Special Assignment – Peoria Chiefs v. Kane County Cougars
Recently, I had the pleasure of being able to cover a game between the Chiefs and Kane County. Not only was I able to have a birds-eye view from the press box, I was able to interview some of the members of the team. I’d like to thank Shawn Touney, Director of Public Relations for the Kane County Cougars, as well as Manager Casey Kopitzke, Broadcast and Media Manager Nate Baliva, and Team President Rocky Vonachen of the Peoria Chiefs for their hospitality.
Peoria Manger Casey Kopitzke was kind enough to spare a few minutes to answer questions before the game. Here are some excerpts from that interview:
ChicagoCubsOnline: Casey, the Chiefs have had an up and down season, but now that seems to have stabilized. To what do you owe this to?
Casey Kopitzke: Right now, we’ve been able to put out a consistent line-up, and the team has reflected that consistency. Call-ups are a part of the game, so you just need to try to stay positive.
CCO: That seems to be part of the territory for a minor league manager. Just as you have someone playing well, they’re gone. That seems to have affected your bullpen the most.
CK: Yeah, right now, we have Dan Berlind (as closer). He’s a little older guy, and has some experience in the league. That’s helped a great deal in that at area.
CCO: We hear a lot about having a good clubhouse and team leaders. Who are some of the leaders on the Chiefs?
CK: Some of the older guys like Richard Jones and Anthony Giansanti… They were here last year, and they know what to expect… And Greg Rohan…Greg came back, and was asked to play third base. He didn’t hang his head or anything…worked hard, and now it’s paid off.
CCO: And he made a great catch in Austin Kirk’s no-hitter.
CK: Yeah, his versatility was really a plus.
CCO: We know you like all of your guys, but who has impressed the most this season?
CK: Well, all the guys who have gone up have been impressive. I guess you look at players like Dallas Beeler and Marcus Hatley…guys who not only went up a level, but went two (levels up) and to see how well they are doing, it makes you feel good. That’s what it’s all about down here, helping the guys learn.
CCO: Who are the guys that keep the team loose?
CK: (laughs) Well, we’ve got a lot of those. It’s a good clubhouse.
Video Interviews and Highlights
Outfielder Taiwan Easterling
Pitcher Eric Jokisch
Here are some of my impressions of the performances of some of the Chiefs, in alphabetical order.
- Arismendy Alcantara – Has a very impressive set of tools … played second base that evening … showed good mobility and excellent range, going out into medium right field for a pop fly … strong throwing arm …well above average speed, nearly beat out a routine grounder and advanced from first to third on a single most players would have stopped at second … looks good at the plate, is able to keep his hands back and drive the ball up the middle
- Taiwan Easterling – Very good speed and arm strength for centerfield, very fluid in his turns … threw out a runner trying to advance to third … needs to work on routes to the ball, should have cut off some balls that went into the gaps … has good hitting instincts, but looks like he can use more experience
- Dustin Geiger – Appears to be a little overmatched offensively, but looks “hitterish”… has a nice approach and is able to drive the ball … tough night defensively at third, as several wicked hops ate him alive … showed a “plus” arm (in an amusing instance, after shagging an errant throw from Richard Jones in warm-ups, Geiger let loose a laser beam from two steps into foul territory, across the diamond, short-hopping the wall of the opposite stands)
- Anthony Giansanti – For someone who started the season at third base, showed excellent mobility in the outfield …very good arm strength, causing several runners to retreat to first base … appears to be overly aggressive at the plate
- Richard Jones – Classic power hitter with a quick step and long stroke … when he is able to get his hips turned, the ball goes a long way … showed good mobility at first … was able to run down and tag out a batter before a runner from third was able to get home
- Austin Kirk – Seemed to have trouble finding the plate that evening … was able to get ahead of batters, but let them off the hook … strikeout on a wicked breaking ball … fastball seems to average to above average, reaching the mid 90s
- Ben Klafczynski – Can see why people are excited about him … diamond in the rough … very athletic, looks very fluid in his movements … exceptional arm strength, nearly throwing out a runner at home from deep left … appears a little overmatched offensively at this point, but has skills … was able to keep his hands back and drive a ball for a single … can see why the organization is trying to “fast track” his development
- Pete Levitt – Big, powerful, and intimidating … has the look of a future closer … fastball in the mid to upper 90s … popped leather with every pitch … high leg kick
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