Quad Cities Report: Chilly Night Not Enough to Keep Tucker, Winkelman From Heating Up
On a night when the final pitch was thrown in 45 degree weather, Kyle Tucker and the Quad Cities River Bandits pitching staff played like it was the middle of summer, picking up their first victory of the season with a 2-0 win over the Peoria Chiefs. Kyle Tucker went 3-for-3 with a walk, stolen base and his first homerun of the season. Alex Winkelman (win), Ryan Deemes (hold) and Adam Whitt (save) combined for the shutout.
It was truly impressive seeing the fifth overall pick of the 2015 draft swing the bat. Kyle Tucker has a very effortless stroke and a good eye for the zone. Following up his opposite field homerun in the first inning, Kyle hit two singles before it was very evident that the Peoria Chiefs wanted nothing to do with him and pitched around him in his fourth at bat.
Kyle also proved that he is more versatile than just his bat. He made a gorgeous diving catch in the second inning to end the inning and rob the Chief’s Craig Aikin of an RBI. He also threw a bullet in the sixth inning to nail Chiefs’ leadoff hitter, Vaughn Bryan, who tried stretching a single into a double. Just for good show, Tucker also picked up his first stolen base of the season in the eighth inning. While he doesn’t play the outfield as gracefully as fellow 2015 draftee Daz Cameron, there is a lot to like about his all around game.
Not to be overshadowed by Tucker’s performance, the pitching staff threw a gem tonight. Alex Winkelman picked up the win going 5 strong innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. Most impressive about the lefty starter was his ability to keep hitters off balance. Alex was using all parts of the strike zone, mixing his fastball, which sat around 90 mph, and a high 70’s curveball. The Peoria Chiefs just could not square him up all night, hitting several weak groundballs and lazy popups. In fact, the Chiefs only had one extra base hit all night.
In the sixth inning, power arm Ryan Deemes came in and continued to keep the Chiefs off the board for the next three innings. Deemes attacked the hitters early and often, using a low 90’s fastball up in the zone. Deemes ended the night throwing 3 innings of 3 hit ball with 5 strikeouts.
Getting the save tonight was submariner Adam Whitt. While occasionally showing signs of being wild, Whitt kept the Chiefs uncomfortable in the box and used his defense to pick up his first save of the season. After getting the first batter to hit a line drive perfectly into the shift, Whitt followed up by hitting Chiefs’ cleanup hitter Brian O’Keefe. Whitt regrouped, though, and got Casey Turgeon to hit into a game ending double play.
Sights and sounds
- While Daz Cameron struggled at the plate (0-for-3, 3 K, 1 BB, 1 R), he did impress with his defense. Daz seems very natural in the outfield, seemingly gliding to the ball wherever it is hit. In fact, in the second inning, Peoria Chief Casey Turgeon hit a shot to centerfield that seemed like it was going to easily burn Daz, only to have him make it into a routine play. While his at bats tonight showed a lot of swing and miss and the need to develop, his defense showed reasons why the Astros selected him 37th overall in the 2015 draft.
- If I never watched a single pitch of tonight’s game, one of my favorite players for the Bandits would still probably be 3B Bobby Wernes. In addition to make several dazzling plays at third, Wernes definitely stood out as the vocal leader of the Bandits. Whether on the field or at the top step of the dugout, Wernes was constantly talking up his pitchers, batters, and even the umpire after a questionable interference call in the ninth inning.
Players of the Game
- Kyle Tucker: 3-for-3, R, HR, RBI, BB, SB, OF Assist
- Alex Winkelman: W, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R,0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
The River Bandits play the Peoria Chiefs again tomorrow night at 6:30 in the rubber match of the series. According to MiLB.com, Rogelio Armenteros will pitch for the River Bandits against Peoria Chiefs’ Derian Gonzalez.
**Photo Credit: Richard Guill**