I was watching the Great Lakes Loons game on MiLB.com on Friday evening in anticipation of the Loons wrapping up home field advantage in the divisional play-off starting on Thursday. Initially it did not look encouraging as 19-year-old right-hander Gerardo Carrillo looked shaky giving up two runs in the first inning on two hits, two walks, a stolen base, a throwing error on a pick-off attempt and a sacrifice fly over 25 pitches. However, those two runs were all the Lansing Lugnuts would get in the game.
Carrillo settled down giving up only one more hit over the next four innings while recording five strikeouts and only one walk. He was followed by the dynamic duo of right-hander Stephen Kolek and left- hander Austin Drury. Together over four innings they gave up but two hits while striking out five with Drury allowing two out of character walks. On the season they have given up only two earned runs – both by Kolek in his 27.1 innings – in a combined total of 44.1 innings pitched.
Another 19-year-old, Melvin Jimenez, finished off the tenth inning with a runner starting on second base and preserved the win by striking out slugger Ryan Noda for the final out of the game. Jimenez has not given up a run in his last eight relief appearances.
The Loons had scored a run in the top of the first inning on a Romer Cuadrado ground out and tied the score with a second run in the fourth inning on a Hunter Feduccia sacrifice fly. The game remained tied 2-2 until the Loons scored the winning run in the top of the tenth inning. After loading the bases and with two out, catcher Hunter Feduccia lined a single to left field scoring Deacon Liput from third base with the winning run. On the play Romer Cuadrado was thrown out at home ending the Loons half of the inning. Feduccia on the season now has three hits – two of them doubles – in five at bats with the bases loaded. The Loons win coupled with losses by West Michigan and Fort Wayne gave the Loons the sought after home field starting the play-offs.
We have all heard of and/or been following a group of young Dodger catchers – Keibert Ruiz, Connor Wong, Will Smith and Kyle Farmer, although we are not quite sure what the future holds for Kyle. Sixteen-year-old Venezuelan catcher Diego Cartaya will not make his professional debut until he turns 17 for the 2019 season. Meanwhile, 19-year-old catcher Ramon Rodriguez is still on the radar even though has had a bit of a down year, first with the Loons and then with the Ogden Raptors. Perhaps we have to wait another year to see how 20-year-old catcher Marco Hernandez does in a second term with the Raptors or with the Loons in 2019.
One young catcher who has flown under the radar and is about to take flight is the aforementioned Hunter Feduccia who was signed by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft. The 21-year old native of Lake Charles, Louisiana is a 6’2”/183-pound left-handed hitter who throws from the right side.
He attended Barbe High School in his home town and following his graduation headed off to Louisiana State University- Eunice which offers two-year community college programs. During the 2017 season Feduccia posted a triple slash of .394/.514/.606 along with six home runs and 47 runs batted in over 52 games. He was named to the 2017 National Junior College Athletic Association Division ll All-Region Team while being voted the 2016 & 2017 LSU-Eunice Defensive Player of the Year.
During the summer of 2017 Feduccia played 46 games with the Rockford Rivets of the collegiate summer Northwoods League and quite a summer it was. In July, he hit .449 (40-for-89) with seven home runs and 25 runs batted in.
“For a 20-game stretch, he was the greatest hitter on the planet,” said Rivets manager Brian Smith, who gave Feduccia eight days off in July. “The kid was exhausted, and he was (still) hitting walkoffs.”
More impressive was his hitting in key situations, namely with runners on base. In those situations he hit over .400. That is, with runners on base, with runners in scoring position, with the bases loaded and with runners in scoring position and two out. With runners in scoring position and two out he went 15 for 25.
Feduccia was the recipient of a 2017 Northwoods League Rawlings “Big Stick” Award given to the player at each position who had the best batting average during the 2017 regular season. On the season he hit .348, fifth best in the league.
The 2018 college season was ushered in with great anticipation both by Feduccia who had transferred to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and by Tigers’ coach Paul Mainieri’s whose expectations were high for the first year catcher at the start of the season. Things did not go exactly as planned.
Before the season even started he suffered a broken bone in his left hand. He was struck on top of his catcher’s mitt by a teammate’s bat during a follow through swing. He returned to play more quickly than he possibly should have but showed considerable grit in doing so.
Lightening did strike twice although not quite in the same place. During the third week of April he was struck again when a pitch hit by a Texas A&M batter deflected off his right hand, his throwing hand. Breaking a bone in both hands in a few short weeks is a rarity that not many can share with Hunter Fedducia.
Whether it was the injuries, the step up to Division I, the exhausting 2017 season in which he had played over 90 games including his Northwoods League games, he struggled with LSU posting a 2018 triple slash of .233/.375/.377. He didn’t play high school ball until his senior year so perhaps he had some catching up to do. Coach Mainieri offered his own perspective on Feduccia’s potential.
“I don’t even know if Hunter Feduccia realizes just how good a ball player he’s capable of being,” Mainieri said. “He can really be an outstanding player if we can just get him to shift it into another gear. Just to give a little bit more and give a little bit more focus and intensity. I think the kid could be a tremendous all-around ball player that could really do a lot in his post LSU days, as well.”
Mainieri also spoke of his plate covering ability with the bat.
“He doesn’t really have a weakness at the plate,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “He handles all kinds of pitchers, he handles all kinds of pitches, he covers the whole plate with his swing and uses the whole field. He has occasional power, he’s not going to strike out much and he hits in the clutch.”
After three games in the 2018 season with the Ogden Raptors, Feduccia was promoted to the Great Lakes Loons. His started off slowly with the Loons but has hit .315 in August along with a .381 OBP.
Behind the plate he has allowed one passed ball and committed his first error recently on a wind blown pop up behind the plate. He has thrown out 25% of would be base stealers and from what I have seen is very adept at handing pitches in the dirt. He doesn’t reach but slides laterally left or right keeping his body square and the ball in front of him. Additionally, he seems to work well with pitchers, something like AJ Ellis with Clayton Kershaw.
It seems that he has taken the next step that his coach at LSU was looking for. That is, focus and intensity. In a game on August 26 against the West Michigan WhiteCaps the Loons were in a late inning battle. In the eighth inning second baseman Devin Mann threw wide of first base at a critical moment in the game. A surprised Whitecap, John Valente, was thrown out at second base on the play with the throw coming from catcher Hunter Fedducci who had backed up first base and collected the errant throw.
Tuck Hunter Feduccia away in the back of your mind as another young catcher to watch in the Dodgers minor league catcher factory.
Dodger News by Mark Timmons
- Thanks to Dodger Chatter for all the effort he spends in delivering us the best Dodger Minor League News on the web.
- Thanks to Always Compete as well for all of his perspectives on the minors. Together they are AC/DC!
- I think all of us would have had Matt Kemp on the bench last night, but he was/is the Dodgers best hitter with RISP, hitting around .350. When Bradley hung a curve, Matt did what you are supposed to do: Make it disappear! It would be great if he could recapture the Beast Mode he had early in the year.
- Kenta Maeda is adapting nicely to the pen. He can be such a weapon there.
- The Dodgers starting pitching is now #1 in MLB, passing the Astros in ERA at 3.16.
- FLASH: Joc Pederson got a solid hit off a LHP!
- That defensive play by Kike and Bellinger in the 9th inning was Top Shelf!
- If the Dodgers can win today, this series will go down as when they “flipped the switch.”
- I will keep telling you that this team is built for the Post-Season.