Smokies Hang on for Win

May 30th, 2015

With a 10-3 lead the Tenessee Smokies brought on Gerardo Concepcion to mopup against the Mobile Baybears. Concepcion could retire only one of the six hitters he faced, giving up a grand slam homerun to pinch hitter Gerson Montilla. P.J. Francescon came in to close out the game but he gave up a walk and a single to put the tying run on base. Brandon Drury lined one into the left centerfield gap, but Alberto Almora Jr. was able to track it down to end the game. Smokie fans all gave a sigh of relief after that catch.

Myworld was impressed with two players for the Cubs not considered top prospects, though they may be higher rated on other teams. The talkative Wilson Contreras is always gabbing with someone, whether it is the umpire or the third base coach, but he looked good at the hot corner and at the plate sending one over the fence for a two run homer that proved to be the difference in the game. Elliot Soto had two good bunts, one for a sacrifice and another he beat out for a single. He also played excellent defense at shortstop, looking very smooth when fielding the ball, but doesn’t stand much hope of playing there with the Cubs depth.

The Baybears struck first after a single by Socrates Brito and a stolen base. Brandon Drury drove him in with a single. A strike him out throw him out double play ended the inning earlier than expected for the Baybears.

The Smokies answered back with a leadoff single by Elliot Soto and a line shot double by Kyle Schwarber down the right field line. Soto showed his speed by scoring on the hit. When Schwarber makes contact everything is a line drive.

Both starters Braden Shipley and Corey Black seemed to settle down after that. Shipley had the bullpen on its toes throughout the game, loading the bases in the second and put two runners on in the third. In the fifth a Wilson Contreras one out single and Billy McKinney double put two runners on again and ended the day for Shipley. Seth Simmons gave up a slow line drive infield single up the middle to Anthony Giansanti. Baybears shortstop Sean Jameson made a nice play to keep the ball in the infield but McKinney was streaking home as Jameson flipped the ball to the pitcher as his momentum carried him into right field. McKinney scored easily.

The Smokies appeared to break the game open in the sixth, scoring five runs. McKinney had the big hit with a two run triple after back to back walks put two runners on. Three walks, two wild pitches and four hits created the chaos.

The Baybears bounced back with two runs in the seventh. Zach Borenstein crushed a ball to the wall in centerfield that Albert Almora Jr. was just short of reaching. Two runs scored on the triple. The Baybears could not bring Borenstein home for the third run after a strikeout and double play grounder ended the inning. Starling Peralta came in from the bullpen after a walk and got the double play grounder with his first pitch.

Wilson Contreras got the runs back in the bottom of the inning crushing a ball into centerfield for a two run homer. It was his second hit of the game with two walks. It did not seem that big a hit at the time, expanding the score to 10-3.

The Smokies brought in Cuban Gerardo Concepcion to mop up in the ninth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for pinch hitter Gerson Montilla, who deposited a ball into the left field patio area to make the score 10-7. After giving up another single Concepcion was asked to take a shower and P.J. Francescon came on to close. He walked one to put the crowd on edge but got the final two outs to close out the victory for the Smokies.

Game Notes: Myworld had a fried bologna sandwich at the game. We had a late lunch and wasn’t really hungry but it is not everyday you see a fried bologna sandwich at a ball game. It’s been a long time since myworld has even had bologna in a sandwich. Don’t know if my lack of appetite influenced my taste for the sandwich. It is pretty messy so bring napkins…Billy McKinney was playing right field and made a nice sliding stop of a ball heading for the gap, turning a double into a single. He has centerfield skills but may not have the power for right field…Starling Peralta was throwing the ball 96…The Baybears manager was tossed in the ninth after the second called third strike. He was walking toward the home plate umpire after the second called third strike of the inning. The home plate umpire put up the stop sign with his hand but the manager continued his stride toward home. The umpire tossed him. That got the manager into a sprint to home plate and a heated argument ensued over the umpires strike zone…Corey Black had a solid outing for the Smokies, going five innings and allowing just three hits and the first inning run. He struck out six, including the side in the fourth…Everything Kyle Schwarber hits is a line drive…Baybear shortstop Sean Jameson made the defensive play of the trip with a diving catch on a line drive in the hole.

Historic Engel Stadium

May 29th, 2015

While in Chattanooga myworld accidentally ran across the historic Engel Stadium along O’Neal and Third Streets. It seems to be in a bit of disrepair. It was built in 1930 and housed the minor league team Chattanooga Lookouts. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, Harmon Killebrew and Roger Hornsby are some of the Hall of Famers that played there.

The stadium was also used as the field for the Jackie Robinson movie “42″. It holds about 12,000 and the Wikipedia website stated it is used by a local college and high schools for ball games, but looking at the field conditions weeds seem to have replaced grass as the greenery there. Myworld would be surprised if any ball had been played there recently.

It has a pretty cool brick fa├žade surrounding the field. Left field is a titanic 470 foot shot from home plate. There is still advertising along the outfield fences. The seats all appear to have the concrete bleacher seating. When myworld first saw it our first thought was this looked like a pretty cool field to film an old fashioned baseball movie. Maybe another one will come along to give the field a little more life.

Seager with the Sixes

May 29th, 2015

Myworld is in Knoxville, or more precisely Kodak, outside the Tennessee Smokies stadium. There is thunder in the background and some rain but most natives I talk to are confident they will get the game in. Hope so. Myworld would be on our way home if not for this stop.

Corey Seager had a remarkable day, going 6 for 6 with 6 RBIs. Those would be numbers foreboding for those with religious inclinations, but this is baseball. He raised his average to .324, smashed two doubles for the season to put him at six and hit his third homerun. The six RBIs puts him at 15 for the season, equaling the number of RBIs he hit in AA. In his last three games Corey is 11 for 14.

The Orioles have two Cuban outfielders playing on their AAA Norfolk team. The two combined for three homeruns, Dariel Alvarez hitting two of them and Henry Urrutia hitting one. For Urrutia it was only his second homerun. The leftfielder needs to hit for more power if he wants to return to the Orioles and that means pulling the ball more. For Alvarez he hit homers five and six, but his average rests at .237. He needs to show more consistency before he gets a promotion to the Orioles.

It is rare you see complete games in the minor leagues. John Richy, the Dodgers third round 2014 pick, tossed a complete game, giving up only four hits and not allowing a base on balls in his nine innings of work. He struck out five. John has gone 37 innings in his last five starts, averaging just over seven innings per start. He also picked up his sixth victory against two losses.

The Brewers number one pick of 2014, Kodi Medeiros had his longest outing of the 2015 season, going seven innings. He allowed only two hits and struck out five in the outing. Earlier in the season Kodi had tossed a no hitter in six innings walking just one.

The Diamondbacks got two good outings. The first was from their supplemental 2013 first round pick Aaron Blair. He tossed seven innings of three hit ball, striking out four. The outing reduced his ERA to 2.07. To date Blair has only one start in ten that have failed to meet the minimum 6 innings pitched, and he only needed to retire one hitter to meet that feat. In his last three starts covering 20 plus innings he has yet to give up an earned run. The other is Mexican Manny Banuelos who threw five innings of four hit shutout ball. His won loss record in AA is now 4-0. After a slow start Manny has not given up more than one run in his last six starts giving him a May ERA of 1.11.

The Angels Kyle McGowin had his best outing of the year, pitching seven innings of scoreless ball. He allowed just three hits and lowered his ERA to 4.84. In his last five outings Kyle has improved his outings by one less run, giving up 4, 3, 2, 1 and now zero. It is no longer possible for him to get any lower.

The Pirates Cody Dickson would like to find some consistency. He threw five innings of one hit shutout ball, striking out five. That is nothing new to him. He has had three other outings in which he has gone at least five innings without allowing a run. There have been three outings in which he has allowed four or more runs. His ERA has settled into an acceptable 3.33.

Astros Sign Cuban Quiala

May 29th, 2015

The Astros signed Cuban Yoanis Quiala. He only played one season in the Cuban professional league during the 2012-2013 season with the Holquin Dogs. The upside to him is he is young (22) and has a mid-90s fastball. He pitched in both a starter and relief capacity in Cuba but the Astros will convert him to a starter. Since he is covered by the international salary cap and Houston had exceeded their 2014/2015 cap the bonus had to be $250,000 or less. He still must under go a physical before the signing becomes official.

MLB rumors and Scout.com reported on this signing.

Is the United States Ready

May 29th, 2015

The Premier 12 will be played in Taiwan and Japan. Japan and Korea have already said they will be playing their best. No word yet on the United States team. Bringing their best has not had too much success in the World Baseball Classic where they have yet to appear in the finals. They are number two behind Japan in the baseball rankings. Below is the link to the video “Is your country ready?”

Just hope the WBSC does not become the criminal enterprise that FIFA has become. Money and power corrupts. FIFA has been corrupted.

Video

Berrios and Walker Lead Lookouts

May 29th, 2015

The game did not start on time because of the dark clouds racing towards the stadium. The rain came down hard at about game time and lasted for 30 minutes. There was much discussion over the wet playing surface. Once it was decided the game was to be played starting at 9:05 PM Jose Berrios pitched and Adam Brett Walker hit the Chattanooga Lookouts to a 3-2 win over the travelling Biloxi Shuckers.

Both teams entered the game in first place in their respective divisions. For the Schuckers this was remarkable after 47 straight road games because of political issues over the financing of the stadium.

Jose Berrios was impressive from the start. He gave up a double in the first inning against the third batter Orlando Arcia, who smashed one off the shins of thirdbaseman Stephen Wickens. The Schuckers put runners on second and third with one out in the fifth but a strikeout and ground out ended that threat. Jose finally tired in the eighth, or the Schuckers figured him out. After retiring the first hitter on a ground out, back to back singles by Kyle Wren and Tyrone Taylor put runners on first and third with one out. Orlando Arcia roped one down the left field line for a double scoring Wren. That was it for Berrios.

Zack Jones came on to get the Lookouts out of the jam. He walked the first batter he faced, Nick Ramirez to load the bases. Zack threw three straight balls to Michael Reed before throwing a strike. Reed lined one to right field to score Taylor. Taylor Green grounded to second base to end the threat. Zack Jones retired the side in order in the ninth to pick up the save, but it was stellar defensive performances from Max Kepler at first base, Heiker Meneses at second and Stephen Wickens at third to end the game.

The Lookouts struck first in the third on a leadoff single by Heiker Meneses. He moved to second on a ground out. Jorge Polanco punched one up the middle to score Meneses. The following inning a booming homerun by Adam Brett Walker with a runner on first traveled far over the miles per hour billboard in centerfield to give the Lookouts a 3-0 lead.

The Lookouts had a runner thrown out at home in the sixth. With two outs and catcher Stuart Turner on first Heiker Meneses gapped one into left field. The throw by Kyle Wren to the cutoff man to home came in plenty of time to get the slow footed catcher Stuart Turner.

Game Notes: Jose Berrios hit 95 miles per hour with his fastball, but mostly stood at 92 to 93. His breaking pitch was a bit loopy. He got a lot of swings and misses with his fastball, so the stuff is there…Max Kepler entered the game hitting .352. An 0 for 4 day dropped his average to .336. He is still not showing any power with just two homeruns…Byron Buxton did not get an opportunity to show case his skills. He struck out his first two times up, grounded into a force his third time up and walked his fourth time up. He did gun down Nick Ramirez in the sixth who was trying to turn a single into a double. The ball beat Ramirez to second base by ten feet…Miguel Sano did not play though he lined up for the national anthem…Orlando Arcia went 2 for 4 to give him three consecutive multiple hit games. He is 8 for 13 in those three games…Nathan Orf did not like a checked swing third strike call on him by the home plate umpire in the seventh, barking some words at the ump to tell him that was the base umpire’s responsibility and not his…It appeared the umpire called a ball on pitcher Jose Berios after time had expired in the fifth. The scoreboard operator did not appear to catch the ball call, but the hitter struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch (2-2 for the scoreboard).

A-Rod Leaves Cuba

May 28th, 2015

Baseball America has reported that Isla de la Juventud shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez has left Cuba to pursue his major league dream and lottery ticket. The 21 year old won the rookie of the year and a gold glove award as a shortstop last year. The big question will be whether his bat hits enough to make it to the major leagues. Erisbel Arruebarrena carried a better bat in the Cuban league than Rodriguez and he is currently stagnated in the Dodgers minor league system, currently suspended.

At 21 years of age Rodriguez will be subject to international spending rules. It could be at least two years before a team can sign Rodriguez if he does not establish residency and register his intent to be subject to the international draft by Mid May. With all the Cuban players departing the island major league teams are going to have second thoughts about exceeding their salary cap last year and being restricted to $250,000 maximum offers this year.

Cooney with the Gem

May 28th, 2015

Myworld is sitting in my room with a look out over the ball field of the Chattanooga Lookouts. Pretty cool to be able to walk to the stadium.

Tim Cooney is one of the Cardinals top pitching prospects. He threw seven innings of two hit ball. While he did not get a bushel of strikeouts he also did not walk anyone. This is the second of his eight starts he has not allowed a run in seven or more innings. Tim made his major league debut earlier this year and it was a result he would like to forget. He gave 7 hits on three runs working just over two innings.

Dillon Overton was the Athletics second round pick in 2013. Yesterday he allowed just one hit in five innings of work, striking out six. Mired in last place the Athletics are always open to hearing about the good progress of their minor leaguers. This year Dillon has not gone over five innings in any of his eight starts pitching in A ball. His previous outing he gave up 10 hits on eight runs in just two innings of work so the one hitter was a nice way to bounce back.

Chad Kuhl does not have the pedigree of Nick Kingham. He is also about three inches shorter. The Pirates got news that Kingham was to undergo Tommy John surgery. Chad continues to pitch, throwing six innings of three hit shutout ball. He walked one and struck out seven. In three of his nine starts Chad has not allowed a run, working at least five innings. Chad was a ninth round pick out of Delaware in the 2013 Pirates draft.

Many view Tyler Naquin as a fourth outfielder. He does not hit for enough power to play corner. And he does not have the burner like speed to be a gold glover centerfielder. A perfect 4 for 4 day with his first 2015 homeruns could raise some eyebrows. The perfect day raised his average to .318. Tony Gwynn was a corner outfielder without power, but he won batting titles. Tyler is a very consistent hitter, with a .313 average last year and .300 averages in both April and May.

The Marlins Brian Schales is about as descript as a speck of sand on the Miami beach. A 4 for 5 day drew some attention to this speck of sand, even though it only raised his average to .238. The third baseman needs to show a little more power with a slugging average sitting at an anemic .307 the last two years.

The three hit games just keep spilling off the bat of the Brewers shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia. A 3 for 6 day yesterday gives him two straight three hit days, the 6 for 9 streak putting his average at .343. He also hit his third homerun and 13th double. Currently the Brewers do not have a shortstop need, but with a bat like that they will find room for him.

Bats Demolish the Mudhens

May 28th, 2015

It was not very pretty. The Louisville Bats scored all their runs in the first four innings in their 10-2 demolition of the Toledo Mudhens. Derek Hankins got his first Triple A start and gave up eight runs in three innings. The Mudhen pitchers combined for 8 walks. First baseman Jordan Lennerton finished the game off pitching for the Mudhens with a perfect eighth inning.

Donavan Hand did not have overpowering stuff for the Bats, but it was enough to silence the Mudhens. Steven Moya hit an opposite field two run homer in the sixth for their only offense. When Hand finished the inning the bullpen shutdown the Mudhen bats the rest of the way.

In the first inning two walks and a single loaded the bases. With two outs Yorman Rodriguez changed the complexion of the game with a two run single to right center field. Steven Moya made an inadvisable throw to third base, but the ball was off line and bounced into the dugout to score the third run.

It did not get much better in the second inning. Jose Constanza hit a one out single and stole second. Hernan Iribarren drove one into the right centerfield gap for a double, scoring Constanza. A two out single up the middle by Ivan Dejesus drove in the second run of the inning. Daniel Fields tried to make the throw home, but the ball hit the downward slope of the mound and slowed down.

In the third inning a leadoff walk and single put two runners on. Chris Dominguez drove them home with a three run homer. It was about that time the Mudhens got the bullpen working. Hankins finished the inning, but he was already at 86 pitches and down 8-0.

Jose Valdez came on to pitch the fourth inning. He walked the first three batters he faced to load the bases. A line out to third and a strikeout appeared to give him an opportunity to escape the inning without allowing a run. Chris Berset singled up the middle to drive in two runs to give the Bats double figures in runs scored.

The Bats would go the last four innings without getting another hit, including the eighth inning when Jordan Lennerton pitched. Other than the two run homerun from Steven Moya the Mudhens could not get a runner to third.

Game Notes: Tomorrow myworld will go into a little more detail about the ballpark…There were not a lot of people at the game. The listed attendance was 4,872 but there were a lot of no shows. It had rained earlier and the clouds were dark, driving a number of fans away…Jordan Lennerton appeared to throw nothing but fastballs (or changeups) that hit the velocity gun at 75-77 miles per hour. Ivan Dejesus took three strikes, disagreeing with the umpires third strike call. The other two hitters stroked hard grounders to the shortstop in the hole that he was able to throw the runner out…Jeffry Marte made a nice diving catch on a Yorman Rodriguez line drive with the bases loaded otherwise the score would have been much worse and Yorman would have had four runs batted in instead of just two…Five of the ten runs that scored got on base as a result of a walk…Steven Moya and Mike Hessman each hit balls to the warning track in centerfield. Donavan Hand retired 8 hitters on fly outs and only two hitters on ground outs. He stayed at about 86-88 with his fastball.

Louisville Bat Factory

May 28th, 2015

Myworld killed another bucket list requirement, visiting the Louisville bat factory. The actual tour is about an hour. There is a small museum that can be walked through in half an hour. So if you have to manage your time count on an hour and a half to finish the tour.

The tour actually shows the manufacturing of the bats. No photos can be taken once inside the manufacturing facility. Most of the work is automated now. Once it took a person around 30 minutes to make a solidly crafted bat, now a machine can do the same thing in 20 seconds. There are still a few repetitious manual acts that need to be done, like placing a bat on a stand to begin the branding process and dipping the bat in a lacquer and hanging it up for drying.

Ed Rousch of the Cincinnati Reds carried the heaviest bat at about 49 ounces. Most bats are between 31-33 ounces. Cal Ripken used a bat that was 35 ounces. Most players now use the lighter bats to give them greater velocity in their swing. The major leaguers, who are making millions of dollars get their bats provided to them for free, while minor leaguers, who are making much less money have to pay for their bats. There seems to be something unfair about that process.

About a block away from the Louisville bat factory is a giant golden colored Roman standing in all his nakedness, his genitals hanging out for all to see. I’m not really too sure what he is representing, but it seemed to be a strange sight in a conservative southern city. You would think someone would have complained about the hanging jewels exhibited by the statue.

The buildings in downtown Louisville are a mixture of old brick and new. The older brick buildings are cracking or are becoming discolored through the years. The newer brick buildings look very artificial and could be made from a fake brick. It makes for a oil and vinegar like downtown setting. The architectural style is so diverse the downtown area looks frazzled, especially with all the new construction that is pending.

The Louisville Slugger field is on the opposite end of the downtown than the bat factory, about ten blocks away on Main Street. There is a Marriott hotel sitting right in the middle of the two places. Myworld chose to stay at a Marriott seven miles away from the downtown area. There are not a lot of bars and restaurants near the ballfield but still a couple blocks away. There is one brewery named “Against the Grain” that stands beside the ballpark. You can drink a lot of bourbon while in Louisville.