Results tagged ‘ Pirates ’

When Is Intentionally Hitting A Player Justafiable?

Whether it’s Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks, Red Sox vs. Rays, or Reds vs. Pirates, more and more lately have pitchers been hitting opposing teams’ star players for retaliation against what they feel a player, or the team as a whole, did to “show them up”. While there are a few baseball fans who seem to enjoy this kind of baseball, I, along with many other baseball fans, am getting somewhat tired of it all. I have no problem with evening the score when necessary, but things have gone far beyond that recently.

To me, the only time it’s “acceptable” to intentionally hit a batter is after you feel an opposing pitcher did the same to a player on your team, for130611-galleryimg-dodgers-diamondbacks-brawl-yasiel-puig-hit whatever reason. Then, if you feel the need, after you plunk the batter, that should be the end of it. You evened the score. But all of this hitting a batter because he celebrated too much after a home run, or a great play, is absolutely ridiculous.

The best way to get back at that player is to get them out. That’s your job anyway. I’ve never understood getting upset for excessive celebrating anyway. Are you supposed to just hold it all in after you hit a home run, or make a diving play? I don’t think so.

But there’s really not much that can be done to stop it. Some have suggested increasing the penalties for suspensions resulting from intentionally hitting a batter, especially when it’s up around the head, but I don’t think that would do a lot of good.

Like with performance enhancing drugs, you’re going to have players who don’t care about the consequences, no matter how great, and just do what they want. And while worsening suspension time might defer a few, there’s no fair way to do it for a pitcher. If you suspend them for 5-10 games, it’s usually only one start. But if you suspend them for 5-10 starts, they miss nearly two months. It’s all very complicated. It’s hard to say exactly what should be done.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m tired of what baseball is turning in to. It’s time to go back to striking a guy out for his past antics, instead of throwing up around his head. It’s time to stop all of this before it gets so far out of control that you’ll never return things to the way they used to be. But unfortunately, it may already be at that point.

My Baseball Game Schedule for the Rest of June

So far this season I’ve attended seven minor league baseball games–three Carolina Mudcats games, and four Durham Bulls games. In that time, I’ve been able to collect fourteen autographs, two game used bats and three game home run balls. While that’s far more than I was able to get all of last year, I’m hoping to continue adding to those totals, as I’m planning to attend as many games as possible from now until September, when the minor league baseball season ends.

The next game I’m going to is this Saturday’s Bulls game versus the Indianapolis Indians. I had originally been planning on trying to get an autograph from Pirates’ number one prospect, Gerrit Cole, at this game, but he’s set to make his major league debut later tonight, and therefore won’t be there. Thus, I’ve decided to try for autos from the Bulls players instead, that I haven’t been able to get so far this season. This includes stand outs such as Alex Colome and Jake Odorizzi, however, David Price is supposed to begin a rehab assignment with the Bulls sometime this weekend, so I’m hoping I can get him while I’m there.

If Price doesn’t happen to be at the game on Saturday, he’s nearly guaranteed to be there when I go to one of the three Bulls games against the Louisville Bats early next week. I’m going for the sole purpose of getting an autograph from Reds’ number one prospect, Billy Hamilton–I was going for Tony Cingrani as well, but he was just called back up to the Reds–but if I don’t get an autograph from David Price on Saturday, I may end up rethinking my plans. (Though that’s a hard decision to make–a guy who stole 155 bases last year, or last year’s Cy Young award winner.)

My first major league baseball game of the season, and my first since June 23, 2012, is coming on June 29th, up in Baltimore. The Orioles are set to take on the Yankees, and with it being my first time at Camden Yards, I’m really looking forward to the game, though it’s sure to be packed. I hate that Derek Jeter won’t be there, but I’m going to be trying for autos from the Yankees nonetheless, including guys like Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira, with my main targets being Ichiro Suzuki and Mariano Rivera. I’m not too confident on getting Suzuki, but with it being Rivera’s last season, and his overall fan-friendly attitude, I’m hoping I get lucky and pick up a signature from ‘Mo’.

So that’s basically it for the remainder of the month. If I don’t get an autograph from David Price on Saturday or next week’s game, I may end up adding an extra Bulls game in, so I can get Price to sign. But I’m staying optimistic that I won’t have to do that.

Towards the end of July, I’m going to be attending a Mariners-Twins game up at Safeco Field, in Seattle. This game is part of a month long road trip that will have a major impact on this blog. But I’ll wait to discuss that at some point next month….

Clayton Kershaw 1,000 K’s; A.J. Burnett 2,000 K’s

In the second inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Padres, Dodgers’ Ace, Clayton Kershaw, struck out Yonder Alonso to notch the 1,000th strikeout of his MLB career.

Clayton Kershaw becomes just the thirteenth Dodger to ever reach 1,000 K’s in their career, and the second fastest Dodger to reach the mark–beating out numerous Dodger greats, including four Hall of Famers, in Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Don Drysdale and Dazzy Vance–at just 15.2 more innings pitched than Hideo Nomo.

Kershaw would go on to lose the game, allowing three runs, on three solo shots, increasing his season statistics to 2-2, with a 1.88 ERA. The 2012 National League Cy Young winner currently sits just five strikeouts back of the 2013 strikeout leader, A.J. Burnett, with thirty strikeouts so far this season.

Speaking of A.J. Burnett, he was stellar in his Wednesday night start against the Cardinals, carrying a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, before Carlos Beltran broke it up with a double. Beltran’s hit would turn out to be the only hit Burnett would allow, as he struck out eight, over seven innings pitched. The second of those strikeouts being the 2,000th of his career, making him one of just four active MLB pitchers with 2,000 or more career strikeouts.

Burnett moves to 1-2 on the year, with a 2.63 ERA, but more impressively, 35 strikeouts in just 24 innings pitched.

Fastest & Slowest Starts to the 2013 MLB Season

We’re just over a week into the 2013 MLB regular season, and I wanted to post a blog, just like last year, on the fastest and slowest starts to the season for both entire teams and individual players. While it’s a small sample size, the list gives you an idea of what’s been taking place so far this season. Some of the players and teams are performing nearly as well as expected, but others are putting on performances that I never would’ve predicted them to begin the season with.

FASTEST STARTS TO THE SEASON

Teams:

1) Braves (6-1)

2) Diamondbacks (5-2)

3) Rockies (5-2)

4) Red Sox (5-2)

5) Athletics (5-2)

6) Rangers (5-2)

7) Reds (5-2)

8) Mets (5-2)

The Braves currently lead all of baseball with a win percentage of .857. Justin Upton has been making a major impact, hitting six home runs in the first seven games, and I fully expected the Braves to have a season long performance like the one they’re currently starting out with. The Diamondbacks, Rockies, Red Sox and Mets are all surprising me, so far, as I expected them to all have poor seasons, and while it’s still very early, at the moment, they’re making things interesting. As far as the Athletics, Rangers and Reds go, it’s not a shock that they’re doing so well. Though I thought the Rangers would have a bit of a struggle this season, without Josh Hamilton, they seem to be doing just fine. It should be interesting to see if they can keep it up.

Players:

1) Adam Jones (.500)

2) Jed Lowrie (.500)

3) Carlos Santana (.500)

4) Michael Cuddyer (.478)

5) Carl Crawford (.450)

6) Jean Segura (.450)

*Minimum of 20 AB’s

Adam Jones is the only player on the list of fastest start players that I’m not surprised with. Having recorded a 32 homer, 82 RBI season, in 2012, Jones is in the prime of his career, and is set to have another fantastic season. For Jed Lowrie, Carlos Santana, Michael Cuddyer, Carl Crawford and Jean Segura, they better enjoy the hot start while it lasts, because I don’t see any of them having an all that spectacular year. But as with anything in baseball, there’s always the chance for me to be proven wrong.

SLOWEST STARTS TO THE SEASON

Teams:

1) Astros (1-6)

2) Marlins (1-6)

3) Padres (1-5)

4) Pirates (2-5)

5) Brewers (2-5)

6) Phillies (2-5)

7) Cubs (2-5)

After beating the Rangers, 8-2, on Opening Night, the Astros have done nothing but go down hill, ever since. With 155 games left to play, and just 94 losses away from 100, it’s likely the Astros’ season will end with yet another year of 100+ losses. The Marlins, Padres and Pirates are all teams that have the potential to win now, but it’s likely to be a year or two before they start to become big time contenders in their divisions. The Brewers and Phillies are the only teams that surprise me, somewhat, on this list, but they just haven’t performed well so far this year. And as for the Cubs, they’re just being themselves; destined to make it 105 seasons without a World Series title.

Players:

1) Jeff Keppinger (.048)

2) Ryan Hanigan (.050)

3) Aaron Hicks (.067)

4) Pedro Alvarez (.080)

5) Neil Walker (.083)

*Minimum of 20 AB’s

No one on this list surprises me, other than Neil Walker. Walker is arguably the best player on the list, but he hasn’t been able to find his groove so far this season. I look for him to get things going, however, and record another season like he has the past few years–10-15 homers and 65-80 RBI’s, with a high 200’s batting average. For Jeff Keppinger, Ryan Hanigan, Aaron Hicks and Pedro Alvarez, it will be interesting to see if they get their acts together, or if this is a sign of things to come for them this season, as things can certainly only go up.

Keep in mind, while those are the players and teams with the fastest and slowest starts to the season, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played, and anything can happen. Only time will tell if the current trends will last; that’s why they play 162 games.

National League Predictions for 2013

Last year was the first time I ever made actual predictions as to how the MLB standings would look at the end of the regular season. To say I did poorly would be an understatement, but this is a new year, and with it comes a new shot at getting the predictions right. So I’m up for the challenge once again.

Unlike 2012, when I posted both my American League and National League predictions in the same blog entry, this year I’m doing separate posts for each league. I did my American League predictions on Thursday (if you’d like to check them out, CLICK HERE), so today, as the title states, I’m giving my 2013 National League standings predictions, starting with the NL East:

EAST

1. Braves

2. Nationals

3. Phillies

4. Marlins

5. Mets

With all of the offseason additions, including both Justin Upton and B.J. Upton, the Braves have a really good chance to win their division, in the minds of many baseball fans, myself included. Their starting rotation is somewhat of a question mark, being good, but not great, however, I think the lineup they currently possess will be more than enough to get the job done. This will be the first season in more than a decade in which Chipper Jones isn’t in the dugout, but I think it’s going to be an exciting year for Braves fans nonetheless.

The Nationals had a breakout season last year, bringing playoff baseball back to Washington D.C. for the first time since 1933, and all signs point to them having another great season. The only reason I have them finishing behind the Braves is that their lineup isn’t quite as lethal, although their pitching staff can compete with nearly any team in baseball. Stephen Strasburg isn’t going to be on an innings limit, as he was last season, and the loss of that stress should allow for him to thrive. I fully see the Nat’s making the playoffs yet again in 2013.

For the Phillies, I’m still yet to be convinced that they’re going to do much of anything this year. Unlike last year, the Phillies should have a healthy Ryan Howard for the entire season, who will undoubtedly improve their lineup, but with Roy Halladay struggling a bit in spring training–given it’s just spring training–and the remainder of the rotation being merely decent, I can’t see them finishing any higher than third; being that the Braves and Nationals are in the division. But the Phillies certainly have the potential to prove me wrong.

Adding tons of big name players to their roster in the offseason of 2011, everyone thought it would help the Marlins win a few more games than they did the previous year. But things didn’t go as planned for the Marlins, as they finished 2012 with even fewer wins than in 2011, and in a questionable move, decided to redo nearly the entire team during this past offseason. With the loss of so many players, combined with the way the remainder of the team–with the exception of Giancarlo Stanton–played last season, they aren’t predicted to do much in the coming year.

The only team I’m predicting to do worse than the Marlins are the Mets. Although they resigned their superstar third baseman, David Wright, for the next seven years, they traded away their 2012 Cy Young award winner, in R.A. Dickey. While that move alone isn’t going to be the make or break point for the Mets, I don’t see them winning an awful lot of games this year. I do, however, like their chances down the road, as some of their key prospects are knocking on the door. As soon as next season, I can see the Mets making some noise in the NL East.

CENTRAL

1. Reds

2. Cardinals

3. Pirates

4. Brewers

5. Cubs

After an extremely successful 2012 season, in which the Reds finished first in their division on 97 games won, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to have an equally impressive, if not slightly better, 2013. They have the same basic roster, which includes one of the best closers in all of baseball, however, the one major difference is a healthy Joey Votto, which is why I see the Reds having an even better season this year. If they acquire the speedy Billy Hamilton, who stole 155 bases in the minors last year, towards the end of the season, I could see them going very deep into the playoffs, as well.

The Cardinals are a team that’s good enough to give the Reds a run for their money, but I’m not predicting for them to win the division. The Card’s have an extremely good pitching staff, when it comes to both starters and the bullpen–though their stellar closer, Jason Motte, is expected to begin the year on the disabled list–,however, their lineup isn’t quite as good as the Reds. It’s certainly going to be fun to watch to see how it all plays out, but regardless, I don’t see them being good enough to earn even the second wild card spot, as I feel the Nat’s and Giants are going to have better seasons.

This is going to finally be the year for the Pirates, in my mind. They started off incredibly last season, with their All-Star, Andrew McCutchen, leading the way with a batting average in the high .300’s, however, when McCutchen began to struggle following the midsummer classic, the rest of the team followed suit. If the entire team can rally together and play to their full potential, for the entire season, while I don’t see them making the playoffs, I could easily see them finishing with a winning record for the first time since 1992.

If it wasn’t for Ryan Braun, the Brewers arguably wouldn’t have won nearly as many games last season, which is why I feel they’re bound to flip spots with the Pirates in the coming year. Their pitching staff isn’t what you would expect out of an above .500 ball club, but it gets the job done, nonetheless. Even so, their lineup is missing a few key components–some of which just aren’t there, and some players that are injured–for the Brewers to have any sort of a chance at a playoff run, as far as I can foresee.

All signs point to the Cubs’ streak of 104 seasons without a World Series title continuing yet another season, with there not being much chance for a successful season in 2013. They have some good, young prospects working their way up the ranks, but until they make it to Wrigley field, a few years down the road, all the Cubs can do is make it through another subpar 162 game season.

WEST

1. Dodgers

2. Giants

3. Padres

4. Diamondbacks

5. Rockies

It’s pretty much going to be either the Dodgers or Giants winning the NL West division, and if the Dodgers can play to their fullest potential, I have a good feeling they’re going to win their division. They have one of the best rotations in all of baseball, which includes former Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, along with Zack Greinke and newcomer Hyun-Jin Ryu, from Korea, and that, combined with one of the best lineups in baseball, should be enough to prevail them past the 2012 World Champion Giants, in the NL West division.

With the Dodgers winning the division, I have the Giants coming in a close second. Coming off their second World Series title in three years, the Giants are one of those teams that doesn’t have an incredible team, but make the very most of what they have. Last season, Tim Lincecum really struggled to find his groove, posting a career worse 5.18 ERA, but I see Lincecum having a bounce-back 2013 season. While a healthy Lincecum will help keep the Giants in the running for the division title, I still predict them coming up just short.

The Padres made some noise towards the end of last season, and I look for them to play more of the same type of intensity baseball for the entire 2013 season. They don’t get a lot of recognition, just because of who they are, not having made the playoffs since 2006, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t possibly be the shockers of the 2013 season. While I don’t see them finishing higher than third, with the Dodgers and Giants in the division, I’m predicting they’re going to be a lot better than most people are expecting.

Having finished with a record of 81-81, exactly .500, in 2012, I don’t see the Diamondbacks improving at all in the coming season, especially with the offseason trade of Justin Upton to the Braves, as well as promising young pitching prospect, Trevor Bauer, to the Indians. By losing a couple of players who would’ve likely made a noticeable impact for the D-back’s in the coming season, I see them finishing next to last in the division. Both their pitching staff and lineup are decent, but I just can’t bring myself to place them any higher in the standings for my predictions.

Playing in one of the best hitters ballparks in all of baseball, with the high altitude, doesn’t help out the Rockies when their pitching rotation is one of the weakest in all of baseball. Although they’ll have their star short stop, Troy Tulowitzki, back healthy–Tulowitzki only played in 47 games last year–along with veteran, Todd Helton, the Rockies’ lineup isn’t nearly strong enough to overcome their below average pithing staff. Therefore, I’m predicting a second straight last place season, in the NL West division, for the Rockies.

Leave a comment below with whether or not you agree with my predictions.

MLB Players Alternate Jobs

Before I get started with what will be my final Q and A post until after the playoffs have concluded, let me first start out by saying that yesterday’s AL and NL Wild Card games went completely opposite from what I had expected.

With the Braves having won the past 23 times Kris Medlen started the game on the mound, I though it was a sure bet that the Braves would get the win. But as you know, that’s not what happened. The Braves ended up falling to the Cardinals (6-3), thus making it their final game of 2012; and Chipper Jones’ last game of his career.

Furthermore, I fully expected the Rangers to beat the Orioles, and just like the Braves-Cards game, I was completely stunned by the end result. The Orioles pulled out the win, beating the Rangers 5-1, ending the Ranger’s chances of a third straight World Series appearance. Incredible; but that’s baseball for ya. Just because you’re the better team on paper, doesn’t mean you’ll always come out on top.

Now that I’ve given you my two cents on yesterday’s Wild Card games, I’ll now get on with the regularly scheduled blog post:

Have you ever wondered what MLB players would be doing had things not of worked out for them to play baseball? Well I did, which I why I spent last week on twitter asking players just that: “If you weren’t playing baseball what would you be doing?”

Of those who replied, some actually put some thought into it while others replied with a somewhat humorous answer. I’ll let you distinguish between the two:

Chris Gimenez–Tampa Bay Rays

Def a coach. Think it would be fun.

David Huff–Cleveland Indians

Probably either playing golf on the tour or teaching high school history.

David Aardsma–New York Yankees

Prob a model.

Denard Span–Minnesota Twins

I’d be doing something associated with sports.

Daniel McCutchen–Pittsburgh Pirates

Prob be a movie star or maye a rapper. Then again, I could always give politics a shot.

David Hernandez–Arizona Diamondbacks

I’d probably be in my 8th year of college trying to figure out what I wanna do.

Luis Exposito–Baltimore Orioles

I would find an occupation where I can help less fortunate kids and help make the world a better place!

Steve Cishek–Miami Marlins

P.E. teacher and coach.

Ricky Nolasco–Miami Marlins

Police Officer for sure.

Brandon Snyder–Texas Rangers

I always say military but who knows. My wife would say I would be a trainer or something.

Josh Lueke–Tampa Bay Rays

Professional outdoorsman like my buddy @IHuntStrong [and] @BackwoodsLife #outdoors4life

Brian Dozier–Minnesota Twins

Lead guitarist for a rock band.

Paul Maholm–Atlanta Braves

Something in golf.

Daniel Hudson–Arizona Diamondbacks

No idea. Probably coaching somewhere.

Thomas Neal–Cleveland Indians

Coaching somewhere.

Mike Olt–Texas Rangers

I would be a lion.

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My next blog post will come tomorrow evening, and will detail my blogging plans for the next few weeks. So check back for that…

Q and A With Nick Kingham

Nick Kingham was drafted out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. Since the draft, Kingham has pitched in 41 professional games (over three seasons) with a current combined pro record of 11-9, with a 3.69 ERA. Not mind boggling by any means, but certainly not terrible for a guy who’s a mere 20 years old.

Kingham–who went 6-2, with a 2.15 ERA in 2011–has gone 5-7, with a 4.79 ERA so far this season. A noticeable difference from his performance a year ago, but nothing to really concern yourself with, as although this is his 3rd year playing pro ball, it’s just his first year of full-season baseball. Give him a little more time to adjust to the longer season, and I think you’ll see this guy really take off.

If in fact Nick Kingham can find his groove in the years to come he should have no problem quickly working his way up through the Pirates’ system, and possibly into the majors. Being 6′ 5″, 220 pounds, he certainly has the frame to become a frontline starter somewhere down the road for the Buccos.

Nick Kingham–number 10 prospect in the Pirates’ 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 first started playing baseball at age 3–hitting in the back yard with my dad, playing catch and fielding ground balls. My dad has definitely been my biggest influence to play baseball. He played it growing up and so he introduced me to it at a young age, and I fell in love with it.

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

My favorite player growing up [would be] either Roger Clemens or Jeff Bagwell. I was born in Houston, Texas, and so my family and I were big Houston Astro fans. I grew to like Bagwell because of his talents and his unusual batting stance. I always tried to imitate his stance in games; or in pick up games with my friends.

3.) You were drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you found out? Initial thoughts?

I was out working with my dad. He owns a pool cleaning service back home in Las Vegas and I was out helping him the day of the draft. It was a long process after I heard I had been drafted. I got a phone call that day and then didn’t hear from my scout (Larry Broadway) again for about 2 or 3 weeks. We went through negotiations and finally reached an agreement about 2 months later, and I was signed, and started my professional career with the Pirates, in the GCL, a few days later.

4.) Being drafted out of high school, what’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed thus far between HS and pro ball?

The biggest difference between high school baseball and baseball at the professional level is that everyone in the line-up can hurt you. Everyone is capable of putting the ball out of the park, so the batters are more consistent and more patient at the plate.

5.) You’re ranked by MLB.com as the 10th best prospect in the Pirates’ organization. Does that have any effect on you–in terms of living up to the expectations?

Being a prospect in the Pirates’ organization has brought some pressure to me but not in the sense to where I have changed my game. I still go out and do everything the same as I did in high school, and just try and be as consistent as I can be everyday.

6.) Of the pitches in your arsenal, which do you feel the most comfortable with at the moment? Which do you feel needs the most work?

I feel like I am comfortable with all 3 of my pitches (Fastball, Change-up, and Curveball). I just need to be more consistent with them all. That’s the biggest thing I’ve been working on lately.

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

I think the first time someone asked me for my autograph I was a sophomore in high school. We went on a road trip and played in some tournaments and we had fans after the games asking for everyones autograph. The most unusual thing I have signed has to be a little girl [that] came up to me with a Sharpie and asked if I would sign her arm!

8.) Favorite food?

My favorite food is something I just became introduced to: Sushi!

9.) Favorite TV show?

My favorite TV show is Entourage.

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

My advice to kids that are just starting to play the game of baseball, and want to make it professionally one day, is to never give up on your dreams. Work hard at it everyday and when you think you are good enough get a little better. There is always someone out there working harder than you are–taking more hacks in the cage, running a few more sprints–so don’t ever think that you’ve reached the top, because someone will eventually pass you if you let them.

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Big thanks to Nick Kingham for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @NickKingham

Q and A With Robby Rowland

Robby Rowland was drafted out of high school by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft. Since the draft, Rowland has had his share of difficulties, going a combined 6-13, with a 7.01 ERA, over his 2010 and 2011 seasons.

After the rough start to his baseball career, the D-backs traded Rowland away to the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this season. The change of pace has turned out to be a good thing for Rowland, as he’s really turned things around in 2012 with the West Virginia Power (class A affiliate of the Pirates).

So far this season, Rowland has gone 6-3, with a 3.39 ERA. (Truly a remarkable turnaround from the 8.07 ERA he posted just a year ago.)

If Rowland can continue to improve the way he has from last season to now, he should have no problem working his way up through the ranks of the organization.

Robby Rowland–pitcher in the Pirates’ 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?

Well, mom and dad say I became interested in it when I saw my first baseball…picked it up, and threw it. They said it had good movement on it. [My biggest influence] has to be my old man. Growing up going to his games–always traveling to see him play–made me really fall in love with the game of baseball.

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

I really idolized Roger Clemens. My dad got to catch him one year with Boston and he would always talk about the type of competitor he was and how hard he worked. I want to be noticed that way as well.

3.) You were drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you found out? Initial thoughts?

It was definitely a roller coaster ride; very fun and stressful at the same time. Being still in high school I had to worry about getting good grades and making sure my academic side was all taken care of before I even stepped foot on the diamond. But just having scouts call and text you about games and what not was very cool. [As for the draft] I was watching it on my computer in the living room. Felt almost like a dream.

4.) After two seasons in the Diamondbacks’ organization you were traded to the Pirates. Were there any major differences that you noticed between the two teams/leagues?

[There's] always going to be a couple of things different, but for the most part everyone here within the Pirates organization has made the transition very smooth for me.

5.) After a couple of rough years in the D-backs organization you’ve really turned things around this season with the Pirates. What’s been the biggest difference for you, in your opinion, that’s enabled you to have this success?

I think what really saved my career was reinventing myself during Instructional league last year and in the off season. The Pitching coordinator with the D-backs was really helpful with that part. Just being able to constantly fill up the bottom half of the zone and by doing that gain the confidence back that was once there when I got drafted.

6.) What’s one thing you feel has really come a long way, in terms of your pitching, since you began your baseball career? What’s something you feel still needs work?

I’m constantly working on something. I’m a perfectionist, and there is always something I need to be doing. In high school it was so easy to blow guys away with balls right down the middle, and not have to worry about anything else. But now in pro ball, the ability to go in and out with your fastball, and change speeds, is huge.

7.) Favorite thing to do on an off day during the season?

Probably go to the movies. I’m a huge movie buff, and I go see one any chance I get.

8.) Favorite TV show?

I literally only watch ESPN…except I do like “The Walking Dead”. I don’t know why, but I’m a huge fan of zombies.

9.) With your food addiction I’m sure this is a tough one for you: Favorite food?

Wow. You’re right, very tough. But I’m going to have to go with Mom’s tostadas. I don’t know how she does it, but I could probably eat them everyday during the off season.

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

Just truly enjoy the game. It’s a game, and you have to play it that way. Have fun with it. One day, it will all be over.

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Big thanks to Robby Rowland for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @RobbyRow_12

Pair of Prospects Set To Make Their MLB Debuts

It’s been a long time coming for Mets’ number 2 prospect, Matt Harvey, and Pirates’ number 3 prospect, Starling Marte, who are set to make their MLB debuts tonight against the Diamondbacks and Astros, respectively. Neither is making their debut in front of the home fans, but rather on the road. I imagine it’d be more of a thrill for them to have the backing of the home crowd in their debuts, but I’m sure they could care less. What matters is that their hard work has finally paid off, and as a result, they’re finally getting a shot in “The Show”.

Starling Marte is due to make his debut against Astros’ starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel is 1-2, with a 4.03 ERA, so I feel he’ll be no match for Marte who’s been hot as of late with AAA Indianapolis. (With Indianapolis, Marte posted a .286 average, with 12 home runs, 62 RBI’s and 21 stolen bases.)

The plan is for Marte to play left field, where he certainly has the skills to. Marte is an above average defensive outfielder, and with his speed, has the ability cover a lot of ground to track down balls that your average outfielder might not be able to get to.

Marte’s hot bat, and excellent defensive skills, are sure to make for an exciting debut.

Matt Harvey is also sure to impress in his debut tonight against the Diamondbacks. He’ll be facing a tough lineup, however, as well as starting pitcher, Wade Miley, who’s had great success so far this season.

Through 19 games (16 of which he’s started) Miley has gone 11-5, with a 3.02 ERA. Fairly intimidating stats, but nothing that Harvey can’t match. Through 20 starts with AAA Buffalo, Harvey went 7-5, with a 3.68 ERA. Stats not too terribly far off those of Miley.

The one thing that really sets Harvey apart, in my mind, from Miley, is his ratio of strike outs per nine innings of work. Harvey posts a 9.2 ratio, compared to a mere 6.8 for Miley.

I’d be the first to state that you can’t always make a fair comparison using just stats, but in this case, it’s fairly obvious that Harvey is the overall more dominant pitcher. Which is why I feel he’ll get the win tonight in his debut.

While I feel both Marte and Harvey are going to have great debuts tonight, I want to hear what you think:

UPDATE

To answer the poll, in terms of who had the better MLB debut between Harvey and Marte, I’m not sure. It’s hard to compare a position player to a pitcher. Both did outstanding, but if I had to pick one of the debuts, I’d have to say Harvey’s was the more impressive of the two; but again, it’s a tough comparison.

Starling Marte started his MLB career off with a bang, as he sent the first pitch he faced in his Major League career over the wall for a home run:

That first pitch home run is only the 13th since the year 2000. Here’s the full list of players to smack a home run on the first pitch of their MLB careers, since the year 2000:

Starling Marte Pirates 7/26/12
Tommy Milone Nationals 9/3/11
J.P. Arencibia Blue Jays 8/7/11
Daniel Nava Red Sox 6/12/10
Mark Saccomanno Astros 9/8/08
Kevin Kouzmanoff Indians 9/2/06
Adam Wainwright Cardinals 5/24/06
Andy Phillips Yankees 9/26/04
Kaz Matsui Mets 4/6/04
Marcus Thames Yankees 6/10/02
Gene Stechschulte Cardinals 4/17/01
Chris Richard Cardinals 7/17/00
Esteban Yan Rays 6/4/00

Starling Marte would go 1-3 in the rest of the game. An impressive debut to say the least.

Matt Harvey also had an incredible debut, going 5.1 innings, striking out 11, and allowing just 3 hits. Harvey’s 11 strikeouts sets a record for most strikeouts by a Mets’ Rookie in his MLB debut.

The thing that impressed me even more than his electric stuff, was the fact that Harvey can hit. In his first career at-bat Harvey smacked the ball over the head of the center fielder (who misplayed the ball) for a double. Harvey would single in his next at-bat, to go 2-2 on the night.

Given the fact that Starling Marte homered on the first pitch of his MLB career, and Matt Harvey struck out more batters than any other Mets’ rookie in their MLB debut, I’m sure we can all agree that both Marte and Harvey lived up to the hype.

Fastest and Slowest Starts to the 2012 MLB Season

I realize that we’re JUST over a week into the 2012 MLB season, but I just thought I’d post an entry with the teams and players that are off to the best and worst starts in all of baseball. Some of the names on the lists are no surpise, however there a few that really stand out to me. I never expected the year to begin the way it has for certain players, and certain teams.

FASTEST STARTS

Teams:

1) Dodgers: 7-1

2) Nationals: 6-2

3) Rangers: 6-2

4) Diamondbacks: 5-2

5) Mets: 5-2

6) Tigers: 5-2

The Dodgers are a team that is better than advertised. They have a great lineup, including guys like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and speedy Dee Gordon, as well as an underated starting rotation. While it’s well known that Clayton Kershaw is the Dodger’s Ace, other guys are beginning to step it up, none more than Aaron Harang, who struck out 9 in a row (a new Dodgers record) in last night’s game against the Padres.

The only other teams on the list that are a surprise to me are the Nationals and the Mets. While the National’s are a team that I feel is going to be extremely good in a couple of years, I never saw them having this kind of start to the season. As far as the Mets go, they continue to amaze me.

Individual players:

1) Paul Konerko: .435 average

2) Ryan Sweeney: .429 average

3) Matt Kemp: .419 average

4) Josh Willingham: .417 average

5) Miguel Cabrera: .414 average

Paul Konerko is off to an unbelievable start. He’s really swinging the bat well, and while it’s still early, I think he can keep it up. Now I’m not saying he’s going to end the year with a batting average exceeding .400, but I am saying that I think he’ll continue to rack up hits. Ryan Sweeney is another guy who’s really impressed me so far this season. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up, or if it’s a little bit of early luck. Matt Kemp, Josh Willingham and Miguel Cabrera are all guys that I fully expected to do well this season. So there’s no real shock for the number 3 through 5 guys on the list.

SLOWEST STARTS

Teams:

1) Padres: 2-6

2) Red Sox: 2-5

3) Twins: 2-5

4) Angels: 2-5

5) Pirates: 2-5

The San Diego Padres are a team that I was hoping/thinking would have a decent season this year, but so far, they’re proving to be the same team from last year. The thing that gets me with the Padres is that they have a fantastic starting lineup, including guys like Cameron Maybin, Orlando Hudson and newcomer Yonder Alonso, as well as a decent pitching rotation, but it seems like they can only get one or the other to perform well on any given night. If they can figure out a way to have both their pitching and hitting come through at the same time they can be a really good team.

The Red Sox are another team that I thought would have a better year than they’re having. After starting out 0-6 last year, I thought they’d have a bounce back year, but their current record of 2-5 isn’t living up to expectations, and I don’t see things getting any better for them. Jacoby Ellsbury was injured in yesterday’s game while sliding into second base. He is expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks. Not good news for Red Sox fans.

Of the remaining teams on the list, the Angels are the only team that surprises me. With the addition of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Angels were predicted by many to dominate their division. So far the only dominant aspect of their games has been the other team. I look for things to turn around for them, however, once King Albert starts getting hot.

Individual players:

1) Ike Davis: .043

2) Neil Walker: .048

3) Marlon Byrd: .083

4) J.P. Arencibia: .083

5) Ryan Raburn: .091

*Minimum of 20 at bats.

There’s really no one on this list that stands out in my mind. All of them are players that perform differently from year to year. While I don’t see them getting hot and working their average up to the .300 mark any time soon, I also don’t see their streak of bad luck continuing. They’ll all bounce back.

Like I said several times, I realize that it’s still VERY early in the season. Over 150 games still remain, and things will no doubt look a lot different for both the teams and players on the above lists. Teams and players that are off to fast starts now could hit a wall and end up having a terrible year, and just the opposite for those off to a slow start. That’s why they play 162 games.

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