For the second straight year weather played havoc with minor league Opening Day, as Dunedin was the only affiliate to get their 2017 debut in, a 3-1 loss to Clearwater played in a very brisk two hours flat. Offensively, the D-Jays were almost completely shutdown, striking out 13 times and scoring their only run on a error. The real point of interest however was on the pitching mound.
Making the Opening Day start for Dunedin was Ryan Borucki, back at the high-A level after a rough start to 2016 before dominating the low-A level for the remainder of the season. But it was a completely different story last night. While his line on the evening - 3 runs on 3 hits in 5 innings with a walk, a HBP and 4 strikeouts - looks mediocre overall, it belies how effective he was.
In particular, he generated a lot of weak contact. Of the 14 balls put in play against him, 11 were poorly hit (ground balls and one popup) with just one hard hit ball and a couple routine fly balls. He gave up a pair of runs in the 4th after a one out error, followed by a weak chopper that hit the 1st base bag and went for a double, and then another ground ball double down the other line. The last run in the 5th scored on the only well struck ball, a "gliner" up the middle.
Borucki's fastball was in the 92-95 range, and he piled up swinging strikes on his offspeed pitches (mostly changeup but a few on his curve). In total, he threw 80 pitches and generated 14 swinging strikes on 35 swings (40%). If there was one nit to pick, Borucki didn't exactly fill up the strike zone, and fell behind more batters than he got ahead of (11/19).
Behind Borucki, Justin Shafer threw a couple scoreless innings of relief to close the game. His fastball was 93-94, which was a tick or two higher than when he started last year. His outing was a little uneven, with flashes of dominance (six swinging strikes out of 25 total) but also a couple hits in his first inning and a hard line drive that was caught and turned into a double play to bail him out.