Rain. The archenemy of baseball fans across the country, inclement weather has the ability to throw a scouting trip into flux. As a rule, I never commit to an overnight trip when rain is in the forecast, but made an exception for Orioles uber-prospect Dylan Bundy as it was the only time this season the young right-hander was scheduled to throw within 200 miles of my home outside of Atlanta.
the trip started innocently enough, driving three hours on small highways and back roads leading into the mountains. At Podunk Produce, the sun was shining and baskets of tomatoes sat outside patiently awaiting a short drive to a local dinner table close by. Chunky Girl Stables came and went leaving me wondering just how chunky a girl could be and still comfortably mount a stallion or mare.
It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon as batting practice crept closer and the miles continued to inch towards 200.
The first sign of trouble came with the final pass through the mountains as the skies darkened and the sides of the road glistened with a sheen of fresh rain which must have passed through only minutes earlier. I-40 marked the final push into the city and a slight drizzle quickly morphed into driving rain.
Upon entering McCormick Field, home of the Asheville Tourists, I quickly recognized former Orioles outfielder Mike Devereaux walking the outer concourse – a sign batting practice was a no go. The field itself was already tarped with puddles forming on the warning track a few steps from both dugouts.
I settled in with both the Delmarva and Asheville radio broadcasters, opened the media folder and began setting up my scouting templates for the game as we learned the rain was supposed to pass and the Tourists would do everything possible to play the game considering it was both opening day and Thirsty Thursday all but guaranteeing a sell out crowd and the spoils that come with it.
As 5:45 pm hit, the excitement in me started to build once again leading me to tweet a few positive comments about the weather clearing and a game actually happening. Moments later, a Tourists employee hollered from the concourse that the game had been postponed until the following evening.
It was a bitter pill – Especially since the doubleheader to make up the rain out was scheduled for Saturday, after I had returned home. With the potential for 18 innings of scouting, reduced to 14, reduced to a lowly nine with what I hope to be a quality session of batting/infield practice, I’m forced to shelve any thoughts of scouting Rockies prospects and hone in solely on my one shot at baby Orioles in the South Atlantic League this season.
As for those prospects, Bundy is obviously the headliner and potentially the highest profile player I’ll see this season. From what’s been written, anything short of his presenting as the perfect pitching prospect will be met with disappointment, but Bundy is still an embryo in the player development process and will take time. If previous top-11 overall picks such as Jameson Taillon of the Pirates and Tyler Matzek of the Rockies taught me one thing, it’s that its more about glimpses and projection than sustained performance – even for prospects in consideration for the best at what they do.
Other solid “gets” include Nicky Delmonico, a corner infield type who signed for a seven figure signing bonus as a strong University of Georgia college commit. He was penciled in as the first baseman, but has also played third base and catcher as a prep player.
2011 second round pick Jason Esposito out of Vanderbilt was listed as the starting third baseman and is considered a plus defender whose questionable bat caused him to fall out of the first round.
Other players of interest include former second rounder Mychal Givens who hopes to revitalize an injury-plagued career as the team’s shortstop. Additionally, Glynn Davis, who signed for a cool $100,000 as a free agent after turning down the Orioles draft day offer, should be in centerfield. And last, but maybe the most intriguing of all is 18-year old catcher Gabriel Lino whose age and full season assignment forces him into the prospect picture.
The skies are clearing, it’s 40-minutes until check out and my gear won’t pack itself. Plus, people keep raving about Twelve Bones Barbecue in Asheville, so early afternoon plans are set. Morning pessimism has passed and new found optimism is in full bloom for an exciting Dylan Bundy debut and the anticipation of five-plus months of regular season minor league baseball.