Blake Hunt heating up, Joey Cantillo dominating and Dwanya Williams-Sutton the ball magnet. All that and more in your Fort Wayne TinCaps news and notes.
Anytime Joey Cantillo is on the mound for the TinCaps; fans are bound to witness some high-level pitching.
Sitting behind home plate Monday night, I was treated to what the rest of the baseball world is starting to realize: Joey Cantillo is a beast. He’s now a beast equipped with a 94 mph heater as well. Cantillo admitted that he’s never touched 93 mph before, let alone 94 mph, but sure enough, 94 happened.
After a glance at the TrackMan reading, my radar reading matched up as well. Thus, Joey Fuego has arrived. Pretty impressive for the former tall, lanky kid from Honolulu, Hawaii, who, not for lack of trying, was consistently sitting in the upper 80s & low 90’s just last year. The 6′ 4″ lefthander has an athletic frame that can carry plenty of added mass down the road and has added twenty pounds of muscle since last season.
The Padres have something special in Cantillo, and it’s no longer just an in-house secret. His countless hours of hard work on improving his body and pitching mechanics are evident, and it’s not just the extra juice on his fastball that makes him unique. His delivery is deceptive, which to this point has confused Midwest League hitters, limiting their ability to make quality contact on any of his offerings. He’s also shown much better command as of late, showcasing his ability to throw his fastball, curveball, and changeup not only for strikes but in the desired quadrant of the zone.
Throwing fastballs for strikes and getting ahead early in the count is what Cantillo attributes to the bulk of his success lately, but digging just a bit deeper, we can see there is more than just heat that drives Joey Fuego. His curveball is as 12-to-6 as you can get for a pitcher in just his third season as a professional and his slider has become more than just usable. He’s been able to use the slide piece as an out pitch recently, and that has added another dimension to his repertoire. But the real weapon here is his changeup. His increased feel for the pitch has resulted in a spike in its usage, which in turn has taken Cantillo to the next level. He’s shown greater confidence in using the changeup to work batters backward as well, which speaks volumes as to where his maturity level is on the mound.
Cantillo’s confidence is soaring at the moment and rightfully so. He’s leading the Midwest League in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, K/9 rate and strikeout percentage. Whew, take a breather after reading that if you need to, but don’t lose sight of the 19-year-old’s utter dominance of Low-A hitters, as he’s racked up 115 Ks in 86 innings. He’s locked in, and the rest of the Midwest League has been put on notice. Joey Fuego has arrived, and he’s packed plenty of heat for his stay.
Jawuan “Hot Stick” Harris
Jawuan Harris has been raking as of late, helping put a charge into the TinCaps offense. The 5′ 9″ Rutgers product has hit safely in 8 of his last nine games for a .353 average with two home runs and five stolen bases. Harris ranks second in the Midwest League in BB% (16.3) and third in stolen bases with 22. His .346 OBP is good for 23rd in the league as well.
Big Game Blake
Blake Hunt, who’s tied for third in home runs for the TinCaps with 5 (Jawuan Harris, 5 HR), has put together a nice little run over the last three weeks. He’s slashing .295/.404/.455 with two home runs, five RBI & seven walks over his last 52 plate appearances. Overall, his strikeout rate for this season is at 17.7%, while walking at a 10% clip. Both numbers are substantial and show a steady improvement in the young catcher’s plate discipline. Since June 20 (19 games), Hunt has produced ten multi-hit efforts.
Cooking with Curry
University of Georgia product Michael Curry has made his presence felt since arriving at Parkview Field. In exactly 50 games with the TinCaps, Curry has launched six home runs in 164 at-bats. Since July 1, Curry’s slashing .321/.400/.491 with .413 wOBA & 159 wRC+.
Dwayna Williams-Sutton has a special talent for getting on base, in the most painful way possible. Williams-Sutton leads the Midwest League in hit by pitches with 19. He was plunked four times Monday night by Cedar Rapids pitchers. According to milb.com: The four plunks put him in a five-way tie for the Minor League record going back to 2005. Other “victims” included Ogden’s Carlos Medero-Stullz on July 5, 2006, West Michigan’s Casper Wells on May 2, 2008, Dominican Summer League Blue Jays 1’s Fausto Natera on June 17, 2008, Trenton Kemp of the Gulf Coast League Red Sox on July 3, 2015 and Spokane’s Tyler Sanchez on July 25, 2015.
The Major League record for most times hit by a pitch in a single game is three, set 30 times since 1908 — most recently this year by Arizona’s Tim Locastro on May 24 and Cincinnati’s Derek Dietrich on June 21.
Tucupita Marcano is flashing some impressive contact skills along this season, as his 8.7 K% is the lowest in the Midwest League. His 6.7 BB% is lower than he’d like, but it’s still good enough to sneak on the Midwest League Leaderboard at 75.