Results tagged ‘ Jake Hager ’

Recapping My 2016 MiLB Season

Last year I did a post at the end of the 16 games I spent out at a baseball park recapping my 2015 MiLB season. With the 2016 MiLB season now over for me, I wanted to once again post an overview of the games and of the autographs I received this year. In all, I managed to make it to thirteen baseball games this season. It was a great year, full of fun, and I thought I’d take the time to recap it all:

April 19th — Salem Red Sox Vs. Carolina Mudcats

Game one of the year turned out to be a rather good one. Before the game, I was able to get Rafael Devers and Joe Oliver to sign a couple of cards, as well as Andrew Benintendi (he amazed everyone and actually signed cards — something he claimed to never do) and Angel Berroa, who both signed a card apiece. The big miss on the day was Yoan Moncada, who ignored everyone. But I had already gotten him last season, so I wasn’t overly disappointed. After the game — which lasted 12 innings, and ran roughly four hours — I was able to get Braves top prospect, Dansby Swanson, to sign a 4×6 photo, in addition to a card:

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April 24th — Indianapolis Indians Vs. Durham Bulls

Following a good night five days earlier at the Mudcats, I was really looking forward to this game. I was able to get Mel Rojas Jr., Trevor Williams and Tyler Glasnow to sign a card before the game, in addition to Cory Luebke signing two cards. After the game, I ventured outside and picked up Jameson Taillon and Cole Figueroa on a couple of cards each, with Josh Bell signing one card after coming back from buying pizza. The biggest misses on the day were Jung-Ho Kang, who was rehabbing but didn’t sign for anyone, as well as Alen Hanson. But overall, it was a good evening for autographs:

DSCN7808May 12th — Buffalo Bisons Vs. Durham Bulls

I wasn’t sure how great this game was going to wind up, originally. The Bisons didn’t have a single one of the Blue Jays’ top 30 prospects heading into this game, yet I headed out to the ballpark anyhow. Things turned out to go amazingly; so good that I have to put it in two separate pictures. Before the game, I received three autographs from former Red Sox pitcher Bob Stanley, and two from Pat Venditte, David Aardsma, Fausto Carmona (now named Roberto Hernandez) and Alexi Casilla:

DSCN7809Then, after the game, I was able to do just as good as pregame, getting Matt Dominguez and Tony Sanchez to sign a card, with Domonic Brown, Jesus Montero and Drew Hutchinson all signing a handful:

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May 16th — Lynchburg Hillcats Vs. Carolina Mudcats

There weren’t a ton of top prospects on this team, with the main two players being Bobby Bradley and Justus Sheffield. Due to Sheffield starting the game, I was only able to get Bradley, Dorssys Paulino (on three cards) and Anthony Santander before the game. But after the game, Justus Sheffield was nice enough to sign a card, as well as Yu-Cheng Chang on a 4×6 photo:

DSCN7811May 31st — Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders Vs. Durham Bulls

I didn’t do all that well inside before the game, getting just Aaron Judge and Chris Parmelee (on two cards), but outside allowed me to redeem myself. There were probably around 50 people waiting around for Nick Swisher, who has always been a fan favorite — and Swisher didn’t disappoint. He stuck around for nearly ten minutes, signing autographs for everyone who wanted one, taking pictures, and simply being himself and joking around with the crowd. It was an awesome experience. After getting Swisher on two cards, I also obtained Cesar Puello and Jake Cave on a card, as well as Ben Gamel on a 4×6 photo:

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June 3rd — Gwinnett Braves Vs. Durham Bulls

The original plan for this game was to get the few autographs I needed from the Bulls’ players before the game, and then get the many players I needed from Gwinnett outside after the game. However, things didn’t go as planned. I was able to get autos from the Bulls before the game like I wanted, but a two-hour rain delay in the second inning lead to the game starting back after 9:30. For that reason, I decided not to stick around for the game, which ended up concluding at 12:15 in the morning. Even so, I was able to get J.P. Arencibia and Daniel Robertson on a couple cards, as well as Jaff Decker and Adam Kolarek on a card each; in addition, I got Austin Pruitt on an old program, and Richie Shaffer on a 4×6 photo that I was hoping to get Blake Snell to sign as well, but was never able to due to his callup to the Rays:

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June 26th — Lehigh Valley Ironpigs Vs. Durham Bulls

I had been looking forward to this game since last season, when the Phillies had so many top prospects in Double-A that I assumed would make the jump up to Triple-A in 2016. I wound up seeing the Phillies’ top three prospects (all in the top 100) on the team. I obtained three autographs from Jake Thompson, two autographs each from Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford and Ben Lively, as well as an auto from David Buchanan, James Russell, Darnell Sweeney, Emmanuel Burriss and Darin Ruf. So, all-in-all, everything went very well, despite missing out on a few key players such as Andrew Knapp and Edward Mujica due to a combination of bad luck and mental errors:

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July 6th — Syracuse Chiefs Vs. Durham Bulls

Trea Turner was the obvious standout of this game, sitting as the number nine overall prospect at the time. Before the game, I wasn’t able to get Turner, but instead got A.J. Cole (he surprisingly signed, despite being the starting pitcher), Matt Skole and Michael Taylor (on a couple cards), who had just been sent down. After the game, I was successful in getting Trea Turner to sign a card outside, along with Pedro Severino, and Austin Voth on a 4×6 photo:

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July 25th — Durham Bulls Vs. Toledo Mud Hens

I was most looking forward to seeing Steven Moya at this game, who I saw last year but wasn’t able to get. However, he didn’t sign before the game. Instead, I began the day by snagging former Cubs’ pitcher Jeff Pico on a few cards, and proceeded to get Dean Green on a 4×6 photo, as well as Dixon Machado and Casey McGehee on two a piece, with Jacoby Jones, Argenis Diaz and Jordan Valdespin each signing one for me. Then, outside after the game, I got Bobby Parnell, John Hicks and Steven Moya (finally) on two cards:

DSCN7819August 2nd — Carolina Mudcats Vs. Winston Salem Dash

There was really no pressing reason for me to attend this game, other than the fact that I hadn’t been to a Mudcats game in around three months, and I was missing it. (And, of course, I knew it would be my last game there of 2016.) Even so, I made the most of it, getting autographs from 2016 first-round draft pick Zack Collins, as well as Telvin Nash, Jose Bautista (not THAT Jose) on three, Brett Austin on a card, and Jordan Stephens on a photo. After the game, I got Travis Demeritte on a couple cards, Braxton Davidson on a card and Sal Giardina on the program for the night:

DSCN7820August 7th — Gwinnett Braves Vs. Durham Bulls

I had already seen Gwinnett once this season, but I was trying for autographs from the Bulls players at that time. This time around, I was solely going for Gwinnett, as they still had a great team. I ended up doing fantastic, getting Omar Infante, Matt Lipka, Rio Ruiz, Aaron Blair, Rob Wooten, Jason Hursh and John Gant before the game:

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Then, after getting Ryne Stanek following the final out, I ventured outside and obtained a signature or two from Matt Wisler, Michael McKenry, Reid Brignac, Chris Ellis, Matt Duffy (on the blank-auto card), Curt Casali, Eury Perez and another from Rio Ruiz:

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August 19th — Norfolk Tides Vs. Durham Bulls

I don’t really have that much to say about this game. My mind wasn’t completely in it, and it still bugs me. For that reason, I only got five autographs, from Christian Walker, Trey Mancini, Andy Oliver, Pedro Beato and L.J. Hoes. The end.

DSCN7823August 29th — Columbus Clippers Vs. Durham Bulls

I wanted to end the season with a bang (especially after doing so poorly at the last game), and I did just that. Before the game, I was able to get Steve Karsay, Bradley Zimmer, Ronny Rodriguez, Collin Cowgill, Ryan Merritt, Michael Choice and Erik Gonzalez on a varying number of cards. Then, after getting Jake Hager and Casey Gillaspie immediately following the game, I went outside and picked up an autograph from Cody Anderson, Giovanny Urshela and Yandy Diaz, on a 4×6 photo:

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By the Numbers

Though you could take the time for yourself to add it all up, I figured I’d make things a bit easier. Here’s a numbers recap of my 2016 MiLB season:

Games attended: 13

Win-loss record for the home team: 7-6

Total runs scored (Home Team-Visitor): 53-40

Top 100 prospects seen in person: 16

Autographs from top 100 prospects: 13

Total autographs: 156

Total miles traveled to & from games: 1,240

Q and A With Jake Hager

Jake Hager was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. Since the draft, Hager has played in a total of 161 games, over eafdf6_5a6a7fdd8ce7a4ab63d32eeb5875a851_jpg_srz_390_595_85_22_0_50_1_20_0the course of two successful seasons, batting a combined .277 with 14 home runs and 89 RBI’s.

Last season alone, Hager batted .281 with 10 home runs and 72 RBI’s, including an OBP of .345, with Single-A Bowling Green. In addition to his consistency at the plate, Hager stole a total of 17 bases, showing his ability to steal a base if necessary–speed being one of the main things Hager plans to work on in the coming season.

If Hager can continue to produce the same kind of numbers, combined with his incredible work ethic, he should be able to make it to the major leagues fairly quickly. He certainly has the talent, but it will come down to whether he can keep up the performance at the plate, over the next few years. However, looking back at Hager’s professional career thus far, and even into High School, that shouldn’t be a problem, as posting great stats seems to be his specialty.

Jake Hager–prospect in the Rays organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

I started playing ball when I was about 5 years [old]. My dad inspired to me to play the game. He always brought me outside to play catch or swing the bat. Once we started tee ball I loved it ever since. Best decision I have ever made.

2.) Who was your favorite player growing up? Why?

My favorite player growing was Cal Ripken Jr. He was my favorite player because of how humble he was and how much he loved to play the game. He was a great all around player and really fun to watch. 

3.) You were drafted by the Rays in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

The draft process was amazing. Seeing all the scouts from each team come to your house and talk about your future was a lot of fun. The Rays ending up taking [me] which I had a great feeling they were because they were scouting me pretty heavy. Then on draft day–I was at my house with all of my friends and family–they called me before the draft started and said they were going to take me at 31. Then at the 30th pick they called my dad saying they were taking me at 32. We all went crazy and then once Bud [Selig] said my name it was the greatest feeling in the world.

4.) Being drafted out of high school, what’s the biggest difference you noticed between that and pro ball in your first few games, in 2011?

The biggest difference for me was the speed of the game–ten times faster than high school ball. Seeing 90-94 everyday was a huge difference, and the ball coming off every bat was just way different!

5.) What do you feel went well in 2012? What do you feel you need to work on for 2013?

Once I got my swing and my new stance down, everything started going great from there. Seeing the ball a lot better and swinging at better pitches helped me out a lot. I feel like [for] 2013 I just need to work on my speed more than anything. I am always working on my swing and defense, but I’m going to concentrate more on my speed.

6.) Is there any player you model your game after, or do you just try to do your own thing?

I honestly just try to do my own thing. I don’t worry about who I should be like or anything, I just want to be the player I can be.

7.) When’s the first time someone asked for your autograph? Oddest thing you’ve ever signed?

The first time somebody asked for my autograph was my best friend’s little cousin, when I was high school. That was the first ever ball I had signed. The oddest thing I have ever signed is [a] drawn picture of me in a Rays outfit!

8.) Favorite food?

My favorite would have to be grilled chicken right off the grill.

9.) Favorite TV show?

My favorite TV show is ‘Dexter’.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

To always work hard and don’t let anybody get in the way of your dream. Stay humble and work for your dream.

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Big thanks to Jake Hager for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @JakeHager1