Daniel Norris was the MiLB.com’s staff pick for the Breakout Prospect of the Year Award in the 2014 edition of the MiLBYs.
The full story about Norris’ rise from the Florida State League to the Majors is live on MiLB.com right now, but here are some more quotes about his strong 2014 campaign that didn’t make it in the piece. The words come from Norris, Dunedin Blue Jays pitching coach Darold Knowles, New Hampshire Fisher Cats pitching coach Jim Czajkowski and Buffalo Bisons manager Gary Allenson.
By Danny Wild / MiLB.com
St. Louis Cardinals rookie outfielder Oscar Taveras died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on Sunday afternoon. The news was crushing to the baseball community as players, coaches and teams reacted on Twitter to the stunning tragedy:
One of Taveras’ former coaches, Phillip Wellman, was crushed by the news:
Of course, Major Leaguers reacted as well:
The Mets were among many teams to add a personal message:
By Danny Wild / MiLB.com
People continue to notice that guy in an orange Marlins jersey sitting behind home plate at every postseason game:
Who is he? His name is Laurence Leavy, and he owns a law firm in Florida. The 58-year-old claims he’s been to around 100 World Series and Super Bowl games. Must be nice to have a bazillion dollars and that much free time.
Leavy claimed the Royals tried to make him move seats, out of view of TV cameras. From the Miami Herald:
“The owner of the Royals was extremely upset that I was there,” Leavy said Wednesday. They offered him a private suite if he would move. They tried enticing him with free World Series goodies if he would get rid of the jersey. No way, Marlins Man said.
Nice. But either way, Minor Leaguers weren’t entirely pleased:
We’ve figured it out — he has money and wants attention:
Even Bryce Harper chimed in:
Time to leave, says Foster Griffin:
So, yeah. Now he’s Internet famous and will haunt you the rest of October.
Moving on, the secret to improving your swing? Here it is:
Blue Jays prospect Dalton Pompey says he’s never found anything he’s lost:
Padres Minor Leaguer Ryan Miller showing off his orange Camaro at the gas pump:
Kenny Wilson had an encounter with his dog. Admittedly, I needed to refer to Urban Dictionary to fully understand this one:
Duh. They’re reading Minoring in Twitter:
Whatever helps burn calories, right?
Luke Jackson shows off an old portrait:
A bike ride through farm fields and rolling green mountains. Nice offseason:
Or would you prefer blue skies and sunny beaches?
Meanwhile, Michael Chavis isn’t embracing the nature surrounding him:
Here’s that photo of Fat Burt you’ve been waiting to see:
Dace Kime had sushi with his mom, just so you’re aware. Stuff like this is what Twitter was intended for:
Minoring in Twitter favorite Todd Van Steensel has a special note for his fans:
Behold, a SeaHawks Jack-o-Lantern:
Someone was very hungry:
Hard to top onion strings:
Michael Kopech is getting a little discouraged:
White Sox speedster Micah Johnson wasn’t knocked out by Breaking Bad, one of the most acclaimed, awarded and popular show in decades.
Hunter Cole is having a rough day:
Need some quick cash? Here’s your man:
Corey Black has a mess to clean up:
Whenever I see people using this totally not real word, I think of that poor guy detained in North Korea:
Trevor Gretzky seemed to be the only Minor Leaguer to acknowledge the incident in Ottawa this week:
Need a surfboard?
Homemade BBQ sauce. The offseason can only go down from here, huh?
Ketchup is delicious:
Chipotle Tweets of the Week
By Danny Wild / MiLB.com
Minor Leaguers, like millions of other ordinary, non-baseball-playing Americans, love zombies. Sunday marked the end of a seven-month wait as AMC’s The Walking Dead finally returned. Season 5’s premiere (which incidentally included a new character wearing a Detroit Tigers cap — he survived about as long as the actual Tigers did this postseason.) attracted a series-high 17.3 million viewers, some of which were the very Minor League players we may or may not want with us on a zombie takeover survival team:
The Oakland Athletics Organization All-Stars debuted today on MiLB.com, but Keith Lieppman, the A’s director of player development, had even more to say about the players featured.
On Chris Lamb:
“I think he’s on that fast track to Double-A after what he did in Stockton. He and this other pitcher, Seth Streich, both of those guys did a great job.”
“Streich, that was his second full year, he had a little arm problem, got a little tired. But up until then, he was the No. 1 starter in Stockton. Quality innings, fills the zone up with strikes and he’s a great competitor.” (more…)
By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com
The Angels Organization All-Stars were published Monday, but like many of these lists, there wasn’t quite enough room for all of the top performers. Here are the honorable mentions and bonus insight from Angels director of player development Bobby Scales and Class A Advanced Inland Empire manager Denny Hocking.
Second base — Alex Yarbrough, Arkansas (136 games): After leading the circuit with 155 hits and 38 doubles, Yarbrough was crowned Texas League Player of the Year. The club’s eighth-ranked prospect actually experienced dip in most offensive statistics as he transitioned from Class A Advanced Inland Empire ast season to Double-A Arkansas.
Left-handed starter — Michael Roth, Arkansas (22 games), Los Angeles (seven games): Roth topped all Angels starters with a 2.62 ERA and ranked second in wins (11), earning three trips to the Majors. Although he kept down his run total, the 24-year-old averaged only 3.6 strikeouts per game.
Scales on Dennis Raben’s transition from independent ball: “He was getting on base, showing some power, and we had a need at the time when we went and got him. We needed a little bit older player to act as a stabilizer in that lineup in Inland Empire and to provide some punch. He didn’t have it off the bat. He struggled pretty mightily when he got here, but boy, he figured it out.”
Hocking on Shawn O’Malley’s success since signing with the Angels: “Sometimes a different shirt goes a long way, for whatever reason. He wasn’t the first guy to have that happen to and he won’t be the last, that’s for sure. He put on a different uniform and sometimes a different environment, sometimes things click for you.”
Hocking on Chad Hinshaw’s defense: “He gets a good jump on balls. From a manager’s perspective, as I’m sitting in a dugout, I see a ball hit and I immediately look at the center fielder that I anticipate making the play; and he’s already one, two steps into his route. So he’s a special kind of player.”
Hocking on Sherman Johnson’s determination to be the best: “To Sherm’s credit, he had the opportunity to go over to shortstop this year when we didn’t have Jose Rondon due to an injury and he wound up logging about 21 games at shortstop. And he made the transition from second base to shortstop because he wanted to be the best shortstop in the league — and it was a league with talented shortstops. I mean, (Dodgers prospect Corey) Seager, (Astros prospect Carlos) Correa, (Padres prospect) Diego Goris, (Athletics prospect Daniel) Robertson and there were a lot of very talented shortstops in the league and he worked super-hard to be mentioned with those names. And it didn’t matter how long he was going to be at that position.”
Scales on Tyler DeLoach’s demeanor and success: “It’s funny. You see him in the stands, you see him walking around and you don’t think you’re going to get that kind of competitive drive out of him, but when he’s on the mound, he’s a competitor and he has tremendous command of his fastball, 92, 93 (mph). He has a little slider and a pretty good feel for his changeup, and he’s going to attack you. That’s what he does. He’s going to come out and attack you. And there’s no frill, there’s no frills to it, he’s just going to come right after you. You kind of look at him like, ‘How is this guy beating me?’ But you’ll go 0-for-3 with a punchout and that’s your game, so we’re excited about him.”
By Sam Dykstra/MiLB.com
With the League Championship Series slated — and I use that word hesitantly, given the precarious weather forecasts in both Baltimore and St. Louis — to begin Friday, it’s an appropriate time to look at how the final four teams got here. No, not how they did in the LDS. (For the record, the Orioles and Royals swept the Tigers and Angels, respectively, and the Giants and Cardinals needed four games apiece to beat the Nationals and Dodgers.) Rather, it’s a good spot to look at how these franchises constructed the 25-man rosters they will use as they march toward the World Series.
Here are their rosters broken down by those acquired by trade, the Draft/international free agency and regular free agency.
Orioles (12) — Brad Brach, Tommy Hunter, Andrew Miller, Bud Norris, Chris Tillman, Nick Hundley, J.J.Hardy, Kelly Johnson, Jimmy Paredes, Alejandro De Aza, Adam Jones, David Lough
Royals (nine) — Tim Collins, Wade Davis, Jason Frasor, James Shields, Erik Kratz, Alcides Escobar, Nori Aoki, Lorenzo Cain, Josh Willingham
Cardinals (four) — John Lackey, Adam Wainwright, Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk
Giants (two) — Jake Peavy, Hunter Pence
This comes from the magic of Dan Duquette. Since he became Orioles general manager in November 2011, he’s acquired eight of the 12 players listed above via trade, and while some are bit players, like Johnson and Paredes, there are those that have major influence. Norris went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA in his first full season after being acquired from the Astros in a deadline deal last year and tossed 6 1/3 scoreless frames in the Game 3 clincher against the Tigers. Similarly, Miller was acquired on July 31 and has continued to be one of the relievers in the game. The 29-year-old left-hander posted a 1.35 ERA with 34 strikeouts and four walks over 20 innings for the O’s after the deal and didn’t allow a hit across 3 1/3 frames in the ALDS, when manager Buck Showalter leaned on him in high-leverage situations. The above figure also isn’t counting slugging first baseman Steve Pearce, who was picked off waivers from the Yankees in late 2012 and posted a .293/.373/.556 line with 21 homers in 102 games this season. (more…)
By Danny Wild / MiLB.com
We found out this week that Minor Leaguers really like — and this will be hard to believe — college football, and maybe also Katy Perry. Ordinarily those two things are separate, but this week was a perfect storm on ESPN. Unfamiliar? Catch up quickly here.
I mean, the fuzzy pink isn’t that flattering, but we’ve seen worse:
Zach Von Rosenberg couldn’t ask for more, actually. Not even Chipotle:
By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com
The San Francisco Giants Organization All-Stars were announced today over at MiLB.com. Here’s plenty more from Giants vice president and assistant general manager Bobby Evans.
On catcher Miguel Gomez sticking behind the plate:
“We used him quite a bit at first but still see value in keeping him behind the plate. It’s just not something you want to lose, but when he gets into the system, it will really be dictated based on the makeup of the club he’s on, his feel for calling and catching a game and our projection for him and whether we think he can stay there. But it’s too early to talk about moving him at this point. We try to give as many of our catchers as possible, especially those who are athletic, an opportunity to play first because that’s strategic because you never know what will come more quickly, the bat or the defense. To get a guy like him who is offensive more at-bats, he needs to be able to play something other than catcher, because in the Minor Leagues you’re going to have the balance the days behind the plate with other prospects. (more…)
By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com
Over at MiLB.com, colleague Sam Dykstra took a look at some of the top storylines heading into this year’s Arizona Fall League season. The breakdown is pretty exhaustive, covering everything from Byron Buxton’s return to action, more playing time for Rusney Castillo, experiments with pace of play and more. It’s a good read, and I recommend heading there before continuing on here. That said, there’s always more to talk about in Minor League Baseball, and this year’s AFL is no exception. Here are a few more players who are at a particularly intriguing place in their careers as we head into the start of AFL action:
SS Michael de Leon, Texas Rangers: How’s this for a vote of confidence — the Rangers are sending the 17-year-old middle infielder to face rosters littered with players who have upper-Minors experience. Texas hasn’t been shy in pushing the Dominican switch-hitter, who hit .244 in 85 games with Class A Hickory this season, as de Leon also saw time with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco.
The teenager will be the first 17-year-old to play in the AFL in the league’s 23-year history, a move that speaks to the Rangers’ opinion of his makeup. For comparison, the next youngest infielder on Surprise’s roster is 21-year-old Trea Turner. How de Leon handles that challenge will be fascinating to watch, even though a lackluster performance won’t really indicate much about his future — there’s a lot of time for de Leon to become whatever player he’s going to be.