Sugar Land Skeeters: How the franchise re-invented itself in COVID-19 world

Sugar Land Skeeters catcher Octavio Martinez (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Sugar Land Skeeters catcher Octavio Martinez (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Gauging the competition level

How good is the Constellation Energy League level of play?

As for the quality of the competition, the Constellation Energy League really hits a home run. I attended a game between the Sugar Land Skeeters and Team Texas not knowing what to expect. In my humble opinion, it is not a matter of if one or more of these players will reach the major leagues, only when.

Of particular note, I saw a 5-10, 195-pound infielder named Anthony Giansanti obliterate a baseball to left field. The Connecticut native has suited up for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League since 2017, and has played as high as Triple-A in a stacked Cubs’ farm system that supported Chicago’s 2016 championship run. Arguably, the right-handed hitter was perhaps overlooked on an organizational depth chart featuring budding major league stars like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

According to my Google distance calculations, the 31-year-old’s mammoth shot landed roughly 20 feet above the field of play on top of a blue tarp, nearly 370 feet from home plate. And had that tarp not served as an obstruction, that towering drive to left might have touched down in an upper deck at a major league stadium.

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Giansanti, who has literally fielded every position as a professional, features not only defensive versatility but a swing that puts MLB clubs on notice. His eleven years of grinding and refining his game in pro ball may have him as a sleeper acquisition to help out a major league roster, right now.

Additionally, a 26-year-old right-handed starter by the name of Chase De Jong, who has played a small handful of major league games electrified the crowd, going four hitless innings and striking out nine. My favorite moment of De Jong’s outing was not the strikeouts, themselves, but rather his exacting location when he threw to a lefty what appeared to be an identically located off-speed offering that was swung through on the first pitch of an at-bat for a strike-two call.

Usually, the same off-speed pitch only comes twice in a row to the same location by incredible luck or incredible skill. And most of the time, catchers do not call for pitchers to throw the same type of off-speed pitch in the same location on consecutive pitches because a professional batter might obliterate it, like a cat finally catching a mouse. Nevertheless, that strike-two pitch illuminated De Jong’s ability in a special way to me, and showed he deserves a shot to be playing more major league baseball games.