Archive for the ‘Rookie’ Category

This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 22

Where has the 2009 baseball season gone?  It seems like yesterday when teams had just started to break camp in AZ and FL and further disperse their minor league talent to respective cities and now this week begins 40 man roster expansion in MLB with minors races and playoffs to follow.  Here’s what’s coming up:

Chicago Cubs 8/31/09 Billy Williams – First 10,000 – One of the more popular cubbies of all-time. Williams was better known for hitting than for defense, but he made crucial catches in two different no-hitters by Cubs pitchers: Ken Holtzman in 1969, and Milt Pappas in 1972.

Lowell Spinners 8/31/09 Gary DiSarcina – First 1,500 – Lowell honors their 2009 manager after sporting an impressive MLB career mostly with the California Angels.

New Hampshire Fishercats 8/31/09 Ted Williams – First 2,000 – Another copycat from Lowell, this time of the Splendid Splinter flying a plane from his war days.

Trenton Thunder 8/31/09 Chien-Ming Wang Figurine – First 2,000 6 and up – This will be the 2nd statue of the most famous Taiwanese pitcher in MLB history thusfar.

St. Lucie Mets 9/1/09 Slider (Mascot) – First 250 – This time Slider will go to the adults.

Portand Seadogs 9/1/09 Jon Lester – First 2,000 – Boston’s #2 starter played a major role while he pitched at the AA level, thus he gets this honor.

Albuquerque Isotopes 9/3/09 Manny Ramirez – First 3,000 – This is the Isotopes 2nd opportunity to get a Manny bobblehead to their fanbase that honors the rehabber.

Hudson Valley Renegades 9/3/09 Paint Your Own Bobblehead – First 3,000 – Nobody really knows who it will be or what colors they will have, but how many different ways can you paint a raccoon?

Wisconsin Timberrattlers 9/3/09 Brett Lawrie – First 1,000 – Lawrie was the 2009 fan’s choice winner and a rising star to boot.

Delmarva Shorebirds 9/4/09 Matt Wieters – First 1,000 – Interesting that this is the only affiliate that is giving out Wieters that he has never actually played a game at.

Lansing Lugnuts 9/4/09 Carlos Marmol – First 1,000 – Marmol is now back in his closer role with the Cubbies and was always very popular at this affiliate.

Charleston Riverdogs 9/5/09 Paint Your Own Bobblehead – First 1,000 – Are you a budding artist? Then show off your skills when you come to the Joe for the Paint-it-Yourself Bobblehead giveaway. The first 1,000 fans this Saturday will receive a free plain bobblehead and a set of paints to decorate their player in their favorite team colors.

Cleveland Indians 9/5/09 Travis Hafner BobblePen Holder – This time Pronk is able to store pens instead of swinging his huge bat; interesting concept!!!

Wilmington BlueRocks 9/5/09 Andrew Layman – First 1,000 – The 2009 fan favorite bobblehead of the Rocks denotes their Asst. GM which becomes their 2nd front office bobblehead after Chris Kemple was honored a few years ago.

New York Mets 9/6/09 Frankie Rodriguez – First 25,000 – Krod comes to the Mets after setting an MLB record for saves with Anaheim and also sporting 2 bobbleheads while in their system.

Potomac Nationals 9/6/09 John Lannan – First 1,000 – The PNats will try again to distribute the Chaminade grad after an earlier rainout.

Vancouver Canadians 9/6/09 A&W Root Bear (Mascot) – First 500 – Ahh I got it now…Root Beer, Root Bear…HA HA.

I’m debating making a trip for the final long weekend of the minors season and just looking to calculate distances and midpoints. Anyone who is interested in helping me plan feel free to get in touch with me.

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Dominican Summer League Finals Are Underway

The DSL Giants defeated the DSL Twins last night, 4-3, to take a one game to none lead in the best-of-five championship series.

The Giants held a 2-0 lead until the Twins’ Yancarlo Franco tied it with a two-run homerun in the top of the seventh.  The visitors took the lead the following inning when Romy Trinidad reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to third on two consecutive wild pitches, and scored on a sacrifice fly.

With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Manuel Soliman balked in the tying run before intentionally walking Gabriel Cornier to reload ’em up.  Soliman worked his way out of the jam with a strikeout and a groundout to preserve the tie.

It ended the next inning with a manufactured run.  Jorge Lopez walked, advanced on a acrifice bunt, and scored on a single to right to give the Giants the advantage.

Game Two was scheduled for this morning at 10 AM Eastern time.

Arizona Fall League Rosters Announced

Okay, so they were announced Tuesday.  Timeliness has never been one of my strong suits.

More information about the AFL can be found in this column from Examiner.com and the Winter Leagues page at MLB.com.  I’ve taken the liberty of listing some of the key players for each team, their ages, and the levels at which they played in 2009:

Phoenix Desert Dogs
Brandon Erbe, RHP, 21 (A-/AA)
Drew Storen, RHP, 22 (A/A+/AA)
Stephen Strasburg, RHP, 21 (NCAA)
Derek Norris, C, 20 (A)
Adam Loewen, OF, 25 (A+)

MLB 40-Man Roster: Stephen Strasburg (RHP, WAS)

Scottsdale Scorpions
Danny Moskos, LHP, 23 (AA)
Buster Posey, C, 22 (A+/AAA)
Domonic Brown, OF, 21 (R/A+/AA)
Collin Cowgill, OF, 23 (A+)
Jose Tabata, OF, 21 (AA/AAA)

MLB 40-Man Roster: Bryan Augenstein (RHP, ARI), Cesar Valdez (RHP, ARI), Donald Veal (LHP, PIT), Mike Zagurski (LHP, PHI), Brandon Allen (1B, ARI), Pedro Ciriaco (SS, ARI), Hector Gomez (SS, COL), Jose Tabata (OF, PIT)

Mesa Solar Sox
Hank Conger, C, 21 (AA)
Starlin Castro, SS, 19 (A+/AA)
Josh Vitters, 3B, 20 (A/A+)
Ryan Kalish, OF, 21 (A+/AA)
Mike Stanton, OF, 19 (A+/AA)

MLB 40-Man Roster
: None

Peoria Javelinas
Phillippe Aumont, RHP, 20 (A+/AA)
Justin Cassel, RHP, 24 (AA/AAA)
Nick Hill, LHP, 24 (AA)
Dustin Ackley, 1B, 21 (NCAA)
Carlos Triunfel, SS, 19
Dayan Viciedo, 3B, 20 (AA)
Joe Dunigan, OF, 23 (A+)

MLB 40-Man Roster: Oscar Aguilar (RHP, MIL), Mark Rogers (RHP, MIL), Travis Schlichting (RHP, LAD), Luca May (C, LAD), Dustin Ackley (1B, SEA), Dayan Viciedo (3B, SEA)

Peoria Saguaros
Mike Minor, LHP, 21 (NCAA)
Jason Castro, C, 22 (A+/AA)
Matt McBride, C, 24 (A+/AA)
Yonder Alonso, DH, 22 (R/A+/AA)
Freddie Freeman, 1B, 19 (A+/AA)
Jonathan Gaston, LF, 22 (A+)
Jason Heyward, RF, 20 (A+/AA)

MLB 40-Man Roster: Wilton Lopez (RHP, HOU), Yonder Alonso (1B, CIN), German Duran (2B, HOU)

Surprise Rafters
Ian Kennedy, RHP, 24 (AAA)
Austin Romine, C, 20 (A+)
Daniel Descalso, 2B, 22 (AA/AAA)
Mike Moustakas, 3B, 20 (A+)

MLB 40-Man Roster: Thomas Diamond (RHP, TEX), Ian Kennedy (RHP, NYY)

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.

This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 21

Nice week for me, Melancon bobblehead on Wednesday in Trenton, Lowrie bobblehead in Wilmington on Friday, capped off by having Melancon sign the afformentioned giveaway for me last night in front of his mom and fiancee during my Scranton roadtrip. Pretty amazing I must say. Here’s week 21:

San Francisco Giants 8/25/09 Carlos Santana – Santana the popular hispanic musician is being given as part of a Latino night promotion, complete with guitar.

New Hampshire Fishercats 8/26/09 Jonathan Papelbon (Bobble Leg) – First 2,000 – Once again the Fishercats dig deep into Lowell Spinners history and copycat another bobblehead from them while sticking on a local sponsor. That’s just wrong.

Albuquerque Isotopes  8/27/09 Manny Ramirez – First 3,000 – Probably some Dodger leftovers but at least he rehabbed there before being reinstated from his PED suspension.

Lowell Spinners 8/27/09 Micky Ward – First 1,500 – Ward won three New England Golden Gloves titles as an amateur before turning pro in 1985. He was coached by former New England Olympic Champion John Peverada (of Portland Maine). He started off 14-0 in his professional career, but after a stretch of defeats in the early 1990s, Ward hung up the gloves for a period of three years. He returned in 1994 with a vengeance, winning nine straight fights and earning some fights against big name fighters like Arturo Gatti.

Norfolk Tides 8/28/09 Mark Reynolds, Ryan Zimmerman, Bruce Smith(Set of 3) – 200 Fans – A Lucky 200 fans will receive the 2009 neighborhood heroes set…Drawing via lottery.

Palm Beach Cardinals 8/28/09 Albert Pujols – First 1,000 – The Florida State League affiliate honors their parent club’s MVP.

San Angelo Colts 8/28/09 Casey (Mascot) – First 1,000 – The Texas independent league team once again gives out their mascot, hopefully in a different pose from other years.

Tulsa Drillers 8/28/09 Jeff Francis/Matt Holliday/Mark Teixeira Triple – First 1,000 – This magnificent triple bobblehead is the final in the decade all-star series.

Hagerstown Suns 8/29/09 Vernon Wells Bronze Statuette – First 1,000 – Part of the Suns HOF statuette series.

Kane County Cougars 8/29/09 Ozzie (Mascot) – First 1,000 – No good alumni from the Cougars this season so Ozzie makes the perfect choice one more time.

Lowell Spinners 8/29/09 Extreme Blue The Frisbee Dog (Mascot) – First 1,500 – One of the few frisbee catching dog mascot sideshows around the minors.

Rockford Riverhawks 8/29/09 Sammy Sosa – First 1,000 – Last of the retro Rockford Cubbie series, cork or roids not included.

Round Rock Express 8/29/09 Sam Houston – First 3,000 – One of the most famous politicians in US History gets his due.

St. Paul Saints 8/29/09 Paint Your Own Bobblehead – First 2,500 – Remember the words of Obama, if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig!!! Now you can paint your own.

Beloit Snappers 8/30/09 Kyle Weaver – First 500 – Current NBA Star and former Beloit Memorial High School Stand out Kyle Weaver will be honored by the Snappers in the final edition of the 2009 Bobblehead giveaways.

Milwaukee Brewers 8/30/09 Jeff Suppan – During 2009 Spring Training in Maryvale, AZ I congratulated Soupy for finally reaching bobblenirvana… We shared a good laugh of course.

St. Louis Cardinals 8/30/09 Adam Wainwright – First 25,000 fans – Wainright figures finally graduate to MLB status after having minor league bobbleheads in Memphis as a Cardinal and Myrtle Beach while still a Brave.

San Francisco Giants 8/30/09 Randy Johnson – First 20,000 – A late season addition to the Giants promo lineup that pays tribute for the latest 300 game winner in MLB history.

Keep track with the latest goings on in the bobblehead hobby at thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com

The No-Hitters Keep Coming

August has been a good month for minor league no-hitters – there have been approximately 412 so far (that might be a slight exaggeration), with three more added to the list on Saturday.

In the Arizona League, three Athletics pitchers combined to hold the Angels hitless – payback, perhaps, for August 14, when the Angels did the same to the A’s.  There was only one problem: the Angels won both games.

Hector Garcia started and went five innings, striking out five and walking two.  One of those walks came in the fifth, to the leadoff batter, who advanced to second on a passed ball, to third on a groundout, and to home on another groundout.

After Christopher Mederos pitched two perfect innings, Daniel Tenholder got the call.  He pitched a perfect eighth, but in the ninth, two consecutive errors and an intentional walk loaded the bases with nobody out.  The end was anticlimactic: a walk-off walk to Randal Grichuk.  So I guess, technically, it was an eight inning no-hitter.

The outcome of the Northwest League game between Salem-Keizer and Everett was a bit more traditional.  Three Volcanoes pitchers combined for the no-hitter, but these guys managed to win the game, 8-0.  Craig Westcott went the first five, striking out six and walking two to run his overall record to 6-0 between two levels (he also has 51 strikeouts in 33.1 innings), before turning things over to Brandon Graves and Wilber Bucardo for the last twelve outs.

The finest performance of the day was turned in by Erie’s Thad Weber.  Weber went the full nine innings against Akron, striking out ten without walking a batter.  Only a third inning error and an eighth inning hit batsman stood in the way of a perfect game.  His teammates made it easy for him, scoring seven runs in the fourth en route to a 16-0 drubbing of the visiting Aeros.

Your Random Rasmus Brothers Update

Because I wait excitedly for the Rasmus Brothers to perform on the same day, I assume that you do too. Here are the results from yesterday:

Colby: 1-4, HR, BB
Cory: 2.2 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 4 BB, 3 SO

Colby’s hit wasn’t a walk-off this time, but he “wins” this round because Cory had a bad day. The fourteen inning no-hit streak? Gone in the first inning. Both brothers’ teams eventually won, however – the Cardinals topped the Padres, 7-0, and Danville came from behind to beat Greeneville, 5-4, in ten innings.