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The penultimate home game for the Barons seemed like as good as time as any to make the drive down I-65 and see Project Birmingham in person.
I don’t think a meaningful impression about the experiment can be formed until next May, when we see if any exposure to Double-A pitching helped players like Wes Kath, DJ Gladney and Wilfred Veras as they embark on their High-A careers.
My preliminary impression is merely that it involves a ton of people. There are so many extra bodies on the roster that the Barons’ dugout outcounted the Chattanooga Lookouts’ even when the Barons were in the field. When the Barons were hitting, the dugout resembled an NFL sideline.
Beyond the sheer numbers, it also gave me a chance to see Colson Montgomery in person. I feared my first impression would be a skewed one, as Montgomery has looked and sounded a little worn down at the end of his first full professional season.
He entered the evening just 4-for-35 with a double, a walk and 12 strikeouts over his first 10 games with the Barons, and he flied out to left field in his first two at-bats. I watched those plate appearances from the side, and when you see ordinary opposite-field contact and Montgomery’s heel spin out of the box, it reminded me of a switch-hitter batting from his weaker side.
His last two plate appearances told a different story. With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, his eyes lit up on a first-pitch curveball, and he lined it into the right-field seats for a grand slam.
COLSON MONTGOMERY GRAND SLAM!!!! pic.twitter.com/b1Pf8SyK1e— Birmingham Barons (@BhamBarons) September 11, 2022
That registered at 105 mph, and he outdid his exit velocity his last time up by reversing a 94 mph fastball back through the middle at 108.
Here's Montgomery turning around 94 mph at 108 mph. pic.twitter.com/mCSv1FGchO— Jim Margalus 🥌 (@SoxMachine) September 11, 2022
From those angles, the heel spin is a distinct action from the completion of his swing, rather than a sign that his base is less than sturdy. I’m guessing Montgomery wouldn’t be getting Corey Seager comparisons if his lower half always resembled Leury García’s, but regardless, it was nice to see some Seager-like production out of him before the end of his longest-ever season, even if he’s likely to start the next one in the same place.
- Yolbert Sánchez went 2-for-4 with a walk.
- Carlos Pérez also went 2-for-4 with a walk, but he also hit his 20th homer of the season.
- Luis Mieses went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Oscar Colás, 2-for-4 with a double, strikeout and stolen base.
- Colson Montgomery hit a grand slam during his 2-for-4 night.
- DJ Gladney was 1-for-4.
- Wes Kath, 1-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Kohl Simas: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K
- Jordan Sprinkle went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Brooks Baldwin was 2-for-4 with a strikeout and a stolen base.
- Jacob Burke, 1-for-4 with a K.