Two-way Street: Lechich and Brown Helping Chatham on the Mound and at the Plate
Two West Coast guys. Two left-handed hitters. Two outfielders. Two left-handed pitchers. Two drastically different personalities.
Brown has also made a name for himself on the mound in Chatham. In four appearances out of the bullpen, Brown sports a 2.84 ERA with seven strikeouts in six and one third innings pitched. With a live arm that can challenge any hitter, Brown has also displayed an adept pick-off move to first base. In Brown's first appearance on Sunday, June 24, he picked off a runner on first base before he threw his first pitch. In the blink of an eye, Brown stepped his back foot off the mound and delivered a swift sidearm throw to first base, a move similar to Yankees southpaw Andy Pettitte.
"He just stepped off the mound and fired the ball over to first base," said an amused Schiffner. "He completely surprised the runner and that ball came out in a hurry. That's a tool that you need in this league."
Yet, of all of Brown's promising qualities, the one that stands out the most is his tireless dedication to the game. Anyone arriving early to see Chatham play can easily find Brown taking extra batting practice or leading the pack when the team goes through laps around the outfield. Just the opportunity to be in the nation's preeminent summer league has positively impacted Brown, who has cherished each moment since his arrival to the Cape.
"It's a blessing to be here with all these great players," said Brown. "As a two-way player, I have the chance to impact a game in many different ways, so I work really hard to become a better position player and a better pitcher every day. While I focus more on my hitting, I make sure to get into the bullpen and work with my coaches. Sooner or later, I'm going to have to choose one, but right now I'm enjoying the opportunity to do both."
While Brown has flourished so far in the young season, the journey from California to Cape Cod has not been quite as easy for Louie Lechich. Whether it has been finding out that you cannot pump gas at two o'clock in the morning in Massachusetts or realizing that manager John Schiffner is not one for constant tomfoolery, Lechich took a few days to get acclimated to life on the East Coast.
"The first few days were a big change, but it got easier once I got my sleeping pattern down and I got into a routine," said Lechich. "I needed to learn the ropes. I'm just playing baseball on a different side of the country."
Hailing from Stockton, Lechich is a true Californian in every sense of the word. His easygoing nature, his frequent use of the word "dude" and his witty one-liners have made the lanky lefthander a quick favorite in the dugout. During the team's rainout on Tuesday, June 26, Lechich was the star of the team's kickball game, with antics including unnecessary slides into the cone bases and salutes to an invisible crowd in left field.
"Louie is a character," said pitcher Michael Wagner, a teammate of Lechich's in both Chatham and San Diego. "He's talkative in the field and is always really social with the other guys. It's great to have on the team."
That being said, Lechich's lively nature has been channeled into success on the field. After transferring from the University of California at Berkeley, Lechich was an impact player for the San Diego Torreros in his sophomore season, hitting .311 with a home run and 33 RBI. The southpaw also flashed the leather with a .971 fielding percentage. Although Lechich was not as effective as a pitcher with a 7.88 ERA and 10 strikeouts on the season, he only had three appearances and was shut down early in the season.
Dale Carey (Miami) in a game against Hyannis .
"Louie had a little elbow tweak, which is common for two way players because of all the throwing they do," said Schiffner. "Louie's coaches wanted to make sure he was healthy, so they just kept him in centerfield."
As for Lechich's skill set as a player, those watching Chatham play this season will see a capable doubles hitter still trying to develop his power and plate discipline. Despite the lack of home runs, Lechich has tremendous speed for a player nearly six and a half feet tall and is blessed with a strong arm that rarely needs a cut-off man.
"Louie has great leverage in his swing and he has a great hitter's body," said Schiffner. "We're waiting for him to become more disciplined at the plate and use the whole field more. If he can get away from trying to pull the ball all the time, it's going to make him a much better hitter."
So far in the early season, Lechich has had a turnaround from his spring in San Diego hitting just .176 with no RBI. At the same time, Lechich has played a steady right field and has performed quite well on the rubber with a 2.53 ERA and eleven strikeouts in four appearances, some highly notable statistics considering that the southpaw had not pitched since the early part of his college season.
"Louie's coaches at San Diego wanted to get him some quality innings," said Schiffner. "That's what we're trying to do and Louie's looked great so far."
From a depth perspective, the arrival of Brown and Lechich has provided the Anglers with a degree of versatilty that the team has never had before. In an era of baseball where most players specialize at one particular position, having two pitchers who can hit, pitch and play the outfield is a rare commodity.
"We're just hoping we can keep as many guys as fresh as possible in order to make a playoff run and that the other teams wear down," said Schiffner. Everybody's going to get tired after playing an extended season. Having more guys fresh for the playoffs could really help us and Aaron and Louie give us that opportunity."
They may only be two players, but Aaron Brown and Louie Lechich embody the 2012 Chatham Anglers in both skill and personality. With a combination of power, speed, fielding, pitching, a dedicated work ethic and a fun love for the game, Brown and Lechichs' quirks can be found across the third base dugout at Veterans Field. As the season progresses, Chatham's versatile duo will be heavily featured in the team's summer narrative. So far, the outcome appears to be as bright as the future of these two gifted players.