Burlington won on Wednesday, 6-3
RC was in Burlington on Wednesday to see the Bees defeat the Beloit Snappers, 6-3. We got our first look at Matt Kniginyzky, and we saw Mike Sweeney play his second game with the Bees while on a rehab assignment. Kniginyzky picked up his staff-leading eighth victory of the season, and reliever Chris Hayes got the save with two innings of relief.
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A few of RC’s impressions from the game:
We really liked what we saw from Matt Kniginyzky, who threw 5.1 innings, allowing one earned run, six hits, and three walks while striking out four. Kniginyzky became a starter during spring training after spending his first professional season as a reliever, and the results have been outstanding. In 103.1 IP thus far, Kniginyzky has allowed 96 hits and 30 walks while striking out 88 batters. His ERA now stands at 3.22, and his eight wins lead the club, despite missing three weeks with a strained lat.
In fact, Kniginyzky is still recovering from the lat strain he suffered last month, and he was on a strict 75-pitch count in tonight’s game. After the game, he told RC that he’s feeling no lingering effects from his earlier injury, and that tonight was really the first time that his velocity was back to normal. Kniginyzky is essentially a three-pitch pitcher.
Tonight he showed us a four-seam fastball that ranged from 89-92, but sat right at 91 most of the night. His power curve ranged from 75-79 mph, and his change-up – which we only saw him throw twice for sure (we might have missed one or two in innings 5-6) – came in at 82 mph. He showed an ability to throw both the curve and fastball for strikes, and his curve generated some silly swings when he threw it out of the zone or in the dirt. In fact, two of his four strikeouts came on curveballs out of the zone, and another was a dandy backdoor called third strike. We spoke with Kniginyzky after the game, and you can read the interview here.
It was good to see Mike Sweeney on the field again, and he had a pretty decent game. After grounding weakly into a fielder’s choice in the first inning, Sweeney launched an 82 mph off-speed pitch over the left field wall for a solo HR in the third. It wasn’t a majestic shot by any means, but the ease with which he got the ball out made clear the difference between a low-A ball player and a Major League All-Star.
Sweeney signed autographs for the Burlington faithful before the game
Sweeney didn’t appear to be playing in any pain, and he left the ballpark after his seventh inning fly out to left in order to drive back to KC, and he will resume his rehab assignment with the Wranglers on Friday in Arkansas. Sweeney finished the night 1-for-4, and he hit two balls hard (the HR and a sixth inning lineout to right).
We heard an interview with Guy Hansen last week in which he hyped Jose Duarte’s speed, but we saw it firsthand tonight. Duarte stretched a fifth inning single to left into a double, and he easily stole second base in the seventh inning for his 22nd stolen base of the season. Duarte is one of the few bright spots among Burlington’s position players, and even though his stats aren’t exactly outstanding, it’s clear he knows how to use the tools he has. He’s definitely an interesting player.
Yes, Jose Duarte is fast.
Josh Johnson, who’s played second base for the vast majority of the season, played shortstop tonight, and he looked really good around the bag. His arm is better than we thought, and it will be interesting to watch if he continues seeing more time at short.
That’s it for today. RC will be back tomorrow night with another recap, and hopefully another interview or two. Also be sure to check out Scout.com's Top 300 prospect list, which was released on Wednesday. The Royals have two prospects included in the Top 15, but you'll have to visit the list to see who ranks where.
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