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Baseball Analysis  Mike McCann / Minor Leagues

April 2002


By Mike McCann

I always enjoy good pitching matchups. Many people like seeing a lot of offense, but personally, I really like seeing good pitchers. If a big name hitter was coming into town, like Mark McGwire, I never got all that excited about having him potentially hit a home run. Now if there was a really good pitching matchup, like when I saw Kevin Brown go against Curt Schilling, those were the games I would try to go to.

A few years ago when Schilling was pitching with the Phillies, I would look at the schedule and go to the Vet just to see him pitch. I really enjoyed seeing him dominate the hitters. One of the best quotes I saw on him had to do with the fact that everyone in the stadium knew what pitch was coming, and there was nothing the hitter could do about it. I went to the game on September 26, 1997 where Schilling broke the single season National League record for strikeouts in a season. That was a great game because Schilling got tossed as well. But this column is supposed to be about minor leagues, so let me get back on track.

There was one pitching matchup I got to see that I was really looking forward to. I was able to see Potomac's Jimmy Journell go against Wilmington's Jimmy Gobble. They were two of the top Carolina League pitchers last year. Journell finished 14-6 with a 2.50 ERA and 156 K in 151 innings. Gobble finished 10-6 with a 2.55 ERA and 154 K in 162 innings. Currently, Baseball America ranks Gobble as the Royals #2 prospect and Journell as the Cardinals #1 prospect. Journell was promoted to New Haven later in the season and pitched a no-hitter against Bowie. I almost went to that game, but unfortunately I didn't.

I went to this game in Wilmington, and even though it didn't live up to its billing, I still enjoyed it. Journell gave up three hits (all in the 3rd) over six shutout innings.  Gobble didn't fare nearly as well.  He gave up six earned runs on seven hits (including two three-run home runs) in 5 2/3 innings.  Neither bullpen allowed a run which resulted in a 6-0 Potomac victory.

As far as the best single performance I saw all season, that would have to go to Jimmy Gobble.  In a playoff game against Frederick, Gobble pitched seven shutout innings with 15 strikeouts.  Wilmington won that game, 13-0.  Every player in the lineup scored at least one run except poor Norris Hopper who was 0 for 5.  Matt Burch and Micah Mangrum struck out 3 more for the Blue Rocks, who struck out a total of 18 in that game.  Now that makes for a good baseball game.

Right now, I'm planning on seeing some games in southern California in upcoming weeks.  So next time, I'll probably write about that.  And hopefully, I will have a lot to write about.

I am always looking for topics to write about, so please send me an email and let me know what would be interesting reading for you. Feel free to ask any questions or give an idea for a column.

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