Archive for the ‘A Advanced’ Category

Bus Leagues Q&A: Elizabeth Martin, Assistant GM of the Visalia Rawhide

When our little cabal of writers gets on gmail and starts talking about what each of us will contribute each week, lots of ideas get thrown out. When the idea of interviewing Elizabeth Martin came up, there was serious concern that none of us was smart enough to hold our own during a Q&A. I’ve never let the possibility of sounding stupid come between me and a good interview before, so I happily took the assignment.

Good choice. Liz Martin is the Assistant GM and Legal Counsel for the Visalia Rawhide, the A+ California League affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. During our phone interview, she was engaging and funny, and used small words to explain why she chose to use her DePaul law degree in baseball instead of some swanky glass skyscraper. Clearly, she knew what caliber of website she was dealing with.

Liz MartinTell me a little about how you ended up working for the Visalia Rawhide.

I actually interned with the team in 2006 when they were the Oaks. It was one of my first internships while I was in law school. I got to be pretty good friends with the owner and stayed in touch with him while I was in school, and he offered me the position when I graduated.

You traveled from Chicago to California for the internship?

I did. I spent every summer that I was in law school away from Chicago, which is the wrong time to leave town. So the first summer I was in St. Petersburg, second summer I came here and third summer I went to Berkley and worked for the Raiders. Then I came back here permanently.

So, while you were in law school, you were targeting a job in sports?

Well, when I first went to law school, I wanted to be an agent. It took me about six weeks to figure out that I didn’t want to be an agent any more. Really, what sealed the deal for me was getting the internship with Minor League Baseball and working in their headquarters in St. Petersburg.  Working in that kind of organization, I realized that was much more to my taste. I really felt at home. So I shifted directions and went the corporate law route with a sports focus.

You are the legal counsel for the Visalia Rawhide. What are some of the legal issues that come up that we might not be aware of?

Other than contracts, which is what I do a lot of – sponsorship contracts – I helped with the lease negotiations with the new stadium being built – well, it’s mostly renovations, but it feels like it’s new.

One thing that we had happen recently is that an East Coast independent league team tried to take our Mudville logo, which our team also owns. They tried to modify it, but they had clearly taken it and barely changed it and tried to use it themselves. So, logo protection, trademark protection… you’d be surprised how often someone tries to take a trademark and run with it.

Minor league teams often change affiliations. Would you have a role in that process if it happens?

That’s usually handled by our owner, though I’d definitely help out with that. Minor League Baseball standardizes most of those agreements. Our relationship with the Diamondbacks has been pretty solid, so I don’t foresee anything like that happening.

How does sports law practice differ from, say, corporate law?

It’s really just the subjects you touch on. I tell people I could work the same crazy hours I work for baseball, but be forced to wear a suit in some underground dungeon, but I get to come to work at a baseball stadium every day. That’s the first bonus.

Do you get a chance to join the crowd and enjoy the game from time to time?

Definitely, during the games I try and get out of the office and interact. I don’t think many minor league baseball people stay in an office on gameday. There’s always something breaking or a lost child or something that needs attention. For me, it’s a more fun environment. I get to interact with the fans and help younger people coming into baseball. I’m about five to seven years older than anyone else in the office other than our owner, so helping them get their careers off the ground, shape their futures and figure out where they want to go in baseball or in life. Some people come here for six months and say “OK, I never want to do that again,” but I think that’s a great learning process that I didn’t get to go through at 20 years old.

As assistant GM, do you have other duties outside the legal realm?

I do. I’m also the sales manager because I came from a sales background before I went back to law school. I handle all the HR functions because there are a few legal aspects in that. Fortunately, or unfortunately for the crowd here, I also manage the concession stand. I’m a vegetarian.

That would be tough in that environment.

It’s a perfect fit! (laughs)

Were you involved with baseball as a kid?

Not other than just loving the sport. My dad was a baseball player and he got me to fall in love with the sport. I tried to play softball, but I had no talent for that at all. So I became the official scorekeeper, so I learned a different aspect of the sport from an early age.

You said your dad was a ballplayer. Did he play professionally?

He played in college for a couple of years, at Kent State in Ohio. He played in high school. He didn’t have any sons, and I was the oldest of three girls, so I was the one he would play catch with in the backyard. That’s how we bonded.

What is the major focus of your job during the offseason?

Preparing for the next season. We get the question a lot. People think in the offseason we take six months off. We’re meeting with sponsors and getting our sales cycle going. It’s basically an event-planning job. But we’re essentially planning 70 separate events. I like to look at them as separate events because each game might have a different sponsor or promotion tied to it. And some people in town only come to one game a year, so we try to make each experience as memorable and special for that person, as for somebody who comes to all 70 games.

We kept track of Collin Cowgill from afar when he played for Visalia. Is he a fan favorite there?

He was, but unfortunately he got hurt pretty early on and they took him away for rehab. But his name was definitely a tie-in for us being in the cow capital of the universe.

I actually didn’t know where the Rawhide name came from.

We are in the dairy capital of the world here. The Happy California Cows commercials are basically about this area. We wanted to pay homage to that, and the fact that baseball has been in this town for over 60 years. But we didn’t want to be too cheeky about it, either. We threw around some childish names, but we wanted to be a bit more serious. We gave the players a bunch of suggestions we had received and kind of left it up to them to decide.

Rawhide sounds a bit more dangerous than something cow related.

Yeah. Like the Moo or the Tippers.

Is there some personal pride when someone who passed through Visalia moves up the ladder?

We definitely love it. That can be front office or on the field. It’s great to see people who are now in the big leagues who were nice guys when they were here. When I was here in ’06 we were a Tampa Bay affiliate, so I got to spend some time with Evan Longoria and Reid Brignac, so that was fun. That’s just a great story to tell your kids some day. But in the front office, we have a ops manager who is now with the Durham Bulls and one that went to Tacoma. So that’s fun for us to see them move on and have other opportunities, too.

How do you know somebody has the right makeup to succeed in a minor league baseball front office?

My boss at the Raiders told me if you want to work in sports you have to be just a little bit insane. I believe that. You have to be willing to lose yourself in it; to give everything you have. It’s not a 9-to-5 job by any stretch. At this point we’re working seven days a week. I was here until 9:00 last night and started before 9:00 this morning. You really have to be willing to go above and beyond what most people just coming out of school have ever done.

Danny Duffy Calls It Quits

Danny Duffy’s bio in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook speaks glowingly of the 21-year-old pitcher’s excellence on the mound: his ability to throw off a hitter’s timing, his fearlessness on the inside part of the plate, his willingness to work at improving various aspects of his game.  It ended by noting that despite his youth, “Duffy isn’t that far away from the majors.”

Amidst all the praise, however, were a few cautionary words.  “He sometimes struggles to put bad starts behind him…one of the last remaining tests for the potential No. 3 starter is finding out how he handles adversity – because he hasn’t encountered any.”

Prophetic, perhaps?

Duffy, the eighth-rated prospect in the Royals organization, suffered a minor elbow injury this spring and wasn’t expected to pitch until mid-May.  On Tuesday, he told Royals officials he was done, finished, quits with the game of baseball.

The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton didn’t seem to think the injury was connected with Duffy’s decision to step away from the game, but it should probably at least be considered.  If a kid is known to have a hard time dealing with bad outings and people question how he will deal with adversity, it makes sense to draw a connection to elbow problems, especially if that was his first career injury.  If I’m a 21-year-old kid and my elbow starts to hurt, I don’t care if the doctors say it’s just a strain – I’m probably freaking out.

There is good news, though: stuff like this isn’t all that uncommon.  A couple years ago, Jose Tabata (a 19-year-old in Double-A) left the Trenton Thunder during a game and was suspended for three games.  In the 1950s, Hall of Famer Billy Williams left his team and went home, requiring the intervention of Buck O’Neil.  And in 2006, Zack Greinke took a couple months off to deal with some personal issues.

My guess is that Duffy goes home, gets some support and encouragement, and gives his elbow time to heal…then, in a couple months, gets the itch, realizes he misses the game, and picks up where he left off.

The Buses have Returned to Florida

For those of us lucky enough to live in Florida, particularly in Central Florida, there is a certain buzz in the air come March. Not quite March Madness, but better than just a night out drinking green beer and praising the Irish Saint of Bacchanalia. I am talking of course about Spring Training.

(Oh, sorry. Before I go any further let me introduce myself. I am Jordi Scrubbings of JordiScrubbings.com. You may have known me from my other blog TheSeriousTip. Maybe, maybe not. Anyway, I’ve been invited to contribute here this season, and if things work out, every season for the next decade (Scott Boras hooked me up). A few things about me: I am from Tampa, Florida, I’ve been known to “go ‘fro”, I am a Rays season ticket holder, and I actually sat through all of Major League 3.)

Although the spring exhibition schedule officially kicked off on Tuesday, my personal baseball season began Wednesday night when I journeyed over the bridge and through the urban sprawl to Brighthouse Field, spring home of the Philadelphia Phillies and summer home of the Clearwater Threshers. As has been recent tradition, the Phillies once again opened their spring schedule against the Florida State Seminoles. This was the third iteration of the exhibition, with the Phillies beating the Seminoles 12-4 in 2007 and neither team taking the field due to rain in 2008.

Due to time constraints, and the unfortunate fact that I have to go to work tomorrow (I’d much rather be going to Port Charlotte to see the Rays play the Orioles!), I’m going to use the legendary bullet style to talk about Phillies vs. Seminoles III: Charlie Manuel Don’t Surf.

  • I am from Florida, like I said. I’m used to baseball being played in the heat or indoors. I’m not used to cold, windy days at the ballpark. The temperature hovered around 50 degrees all night with gusts probably close to 10 mph. Enough to send a shiver through my bones. Too cold for baseball. But I endured.
  • The crowd was probably 50/50 Phillies/Seminoles fans. There are a lot of FSU alumni in the Tampa Bay-Clearwater area and we usually represent well at sporting events. But there were some diehard Phillie fans in the house. I saw one guy with a replica Steve Carlton jersey.
  • Unfortunately, although she was at the first two Phillies-Seminoles contests, Jenn Sterger was not in attendance.
  • The Phillies played most of their regulars for the first two innings, to include Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz, and starting pitcher J.A. Happ. After Rollins lead off with a hit, the Phils regulars were shut down by the first three FSU pitchers.
  • Due to the game being an exhibition, and because the Noles played the night before in a regulation contest against the rival Florida Gators, head coach Mike Martin opted to use a pitcher an inning for the first five innings.
  • After five, the Seminoles were up 6-4. Then the wheels came off. A bunch of walks, a few hits, and a throwing error quickly made it 8-6 Phillies and they never looked back.
  • Many of the FSU faithful were seen checking their phones for the score of the FSU-Wake Forest basketball game (Check Storming the Floor for the result!). Because their preoccupation and the freezing temperature I only heard one school chant and only once did we do the Tomahawk Chop. Too cold to do the Tomahawk Chop? Preposterous.
  • FSU head coach Mike Martin threw in the towel after the Noles were retired in the 7th, down 13-6. Between the weather, the lack of pitchers, and the 4.5-hour bus ride Martin’s team had to do after the game, I was not surprised. Disappointed, yes. But not surprised.
  • As I left, I saw a charter bus pull in, ready to either take the Noles home or the Phillies to their next contest.

The buses are back, and so is baseball.

The Best Names in Minor League Baseball

Hi, you may have forgotten about me and the fact that I actually work here. Not so much work as attempt to write here, but hey. My screeds are at once fun and educational. But today, I will name the best names in each and every organization in the minor leagues. There’s one rule here. Fun factor outweighs crazy syllables. I may not name Atahulpa Severino the best name in the Nationals orgazization.

Then again? I might. Color your asses teased son.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Some say he has the upside of a Damaso Marte? Others say he’s a lefty Guillermo Mota. But I say that if you want the best name in the organization, you go with Leyson Septimo!

Atlanta Braves: And here’s where your fun factor mileage may vary. I’m not hyped for a Barbaro Canizares or a Dimasther Delgado. Not nearly as much as a Freddie Freeman, (1B) they should call him Captain Marvel.

Baltimore Orioles: There are no truly fun names here. So you know what? To avoid trying to make some irrational connection between Matt and Kurt Angle? I will go with an old standby. Choyre Spoone. (SP)

Boston Red Sox: Ryan Westmoreland would be a fine choice. Xander Bogearts would also be a choice worth your while. But my pick to click? Seth Schwindenhammer. Right Fielder.

Chicago Cubs: Obvious choice is obvious, right? Baseball America’s #1 Cub prospect is named Starlin Castro. (SS) But I say there’s a tie here. Because there’s a left fielder named Smaily Borges. He’s gold pony boy.

Chicago White Sox: Sometimes its as simple as clear lyricism. There’s a small righty with a strong arm and several fits of wildness. The name? Clevelan Santeliz! It’s like Heckathorn but awesomer

Cincinnati Reds: Plenty of good names here. But the best of them? Mariekson Gregorious! Dutch Shortstop! If you utter his name five times in rapid succession, a tulip shall grow from where you stand.

Cleveland Indians: Lyricism meets top prospectery with a dash of felonious behavior in Lonnie Chisenhall. He’s also on my fantasy team. He’s an edgier Mat Gamel. Another sentence to make this paragraph official.

Colorado Rockies: In a world with Jhoulys Chacin and Rex Brothers? Why would I go with Al Alberquerque? Obvious reasons. Bullpen mastery? The last name of a city? All that and more.

Detroit Tigers: Here’s the great (good) debate. Toolsy or do we go with the floor polish. I’ll go with toolsy. Avasail Garcia. Right Fielder. Because Avasail? It just brings more lyrical joy than Sborz. Right?

Florida Marlins: Sequoyah Trueblood Stonecipher. The inspiration for this post. He’s an outfielder. In the shortseason. Yay!

Houston Astros: By the rule of Wladimir Balentin, anyone named Wladimir is a default choice for any organization. And with nobody of an interest? His name is Wladimir Sutil. He plays shortstop.

Kansas City Royals: If you need a rap name to steal from any organization, then it’s the Kansas City Royal shortstop currently blocked by Yuniesky Betancourt. Yowill Espinall. He knows how to haul. And other fresh lyricisim. What?

Los Angeles Dodgers: Put it simple? Brian Cavazos-Galvez is the sort of prospect who you cannot say the last name as fast as possible without it degenerating into a horrible Ahnuld impression. Get to the Choppah!

Los Angeles Angels: And like Cavazos-Galvez the last name of Peter Bourjos is funsational. Because he hits triples. And steals bases. And allows me to work my accent work in terms of my crappy Russian.

Milwaukee Brewers: The 30th ranked prospect of the Brewers is dangerous. He’s a loose cannon. He plays by his own rules. His body’s writing checks that he just can’t cash. He’s Maverick Lasker. Riding through the short season danger zone.

Minnesota Twins: He’s kind of in the tall weeds in terms of his control issues. But the one thing that’s honest and true is that Shooter Hunt’s name is awesome. I hope he lands on his feet in some form or fashion.

New York Mets: I would call Jordany Valdespin’s name here. But no. He’s a jerkface. So I will use the familia. Jeyrus Familia. He’s a lower upside, better named Jenrry Mejia.

New York Yankees: In this weeks edition of the adventures of Graham Stoneburner, middle reliever? He allows two inherited runners to score! But it doesn’t hurt his ERA! Huzzah!

Oakland A’s: Are we going to live in a world where every second baseman a crazy name? I say that this is the change we believe in. Because Conner Crumbliss is a man. A second base-man.

Philadelphia Phillies: Dear Steven Inch, What kind of crazy mixed world does Inch become a surname? And it’s not as if your family’s short? You’re 6’4″ for pete sakes! Stop confusing me! Love, Bus Leagues Baseball.

Pittsburgh Pirates: In what sort of crazy mixed-up world does Dinesh, Gift, or Rinku not make the best name list? But there’s a better name. A righty pitcher. His name? Brooks Pounders. I mean, when your name is Brooks Pounders, every outing is like a gangbang!

San Diego Padres: There will be a second baseman that I mention in the future who has a fun listed first name. And in my dreams? Beamer Weems will be playing Shortstop. Rymer Liriano can suck it.

San Francisco Giants: He absolutely has no prospect value. But come on. Brian Bocock is in the organization. Comedy Bocock Factor is everything.

Seattle Mariners: Here’s another one where fun factor trumps syllables. In a world of Kaneoka Texiera and Paul LaFrombase, how in the heck does Shaver Hansen win? Because his first name is Shaver.

St. Louis Cardinals: In a mixture of algebraic principles and gritty back-up catching, Arquimedes Nieto is a fringe pitching prospect. But he’s fun! Yay!

Tampa Bay Rays: Did you know the Rays drafted the King of Queens last year? It’s true! Kevin James currently resides in the organization. And he’s looking to go Paul Blart: Mall Cop on opposing hitters!

Texas Rangers: The struggles of Warner Madrigal last season mean the set-up man is up in here as a contender. That being said? Jurickson Profar. The short stop is #5 in the organization’s prospect list, and #1 in my heart.

Toronto Blue Jays: My fantasy baseball team owns J.P. Arencibia, but I cannot in good conscience pass on Balbino Fuenmayor. The third baseman’s first name has to be an homage to the delightful 1980’s commoner Steve Balboni, right?

Washington Nationals: While the heir to the Applebee’s fortune lives here? It’s Atahulpa Severino. I mean, duh.

1100 Words on nomenclature. I hope you’re happy, because I am?

Grant Desme Retires…

Yeah, you haven’t seen a post from any of us for a good three weeks. But that’s just because we’re living in the slow time for minor league baseball. The 6 year free agents of note have all been picked up.

But then came news from top propsect and one of the BLB Player of the Year finalists. Grant Desme.

Desme, seen here in his come hither pose, was having himself a tremendous 2009. The only man to hit 30-30, the Arizona Fall league MVP, an open Center Field for him for when he’s proven major league ready. The man seemed like he was on the path for millions of dollars.

But? Today Desme announced that he had a higher calling. He has left the Athletics organization to join the priesthood. I know I’ve made a joke on my twitter feed in regards to it. But obviously, it’s a deeply personal decision that was made here. Desme had a real shot at going somewhere with this whole baseball thing, But he let that go.

It’s not exactly the conformists way, but considering the rightward kant of sports in general? It’s actually kind of impressive. Do you think someone like a Jeff Suppan would leave the potential millions on the table so he can share his faith with the world? No.

So you know what? I salute Grant Desme. Fortune favors the bold, and you sir, are one bold lemon farmer.

You Mean There’s ANOTHER Man Muscles?

The Minnesota Twins shook up their minor league coaching assignments today, shuffling three managers up the minor league ladder into new positions. Tom Nieto moves from Double-A New Britain to Triple-A Rochester, Jeff Smith moves from Class A-Advanced Fort Myers to New Britain, and Jake Mauer moves from the Gulf Coast League Twins to Fort Myers.

Mauer’s name jumped off the screen when I first saw the story this afternoon, and as I poked around a bit it became clear why: his younger brother, Joe, is good at baseball.  Jake was drafted the same year (2001) as Joe and played with him at his first couple minor league stops, but never got higher than Double-A before suffering a career-ending injury.  He went right into coaching with the Twins, eventually ending up as the manager of the GCL team this season.

The Twins finished 34-21 under Mauer, losing in the first round of the GCL playoffs (I say “first round”; it was actually just one game).

So who knows: Ron Gardenhire is only 52 (well, his birthday is Saturday).  Maybe he gets bored in another couple of years, the Boy Wonder steps in to take his place, and leads the Twins to glory.  I just hope that if that happens, somebody checks on Sooze.  She might not be able to handle the reality of two Mauers in the same dugout.

The Bus Leagues Baseball 2009 Pitcher of the Year

Click here to see the breakdown on the 2009 Bus Leagues Player of the Year.

Bus Leagues voters were given twelve pitchers to consider for Pitcher of the Year – eight starters and four relievers.  The presence of relievers on the ballot caused some early dissension within the ranks.  Some refused to consider them, others didn’t care.  In the end, we decided to leave things as they were because a) I had already done the work and wasn’t changing it up at that point and b) relievers are eligible for major league awards like the Cy Young, so why not include them here?

When the smoke cleared and all five voters had cast their ballots, only seven pitchers received votes (two of the relievers ended up missing the cut).  Those seven will get the full treatment seen in the Player of the Year post – pictures and everything.  Fancy stuff, coming from me.  The five who didn’t get no love…well, I’ll talk briefly about them below, but they don’t get pictures.  Consider it tough love.

(This seems like a good time to mention that all pictures in these two posts, with the exception of Koby Clemens and Craig Clark, were taken from MiLB.com player pages.  Clemens’ came from Google and Clark’s from the San Jose Giants web site.)

Brad Brach, Fort Wayne TinCaps: Of the four relievers on the original list, three had something special that made them worthy of inclusion and consideration.  All Brach had going for him was that he was really, really good.  The 6’6″, 210 lb. righty had 33 saves, a 1.27 ERA, and 82 strikeouts in 63.2 innings for the TinCaps.

Bradley Meyers, Potomac Nationals/Harrisburg Senators: Meyers made the list because his 11-3 record, 1.72 ERA, and 108 strikeouts were very similar to fellow finalists Brian Matusz and Madison Bumgarner and I didn’t want to be biased based on name recognition.  This worked not at all, as I suspect most of the voters looked at his name and said, “Who?” before voting for one or both of the other two.

Simon Castro, Fort Wayne TinCaps: Castro pitched a seven-inning no-hitter on August 18, which made his 10-6 record, 3.33 ERA, and 157 strikeouts just a little more impressive.  In fact, that no-no probably unfairly influenced my opinion of him.

Eric Surkamp, San Jose Giants: Surkamp finished 11-5 with a 3.30 ERA and 169 strikeouts.  No-hitter or not, I felt that if I included Castro, I had to include Surkamp.  In retrospect, both probably should have been left on the cutting room floor and we could’ve gone with ten finalists.

Miguel De Los Santos, DSL Rangers 2: Wanna know why De Los Santos made this list even though he only pitched 32 innings this season?  Because he had 70 strikeouts in those 32 innings.  Seventy.  If my calculations are correct, that works out to 19.69 strikeouts per nine innings.  It wasn’t enough to entice anyone to vote for him, but it certainly made him worthy of inclusion on our list.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the seven pitchers who received votes for Bus Leagues Pitcher of the Year.

travis woodTravis Wood, LHP
Carolina/Louisville (Cincinnati)
Southern/International League
Class AA/AAA
Total Points: 1 (t-6th)

One year after going 7-13 with a 5.47 ERA in the Florida State and Southern Leagues, Wood beat up Double- and Triple-A to the tune of 13-5, 1.77 ERA, 135 strikeouts. His ERA at Carolina was a ridiculous 1.21 in 119 innings.

What The Voters Said
“Solid amount of K’s and his ERA is solid; however, if you look at his previous years he’s just not at the same level and will probably be in the minors for another year or two and probably won’t be anything spectacular in the show (watch him win two Cy Young awards now).” – Chris

craig clarkCraig Clark, LHP
San Jose Giants (San Francisco)
California League
Class A+
Total Points: 1 (t-6th)

Clark was 16-2 with a 2.86 ERA and 135 strikeouts for San Jose. Good numbers, right? Right – especially since, as Andrew pointed out, they came in the freakin’ California League, where only six qualifying pitchers had an ERA under 4.00.

What The Voters Said
Clark’s lone vote came from Andrew, who didn’t include a rationale for his choice beyond the one mentioned above. It must be noted, however, that he only voted for Clark because I mentioned that I thought Brian Matusz’s last name rhymed with “lattice” and Andrew didn’t like that. Irrational sense of whimsy, indeed.

atahualpa severinoAtahualpa Severino, LHP
Potomac/Harrisburg (Washington)
Carolina/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 5 (5th)

Severino almost didn’t make the cut. I removed him at one point before deciding that the awesome name, perfect 10-0 record and 15 saves, and connections to our friend Darren Heitner were too good to leave on the table.

What The Voters Said
“He’s got it going on, really. Great name, perfect W-L record, and the ability to throw effective relief when called upon. I’d like to see him in person. However, I’d feel a lot better if his jersey could somehow read Atahualpa instead of Severino. Quintessential Bus Leagues type of player.” – Eric A.

brian matuszBrian Matusz, LHP
Frederick/Bowie (Baltimore)
Carolina/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 6 (4th)

If Matusz had spent the last month of the season with Bowie instead of Baltimore, he might’ve walked away with this award in a landslide. In the minors, he was 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA; add in his numbers with the Orioles and he was 16-4, 2.68 ERA, 159 strikeouts in 157.2 innings.

What The Voters Said
“Definitely a strong season down in the minors, the stats speak for themselves. Unfortunately I think his stats would be even better if the Orioles didn’t call him up for some starts in the majors. Wow, thanks a lot Orioles…you’ve taken away my Pitcher of the Year.” – Chris

pat vendittePat Venditte, BHP
Charleston/Tampa (Yankees)
South Atlantic/Florida State League
Class A/A+
Total Points: 8 (t-2nd)

One of life’s great mysteries: why does Venditte’s profile page on MiLB.com list him only as a righthanded pitcher? The 24-year-old out of Creighton is professional baseball’s only ambidextrous pitcher, a fact that might make him my favorite Bus Leaguer (which is weird because he’s a future Yankee). And it’s not just a gimmick – the guy can pitch: 4-2, 1.87 ERA, 22 saves, 87 strikeouts in 67.1 innings.

What The Voters Said
“I chose Venditte first because of the grand possibility of being groomed as the future closer once Mariano Rivera decides it’s time to retire. True he doesn’t quite have a blazer for a closer, but being ambidextrous (and equally effective at both) should prove to be a no-brainer.” – Eric M.

madison bumgarnerMadison Bumgarner, LHP
San Jose/Connecticut (San Francisco)
California/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 8 (t-2nd)

Over the past two seasons, Bumgarner is 27-5 with a 1.65 ERA and 256 strikeouts. A lefthanded pitcher with a great won-lost record, low ERA, and lots of strikeouts? Shades of Sandy Koufax (I’ll take ridiculous hyperbole for $1000, Alex). Bumgarner’s strikeouts decreased sharply this season, but if he can overcome that hiccup, teams will soon fear the 1-2 punch of Lincecum-Bumgarner in San Francisco.

What The Voters Said
“The kid seemed unflappable, so it’s no surprise he got called up so early in his career. The low number of strikeouts concern me quite a bit, but he’s a winner in the Bus Leagues.” – Eric A.

daniel hudsonDaniel Hudson, RHP
Kannapolis/Winston-Salem/Birmingham/Charlotte (White Sox)
South Atlantic/Carolina/Southern/International League
Class A/A+/AA/AAA
Total Points: 16 (1st)

Lots of players had good seasons in 2009. None of them, however, did it under quite the same conditions as Hudson, who started the year with Chicago’s A-level team in Kannapolis and ended it with the major league club. In a span of about five months, he stopped at every organizational level except Rookie and Short Season, pitching impressively en route to an overall minor league record of 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 147.1 innings. That’s why he ran away with this thing with three first place votes – because those numbers are very good, and to compile them while being pushed up the organizational ladder is amazing.

What The Voters Said
“Daniel Hudson is my pick. Yes, he pitched for four different teams. He has a 5 to 1 K to BB ratio, which is pretty good. His ability to move to all levels in the minors and even get a start with the White Sox is very impressive too. So there it is…. I’m voting for Daniel Hudson with his boring name and all to win Bus Leagues Pitcher of the Year.” – Chris