Archive for the ‘A’ Category

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.

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

The Bus Leagues Baseball 2009 Player of the Year

Shortly after the minor league season ended, I began to consider the idea of awarding a Bus Leagues Player of the Year. We are not, and never will be, well-versed in the art of baseball prospecting. What we do have, however, is “our trademark irrational sense of whimsy,” as Eric writes at the end of every Z-Meter, and it seemed we ought to be able to use that to use that to give somebody a meaningless fictional award.

I combed through a bunch of stats and narrowed it down to a highly subjective Top Ten.  At that point, five Bus Leagues contributors – Eric A., Eric M., Chris, Andrew, and myself – cast votes for our top three, with five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.

From those votes came the results you see below.  Enjoy.

jonathan gastonJonathan Gaston, LF
Lancaster JetHawks (Houston)
California League
Class A-Advanced
Total Points: 0 (10th)

Gaston led the California League in games played, runs scored, triples, homeruns, and total bases. His 35 homeruns tied Albuquerque’s Mitch Jones for the highest total in all of minor league baseball.  These facts did not impress any of the Bus Leagues voters enough to reward him with a vote.

jamie mcowenJamie McOwen, RF
High Desert Mavericks (Seattle)
California League
Class A-Advanced
Total Points: 2 (9th)

McOwen made national headlines (and won the collective heart of the Bus Leagues audience) with a 45-game midseason hitting streak, the eighth longest in minor league history.  He picked up a base hit in every game he played for nearly two months (May 10-July 8).

What The Voters Said
“The hitting streak earned him official Bus Leagues man-crush status. I always feel that a guy who can dominate the tag cloud despite relative obscurity deserves an all-star vote.” – Eric A.

ruben riveraRuben Rivera, C
Piratas de Campeche
Mexican League
Class AAA
Total Points: 3 (t-6th)

Even in an offense-oriented circuit like the Mexican League, Rivera’s 32 homeruns, 90 runs batted in, and .344/.461/.669 line stood out.

mitch jonesMitch Jones, RF
Albuquerque Isotopes (LA Dodgers)
Pacific Coast League
Class AAA
Total Points: 3 (t-6th)

While Jones and Jonathan Gaston tied for the minor league lead with 35 homeruns, Jones won the Baumann Award because he topped Gaston in runs batted in, 103-100.

What The Voters Said
“Mitch Jones, although basically past his prime, was a former Yankee prospect turned career minor leaguer (even though his power numbers prove otherwise).” – Eric M.

grant desmeGrant Desme, CF
Kane County/Stockton (Oakland)
Midwest/California League
Class A/A+
Total Points: 3 (t-6th)

Minor League Baseball’s only 30-30 man this season, Desme posted the majority of his stolen bases with Kane County and the majority of his homeruns with Stockton.

What The Voters Said
“It doesn’t matter that he did it while playing in two high offense leagues – a 30/40 season deserves our respect.” – Brian

carlos santanaCarlos Santana, C
Akron Aeros (Cleveland)
Eastern League
Class AA
Total Points: 4 (5th)

Santana has earned a mid-season All-Star selection, postseason All-Star selection, and Most Valuable Player honors in the past two years in the California and Eastern Leagues. Alas, in the Bus Leagues vote, he could do no better than fifth.

What The Voters Said
“I’m actually not picking him just because he shares a name with the guitarist (yes, I am capable of ignoring this). I’m impressed by Carlos’ consistency at Akron, where he had 90+ runs and ribbies on the season, kept his OPS near 1.000 from start to finish, and showed some power with 23 home runs. He’s a switch-hitter, which is also pretty cool. I also really like the idea of a guy named Carlos Santana playing in Cleveland, near the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame (OK, I lied.)” – Eric A.

Koby ClemensKoby Clemens, C
Corpus Christi/Lancaster (Houston)
Texas/California League
Class AA/A+
Total Points: 5 (t-3rd)

Again, the California League – it’s a seriously offensive league – and again, the Lancaster JetHawks – one could argue that High Desert’s Alex Liddi is getting seriously shortchanged by being left out of our top ten. But it’s hard to argue with the counting stats Clemens posted this season.

What The Voters Said
“It’s about time there was a Clemens that doesn’t have a needle attached to his butt…and because he had a great year.” – Chris

brian dopirakBrian Dopirak, 1B
New Hampshire/Las Vegas (Toronto)
Eastern/Pacific Coast League
Class AA/AAA
Total Points: 5 (t-3rd)

2009 was Dopirak’s second consecutive season with 25 homeruns, 100 RBI, a .300 batting average, and .900 OPS. He might have given Carlos Santana a run for his money in the Eastern League MVP race if he hadn’t been called up to Triple-A (clear across the country) after just 87 games.

What The Voters Said
“This guy has to be good, because I signed up to receive news updates from the Fisher Cats, and his name was in my inbox damn near every day he played there. Seriously, though. The guy can hit, and his average actually went UP, from .308 to .330 when he jumped up to Triple-A. It’ll be interesting to see if he can do it at the next level.” – Eric A.

pedro alvarezPedro Alvarez, 3B
Lynchburg/Altoona (Pittsburgh)
Carolina/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 8 (2nd)

Alvarez is 22-years-old and just hit .288 with 27 homeruns and 95 RBI in his very first professional season. It will be interesting to see how much time he spends in western Pennsylvania next season.

What The Voters Said
“Pedro Alvarez was bored in Lynchburg. He was all, “Screw it, I’m only going to hit .247.” So the Pirates decided to call his bluff. And they said, “Go to Double-A and let’s see if you can manage that.” And he destroyed 12 cars and the mayor is on the Altoona Curve’s ass. Why? Because Pedro Alverez tore Double-A up, Lethal Weapon style.” – Andrew

chris carterChris Carter, 1B
Midland/Sacramento (Oakland)
Texas/Pacific Coast League
Class AA/AAA
Total Points: 12 (1st)

Carter earned the Texas League’s Player of the Year award by dominating the competition to the tune of 24 homeruns, 101 RBI, a .337 batting average, and 1.011 OPS. He celebrated the news of his honor by hitting three homeruns and driving in seven for Sacramento on August 31. Of course, Carter is no stranger to postseason accolades: he has earned a spot on the postseason All-Star teams in four different leagues in the past four years.  And now, he is the first ever Bus Leagues Player of the Year.

What The Voters Said
“They say that Robert Greene knows all about the 48 Rules of Power. These people are fools. The Oakland Athletics have the 36 chambers of the Wu-tang Clan, the 48 Laws of Power, the Alpha and the Omega in Chris Carter. He has a mighty bat. A great eye. Solid athleticism. Quite frankly, he will be Fantasy Baseball’s Answer to Adrian Peterson. He is…Green and Gold Jesus.” – Andrew

Get Your Bus Leagues Eat On

Man v. Food samples the Homewrecker Dog (photo courtesy of Travel Channel)

Man v. Food samples the Homewrecker Dog (photo courtesy of Travel Channel)

The Travel Channel show Man v. Food is touring minor league parks tonight at 10pm ET. I talked to some of the people who make the food that host Adam Richman will sample tonight for an ESPN article, but the quotes I selected aren’t going to make it into the finished product, so I’m going to share them here.

The show visited the Yankees A affiliate the Charleston RiverDogs (home of the ambidextrous pitcher and owned by Bill Murray, Michael Veeck, and former AL President Gene Budig), the independent Gateway Grizzlies, and the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit A). The show looks fun, so check it out.

Follow in Man v. Food’s Footsteps

Gateway Grizzlies
GCS Ballpark (2002) – 6,000
2301 Grizzlie Bear Blvd. Sauget, IL 62206
Frontier League, Independent

Signature Food: Baseball’s Best Burger. A standard bacon cheeseburger with a twist: the bun is a Krispy Kreme donut cut in half. Condiments are discouraged.

“The hardest part is convincing someone to try it,” says Grizzlies Events Coordinator Jeff O’Neill. “A lot of people will look at the idea and think it sounds disgusting. It is truly amazing to see the reaction once they try it. The combinations of the sweet bun, the saltiness of the bacon and burger and the bitterness of the cheese melt all together for a little taste of heaven.” 

West Michigan Whitecaps
Fifth Third Ballpark (1994). Capacity 10,071.
4500 West River Dr. Comstock Park, MI
Midwest League, Detroit Tigers Class A
Whitecaps in the Majors: Brandon Inge, Joel Zumaya, Cameron Maybin

Signature Food: The Fifth Third Burger. Five beef patties, topped with chili, nacho cheese, American cheese, salsa, sour cream, chips, and lettuce. One a one lb. bun.

Josh Kowalczyk is the Whitecaps promotions intern in charge of the massive burger. According to his meticulous records, nearly 2,000 Fifth Third burgers have been sold this season. 476 intrepid souls have attempted to eat it over the course of nine innings, and an amazing 298 of those succeeded in eating the whole… thing.

Kowalczyk remembers the scene when Adam Richman and the Man v. Food crew came out to the ballgame. “A lot of people found out he was coming, and it was absolutely crazy,” he recalled. “Our attendance that night was 7,921, but more people watched him than the ballgame. He talked to people everywhere in the stadium.”

Charleston RiverDogs
Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park AKA “The Joe” (1997). Capacity 6,000.
360 Fishburne St. Charleston, SC
South Atlantic League, New York Yankees, Class A
Famous owners: Mike Veeck, former AL President Gene Budig, and comedian Bill Murray.
RiverDogs in the Majors: B.J. Upton, Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young, Orioles Manager Dave Tremblay.

Signature Food: The Homewrecker Dog. A ½ pound frank is the palette. 25 potential toppings are your colors. The standard condiments are all here, but a true connoisseur will experiment with the likes of sweet-potato mustard, fried okra, and cole slaw.

“Mike Veeck firmly believes in the motto ‘Fun is Good’,” says team representative Andy Solomon. “Which means entertaining the fan from the time he purchases a ticket to the time he leaves the parking lot. Bill Murray sometimes attends games as an ordinary fan in the left field bleachers, with his hat pulled down over his eyes. Other times, he comes out on the field and takes part in the Sumo wrestling. You never know.”

A lack of predictable fare is part of the RiverDogs mystique. Just peruse the concessions board (), which features unique items like the Elvis (peanut butter and bacon), the Tijuana Tornado (a true “hot” dog), and Ye Olde turkey leg in addition to the Homewrecker.

This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 23

Just got back from the Lannan bobblehead giveaway with a great story to share.   The Kinston Indians have a Taiwanese pitcher named Chen-Cheng Lee whom I’ve never seen pitch despite having seen the K-Tribe 3 times this season (Twice for bobblehead giveaways).   Joking with the pitching coach, I said hey how about putting Lee in this time since I never saw him throw the first 2 times.   He said ok and basically I thought he was just kidding.   Sure enough in the 8th, K-Tribe manager Chris Tremie signaled for Lee to get ready and he pitched the bottom half.   Happy as a lark, I snapped photos of Lee and watched him have 2Ks even though he gave up a meaningless HR in a Kinston win over Potomac.   Great times in the life of this Taiwanese player aficionado. Here’s the week ahead:

Memphis Redbirds 9/7/09 Colby Rasmus – First 1,500 – Great way to cap off the Redbirds season by giving one of its budding future Cardinal studs.

Reno Aces 9/7/09 Aceball – First 3,000 – The fan vote bobblehead in Reno features the mascot who appears when homers are hit.

Lowell Spinners 9/8/09 Extreme Blue The Frisbee Dog (Mascot) – First 1,500 – The regular season didn’t have any days left from this earlier rainout for this promo so they saved it for their playoff run.

Pittsburgh Pirates 9/8/09 Arnold Palmer – The Pirates celebrate the 80th birthday of this Latrobe, PA golf legend.

West Michigan Whitecaps 9/10/09 Jeremy Bonderman – First 1,000 – The Whitecaps have made a habit of playoff bobblehead giveaways, and this one features Bondo in a special jersey.

Arizona Diamondbacks 9/12/09 Augie Ojeda – First 25,000 – When the D-Backs traded Tony Pena to the White Sox, all hell broke loose in the Arizona bobbleworld. Ojeda was moved up to this day, which was originally scheduled to be Tony and Ojeda’s runner up was added as a final giveaway later on this month…Stay tuned.

Houston Astros 9/12/09 Jose Valverde – First 10,000 – Another animated closer bobblehead showing his tarzan-like antics upon celebrating a save.

Minnesota Twins 9/12/09 Jim Kaat Bronze Statuette – First 10,000 – Kitty still isn’t bronzed in Cooperstown but that hasn’t stopped the Twins from doing it at the Dome.

Detroit Tigers 9/13/09 Paws (Mascot) – All Kids 14 and under – This marks the first time the lovable tiger mascot is available as a giveaway at an MLB venue.

Florida Marlins 9/13/09 Hanley Ramirez – First 10,000 – When it comes to giving current Marlins out as figures, nobody comes to mind more than Han-Ram.

I’d also like to thank Southern Maryland BlueCrabs GM Chris Allen for the great hospitality Saturday night along with the Brooks Robinson and Roofman past giveaways. Good luck in the playoffs pal.

The Z-Meter: 9/2/2009 September is for Call-Ups

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.

Promoted:

Jordan Zimmermann: Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) to Washington Nationals (MLB)
Matt LaPorta: Columbus Clippers (AAA) to Cleveland Indians (MLB)
Daniel Bard: Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) to Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Mat Gamel: Nashville Sounds (AAA) to Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)
Fernando Martinez: Buffalo Bisons (AAA) to New York Mets (MLB)
Matt Wieters: Norfolk Tides (AAA) to Baltimore Orioles (MLB)
Antonio Bastardo: Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA) to Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)
Andrew McCutchen: Indianapolis Indians (AAA) to Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
Carlos Carrasco: Columbus Clippers (AAA) to Cleveland Indians (MLB)
 
 
Jhoulys Chacin: Tulsa Drillers (AA) to Colorado Rockies (MLB)
Alcides Escobar: Nashville Sounds (AAA) to Houston Astros (MLB)
 
Antonio Bastardo: Reading Phillies (AA) to Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA)
Justin Smoak: Frisco Rough Riders (AA) to Oklahoma City RedHawks (AAA)

Madison Bumgarner: San Jose Giants (A) to Connecticut Defenders (AA)
Yonder Alonso: Sarasota Reds (A) to Carolina Mudcats (AA)
Pedro Alvarez: Lynchburg Hillcats (A) to Altoona Curve (AA)

Mauricio Robles: West Michigan Whitecaps (A) to Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+)
Josh Vitters: Peoria Chiefs (A) to Daytona Cubs (A+)

Carlos Carrasco – called up! After struggling horribly at LeHigh, being traded to the Indians organization and experiencing a renaissance, Carrasco is an Indian. It wasn’t a great debut – 3 innings, 6 earned runs, and an 18.00 ERA. But it’s a big league start, and I’m not sure I would have predicted that happening based on the early-season returns at this point.

 Pedro Alvarez continues to impress in his debut season. He’s posting an OPS over 1.000, which doesn’t happen often, let alone to a newly-minted AA player. The Pirates could use him today.

Brian has kept you apprised of the all-star game participants, some of whom are on this meter. I’ll try to keep track of who plays fall ball and who gets called up, since minor-league seasons are winding to a halt. 


The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, waiting for the call that will change their lives.

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 28 Games – 10 W – 8 L – 3.40 ERA – 60 BB – 140 K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals – .254 – 80 R – 17 HR – 54 RBI – 97 BB – 0 SB – .446 SLG – .841 OPS

Austin Jackson, OF – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): .298 – 63 R – 4 HR – 62 RBI – 40 BB – 23 SB – .404 SLG – .759 OPS

Justin Smoak, 1B – Oklahoma City RedHawks (Rangers): .244 AVG – 25 R – 4 HR – 23 RBI – 35 BB – 0 SB – .360 SLG – .723 OPS

Travis Wood, RHP – Louisville Bats (Reds): 7 Games – 4 W – 2 L – 3.30 ERA – 16 BB – 26 K


These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but may get promoted to AAA first.

 

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .243 AVG – 49 R – 9 HR – 51 RBI – 57 BB – 2 SB – .361 SLG – .694 OPS

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): .290 AVG – 87 R – 21 HR – 93 RBI – 89 BB – 1 SB – .524 SLG – .940 OPS

 
Andrew Locke, OF – Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros): .338 AVG – 81 R – 20 HR – 109 RBI – 46 BB – 2 SB – .531 SLG – .920 OPS
 
Madison Bumgarner, LHP – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): 19 Games – 9 W – 1 L – 1.95 ERA – 30 BB – 69 K
 Jeanmar Gomez, RHP – Akron Aeros (Indians): 21 Starts – 10 W – 4 L – 3.38 ERA – 36 BB – 105 K
  
Kyle Drabek, RHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 15 Games – 8 W – 2 L – 3.64 ERA – 31 BB – 76 K
 
Pedro Alvarez, 3B – Altoona Curve (Pirates): .333 AVG – 42 R – 13 HR – 40 RBI – 34 BB – 1 SB – .590 SLG – 1.009 OPS
 
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, OF – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): .301 AVG – 57 R – 8 HR – 64 RBI – 46 BB – 2 SB – .444 SLG – .815 OPS
 
Deik Scram, OF – Erie SeaWolves (Tigers): .253 AVG – 73 R – 20 HR – 69 RBI – 61 BB – 9 SB – .487 SLG – .831 OPS
 

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Ian Gac, 1B – Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers): .233 AVG – 50 R – 19 HR – 49 RBI – 29 BB – 1 SB – .442 SLG – .773 OPS

Yonder Alonso, 1B – Sarasota Reds (Reds): .303 AVG – 21 R – 7 HR – 38 RBI – 24 BB – 0 SB – .497 SLG – .880 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): .255 AVG – 65 R – 16 HR – 86 RBI – 31 BB – 10 SB – .428 SLG – .729 OPS

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: .268 AVG – 74 R – 7 HR – 53 RBI – 64 BB – 26 SB – .373 SLG – .730 OPS

Josh Vitters, 3B – Daytona Cubs (Cubs): .232 AVG – 18 R – 3 HR – 18 RBI – 4 BB – 1 SB – .345 SLG – .600 OPS

Collin Cowgill, OF (injured) – Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks): .277 AVG – 39 R – 6 HR – 36 RBI – 29 BB – 11 SB – .445 SLG – .819 OPS

Mauricio Robles, P – High Desert Mavericks (Mariners): 6 Games – 2 W – 2 L – 2.96 ERA – 17 BB – 26 K

Tim Beckham, SS – Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays): .279 AVG – 56 R – 5 HR – 62 RBI – 33 BB – 13 SB – .400 SLG – .732 OPS

Ezekiel Spruill, RHP – Rome Braves (Braves): 20 Games – 8 W – 6 L – 1 SV – 3.03 ERA – 24 BB – 95 K

Brad Brach, RHP – Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres): 58 Games – 1.31 ERA – 3 W – 3 L – 32 SV – 11 BB – 79 K

Jamie McOwen, RF – High Desert Mavericks (Mariners): .336 AVG – 74 R – 8 HR – 76 RBI – 39 BB – 13 SB – .478 SLG – .870 OPS


NCAA: Only used if a prospect in college shows really, truly, immensely, hugely inescapable potential.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State: 14 Starts – 13 W – 1 L – 1.32 ERA – 19 BB – 195 K

Strasburg was the #1 pick in the college draft this season, and has signed with the Washington Nationals.


Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and our trademark irrational sense of whimsy.