It was mentioned in passing in Saturday night’s game story, but it bears repeating that as the Modesto Nuts try to come together as a team in the second half, it would help if the makeup of the roster weren’t a hurdle to success.
Here’s what I wrote in the story:
“A portion of the inconsistency on offense and defense has to fall to the makeup of the Nuts’ roster, which right now has more shortstops than outfielders.
“It means at least three players every night are playing away from their natural positions, and since those shortstops all have to see time in the middle infield, the defensive alignment and batting order remain fluid from game to game.”
To elaborate, the Nuts’ active roster lists four players – Trevor Story, Rosell Herrera, Pat Valaika and Juan Ciriaco – who were signed as shortstops. In addition, Sam Mende – signed as a shortstop out of the University of South Florida – is on the disabled list and Matt Wessinger was a college shortstop moved instantly to second base, but plays mostly at third now.
That leaves Dean Espy, a college first baseman who has been used at third base, and Jordan Ribera, a college first baseman who actually gets to play his natural position.
Confused? You’re not alone.
Now let’s look at the outfield. With last week’s promotion of David Kandilas to Tulsa, Modesto’s outfield consists of lefties Derek Jones, Kyle Von Tungeln and Sean Dwyer, all of whom can do the job. But when one of them needs a break, to whom can manager Don Sneddon turn?
Dwyer, hitless in 16 at-bats, was given a mental day off on Saturday. With no other outfielders on the roster, Wessinger was sent to right field despite having almost zero experience off the infield.
That meant that Saturday’s roster featured a shortstop at third base, a shortstop at second base, a shortstop-turned-second baseman-turned third baseman in right field, a shortstop at designated hitter and a shortstop at (of all places) shortstop.
Four infield errors later, the Nuts lost 7-2 to High Desert. The outcome was secondary. What mattered was the performance of several guys who looked as though they were playing out of position, perhaps because they were.
We all understand that any of these guys can reach the majors at a position other than than the one he plays in Modesto.
I’ve been told by minor league developmental staffs of various organizations that the most important thing position players learn in High-A ball is how to develop the daily routines necessary to maintain success at the game’s higher levels.
But how is that possible if a player isn’t at the same position in the field or in the lineup for more than two days at a time?