MMLN - Holt Tosses Binghamton Best

Holt made his best start in Double-A on Monday

NEW BRITAIN, CT - Brad Holt took the ball in the B-Mets final game before the Eastern League All-Star Break and impressed with his best start since joining the Double-A club in June. At the plate, the B-Mets put together two monster rallies in the first two innings which led whitewashing of the New Britain Rock Cats. Inside Pitch was there and offers this report.

Brad Holt brought his A-game on Monday but an 11-0 lead after two innings allowed Holt to settle in, use his fastball/changeup combination and just attack the New Britain lineup. His fastball sat 91-92 MPH—he hit 93 once—which is a tick or two below his usual velocity, but the 30 minute breaks between the first two innings could have played a part in that dip.

He used his fastball in nearly 70 percent of his pitches and did a good job placing it on both sides of the plate with effective tailing action. His fastball has excellent pop because of his stable, clean mechanics and power finish.

Holt's changeup, which sat 82-84 MPH, is far improved from last season and he is showing much more confidence to use it early in the count and even to start batter's off as he did a number of times today. He has created better differentiation between the pitch and his fastball and that should continue to pay dividends in his strikeout totals.

Holt did not flash his curve often—not that he needed to—but when he threw it, he did so with good break that was just shy of 12-6, more like 11-5.

Of his three pitches, Holt's fastball draws plenty of swings-and-misses, but more importantly his changeup is generating a higher percentage than last year with his curveball catching up. By the end of the day, Holt's seven shutout innings and one walk combined for his best Double-A start.

Ike Davis took an oh-fer as he went 0-for-5 with one RBI and a walk, and though he weakly grounded out a couple of times, the balance and load of his swing are vastly improved from last season. He is showing improved bat speed on the inner half—a big reason for his home run surge this season—and is getting more of his shoulders into his swing when his was a lot more hands in 2008. His strike zone awareness needs some sharpening, but the better looking swing will go a long way for the rest of this season.

Lucas Duda has absolutely no issues hitting right-handed pitching and he showed that today, early, when he sent a bomb to center field for a RBI double. Duda collected two more walks and scored two runs on the afternoon. His 1-for-3 effort extended his hit streak to 13 games. Duda's bat speed is very good on the inner-half and he has the tools against right-handed pitching, but unfortunately for him southpaws exist and his splits of .324 (v. RHP) and .149 (LHP) need to be corrected. He manned left field—as he has done since Davis' promotion—but received only one chance at a put out.

Ruben Tejada's 3-for-4, 3 RBI day got started with a first-inning RBI double—his 16th double of the season. As reported during Spring Training, the glaring hitch he possessed in his swing in 2008 has been marginalized and has a result he has shown a quicker bat on the inner half. Nonetheless, his power remains minimal at best and he has work to do driving pitches on the outer third. Tejada is now 7-for-10 with five RBI over his last two games.

Defensively, Tejada is just as sharp as he was last year but his mechanics remain the same. He is still a bit rough to the backhand side but he boasts very good range to his left and his quick feet help him get into proper positioning. As for his throwing arm, it is accurate but he still has a bit of a pushing motion to his release that saps a bit of strength.

The tricky element about Tejada in Double-A is that his age and comparative experience to the rest of the league can breed inconsistency. That can make it tough at times to judge what one sees from the shortstop. In some ways, his faults can be attributed to his own lack of growth, but times it can be attributed—to no fault of his own—to simply being overpowered by a far more veteran opposition.

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