Archive for the ‘South Atlantic League’ Category

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.

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South Atlantic League All-Stars Announced

The South Atlantic League postseason All-Stars were announced earlier today:

Catcher: Jordan Pacheco, Asheville Tourists
First Base: Josh Mazzola, Augusta Green Jackets
Second Base: Stephen Lombardozzi, Hagerstown Suns
Third Base: Corban Joseph, Charleston River Dogs
Shorstop: Tim Beckham, Bowling Green Hot Rods
Outfield: Scott Robinson, Asheville Tourists
Outfield: Anthony Gose, Lakewood Blueclaws
Outfield: Ronnie Welty, Delmarva Shorebirds
Utility OF: Melky Mesa, Charleston River Dogs
Utility INF: Erik Morrison, Hickory Crawdads
Designated Hitter: Derek Norris, Hagerstown Suns
Right-Handed Pitcher: David Phelps, Charleston River Dogs
Left-Handed Pitcher: Rudy Owens, West Virginia Power
Manager: Dusty Wathan, Lakewood Blueclaws
Coach: Bob Kipper, Greenville Drive

Most Outstanding Pitcher: Rudy Owens, West Virginia Power
Most Outstanding MLB Prospect: Derek Norris, Hagerstown Suns
Most Valuable Player: Jordan Pacheco, Asheville Tourists

I came closer on this one: Norris was my MVP candidate.

Early Progression Of 2009 First Round Draft Picks

Now that the deadline has passed for 2009 draft picks to sign with their teams, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the first round selections, where they landed, and how they’re doing.

1. Stephen Strasburg, 21, RHP (Washington Nationals) – Expected to make his debut with the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

2. Dustin Ackley, 21, 1B (Seattle Mariners) – Expected to make his debut with the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League

3. Donavan Tate, 18, OF (San Diego Padres) – Expected to make his debut in 2010 due to injury.

4. Tony Sanchez, 21, C (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Hitting .331 with 6 homeruns and 42 RBI in 40 games between State College (A-, New York-Penn League) and West Virginia (A, South Atlantic League); he was named the South Atlantic League’s Player of the Week on August 17.

5. Matt Hobgood, 19, RHP (Baltimore Orioles) – Has compiled a 1-1 record, 5.40 ERA, and 13 strikeouts in 21.2 innings over seven starts for the Bluefield Orioles (R, Appalachian League).

6. Zack Wheeler, 19, RHP (San Francisco Giants) Expected to make his debut in 2010.

7. Mike Minor, 21, LHP (Atlanta Braves) – Has started two games for the Rome Braves (A, South Atlantic League), allowing no runs on two hits with no walks and four strikeouts.  He will play for the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League.

8. Mike Leake, 21, RHP (Cincinnati Reds) – Expected to make his debut in the Arizona Fall League; he was not on the original roster because he signed after rosters were submitted, but the Reds are petitioning to add him.

9. Jacob Turner, 18, RHP (Detroit Tigers) – Appears to be looking at instructional leagues this fall and winter, leading into a 2010 debut.

10. Drew Storen, 22, RHP (Washington Nationals) – Has made stops at Hagerstown (A, South Atlantic League), Potomac (A+, Carolina League), and Harrisburg (AA, Eastern League), compiling a 1-1 record, 2.14 ERA and nine saves in 25 games.  He has struck out 44 batters in 33.2 innings and will pitch for Phoenix in the Arizona Fall League.

11. Tyler Matzek, 18, LHP (Colorado Rockies) – Indicated soon after signing that he was headed to the Pioneer League, but has compiled no stats and does not appear to be slated for the AFL.

12. Aaron Crow, 22, RHP (Kansas City Royals) – One of three first rounders who did not sign prior to the deadline, Crow’s lack of college eligibility actually gives the Royals until just before next year’s draft to sign him.

13. Grant Green, 21, SS (Oakland Athletics) – Doesn’t have any stats yet and I can’t find anything that says where he might be headed.

14. Matt Purke, 19, LHP (Texas Rangers) – Did not sign; will attend Texas Christian University.

15. Alex White, 21, RHP (Cleveland Indians) – Will not pitch this season due to a heavy workload in college; he may make his debut in the AFL.

16. Bobby Borchering, 18, 3B (Arizona Diamondbacks) – Hitting .167 with one homerun and four RBI in eight games for the Missoula Osprey (R, Pioneer League).

17. A.J. Pollock, 21, OF (Arizona Diamondbacks) – Hitting .269 with three homeruns and 22 RBI in 54 games for the South Bend Silver Hawks (A, Midwest League).

18. Chad James, 18, LHP (Florida Marlins) – Doesn’t have any stats yet and I can’t find anything that says where he might be headed.

19. Shelby Miller, 18, RHP (St. Louis Cardinals) – Reportedly assigned to the Quad Cities River Bandits (A, Midwest League), but has not appeared in a game yet.

20. Chad Jenkins, 21, RHP (Toronto Blue Jays) – There’s a Chad Jenkins pitching in the Nationals system, but it’s not the same one, which is weird because Washington was looking at this Chad Jenkins prior to the draft.  I’m not sure where the Blue Jays’ Jenkins has landed.

21. Jiovanni Mier, 19, SS (Houston Astros) – Hitting .277 with six homeruns, 27 RBI, and ten stolen bases for the Greeneville Astros (R, Appalachian League).

22. Kyle Gibson, 21, RHP (Minnesota Twins) – Not sure where he will land; had a stress fracture in his arm that caused him to drop in the first round, not sure how that’s still affecting him.

23. Jared Mitchell, 20, OF (Chicago White Sox) – Hitting .296 with no homeruns and ten RBI in 34 games for the Kannapolis Intimidators (A, South Atlantic League).

24. Randal Grichuk, 18, OF (Los Angeles Angels) – Hitting .329 with seven homeruns (five in the last nine games), 53 RBI, and ten triples in 52 games for the AZL Angels (R, Arizona Summer League).

25. Mike Trout, 18, OF (Los Angeles Angels) – Hitting .369 with one homerun, 25 RBI, and seven triples in 38 games for the AZL Angels (R, Arizona Summer League).

26. Eric Arnett, 21, RHP (Milwaukee Brewers) – Has compiled an 0-3 record with a 4.57 ERA in 11 games (six starts) for the Helena Brewers (R, Pioneer League).

27. Nick Franklin, 18, SS (Seattle Mariners) – Hitting .282 with one homerun and four RBI in nine games for the AZL Mariners (R, Arizona Summer League).

28. Reymond Fuentes, 18, OF (Boston Red Sox) – Hitting .296 with one homerun and 14 RBI in 39 games for the GCL Red Sox (R, Gulf Coast League).

29. Zachary Heathcott, 18, OF (New York Yankees) – Hitting .100 with no homeruns and no RBI in three games for the GCL Yankees (R, Gulf Coast League).

30. LeVon Washington, 18, OF (Tampa Bay Rays) – Did not sign; will attend Chipola College.

31. Brett Jackson, 21, OF (Chicago Cubs) – Hitting .325 with seven homeruns and 35 RBI between stops with the AZL Cubs (R, Arizona Summer League), Boise (A-, Northwest League), and Peoria (A, Midwest League).

32. Tim Wheeler, 21, OF (Colorado Rockies) – Hitting .256 with four homeruns and 31 RBI in 60 games for the Tri-City Dust Devils (A-, Northwest League).

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.

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.)

And Suddenly, My Childhood Comes Rushing Back

I went to the West Virginia Power’s web site tonight to see if Charleston could somehow manage to salvage something from this four game series (West Virginia won the first game on a walkoff homer, the second on a combined no-hitter, and the third on a combined one-hitter) – they did, winning 8-7 despite nearly blowing an 8-2 lead – when pure awesomeness reached out and punched me in the face.

Guess who’s coming to Appalachian Power Park on August 7?  MR. BELDING!

saved by the bell

Dennis Haskins, who played Mr. Belding on Saved By The Bell for about a hundred years, will sign autographs and host a postgame karaoke party when the Power hosts Kannapolis on Back To School Night.  (The game is sponsored by the West Virginia Lottery – gamble early, gamble often, kids!)

Mr. Belding and fireworks?  Be still my heart!  What’s the fastest way from New Hampshire to West Virginia?

(Okay, I need to know: how the hell did Max get into that picture?  Did they just want an even number of people and he was available?)