11:39 AM CDT, June 13, 2013
Talking baseball while wondering if Johnny Oduya and his teammates could get out of bed today.
1. No big-leaguer has been more impressive this week than Ian Krol, the left-hander from Naperville who has given the Nationals another big weapon in the bullpen. He’s made four appearances since being promoted from Double-A Harrisburg and hasn’t been scored on yet, allowing one hit and no walks while striking out five in his 3 2/3 innings.
Kurt Suzuki, the Nationals’ catcher, compares the 22-year-old Krol to Sean Doolittle, who played a big role in the Athletics’ late-season rise to an AL West title.
Krol has hit 96 with his fastball and throws two solid pitches off it. “Good, live fastball,’’ Suzuki told the Washington Post. “Pretty decent breaking ball and a good change-up. We’ll see. I like it.”
While Krol has always had talent, it’s sort of amazing that he’s made it to the big leagues this quickly. He was ineligible to pitch his senior year at Neuqua Valley High after a violation of the school’s athletics policy and traveled to Wisconsin to play in an independent league, which allowed scouts to see him.
The A’s, never shy to gamble on a talented player, drafted him in the seventh round in 2009 and sent him to pitch at low-A Kane County in 2010. He lived at home and had a strong season as a starter but lost the 2011 season to a combination of injury and a suspension resulting from comments on Twitter. He had a down year in 2012 but it appears the Nationals were extremely wise to ask for him in the three-team deal that sent Michael Morse from Washington to Seattle.
Shifted into a full-time role as a reliever, Krol tore up the Eastern League before being promoted on June 5. He’s been an instant weapon for Nationals manager Davey Johnson.
“I’ve been able to focus a lot more,” he said about relieving. “Instead of being a starter and focusing on throwing six innings, I’m able to go out there and focus on one or two innings and focus on the game and execute my pitches well and keep the ball down in the zone. That’s been the key.”
2. The White Sox are glad Charlie Leesman didn’t want to be a Ranger. The 26-year-old lefty declined assignment to Texas after he was claimed on release waivers in April. That allowed him to become a free agent and he re-signed with the White Sox. He had been working his way back slowly after blowing out a knee in the International League championship series and only got back on the mound in May. He made his fourth start on Tuesday and picked up his first win. Leesman is 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings. He has 23 strikeouts. If he can keep pitching like that, he'll get to the big leagues at some point this season. Maybe he would have with the Rangers too but he's been with the White Sox his whole career. He was smart to finish his rehab with them.
3. No day-after magic for Javier Baez. A rainout Tuesday kept Baez from getting right back on the field after his four-homer game for the Daytona Cubs on Monday night. He was 0-for-5 with three walks in a doubleheader on Wednesday night, including a walk in his first plate appearance in the opener, when he was gunning for five home runs in a row. Fort Myers manager Doug Mientkiewicz said his three pitchers gave Baez too many pitches to hit Monday. It will be interesting to see if teams pitch around him in subsequent series. After a game tonight, Baez will join Jorge Soler and some other teammates in playing in the Florida State League All-Star Game on Saturday night.
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