Branch Rickey uttered one of the most famous sayings about baseball when he stated, “Baseball is a game of inches.” If this is true, then one cannot measure such qualities as heart, hustle, and extra effort. These ingredients can make it difficult to defend against as an opposing team. The scouting report may indicate one game plan. That can be executed to a tee, but the end result: Tim Locastro head first dives safely into first base on an infield single to win the game for the Drillers in extra innings. Not many other players in the Texas League would have been safe on that play.
Just glancing at the Tulsa Drillers stat page every now and again will not tell you the whole story on Tim Locastro. The Bomber Alum is tied for 4th in Runs Scored in the Texas League with 33. He has been an outstanding leadoff hitter for the Drillers, Locastro is 10th in the league with 53 hits. He is in the top 10 in 2B’s (Tied 5th with 12), 3B’s (Tied 3rd with 3), and SB’s (Tied 6th with 7). Of course, if you know Tim Locastro at all, he will do whatever it takes to win, he has been HBP 9 times already this season. He is on pace to “take one for the team” roughly 22 times.
In addition to providing as a stellar and steady leadoff hitter, Locastro has served many roles in the field as well. Recently, I asked him about how tough it is for him to play short stop, second base and center field. “It hasn’t been that difficult, I have gotten to the point where my role is to be able to play a bunch of different positions. I am ready to play everyday, where ever I am needed.” The Dodgers Front Office have placed a large value upon utility and players being able to have multiple roles within the team, with this in mind, Tim Locastro fits that mold. How many gloves does a player like that need to carry at a time. “I have 4 total gloves that are ready to go. I have my infield glove, my outfield glove, a back up infield glove. Then I have a first base glove if I’m needed at first. Always gotta be prepared!” With that sentiment in mind, would you be willing to put on the catcher’s gear or get on the pitcher’s mound? “I would definitely give both catching and pitching a try if I was needed there. I think with some practice I could find a way to catch, although it might not be pretty. The same goes for pitching; I wouldn’t throw hard, but I’d try some funky wind ups to try to mess with the hitter to get them out.” Anything to be on that field, helping his team to victory.
Tim Locastro is playing excellent baseball for the Dodgers Double AA affiliate. For those who may wonder about the mindset of this young man, look no further than his response to this query: Are you playing at the level you expect out of yourself? “I’m never satisfied with my level of play, always looking to get better and do better. I feel like I should hit a thousand and never get out, but baseballs a tough game and it’s a game of adjustments. Hopefully we can start winning more games here in the coming weeks and we can get hot as a team and make a playoff push for the first half.” He is a terminator when it comes to beating the other team, relentless. Great news for the Drillers now and the Dodgers in the future!
Spitzbarth Dominates California League, Earns Promotion
Shea Spitzbarth really impressive spring carried over into the first part of the season in Rancho. That led to his promotion to AA yesterday. The right handed closer from Staten Island was as near to untouchable as a closer in the minor leagues can be. He converted all six of his save opportunities for the Quakes, along with striking out 27 California League batters in 15.2 innings. In those innings, Spitzbarth surrendered just 9 hits and walked 5 batters. Only one runner scored versus the red headed, righty reliever while in Rancho Cucamonga. In Visalia (5/12/17), the former Molloy Lion struck out the side on 12 pitches in domineering fashion. The Rawhide batters were behind on his fastball, which in comparison to the curve, must have appeared 10 MPH faster. His promotion to Tulsa became official yesterday, and escalated quickly. He was pressed into action immediately for two shutout innings against Springfield. Spitzbarth has pitched all season in single A, as pitcher who did not belong there. Showing he was ready to move up. Congratulations to Shea Spitzbarth!
A Closer’s Mentality
To finish another team off in the 9th inning takes a certain personality, a mix of intensity, confidence and nasty stuff. Chatting with Shea regarding his curveball, he stated; “I think I’m one of those kids who started throwing it when you weren’t supposed to start in little league.”Full Interview with Spitzbarth Shea has the right DNA needed for the job. His role for the Drillers is undefined. The Dodgers AA affiliate have been a “closer by committee” bullpen this season. Whatever his role, however long his chance to pitch, you can be sure he will be locked in, focused and dropping hammers (curveballs, in baseball jargon) on Texas League batters while he has his occasion.
Stats are listed below for the recent college graduate. This season is young and he has only pitched in 12 games (1 in Tulsa 11 in Rancho) thus far. His career stats include a 2.22 ERA in 77 innings worked. He has 116 strike outs in those innings and has converted a perfect 15 of 15 save opportunities. Spitzbarth has been stingy in his career, allowing opposing hitters a .194 batting average against him. His career WHIP is an astonishingly low 0.91. Keep in mind, he has pitched 13 games (7 in ’15, 6 in ’16) for the Ogden Raptors of the hitter friendly Pioneer League in Rookie ball. These are impressive numbers for a potential future closer. Looking forward to seeing Shea rise through the system and into Los Angeles in the near future!