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827-game-thread-instant-replay-and-luis-sumoza | August | 2008 Articles

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8/27 Game Thread: Instant Replay and Luis Sumoza

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Well, the world changed pretty quickly: effective tomorrow, instant replay will be used for controversial home runs. (Hey, I was right! It doesn't happen often, so I have to gloat when I can.) And the Braves traded Seven Million Dollar Man Mark Kotsay to the Boston Red Sox for a toolsy, projectible 20-year-old, Luis Sumoza. Sumoza's having a terrific year at low-A this year, .301/.366/.549 with 15 2B and 11 HR in only 193 at-bats and a not-terrible walk rate, but he's been getting lucky. Minorleaguesplits.com doesn't seem to have his last 16 at-bats on file, but according to their data, in his first 177 at-bats of the season, his BABIP was .384, and he only had an 11.3% LD%. His flyball percentage, on the other hand, is a troubling 36.3%. A whole lot of his fly balls are going over the fence right now, and he clearly has big-time power, with an ISO of .248, but unless he starts hitting more line drives he's going to get exposed at higher levels. His scouting report says his "swing tends to get a bit too long," which is borne out by the numbers; considering his high strikeout and high home run numbers, he likely hits from an uppercut, which he'll need to shorten to close the holes in his swing. His basestealing instincts don't appear to be all that good yet, as he's stolen 9 bases in 15 attempts, despite scouting reports describing his speed as "above-average." His defensive reputation is good, from the scouting report, which says he "has above average range, a decent glove, and a good arm." Basically, he's young, talented, and a long way from the major leagues. If he can plug the holes in his swing, he could be a fantastic hitter. Either way, he's a great return for Mark Kotsay, who was going to be out of Atlanta in a month in any event. It's a good thing we shipped Kotsay out, because it'll give us a chance to see more youngsters in the outfield once the rosters expand in a couple days. Most importantly, we'll see Brandon Jones, who needs to grab ahold of a starting job if he wants a future in this organization, especially with Gregor Blanco, Matt Diaz, Josh Anderson, and Jordan Schafer clogging up the organizational depth chart. (Obviously, I think Francoeur should be benched for Brandon Jones, but it's not like that's going to happen.) Schafer's probably going to get his first taste of the majors, and yet another shot at validating the preseason predictions that he'd be our 2009 starting CF. I don't want him to be rushed, but we'll just see what happens. Tonight, Mike Hampton faces Josh Johnson. Last night was the sort of game we haven't seen much of: a one-run win. It was our first since July 18, and our 7th of the season. (Of course, we've lost 25 one-run games. We're 16 games below .500 on the season, 15 games out of first place, and 18 games below .500 in one-run games. Coincidence?) Josh Johnson's a tall drink of water, measuring in at a Sabathian 6'7", and he's a pretty good pitcher too, though he's only 12 months removed from Tommy John. In 8 starts this year since returning to the rotation, he's 3-0 with a 3.51 ERA, 40 K against 17 BB in 48 2/3 IP. And he's hurt us in the past, a 2.48 ERA in 6 starts against us. This will be Mike Hampton's 11th start against the Marlins since they traded him to Atlanta. (The guy they traded him for, Tim Spooneybarger, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2003 and is currently pitching for the Baltimore Orioles' Low-A affiliate, the Aberdeen IronBirds.) He never pitched for them, so this won't exactly be a grudge match, just another step in his long, improbable comeback from nearly every injury known to man. If he can just manage to go 5 innings and give up fewer than 4 runs, he'll lower his ERA.
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