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No need to worry about Larry Greene just yet

July 1, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

Don’t even to begin to worry about Crosscutters outfielder Larry Greene. There’s absolutely no need to.

The power is there in his swing and watching one round of batting practice will tell you as much. No, it hasn’t shown up during game time yet, but any expectations that the former 39th overall draft pick was going to revolutionize the New York-Penn League with never before seen home run numbers was just unrealistic.

But there’s a lot to be excited about with what the Cutters’ left-fielder has done in his first two weeks of professional baseball. Greene is still without a home run, and his slugging percentage is a mere .378, but he’s drawn 12 walks in just over 50 at-bats.

The 19-year old has shown an advanced plate discipline through the first week of the season, more than willing to watch pitches off the outside corner instead of rolling them over. It’s an approach that has Cutters manager Andy Tracy excited for left-hander’s future.

“He’s still learning the game and people don’t understand that,” Tracy said. “I don’t know how much baseball he’s played. He’s a dual-sport athlete and might not have played a lot during the summer. But I think the positive thing about him – even though he is striking out and chasing stuff – he keeps taking walks. That’s a good sign for a young kid.”

Greene started to show some impatience toward the end of the Cutters’ season-opening homestand, really trying to gear up and drive the baseball. But he also showed a conscious effort to hit the ball the other way as both State College and Auburn made a point to pitch him away.

“He’s going to be anxious, he wants to hit,” Tracy said. “He’s still getting his hits and he’s not playing like he can or like he wants to be. As long as he’s still getting his hits and we’re still working on stuff and his mind stays clear, he’ll be OK.”

The power will eventually come for Greene. He’s showed it with another of ringing doubles during the first two weeks. But as long as he continues to show good plate discipline, it’s a positive sign for a young power hitter.

“He’s going to learn the game and he’s going to learn his swing and he’s going to learn when they’re pitching to him and when they’re not,” Tracy said. “It’s all a process. I think that’s why the Phillies sent him here, so he can learn.”

CALLING FOR RELIEF: The numbers spell it out quite clearly for the Williamsport bullpen. Walks means runs. Runs means losses.

In two weeks of hit-or-miss baseball for the Crosscutters’ bullpen, the common theme has been that baserunners in general mean runs allowed by the Cutters. It’s an elementary theme to baseball, but it’s one which, right now, is really holding true.

In six losses this year, the Cutters’ bullpen, have allowed an average of 17.3 baserunners per nine innings pitched through just walks and hits allowed, or 1.9 per inning. In the seven wins, the group has allowed just 7.9 runners per nine innings through walks or hits, or just .88 per inning.

The struggles have come while manager Andy Tracy and pitching coach Aaron Fultz shuffle guys around in their roles. They’ve worked different guys in from the seventh through the ninth innings giving everyone a chance at each role.

“We don’t want to pigeon-hole guys closing,” Tracy said following batting practice Sunday. We want them all to get the experience doing that and throwing in the seventh inning because you never know what you’re going to do on the next level.”

The Cutters were able to overcome a bad outing from the bullpen in which it gave up nine baserunners in just six inning in its first game against Auburn. But it made up for the baserunners by posting 13 strikeouts. That was also the night Mitch Walding drove in six runs with four hits.

The overall numbers for the Cutters’ bullpen aren’t that bad. It has a collective 3.54 ERA and is averaging 8.85 strikeouts per nine innings. It’s also allowed 2.95 walks per nine innings and 8.85 hits per nine innings, leading to many instances of trying to work out of jams.

“I think anytime you walk a leadoff guy or anyone out of the bullpen it can be magnified, especially in this league,” Tracy said. “They just have to be ready down there. They pretty much know what day they’re going to throw, it’s just what part of the game they’re going to throw in they don’t know quite yet.

BIRMINGHAM SHUT DOWN: Cutters relief pitcher Jim Birmingham has been shut down since his first appearance of the series at State College in the second game of the season.

Birmingham struggled in nine appearances with Lakewood to start the season with an ERA over 10 and 10 walks in 7 2/3 innings. In his lone appearance with Williamsport, Birmingham walked two, have up two hits and two runs in 1/3 of an inning.

Last year with Williamsport, Birmingham had a 2.31 ERA in nine appearances and was a key member of the Cutters’ bullpen after being signed from a tryout camp in Lakewood, N.J.

“He had a little tweak or tendonitis,” Tracy said. “He came to us with the problem and the Phillies decided to shut him down.”

 
 

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