Nothing minor: third stop, Greenville (A)

There's nothing minor about minor league baseball.

The players, coaches, and staff are all focused on player development, both on the individual and team level. Our 3rd stop takes us to Greenville, SC, the home of the Drive.

The A Ball affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, like any level of the minor leagues, is a key point in player evaluation and development. Their their home park, Flour Field (at the West End) has its own version of the "Green Monster" found at their parent club's Fenway Park. And with the Palmetto Series this weekend just before the All-Star Break, it takes on an extra edge as it's not only a state rivalry with the Charleston River Dogs, but an organizational rivalry as their opponent happens to be the A Ball affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Even on this level, it's still a rivalry.

July 6, 2019: Charleston River Dogs vs Greenville Drive (Pre-game):

Brandon Howlett takes time out of his routine to speak with us.

The 19 year old infielder is in his first full year of professional baseball.

Individually, he is focusing on making sure his defense matches his offense, including making smarter defensive reads and decisions. Even on this level (only a year removed from high school), the speed of the game is something to continue to adapt to.

Team-wise, he feels the team is playing well as a unit and making the kinds of timely plays that allow you to compete and win games.

With the larger goal of being in the big-leagues, there are lessons he is learning and applying.

"You always work; you always grind. I make sure I don't get too high or too low. Staying even-keeled is important (and growing a lot from his time in high school)".

(View the full pre-game interview below):

July 6, 2019: Charleston River Dogs vs Greenville Drive (In-game)

In the bottom of the 1st inning, thanks to singles by Tyler Esplin (right-fielder) and third-baseman Triston Casas to put running on 1st and 3rd base, a sacrifice fly by Devlin Granberg (first-baseman) puts the Drive up 1-0 against River Dogs' starter Alexander Vizcaino. However, a 3rd inning RBI double by left-fielder Canaan Smith (Charleston) and catcher Eduardo Navas' 4th inning RBI double puts Greenville in a 2-1 deficit.

Drive starter Chris Machamer (4.1 IP, 5 earned runs, and 5 walks) is chased in the 5th inning as shortstop Max Burt cranks out a 3 run home-run to put Charleston ahead by a 5-1 score. In the bottom half of the 5th, singles by Grant Williams and Cole Brannon force Vizcaino out of the game (4.2 IP, 1 earned run, along with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks), but reliever Tanner Myatt (who goes 2.1 innings to get the win) shuts down the rally.

Charleston adds 2 runs in the 6th inning thanks to RBI's by designated hitter Eric Wagman and a sacrifice fly by first baseman Mickey Gasper to make it a 7-1 lead. The solid relief pitching by the River Dogs (their relievers pitch 4.1 innings allowing just 2 hits) keeps Greenville at bay for the remainder of the game.

July 6, 2019: Charleston River Dogs vs Greenville Drive (Post-game)

Third baseman Tristan Casas (who gets a hit in four at-bats) takes time to speak with us after the 7-1 loss. He notes the team did a good job of jumping on the starter to get to the early lead, but the 5th inning (3-run home-run by Burt) provide the difference.

He notes the team's focus on battling even when getting down 5-1 (in the 5th inning) and 7-1 an inning later.

"We stayed in it and battled to the last out. I think we learned a lot and can take that with us into the next game (Sunday)".

"Charleston has a lot of hard throwers. We have to look to be aggressive early in the zone; we know we're going to be challenged, so we have to come out with the right approach", he reflects as the team gears up for the next game.

And he closes out with some timely perspective on the loss, as it truly is a teachable moment and character builder.

"We either learn or we win", he concludes.

Additional notes: For more details on the team, including tickets and promotions, please visit their website (click HERE) and add them on Facebook (The Greenville Drive), Twitter (@GreenvilleDrive), and Instagram (@GreenvilleDrive).

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