Results tagged ‘ Chris Archer ’

6/22/14 Tennessee Smokies Vs. Chattanooga Lookouts

When the plan to visit the Tennessee Smokies (Double-A affiliate of the Cubs) was originally being put into place back in early April, I was really looking forward to seeing what was sure to be an extremely talented team. With names such as Kris Bryant, Pierce Johnson, Jorge Soler, C.J. Edwards, and many other top prospects and above average players, I just knew that this game was going to be an exciting one.

That was, however, until everything went wrong.

Pierce Johnson, Jorge Soler, and C.J. Edwards all hit the disable list earlier in the year, keeping them from being at the game, and my optimism that Kris Bryant would still be a part of the team after blasting over 20 home runs in the first half of the season fell just short, as he was called up to Triple-A mere days before my arrival. And thus, Bryant joined the long list of great players who I wouldn’t have a chance of getting an autograph from.

But despite all the bad luck, my dad, grandpa and I made our way out to Kodak, Tennessee yesterday afternoon to take in the early two p.m. game against the Chattanooga Lookouts (Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, which also didn’t have too many good players). After a quick stop for lunch, we made our way over to the Smokies’ ballpark, bought tickets, and headed inside the stadium:

Smokies 002All I could think about upon first glance of the field was that Kris Bryant had been playing on that very surface not all that long ago  (a number of great players have played there in recent years, including Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Chris Archer, etc.) but I tried not to dwell on it for too long. To help get my mind off of Bryant’s absence, I swung by the gift shop for a few minutes, where I browsed the wide variety of items before heading down to field level (in the extremely hot sun) with the hopes of snagging a few autographs:

Smokies 003As I stated earlier, the Smokies aren’t all that fantastic of a team at the moment, with so many star players hurt, but I still wanted an auto from Dustin Geiger, Christian Villanueva, Corey Black, and former big league pitcher, Storm Davis. While I was successful in getting Geiger to sign my ticket, I didn’t snag an auto from Villanueva, and never actually spotted Davis or Black.

But regardless of the subpar pregame autographing, the game itself was much more exciting. Though not ranked very highly, the one player that really stood out to me was the Lookouts’ Darnell Sweeney:

Smokies 005Sweeney isn’t ever going to hit for much power according to a lot of people, but he was impressive on the day, picking up a couple of hits, making some great defensive plays, and showing off his speed (he stole nearly 50 bases last season). And therefore, Sweeney is a player I’ll be keeping an eye on.

As far as the game goes, heading into the day, both starting pitchers had an ERA above six for the season, which would lead you to believe it was likely going to be a high scoring game. But things started out rather slowly, with neither team scoring through five innings played, and the most entertaining moment being the traditional chicken run that takes place every home game:

Smokies 008

(Everyone loves a good chicken run.)

However, as the temperature began to heat up, reaching a high of 91 degrees, the game quickly heated up as well. With two out and a man on in the sixth, Christian Villanueva blasted a home run out onto the outfield grass berm, putting the Smokies up 2-0. Then, in the very next inning, Dustin Geiger copied Villanueva with a two-run dinger of his own . . . . :

Smokies 011

. . . . moving the score up to 4-0, which is where things would end.

Upon the final out, I went back down around the dugout to try once more for an autograph, but my main target — the only other key player I had seen before the game — ,Villanueva, bolted down the dugout tunnel. Thankfully, although I never saw him prior to the first pitch, Corey Black popped out of the dugout and began to sign autos for the many people who wanted him. I was the last one he signed for, and was able to leave the game with two autographs.

Though two autographs isn’t very many, the time spent out at the game more than made up for it. Any time I can combine baseball, traveling and time spent with family, it’s sure to be a fantastic time all around.

My First Game of 2014; Big Autograph Expectations

After nearly seven months, I’m finally attending another baseball game.

Later today, I’m heading out to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP), in Durham, North Carolina, where the visiting Gwinnett Braves are set to take on the defending International League Champion Bulls in game three of a four-game series. With the teams having split the series so far through two games, it’s sure to be an exciting game. Untitled

The thing I’m most excited about, besides the game itself, is seeing the DBAP for the first time since it underwent a multimillion dollar renovation this past offseason, which involved putting in new lights, new seats, a new playing surface, in addition to changing just about everything you can think of. Anything that helps make the fan experience better I always approve of.

Now, if you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you know the DBAP is one of the two local minor league ballparks – Five County Stadium, home of the Carolina Mudcats, being the other – that I frequent throughout each baseball season. Though I always enjoy a good baseball game, generally, I only go out to see a game when a good amount of prospects are set to be there, or if an MLB player is playing in a rehab game. Otherwise, I’m content to merely reading the box score each night.

As many of you are aware, within the past couple of seasons, I’ve developed a big passion for going out to games and getting autographs from the games’ most promising young players who are on their way up, and that’s the main reason I’m heading over to the ballpark tonight. Not living near any MLB teams, it’s truly my only chance to get autographs from what will likely be future MLB stars down the road, and Gwinnett certainly has plenty of them, with Christian Bethancourt, Tommy La Stella and Cody Martin, among others.

However, they’re not alone.

The Bulls definitely hold their own when it comes to roster construction. While this year’s roster doesn’t compare to the one they had last season, which saw Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer as part of the Opening Day roster, their lineup and pitching for this year is set to be good yet again. From Enny Romero to Nathan Karns, and many inbetween, the Bulls stand a good chance of repeating as Champions, and as such, there are numerous players I want to snag an autograph from at some point this year.

But the Braves are the team I’m going for tonight. I’m not going to be trying for any autographs from the Bulls players this time around due to the fact that I can always get them in a few weeks, as opposed to a team that may not return with the same players next time. I learned that lesson last year with Wil Myers. In taking three games to finally get Myers, I missed my chance to get the top opposing teams’ players. I won’t let that happen this time around.

The way I’m viewing the schedules right now, it’s likely that I’ll be going out to Durham often this first month, with possibly no trips to see the Mudcats until May.  The Mudcats simply aren’t that great of a team, and the teams that are going to be visiting aren’t that fantastic either. But it’s just the opposite All-Star-Game-Final-2014for the Bulls, as every team they’re playing against throughout April has some really good players on it that I hope to get autos from. Though, it’s likely that I won’t be blogging about any of it, unless things happen to change.

But that’s just the very beginning of what looks to be a great autographing season.

From May through the end of the season, both the Mudcats and Bulls are taking on loaded teams, making it difficult to decide when I want to head out to the ballpark and see certain players in person, though that’s a good problem to have.

More significant than that, however, the DBAP is hosting the 2014 Triple-A Home Run Derby and All-Star game in mid July, which will bring in numerous top prospects from the Pacific Coast League which usually never comes closer than Memphis. I truly can’t wait until then, as it’s a can’t miss experience that I’ll absolutely be blogging about.

From the exciting Bulls games to kick off the season, to the remaining strong schedules between both the Mudcats and the Bulls, and the All-Star events thrown in there as well, everything combined altogether, it’s sure to be an unforgettable season.

Myers and Fernandez Win Rookie of the Year Award

The Rookie of the Year award was first handed out in 1947 to Jackie Robinson, after he broke baseball’s color barrier and went on to have a great first season of what would become a Hall of Fame career. After the award was given out to a single player again 1948, it expanded in 1949 to include a player from each league, and has been that way ever since.

Renamed the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award in 1987, fourteen players who have won the award have gone on to the Hall of Fame, up until this point, of the 128 players to win it — several of those players are still active, however.

Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.

Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Rookie of the Year award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player five points, a second place vote gets three points, with a third place vote receiving one point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

The 2013 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Monday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Original Pick: Wil Myers

Finalists: Wil Myers, Chris Archer and Jose Iglesias

Winner: Wil Myers

Thoughts On Wil Myers Winning

It came as no surprise to myself or anyone else around the baseball world that Wil Myers won the 2013 American League Rookie of Wil+Myers+Tampa+Bay+Rays+v+Los+Angeles+Angels+0cQWt26BZC1lthe Year award. Picking up 23 out of the 30 first-place votes, Myers’ 131 points overall led him to a relatively easy win over his competition in Jose Iglesias, who picked up 80 points, and Chris Archer, with his 35 points.

Though all of the candidates had great inaugural seasons, Wil Myers was the best choice and the most deserving for Rookie of the Year. After beginning the season at Triple-A, struggling for a bit of time, Myers was called up to the Majors in June, never looking back.

Batting .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI’s in just 88 games played, Myers becomes the third player in Rays’ franchise history to win the Rookie of the Year award; joining Evan Longoria, from 2008, and Jeremy Hellickson, who won back in 2011.

Wil Myers will undoubtedly be a star player for the Rays for many years to come.

The BBWAA’s vote had Jose Iglesias finishing second, with Chris Archer coming in third.

NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Original Pick: Jose Fernandez

Finalists: Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller and Yasiel Puig

Winner: Jose Fernandez

Thoughts On Jose Fernandez Winning

Although Shelby Miller had a great season, it came down to Jose Fernandez and Yasiel Puig, in the minds of many, for 2013 National League Rookie of the Year. It the end, the writers’ selected Jose Fernandez to win the award, doing so in overwhelming fashion. IFESw_Em_56Fernandez received 26 of the 30 first-place votes, getting a total of 142 points, beating out Yasiel Puig’s 95 points and Shelby Miller’s mere 12 points.

I was really shocked by the dominance in which Fernandez won, however, he was very deserving.

Going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA this past season — 9-0 with a 1.19 ERA in home starts – the original plan was for Fernandez to begin 2013 in Double-A, but a few injuries allowed him to make the roster in April. He excelled in his first start, and made the most of his opportunities this past season, truly placing himself over the other candidates.

Fernandez was with his mom and grandmother when he received the news that he had won the award, and it was an emotional scene.

Jose Fernandez is an humble guy who is sure to have a bright career.

The BBWAA’s vote had Yasiel Puig finishing second, with Shelby Miller coming in third.

2013 BBWAA ROY, Cy Young and MVP Award Finalists

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) award finalists for 2013 Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player were announced Tuesday night on MLB Network. For the most part, I agree with the finalists; but there are a few I’m surprised about.

Here are the finalists, with who I have winning (click their names to find out why):

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

American League: Chris Archer, Jose Iglesias and Wil Myers

National League: Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller and Yasiel Puig

I have Wil Myers and Jose Fernandez winning the Rookie of the Year award.

CY YOUNG FINALISTS

American League: Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Max Scherzer

National League: Jose Fernandez, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright

I have Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw winning the Cy Young award.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER FINALISTS

American League: Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Mike Trout

National League: Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen and Yadier Molina

I have Chris Davis and Paul Goldschmidt winning the Most Valuable Player award.

The winner of each award will be announced next week on MLB Network. Here’s the schedule:

AL & NL Rookie of the Year: November 11th

AL & NL Cy Young: November 13th

AL & NL Most Valuable Player: November 14th

As stated in a previous blog post, I plan on posting a recap of each winner, along with a look at how well I did with my predictions, in a blog entry after each award is officially announced. So be sure to check back for that . . . .

My Vote for AL and NL Rookie of the Year

I decided to combine my vote for American League and National League Rookie of the Year (R.O.Y.) into one post, because as hard as I tried to think of a case for several American League players for the award, I couldn’t. Though Jose Iglesias and a few other players had decent rookie seasons, I could only manage to make a strong case for the one player that truly deserves the award and will likely win it with Wil+Myers+Tampa+Bay+Rays+v+Boston+Red+Sox+LdbzEh53jV1loverwhelming support: Wil Myers.

The season Myers was able to put together is truly remarkable. While Myers didn’t lead all AL rookies in every category, as Mike Trout did last year, — several other players this season beat out Myers in average and home runs — when you combine it all together, no one else has the stats for the award.

Batting .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI’s in 88 games played, Myers is certainly off to a fast start to his Major League career. A start that should see him receiving the first major award of his career — the Rookie of the Year award.

In the running for National League Rookie of the Year it’s a far different story than the American League portion.

Matt Adams, Evan Gattis, Jedd Gyorko, Yasiel Puig, Julio Teheran, Hyu-Jin Ryu, Shelby Miller and Jose Fernandez are all in the mix for NL Rookie of the Year, in my opinion, but in the end, only a few of them made my final cut. Those players being Shelby Miller, Yasiel Puig and Jose Fernandez. (It’s somewhat difficult to compare two pitchers to a hitter, but I’ll try my best with each case.)

Shelby Miller had a great first season, going 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA. Although he had a decent rookie year, with all of the great candidates for NL Rookie of the Year, Miller didn’t quite do enough to receive the award. But while he won’t win the R.O.Y, Miller is very jose-fernandezlikely to win a Cy Young or two at some point down the road in his career.

Yasiel Puig came up in early June and helped turn around an awful Dodgers team. But while Puig was a big reason for their successful second half of the season, he began to slow down towards the end of the year. Therefore, despite batting .319 with 19 homers and 42 RBI’s this season, Puig will come up just short of winning the award, in my mind.

Jose Fernandez is the only person standing in the way of a relatively easy win for Yasiel Puig. Able to dominate for the Marlins this season, Fernandez posted a 12-6 record with a 2.19 ERA and opponent batting average of .182 — going 9-0 with a 1.19 ERA in home starts this year.

Fernandez isn’t the unanimous pick to win the award by everyone around the baseball world, but his overall dominance at such a young age (21) is enough for me to make him my vote for the National League Rookie of the Year.

Story Lines Worth Watching In the Final Month

It’s hard to believe but the 2013 MLB regular season is almost over. (Today marks exactly one month until the final games of the season, on September 29th.) Teams are making their final push for the post season, and every player is doing their best to finish out the season strong. With all of this going on, I thought I’d post an entry on the five main story lines I plan to keep an eye on throughout the final stretch.

American League Home Run Race

Davis_Cabrera_6jrfjauv_n0whcjqfIt’s a two-man race, between the Orioles’ Chris Davis and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, for who will receive the title of 2013 home run champion. But more importantly for Cabrera, he’s not just chasing down Davis for that title alone; Cabrera is trying to do what no one in the history of the game has ever been able to do: Win back-to-back Triple Crowns.

Davis currently holds a four home run lead over Cabrera (who is day-to-day, after suffering an injury in Thursday’s game) — Cabrera leads all of baseball in batting average and RBI’s — and with a mere month left of the season, it’s going to take a real display of power for Cabrera to overtake Davis. But if anyone can do it, Miguel Cabrera can.

Candidates for Rookie of the Year Award

puig_original_original_crop_exactThe Rookie of the Year award is going to be a difficult award to decide, for both the American League and National League. Both leagues have several players that have strong cases, so it’s going to be interesting to see which player will have a great final month to move themselves above the rest.

Currently, top candidates from the American League, for the R.O.Y. award, include Wil Myers, Chris Archer and David Lough, while the National League has quite a few more top candidates, in Yasiel Puig, Matt Adams, Nolan Arenado, Jedd Gyorko, Evan Gattis, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Fernandez and Shelby Miller, among others. Making this a story line well worth watching.

National League Central Division

imagesCAQNTVO6The National League Central is currently the closest of all the divisions in Major League Baseball. Less than four games separate the top three teams, being the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds. (This is the first season in 21 years that the Pirates will finish with a winning record.) With the Diamondback’s slowly falling out of the race to catch up — though there’s still a slight chance they could — it would appear to be between these three teams for who will win the division.

No matter which team is able to hold on in the final month of the season, to win the division, all three are likely to make the post season, with the extra Wild Card spot, that was added last season.

Max Scherzer’s Cy Young Quest

untitledOf all of the great pitchers in the American League none have been as dominant throughout the entire season as Max Scherzer. Having gone 19-1 — only the third pitcher to ever start a season winning 19 out of their first 20 decisions — with a 2.90 ERA, Scherzer is well on his way to winning the Cy Young award, if he can keep up the great performance.

Though I think Yu Darvish will get a lot of consideration for the award — rightfully so, currently sitting at 12-5, with a 2.68 ERA, leading all of baseball in strikeouts — the award is currently Scherzer’s to lose, in the minds of many around the baseball world.

Houston Astros’ Loss Record

afbe15b4-c329-4994-8d21-cec9680d2991news_ap_org_r620x349With 30 games left to play, the Houston Astros hold a win-loss record of 44-88 — the worst record in all of baseball. They currently sit 33.5 games out of first place in their division, and look to have a losing record for the fifth straight season. Having lost 107 games in 2012, and 106 in 2011, it will be interesting to see if the Astros can finish with fewer than 100 losses this season.

They’ll have to go 19-11, in their final 30 games, which isn’t impossible, but with it being the Astros, it’s not all that likely. It should be interesting to see if the Astros can at least finish out the year on a high note, after yet another disappointing season.

What’re you looking forward to? Leave a comment below.

My First Two MiLB Games of the 2013 Season

Opening Day for Major League Baseball took place on Monday, however, Opening Day for the Carolina Mudcats (A+ affiliates of the Indians), of hawkinsthe Carolina League, is taking place later tonight. For the second season in a row, I’m attending tonight’s game, once again versus the Winston Salem Dash (A+ affiliates of the White Sox), and I’m extremely excited. This year’s Opening Day game is packed with top notch talent.

For the Carolina Mudcats, while their pitching staff isn’t too fantastic, their position players include the organization’s number one prospect, Francisco Lindor, 2012 1st round draft pick, Tyler Naquin, along with top prospect, Tony Wolters, who is making the transition this season from short stop to catcher. Wolters played with the Mudcats last season, and I really enjoyed watching him play. I’m looking forward to seeing how the move to behind the plate plays out.

As far as the Dash go, the highlight of the team is undoubtedly Courtney Hawkins, who was drafted 13th overall in last year’s draft; doing a backflip afterwards. Though Hawkins won’t be doing any backflips (as far as I know), I’m looking forward to seeing the White Sox’ number one prospect in action–maybe he’ll even blast a home run. If nothing else, I’m certainly going to try for his autograph, as I’m also planning to do from the Mudcats’ Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin.

But when it comes to autograph collecting, no other game throughout the entire rest of the season will have more highly ranked prospects than 579585_10151513541113908_2023782346_nthe April 9th Durham Bulls game I’m planning to attend. Having been traded from the Royals’ organization to the Rays, in the 2012 offseason, the number four prospect in all of baseball, Wil Myers, will be there and is sure to draw a huge crowd, so autographs may be hard to come by. I’ll just have wait and see how it goes.

A few other Bulls’ players worth mentioning, that I’m hoping to get autographs from on Tuesday night, include Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee, who are the Rays’ third, fourth and fifth ranked prospects, respectively. In all, the Bulls are beginning the season with 7 of the top 20 prospects in the organization. I can’t think of a team in all of minor league baseball with more talent, which is why I’m going to be blogging about the game. It will likely be posted on Wednesday afternoon.

So that’s the basic plan for my first two minor league games of the year. I’m not sure when, or where, the rest of the year will have me going to games; the only game set in stone is the June 3rd Bulls day game, when they take on the Red Barons (Yankees affiliate). But one of the games during the series when Billy Hamilton comes to Durham with Louisville is almost a sure bet, as well. Other than that, I don’t know.

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