Archive for February, 2013

More WBC Exhibition Games

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The last of the exhibition games are being played in the Asian Group.  This weekend the games will count with Korea playing a tough game against Netherlands to start things off.  The Netherlands were the surprise of the last WBC tournament advancing to the second round after defeating a loaded Dominican Republic team twice.  They are also the defending World Cup champions after defeating Cuba in 2011.

Korea are no pansies.  They won the last Olympics and finished in second place in the 2009 WBC.  They have been hurt by injuries and no shows by a couple key major leaguers, but they still have veteran talent on the team.  They have been struggling in exhibition games, but that is the sign of a veteran team.

The Netherlands beat a Taiwan University All Star team 4-1.  Wladimir Balentien hit another homerun.  NPB pitchers have learned that when Wladimir gets hot his homeruns come in bunches.  Shairon Martis got the start.  Martis has the distinction of being the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter in a WBC game.  The Netherlands have been very dominant in their exhibition games.

Italy evened their record to 1-1 by beating the Seattle Mariner minor leaguers 6-4.  They had lost to them the previous day.  Mario Chiarini was the offensive hero with a 3 for 4 start and three RBIs.  Alessandro Maestri abondoned his major league career but appears to have some promise in his NPB career.  He got the start for Italy, who will play later in the Arizona group.

The Softbank Hawks shutout Brazil 2-0.  The Brazillian offense could manage only three hits and they struck out 11 times.  The best the offense could do was get back to back two out hits in the first inning.  In the second inning a hit batsman and walk put two runners on.  After that they had two baserunners for the remaining seven innings.  The pitchers were solid limiting the Hawks to four hits and just one of the two runs was earned.  Brazil must open up against two time champion Japan who will be pitching Masahiro Tanaka.  Brazil has a chance as Tanaka has been struggling in exhibition games and Japan has had trouble scoring runs.

The Korean team had another disappointing exhibition game, playing to a 2-2 tie against a semi-pro team from Taiwan.  As a team they are only hitting .222, scoring 11 runs in five games.  On Saturday the games will count with an opening round game against Netherlands.

Sleepy Offense for Team Samurai Awake

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Team Samurai offense has been having difficulty scoring runs.  In what could be called an explosion of offense, Team Samurai scored six runs in their 6-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants.  The big bat was again Seiichi Uchikawa who collected three hits to drive in three runs.  Hayoto Sakamoto banged out four hits from the leadoff spot, crossing the plate once and driving in two.  Hayoto stroked the only extra base hit, a double in the sixth.

Kenji Otanari worked four innings to get the win, giving up a leadoff homerun to Kenji Yano.  The bullpen only gave up two hits over the remaining five innings.  The Giants were never able to get more than one batter on base until they loaded them in the seventh.  Yano flied out to centerfield to end that threat.

You can find the scorecard here: http://yakyubaka.com/2013/02/28/samurai-japan-practice-game-yomiuri-giants-samurai-japan-february-28-2013/#more-95514

The Breaking News Story (cont - 5)

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Kathy Li – Hi. This is Kathy Li. I am here today in Sarasota, Florida at the spring training site of the Baltimore Orioles to do an interview with Jason Woo, who created quite a sensation a couple nights ago against the New York Yankees, striking out the last seven hitters he faced in his opening performance against major league players. That was quite a display of mastery you exhibited out there. What can you say about the game?

Jason Woo – It was fun. It was all I dreamed about when I was growing up thinking about the game.

Kathy Li – What got you interested in baseball? With your height I would think you would have been a pretty good basketball player. That seems to be the sport of choice in China.

Jason Woo – Everybody tells me that, but I never developed any interest in basketball. Basketball bores me.

Kathy Li – What was your first exposure to the game. How did you get interested in baseball? It is not very popular in China. There cannot be a lot of places to get exposed to the game.

Jason Woo - My caretaker John took me to my first baseball game when they had the Olympics in Beijing.

Kathy Li – Who are some of the major league players in the United States you admire the most?

Jason Woo – Greg Maddux. I learned to pitch from his videos. Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens too. .

Kathy Li – They say you throw your fastball over 100 miles per hour. There are only a handful of major leaguers who can throw that hard with any consistency, yet even for those who can throw 100 they accomplish this skill after years and years of coaching. You have reached 100 miles per hour with no formal coaching. You have any explanation for that? Videos can’t do all that can they?

Jason Woo – Just lucky, I guess. I just threw a lot. We had a large concrete wall at the adoption center so I would throw the baseball for hours against the concrete wall as hard as I could. Lots of long toss too. When John bought me a box of baseballs I would go out into a field and throw the whole box as far as I could and then retrieve them and throw them as far as I could the other way. A girl at the adoption center named Xeng-Xeng helped me for a couple months, until a family adopted her. She never could understand my interest in baseball. She tried to convince me I should focus my interest in other areas.

Kathy Li – But throwing could not have given you the strength you need to throw that hard.

Jason Woo - We also had a huge tree in the field that sat behind our adoption center. One night lightening struck it down. After we chopped the tree up for firewood John would insist I take an ax to the stump of the fallen tree one thousand times before I could begin my throwing. I think that helped get me stronger and also developed my coordination, gave me a consistency in my delivery.

Kathy Li – Could that be the reason for the sound of thunder after each game you pitch?

Jason Woo – I don’t know what causes the thunder. I just pitch.

Kathy Li – So you have no idea why there is thunder after each of your games? It doesn’t seem to happen with the other pitchers. And you mentioned the tree was struck down by lightening.”

Jason Woo – No explanation.

Kathy Li – Okay. The thunder will remain a mystery. Let’s move to a different topic, away from the game of baseball. If you could invite three people to dinner, present or past, to talk about anything in life who would you invite?

Jason Woo – That’s a tough one. I would have to invite Mao Tse Tung. He was perhaps the greatest leader in China. John Kennedy and Babe Ruth would be the other two. Babe was a pitcher but he was brought up at an orphanage like me. There would be so much I would like to ask him about how he coped.

Kathy Li – Were you happy growing up in an orphanage?

Jason Woo – It was not a bad life. There always seemed to be something different to do there. You have to remember when I was living in the orphanage I was never really an orphan. John claimed me as his own so I was really a child growing up at an orphanage caring for the other orphans.

Kathy Li – Now that you have lived here for awhile what is your opinion of the United States?

Jason Woo – It has its share of poverty and crime. With democracy an opportunity exists for the most unintelligent people to express unpopular thoughts or take actions that are seen by the majority as offensive. Under our communist rule, a ruling party is supposed to protect the majority from those unpopular thoughts or offensive actions. There are those in the United States who want to force their moralistic beliefs into law. So I have enjoyed living here. If I want to get on the internet and watch pornography there are no restrictions against it.

Kathy Li – Do you watch pornography?

Jason Woo – This is the United States. There are no restrictions placed on what you can see. You can’t sign onto the internet without running into pornography. Yes I’ve watched pornography. Like any male I’m curious about things. I’ve never been to a strip club. Kevin and I talked about going to a strip club. He says it is something I should experience. There are a lot of things in life I want to experience. In the United States there are no restrictions that prevent me from doing what I want to do.

At that point the camera pans to Kevin. This was a shot that should have been shown earlier in the interview, when Kathy had chastised the cameraman for putting the camera on Kevin after the first response. Kathy must have thought it convenient to show his face at this point in the interview to identify the person responsible for Jason’s moral decay when living in the United States.

Kathy Li – Do you think you will pitch in the major leagues this year?

Jason Woo – That is up to the Orioles management.

Kathy Li – How about your personal life. There are a number of women in China that want to know if you have a steady girl friend or not.

Jason Woo – There are possibilities, but right now my focus is on baseball. Once I become more settled perhaps I’ll find a girlfriend.

Kathy Li – I’m sure there is a girl out there who will find you Jason. Maybe the girl Xeng-Xeng will get in contact with you once she sees this interview. I appreciate this opportunity you gave us to talk. Good luck in your pursuit of a successful baseball career in the United States and may you achieve great success.

Jason Woo – Thank you Ms. Li.

Rigo took his eyes off his cell phone once the interview portion of the newscast was completed. He was multi tasking, listening to the telecast and searching the web through his cell phone to find more news or reaction to the story. “They seemed to cut a lot of Jason’s narrative. It certainly doesn’t match the translation we have of the interview.”

Larvell looked at Ruben who was still lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling. He was breathing easier now, a portion of one of the broken chair legs held tightly in his right hand as he tapped it on the floor, trying to squeeze all the life out of it. “That was not too bad. It was an interview I would have preferred not happen, but we might be able to fix things.”

Ruben stopped his steady beat of the broken aluminum chair leg against the floor, attempting to raise himself from the floor. He reminded Larvell of a turtle placed upside down on a sidewalk who is now trying to right himself up. After much trouble he was able to pull himself up to at least a sitting position. His shirt hung out from his pants and the flesh from his sides could be seen oozing from his shirt. You could also see he had forgotten to pull up the zipper to his pants. There was a giant black hole where the teeth of the zipper should be. “How are we going to fix things?” He was an embarrassing spectacle, with his hair flying in different directions.

“We shouldn’t have any problem with what was said on the tape.” Rigo was addressing Ruben’s question, but he was looking at Larvell. He was too embarrassed to look at Ruben sitting on the floor with his gaped open crotch and oozing flesh. “The reason I insisted this be done in our meeting room is it allowed us to record the whole interview. I had a camera behind the mirror. So we can just show the entire interview as a counter to the edited version Ms. Li put together.”

“Remember, you had tried to insist we accede to Kathy’s wishes to hold the interview inside the stadium?” Larvell said to the sitting Ruben, who looked like an overgrown infant sitting on the floor, a shrunken aluminum chair slumped next to him. “That is why we didn’t want it at the stadium. We had more control of the interview if we could hold it in a smaller environment.”

For the first time a smile appeared on Ruben’s face. “Brilliant.” He forced himself up from the floor using the chair leg to help himself off the ground, picking up some additional shrapnel from the exploding chair and dropping the pieces he had in his hand onto Larvell’s desk. “Good job.” He tucked what shirt was hanging out of his pants back into his pants, discovered that his zipper was down and quickly zipped it back up trying to act as if nothing was out of the ordinary. He did a quick, awkward fist pump with the air in the room, looked around the office, before fixing his gaze at Larvell. “You need to get more durable chairs.” He waddled out of the office.

Rigo, Pablo and Moose were still a little shocked by what they witnessed. If it had been anyone but the man who signed their pay check they would have burst out in laughter after he had left. Instead, they had a look of dread on their faces as they each looked at each other.

“No wonder this franchise is so screwed up,” said Rigo. “I’ve been in the same room with this man twice this month and both times he’s been on the floor. This worries me.”

Larvell did not feel it necessary to remind Rigo he was with Ruben at the press conference and he avoided the floor there. Why ruin the moment. “See what I have to put up with on an everyday basis. Rigo, send a copy of the tape to our usual bevy of beat reporters. Advise them we think the interview was heavily edited to provide an uncomplimentary light on Jason. Eventually, we may need to send someone to China to straighten this mess out. I find it very perplexing there are no hospital or school records on Jason, unless Kathy is lying about that as well. It would seem this would be an easy fact to validate so I don’t think she is lying. Maybe she just hasn’t looked hard enough. Like the announcer said, he certainly didn’t fall out of the sky. He had to come from somewhere.”

“Why would she care what hospital he was born at or what school he attended?” a perplexed Rigo asked.

“First, if the adoption center does not have a permit it could invalidate our paperwork showing he arrived at the adoption agency during a certain year. Major league baseball could nullify our signing and make him eligible for the draft. Since we have the first pick that doesn’t worry me too much, but it would be nice to have Jason plus a number one foreign pick this year rather than use it to select a player we already signed. Second, it makes it difficult to validate his age if there are no records of when he was born or that he even attended school in China. The embassy will have concerns he may have submitted false information on his visa application. That may result in a lengthy review process to verify the facts and a year’s suspension if they find the information he provided is false. The easier we can make it for them the quicker they can validate the visa or issue him a new one. That could also resolve the age issue and negate any suspension.”

One of the interns who worked for their public relations office knocked on the door. Larvell asked him to come in. “There are a number of reporters who are asking for a comment from you about Jason,” he said. “It appears all of them have seen the Kathy Li story. What do you want to tell them?”

“No comment right now. We’ll have to put out a press release that we are aware of the report, but we are waiting for all the facts to come in before we take any action.”

Larvell was upset he had lost control of the Jason Woo discovery. It was time to regain control.

>>>>

Pirates Boot Their Way to Spring Loss

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a losing record for 20 straight seasons.  After watching the second inning myworld could understand why.  Brad Hawpe made an error in right field, allowing runners to advance an extra base on him when he allowed a single to skip past him ten yards.  Pedro Alvarez couldn’t handle a pop up, having the ball clank off his glove and roll towards the first base dugout.  Instead of chasing it Pedro sulked and Sean Rodriguez raced all the way to third on an infield pop up three base error.  A wild pitch by A.J. Burnett allowed the fourth run of the inning to score, allowing Tampa to take a commanding 8-2 win over the Pirates.

Pittsburg never got close, with Luke Scott rammed a double over the head of centerfielder Andrew McCutcheon as the ball one hopped the wall, allowing Matt Joyce to score from first.  In the fifth Desmond Jennings was able to draw a walk off Pirate super prospect Gerritt Cole.  He stole second and third and scored on a fly out by Yunel Escobar.

In the seventh Tim Beckham crushed one that one hopped the wall, scoring on a ground out.  An errant pick off throw by Jason Grilli allowed Rich Thomson to advance to third where he scored on a Hak-ju Lee bloop single.

Pittsburg had two hitters, Brad Hawpe and Alex Presley strike out with a runner on third and less than two out.  In the seventh Matt Hague ripped a clutch single to score their first run.  In the eighth Jose Tabata hit a checked swing double down the right field line and scored on a Alex Presley single.

Game Notes: Quite a few changes to Bradenton park.  They have added a left field bleacher area and a ramp that travels from the left field foul line to the right field foul line.  There is a picnic patio area along right field…Lots of sea gulls flying about after the sixth inning, lounging around the grass waiting for the game to end so they can go into the seating area and eat all the left over food…Lots of Baseball America’s were being handed out at the game.  When the announcer was reading the pages from the scorecard that had the winning stamp on them to win prizes a woman in front of me was flipping through the page numbers trying to find the stamp to win the prizes.  I had to inform her this was a magazine and not a scorecard with the prize stamp…The stadium gets a little chilly in the upper sections with the wind.  Myworld would recommend wearing something warm just in case….Jose Tabata had a good game with two doubles in two at bats, though one of the doubles was the result of a check swing…Gerritt Cole pitched two innings and allowed one run on one hit.  Myworld did not see much of a curveball from him today…Tim Beckham went 2 for 2 hitting a double and triple.  The only downside for him is he fell down rounding third and could not score on a Rich Thomson single.  He did score on a ground out to second…Brad Hawpe struck out twice, showed a poor arm from right field and made an error.  Not the best of days for him but it is still early in spring.

Top Asian Prospects - 2013

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Asian Leagues have their own professional leagues so signing players from that area is difficult without drawing the ire of the other league for raiding their talent base.  The Asian pitchers usually lack the velocity to be number one starters and the hitters lack the power of their American counterparts.  Players with speed, who can play defense are valued more.  Those skills are changing but it will take time to eliminate the stigma.  You can take a look at last year’s list here: http://myworldofbaseball.com/wordpress/?p=494.  Only Junichi Tazawa graduated to major league service time.

Players from Japan who are over thirty years old such as shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima or relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa are not considered prospects so are not included in this list.  Myworld will still consider any player under thirty.

1. Hyun-jin Ryu LHP (Los Angeles Dodgers) Korea - He’s a bit tubby, out of shape and lacks overpowering velocity in his fastball, yet the Dodgers still shelled out big bucks to sign him.  They paid $25 million to the Hanwha Eagles just to negotiate a contract with him.  Ryu had success in the KBO with superb command and an excellent changeup.  Whether this will replicate itself against major league hitters will soon be discovered.  One thing that can be said about him is he has a lot of confidence in his ability to succeed.

2. Hak-Ju Lee SS (Tampa Bay Rays) Korea - Myworld saw Hak-ju Lee play for the first time today.  He booted the only routine grounder hit his way and he appears to be facing pitchers who bust him inside.  He did fight off a pitch and blooped it over the third baseman’s head for a single, but he also swung and missed at three pitches in his next at bat.  He runs fast but he doesn’t steal as many bases as his speed should allow and he plays excellent defense despite the error he made today.  The one question mark for him is his bat and whether it will play in the major leagues.  He doesn’t have the strength to hit for any power.

3. Tzu-Wei Lin SS (Boston Red Sox) Taiwan - He could be the Taiwan version of Lee.  He has speed, plays smooth defense but has a questionable bat.  He could eventually hit for power but his smallish 5′9″ frame should prevent any displays of power.  The Red Sox signed him for $2.05 million in 2012, the largest bonus ever for a position player out of Taiwan.

4. Chen Lee RHP (Cleveland Indians) Taiwan - The Indians do a good job of scouting the Taiwan area.  They signed Lee for $400,000 in 2008.  If he didn’t pitch out of the bullpen he could have competed with Wei-yin Chen in 2012 for best starting pitcher from Taiwan.  He has been used strictly in relief and he blew out his elbow, undergoing Tommy John surgery to end his season last year after only five games.  Prior to the surgery he threw 95 but sat in the low 90s.  He struggles with his command and does not have the one dominating pitch to be successful as a closer.  Lee will probably not be ready to pitch until mid-season

5. Naoki Hasimoto RHP (Cleveland Indians) Japan - The Indians signed three Japanese players who were not drafted by Japanese teams.  Right handed pitcher Kota Kobayashi and outfielder Takuya Tsuchida are two such players, but Naoki is the most intriguing for his 95 mile per hour fastball.  Like most Japanese pitchers, Naoki throws a bevy of pitches and has pretty good command of those pitches.  Or so the few reports on him read.  At 22 years of age he will be best served pitching in a full season league to show whether what is written about him matches his results on the field.

6. Chia-jin Lo LHP (Houston Astros) Taiwan - Prior to his Tommy John surgery the lefthander had pretty good juice on his fastball, hitting the low 90s.  Myworld already has seen him make an appearance this spring and he showed a good breaking ball.  His fastball also seemed to have some juice to it, though there is no radar gun readings at Kissimmee park.  If he pitches well in the spring and carries that into the minor leagues he should be in the Astros bullpen by mid-season.

7. Jin-de Jhang C (Pittsburgh Pirates) Taiwan - Japan doesn’t even try to recruit foreign catchers because of the language difficulties communicating with the pitchers.  The major league teams do not seem to have an issue with this.  The Pirates signed Jhang for $250,000 in 2011.  Jhang played rookie ball last year, hitting .305 with one homerun.  He shows the tools to be a solid defensive catcher and the strength to power up.

8. Dae-eun Rhee RHP (Chicago Cubs) Korea - The numbers are just not there.  This year he started 26 games in AA and finished with an ERA of 4.81.  His strikeout percentage dropped from 8.2 whiffs per nine innings to 4.93, failing to achieve the 2 to 1 separation in walk to whiff ratio teams look for in their pitchers.  He is not overpowering with a fastball in the high 80s to low 90s and relies on a change to get hitters out.  Opposition batting averages are usually high against him and last year they stood at .298.

9. Ji-man Choi C (Seattle Mariners) Korea - We wrote about him here: http://myworldofbaseball.com/wordpress/?p=1301.  Back issues have prevented him from repeating his rookie season when he hit .378 in 2010.  Those back issues appear to be resolved and the Mariners sent him to the Australian Baseball League where he hit .309 with 8 homeruns and 31 RBIs.

10. Chun Chen 1B (Cleveland Indians) Taiwan - When he was a catcher he had a better shot at making a major league roster.  His defense never worked out behind the plate so the Indians moved him to first base and DH.  Chen doesn’t have the power typical of most players at the position but he should hit for average hitting .308 last year.  Since he is just learning the position he needs some time to figure out the nuances for first base.

Cuba Rallies to Down Tigers

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Cuba defeated the Hanshin Tigers 3-2, rallying for three runs in the fifth.  Frederich Cepeda laced a 2-run bases loaded single and Jose Abreu a sacrifice fly to drive in the three runs.  Odrisamer Despaigne got the start for Cuba but didn’t get past the first inning, giving up two hits and two walks.  Matt Murton drove in both runs with a single in the first for the Tigers.

Yander Guevara and Norberto Gonzalez threw six plus innings of shutout ball to allow Cuba to make the comeback.  The Tigers had two runners thrown out at home, one in the fifth on a ground out to third and in the sixth after a two out single to left.

You can see a scorecard of the game here: http://yakyubaka.com/2013/02/28/wbc-practice-game-cuba-3-hanshin-tigers-2-february-27-2013/#more-95473

Orix Pounds China

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The Orix Buffaloes had an easy time defeating China 8-1 in an exhibition game.  According to China manager John McClaren the Chinese outfielders are not used to playing in domed stadiums so tracking fly balls is a bit more of a challenge.

Takayoshi Kawabata stroked a double in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie and send the Buffaloes on their way to a victory.  Takashi Kamoshida tossed three innings of shutout relief without allowing a hit.

The big bats for China were Lei Li who had two singles, one in the first and the other in the ninth.  Xu An had a double but struck out in his next two at bats.  Leadoff hitter Xiao Cui had the only other hit in his four at bats.  Tao Bu pitched the first three innings for China giving up three hits and a run.  Both Shuai Li and Jiangang Lu each pitched one inning in relief and retired the side in order.

You can take a look at the boxscore here: http://yakyubaka.com/2013/02/27/wbc-practice-game-china-1-orix-buffaloes-8-february-27-2013/#more-95411

The Italian team played their first spring training game in Arizona and lost 5-1 to a group of Seattle Mariners minor leaguers.  Mattia Reginato and Paolino Ambrosino collected two hits each for Italy.

You can read more about that game here: http://www.mister-baseball.com/italy-loses-wbc-warmup-arizona/

The Breaking News Stories (cont - 4)

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Ruben’s statement about a disparaging news story did not shock Larvell as much as Ruben bursting in his room. He was expecting the negative fallout. It was only a matter of time before it got out. So he took the news calmer than expected. “What a surprise. You mean the momentum is not building.” Larvell felt a certain bit of satisfaction the interview did not turn out as well as Ruben had hoped.

Ruben collapsed in an aluminum chair not built to hold a person of his weight. It buckled to hold his massive frame. “She edited her interview with him and it is just horrible. It makes him out to be a pornography lover, pervert and very anti-American. Why would she do something like that? She promised she would help build his career, not destroy it.”

Larvell was pretty sure the chair would not hold Rueben if he sat in it much longer. Unlike Baltimore, where he had an office to accommodate couches and sofas, the Florida office was much smaller and more spartan to save on costs. He could only offer aluminum folding chairs for guests to sit in. Larvell was seated in the only chair of any substance placed safely behind his desk. He had purchased it with his own money.

“Because that is what builds her success.” Larvell felt bad to be feeling so good about Ruben’s distress. After all, any bad story on Jason would negatively impact the Orioles as well. Rigo had already warned him about some of the topics Kevin had told him were discussed. They were already prepared to send out a response if the interview turned negative to spin it around.

“Well, we have got to do something.” Ruben had tears dropping down his cheek, mixing in with the sweat dripping from his forehead.

“Other than sell bobbleheads.”

Ruben shot a glare over to Larvell. “This is serious,” The moisture from his sweat mixed with tears began rolling to the edge of his multiple chins.

Rigo’s fingers were dancing along his cell phone, his eyes focused on the screen. “I got an email from the embassy in China from the person who issued Jason a visa. She has given me a link to the newscast. Unfortunately, the newscast is in Mandarin so we would need it to be interpreted. She also indicates that in light of what has been reported we may want to hold off pitching Jason in a game until the facts can get clarified. They may have to revoke his visa if some of what she says is accurate.”

“Oh no!” Ruben cried out in horror. “I didn’t think it was this bad.” Just as he finished his sentence the aluminum chair he was sitting on could no longer hold his weight and collapsed, one of the legs snapping in two, sending Ruben crashing to the floor.

Moose and Larvell jumped out of their chairs to help Rueben up from the floor but he waved them away. “Leave me here”, he growled at them from the floor. “I’m hyper ventilating. I need to lie down anyway.”

“Do we need to call an ambulance?” Larvell asked.

“No. Just let me lie here awhile. I need to de-stress.” It was probably best they didn’t have to try to pick him up. A few hernias may have resulted, depending on how many of them it took to haul Rueben up.

Rueben lay on his back on the floor, his hands over his face. He was trying to control his breathing. “This is just horrible.”

Moose and Larvell returned to their chairs. Pablo and Rigo never moved from theirs. It was probably best he did his sniveling on the floor. There were no other chairs he could sit in that could hold his weight, except for Larvell’s and he was not about to offer his.

Larvell took out the remote control, aimed it towards a television hanging from a corner of the room. He clicked it to one of the sports stations. It didn’t take long for Kathy’s story to be picked up by the American press. They showed Kathy Li trying to talk to an older white haired gentleman in a dilapidated house, but he refused to talk to her.

“That’s John,” Pablo commented over the sportscast. “He doesn’t look too good.”

The video showed the legendary concrete wall Jason had thrown at. It had crumbled to the ground, now just broken pieces of scattered concrete. Kathy stood in front of this crumbled concrete. Her face was stern. You couldn’t hear her voice because the sports cast had another voice translate over hers. “A check of the business records for this address does not show any permit to run an adoption agency.” The camera moved from her to a dilapidated building with chipping paint, boards placed over the window spaces in place of glass and a porch caved in and eaten away by vegetation. It had the appearance of an abandoned facility, except for the old man raving like a lunatic behind Kathy, throwing whatever he could find on the ground at her.

“A search of hospital records in the province for anyone named Xiang-Deng Woo, which is the official name the Orioles have on file for Jason Woo finds no record of anyone born in the province under that name. There are no hospital records for anyone with a last name of Woo. This reporter has also completed an exhaustive search of all the school records in the province and has come up empty trying to find any student who ever attended classes with a name of Xiang-Deng Woo. We are trying to get an explanation for this from John, who appears to live at what appears to be an abandoned facility, but as you can see, he is not cooperating.” Just as she made that comment a rock whizzed past her, making a loud noise in the background.

There was a pause after Kathy Li’s report ended, returning back to the original reporter breaking the story. This gave one of the ESPN announcers an opportunity to jab a comment. “What is she trying to say then? He has to be from somewhere. He just didn’t drop from the sky.”

The reporter did not address his comment but continued with a clip from the interview Kathy Li conducted with Jason Woo, translated to English in its entirety.

Wallace Leads Astros Past Tigers

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Brett Wallace booted a ball in the second with two out to allow the Tigers to score the first run in the top of the second, but he hit a game tying homerun and an RBI single to make amends for the error in the Astros 9-4 win.

Jason Castro hit his second homerun in two Kissimmee starts, a 2-run shot into left centerfield in the second to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.  Rick Ankiel still showed the legs to turn a missed diving catch by Avisail Garcia in right field into a triple to keep the inning extended for Castro.

The Tigers took the lead in the top of the fourth with a 2-run homer by their own catcher Brayan Pena, a ball that traveled farther in height than distance.  Brett Wallace led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a shot straight up the middle and over the centerfield backing.  A Eugenio Garcia boot allowed the go ahead run to score to give the Astros a 4-3 lead they would never relinquish.

Duane Below had trouble getting Astro hitters out in the fifth inning, giving up five hits and one walk in the Astros 5-run outburst to put them on top 9-3.  Trevor Crowe ripped a 2-run triple to finish off the scoring.

Game Notes: The Astros had three hits by Brett Wallace and two hits from Rick Ankiel, two players fighting for a lineup spot.  The Astros move to the American League giving them an extra bat in the lineup…Michael Morrison showed a good breaking ball for the Tigers, getting two swings and misses for strikeouts with the pitch.  Delino Deshields and Michael Burgess both looked overmatched in their at bats…Bruce Rondon had trouble throwing strikes, not allowing him to finish the second inning.  He had a three ball count to three of the four hitters he faced and a two ball count to the other.  He walked two and struck out two…Jonathan Villar shows a good arm and turned two on a slow chopper…Tyler Collins hit a double giving him three straight extra base hits, two doubles and a triple, before flying out…Only 1,758 showed up at a game that experienced constant drizzles.  At no time did this rain last more than three minutes, but it kept reappearing.

MyWorld’s Top 100 Prospects - 100-91

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Every year myworld puts together a Top 100 list by taking some of the other Top 100 lists and assigning points to them.  We usually wait until Baseball America comes out with their Top 100 list before finalizing ours.  This year myworld used Baseball Haven, MLB, Scouting Book, Deep Leagues and Baseball America to put together this Top 100 list.  You can see the other Top 100 lists since 2008 here: http://myworldofbaseball.com/id13.html

100. Jon Schoop 2B (Baltimore Orioles) 1.2 - He will be the next big offensive player called up by Baltimore.  He would have gotten more time at shortstop if he didn’t acompany Manny Machado during all his promotions.  Now that Manny is in the major leagues he may get the repetetion needed to become a shortstop.  He has some pop in his bat and ideally will take over for Brian Roberts after he finishes out his last year in 2013.  He played for the Netherlands in the 2011 World cup in Panama.

99.  Sonny Gray RHP (Oakland Athletics) 1.24 - Sonny was a first round pick in 2011 by the Athletics.  He led Vanderbilt to its first ever College World Series appearance, but his small stature (5′11″) may prevent him from having success in the major leagues.  He has the three pitches requisite of a starting pitcher with a fastball in the low 90s, a hard breaking curveball and a decent change.  Once he finds success in AAA he should find some time with the Athletics if they should need a starter.

98. Micahel Wacha RHP (St. Louis Cardinals) 1.32 - The Cardinals seem to be collecting a number of hard throwing pitchers and this 2012 first round pick is another.  His fastball has good velocity, hitting the mid-90s and looks much better with a good change.  He dominated the opposition in his minor league debut with a 0.86 ERA and a .114 opposition average.  He needs to find a breaking pitch to complement his fastball/change combination.

97. Luis Heredia RHP (Pittsburgh Pirates) 1.34 - The Pirates courted Heredia at an early age and beat out other teams like the Yankees who wanted to sign him.  Luis sign with the Pirates for $2.6 million in 2010.  The Mexican pitcher should pitch in a full season in 2013.  He has good velocity to his fastball and at 6′6″ 205 he has an apportunity to fill out more and add some more heat.  He’s got the stuff to be a number one starter but he will only turn 19 this summer.

96. Trevor May RHP (Minnesota Twins) 1.36 - The Phillies drafted Trevor in the fourth round in 2008.  They gave him away to fill a centerfield hole after he performed poorly last year.  He had trouble throwing strikes last year walking 78 batters in 150 innings pitched to put together a pedestrian like 4.87 ERA.  He has a low 90s fastball complemented by a curve, slider and change that should make him an upper rotation pitcher if he can get better command.

95. Hyun-jin Ryu RHP (Los Angeles Dodgers) 1.38 - He might be rated higher if others had included him in their top 100 prospect list.  Others are also turned off by his tubby physique and the lack of velocity on his fastball.  He does have excellent command and used that to achieve success in the KBO.  Whether he can replicate this in the major leagues is open to debate.

94. Kyle Gibson RHP (Minnesota Twins) 1.44 - He was supposed to pitch in the Twins rotation last year but an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery forced him to miss much of last season.  He did get 11 starts in the minor leagues, most on rehab starts in the rookie and low A minor leagues.  His low 90s velocity on his fastball has returned and once he gains confidence in his command he will be with the Twins in 2013.

93. Zach Cox 3B (Miami Marlins) 1.46 - The Cardinals drafted him in the first round in 2010 then traded him for Edward Mujica.  When we first saw him play he looked more like a softball player, but he appears to have gotten himself in better shape.  He has a good bat but finding a position for him could be a challenge.  He needs to develop more power to fit in a corner infield spot, especially if he has to move to first base.

92. Daniel Corcino RHP (Cincinnati Reds) 1.64 - At 5′11″ with a mid-90s fastball that sits at 92-93 he reminds many of Reds ace Johnny Cueto.  He has good strikeout numbers at every level he pitches, last year striking out 126 hitters in 143 innings, but limiting the opposition to a .216 average. He could make an impact for the Reds in 2013 should injuries knock a couple of their current starters from the rotation.

91. Jessie Biddle LHP (Philadelphia Phillies) 1.78 - The Phillies have not traded all their pitchers in their playoff runs starting in 2006 before finally ending last year.  For a lefthander he has a good low 90s fastball and a curveball voted the best in the system.  He should be pitching at Reading next year which should give him an opportunity to be promoted to the major league team should opportunity arise.