It’s a rite of passage for a United States president to throw out the first pitch in a Major League Baseball game at least once during his tenure. Other than that, though, politics and baseball don’t often mix. That’s what makes the summer schedule of Palm Springs Power relief pitcher Alex Strizak unusual.
By night, Strizak is a relief pitcher for the Palm Springs Power. By day, he is an intern working for U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert).
A Philadelphia Phillies minor league pitcher suffered a potentially career-threatening eye injury in a freak training accident in the Class A Florida State League late last week, his agent confirmed to ESPN.com Monday.
Clearwater Threshers pitcher Matt Imhof, the Phillies’ second-round pick in the 2014 MLB first-year player draft, suffered a “significant injury to his right eye’’ during postgame arm care band work, agent Adam Karon said.
Imhof, 22, was taking part in a routine stretching regimen after a game at Brevard County when a piece of equipment malfunctioned and he was struck in the right eye, a baseball source told ESPN.com. Imhof has undergone surgery and is likely to need further procedures, the source said.
Imhof, a 6-foot, 5-inch left-hander out of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, received a signing bonus of $1,187,900 from the Phillies as the 47th overall pick in 2014.
The Associated Press will begin using an automated writing service to cover more than 10,000 minor league baseball games annually, the news cooperative announced Thursday.
The Associated Press, which did not previously publish minor league game stories, will produce the stories using technology from Automated Insights and data from MLB Advanced Media, which is the official stat-keeper of the minor leagues:
Automated game stories are now available for all Triple-A, Double-A and Class A games, covering 142 MLB-affiliated teams and 13 leagues. The stories also will appear on MiLB.com, the official website of Minor League Baseball, and the official sites of the teams being covered.
The Associated Press has been using automated writing in some form since July 2014, when it began using technology from Automated Insights to produce earnings report stories. The AP now uses automation to produce more than 3,500 earnings reports stories about U.S. companies every quarter.
Things have gone from bad to worse for the Hartford Yard Goats this season. Now, the team’s scenario is careering rapidly toward the worst case.
Hartford mayor Luke Bronin at a Monday press conference on Monday announced that the stadium’s developers, DoNo Hartford and Centerplan Cos., were being removed from the long-delayed project.
The announcement came after the developer took issue with the team’s release of the still-unfinished items at Dunkin Donuts Park, which was last scheduled to be turned over to the Yard Goats on May 17 in preparation for a May 31 opener.
At Monday’s news conference, according to the Hartford Courant, Bronin revealed that the impetus for the decision involved an e-mail from the developers notifying him that the remaining work would take at least 60 days to complete.
Also at issue, Bronin said, was the concern from the developers that they might not have the funds to complete the project without requesting more money from the city. The stadium was already slated to cost the city $47,050,000.
The slow-but-sure demise of the Batavia Muckdogs (New York-Penn) franchise might soon open the door to a new chapter of Minor League Baseball history. If all goes according to plan, the Muckdogs will soon become the only majority black-owned team in baseball.
The Muckdogs have reached an agreement to sell the franchise to a group of black businessmen in the Washington area who plan to move the team next season to the D.C. suburb of Waldorf, Md., according to three sources who requested anonymity.
Fantasy players assemble weekly rosters from 100 of the game’s top prospects, with points distributed for certain on-field events (four points for hitting a home run, one point for striking a batter out, etc.) A minor league game, however, presents challenges that don’t exist in other fantasy sports.
“I had one guy this week that just got called up to San Diego, so that kind of defeats the purpose if they get too hot,” Kevin Kievit, a 38-year-old AFLAC insurance salesman in Rhode Island, said. “I don’t get any points that way.”
The site’s Latest News feed discusses recent accomplishments of up-and-coming players but also the setbacks of youngsters demoted back to the minors—and back into the Futures Fantasy game, which has attracted a little more than 1,000 participants in its first two months. Too much success can eliminate a player from use, but a subsequent slump can return him. It’s therefore a good thing that fantasy participants choose new rosters each week.
Nearly 12 years since being drafted, Matt Bush is finally getting the call he’s dreamed of.
The former No. 1 overall pick was promoted to the Majors on Friday by Texas after starting the season with Double-A Frisco, where he was 0-2 with a 2.65 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 17 innings. The 30-year-old right-hander will join the Rangers after signing with the team this past December following a three-year prison sentence from a nearly fatal DUI incident in 2012.
The Rangers optioned outfielder Delino DeShields to Triple-A Round Rock to make space on the roster.
“Sooo excited for my boy Matt Bush to get his shot in the show,” tweeted Orioles All-Star outfielder Adam Jones. “Overcame some mistakes but that never took away from his passion of baseball.”
According to the RoughRiders, Bush has consistently been hitting 98-99 mph with his fastball in the Texas League. He was clocked throwing 100 mph on April 23. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn a save on April 7 in his first appearance since 2011.
Had no idea he was still in the game. Well, back in the game, anyway.
During the final few games of spring training every year, some teams leave their team’s spring training site and play a few games somewhere else before heading out for their first regular season game. The Mets this year played the Cubs for two games in Las Vegas‚ which worked because it’s the home of the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate and is the hometown of (among others) Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant. The Phillies, too, got in on the fun. Their post-Clearwater slate included three games against a squad of their prospects. The second and third games were in Philadelphia, but their first stop was in Reading, Pa., the home of their Double-A affiliate.
The Mets and the Phillies each gave fans in their minor league markets a taste of the big club, which is especially admirable in the Mets’ case because fans in Vegas aren’t likely to get to Citi Field very often. These kinds of games should be an end-of-spring staple. Fans in Zebulon, N.C., never got to see Ozzie Albies play with the Mudcats. Why not give them that chance in late March when the Braves head north?
Yankees Minor Leaguer Sandy Acevedo was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic on Saturday night, the team said. Acevedo was 18 years old.
Prior to their Sunday game against the Rays, the Yankees held a moment of silence in memory of the third baseman. Acevedo had not appeared in any Minor League games since signing with New York as an international free agent last July 6, his 18th birthday.
MLB.com’s David Adler cited a 2015 Scout.com interview in which Donny Rowland, New York’s director of international scouting, said of discovering the infielder, “Acevedo was one of the hitters that we brought in to face [pitching prospect Yoan Lopez, now the D-backs’ No. 8 prospect], and he absolutely owned him in three out of four at-bats and crushed stuff.
The Colorado Springs Sky Sox are moving to San Antonio, Texas.
Sky Sox owner David Elmore and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor announced in a city council meeting Thursday that the Milwaukee Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate is headed to Texas for the 2019 season, according to the San Antonio News-Express.
The move is contingent upon a new downtown baseball stadium.
“The ability for guys to come up together is always a great thing,” said Red Sox assistant farm director Brian Abraham. “You see that now with our major league team: Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts, Christian Vasquez, Travis Shaw. Those guys all played together throughout the minor leagues. The camaraderie and team work they are able to establish at the big league level, that’s been going on since they were drafted, since they signed. That’s really important, it’s great when you’re able to form that friendship all the way throughout the minor leagues.”
Edit: The linked spreadsheet should be useful if you have a minor league draft coming up.
John Sickel’s Top 150. It came out a few days after my simulation league’s minor league draft so it didn’t help me this year. If you haven’t had your draft yet check it out. Also, here’s an Excel sheet of most of my prep work. If you haven’t had your draft yet, I’m positive it can help you.
For all the issues the Raiders had with the city and Oakland and Alameda County, at least they were never evicted.
That’s what the High Desert Mavericks of the Class A California League are facing, with the city of Adelanto filing documents to evict the minor league baseball team from Heritage Field, The Sun News reported over the weekend.
Adelanto mayor Rich Kerr said in a release the city declared a fiscal crisis in 2013 and is ``still not in position to assume financial responsibility to pay for water, gas, electricity, landscaping and maintenance for the stadium for the next seven months to accommodate the team’s schedule.’‘
High Street Baseball LLC, which owns and operates the Mavericks, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers, contend the city is attempting to get out of a binding contract.
...Once hailed as a beacon for a new era of development and prosperity in Newark, the return of minor league baseball to the state’s largest city proved to be a misstep almost immediately…Though the stadium opened to much fanfare in 1999, and the team attracted future major league stars like Rickey Henderson and Jose Canseco, the Bears failed to capture the hearts of area fans, and the team soon had nearly as many unpaid bills as nightly attendees. A group of developers rescued the franchise from bankruptcy in 2008, but it folded for good five years later. The 6,014-seat venue has hosted only college and local games in the years since…
The franchise-less stadium has continued to cost Newark and Essex County taxpayers a combined $2 million in annual debt payments..
I experienced both coaches and players make remarks on killing gay people during my time in baseball, and each comment felt like a knife to my heart. I was miserable in a sport that used to give me life, and ultimately I decided I needed to hang up my cleats for my own sanity. -Tyler Dunnington
1. Atlanta Braves
2015 rank: 6
Players in top 100 (2016): 7
This system was among the bottom five just two years ago after several bad drafts and questionable player development, but a series of trades—including several fleecings of the Diamondbacks—has stocked the system with pitching depth that is the envy of the industry. They tied for the most players in my top 100 and had a couple of other players who could make cases for inclusion, and their 11th- to 20th-ranked prospects still include a lot of prospective major league value. It has been a remarkable turnaround for general manager John Coppolella and his front office, and the future is even brighter with the team having the third overall pick in June’s draft. The team’s agreement to sign Venezuelan prospect Kevin Maitan on July 2 is the worst-kept secret in the industry….
30. Los Angeles Angels
2015 rank: 27
Players in top 100 (2016): 0
I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen. They traded their top two prospects in the Andrelton Simmons deal and had no one remotely close to top-100 status. They need a big draft this year to start to restock the system or we’re going to start talking about whether it’s time to trade Mike Trout.
New Triple-A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley believes Harper could use some more seasoning but has also demonstrated hints of the complete package
“I would hate to see him come all the way through the system quickly, skip levels and then get the major league level and really skid,” Beasley said. “The thing he has that is special, and I have talked to him about it, is his mindset - the way he believes and the level of confidence he has and his ability to play the game of baseball. I don’t think you want to shake that, especially at this age. I don’t think you want to take the chance of shaking that.”
...But all you can go on is what you have seen and Beasley believes in what Harper has produced in one season. He believes it is a very positive sign for what lies ahead for the Nationals and their top prospect.
“I think so far he has done outstanding. That is the tough call for general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson (to make). All we can do as a minor league field staff is to prepare him as best we can for on and off field situations. I think so far he is way, way ahead of his years and he gets it. I think (Harper) really understands it,” Beasley said.
So, is Harper ready?
“If he gets the call out of spring training this year,” Beasley said, “I have a feeling that he can handle it.”
An interesting analysis of signing ages, signing bonuses, and success rates in the Dominican Republic, by Melissa Segura of Sports Illustrated ...
Teams pay premiums for 16-year-olds for two primary reasons: One, because teams often want to be the first to sign a promising player and, thus, avoid bidding wars with other teams; and two, clubs prefer to develop their players’ skills under the watchful eyes of their own club personnel rather than under those of unqualified and unaffiliated coaches or trainers.
But are 18-year-old Latin American players really worth 70 percent less than their 16-year-old counterparts? Here’s another data analysis that calls into question the industry practice of placing a premium on youth. Let’s assume the most basic marker of a successful signing is making it to the majors. We’ll make it simple and look at the 79 players who have made their major league debuts from 2008-2011 from Carmona’s Dominican Republic. Of those 79, only six were signed as 16-year-olds. The debuts suggest older players were more likely to advance to the majors. ...
What’s more, SI tracked down the bonus data for 60 of the 79 players. Fernando Martinez, signed by the Mets in 2005 for $1.3 million, was the only one to receive a seven-figure bonus. Only nine others signed for six figures and one — the Rockies’ Juan Nicasio — received nada to sign, according to the data obtained by SI. The median signing bonus among them tallied a paltry $35,000.
During the late 1940s, the Cotton Bowl, located in Dallas’ Fair Park, had been expanded to more than 75,000 seats, largely because of ticket demand for SMU football games during the Doak Walker era. Some Dallas people were boasting that the Cotton Bowl now held more people than Yankee Stadium. Perhaps that was what put the idea in Dick Burnett’s head to stage a baseball game there.
Great article, both for its richness of detail and the sheer novelty of what it describes. With all the staging of football and hockey games and what-not at baseball parks in recent years, I think it’s time that baseball was reciprocated. Time for a Rangers series in the Cotton Bowl!
System in 20 Words or Less: This is the youngest, riskiest, most volatile Top 11 I’ve ever done.
1. Francisco Lindor, SS
2. Dillon Howard, RHP
3. Ronny Rodriguez, SS
4. Austin Adams, RHP
5. Tony Wolters, SS
6. Nick Hagadone, LHP
7. Dorssys Paulino, SS
8. Luigi Rodriguez, OF
9. Scott Barnes, LHP
10. Robel Garcia, INF
11. Elvis Araujo, LHP
12. Jake Cisco, RHP: This 2011 third-round pick has size and stuff, but he’s raw.
13. Zach McAllister, RHP: He has command and fastball movement, but little else. His ceiling is a fifth starter.
14. Felix Sterling, RHP: This young righty has a power arm and big potential, but he needs refinement.
15. Jorge Martinez, SS: He’s yet another teenage Dominican with loud tools. He profiles as a third baseman with power.
16. Chen Lee, RHP: This undersized righty has an electric fastball. He should pitch in big leagues this year, and has a seventh- or eighth-inning ceiling.
17. Levon Washington, OF: He’s still a great athlete, but his swing fell apart in 2011.
18. Jesus Aguilar, 1B: This massive first baseman is a bat-only prospect, but there are questions about what he can do other than hit for power.
19. Chun-Hsui Chen, C: He has impressive offensive skills, but he’s well below average behind the plate.
20. Zack Putnam, RHP: Like Lee, Putnam should reach the big leagues this year, but he profiles as a solid reliever, not an impact one.
CB: Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances are two of the brightest and most highly sought after pitching prospects in the Yankee system. While they each miss a lot of bats and generate big strikeout numbers; both have exhibited difficulties in limiting walks. After watching each struggle with their command in 2011, are you still projecting both pitchers to be top of the rotation starters?
JC: I don’t think I’ve ever projected Betances as a frontline starter. That may be his ceiling, but given his slow development path and still less-than-stellar command, I’ve suspected for a while that he’s going to end up as a reliever. I still see Banuelos as a starter, however, but again, I don’t think I’ve ever called him a No. 1 starter. He’s a No. 2 or 3 if everything comes together.
CB: After being listed as Baseball America ’s 108th best prospect prior to the 2011 amateur draft, the Yankees selected Dante Bichette, Jr. with the 51st pick. He signed quickly and promptly set the Gulf Coast League afire hitting .342/.446/.505 and winning league MVP honors. Looking back, do you think your initial evaluation was accurate? If not, what has changed?
JC: Our initial evaluation was based in part about suspicions that he’ll eventually wind up in the outfield. If he can stay at third base, and the Yankees think he can, then he’ll have more value. Bichette has boosted his stock since the draft with his strong debut and his initial play at third base.