Posts Tagged ‘Matt LaPorta’

Captain Cheeseburger Breaks Up the Wonder Mat(t)s

Yeah, it’s a rumor, but I’m convinced it’s happening.

The incredible Huntsville duo of Mat Gamel and Matt LaPorta will no longer have one another to kick around. LaPorta and his 66 ribbies will reportedly be infused into the Cleveland system as part of a trade for C.C. Sabathia.

The presence of the Wonder Mat(t)s has long fueled rumors that the Brewers’ trade bait would attract MLB sharks. LaPorta was always first on the list, but his equally talented teammates Mat Gamel and Alcides “Matt” Escobar have been mentioned as well. According to, neither of those Huntsville Stars will be included in the multi-player deal.

This could be just the beginning of the MiLB/MLB trade dance. It’s that time of the year. Check out this week’s Z-meter to see who ends up where.

The Huntsville Eight

(Earlier this week, one of our readers, a friend and fellow blogger, contacted me to ask about doing a guest post about one of the minor league affiliates of his beloved Milwaukee Brewers.  Since Huntsville clearly falls under the Bus Leagues umbrella, and Andrew is already a friend of the blog, saying “yes” was easy.

Reader contributions are always welcome.  To inquire about the possibility of doing a guest post, contact us at or

Hi, I’m Andrew. I was the one who brought you fine folks at Bus Leagues Baseball to the attention of the Wonder Mat(t)’s. But did you know that’s not all? It’s true!

For one thing, I’m one of the dudes at The Grand National Championships. But that’s neither here nor there, I’m just saying it to stroke my ego. Did you know that the Huntsville Stars have 8 prospects with Major League capability? And why I’m here is to bring them to you.

(Stats as of 6/20)

1. Mat Gamel (3B)
.367 14 HR 62 RBI .431 OBP .622 SLG

You know it’s rare to have a dude hitting .370 and not be within sniffing distance of a AAA promotion.* But Mat Gamel is just that man. His defense was so shaky last season that he seriously thought of quitting. Not to say that a .906 Fielding percentage is something that engenders confidence in his long term ability to third base? But it is a marked improvement over his 2007 at the hot corner. At 22, his bat is ready now, he just needs to consolidate his defensive gains. We’ll see him in September.

2. Matt LaPorta (RF)
.297 19 HR 58 RBI .411 OBP .610 SLG

Gamel may be the more complete hitter, but LaPorta has the power bat. His college experience has been able to get him from Gator Nation to the dominating Double-A level in 12 months. He is still raw on defense, but he’s improving rapidly. He’ll end up moving from right field, but he’s been more than worthy of his First Round hype. He’ll be in Milwaukee in September. 

3. Alcides Escobar (SS)
.333 6 HR 43 RBI .368 OBP .448 SLG 19 SB

Here’s where some intrigue is developing. Escobar is a vacuum-cleaner at shortstop, and his 19 steals come with 79% success rate. But he is developing power to the gaps (18 XBH compared to 21 last season)and nascent plate discipline (18 walks in comparison to 21). As a 21 year-old in AA? That’s just awesome. If he keeps improving on his plate discipline, he’ll be in Milwaukee sometime in 2009.

4. Angel Salome (C)
.349 7 HR 46 RBI .405 OBP .548 SLG

Coming off a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, the power of the 5’7″ Salome was called into question. But as his 2008 statistics show? His gap power is legitimate. His defense is good in terms of the fundamentals, but he needs to improve the technical aspects on defense and he will never walk or strike out very often. He’ll displace Kendall sometime in 2009, but he’s engaged now. Sorry ladies.

5. Michael Brantley (CF)
.319 4 HR 32 RBI .400 OBP .409 SLG 19 SB

He 21-year old Florida native posesses the best plate discipline in the Brewers organization and is just a touch below Escobar in the wheels department. He has no power, and he is a tweener. (Defensively, he is best suited for left field or first base.) He’s got a Juan Pierre game with plate disipline.

6. Cole Gillespie (LF)
.272 9 HR 45 RBI .375 OBP .484 SLG

The Oregon State alumnus is somebody who plays above his tools. He has doubles power, excellent plate discipline, and excellent baserunning judgement for someone with average speed. His defense is solid and his arm is accurate as well. But with Braun locked up, the Kentucky Ninja Corey Hart being awesome, and LaPorta as the heir apparent? The 24 year-old Gillespie may be more trade bait than anything. 

7. Steven Hammond (LHSP)
7-4, 3.45 ERA, 88 2/3 IP, 33 BB, 78 SO

For a 26 year-old Long Beach State alumnus who is repeating a level for the second time, the veracity of his prospectdom may not be exactly the most sound. He has a deceptive devilvery which enhances an average fastball that touches 91. He’ll challenge hitters and keep the ball down, but as the walk total shows? He does lose his command. He may never be one of the top Brewer prospects, but he will get starts.

8. Omar Aguilar (Closer)
0-1 4.00 ERA 3 SV 9 IP 6 BB 7 SO

A recent promotion to AA has many in the Brewers organization excited. Aguilar was destroying Brevard County to the tune of 13 hits and 1 earned run allowed in 25 and 2/3 IP, and he can generate excellent velocity on his fastball, though his command is shaky. The stocky (5’11”, 227) native of Merced, California is currently off to a slow start, but the Brewers want a Joakim Soria for their very own.

Honorable Mention: Chris Errecart (1B)
.271 11 HR 28 RBI .343 OBP .510 SLG

An excellent power hitter, Errecart can play tag with the leftfield fence when he makes contact. But his plate discipline is marginal, and 64 strikeouts in 210 at bats is a scary proposition for the 23 year-old. Though I would not count him out, he has overcome back problems, and his power is real. Nevertheless, of all those who could be inflated from the awesome that is Hunstville?  Errecart would be the most logical choice.

I give you nine prospects, from the top of the pops to the next Ryan Garko. But that’s not the amazing thing. The amazing thing is that with all this talent? All the stars and studs in Huntsville?

They didn’t win the Division.


A Tale of Two Mat(t)s

You may have noticed that last week I kind of skipped the whole “Spotlight on” series. I realized that doing a link dump every other day was overkill, and also noticed that nobody was clicking on the links. So, instead, I’ll be doing something a little more fun – looking at specific teams and prospects that grab my interest.

Today, I’m checking out the Huntsville Stars (Brewers) as suggested by reader Andrew. They have two slugging geniuses who go by variations of the name Matthew, and some pretty cool promotions and such as well. So let’s check them out.

First up, the Mat(t)s. Here’s the 411 from Andrew’s comment:

The Brewers have the Wonder Mat(t)’s!

Mat Gamel .375/8/33/.438/.681/1.119
Matt LaPorta .336/10/38/.433/.688/1.121

I may be a homer, but these guys are raking in Hunstville. And they’re both named Matt! ESPN can do things with this!

We may have to wait a while for these guys to get to ESPN’s radar, but right now, they’re on ours.

Mat Gamel is a sweet-swinging lefty from Jacksonville, FL who was drafted in the 4th round of the 2005 amateur draft out of Chipola College, which has produced a handful of players who made it to the show. Gamel is a third baseman, and Brewers pundits claim he fields his position well. He worked his way up from Rookie ball to his current perch in double-A. The boy can hit.

Matt LaPorta is another Floridian. He put in four years of SEC baseball with the Gators, before the Brewers made him the 7th pick last year. With his NCAA experience backing him up, LaPorta has made a much faster rise to the Stars, where he is playing in the outfield and doing much damage in the batter’s box.

The Brewers are a young team, so no telling when these two Sunshine Staters will get their shots at the big time. We’ll be keeping an eye on them, though.

Other Huntsville Stars News:

The Stars are 26-11, which is good for the lead in the Northern division of the Southern League. I don’t know what kind of compass they’re using out there…

May 24th is Meatloaf Night Joe Davis stadium. You can register for the contest to determine the best brick of ground meat, or just taste-test and vote. If I lived in Huntsville, I’d probably indulge in the latter.

And, finally, here’s what the official Huntsville hat looks like.

Let us know about your favorite players at your Bus League outpost, and we’ll give their club the same treatment!