Archive for the ‘Florida State League’ Category

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.

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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.

Florida State League All-Stars Announced

The Florida State League postseason All-Stars were announced earlier today:

Catcher: Austin Rome, Tampa Yankees
Catcher: Robinson Chirinos, Daytona Cubs
First Base: Chris Parmelee, Fort Myers Miracle
Second Base: Eric Farris, Brevard County Manatees
Third Base: Brandon Laird, Tampa Yankees
Shortstop: Starlin Castro, Daytona Cubs
Left Field: Ben Revere, Fort Myers Miracle
Center Field: Logan Schafer, Brevard County Manatees
Right Field: Caleb Gindl, Brevard County Manatees
Utility Outfield: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, St. Lucie Mets
Utility Infield: Shawn O’Malley, Charlotte Stone Crabs
Designated Hitter: Tim Kennelly, Clearwater Threshers
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: David Bromberg, Fort Myers Miracle
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher: Darin Downs, Charlotte Stone Crabs
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: Lance Pendleton, Tampa Yankees
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: Amaury Rivas, Brevard County Manatees
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Matthew Gorgen, Charlotte Stone Crabs
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Jonathan Hovis, Tampa Yankees

Player of the Year: Austin Romine, Tampa Yankees
Pitcher of the Year: David Bromberg, Fort Myers Miracle
Manager: Jeff Smith, Fort Myers Miracle
Coach: Mike Guerrero, Brevard County Manatees
Coach: Luis Sojo, Tampa Yankees

My picks for Player of the Year were Parmelee and Revere, although I distinctly remember giving Romine some consideration. Past Players of the Year include Derek Jeter, Victor Martinez, and Ryan Howard.

From MLB Draft Pick to NCAA Champion?

C.J. Henry (Getty Images)

C.J. Henry (Getty Images)

I know, I’m like you. That sounds totally backward to me.

In the course of doing research for an upcoming college basketball project, I looked into the much-vaunted Henry brothers, both of whom were set to play for the Memphis Tigers this season before coach John Calipari bolted for Kentucky. Instead, the brothers opted to switch their allegiance to the University of Kansas, which happens to be my alma mama, and that of Henry mom and pop, both of whom starred in basketball there.

This is all nice, Eric, but what does it have to do with baseball?

Well, while both Xavier and C.J. Henry are listed as freshmen on the KU roster, only one of them is truly a spring chicken. Xavier is a hotly-recruited blue-chipper who is only in college because of NBA rules. C.J. is a 23-year-old walk on who spent four years swinging a bat for the farm clubs of the Yanks and Phillies before deciding his future lay on the hardwood.

The Yankees made Henry – a 6’3″, 205-lb. shortstop from Oklahoma City – the #17 pick of the 2005 June draft. That’s the draft that gave us Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ryan Braun, not to mention Troy Tulowitzki and our hero, Jay Bruce. For perspective, the following players were drafted lower in the first round than C.J. Henry: Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza, Colby Rasmus, and Clay Buchholz.

The elder Henry brother had a modest first season with the GCL Yankees, then started 2006 with the Charleston RiverDogs. 77 games into the Sally League season, he was traded to the Phillies as part of the deal that sent Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to New York. Henry was racking up errors as a shortstop, and his hitting was nothing to write home about, so 2007 saw him auditioning at third base and every position in the outfield for the Class-A Lakewood BlueClaws. The experiment failed, and Henry was released.

Believe it or not, that wasn’t his last gasp. The Yankees re-signed CJ in 2008 and even moved him up a level, to the A+ Tampa Yankees. He played in 20 games, put up a .237 average with no errors in left field, and then abruptly quit. He walked on at Memphis but sat out the season as a redshirt with a foot injury. Then Calipari left, and CJ rode his younger brother’s coattails to national title contender KU.

C.J. Henry has actually played this pretty well. As a walk-on, he doesn’t have to take up a precious scholarship, which would probably have limited his options, though his ability to bring his superstar kid brother along might have induced someone to burn one on a guy who might still be able to play. At 23, he probably still has his skill-set intact, and he had a year of practice time while sitting out at Memphis to shake off some of the rust. One assumes he still has some of his bonus-baby money to keep him in pizza and beer while he lives the college life. Even if he isn’t a major contributor, he’s going to be a member of a team that has Final Four written all over it.

They say there are no second acts in American lives. C.J. Henry begs to differ.

Coming Soon: The Florida State League Hall Of Fame

Our pal Jordi Scrubbings sent us a link today to a story announcing the establishment of the Florida State League Hall of Fame. Twenty players, managers, umpires, and front office personnel will be inducted in a ceremony in Daytona Beach on November 9.

The list of inductees is below, along with whatever information Baseball-Reference.com had on each player’s numbers in the FSL.

Johnny Bench (1965 Tampa Tarpons): .248 BA (53-214), 2 HR, .346 SLG
Rod Carew (1965 Orlando Twins): .303 BA (133-409), 20 2B, 8 3B, .392 SLG
Gary Carter (1972 West Palm Beach Expos): .320 BA (16-50), 2 2B, 2 3B, .440 SLG
Rollie Fingers (1965 Leesburg Athletics): 8-15 W-L, 2.98 ERA, 24 GS, 175 IP
James “Catfish” Hunter (1964 Daytona Islanders): No stats available
Ferguson Jenkins (1962/1963 Miami Marlins): 7-2 W-L, 0.97 ERA, 11 G/8 GS, 65 IP; 12-5 W-L, 3.41 ERA, 20 G/18 GS, 140 IP
Al Lopez (1925/1926 Tampa Smokers): .224 BA (30-124), 6 2B, .269 SLG; .315 BA (132-419), 18 2B, 12 3B, .422 SLG
Eddie Murray (1974 Miami Orioles): .289 BA (133-460), 29 2B, 7 3B, 12 HR, 63 RBI, .830 OPS
Stan Musial (1940 Daytona Islanders): .311 BA (126-405), 10 3B, .410 SLG

(Worth noting: in 1941, Musial got promoted to Class C and went all nutty – .379 BA, 26 HR, .739 SLG. He passed through AA and was in St. Louis by the end of the year.)

Jim Palmer (1967/1968 Miami Marlins): 1-1 W-L, 2.00 ERA, 5 GS, 27 IP, 16 SO; 0-0 W-L, 0.00 ERA, 2 GS, 8 IP
Cal Ripken, Jr. (1979 Miami Orioles): .303 BA (119-393), .417 SLG
Nolan Ryan (1967 Winter Haven Mets): 0-0 W-L, 2.25 ERA, 4 IP, 5 SO
Joe Tinker (1921 Orlando Tigers): .333 BA (1-3), 2B
Early Wynn (1937 Sanford Lookouts): 16-11 W-L, 3.41 ERA, 35 G/26 GS, 235 IP

(See those 235 innings pitched? He was seventeen-years-old.)

Stan Wasiak, manager (1970-72 Daytona Beach, 1980-86 Vero Beach): 746-625 W-L

(For some reason, in the press release, Wasiak was only listed as the manager of Vero Beach from 1983-86. BR.com had him managing in the FSL for the ten seasons noted above.)

John Lipon, manager (1960, 1988-92, Lakeland): 379-288 W-L
Mike Moore, general manager (Tampa Tarpons)
Harry Wendelstedt, Jr. (umpire)
Phil Cuzzi (umpire)
George Steinbrenner, Tampa Yankees (owner)

Minor League MVP Candidates, League-By-League

Just for the heck of it, I decided tonight to look at the stats for every league in the minors and see if I could come up with a candidate or two (no more than three) for the Most Valuable Player award.  (I’ll try to do the same for pitchers later this week.)

Some of these are no-brainers (*cough*Chris CarterTexasLeague*cough*), but most had at least a couple guys that should find themselves in the running for some awards.  In most cases, I tried to limit a player’s eligibility to the league they currently play in – Brian Dopirak and Michael Taylor, for example, are still in good shape in the Eastern League, but shouldn’t win any awards there after spending more than a month of the season in Triple A.

If I missed anyone obvious, or if you have a personal favorite, throw it out there. We’ll see how many of these (if any) we actually get right.

Triple A
International League
Andy Marte, Columbus: .963 OPS (1st), 18 HR (t-4th), 66 RBI (4th)
Shelley Duncan, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: 25 HR (1st), 76 RBI (1st), 54 BB (t-1st), .899 OPS (5th)

Mexican League
Ruben Rivera, Campeche: 32 HR (1st), 90 RBI (t-4th), 1.130 OPS (2nd), 96 R (2nd)
Saul Soto, Monterrey: 28 HR (2nd), 93 RBI (2nd), 1.095 OPS (3rd)
Dionys Cesar, Vaqueros: .380 BA (1st), 40 SB (1st), 92 R (3rd)

Pacific Coast League
Randy Ruiz, Las Vegas: 25 HR (2nd), 106 RBI (1st), .320 BA (10th), .976 OPS (3rd), 81 R (5th), 148 H (1st), 43 2B (1st)

Double A
Eastern League
Carlos Santana, Akron: 20 HR (4th), 82 RBI (2nd), 71 BB (2nd), .943 OPS (4th), 73 R (2nd)
Ryan Strieby, Erie: .982 OPS (1st), 17 HR (4th), .305 BA (6th)

Southern League
Juan Francisco, Carolina: 22 HR (1st), 74 RBI (1st), .822 OPS (10th), 63 R (8th)
Todd Frazier, Carolina: 124 H (1st), 37 2B (1st), 13 HR (t-6th), 63 RBI (t-5th), .852 OPS (8th)

Texas League
Chris Carter, Midland: .336 BA (1st), 21 HR (1st), 90 RBI (2nd), 101 R (1st), 148 H (1st), 38 2B (1st), 73 BB (t-1st), .433 OBP (1st), .574 SLG (1st), 1.006 OPS (1st)

*Carter has to be a frontrunner not only for Texas League MVP, but Minor League Baseball’s Player of the Year. What an outstanding season thus far.

Class A Advanced
California League
Alex Liddi, High Desert: .356 BA (1st), 1.044 OPS (1st), 21 HR (t-4th), 86 RBI (4th), 85 R (t-2nd)
Jon Gaston, Lancaster: 30 HR (1st), 81 RBI (6th), 1.015 OPS (4th), 15 3B (1st), 100 R (1st)
Koby Clemens, Lancaster: 96 RBI (1st), .343 BA (3rd), 1.023 OPS (2nd)

Carolina League
Cody Johnson, Myrtle Beach: 26 HR (1st), 76 RBI (2nd), .886 OPS (2nd)
Brandon Waring, Frederick: 20 HR (2nd), 74 RBI (3rd), .870 OPS (3rd)

Florida State League
Chris Parmelee, Fort Myers: 14 HR (1st), 64 RBI (1st), .814 OPS (4th)
Ben Revere, Fort Myers: .307 BA (3rd), 36 SB (4th), 60 R (3rd), .368 OBP (t-8th)

Class A
Midwest League
Kyle Russell, Great Lakes: 24 HR (1st), 79 RBI (t-1st), .915 OPS (2nd), 74 R (4th)

South Atlantic League
Derek Norris, Hagerstown: 23 HR (1st), 75 RBI (2nd), 69 R (3rd), .296 BA (10th), .955 OPS (3rd)

Class A Short-Season
New York-Penn League
Leandro Castro, Williamsport: .353 BA (1st), .973 OPS (1st), 37 R (t-1st),
Neil Medchill, Staten Island: 10 HR (1st), 30 RBI (t-5th), .925 OPS (5th), 33 R (4th)

Northwest League
Vincent Belnome, Eugene: 39 R (1st), 8 HR (t-2nd), 37 RBI (2nd), 37 BB (2nd), .952 OPS (4th)

Rookie
Appalachian League
Jose Altuve, Greeneville: 45 R (1st), 21 SB (1st), .324 BA (7th), .916 OPS (8th), 26 BB (1st)
Richard Racobaldo, Johnson City: 1.077 OPS (1st), 26 RBI (t-9th), .415 BA (1st)
Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg, Danville: .383 BA (2nd), 1.032 OPS (2nd), 7 HR (t-3rd), 39 RBI (2nd)

Arizona League
Cody Decker, Padres: 1.127 OPS (1st), .357 BA (3rd), 11 HR (1st), 46 RBI (1st)

Dominican Summer League
Reymond Nunez, Yankees 2: 10 HR (2nd), 57 RBI (1st), .947 OPS (4th)
Alexander Sanchez, Mets: .391 BA (1st), .982 OPS (2nd)

Gulf Coast League
Brett Newsome, Nationals: 1.020 OPS (1st), .304 BA (9th), 25 R (1st), 13 2B (t-3rd)
Layton Hiller, Braves: 6 HR (1st), 34 RBI (1st), .846 OPS (8th)
Marcell Ozuna, Marlins: .928 OPS (2nd), .344 BA (3rd), 24 R (t-2nd), 18 2B (1st), 4 HR (t-7th), 31 RBI (2nd)

Pioneer League
Jerry Sands, Ogden: 14 HR (1st), 39 RBI (4th), .350 BA (4th), 1.114 OPS (1st), 41 R (1st)

Venezuelan Summer League
Roan Salas, Rays: 15 HR (1st), 59 RBI (1st), 49 R (t-3rd), 75 H (t-5th), .338 BA (2nd), 1.063 OPS (1st)

Friday Night Was The Right Night For Pitching

For whatever reason, there were a bunch of good pitching performance across the minors last night, with several starters taking no-hitters late into games.

For the second night in a row, New Hampshire’s bats were silenced, this time by Altoona’s Tim Alderson.  Alderson pitched six no-hit innings, walking one and striking out three, before being pulled after reaching his pitch count.  It was the second time this season he shut down the Fisher Cats – back on May 10, he struck out ten and took a no-hitter into the seventh.

There was no no-hitter drama in the Harrisburg-Trenton game, just a good old-fashioned pitchers duel.  Jeff Mandel went eight shutout innings for the visiting Senators, allowing three hits, walking two, and striking out four.  He was outdone by Ryan Pope, however, who allowed two hits and struck out eleven without walking a batter.  Both pitchers came out after the eighth and did not factor into the decision (the Thunder won it in the ninth on a single, sacrifice bunt, and a walkoff RBI single).

David Bromberg scattered three hits and struck out nine in a complete game shutout for Fort Myers, improving to 11-1 and taking over the Florida State League’s strikeout lead.

Anibal Sanchez made a rehab start in the Florida State League for the Jupiter Hammerheads, and he was pretty good.  6.2 innings, two walks, five strikeouts, no hits.  Daniel Jennings got three outs in relief before allowing a two-out single in the eighth.

And finally, just so you don’t think that all the good performances came from the Florida State and Eastern Leagues, Randall Delgado pitched seven no-hit innings for the Rome Braves in the South Atlantic League.  He struck out nine and walked one to earn his fourth win of the season.

(Oh, and just a slight hint of offense: Layton Hiller went 4-for-5 with three doubles and eight RBI for the GCL Braves.  Elys Blanco also had a fun game for the Braves, finishing 1-for-2 with four runs scored.)