Christian’s Sports Beat: Picking up the Power pace
The season got off to a slow start for the West Virginia Power last month, as the single-A farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates lost their first six games before getting one in the win column.
Since that rough start, the team has won more than it has lost, as the young ballplayers have begun to mesh.
The Power are led by first-year manager Wyatt Toregas, who is charge of making sure the players are headed in the right direction. I talked to the 34-year-old skipper before a home game last week about the slow start and his players rebounding.
“I think we have some guys that didn’t quite know what to expect at the level jump from rookie ball,” Toregas said, “and I think they wanted to see how they stacked up against the competition, rather than just going out and playing the game they know how to play; they were a little timid. We have many players that are playing at a new level, while the other teams have more repeating players on their squads.”
The Power has won more games on the road this season then in the friendly confines of Appalachian Power Park.
Most of Toregas’ players are first- or second-year players, which can create some challenging coaching opportunities. The former Major League catcher likes how his team has picked up the pace after the slow start, saying, “We started turning things in the right direction when we finally got through to them that they belonged at this level and you could see their confidence build when the wins started happening. The guys are performing as a team, doing the little things to win ball games, pulling for each other and making sure everyone is on the same page. I think we now have them thinking more about that concept and it’s working.”
Toregas managed the West Virginia Black Bears in Morgantown, another Pirates farm team, the previous two seasons.
One of Toregas’ leaders has been first baseman Carlos Munoz, who is in his second stint as a Power player. The 22-year-old native of Mexico likes suiting up each day for the Power manager and playing in the Pirates organization.
“I like that they really want us to become not only a better player, but a better person overall. It’s more about development, all the way to the Majors. Coach Toregas likes to emphasize the little things about the sport, knowing how to hit the cutoff man, knowing how many outs there are at all times, basically making sure our heads are always in the game,” Munoz said.
The left-handed-hitting first baseman played in 126 games last season for the Power.
Munoz started out the season staying in Florida for an extended spring training. He made it clear to me that he was ready to play when the call came, which was four games into the Power’s season. “It was hard not being on a roster to start off the season,” he said, “but I just wanted to be prepared for when the call came to join a team and was really relieved. The bad news was that another player was injured, but that gave me a chance to play and I was excited for the opportunity.”
Munoz has held down the first base spot since rejoining the Power.
I had to wait a few minutes to speak with Toregas; during that time, he was speaking with a couple of his players in the Power bullpen. I just had to know what the conversation was about, because it looked intense.
“We are trying some new things during a work day, talking to the players about situational thinking and decision making,” Toregas said. “We want to get the players to think about game situations. We want the players to have a plan and a purpose to their work day. We think this will help the young players to think ahead as they move up the ranks.”
I think the if the Power can maintain the pace they are now on, positive momentum will carry them to the end of the season.
You can follow the Power in the sports section of the Charleston Gazette-Mail or at www.wvpower.com.
Christian Deiss, 13, of Scott Depot is a student at Hurricane Middle School.