Last night, Dutch RHP Tom de Blok made his A-Advanced debut in the Florida State League. It was one he won’t fondly remember. Tom lasted only three innings in which he gave up four runs, of which three were earned, as the Lakeland Flying Tigers lost to the Bradenton Marauders 7-3.
Tom started the game by getting the opening batter out on a groundout but then gave up a double to Adrian Valero, who advanced to third on another groundout. Valero then scored on a wild pitch by Tom. Tom then gave up his only walk of the night, one that proved costly as the runner would score all the way from first base on a single to left field and the error that followed.
In the second inning, it looked like Tom had straightened the ship again as he retired the side but in the third inning, he gave up two more runs on a home run by Bligh Madris. By the time he finished the inning, he had thrown 65 pitches. Manager Mike Rabelo decided to pull him after the final out of the third inning.
Of the 65 pitches Tom threw, 42 were called for a strike (about 64%). Tom retired three batters on a strikeout and retired 6 runners on a groundout, of which one was a double play.
One can only guess for an explanation for this short outing. It is said that the difference between A Full Season and A-Advanced isn’t that big, so that may not be the cause. What could have influenced Tom’s performance is the Floridan humidity. Humid air feels very heavy to the human body but in fact, it is lighter, so it is making hit balls travel further and curveballs and sliders do not break as easily. In a certain way, it has the same effect as thinner air at a higher altitude. This is something Tom has to learn to deal with. His opponent, Cam Vieaux, has spent a part of 2017 in the Florida State League so he may have learned that already. But it must be said that his numbers did not exceed Tom’s by that much. Sure he lasted five innings but still, he gave up three runs on six hits. The big difference was the seven strikeouts he recorded.
Last season, Tom also had a period in which he was hit hard. Eventually, he managed to adapt and still had a great season. No doubt Tom will be able to deal with this humidity thing of the Florida State League as well.