Pregame Meal: Thursday, August 2nd

By Matt Appel (@mattappel)

Hey ‘Cats fans! Back again with the second installment of the “Pregame Meal.” Here’s all your pre-game info and coverage as the ValleyCats try to break their mini 2-game slide against Batavia with first pitch at 7 pm:

-Aaron West, who, for my money, has been the ValleyCats best pitcher this year, takes the mound tonight. West has won his last 4 starts consecutively entering this start. On the year, West is 5-0 with an ERA of 0.97, and very well might be the starter in the NYPL All-Star Game for the NL team. At the very least, he has a great case to do so. Opposing him is Tyler Melling, a lefty for Batavia.

-Bit of a locker-room mess up before batting practice today, as the jerseys of Neiko Johnson and Joe Sclafani were swapped. Needless to say, I was a little bit confused to see Neiko wearing #4 and Joe wearing #3, as each wears the other number. I would imagine this snafu probably won’t carry into actual game action. However, it could be a good decoy to confuse opponents. I’ll see what Stubby thinks.

-Over the course of the past month, both Jarrod McKinney and Catfish Elkins have been very vocal about their displeasure with the BP music, and requested we play more country. So today, we debuted a playlist helped put together by those two, which resulted in McKinney taking the field and dancing. Sadly, I do not have video evidence of this. However, it seems those were the only two that enjoyed the switch. Andrew Aplin and Jesse Wierzbicki were the biggest critics of the playlist. Neiko Johnson, upon request, gave us some hip hop to play in the future. Stay tuned folks.

-For those who have been to The Joe since Preston Tucker joined the team, you might have noticed that he is the only ‘Cat who hits without batting gloves. In today’s game, this style of hitting is a tad unconventional, especially for players at this level. I wanted to know if there was any real reason for Tucker’s lack of gloves, or maybe where he got it from. He told me it was a “comfort thing” and that it started in his junior year of college to help him get out of a slump. He used it from then on, and has only used the gloves in select games since then. I asked him if it ever hurts his hands to hit like that and Preston told me, “Yeah of course, I get blisters all the time.”

-Batting Practice Hero: I guess his lack of batting gloves is indeed a comfort thing, as today’s BPH is Preston Tucker. Tucker had the most impressive stretch out of anyone in BP today, hitting a home run in his 3rd set and then following it up with two balls off the right-center field wall. The ball really does jump off of his bat. Day in and day out, Tucker catches your eye just about as much as anyone on the roster. A close second for BPH today goes to Joe Sclafani, who according to Jesse Wierzbicki, hit his first right-handed BP homer of the year today.

-Following up a tidbit from yesterday, after last night’s loss, the ‘Cats no longer have the best win percentage in all the minors. That accolade now belongs to the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League. But hey, let’s not look down on Tri-Cities .698 clip, which is still pretty darn good.

-Player to look for: Tyler Heineman has been red-hot of late. He has 4 multi-hit games in his last 10, and is now 2nd on the team with a .345 average. Heineman, tonight’s DH, is hitting 5th.

Tonights Lineup:

Sclafani SS

Elkins 2B

Aplin CF

Wierzbicki 1B

Heineman DH

Tucker RF

McKinney LF

Morales C

Dineen 3B

RHP-Aaron West

Andrew Aplin, the NYPL’s leading hitter, might try his luck with two bats tonight.

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