Minoring in Twitter: Battling boredom with shaving, baby care and TV marathons

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com

Life becomes decidedly less exciting once the offseason comes around. That’s probably not good news for this blog, since we’re less than a week into the offseason and Minor Leaguers seem to be dragging themselves through an empty reality of nothingness, at least on Twitter anyway. How sad is this:

Where once we were getting inning-ending strikeouts and double-play balls, now we’re flipping through HGTV Magazine in a dentist’s waiting room:

Wade Wass, a catcher with the Angels at Rookie-level Orem, built his day around shaving:

peav640_2cw4so2k_skncws3r

Mets pitcher Greg Peavey, who I spoke to just last week after a big win, is now on daddy duty:

Babysitting sleeping dogs and a tiny stuffed raccoon:

Bragging, to no one in particular, about your video game skills:

Memphis’ John Gast is cooking dinner with a Home Depot box and a PVC pipe. What could go wrong?

And we’ve all been here, huh? SVU binge on USA/TNT. You’ll never go jogging through Central Park again:

Some are just mindlessly watching SportsCenter…

This was not tweeted by a Minor Leaguer, but I think it’s relevant enough to show here: Julian Edelman, noted New England Patriots wide receiver and friend of the dreamy and noted Yankees fan Tom Brady, wearing a Richmond Flying Squirrels cap:

So why, you ask, was Julian Edelman wearing an Eastern League team’s hat? Fair question. Edelmen grew up in Redwood City, California, and went to Kent State in Ohio, but he claims his favorite nickname given to him by teammates is “The Squirrel.” “Guys call me ‘Squirrel’ because one time on the sideline I was yelling, ‘Don’t let me get squirrely out there,'” Edelman said.

Good story, right?

I think we all want more details on this — what happens when you work out after eating spicy Mexican cuisine?

Justin Johnson wants you to know, he’s at PF Chang’s. Fun Fact: PF Chang’s also owns Pei Wei.

Old Chinese food, as opposed to fresh Chinese food from PF Chang’s:

Gatorade’s new commercial/tribute/short film on Derek Jeter’s totally unscripted (wink, wink) but still genuinely awesome goodbye to Yankees fans is making the rounds on the Internet this week, and since 74 percent of Minor Leaguers list Jeter as their favorite player growing up (I made that up, but it’s probably not that far off), it’s been big on Twitter:

Steve Brault plays in the Orioles system but has remained a Padres fan:

Giants prospect Mac Williamson with a new haircut:

California League champion right here:

Cody Decker, sources say, is actually the guy who writes all those facts under Snapple caps:

Cargo shorts!

Baltimore’s Christian Walker doubled in his Major League debut on Sept. 17, and if he keeps it up, he’ll find himself ineligible to be featured in Minoring in Twitter:

Also Boston’s Bryce Brentz, who survived a rough offseason last year, made his big league debut after helping Pawtucket claim the Governors’ Cup:

I thought the same thing when I saw the trailer for Liam Neeson’s new movie — although it seems like most of the new suspense/action movies now have identical plots (November Man, The Equalizer):

Ian Kendall is on to you, Prison Break:

Weird:

Smoking is bad for you:

NFL drama continues:

Clayton Blackburn could just be obnoxious like the people on my train and play loud music straight out of their phones, no headphones necessary:

I think he’s talking to you, beloved Minor League umpires:

In the world of first-world problems, Minor Leaguers were forced to decide whether they want iOS 8 for their iPhones this week. You don’t want to have the phone updating while you could be en route to/at Chipotle, though:

One person favorited this:

Or just the pain of waiting for your iPhone 6 to arrive:

Here’s Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant at Wrigley, where he is not yet allowed to play:

Twins prospect Nick Gordon looks like he’s dressed for __________________:

One of our very own MiLB.com writers would probably be down for this:

Chipotle Tweets of the Week

It’s no secret that statistics say most Minor Leaguers won’t ever reach the Majors, and so with that in mind, players need to plan ahead. Like, maybe they open a fresh Mexican fast food establishment?

Final Grades: Under-the-radar prospects

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com

Predicting how a season will turn out is a difficult task, but back in April, the MiLB.com staff decided to make a few bold predictions and choose a player from each league whom we thought would have a breakout campaign. Some players flourished and reached the next level, while some fell victim to the injury bug and others just didn’t have a great year.

The players received a progress report in June, but here is a look at just how well they did after the completion of the Minor League season with a grade on each prediction.

 Stats are updated through games of Sept. 14.

International League: Christian Vazquez, Pawtucket
After a strong Spring, the catcher continued his hot hitting into start Summer. As the Red Sox No. 10 prospect at the time, he was named to the International League All-Star team, hitting .342 over his last 10 games before he was called up to Boston on July 9. Since making his Major League debut, Vazquez is hitting .207 with 15 RBIs over 45 games and has thrown out 10 of 23 would-be basestealers from behind the plate. Grade: A

(more…)

Minoring in Twitter: Kris Bryant gets a cat, goes grocery shopping

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com

People really, really like Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant, especially (we assume) his girlfriend, who snapped this gem of him pushing a shopping cart through the Halloween aisle of a grocery store. Yes, the offseason has arrived for many Minor Leaguers, and no, Kris Bryant, for reasons we’ll never understand, didn’t get called up to Chicago, so he’s stuck stocking up on Fritos, corn nuts, sunflower seeds and posing with a real estate agent’s ad:

According to the caption, he was donating the food. How can baseball fans fall even further in love with the slugging third baseman? Cats. People love cats on the Internet, and they also love Kris Bryant, and — awwww, he named it Wrigley! And it lives in a box!

Important questions to think about now that the Minor League season is in its final hours:

 

Mariners third-round pick Tyler Pike has left behind Double-A Jackson to live the life of Larry the Cable Guy:

Salem-Keizer catcher Hunter Cole needs to jam out in front of his TV. Please help:

Yes, we can confirm, some people do indeed work at Walmart:

Erie’s Will Startup, best known in these parts for his 2008 Moniker Madness win and literal baseball artistry, has moved on from baseball to “trenching,” whatever that is. And whatever that is, it appears to be dangerous:

El Paso’s Rico Noel needs a scratch:

Minor Leaguers reacted to the ongoing drama unfolding in the NFL surrounding former Ravens running back Ray Rice and commissioner Roger Goodell. It’s an ugly story, and it’s spawned plenty of opinions:

 

 

 

 

Like most of us, players recognized the 13th anniversary of September 11 on Thursday:

Cubs prospect Corey Black (traded by the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano) is hanging on to summer:

OK, we get it, just go already:

Are you guilty of ignoring Rangers catcher Jose Trevino?

OK, Jack, thanks for letting us all know:

The offseason is all planned out for Salem Red Sox right-hander Joe Gunkel:

Xavier Scruggs looking sharp, looking at himself in his iPhone screen instead of the mirror. Whatever works man:

Do not skip the leg press if you see Josh Banuelos near you at Planet Fitness:

Yeah, take that, Paris:

Earlier this week we found out about two new iPhones and an Apple Watch. An improved iPhone 6 camera only means improved Minor Leaguer selfies, which means better Minoring in Twitter content. First, players need to decide which model to get:

Ah yes, the iPhone 6 Plus Chipotle Edition:

Read this in a Stewie Griffin voice:

Either way man. Upgrade:

Brewers first-round pick Jake Gatewood driving around like a first-round pick:

Something about clans:

Daytona catcher Ben Carhart is a big fan of Emilio Estevez:

Look, a bed:

Chipotle Tweets of the Week

Let’s all keep Todd Van Steensel in our thoughts as he embarks on this next stage of life (in Australia) without burritos:

Progress report: Evaluating the graduates from MLB’s top 50

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com

As it does before every season, MLB.com released its 2014 ranking of the top 100 prospects in the game in March. As the season progressed, some of these players “graduated” from the ranking upon acquiring 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched or 45 days in the Majors. This is a look back at which prospects graduated from MLB.com’s top 50 and how they’ve done in their first collective tastes of the Majors. If nothing else, it should serve as a reminder that Major League Baseball is incredibly hard.

All stats are through games of Sept. 9.bogaerts_544

2. Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox): It’s been a rough first full season in the Majors for the talented shortstop, who had a career .862 OPS in the Minors. He’s slashed only .235/.300/.356  with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 129 games while being moved between shortstop (his life-long position) and third base for the Red Sox. To drive the point home, his OPS+ is 84 and is bWAR was 0.1, indicating that he did little to play above replacement level as a rookie. The good news: he’s still only 21. There’s plenty of time for him to develop, and that could happen once he’s settled on a position. One more quick note: Bogaerts’ OPS+ in 83 games as a shortstop was 116; in 44 games at the hot corner, it was just 43.  (more…)

Minoring in Twitter: Embracing the early offseason vacation

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com

Happy days have arrived for those Minor Leaguers who weren’t fortunate enough to a) make the playoffs or b) get a September big league callup. They’re free of long bus rides, sharing hotel rooms, being away from Chipotles and the general grind and life of a Minor Leaguer. Based on my research, which you’re about to see, most players have run off to beaches with dogs and fried food. Enjoy:

Jacksonville’s Austin Barnes reveals that, away from baseball, he’s a dirty mess:

Deck McGuire playing video games with his dog:

More dogs:

Some have gathered around fires:

Some are already on the beach:

Some, like Mike Yastrzemski, have moved on to other sports:

Joe Gatto, the Angels’ second-round pick in June, finally gets to play with his gigantic toy:

Oakland’s Billy Burns gets a head start on Halloween:

Modesto’s Mike Piazza is focused on fishing:

More food:

Wow, Warwick Saupold flew 28 hours back to Australia for his offseason:

Lansing’s Brad Allen … had a baby? Knows someone else’s baby? Found a baby and posed for a photo?

Not sure what this is, but Rays No. 15 prospect Riley Unroe, now away from clubhouse pre-game meals, was hungry:

But for those in the playoffs? It’s go time:

Minor League Bus Drama Tweets of the Week

As the season ends, we’ll be running out of good content for bus stories. So, appreciate it while it lasts. Corey Black isn’t holding back, either:

#milbprobz

What a feeling:

Moving on, Alabama in late summer has to be pretty humid:

Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon has begun increasing his throwing program in his comeback from Tommy John surgery. Here he shares a video throwing from 75 feet inside a local gym:

I usually try to tie in current events and notable news items to this blog — the World Cup excitement, Johnny Manziel being drafted, etc — and I can report that, this week, I could not find a single Minor Leaguer tweeting about Joan Rivers or ISIS. But fungus-covered flip-flops? Yep:

Grab your shower shoes!

I see this in Manhattan every single day during the season:

Chipotle Tweets of the Week

Of course he was:

One MiLB.com writer’s league-by-league Pitcher of the Year picks

By Sam Dykstra/MiLB.com

As we did yesterday with MVP choices, today we discuss which hurlers were deserving of the Most Outstanding Pitcher of the Year Awards in their respective full-season leagues.

Ken Jancef/MiLB.com

Ken Jancef/MiLB.com

International League: Anthony Ranaudo, Pawtucket – I hemmed. I hawed. I hemmed again over this pick. (And it’s only the first one!) That can’t be true, you might be saying — this should be easy. Ranaudo led the league in wins (14) and ERA (2.61) and was third in WHIP (1.20). In the words of Dirk Nowitzki, “Shut it down, let’s go home.”

Dig a little deeper though, and the shine of his season starts to come off a little bit. His 7.2 K/9 isn’t spectacular, his 3.5 BB/9 is rather average and his 3.86 FIP is about average. But here’s the deal – in terms of overall resume, Ranaudo’s still looks like the best when you weigh everything point by point. Syracuse’s Taylor Hill, who was second with a 2.81 ERA and first with a 1.12 WHIP, might be his closest his competition, but even the Nationals prospect’s faults (4.23 FIP, 5.3 K/9) drag his candidacy to below that of Ranaudo. Trevor May (2.84 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 8.6 K/9, 1.16 WHIP) would be another good option, if only he hadn’t been limited to 71 percent of Ranaudo’s innings (98 1/3 vs. 138). Same goes for Liam Hendriks (108 1/3 IP, 2.33 ERA, 2.67 FIP) before he moved to the Royals and the PCL in late July. Also, Joey Gallo’s sheer dominance of the Carolina and Texas Leagues, those are not. So in light of other options, Ranaudo it is. (Actual POY: Ranaudo(more…)

One MiLB.com writer’s 2014 league-by-league MVP choices

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com

For about the last week or so, league after league in the Minors has announced their postseason All-Star teams and end-of-season awards. So now that the individual circuits have had their collective says — aided by coaches, front-office people and local media — it’s time for the PROSPECTive blog to weigh in on who should have won the MVP awards in each of the 10 full-season leagues.

Ken Inness/MiLB.com

Ken Inness/MiLB.com

International League: Steven Souza Jr., Syracuse – This is about as easy a pick as you’ll find on this post. Souza was the best player in the league from beginning to end in what was the 25-year-old outfielder’s best season by far in the Minors since he was a third-round pick back in 2007. Souza won the IL’s slash-line Triple Crown with an impressive .350/.432/.590 showing, and that alone would be good enough to give him the nod in this space. But for good measure, he tacked on 18 homers, 75 RBIs and 26 steals in 96 games with the Chiefs as a means of showing off his all-around offensive profile, besides helping Syracuse make the playoffs for the first time since 1998. The Nationals called up their No. 5 prospect on two different occasions, and he’s back up with the big club after recovering from a left shoulder contusion suffered at the beginning of last month. Souza hasn’t been able to get his feet under him in the Majors yet (1-for-12, four strikeouts) but has built up a resume worthy of a Major League outfield spot, either in Washington or elsewhere, in 2015. (Actual MVP: Souza(more…)

Successful September callups

By Kelsie Heneghan/MiLB.com

On Monday, Major League rosters expanded from 25 players to 40, meaning plenty of opportunities for Minor Leaguers to prove themselves at the highest level. Some players need just one September to earn a Major League roster spot, for others, it takes a couple tries to prove themselves in the final month of the season.

Here is a look at a few of the best September callups over the past five years.

Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com

Madison Bumgarner, SF (2009)

Baseball’s second-ranked prospect at the time, Madison Bumgarner led the Double-A Connecticut rotation with a 1.93 ERA over 19 starts and subsequently made his Major League debut on Sept. 8. The southpaw allowed two runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in his first start and then tossed 4 2/3 scoreless frames over three appearances from the bullpen. Bumgarner returned to the Minors for the start of the 2010 season, but it wasn’t long before he was in the Majors for good and picking up World Series wins.

 

 

Jessica Kovalcin/MiLB.com

Jessica Kovalcin/MiLB.com

 

Dillon Gee, NYM (2010)

Though recovering from a torn labrum, Dillon Gee racked up a franchise-record 165 strikeouts with Triple-A Buffalo, earning his first trip to the Majors. In his debut on Sept. 7, the right-hander carried a no-hitter into the sixth against the Nationals and picked up the win. Over five September starts, Gee notched a 2.18 ERA with 17 punchouts for the Mets. The following April, he made two starts with  Buffalo before returning to New York’s rotation.

 

 

 

Danny Wild/MiLB.com

Jesus Montero, NYY (2011)

The catcher began the season as MLB.com’s No. 9 overall prospect with the Yankees and ended it as baseball’s sixth-ranked with the Mariners. Jesus Montero led International League backstops with a .289 average and 21 homers with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before getting the call to New York on Sept. 1. There, he hit .328 with four homers and 12 RBIs over 18 games. The following offseason, Montero was traded to Seattle where he remained for the 2012 campaign.

 

Shelby Miller, STL (2012)

Allison Rhoades/Memphis Redbirds

Allison Rhoades/Memphis Redbirds

After ranking second in the Pacific Coast League with 160 strikeouts for Triple-A Memphis, Shelby Miller was promoted to St. Louis. The right-hander allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out nine over 7 2/3 innings from the bullpen before tossing six one-hit frames with seven strikeouts in his first Major League start. Miller stayed with the Cardinals during their postseason run and yielded two runs on four hits over two relief appearances in the NLCS.

 

Billy Hamilton

Ken Inness/MiLB.com

Billy Hamilton, CIN (2013)

The speedster ranked second in the Minors with 75 stolen bases as the Reds’ top prospect, and when he got the call to Cincinnati, he didn’t skip a beat. It only took 13 games for Billy Hamilton to tie the Major League lead for September swipes with 13. During that first stint with the Reds, the center fielder posted a .368/.429/.474 slash line, earning a spot in the starting lineup for 2014.

Nola’s season ends at Double-A, right where he wanted

By Mark Emery / MiLB.com

Aaron Nola shouldn’t have too many regrets as he looks back on his first season as a professional baseball player.nola pic

The Phillies’ No. 2 prospect made his final start on Friday, throwing five four-hit innings in Double-A Reading’s 3-0 win over Trenton. In 12 games (11 starts) between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Reading, the right-hander went 4-3 with a 2.93 ERA.

“I finished out on a good note,” Nola said Saturday. “It was all fun, man, but it flew by, it really did. I thought it was going to be a really long one after the college season but it honestly flew by — and I think that’s all because I was having fun.”

Less than a week after his final start at LSU, the right-hander was picked by Philadelphia with the seventh overall pick of the Draft on June 5. Just five days later, he signed with the organization, which started him out in the Florida State League.

“I feel like I made the right decision, when my college season ended and right after the Draft came, to sign early, because I wanted to get back on the mound as quick as I can and follow my college innings up,” Nola said. “I did and it all worked out for the best and I’m here in Double-A now. But who knows? If I would have signed late, like some of the guys, I would have to had to lead back up slowly throwing-wise and pitching-wise, and who knows where I would be?”

The 21-year-old made his professional debut on June 23, and in seven games (six starts) in Clearwater, he fashioned a 2-3 record and 3.16 ERA, with 30 strikeouts against five walks over 31 1/3 innings. His Reading career began on Aug. 6, and in five Eastern League starts, he assembled a 2-0 record and 2.63 ERA with 15 strikeouts against five walks across 24 frames.

“I wanted to get to Double-A. I wanted to get here, experience it in my first half-season,” Nola said. “[Next year], I’m going to go wherever they send me, but I’m just going to do like I did this time — go out and try to have my best start each time and leave everything out on the field like I usually did.”

Minoring in Twitter: Celebrating a clinch in style

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com

The Minor League season is winding down, which means the playoffs (along with college football, autumn weather, artificially flavored pumpkin drinks) are on the way. It’s also a chance to celebrate reaching the playoffs, if you’re a Minor Leaguer. Maybe like this:

And this:

Yeeeeeeeahh:

Arkansas manager Phillip Wellman (perhaps best known for his incredible ejection tirade several years ago) shared this gem:

You know it’s a serious celebration when you’re wearing a helmet:

Minor Leaguers (this being the Potomac Nationals) celebrating a division crown:

And down to the Gulf Coast League:

Cubs prospect C.J. Edwards can throw hard, but he’s a bit skinny, which makes it hard to decompress an air mattress:

Frisco’s Jake Thompson admits it: he pitched with his fly down, and he’s OK with it:

A Cal Ripken sighting:

Yankees first-round pick Ian Clarkin may not need to shop at Walmart, but he still finds it entertaining:

It’s called MiLB.com, and it’s on every night:

What is a Murray State?

Not from a player, but entertaining nonetheless, there were some ejections in Lowell when an umpire wasn’t happy about equipment in the bullpen: (more…)

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