Archive for the ‘A’ Category

Simon Castro Is The Real Deal

Simon Castro was San Diego’s 14th ranked prospect prior to the season according to Baseball America, a physically talented 21-year-old pitcher who needed to work on a few things in order to be successful.

Entering tonight’s game against the Dayton Dragons, Castro was 7-6 for the season with a 3.93 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings.  He had allowed 107 hits and walked 32 for a WHIP of 1.19, which is significant because his control was mentioned more than once as an area of concern in the 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

In his last ten games, Castro has been a beast, allowing forty hits and nine walks (1.04 WHIP) while striking out 64 in 47.2 innings.  That’s over twelve strikeouts per nine innings, which is kinda sorta good.  Methinks Mr. Castro is establishing himself as a Top Ten prospect for the Padres next year.

He came close to no-hitters twice in those ten games, pitching five innings of one-hit ball in back-to-back starts on July 23 and 28 (he walked nobody in both starts and struck out eight and nine batters, respectively).  Tonight, he finally finished the job, cutting through the Dayton lineup like they were Little Leaguers: seven innings, no runs, no hits, no walks, nine strikeouts; only one batter reached, a hit batsman with two outs in the second inning.

With those numbers added in, Castro is averaging more than ten strikeouts per nine innings.  His WHIP is down to 1.12.  I think he’s proven himself in Class A.  Get that young man a ticket to San Antonio.

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This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 20

Well the Happ bobblehead giveaway I went to was a mob scene. They even had to open up early since the line at the one gate was all the way into the parking lot causing a big problem with people that expected to have the gates open at 6pm, not 5:45 like they did. Unfortunately management didn’t care much, but also didn’t mention to the fans that only half were given at the fans gate with the other half being saved for their plan holders and luxury box people. Here’s this week’s giveaways:

Greeneville Astros 8/17/09 Davy Crockett – First 1,000 – Crockett was born on 8/17/1786 and he comes complete with outfit, funky hat and a bat to boot.

Memphis Redbirds 8/18/09 Jason Motte – First 1,500 – Motte had started his rookie campaign in 2009 as the potential closer until handing the job to Ryan Franklin.

Long Island Ducks 8/19/09 Frank Boulton – First 2,000 – The Atlantic League franchise finally gives their owner his due.

Los Angeles Dodgers 8/19/09 Matt Kemp – First 50,000 – Kemp won the fans hearts by their vote in the 2009 bobble stakes.

Norfolk Tides 8/19/09 Bruce Smith – First 2,000 17 and under – As a neighborhood hero, the Tides do their first football player bobble. The fact he’s in the NFL HOF makes it sweeter.

Philadelphia Phillies 8/19/09 Brad Lidge – Lidge was perfect in save opportunities in leading the Phillies to the 2008 WS title.

Trenton Thunder 8/19/09 Mark Melancon – First 2,000 6 and up – Melancon was one of the many who made their Yankees debut in 2009. The others should make up the 2010 set to come!!!

Erie Seawolves 8/21/09 Curtis Granderson – First 1,000 – Granderson is the player selected as the bobblehead of the Tigers era in this set.

Oakland A’s 8/21/09 Jason Giambi – First 15,000 – Too bad Giambi was recently released before his comeback bobble to the A’s

Wilmington BlueRocks 8/21/09 Jed Lowrie – First 1,000 – Lowrie is one of the few bright spots from Boston’s tenure with the Rocks before they returned to a Royals affiliate.

Potomac Nationals 8/22/09 John Lannan – First 1,000 – A Long Island native made his debut with Washington in 2008 and has turned into their ace.

Quad Cities River Bandits 8/22/09 Jimmy Buffett with Parrott – First 1,000 – It’s a night for parrotheads in the Quad Cities, with a concert following the game.

Tri-City Valleycats 8/22/09 Steve Caporizzo – First 1,000 – The Cats fans have spoken and their favorite weathermaq is Caporizzo from an earlier poll.
Washington Nationals 8/22/09 Frank Howard – First 15,000 – Played for the Washington Senators from 1965-1971. During an amazing one-week stretch in the spring of 1968 (May 12–18), Howard hammered 10 home runs in 20 at bats, with at least one in six consecutive games; his 10 home runs are also the most ever in one week. He would go on to hit 13 homers in 16 games, a mark that would stand until Albert Belle matched it in 1995.

Florence Freedom 8/23/09 George Foster – First 1,000 – A 5-time All-Star (1976-79, 1981), Foster was a member of the 1970s Big Red Machine, leading the league in home runs in 1977-78, runs batted in from 1976-78, and OPS in 1977.

2 giveaways for me this week…Melancon in Trenton and Lowrie in Wilmington. Also have a friend getting me the LA Kemp. See ya next week.

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)

This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 19

Well the Strawberry event was a rather interesting one.  At the beginning of the season, the Cyclones had announced that Strawberry was not only being honored with a bobblehead, but he was to make an appearance at Keyspan Park, and also do a free signing.  A week before this event was to take place, all was changed.  The only way you could get Darryl to sign anything was if you purchased 1 of 2 “Meet and Greet” packages.  Either you could go to a room for an hour prior to the game and he would sign for just $25 or you could sit with him in a skybox during the game for 3 innings for a mere $125.  There were very limited spots for either and also poorly advertised in their press releases, but I managed to wiggle in for the cheaper way.  Guess Madoff even had its effect on the minors as well.  Here are the Bobblehead giveaways for this week:

Great Lakes Loons 8/10/09 Chet Lemon -First 1,000 – Another link to the 1984 WS Championship Tigers team.

Huntsville Stars 8/10/09 Microwave Dave – First 1,000 – Ok boys mystery solved. Microwave Dave and the Nukes are a blues band from the area and they honor their leader in this promo.

Chicago Cubs 8/11/09 Ryne Sandberg – First 10,000 – Look for 2 Sandberg giveaways this week. See below for the minor league version.

Joliet Jackhammers 8/11/09 Jammer (Mascot) – First 1,000 – Jammer rocks the house with another bobblehead character.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 8/11/09 Mike Napoli – One of the many MLB players to homer in his first big league AB.

Lehigh Valley IronPigs 8/12/09 J.A. Happ – First 2,500 18 and over – Everyone demanded Happ in trade talks, now the fans can command his bobblehead.

Worcester Tornadoes 8/13/09 Peterman (On Field Emcee) – First 1,000 – Dave Peterson, better known as “Peterman,” has worked for the Tornadoes organization since 2005 as the On-Field Emcee.

Lynchburg Hillcats 8/14/09 Nate McLouth – First 1,000 – I think this is the final team in the Pirates organization to honor Nate. A message to the organization for dealing him perhaps? Hmm…

Cincinnati Reds 8/15/09 Brandon Phillips – First 30,000 – Another original Expos prospect let go for an overachiever (I think he was part of the Fatolo Colon deal).

Lancaster Jethawks 8/15/09 SR71 Bobble Plane – First 1,000 – Part of an aviation night celebration.

Las Vegas 51s 8/15/09 Cosmo (Mascot) – First 2,500 – This mascot’s bobblehead is simply out of this world.

Orange County Flyers 8/15/09 Phil Nevin – First 1,000 – A veteran MLB ballplayer returned to Goodwin Field at Cal State Fullerton as the ESPN analyst for the Super Regional against Stanford. In December 2008, he was named the manager of the Orange County Flyers in the independent Golden Baseball League.

Quad Cities River Bandits 8/15/09 Rascal (Mascot) – First 2,000 – Come early for the Rascal bobblehead giveaway and stick around for lively post-game entertainment consisting of an extravagant fireworks show and Dueling Pianos provided by Nan’s Piano Bar!

Reno Aces 8/15/09 Josh Whitesell – First 2,500 – Betcha Whitesell is glad he’s away from the Nationals, the team that originally drafted him!!! He was also a high school teammate of Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco.

Tennessee Smokies 8/15/09 Ryne Sandberg – First 1,000 – Great way for Ryne to cap off the week with his 2nd bobblehead promo.

St. Louis Cardinals 8/16/09 Fredbird (Bobble Frame) (Mascot) – First 25,000 – Capture your Busch Stadium and Cardinals memories to display in this one of a kind picture frame with a Fredbird Bobblehead attached.

I’ll be happy to take a Happ from Lehigh Valley this week. Come join me and say hey.

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.)

This Week in Bobbleheads Week 18

The 2009 non-waiver trade deadline has passed and you have to feel so sorry for the people in Cleveland. You would think the Tribe would have the decency to schedule a Victor Martinez bobblehead giveaway before you had ideas of trading him, but as Murphy’s law would have it, the catcher’s figure was given barely 24 hours after being shipped to the Red Sox. What a way to bring in the month of August eh?

Brooklyn Cyclones 8/3/09 Darryl Strawberry – First 2,500 – The straw man comes to Coney Island for a bobblehead, first pitch, and hopefully an autograph session as well.

Springfield Sliders 8/3/09 Danny Cox – First 500 – The former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and current Sliders pitching coach receives a figure. This is an encore of an earlier giveaway of the same bobblehead.

Memphis Redbirds 8/4/09 Rick Ankiel – First 1,500 – At least his diminished playing time since the Holliday trade hasn’t lessened his popularity as a giveaway.

West Virginia Power 8/4/09 Jesco White – First 1,000 – Nicknamed The Dancing Outlaw, he is scheduled to make an appearance to show his dazzling footwork and possibly his penmanship skills also.

Portand Seadogs 8/5/09 Michael Bowden – First 1,000 – Was the Bosox 1st round draft pick in 2005 hopeful to join the rotation someday in Beantown.

Springfield Sliders 8/5/09 Speedy (Mascot) – First 500 – Trying to think of something cute here…Ok to slide you should be speedy…Or if you are a White Castle fan, Sliders do go down kinda fast.

Augusta Greenjackets 8/7/09 Auggie (Mascot) – First 1,000 – A 6-inch tall bug, an exterminator’s nitemare.

Chattanooga Lookouts 8/7/09 TBA – First 1,000 – Why the Lookouts are always so secretive about their promos is beyond me. The only hint given is that it’s a local icon.

Erie Seawolves 8/7/09 John Lackey – First 1,000 – This time the Seawolves remember their times as an Angels affiliate.

San Francisco Giants 8/7/09 Jon Miller – First 20,000 – HOF Broadcaster for both the Giants and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball gets his first chubby figure.

Seattle Mariners 8/7/09 Ken Griffey Jr. – First 20,000 – Wasn’t on the original promo schedule, but when the M’s reacquired the future HOFer it’s a no-brainer.

Billings Mustangs 8/8/09 Chris Dickerson – First 1,000 – Has emerged as a top outfielder in Cincinnati.

Kansas City Royals 8/8/09 Frank White Figurine – First 20,000 – HOF infielder part of the 2009 bronze statuette series.

Springfield Cardinals 8/8/09 Bruce Sutter – First 2,500 – One of the sport’s dominant relievers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he became the only pitcher to lead the National League in saves five times (1979-1982, 1984), and retired with 300 saves.

Stockton Ports 8/8/09 Noah (Bible) – First 1,000 – The Ports have a Faith Day promotion here.

Vermont Lakemonsters 8/8/09 Jason Bay – First 1,000 – This is the 2nd bobblehead in the Lakemonster’s history and continually asks the question,,, what if the Expos/Nats had held onto this future all-star? What a team they’d have!!!

Washington Nationals 8/8/09 Adam Dunn – First 15,000 – #1 will the Nats even draw 15,000? #2 Kinda funny that the day starts off with a pregame blood drive considering the team is so lifeless.

Yakima Bears 8/8/09 Shane Victorino – First 750 – Finished 1st in the online vote for last NL player in the 2009 All-Star game.

Florence Freedom 8/9/09 Tim Grogan – First 1,000 – Tim Grogan is in his 3rd season with the Freedom. He is a local product who has played most of his career as a 3rd baseman. Grogan was a 19th round pick of the New York Mets in 2005.

Toronto Blue Jays 8/9/09 Tom Henke Figurine – First 10,000 – The Jays pay homage to the greatest closer in the history of the franchise.

Speaking of the Mets, I will be in Brooklyn Monday for the Strawberry bobblehead.  Stay in touch with the hobby through the remainder of the season and beyond at http://thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com

Fandom Auctioned: SOLD! for $14.99

bandits mascot jcBanditsI’ve managed to come down pretty decisively on one side of most of the sports arguments of my day (I’m against municipal levies to pay for ballparks; I don’t mind the designated hitter), but this one still gets me into ferocious internal arguments with myowndamnself.

Should a fan ever renounce his love for his team? For me, personally, the answer is no. How can I expect to hang with my wife for the rest of my life if I can’t even put up with the mild agita that each doomed Royals season brings me? And yet, there’s a part of me that says it might be OK for the more feckless amongst us, because some owners render teams unworthy of undying love, and I hate to reward that kind of behavior. The old “small market!” chestnut has been blown to pieces as the likes of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays turn burgeoning farm systems into quality major-league contenders. It simply appears that some billionaire owners are too cheap to give back to their fans in any meaningful way.

Pittsburgh Pirates fan Brad Davis, fed up with the Buccos’ tendency to trade away every player that ever gave the team a fighting chance to win, put his fandom up for auction on eBay. The slightly tattered artifact was picked up by the Low-A Quad Cities River Bandits, who know how to spot a value pick in this constricted market. They paid just $14.99 for a slightly-used vintage fan. And Brad gets a friendly small-town Bus Leagues club with an awesome stadium to call his very own.

There’s only one real problem I have with the way this played out. The auction story was cute and all, but I can’t help feeling that Davis could have stayed within his own farm system if he wanted to see great Pirates draft picks before they were traded. But I guess he needed a clean break.

Word of warning, though. Once you go Bus Leagues, you’ll never go back, Brad.