Archive for September, 2012

Orioles Clinch Playoffs; Sweep Red Sox

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

There were more kids under 14 years of age who had yet to see a winning season much less a playoff game from the Orioles than there were Red Sox fans at the game today.  In years past Red Sox fans outnumbered Oriole fans.  In years past it was the Orioles losing 90 games.  This year it is the Red Sox losing 90 games, the first time that has happened to them since 1966.  Red Sox fans now must ask themselves are we better off with Bobby Valentine as our manager next year, who has not brought us a winning season in his first year of managing, or should we try to bring back Terry Francona, who gave us two World Series championships?

It was a sea of orange as the Orioles swept the Red Sox with their 6-3 win.  James Johnson pitched the ninth inning to pick up his 50th save.  After the game, Oriole players gathered along the first base infield area to watch the top of the ninth inning of the Texas Rangers versus Los Angeles Angels game on the big screen with many of the 41,000 plus fans who had also chose to stay.  The Rangers were winning 4-3 and a victory by Texas would have resulted in a shared celebration with the fans.  With two outs Tori Hunter spoiled that party with his 2-run double off Joe Nathan to give the Angels a 5-4 win.  The O’s players filed back into the dugout and to their lockers.

The Rangers hung on and won the second game 8-7.  The O’s went through an emergency landing in Jacksonville on their way to Tampa for a three game series because of a fire on the airplane.  No word on whether that fire was caused because of a spontaneous celebration.  If I’m an Orioles I take the bus from Jacksonville to Tampa.

It was not a good day for Zach Stewart, who was one of the players the Red Sox acquired from the White Sox for Kevin Youkilus.  He gave up a leadoff homerun to Nate McLouth, then loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batsman.  He was fortunate Matt Wieters grounded into a double play, but a second runner scored on the hit.  Jim Thome poked one in the vacant shortstop spot, proving old dogs can learn new tricks, beating the shift and increasing the score to 3-0.

Stewart was gone before the third inning was done, giving up a leadoff homer to J.J. HardyAdam Jones bounced a single off Stewart’s leg, stole second and scored when Jim Thome lined a 2-out single past the diving second baseman in short right field.  The shortstop had shifted a bit more to the left field side prior to the hit.  The Orioles were up 5-0 and Stewart was gone.

Cody Ross launched a ball off Joe Saunders to lead off the fourth inning to give the Red Sox their first run.  In the fifth Chris Davis got that run back leading off the fifth inning with a homerun.  Davis had drove Clayton Mortenson’s first pitch foul over the right field bleachers and onto Eutaw Street.  On a 2-1 count he poked his 31st homer.

Daniel Nava got the Red Sox back to within three by hitting a 2-run shot in the seventh.  Red Sox fans began to hope after Pedro Ciriaco lined a single into center.  For whatever reason, Pedro broke for second and the throw from Wieters beat him by ten feet.  It was so bad, Pedro had the ability to stop and try to return to first, lasting more than the three throws required in a pickle before he was tagged out.  The Red Sox would get one more baserunner in the eighth but Dustin Pedroia was also thrown out stealing.  Wieters threw out Pedroia from the sitting position.

Bobby Valentin did pull a brilliant move in the seventh, but don’t tell him that.  He chose to walk Chris Davis intentionally with one out and Nate McLouth standing on third.  Myworld questioned the strategy, with Adam Jones more likely to make contact than Davis and with the speed to make it difficult to double him up.  The strategy paid off when Jones shot one to short and they turned the double play.  It would be the second of three double plays turned by Pedroia and Jose Iglesias.  Myworld has not seen a better double play combination than those two.

Game Notes: It was J.J. Hardy bobblehead day and Hardy hit one out to celebrate the event…The Red Sox smashed two homeruns.  The fans, including those along the third base line chanted for the ball to be thrown back.  The two fans who caught the ball threw the ball back out into left field.  The ball boy retrieved the ball, then gave it to a fan along the third base side, probably one of those same fans who were chanting “throw it back.”  They should just roll that ball into the dugout to be used as batting practice fodder and not hand it out to another fan…Adam Jones was announced as the writers player of the year.  It was stated Jones is the only player in the major leagues ever to hit three game winning homeruns in the 12th inning or later.  Since they used the term “game winning” myworld assumes one or more of those homers were not walkoffs…During the Kiss cam a man kissed his beer instead of the woman sitting next to him.  Since she was also smiling she must have been happy he preferred the beer can over her.  Or she was a very understanding wife or girlfriend.

Cardinal Torture

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

With the bases loaded in the first inning, Michael Morse hit a ball deep to right field.  It appeared the ball hit the top of the wall, but the umpire ruled the ball was in play. Michael Morse had advanced too far past first base and was caught in a run down when Adam LaRoche was still standing on second. He was tagged out trying to return to first.  Earlier this year, in a game against the Phillies the Nationals had gotten involved in a base running snafu when Adam LaRoche was tagged out circling the bases thinking he had hit a homerun.

Davey Johnson asked the umpires to review the play. They went back to the catacombs to review the tape. When they returned they ruled the ball had travelled over the fence and bounced back into play.  It was ruled a homerun. Instead of just letting the baserunners continue their circle around the bases they asked all of them to return to their original base to recreate the play, including Morse to home and Bryce Harper from the dugout back to third.  Michael made a pretend swing from the plate which was the trigger to have the other runners circle around the bases. I’m sure Cardinal fans did not appreciate being put through this torture just to recreate the play.

You can watch the replay here:

The First Game (cont - 4)

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

There were no phones in the bullpen so when the manager wanted to change pitchers he would step out from the dugout and motion to the bullpen coach. Sometimes he would have a player run to the bullpen area to tell the bullpen coach who was to warm up. Manny stepped out of the dugout, waved to the bullpen coach, placed both hands to the edge of his eyes and stretched them out. This was his signal to warm up Jason, the Chinaman, as he called him.

The bullpen coach gave the thumbs up he understood and in Spanish yelled to Jason. “Time to warm up kid.” When he got no reaction he remembered the kid did not speak any Spanish or English so he focused his eyes on John and said to him in English, “Time for your boy to warm up. He will be pitching next inning.” John was wearing a uniform that did not fit him very snugly, hanging loose over his skinny frame. He had lost a lot of weight since his arrival, throwing up any solid foods he tried to eat. He survived mainly on liquids and fruits. As the days went by he became thinner and the uniform draped looser over his body.

To sit in the bullpen with the other pitchers he was given the title assistant bullpen coach. He had to wear a uniform two sizes too big. The short sleeved jersey hung below his elbows. If not for the wrinkles on his face and the white hair he could have been mistaken for the bat boy.

John reacted as if he had been hit with a cold bucket of Gatorade. He was tired and his eyes were getting heavy with sleep. The game was dragging on. He never knew what the plan had been for Jason. After they had played 15 games he just assumed they were just exposing him to the game and they had no intention of pitching him. The biggest challenge to watching these games had been to keep his eyes open. While he enjoyed baseball, it was to watch the occasional game. This playing every day, hopping on the bus to travel an hour to Santo Domingo or a couple hours to Santiago was very tiring on him. Yet he insisted he must persevere for Jason’s sake. He felt comfortable with how they treated Jason, especially Pablo. He was convinced Jason would be okay after he left. That time was coming soon. The pain in his stomach was telling him so.

He jumped from his seat on the bench and in Chinese barked towards Jason in Mandarin “Jason. The coach wants you to warm up. He says you are pitching next inning”. After that, John didn’t really know what to do with himself. He turned left, then thought about it and turned right, but he didn’t know what he would be doing going in that direction. He was a nervous wreck. Finally he just decided to collapse back on the bench, wiping his eyes with his hands to jar loose the cobwebs of sleep.

The catcher had already put on his gear and was squatting behind home plate. John watched as Jason calmly pulled his body up from the bench and strode to the bullpen mound, stretching his right arm and rotating his hips. It was as if he was reliving his three throws for a dollar feat at the pitching machine. There was no indication on his face this was the first time he would be asked to face a real batter. The catcher threw him the ball and it landed in the pocket of Jason’s newly restrung glove.

John decided to stand behind Jason to watch him throw. Now that his eyes were awake he couldn’t just sit. He also had no real knowledge of pitching to give Jason any advice. He stood silently watching as the ball made a loud contact with the glove. Little did he know Jason’s life would never be the same once he threw his first warmup pitch in front of fans, players and scouts.


NL West Post Season Minor League All Stars

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

The final group of minor league division All Stars, the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks will have to wait until next year to make the playoffs.  As usual, they have a bevy of prospects percolating up their minor league system.  They are the only team with three minor league champions in Reno (AAA), Mobile (AA) and Missoula (rookie).  Those prospects seem to stall once they reach the major leagues.  Despite those three championships the minor league system still finished below .500 (.499).

Jake Elmore 2B AAA - Jake was voted as having the best strike zone discipline in AAA.  His 74/54 walk to whiff ratio is evidence of that.  He also hit .344 with 32 stolen bases in 40 attempts.  It resulted in a promotion to Arizona where he has struggled with a .206 average.  In three of his five years he has walked more than he has struck out.

Ryan Wheeler 3B AAA - Third base is his next year if he can come close to replicating his AAA numbers (.351, 15, 90).  He combines both offense and defense.  His major league debut has been a dud (.224) but a good spring could make up for that.

Adam Eaton OF AAA - Adam was voted the MVP of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .381 with 38 stolen bases.  He has hit .300 in each of his three professional minor league season.  His major league debut is a bit of a challenge (.256).  He has a career minor league .456 OBA.  Standing at only 5′8″ he has to produce to continue to be still considered a prospect.

Matt Davidson 3B AA - He has Ryan Wheeler ahead of him and may have to switch positions.  While he replicated his numbers from last year (.261, 23, 76) his RBI numbers were down 30.  He was voted the best power prospect in the Southern League.

Alfredo Marte OF AA - This was the first year Alfredo hit double digits in homeruns with 20.  He also hit .294, driving in 75.  Diamondbacks are crowded with corner outfielders so that power needs to continue if he wants to crack the major league roster.

Alexander Carreras SP short season - After getting blasted in Hi A (9.95) in four starts, the Cuban defector was demoted to a short season league and pitched better (8-5, 2.96).  The lefthander doesn’t miss a lot of bats.

Michael Perez C rookie - The fifth round 2011 pick from Puerto Rico powered his way to the All Star game with 10 homeruns and a .542 slugging.  He also hit .293.  Still strikes out too much (72 in 58 games).

Stryker Trahan C rookie - The Diamondbacks first round 2012 pick also showed some power, hitting .281, 5, 25.  He coaxed 40 walks in 49 games for a .422 OBA.

Colorado Rockies

Colorado had a number of players voted to the post season All Star teams, but many of the older players are more organization players than prospects.  The future still looks bright at the lower levels if they can find some pitchers who get hitters to beat the ball on the ground.

Matt McBride 1B AAA - At 27 years of age he has been around awhile.  He hit .344 with 10 homeruns.  Doesn’t strike out a lot but lacks the power for a corner position.

Andrew Brown OF AAA - Another older prospect Andrew hit .308 with 24 homeruns and 98 RBIs.  At 27 with a 2-year major league career .216 average his best bet would be as a fourth outfielder.

Lars Davis C AA - A third round pick in 2007 he has advanced slowly for a college player.  In his third year in AA he hit .287 with a career high 9 homeruns and 43 RBIs.  He has yet to play 100 games in his six major league seasons.

Edwar Cabrera SP AA - Last year Edwar led the minor leagues in strikeouts with 217.  Except for his two major league starts (11.12) he pitched well going 8-4, 2.94 in AA and 3-1, 3.41 in AAA.  His strikeout numbers were cut in half ((126) but he pitched 30 less innings.  Does not throw with a lot of velocity.

Kyle Parker OF Hi A - Drafted in the first round in 2010, the former highly sought after football player hit .308, 23, 73.  The RBI numbers dropped but his stikeouts also dropped while his walks and slugging (.562) increased.

Christian Bergman SP Hi A - Didn’t miss a lot of bats but 16-5, 3.65 brought him into the spotlight.  Last year he produced more ground ball outs and had better command.

Tyler Anderson SP Low A - This was the debut season for the first round 2011 pick.  He finished 12-3, 2.47 with an impressive ground ball to fly ball ratio.  Tyler didn’t miss a lot of bats but forcing hitters to beat the ball on the ground will save on the pitch counts.

Harold Riggins 1B Low A - His season ended in early August but it didn’t stop him from hitting 19 homeruns with 76 RBIs.  He hit .302 but his whiffs (104) for games played (87) is a bit too high.

Trevor Story SS Low A - Voted the best defensive shortstop in 2012 but with Troy Tulowitski at short he may have to settle for second.  The 2011 supplemental first round pick showed power for a middle infielder with 18 homeruns, hitting .277.  Needs to cut down on his strikeouts (121).

Francisco Sosa OF split season - This is his fifth year and the Dominican has still not played in a full season league.  The 22 year old hit .275 with only four homeruns, but was 21 for 23 in stolen bases.  Next year he needs to show what he can do in a full season league.

Kyle Von Tungeln OF split season - His average was unimpressive (.258) but 34 walks in 44 games brought his OBA to .401.  Not a lot of power with only one homerun and 7 for 10 in stolen bases.

David Dahl OF rookie - The first round 2012 pick won the MVP of the Pioneer League, hitting .379, 9, 57.  He also contributed 22 doubles and 10 triples for a .625 slugging percentage.  Voted the top prospect in the Pioneer League.

Eddie Butler SP rookie - The Rockies supplemental 2012 number one pick went 7-1, 2.13 in 12 starts.  He also had an impressive ground ball to fly ball ratio (3.10).

Scott Oberg SP rookie - Scott pitched out of the pen picking up 13 saves with a 2.33 ERA.  At 22 he was old for rookie ball.

Los Angeles Dodgers

They spent a lot of money for veterans with large salaries, trading what few prospects they had in their minor leagues to acquire those prospects.  Having veterans in the major league lineup does not leave a lot of room for prospects.  Just ask the Yankees.  It is not like the Dodgers system is oozing with prospects, suffering from the previous ownerships de-emphasis on putting money in the minor leagues.

Tim Federowicz C AAA - Nurtered by the Red Sox, Tim was voted the best defensive catcher in the Pacific Coast League in 2012.  He added offense to his resume, hitting .294, 11, 76.  At 24 he is still young enough to make an impact.

John Ely SP AAA - His 14-7, 3.20 ERA got him voted Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year.  At 26 his time is now but a 20.25 ERA in two appearances with the Dodgers was disappointing.  Relies more on command than velocity to get hitters out.

Josh Wall RP AAA - He picked up 28 saves but with a 4.53 and 25 years of age his future is at the back end of the bullpen, not as a closer.

Jeremy Rathjen OF rookie - The 11th round 2012 pick hit .324 with 9 homeruns.  He also walked 48 times for a .443 OBA.

Jonathan Martinez SP rookie - The 18 year old Venezuelan went 3-0, 3.05 in 12 starts.  He averages over a strike out an inning.

San Diego Padres

The Padres have what is considered one of the better minor league systems in baseball.  They didn’t get a lot of players voted to the post season All star teams and what players made the list were at the lower levels.

Ali Solis C AA - The 25 year old from Mexico has been playing since 2005, but the Padres are loaded at catcher.  His defense and .283 average got him a cup of coffee in the major leagues where he appeared in four games but no hits in three at bats.

Nate Freiman 1B AA - Nate slugged four homeruns in two games for Israel in the WBC qualifier.  The one game he did not hit a homerun Israel lost.  He slugged 24 homeruns and drove in 105 at San Antonio hitting .298.

Tommy Medica DH Hi A - Another first baseman, Tommy slugged 19 homeruns, slugging .623.  He hit .330 driving in almost a run per game (87 in 93 games).

Matt Andriese SP Hi A - The third round 2011 pick went 10-8, 3.58 in his second year.

Kevin Quackenbush RP Hi A - If you don’t like his 27 saves and 0.94 ERA you have to like his name.  He was voted the best reliever in the California League.  His strikeout numbers went down when compared to last year.

Austin Hedges C Low A - May be the best Padres defensive catcher.  The second round 2012 pick was voted best defensive catcher in the Midwest League.  He also showed some power, hitting 10 homeruns and speed, stealing 14 bases in 23 attempts.

Adys Portillo SP Low A - After three years he is finally reaching his potential, going 6-6, 1.87 in 18 starts.  When promoted he skipped High A and went to AA, reverting back to his ineffectiveness (7.20).  Despite the impressive ERA he still lacked command and didn’t miss bats (45/81) so the verdict is still out.

Roman Madrid RP short season - The seventh round 2012 pick went 7-0, 2.89, picking up 13 saves.

Chris Nunn RP short season - He matched his bullpen partner’s undefeated streak (3-0) with a better ERA (0.87) but fewer saves (3).  A late round (24) 2012 pick.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants seemed to break away from the division after the Dodgers chose to take on three expensive contracts and the Giants lost Melky Cabrera to a drug suspension.  Not a lot of prospects here to get excited about.  The Giants seem to have magic dust when developing pitchers.  They had a couple All Stars in AA that are to be watched.

Chris Heston SP AA - Voted the best control in the Eastern League and the top pitcher, finishing 9-8, 2.24.  He has been advancing one level a year so expect time with the Giants next year.

Mike Kickham SP AA - The lefty went 11-10, 3.05, skipping High A but still improving his ERA by more than a run.

Adam Duvall 3B Hi A - He bashed 30 homeruns, driving in 100 runs.  He appears to be a good run producer but poor defense may force a move from third base.

Shawn Rayne Utl Low A - The 22 year old outfielder hit .309 with 53 stolen bases in 56 attempts.  He also walked 61 times for a .413 OBA.  He may challenge Gary Brown for that lead off spot.

The First Game (cont - 3)

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Estrellas was on their way to having another poor year. They had a few veteran players who grew up in San Pedro de Macoris that continued to play for the team and there were the minor leaguers from the United States who came down to enhance their game. Some of these players the major league teams sent down usually had trouble coping with the style of play in the Caribbean. They were never the best prospects, but they came down here with something to prove. If they just went through the motions, or struggled to produce the fans would let them know it with boos and catcalls. It was probably best many of them did not speak Spanish to hear the insults being thrown at them. The fans and the native players wanted to win. They were not interested in developing some other team’s prospects, especially those who did not hustle when playing the game.

As the winter season progressed two players were being booed for their poor play. Estrellas had to eventually release them. Another kid was hit with diarrhea. He had to leave because he had already lost 15 pounds trying to fight through it. A fourth kid drank too much beer one night, got a little loud and loose with one of the local women and had to be whisked off the island before he would be arrested for urinating on a police vehicle.

All this swirled around for the first 15 games of the season, but despite the 4-11 record Estrellas was not involved in any blow outs as defined by Pablo.

Jason suited up for every game, sat quietly in the bullpen area with the other pitchers, heard all the booing mixed with the cheers, but the fans knew nothing about him because he had never appeared in a game. Some wondered if he was even a player, or possibly just an assistant who helped the other pitchers in the bullpen. For all they knew, he could have been the physical therapist. They left him pretty much alone.

He lived his life quietly, clinging to John for support, never leaving the antiquated baseball facilities to explore the Dominican Republic unless he took a bus ride for a road trip. That would change in the bottom of the seventh when Estrellas had gotten behind 12-0 in the city of Santo Domingo at Estadio Quisqueya against the defending Dominican champion Licey Tigres.

Twins Release Nishioka; Johjima Retires

Friday, September 28th, 2012

After winning a batting title in Japan with a .346 average and 206 hits Tsuyoshi Nishioka was posted ($5 million) and signed a three year contract with the Twins for $9 million.  Nishioka released the Twins from being obligated for the last year of his contract and the $250,000 buyout when he had trouble staying healthy and breaking .200 in the major leagues.  You would not see a lot of American players remove a team from their obligation of a large contract.  Nishioka will have options of playing back in Japan if another major league team does not sign him.

Before signing with the Twins the concern with Nishioka was his ability to stay healthy.  He had a history of injuries when playing in Japan.  While he did get injured in the major leagues, even the rare times when he was healthy he did not show the baseball skills that resulted in a Japanese batting title giving the Chibba Lotte Marines the 2010 NPB championship.  It was almost as if an alien had invaded his body.  He couldn’t hit and played poorly on defense.  It was accepted he didn’t have the arm to play short in the major leagues, but he even had difficulty turning the double play while playing second base in the major leagues.

The Hanshin Tigers in the NPB have expressed an interest in signing Nishioka.  A number of Japanese hitters have had success after leaving the major leagues and returning to Japan.  The Tigers hope Nishioka will fit that mold.  They may lose their current shortstop Takashi Toritani to the major leagues in 2013 so they will be needing a shortstop.

One player who had a couple successful years after leaving the Seattle Mariners is catcher Kenji Johjima.  He announced his retirement today from the Hanshin Tigers despite having one year left on his contract.  A knee injury left him unable to play catcher the last couple years.

Kenji played four years for the Seattle Mariners where he hit .268 with 48 homeruns.  He also excused the Mariners from the last two years of his contract.  His first year returning to the NPB with the Hanshin Tigers he played all 144 games, hitting .303 with 28 homeruns and 98 RBIs.  Especially for a catcher that may have taken a toll on his body.  The next two years he combined to play only 62 games, never getting his average above .200 as he struggled with knee injuries.

You can see Johjima’s career stats at

His retirement announcement can be found at:

Canada Gains in New World Baseball Rankings

Friday, September 28th, 2012

The IBAF has shared the new world baseball rankings.  You can see the complete list here:

Cuba remains on top with the United States in second place.  A top WBC showing by the United States could put them on top over Cuba if Cuba can’t get past Korea and Japan in the Asian rounds of the WBC.  Canada, with their win in the WBC qualifier jumped to fifth place, just behind Korea.  The top ten list is below:

Rank 2011 Member Federation Total Pts

The First Game (Cont - 2)

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Pablo rolled his eyes. “Do I have to remind you Jason has never pitched in an organized game? The first game he appears in has to be a non pressure type of game - a blow out. It doesn’t matter who is performing the blow out. We don’t want any pressure on Jason when he pitches his first game. That first appearance will also be no more than one inning. If it looks like the kid is struggling before he can finish the one inning he is to be removed immediately. If he survives the one inning, you can use him in any way you see fit for the remainder of his 19 innings of work, provided he does not pitch on back to back days or for more than three innings in one outing.”

Manny showed his disappointment. “It seems like such a waste to throw him in an inning that means nothing for his first game.” He figured twenty innings was better than none. “How do you define a blow out?”

“Ten runs or more.”

“That seems excessive.”

“Look – yesterday you were telling me how difficult it was for prospects to play in the Dominican. You didn’t want this kid.”

“Yesterday I hadn’t seen him throw. With his stuff he would be my ace.”

“He will not be your ace,” Pablo told him emphatically. We can adjust the run total as the season progresses if ten runs seem too extreme.”

Pablo had played with Manny Torriente in the winter leagues for Estrellas a number of years ago. They were the middle infielders, Pablo at short and Manny at second. The two of them, along with the father of Alexis Peguerro led Estrellas to one Series del Caribe appearance by winning the Dominican title, but they lost the Series del Caribe championship by one game to a team from Mexico. Pablo knew Manny to be a cerebral type of player who would one day make a great manager in the major leagues if given an opportunity. He was the third base coach for the Phillies now and this Caribbean assignment was good experience to groom him for a managing position. Pablo felt he could trust Manny, but he knew keeping Jason a secret would not be possible after Manny saw him throw. Manny liked to talk and his first loyalty was to the Phillies. It would not take long before the Phillies organization learned about Jason Woo. Once the Phillies knew the word would spread to other teams, just as it had with the Orioles beat reporters.

When Pablo next spoke to Larvell he was informed there was again some buzz about Jason. The Phillies general manager had inquired about him to determine who he was. “I want you to keep an eye on him. I don’t want anyone taking advantage of him, especially any of your Dominican senoritas. Just remind them he is not even a citizen so it won’t do them any good getting a U.S. green card if they target him for a husband.”

“I’ll make sure he’s okay. It will be very difficult for anyone to approach him unless they talk to John or know Chinese. I have yet to hear Jason speak a word of English. The Spanglish spoken here is probably a bit confusing to him”.


NL Central Post Season Minor League All Stars

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Below are the National League Post Season All Star players.  The players here are not necessarily the top prospects, but they are the players who impressed the managers the most in their respective leagues.  To get included on this list a player will have to play most of his season at that level, a reason why Dylan Bundy was not considered for a post season team.

Chicago Cubs

This is the team in a major market that should be dominanting this division.  The games sell out regardless of their place in the standings so the incentive to win is not great.  That may change with the hiring of Theo Epstein.  He is under different rules than he had while with the Red Sox.  Theo was great at collecting free agent players who could give him supplemental draft picks the next year after they were declared Type A or B free agents.

Justin Bour DH AA - The first baseman bashed 17 homeruns, which was six less than last year.  He did drive in a career high 110 RBIs.

John Andreoli Utl Hi A - The outfielder hit .289 in his second season stealing 55 bases in 75 attempts.  He also took 75 walks to give him a .402 OBA.

Matt Loosen SP Hi A - Not an impressive ERA (4.07) but a good 11-5 record.  In his two previous years he had not gotten more than two wins.

Gioskar Amaya 2B SS - Last year the Venezuelan hit .377 to be rated the ninth best prospect in the Venezuelan League.  Those numbers were tough to match, but he did hit .298, hitting for a bit more power with his eight homeruns.

Dan Vogelbach 1B rookie - At 6′0″ 250 pounds Dan is the Cubs answer to Prince Fielder, including the power with his 10 homeruns.  He also had slash lines of .322/.423/.608.

Carlos Martinez-Pumarino SP rookie - In his first year, the 6′4″ Cuban finished 5-0, 3.53 in his 14 appearances, only one of them a start.  He showed good control walking just under three hitters per game and striking out just over nine hitters per game.  At 20 years old he still has youth on his side.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds traded a number of their top prospects for Matt Latos.  The players they traded were excess for positions they had covered in the major leagues.  The poor start by Latos had fans wondering, but he has recovered and the Reds are battling the Nationals for the best record in the National League.

Josh Fellhauer OF AA - Josh had a career high .314 average with an impressive 54/54 walk to whiff ratio putting his OBA at .409.  He doesn’t hit for a lot of power (4) or steal a lot of bases (6 for 10) so fourth outfielder appears to be his destiny.

Billy Hamilton SS Hi A - Voted the MVP of the California League he combined for a record 155 bases at A/AA.  He got more base opportunities with his OBA over .400.  His arm may be a bit short to stay at shortstop and the Reds do have better defensive options ahead of him so look for him to eventually move to second base.

Seth Mejias-Brean 3B rookie - The eighth round 2012 pick hit .313 with eight homeruns.  He was also 6 for 6 in stolen bases.

Ismael Guillen SP rookie - The lefty from Venezuela went 4-1, 2.29 ERA in a repeat of the Pioneer League.  Command may be an issue (4 walks per nine) but he whiffs 11 hitters per nine innings.

Jonathan Reynoso OF rookie - In his first year in the States he surged to a .311 average, 80 points better than he did in his previous two years in the Dominican.  He also was 30 for 39 in stolen bases in just 50 games.  At 6′3″ 177 he could show speed and power.

Milwaukee Brewers

Despite losing Prince Fielder they still fought for a wild card spot.  They have a little more depth in their minor league season after trading the farm last year for Zack Greinke.

Hunter Morris 1B AA - Bashed a career high 28 homeruns with a .303 average.  He showed his versatility by being voted the best defensive first baseman in the league.

Scooter Gennett 2B AA - A leadoff hitter named Scooter hit .293.  He doesn’t steal a lot of bases (11 for 16) but he was voted the best defensive second baseman in the Southern League.

Mike Walker 3B Hi A - He tends to strikeout a lot with 123 whiffs in 129 games but he hit .280 with a little bit of pop (12 homeruns).

Pittsburgh Pirates

It appeared their record for losing seasons would end at 19, but another second half collapse has put them back under .500 with a week left in the season.  They lack major league pitching but they have some good arms in the minor leagues.  In a couple years the arms should catch up with the bats, provided the SEAL type training does not do them in.

Starling Marte OF AAA - He has the same kind of tools as Andrew McCutchen.  He hit .286 with double digits in doubles (21), triples (13) and homeruns (12).  His stolen base numbers were down (21 for 33).  The numbers earned him a promotion to the major leagues where he struggled a bit (.255), but Andrew took a couple years to get acclimated to the major leagues.

Tim Wood RP AAA - At 30 years old he has been in the game awhile.  He was 6-6, 2.19 with 21 saves.  Tim appeared in 13 games for Pittsburgh last year but no callup this year.

Brock Holt Utl AA - His .322 average was impressive in AA but when he got promoted to AAA he hit .432 in over 100 at bats.  He’s hit .300 with the Pirates.  Not a lot of power but he appears to be a pesky hitter that could fill a utility role.

Alex Dickerson 1B Hi A - Voted the best defensive first baseman in the Florida State League.  His 13 homeruns was impressive in the pitcher’s parks but his 31 doubles allowed him to drive in a productive 90 RBIs.

Alen Hanson SS Low A - Voted the most exciting player in the South Atlantic League, breaking out for power with his 16 homeruns.  He also hit .309 with 33 doubles, 13 triples and 35 stolen bases.  The Pirates will try to move him quickly next year.

Gregory Polanco OF Low A - Another exciting player who mixes power (16 homeruns) and speed (40 stolen bases).  He also hit .325.  He was voted the best arm in the South Atlantic League, but he could have been the most exciting player without Hanson.

Wyatt Mathisen C rookie - The second round 2012 pick hit .295, stealing 10 bases, pretty prolific for a catcher.

St. Louis Cardinals

The fans have adapted without Albert Pujols.  The team has a better chance of making the playoffs than the Angels with Pujols.  They tend not to hype their minor league players like other teams, but when they are promoted they seem to produce.

Kolten Wong 2B AA - The major league team has a hole at second base.  Kolten would like to fill it.  He combines good defense with a steady bat (.287, 9, 52).  He was a first round draft pick for the Cardinals in 2011.

Oscar Taveras OF AA - Voted the MVP of the Texas League hitting .321 with 23 homeruns.  Last year he just missed the batting title (.386) because of limited at bats.  This year he substituted power for average earning the vote as the most exciting player in the Texas League.

Seth Maness SP AA - He relies more on command than velocity to put up his 11-3, 3.27 numbers.  He doesn’t miss a lot of bats but his 9/83 walk to whiff ratio in 123 innings limits the baserunners.

Trevor Rosenthal SP AA - His 8-6, 2.79 in 17 starts in the Texas League got him a promotion to AAA where he eventually earned a bullpen spot with the Cardinals.  He was voted the best pitching prospect in the Texas League so don’t expect him to stay in the bullpen.

Keith Butler RP AA - He was 5-1, 2.76 with 25 saves in AA.  Closers in the minor leagues usually disappear before reaching the major leagues.

Starlin Rodriguez 2B Hi A - Starlin makes it crowded at second base with his .300 average.  Like Kolten, he was voted the best defensive second baseman in the Florida State League.  He seems to show a little bit of power with eight homeruns and 25 doubles for a .442 slugging.

Mike O’Neil OF Hi A - Mike showed the best strike zone discipline in the Florida State League with an amazing 70 walks and 24 whiffs.  That resulted in a .342 average.  When promoted to AA that strike zone discipline continued with an 8/2 walk to whiff ratio and a .563 average in just over 40 at bats.

Anthony Garcia OF Low A - His first year in full season the Puerto Rican bashed 19 homeruns with 34 doubles.  He hit .280 and in his four year career has a slugging average of .503.

Colin Walsh DH Low A - The third baseman hit .314 with 16 homeruns, but also walked 60 times to give him a .419 OBA.  His 16 homeruns and .530 slugging were career highs.

Jeremy Schaffer 1B rookie - He bruised rookie league pitching for a .272 average with 10 homeruns.  He drove in 51 runs in just 62 games.

Ronnie Shaban RP rookie - The 33rd round 2012 draft pick earned 16 saves.

Luis Perez Utl rookie - The Dominican repeated the Gulf Coast League and hit .309.  The second baseman should earn a full season job next year.

The First Game

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Chapter 6

The First Game

November 13 – China Premier Li Jiabao has criticized the United States decisions with the embargo of Iranian goods. Jiabao has said the United States actions do not have the support of all in the international community. China imports oil from Iran through normal channels in an open and transparent manner. The trade is legal and rational. If China wishes to do business with Iran the United States has no right to prevent that transaction. China is its own sovereign nation and will not accept unilateral sanctions initiated by the United States. China is the largest purchaser of oil from Iran and it is important for the United States to get the United Nations cooperation if it wishes for this embargo to have any kind of legitimacy.

Baseball was first introduced to the Caribbean in 1866 on the island of Cuba, taught by American sailors who were on the island to load sugar. In 1874 the first organized game was played in Cuba. That island nation then spread it to the rest of the Caribbean where it was referred to as “beisbol”.

The first four teams formed in the Dominican between 1907 and 1921 were the Santo Domingo Tigres del Licey, the San Pedro de Macoris Estrellas Orientales, the Santiago Sandino (later renamed Las Aguilas) and the Santo Domingo Leones del Escogido. Two newer teams were formed later, one in La Romana named the Toros del Este and the other located in San Francisco de Macoris named the Gigantes del Cibao. The biggest rivalry is between Licey, one of the two teams in the capital city of Santo Domingo and Las Aguilas, the blue collar city of Santiago.

Since Pablo grew up in San Pedro de Macoris his contacts and loyalty were with the team named the Estrellas Orientales. At first, the manager and owner were not too keen about adding a player at this late stage of the season, especially one who had no baseball experience. The rosters had already been set. Adding another player would force them to remove a player to make room for Jason. That was a lot to ask for a kid who was going to be restricted to 20 innings and who had yet to pitch in a competitive game. They preferred Pablo get back to them next year, after the kid had gotten some minor league baseball under his belt. “We don’t need to remind you how difficult it is for even some of the best minor league prospects to play here,” they reminded Pablo. “One with no experience would not have a chance.”

“You haven’t seen him pitch,” Pablo countered.

There was a lot of give and take before finally the manager said he would at least give the kid a look. They were aware of the reputation of Larvell Blanks for making the Cubs a winner and they wanted some assurances that in the future some of the Orioles better prospects would be directed to Estrellas. “We’re tired of being second fiddle to Licey and Las Aguilas,” the owner confided to Pablo. “We want to build a dynasty here. A permanent winner the Dominican fans can embrace.”

“As long as I’m with the Orioles you have my word you will get our best prospects should we choose to send them to a winter league.” This would be a promise Pablo would not have difficulty keeping since Larvell had given him the responsibility of identifying players who would benefit from playing winter ball to get a few more at bats or innings pitched. “We’ll give you first right of refusal for any prospect we send to the Caribbean for seasoning. But in return you have to agree to play him at the position of our choice. If you can’t make it happen then I would recommend you refuse him.” They agreed this seemed reasonable. No contracts were signed. The deal was done with just a firm hand shake and a nod of the head.

When the manager Manny Torriente witnessed Jason throw in the pen his jaw almost dropped to the floor. “I’ve never seen a pitcher throw that hard,” he commented. Their discussion of limiting him to 20 innings had changed to “I want this kid in my starting rotation”.