Posts Tagged ‘Collin Balester’

Prospect Probables: Who’s Pitching This Week?

While looking at the 453rd Google Alert item mentioning Collin Balester’s major league debut tomorrow against the Florida Marlins, I noticed that Clayton Kershaw is also scheduled to pitch.  This revelation led me to the MLB Schedules page at ESPN.com, where it quickly became apparent that many top pitching prospects will take the mound for their teams in the coming week.

And just like that, another weekly feature was born.

Call me biased toward the Red Sox and Yankees, but I think the most interesting matchups are slated for next weekend in The Bronx.  On Saturday, Boston youngster Justin Masterson goes against New York veteran Mike Mussina; the following day, the Yankees counter with their own prospect, Joba Chamberlain, against Sox elder statesman Tim Wakefield. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Kansas City @ Baltimore – Luke Hochevar (63) vs. Radhames Liz (69)
Texas @ New York Yankees – Kevin Millwood vs. Joba Chamberlain (3)
Washington @ Florida – Collin Balester (86) vs. Mark Hendrickson
Los Angeles Dodgers @ Houston – Clayton Kershaw (7) vs. Wandy Rodriguez

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Detroit @ Minnesota – Eddie Bonine vs. Nick Blackburn (56)

Thursday, July 3, 2008
Milwaukee @ Arizona – Manny Parra (72) vs. Brandon Webb
Philadelphia @ Atlanta – Brett Myers vs. Jair Jurrjens (49)
Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco – Sean Gallagher (82) vs. Tim Lincecum
Washington @ Cincinnati – John Lannan vs. Johnny Cueto (34)

Saturday, July 5, 2008
Boston @ New York Yankees – Justin Masterson (64) vs. Mike Mussina
Texas @ Baltimore – Eric Hurley (77) vs. Brian Burres

Sunday, July 6, 2008
Washington @ Cincinnati – Collin Balester (86) vs. Edinson Volquez
Texas @ Baltimore – Scott Feldman vs. Radhames Liz (69)
Kansas City @ Tampa Bay – Luke Hochevar (63) vs. James Shields
Los Angeles Dodgers @ San Francisco – Clayton Kershaw (7) vs. Matt Cain
Boston @ New York – Tim Wakefield vs. Joba Chamberlain (3)

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Now Pitching For The Washington Nationals…

I want to give Collin Balester a nickname so badly, I can taste it.  And not just any nickname – it needs to be a GOOD nickname.

Don’t ask me why this needs to happen.  If you do, I won’t have a good answer for you.  It’s just something about the name – Collin Balester – that screams, “Please bestow upon me a shortened name by which the masses may come to know and love me!”

Big Red?  Unoriginal.  Ballin’?  Maybe.  The Baler?  So dumb I can’t even believe I just typed it.  Radio?  Possibly.  The Last Expo?  Has potential.  None of the above?  Likely.

Anyway…Balester, a member of the Montreal Expos’ last draft class prior to the big move to Washington and the 85th ranked player on Baseball America’s preseason prospect list, was named as the Nationals’ starter for Tuesday’s game against the Florida Marlins.  He earned the trip to The Show over the last month, winning five consecutive decisions for AAA Columbus.  Overall, he was 9-3 with a 4.00 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 78.2 innings.

Last season, Balester allowed 12 homeruns in 150.1 innings between AA Harrisburg and AAA Columbus; thus far in 2008, he has allowed 14 homeruns in 78.2 innings.  I’m not sure if this is an area of concern or not – most of the longballs came in May (9 in 33 innings), so maybe it was an isolated issue that has since been corrected.  Just thought I’d mention it in case the bug bites again at the major league level.  He did have some problems of a mechanical nature back at the start of the 2006 season:

“I started out slow. I was trying to work on a couple of mechanical things. They were working out a little bit, but I was leaving the ball up a lot and kind of getting hit around the park,” he said. “Then I started to go back to how I was pitching before and I felt good, I got the right attitude. I went on a roll. The numbers didn’t show, but I felt that I worked hard and got through adversity.”

And while we’re quoting old articles to explain what Balester is all about, how about this one, from the same March 2007 piece as above. 

“I have no fear. I will challenge anybody. I’m not afraid to fail. Failure is not a thing I’m scared of,” Balester said. “I will challenge a guy inside. I’m just not afraid. I pitch to contact. I’m not trying to strike out anybody. I’m trying to keep my pitch count low and go deep into the ballgame and help my team to win.”

Maybe my first thought for a nickname, which I didn’t even bother to include above, wasn’t so bad after all: The Balls (with all due respect to both Ron Burgundy and AJ Daulerio, of course).