By Brady Farkas
With the New York-Penn League All-Star Game set to take place Tuesday night in Brooklyn, it’s time to look at what has made the ValleyCats representatives so good during the season’s first 63 games.
Nick Tanielu: Officially listed as a designated hitter on the all-star roster, Tanielu has played both second and third base for the ValleyCats this season. He’s filled in nicely at third for most of the season since J.D. Davis’ promotion to Quad Cities.
Defensively, Tanielu has good range and is able to get to most balls. He also has a quick release and a good arm that has allowed him to look very comfortable at the hot corner.
Offensively, Tanielu is hitting .307. He has good power and has shown the ability to drive the ball to the gap. While offensive forces like A.J. Reed, Ryan Bottger, and Davis have seen promotions, Tanielu has moved into the middle of the order, which was a bit of an adjustment at first. He has quick hands and is able to pull the ball well, we just need to see him drive it the other way more consistently over the last 13 games.
Jamie Ritchie: Ritchie, a catcher, has been on fire all season long at the plate. Simply put, whenever he plays, he produces. He can hit to all fields and has good pitch recognition. Furthermore, he’s able to spoil pitches for opposing pitchers. His ability to draw walks and get deep into counts has served him well thus far. He’s a good line drive hitter, but his lone home run of the year was a two-out, game-tying shot in the bottom of the ninth against Husdon Valley. He’s hitting .365.
Derek Fisher: Fisher, the Astros supplemental first-round pick (No. 37), has certainly played like a high draft pick. Another ValleyCat hitting above .300 (.325), Fisher has provided Tri-City stability in the No. 3 spot of the order since his arrival from the University of Virginia. He’s got a great swing and really quick hands that allow him to get to pitches at all velocities.
He’s also got a great eye and doesn’t go outside of the strike zone. The thing that has impressed me most is his speed. He can stretch singles to doubles and can steal bases at will.
He’s also adjusted well to becoming among the lone lefties in the lineup. After having Bobby Boyd, A.J. Reed, and Ryan Bottger around him as fellow LH earlier in the year, Fisher is often the top lefty threat, and is pitched accordingly by opponents.
Ryan Thompson: Thompson, the lone pitcher the ValleyCats are sending, has anchored down the bullpen this season after a stellar career at Campbell University. His submarine delivery has baffled hitters — and he’s gotten nine saves thus far. He throws strikes and doesn’t walk people. It’s easy to succeed with that formula.
He also throws two pitches for strikes at will and can keep opposing batters off-balance.