July Players of the Month Yakima

The Yakima Bears, the Short Season A affiliate of the Diamondbacks, are not filled with sure things, but two players took steps toward showing they sure have a chance in July.

Position Player  Josh Ford

There were Yakima Bears who hit better than Josh Ford's .284 average, including infielder Derek Bruce (.331) and third baseman Trey Hendricks (.322), and several who slugged better than Ford's .333, including outfielder Chris Rahl (.381) and shortstop Ricardo Sosa (.460).  So how exactly did Josh Ford win Player of the Month for July?

By doing all the little things well, and one big thing the best.  Ford's steady play behind the plate has been great for a young pitching staff seeing pro hitters for the first time, and it has been there nearly every day.

"He handles pitchers like a vet," one scout said of Ford, "It's clear he's comfortable talking to them, and they trust him.  The fact that he's back there almost everyday is going to help his pitchers more than it's going to help him, but it helps the team a ton."

Ford appeared in 27 of Yakima's 30 games in July, committing only three errors and anchoring a staff full of first and second year players still learning how to pitch in professional baseball.  He doesn't ask for days off and doesn't want them, he wants to strap on the gear, something you're always looking for behind the plate.  That alone wouldn't have gotten Ford the nod, but combine that with a team leading 20 RBI in the month and a spectacular .344 batting average with runners on and one thing becomes clear. 

Josh Ford is clutch.

And the clutcher the situation the better he'll be.  Runners on with two out?  How about a .450 average, how about runners in scoring position and two out, an even .500.  Josh Ford does the little things that many catchers at his level haven't learned yet, and has the killer instinct that can't be taught at any level, and that's why he's the FutureBacks.com Position Player of the Month of July.

Pitcher  Ryan Doherty

You might have heard of Ryan Doherty before now, you might even have seen him.  Doherty was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Diamondbacks, yet he had already been featured on ESPN long before that.  Why?

Because Ryan Doherty is 7'1".

He'd gotten some face time as the closer on the Notre Dame baseball squad, mostly for the novelty of a seven foot pitcher, but most teams were unimpressed with his stuff.  Shortly after moving to Yakima Doherty has already picked up three to four miles an hour on his fastball, the result of work with the Yakima coaching staff, and he showcased his new and improved stuff all the way through July.

Coming out of the bullpen Doherty earned a 2-1 record in July and had a stellar 2.51 ERA.  While others, like Matt Krohe (1.93) and Kyler Newby (1.59) had lower only Newby featured a lower opponents against batting average than Doherty's .157.  The sharp (and 'sharp' might be an understatement) downward plane of Doherty's fastball gives him an immense advantage, and many scouts have commented that even though his fastball is still riding in the low 90s it gets on hitters more quickly than that, because he's releasing it nearly five feet closer to the hitter than they are typically used to.

Doherty showed excellent control, walking just three against 19 strikeouts in July and showed the ability to stretch his arm out, going as many as three innings in a single appearance.  While there is no such thing as a sure thing pitcher in the Short Season Northwest League, Doherty's physical presence and sponge-like ability to learn certainly give him a shot.

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