Posts Tagged ‘Jacksonville Suns’

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

I’ve learned a lot about minor league baseball this season, but the most interesting might be something I just discovered about ten minutes ago: major league teams and their minor league affiliates are like the characters on Friends* – sooner or later, they all end up dating one another.

*Yeah, Friends.  My pop culture references are so timely.  The backup example was Beverly Hills 90210.

Almost immediately after the season ended, what I’m assuming is a yearly affiliate shift began to occur.  And the more I read, the more I began to understand the tectonic nature of these relationships.  For example…

  • Last Thursday, the Cleveland Indians announced that they had signed a four-year player development agreement with the International League’s Columbus Clippers .  The Clippers were Washington’s AAA affiliate for the past two seasons.
  • Two days later, the Nationals signed a two-year deal the Syracuse Chiefs, also of the International League.  (Washington also extended existing deals with Class A Hagerstown and Class A Short-Season Vermont; both extensions are for two years.)
  • Two days after THAT, the New York Mets signed on with Buffalo, the International League team that had been cut loose as Cleveland’s affiliate.
  • In order to make the move to Buffalo, the Mets pulled out of New Orleans, clearing the way for division rival Florida to slide in for a two-year deal with the Zephyrs.
  • Florida’s shift to New Orleans meant that the organization pulled out of Albuquerque, where nearly 600,000 fans passed through the gates last season.  Taking their place?  The Los Angeles Dodgers organization, which returns its AAA affiliate to the place it called home for nearly three decades.
  • At the AA level, Los Angeles is returning the favor, moving from Jacksonville to Chattanooga, which allows Florida to take over the Suns franchise.  The Dodgers’ shift displaces the Reds, who were the previous tenants in Chattanooga.

Those are the major crazy, circular moves that have been announced over the past week or so.  MiLB.com has also reported on a number of other affiliate changes:

This is making my head hurt, and these aren’t even all the changes that were made.  I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but I just sort of stopped caring about decent sentence structure there after awhile; there are only so many ways you can say “shift” or “move”.  One thing is clear to me, however: we gots some work to do on our “MiLB Teams” page.

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Baseball and Pancakes – What More Could a Fan Want?

Any time I read about some intrepid soul venturing out to see as many baseball games as possible, I get a little bit jealous. But when I read about an RV that will be hitting 60+ minor-league ballparks across the United States, and also chowing on pancakes, I just have to write about it.

It seems that the International House of Pancakes will be celebrating a 50th anniversary soon. To share the wealth, they’ve loaded up that beautiful machine you see above, and they’ll be driving cross-country bringing breakfast joy to the bus leagues. They’ll be driving over 8,000 miles before it’s all said and done, and in this time of spiraling gas prices, that’s true dedication.

The Pancake Express (my choice of name) will hand out T-shirts, sponsor games, and enter fans in a sweepstakes as part of the celebration of their half-century of “breakfast any time”. As a guy who has a five-year-old with a pancake jones, I’m most excited about the 2-for-1 coupons they’ll be offering, as well as the nine new pancake flavors. In addition, the “Most Valuable Pancake” mascot will be along for the ride, so I’m really, really hoping they make it to Montgomery, AL so the Pancake can meet the Biscuit.

We do know the first few stops of the tour. Jacksonville Suns (Dodgers) fans will get the first taste:

May 31/June 1 – Mobile BayBears @ Jacksonville Suns (7:05/3:05pm). The Suns are giving away emergency lamps on Saturday and having wooden bat day for the first 1,500 kids through the gates on Sunday.

June 2 – Rome Braves @ Charleston RiverDogs 7:05pm.

June 5/6 – Pawtucket Red Sox @ Charlotte Knights (both 7:15 starts). Might Justin Masterson pitch? Sweeter than syrup!

June 7/8 – Charlotte Knights @ Durham Bulls (7:05/5:05). The Knights are going to be eating a LOT of pancakes, if I’m any judge.

June 12-14 – Charlotte Knights @ Norfolk Tides (Thursday and Friday 7:15 starts) and Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Saturday 7:15). See what I mean about the Knights? It’s like they’re following the Pancake Express on purpose.

June 16/17 – Charlotte Knights @ Richmond Braves (7pm on Monday, double-header starting at 1pm on Tuesday). Getting mighty greedy, Knights. That’s all I can say.

Starting Monday, IHOP will be running a sweepstakes on their website, and putting up photos and tracking the progress of the Pancake Express. Check back to see when they’ll be in your neighborhood.

Oh, and please pass the syrup?

Now Pitching For The Los Angeles Dodgers…

All season, the Los Angeles Dodgers organization has handled Clayton Kershaw, Baseball America’s 7th ranked prospect, with kid gloves, limiting the 20-year-old third-year pro to 43.1 innings in nine starts in order to keep him available for as long as possible.  Presumably, that meant keeping him in the minor leagues, at AA Jacksonville, until the Dodgers needed his golden left arm in their rotation.

Okay.  The Dodgers need his golden left arm in their rotation.

Los Angeles put the call in for Kershaw on Saturday, lining him up to make his major league debut on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium.  He will become the youngest player in the major leagues this season and the first ever born in 1988.  I feel so old.

Kershaw pitched well for Jacksonville in 2008, going 0-3 with a 2.28 ERA and 47 strikeouts in the aforementioned 43.1 innings.  He has thrown only eleven innings since May 7.  Esteban Loaiza was DFA and Yhency Brazoban was sent to AAA Las Vegas to make room for Kershaw on the 40 and 25-man rosters, respectively.

Previous “Now Batting”: Evan Longoria (Rays); Jed Lowrie (Red Sox), Jeff Clement/Wladimir Balentien (Mariners)

Previous “Now Pitching”: Justin Masterson (Red Sox); Jeff Niemann (Rays); Luke Hochevar (Royals); Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks); Nick Adenhart (Angels)

Pitchers’ Duel Impacts Z-Meter Standings

In a rare bit of kismet, two of the starting pitchers we are following on their journey through the Bus Leagues met in Kodak, Tennessee last night. Southpaw Clayton Kershaw drew the road start for the Jacksonville Suns (Dodgers), as they faced the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs), and righty Jeff Samardzija.

Samardzija became known to U.S. sports fans as a wide reciever at Notre Dame, but his minor-league career has been working in his favor so far. In last night’s head-to-head matchup with Kershaw, the less-heralded Cubs prospect took home the win in a hard-fought pitchers’ duel. The 2-0 score probably reflects a slight differential in seasoning, as Kershaw, 20, gave up the two runs in the first inning before settling in. Samardzija, 23, acknowledged that his mental approach to the game has matured.

“I was throwing the sinker early and often in the count,” said the former Notre Dame All-American wide receiver. “I had good command and worked in some of my other pitches as the game went on.”

“I have a little different approach this year,” he said. “I don’t mind letting the hitters hit the ball. You got to have confidence in the guys behind you.”

[milb.com]

By not trying to strike every batter out, Samardzija was able to pitch into the seventh inning, which has been a rarity in his career so far.

Kershaw did get the best of the matchup in one area, however, striking out eight batters. Samardzija was victimized twice at the plate.