I celebrated the 4th at Veteran’s stadium, where I had the privilege of seeing Arquimedes Nieto take a no-hitter into the 8th inning. I wasn’t able to watch the game with the insane amount of diligence I normally do, as I was entertaining a future in-law who also happens to be a Cardinal fan, but I’ll tell you what I did see. Nieto definitely had us both paying attention with his flirtation with a no-no.
Nieto was someone I was interested in seeing. He pitched well in his (very) short stint with Team Panama in the WBC, and through April-May he had 43 strikeouts to just 9 walks in 42 innings pitched and I wondered how he did it. The wheels seemed to come off for Nieto in June – his K/9 rate fell to 5 per 9, and his walk rate rose to about 4 per 9.
Having seen him pitch in person, I wonder if he’s not the Panamanian PJ Walters. His fastball was below-average at 88 miles per hour, and after the fourth inning he was down to averaging about 86. The pitch didn’t have tons of movement, location is key for Arquimedes.
He did however show pinpoint command and a good change-up, along with a decent breaking ball. The change looked really good at times, getting some batters way out in front. Nieto kept hitters off balance mixing up location and changing speeds, inducing a lot of weak contact and awkward swings. He threw with very little effort but did at times lose his release point, resulting in the three walks. He’s not a real big guy, listed at 6-0, 170. He looks more like 5-10. He did look to be gassed towards that 7th inning, when his control became a little spotty. He walked a batter in the 8th and gave up a towering homer to left field, and that was his night. By about the 5th inning I was pulling hard for him, so the 8th inning meltdown as a real letdown. My lasting impression was that he has a big league change and command, but definitely not a big league fastball. I’m not sure how the upper minors will treat him.
As for others-
Matt Carpenter has a nice, short LH swing, but I’m not sure how much power he will hit for. He changed and threw perfectly to first base on a perfectly hit bunt, a very nice play. He also has some surprising speed and caught a pitcher napping, leading to a steal.
Jonathan Edwards made a spectacular play to help Nieto preserve the no-no. He ranged far to his left and nearly collided with the CF and made a diving play. If he was faster, he may not have had to dive, but it was impressive. He also displayed an absolute gun in RF. With a runner on third, he came in on a fly ball and threw a bullet to the catcher, the man on third just retreated. Even the fans in the stadium were ooh-ing and ah-ing. At the plate, he looked very tentative, and took several strikes looking (including some third strikes) when he should have been swinging.
That’s about all I have. Last thing I’ll mention is that Jason Stidham has a very unique, open stance. Very squat, but open. He almost looks like he’s sitting on a chair with his legs open, facing the pitcher. I hope he always wears his cup.