Posted: 10/9/2012 10:27 AM
The Diamond Heels started off their Fall World Series on Monday with the Blue team taking a 2-1 victory in 8 innings over the White team to get first blood in the annual inter-squad series with a mammoth home run by junior third baseman Colin Moran and a walk off hit batsman by Tate Parrish into Zach Daly to provide the winning run. Where the players may be most interested in which team gets to go on a massive run after the series, the coaching staff is eagerly watching the competition on the mound, in the bullpen, on the field and behind the plate this fall.
Kent Emanuel took the mound for the Blue team going 7 and 2/3 innings only allowing one earned run on 5 hits. The junior southpaw from Woodstock, Georgia did not participate in the Fall World Series last fall, but did not appear to miss a beat resuming throwing this fall after being shut down during the summer. He was throwing strikes and working on his command on both sides of the plate with his fastball and breaking balls in his first start of the Fall World Series.
“Kent is smart so the zone was pretty generous for him,” Coach Forbes discussed after the game about his performance opening the series for the Diamond Heels Blue team. “When you have that type of command you are going to use it. That is only his fifth time on the mound this fall and for it to be his fifth time he was pretty sharp. He threw all his pitches and I thought he was typical Kent Emanuel – getting better as the game went on.”
As this performance showed, Kent Emanuel is still the prohibitive favorite to earn the Diamond Heels Friday starter spot again this spring. After the game he discussed how his arm was feeling this spring, “Everything feels great,” he revealed. “Physically I feel even better than how my arm is right now. I’m going to be throwing straight through springtime so my arm is going to feel good come the first game of the season.”
Emanuel took advantage of his time since last season to improve, “This summer I worked on my physicality, getting stronger and putting on weight. Pitching wise this fall I have been trying to pitch all of my pitches in any type of count. Today is a little more different and I treated it like more of a regular game like since we have miles on the line."
This summer Emanuel was shut down from throwing and made use of his free time in the weight room. “Not throwing or pitching helps because you have no restrictions and can go after it and not worry about how your body is if you have to throw,” Emanuel stated about his summer workouts. “On top of that I had our nutritionist Mary Ellen give me a meal plan and I think that was the difference is that I really focused on my diet. I always considered myself a big eater but with this new meal plan it seems like I was constantly eating and it was not just big meals but throughout the day.”
Emanuel has really filled out his shoulders and lower body with lean muscle mass and should be able to pitch deep into ballgames with the combination of his stamina and control this season. “This summer he knew he was shut down so he spent a lot of time working on his lower half, his legs, his core and trying to commit to his body and gain as much weight as he could,” Coach Forbes discussed. “ I feel that his velocity has a lot to do with his weight and maintaining his weight and maintaining his weight. We are at such a young phase of where we want to be for the spring that we are not looking much at his velocity, even though it was pretty good out there today. Probably the best it has been for him in the fall up around 90 quite a bit. He is athletic so he can gain as much weight as he wants and hold it fine.”
Just like the rest of the Diamond Heels, Emanuel is chomping at the bit for the season to begin and his ultimate goal is to lead the team back to Omaha, “It is going to be the same goal that I had as a sophomore,” Emanuel confessed after being asked his personal goals for the season. “That is just to win every game that I pitch. At the end I could give up 20 runs but if I get the win I am going to be happy. I think that is how our team is too. We play for each other and if our team wins, we will all be happy.”
If the Diamond Heels are to make a trip back to Omaha Emanuel will have to continue to improve on what has been a pretty impressive start to his collegiate career so far and will have the opportunity to be one of the top 2013 draft prospects after this year.
Nature Abhors a Vaccum
One of the biggest questions for the Diamond Heels to answer after the graduation of Jacob Stallings is who would replace him behind the plate for the Diamond Heels. “Obviously when you lose somebody like Jacob [Stallings] you kind of have to really kind of start new as he caught pretty much every game for us,” stated Coach Forbes about the competition to start for the Diamond Heels. “ Matt [Roberts] has been here and knows the system and has always been good defensively. Korey [Dunbar] has caught well this fall. There is a lot of competition but one thing both of them have shown is that they can catch our pitchers. We have been up front and honest with them that the most important thing right now is not your bat right now but how you handle these pitchers. I think both of them have done a good job and I think both of them could catch for us.” As a junior incumbent Roberts is leading the race to start behind the plate, but the Tar Heels have outstanding depth with 5 players with catching experience.
With 5 players able to catch on the FWS roster the race appears to be between Dunbar and Roberts so far. “They are both really good,” junior third baseman Colin Moran stated about the pair of catchers who started the first game for the two fall squads, “Roberts is kind of the veteran guy and has been around longer so has a better feel for some stuff but Dunbar is a really good player and you can tell that he is going to be really good.”
Coach Forbes revealed after the game that Holberton would be a critical part to add a left handed batting option for behind the plate, “I know [Holberton] has always been dependable, great hitter,” stated junior pitcher Kent Emanuel about the competition behind the plate. “Rubino has swung the bat well. Dunbar - actually that is the first time that I have pitched to him. I have thrown with Matt Roberts all fall. We know Matty he is a great defensive catcher, probably even though Jacob was so good defensively speaking and blocking balls but Matt is right there with him.”
Roberts may have the advantage in the early going because of his familiarity of the returning pitchers but Dunbar appears ready to challenge him for the opportunity to catch this deep and talented staff.
Most likely the Fall World Series will provide the coaching staff with the evidence on which catcher will handle the staff, control the opposing team’s running game and then provide a strong bat in the lineup, most likely in that order of importance to the ones making the ultimate decision, but it looks like at this juncture that the team will be in good shape behind the plate no matter who wins the position.
Last edited 10/9/2012 11:34 AM by MClements
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