Archive for the ‘Southern League’ Category

Every stathead minor league watcher has an underdog to root for.

Some would call this phenomenon the Ken Phelps all-star, but there is always someone who shines on above the rest. You can call them the Ken Phelps of the minors. Now, like Geronimo Berroa or Mike Lowell? These guys usually make their way to the bigs. And someone always emerges to fill the gap.

Now you are a literate, hip audience, so I’m not going to act you never heard of this gentleman before. But seeing as Nelson Cruz has made his way to the show with such grace and power, and seeing as OMDQ didn’t immeadiately flash on him. Ladies and gentleman, feast your eyes on Chris Heisey.

Seed of lightning. Roar of thunder.

Heisey!

He was the 22nd ranked prospect in the Reds organization going into this season. He did not warrant a mention in Baseball Prospectus or from the Shandler camp. But unlike more heralded prospects, Chris Heisey actually got his education at Messiah College.

But before this season? He was known as merely a versatile 4th outfielder type. He generated doubles, got steals, and Eric Byrnes’d his way through the outfield. But at 24, in his first full season at Double-A, his skills have exploded.

The speed is still the same, but he’s already surpassed his career home run total with 13 on the year. Which considering that Sarasota and Carolina have generated similar offensive production in their history? He’s hitting double-doubles. And while he has a .365 average, and that won’t last? He can put up a .900 OPS if he keeps it up.

He’s 24 years old and he’s had to work for everything he’s had. This means the mainstream media should like him. He has an isolated OPS that’s over .300. That means statheads should like him. I bestow upon Bus Leagues Baseball the next overaged stud.

Believe in him.

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This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 6

What a week this has been!  Alex Rodriguez has a dramatic return from his injury with a first pitch homer on 5/8/09 and Manny Ramirez shows his feminine side by being the latest superstar to test positive for PEDs.  Still though, bobblehead promos are front and center on my end of this blog.  Here’s the lineup this week:

San Francisco Giants 5/12/09 Lou Seal (Chinese) (Mascot) – Part of a Chinese Heritage Night Promotion.  Although a Seal as a Lion Dancer is quite intriguing.

Chicago Cubs 5/12/09 Ernie Banks – First 10,000 – Cubbies go retro with his second giveaway.

Memphis Redbirds 5/12/09 Keith McDonald – First 1,000 – Another in the Redbirds alumni series.

Trenton Thunder 5/13/09 Joba Chamberlain First 2,000 6 and over – Last year they gave out a Joba for plan holders only. This time a straight giveaway.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5/15/09 Chris “Butter” Ball – First 1,000 – It’s time for the Pelicans to honor their groundskeeper following in the footstep of Trenton and Clearwater. He also boasts the title of 3-time consecutive winner of the Carolina League field of the Year!

Lansing Lugnuts 5/16/09 Carlos Zambrano – Lansing chooses to honor a no-hitter by a Cubs alumnus even though they are a Jays farm team.

Pittsburgh Pirates 5/16/09 Nate McLouth – Pirates annual All-Star bobblehead.

Tampa Bay Rays 5/16/09 Evan Longoria Figurine – This is probably the only way you can get this hot hitter to stand still, other than an upcoming bobblehead of course!!!

Texas Rangers 5/16/09 Josh Hamilton – The Rangers honor the defending HR derby champion.

San Francisco Giants 5/17/09 Tim Lincecum – First 20,000 – The Giants give the reigning NL Cy Young champ his due.

St. Louis Cardinals 5/17/09 Lou Brock Statue – First 25,000 16 and older – Continue your collection in the Cardinals bronze statue series with this one-of-a-kind replica of the Hall of Famer, just like the one that stands on the corner of 8th and Clark.

Toronto Blue Jays 5/17/09 Alex Rios – First 10,000 – This bobblehead is one of the first I’ve ever seen with a weight around the bat.

This week’s bobblehead travels take me to Trenton for the Joba bobblehead night on Wednesday. Don’t be chicken, Don’t be shy, come around and just say hi.

Bo Jackson, Back In The Day

I wandered around YouTube for a few minutes tonight after finding the vids linked in the Strasburg post, and what should appear within a search for “minor league baseball” but a video of Bo Jackson as a Bus Leaguer.

It’s not the most exciting video ever (SPOILER: he draws a walk in the end.  Bo Knows the value of on-base percentage), but I felt compelled to post it because of the uniform.  How many times in life do you have a chance to see Bo Jackson wearing a shirt that says “Chicks” across the front?  I can’t be the only one who finds this awesome, can I?

This Week in Bobbleheads Week 3

Baseball fever is officially in regular season mode.  2 new venues have debuted for MLB here in NY, minor league reports are starting to mount and promotional schedules continue to mount.  Here’s this week’s report on the still prosperous hobby:

Chicago Cubs 4/21/09 Carlos Zambrano “No-Hitter” Statue – First 10,000 fans – Z’s feat is especially amazing considering this was to be a “road game” in a neutral site due to a hurricane in Texas, yet more like a home game since the Cubbies next door neighbors are in Milwaukee.

Mississippi Braves 4/21/09 Tim Hudson – First 500 fans – Leftovers of the Atlanta ’08 giveaway.

San Francisco Giants 4/21/09 Manny Pacquiao – The Filipino boxer’s figure is in conjunction with Filipino Heritage Night, along with it being close to his next boxing tangle.

Mississippi Braves 4/22/09 Bobby Cox – First 500 fans – Another A-Braves leftover to give to M-Brave fans.

Arizona Diamondbacks 4/25/09 Justin Upton – First 25,000 fans – This will be J-Up’s first MLB uni bobble following Norfolk’s ’08 representation in a hometown heroes series.

Cleveland Indians 4/25/09 Kerry Wood – The only problem with this bobblehead is his beard isn’t thick enough.

Fans of this blog, the hobby and baseball are going to love this Vanity Fair article regarding the economics of baseball at http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/04/spring-training200904 .  Page 1 has quotes by yours truly on not only the hobby, but the cancer that is Alex Rodriguez in the Yankees clubhouse.  Continue to follow the schedule of bobbleheads past, present and future at http://thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com/

See ya next week

This Week in Bobbleheads Week 2

Now that opening day has come and gone, the smell of baseball is firmly entrenched in our senses and the promotions will start to pile up.  As the schedules get busier, so will I in reporting all there is to know about the hobby of bobbleheads week by week.  Ok here we go:

Detroit Tigers 4/13/09 Miguel Cabrera – First 10,000 fans – The AL HR champ in 2008 will add to his laurels with his 2nd Tiger prize.

Lehigh Valley Ironpigs 4/16/09 Shane Victorino – First 3,000 fans – The “Flyin Hawaiian” made a quickie rehab stint here as part of his 2008 World Series year.

Houston Astros 4/17/09 Lance Berkman – First 10,000 fans – In the 2009 version of his bobblehead, Berkman sports a puma glove on his right hand, giving props to his nickname “Big Puma”.

Seattle Mariners 4/17/09 Ichiro Suzuki – First 20,000 Fans – The annual tribute to this 2 time WBC MVP.

Minnesota Twins 4/18/09 Joe Mauer Bronze Statuette – First 10,000 Fans – He may be on the DL at present, but he is still regarded highly enough to be in bronze.

Pittsburgh Pirates 4/18/09 Ryan Doumit – His first solo act as a collectible figure after a prior feature as a triple threat bobble.

Toronto Blue Jays 4/19/09 Lyle Overbay – First 10,000 Fans – Seems to have decreased playing time with the addition of Millar, but still a fan favorite in collectibles.

These posts will continue weekly through0ut the season.  Be sure to check out The Only Accurate Bobblehead forum in the hobby today at http://thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com .  If you see something that needs to be brought to our attention, such as adding dates or filling in missing dates, let us know there not to mention come to trade with us.

PS I will be attending the Victorino giveaway on 4/16 making the trek to Allentown shortly after the Yankees home opener at the new palace.  Come find me and say hello.

The Z-Meter: 4/7/2009 – Hope Springs Anew

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: None

Nobody has accumulated stats yet, so this first edition of ’09 will just introduce you to the players and give you some idea of why they’re on this list. We’ll start keeping a weekly tally of stats and farm-system promotions next week.

Players new to the list are added in green. The rest are holdovers from last year. You’ll also notice that we’ve added the college line. Odds of this being used often are very small. But this year, we have a guy who’s really worth watching.


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

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): A mainstay on last year’s list, and very close to being called up for good.

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): Couldn’t quite keep pace with fellow Rays hurler David Price, but came pretty close.

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals: Great Hawaiian name, and plays for my hometown team. Can belt the ball, no doubt.

Mat Gamel, 3B – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): Got a couple of at-bats in Milwaukee last season, striking out once and knocking a double. Odds are, he’ll get a chance to try again, and soon.

Matt LaPorta, CF  – Columbus Clippers (Indians): Former teammate of meter-mates Gamel and Escobar, LaPorta was traded as part of the Sabathia deal. His numbers tailed off after that, but he’s still starting the season in Triple-A, so he’s not far from livin’ the dream at this point.

Alcides Escobar, SS – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): Escobar gets on base (.328 average) and then makes you pay (34 stolen bases). He did plenty of damage at Huntsville, so he gets to start in AAA with Gamel.

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies): Added by Will because he throws big-time gas. As Will says “As far as I’m concerned, with the radar gun it’s triple digits or go home.”

Ramiro Pena, SS – Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees: The switch-hitting shortstop from Mexico was suggested by our bobblehead guru, Eric Marinbach.

Jordan Zimmermann, RHP – Syracuse Chiefs: An Extra P. choice, Zimmermann would like to join the man with the one-letter-shorter version of his last name in D.C. this season. How I kept Zimmermann off of the Z-meter this long, I’ll never know.


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

Austin Jackson, OF – Trenton Thunder (Yankees): Jackson is the top prospect in the Yanks organization, according to Baseball America. He played well in spring training, even belting a grand slam, but there’s no room for him in the Bronx right now.

Antonio Bastardo, LHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): The lefty was flying up the meter last season until he got hurt, ending up playing in just 19 games all year long.

Matt Wieters, C – Bowie Baysox (Orioles): Being hailed as a god in Charm City, and was the top overall prospect of last year, an honor previously held by Jay “The Deal” Bruce. Hit well over .300 in a season split between A and AA. Expect to see him in Camden some time this year. 

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): This guy kind of embodies the frustration of playing for a championship-winning organization. He’s playing really well, but there’s no room above right now.

Fernando Martinez, CF – Binghamton Mets (Mets): Started in center for the International side in the MLB Futures Game. I can’t currently figure out where he’s been assigned, but I’ll update his status as soon as I know.

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Tulsa Drillers (Rockies): My favorite fireballer from last season. Had the most wins of any pitcher in the minors, with a total of 18. Struck out 160 batters as well, so, you know… holy crap.

Daniel Bard, RHP – Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox): Another of Will’s heat-throwing selections. He went 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA for the Sea Dogs last season.

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): Started 2008 in the Dodgers organization before being swapped to the Indians as part of a deal for Casey Blake. Has been destroying the minors, once getting seven RBIs in a single game, and carrying a .999 OPS throughout the season.


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): Gac! has almost become a standard salutation between OMDQ and I. The man practices economy of name, and he doesn’t waste at-bats, either. Gac! hit 32 homers last year, and drove in 109 runs.

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): Moustakas struggled in the first half of his debut season, but grew steadily stronger and more disciplined in the second half. Ended up with 22 homers and a pile of doubles.

Madison Bumgarner, LHP – San Jose Giants (Giants): Bumgarner was added to the meter late last season, so we hardly got to know him before it was all over. He went 15-3 at Augusta as a rookie, with a 1.46 ERA, and will begin the season in A-Advanced as a result.

Michael Ynoa, RHP – not assigned yet (Athletics): OMDQ wanted to see the man of many names in our countdown. Given how highly sought-after the Dominican righty has been, he’s bound to make a splash.

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: MVP for the International side of the MLB Futures Game last season. My (Extra P’s) choice to add because he’s awesome, and because he’s playing close enough to my home for me to go see him.

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): Another Extra P. selection, Vitters had epic 25- and 15-game hitting streaks at short-season Boise before spending a very brief four-game stint at Peoria to end his first pro season. Hits for average and legs out some doubles.

Shooter Hunt, RHP – Beloit Snappers (Twins): Shooter’s here for a few reasons. One, he went to Virginia, as did the man I named this meter after, and I live in Charlottesville, so I watch Virginia often. Second, his name is Shooter Hunt, for god’s sake. That shit is like catnip to me.

Justin Smoak, 1B – Hickory Crawdads (Rangers): BA’s Prospect Handbook compares Smoak favorably to Mark Teixiera, and that’s good enough for us. He had a record-setting career at the University of South Carolina and was a teammate of Matt Wieters in high school.


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

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State:  Has shown 100+ on the radar gun, and was the only college player to make the Olympic team last year. He’ll clearly be a top pick when he declares, so OMDQ says “no shame in tracking his stats right now.” Consider it done.

7 GS – 6W – 0L – 1.49 ERA – 10 BB – 94 K


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

I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer as a kid: when I was about eleven, I wrote a letter to Baseball Digest insisting that Red Sox outfielder Phil Plantier deserved consideration for the Rookie of the Year award.

Plantier’s stats as a rookie in 1991: 11 homeruns, 35 RBI, .331 batting average, 178 OPS+ in 53 games.  Not exactly ROY material (although somebody DID throw him a vote).  I think I was biased because he was born in New Hampshire.  Us Granite Staters got to stick together.

The only reason I’m mentioning this now is because on Tuesday, Plantier was named the manager of the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (AA, Seattle).  It’s his second shot at running a team: he parlayed the previous job, as skipper of the independent Macon Music in 2007, into a spot as the Diamond Jaxx hitting coach last season.

How’s that for a 40th birthday present?