Last night, while going through blank VHS tapes not looking for a dubbed copy of "Pokeahotass II" (that's how rumors get started), I came across Jesse Foppert's Pac Bell debut. It was a spring game against the Mariners, back when the Mariners were pretty good. The hype machine was being pedalled extra-fast for Foppert at the time. There was a joke going around in the sports bars, even:
(Before they can respond with "Jesse Foppert who?", move on...)
Juan Marichal who?
Yep. Popular in the sports bars, and not just made up in the last twenty seconds. That's the McCovey Chronicles Guarantee.
The exhibition game was televised on FSN, and was the first chance many non-Fresnonians had to watch Foppert pitch. At this point the speed of his fastball was not up for debate yet. FSN did not have a radar gun reading up, and it looked like Foppert was throwing hard. Not 97 mph hard, but hard enough to force a lot of pop-ups and late swings. Just how hard did he throw in the minors? From John Manuel of Baseball America:
Foppert looked pretty good in the game. He was getting a lot of first-pitch strikes with the fastball, which was something of a rarity later in the season. His slider was pretty flat, but his changeup was awesome. It didn't look like a changeup, but I'm deferring to the analysis of Mike Krukow, who was bouncing off the walls after watching Foppert pitch. The change came in pretty fast, and broke like a 12-to-6 curve. He was leaving it in the middle of the strike zone, but still getting early swings from the likes of John Olerud.
All told, it wasn't the dominating flash we were hoping to see. Perhaps the injury had already started to manifest itself, or perhaps the hype was a touch overblown. Still, I'd be happy to see this version of Jesse Foppert emerge this year. Good control, solid fastball, off-speed stuff as a work in progress, and good control. Alou seems to have backed off his guarantee that Foppert will make the team, but his opening performance of the spring and his non-game pitching haven't done anything to hurt him so far.