Archive for the ‘Eastern League’ Category

Interview With Former Minor Leaguer Garrett Broshuis

On the heels of last week’s retirement announcement, I asked Garrett Broshuis a few questions about what went into the decision, what it meant to go out on a high note, and what comes next.

First of all, congratulations on your spectacular failure to become a major leaguer. This isn’t a Brett Favre style retirement, is it? You’re not gonna show up in a month with an “aw shucks” smile and a shrug and be like, “Changed my mind!” Are you?

Well, funny you ask that. After further consideration, I’ve decided to (drumroll please)…stay retired. Actually I did just visit our minor league spring training complex a few days ago. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but I was just there to visit teammates. I gave a few hugs, shook some hands, offered face-to-face “thank you”s and left. What’s odd is that it didn’t even really feel odd to be there.

Seriously, though, the decision to retire couldn’t have been an easy one. What was the mental process behind the decision, from the end of last season up to Tuesday?

Really I started having thoughts during the season, which is never good. My wife had surgery and I was stuck in A ball at 27-year-old. Then I went up to AAA for one start before being shuffled back to AA. That was probably the turning point, where the thoughts really set in.

There were a lot of sleepless nights during the second half of the season. I played this one song by the Shins over and over again to the point where I thought I was going crazy. (In reality I probably was slightly crazy.) I didn’t actually make the decision though until around a month or so ago.

Who did you tell first? Did they or anyone else try to talk you out of it?

Well, I guess I told my mom and my wife first, but then I had to make the actual phone call to the Giants’ organization. I called up Bobby Evans while I was watching my wife do an indoor triathlon (talk about boring). He seemed a little surprised. They were willing to give me my release if I wanted to try to play with another organization, but I told him it was time to move on.

I talked to a few other coaches as well. Almost all of them told me that I made the right decision. They consistently said that too many players hold on for too long. The game wraps itself around you. It’s difficult to escape its web.

After talking with them, I was confident I’d made the right decision. After all, who wants a soft-throwing, aging righty anyways?

After a rough 2007 season in which you appear to have pitched well but couldn’t buy a win, you bounced back with solid seasons in 2008 and 2009. How important was it to you that your career end on a strong note?

Wow, that was an agonizing year. There were about 17 different moments that I wanted to take a bat to the Gatorade cooler and the Port-a-Potty.

It would’ve been very easy to just give up after my 2007 season, but I kept my head held high and used it as motivation. I re-dedicated myself to working as hard as I’d ever worked. I made a few adjustments. I heightened my focus a bit and had a very solid 2008 season. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of in my baseball career (other than pinch-running once and sliding without breaking my neck). I persisted through rough times and didn’t give up.

What comes next? I’ve seen mention of law school, and you’ve shown obvious concern for the way players are treated in the minors – could a second career as a sports agent be in the cards?

So yeah, I’m going to be entering another competitive, challenging field. I visited a law school the other day and looked around me. It’s a totally different world. Instead of talking about the break on a slider or a game of “Call of Duty”, everybody was talking about their LSAT scores and the amount of time they spent in the library. But hey, I have a little nerdiness in me that’s been suppressed for too long. Time to cultivate it a bit.

As for the agent thing, I’m going to be helping my own agent out while in school. I want to explore some other things as well, but baseball has been too large a part of my life to completely turn my back on it.

Do you plan on continuing your writing with Baseball America and your blog? I for one think we could use a good, thoughtful perspective on what a ballplayer goes through after retirement.

I’m definitely going to keep writing. There are some issues that I think still need to be brought to light, and so I’m going to do my best to illuminate them.

It might be hard to always find time to write, but it’s like going to the gym for me. I just have to set aside an hour or two and do it. I enjoy it too much to not do it. And Baseball America has been great. They’ve told me to keep pitching ideas to them, and they’d love to have ’em.

Thanks for the time, Garrett, and good luck!

Garrett Broshuis Is Hangin’ Em up

“I’ve spent a few weeks thinking of a clever way of announcing my retirement,” Garrett Broshuis wrote on his blog on Tuesday, and with that, he did.

Broshuis was a talented pitcher, good enough to win 54 games in a six-year career that twice brushed Triple-A and confident enough to rebound from a 3-17 record in 2007 to finish 13-9 in 2008.  He is also a talented writer, as luck would have it, capable of humorously recapping the exploits of Madison Bumgarner or thoughtfully discussing the idea of HGH testing in minor league baseball.  In the latter capacity, he was able to provide fans with an uncommon insight into the life of a minor league baseball player.

In announcing his retirement from the game, Broshuis chose to thank those who had helped him along the way:

It seems odd to write a thank you while admitting failure, but that is what I am doing. I failed to reach my goal, and so in essence I am thanking the very people who not only allowed but assisted my failings. Yet I’m of the belief that there is still beauty in coming up just short, even if the beauty is of a different hue than the ultimate gratification of success. The process is the same even if the end result greatly differs. I’ve loved every minute of this process, even the lowest of lows.

Broshuis really has a phenomenal opportunity here.  While I was always interested to read his thoughts during his time as an active player, I might be even more interested to read about the life of a newly retired player.  Even someone as young (he’s just 28) and with as much going for him as Broshuis (I believe he is applying to law school) is sure to have some feelings of loss as he goes through that first summer without baseball.

Bus Leagues will still continue to follow Broshuis on Twitter, and maybe even email him from time to time, but I want to take the opportunity now to wish him the best of luck in whatever he chooses to do.

His Roommate Was Collie Flower Smith

Brock Bond led the Eastern League in hitting last season as a 23-year-old prospect in the Giants system.  While he showed little power (.408 SLG%) and questionable judgment on the basepaths (13 steals, 15 caught stealing), the 150 hits he compiled in 450 at-bats were enough to help land him at #29 on Baseball America’s Top 30 list for San Francisco.

I recently learned two things about Bond that made my jaw drop. The first comes from Jeff Perro, the second from Baseball America’s 2010 Prospect Handbook:

1) His full name is Brock Lee Bond.  Say the first and middle names quickly, out loud.  Somebody’s parents had a sense of humor.

2) He was drafted by the Giants in the 24th round of the 2007 draft.  I know, I know – there’s nothing shocking about that.  The Handbook, however, notes that he was drafted accidentally – the Giants were actually targeting Casey Bond, an outfielder out of Lipscomb.  I wonder how many people got fired for that little mixup.

I have to admit that it’s all worked out quite well for the lad.  While Casey Bond left the game after two seasons and exactly one game above short season Class A, Brock has climbed the organizational ladder steadily, progressing from Rookie to Double-A in three seasons.  Also, fortunately, the name “Brock Bond” sounds appropriately bad ass, like the star of a spaghetti Western or something.

Where Will Strasburg Start The 2010 Season?

Stephen Strasburg is gonna rock some lucky fan base’s world in 2010.  The question is, where?

Tuesday morning, Nats manager Jim Riggleman “strongly hinted” that Strasburg would spend some time riding the buses in ye olde minor leagues to begin the season, the reason being that live game action against Double- or Triple-A hitters will provide a better overall measure of the phenom’s performance than a few spring training outings against major leaguers.

Tuesday evening, of course, Riggleman “definitely didn’t rule out” the idea of Strasburg in a Natinals uniform on Opening Day.  So really, nobody knows what the hell is going to happen.

That leaves me with only one option: to assume that if Strasburg starts off in the minors, it will be in either Syracuse or Harrisburg, and to figure out when those teams might be coming to a ballpark near me.  Because obviously, the main objective is to see this kid throw in person.

I looked at the road trips for each of those two teams, but first the lightning in a bottle scenario: my second annual baseball road trip takes me through Washington in early June, either the fourth or the fifth, when the Nationals play the Reds.  This guarantees at least a shot at seeing Jay Bruce, of course, and is also right around the time that Strasburg would likely be getting a callup if he does in fact go to the minors.  So there’s that.

(And don’t get me started on the possibility of a Strasburg-Aroldis Chapman matchup…)

Now, if he does start off in Triple-A, here are the Chiefs’ road trips through the end of June:

April 14-16 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
April 17-20 @ Lehigh Valley
April 27-30 @ Toledo
May 1-4 @ Columbus
May 14-17 @ Pawtucket
May 18-21 @ Rochester
May 27-28 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
May 31-June 3 @ Buffalo
June 12-15 @ Charlotte
June 17-20 @ Gwinnett
June 29-30 @ Buffalo

It must be noted that my friend Chris, who writes for this blog, lives in upstate New York, so even if Strasburg gets called up at the end of May, he’s still a) playing his home games in nearby Syracuse, and b) making trips to Buffalo and Rochester. If Strasburg ends up in Triple-A and Chris DOESN’T see him at least once, he’s doing something wrong.

I can’t help but notice, however, that journeys to my corner of the world are few and far between. There’s just one, actually, a four-game trip to Pawtucket in mid-May. It’s a longshot, admittedly, but it’s possible.

Now, there is just as good a chance that the higher-ups will send Strasburg to the Harrisburg Senators. If that’s the case, he could be just up the road in Manchester, right? Or maybe Portland? As my son likes to say, “Uh, uh…no.”

April 8-11 @ Altoona
April 12-14 @ Bowie
April 22-25 @ New Britain
April 26-28 @ Reading
May 10-12 @ Altoona
May 21-23 @ Akron
May 28-31 @ Erie
June 1-3 @ Richmond
June 8-10 @ Altoona
June 15-17 @ New Britain
June 18-20 @ Bowie
June 28-30 @ Portland

I don’t know how the Eastern League puts together its schedule, but if you’re scoring at home, that’s three visits to Altoona, two to Bowie, and two to New Britain before the Senators wind their way up to northern New England in the last week of June. And that stop in New Hampshire, right up the road? Last week in July, my friends, by which point The Strasburg will most certainly have left the building.

So the point of all this, I guess, is that unless the cards fall right, I’m unlikely to see Stephen Strasburg pitch this season. The bright side, though, is that Chris should have ample opportunity to see him if he lands in Triple-A, and fans in minor league towns up and down the eastern seaboard should have that same chance regardless of where he plays.

There’s A New Team In Richmond

After a one-year absence, minor league baseball has returned to Richmond, Virginia.

Officials announced earlier today that the Eastern League’s Connecticut Defenders franchise, which just lost in the championship round to the Akron Aeros, will move to Richmond in time for next season.  The team will play at The Diamond (the ballpark that contributed to Atlanta’s departure after the 2008 season) and its affiliation with the San Francisco Giants will continue at least through 2010.

Greg’s Connecticut Defenders Blog referred to the move last week as “the worst kept secret in minor league ball”; apparently the Eastern League has been looking to get this done for quite some time.  He’s holding out hope that the Defenders will be replaced by a short-season team as early as 2010 while accepting that the era of Double-A in Connecticut has come to an end.

If forced to find a silver lining to the situation, I guess this is it: the folks in Richmond are holding a contest to name their new team.  Entries must be submitted by September 30; one grand prize winner will receive a package that includes two season tickets for life, while four runners-up will two 2010 season passes.  I think I might suggest “Richmond Ashes,” for Richmond native Arthur Ashe, but there are a ton of potential names out there.

In Pedro They Trust

Pirates fans have plenty of reason to look at their franchise and feel a sense of doom.  It’s bound to happen when the team hasn’t had a winning season in seventeen years and call for its contraction on an almost monthly basis.

There is, however, some good stuff mixed in with the crap.  Andrew McCutchen is going to be a perennial All-Star (assuming they don’t trade him).  First round draft pick Tony Sanchez saw action with the team’s short-season, High-A and Low-A affiliates, finishing with a combined .949 OPS; I’ll bet he’s in the majors by the end of next season (assuming they don’t trade him).  Neil Walker might finally be ready to make good on his prospect status (assuming they don–you get the point).

Oh, and Pedro Alvarez is announcing his presence with authority.

Alvarez hit .288 with 27 homeruns and 95 RBI in the Carolina and Eastern Leagues this season, earning a spot on the United States World Cup team.  On Thursday, he showed why Pirates fans have reason to be optimistic:

Alvarez hit three of Team USA’s six home runs, as the Americans won their sixth straight game, beating Taiwan 14-3 in Torino, Italy. Team USA put up seven runs in the first inning, with Alvarez blasting a three-run homer as part of the rally.

Three at-bats, three homeruns, six RBI – all to different fields, all in the first four innings (he grounded out to first in his last at-bat).  That’s quite a day.

Anything For A Game Used Ball

Slow roller down the line late in the game.  The ball ended up in the hands of the Sea Dogs third base coach, who ignored a bunch of screaming kids in the front row, flipping it over their heads and causing two older guys to bang into one another pretty hard as they went after the toss.

Later, a scrum almost broke out when Lars Anderson tossed a ball into the same section and two guys reached for it at the same time. Fun times.