcher at Pinecrest and 38-11 at East Carolina.
A .434 career hitter for the Patriots, he has been itching to get back into the batter’s box ever since. In Monday’s game, he had his first at bats since high school. He grounded out to short in the third and fifth innings before driving in the Cardinals’ third run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Overall at Palm Beach and Springfield, Maness has compiled an ERA of 1.84.
Hewitt thinks Maness has benefited from playing college baseball for four years and earning a degree.
“Seth certainly makes every pitch, every inning and every outing his best,” Hewitt says. “His mental approach is the best I have ever seen. I can’t wait for the day when I’m in the stands in St. Louis watching him. That will be a special time.”
While Seth Maness was pitching a gem for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Springfield (Mo.) farm team on Monday, another former Pinecrest player was enjoying a big night in Dayton, Ohio.
James Baldwin III, a fourth-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, showed signs of breaking out of a long slump at the plate by going 5-for-5 with a double and two runs batted in for the Great Lake Loons of Midland, Mich.
His final hit of the night drove in a run during a ninth inning rally that fell a run short in the 7-6 loss to the Dragons.
Baldwin, the Dodgers No. 10-ranked prospect, has been hampered by two different injuries this season, including one that sidelined him for 10 days earlier this month. Shortly after his return last Wednesday, he went into the Class A game against the West Michigan Whitecaps hitless in his previous 16 at bats.
The Loon center-fielder was 0-for-7 when he came to the plate in the 16th inning and ended it with a walk-off double to right, giving the home side a 6-5 victory. The five-hour-and-22-minute game was the longest in team history.
The son of former Major League pitcher James Baldwin got the shaving cream pie in the face treatment for his heroics.
“As soon as I got to the plate, I was like, ‘We’ve got to win this game,’” he told MLB.com. “It took too long to win this game. We had runners in scoring position, but we didn’t come through. Now I feel good. I feel tired, but I feel good.”
The clutch game-winner and Monday’s big night are signs that Baldwin is emerging from the slow start that currently has his batting average at .202 in his third season as a pro. He leads the Loons in steals with 13 in 14 attempts.
Maples Being Patient
Another former Patriot, Dillon Maples, has also been hampered by an injury at the beginning of his first full season as a pro.
Considered by many as the No. 1 minor league pitching prospect of the Chicago Cubs after signing a $2.5 million contract last August, he has been on the shelf since March with a forearm strain.
The right-hander with the mid-90s fastball and crackling curve is currently involved in extended spring training with other top Cub prospects at the organizations Mesa, Ariz., training complex. He felt a twinge in the arm before leaving for spring training in March.
Dillon’s father, Tim, reports that his son’s arm feels fine at this point, but that out of an abundance of caution he is not expected to pitch in a game until July.
“He’s learning a lot about patience from this,” Tim Maples says.
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