Minoring in Twitter: Minor Leaguers rejoice at return of ‘Walking Dead’

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:

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

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A’s Organization All-Star Outtakes

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.”

On Streich:

streich_555x410

“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…)

Organization All-Stars Odds & Ends: Angels

Oladipo Awowale

Alex Yarbrough ranked third in the Texas League in batting. (Oladipo Awowale)

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.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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.

NOTABLE QUOTABLES

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.”

How they got here: The roster constructions of the Giants, Cardinals, Royals, Orioles

panel

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.

TRADES

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…)

Minoring in Twitter: Love/hate Katy Perry

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.

Katy Perry

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:

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Giants Organization All-Stars outtakes

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.

13677421753_b0f3937b82_k

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…)

Five more intriguing AFL players to watch

MiLB: AUG 26 Class A Advanced - Daytona Cubs at Dunedin Blue Jays

Cliff Welch/MiLB.com

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.

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Padres VP talks Hedges, Wisler and Renfroe

By Mark Emery / MiLB.com

Padres fans might have been surprised to look at the club’s 2014 Organization All-Stars and see that catcher Austin Hedges, right-hander Matt Wisler, lefty Max Fried and outfielder Hunter Renfroe did not make the cut, considering they’re the top four prospects in the system as ranked by MLB.com.

While Fried made only five starts before undergoing Tommy John surgery, the other three played full seasons. Randy Smith, the Padres’ vice president of player development, shared his thoughts on the 2014 performances of Hedges, Wisler and Renfroe while offering his expectations for each moving forward.

Hedges, San Antonio (113 games): MLB.com’s No. 22 prospect batted .225/.268/.321 with six homers, 44 RBIs, 23 walks and 89 strikeouts. Over 953 2/3 innings behind the plate, he threw out 50 of 131 (38 percent) runners trying to steal. (more…)

Minoring in Twitter: Verlander rear-ended, Minor Leaguers freak out over Ebola

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com

Even though the CDC quickly reassured Americans that Ebola “poses no significant risk to the United States,” the virus’ terrifying hold on the public has spread even as far as the Minors. Have you recently touched the blood of an infected Ebola patient? No? You’re probably good to go then. But…

In America, one guy has it. Not so much an outbreak, but…

The difference between Bryce Harper, who’s in the playoffs, and his brother, who is in the kitchen:

Hashtag Billy Beane:

Another bad idea:

Ben Verlander isn’t having a good week:

Neither is this guy:

Will Startup shows off some classic ball art:

Yankees prospect Eric Jagielo will miss the Arizona Fall League after getting hit in the face with a pitch. He actually looks pretty good, considering:

Ever wake up and immediately think about when you’ll be able to go back to sleep? Right? Like every morning, pretty much?

Hungry?

What about ketchup?

Stick to Chipotle:

Perfect:

Is that the new iPhone 6?

Lake Elsinore’s Hunter Renfroe is ready for the offseason:

So is Dace Kime:

But how was the food?

What an amazing world we live in (minus the Ebola):

Yikes:

Luke Jackson needs sunscreen:

Hitting golf balls is a full-body workout:

JP Crawford’s prediction before a ho-hum Wild Card game:

Offseason conditioning meets helping your friend move apartments:

Prospects doing some pre-Wild Card trash talking:

How’d he die? Too much driving:

Derek Jeter’s career is over, and the young New York native shortstop the Yankees drafted to potentially replace Jeter? He’s watching Disney movies:

Todd Van Steensel, separated from Chipotle and Jimmy John’s, is now stuck with a new problem back home:

Daniel Norris getting ahead of himself:

Beats old peanut butter, right?

Big day coming up for Ty Kelly:

Setting your goals high:

Breaking news:

Breaking news, Part II:

Never heard of this holiday, have you?

Who knew?

Taylor Swift thinks about this too:

Chipotle Tweets of the Week

Duh. No debate:

Close call:

Looks good. Chipotle quality though?

Organization All-Stars Odds & Ends: Rockies

freeland

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com

Our Rockies Organization All-Stars were announced this week, but Colorado’s senior director of player development Jeff Bridich had even more to say about some of the top talent in his club’s system.

NOTABLE QUOTABLES

On eighth overall Draft pick Kyle Freeland: “We were really happy with Kyle’s first season. It’s tough not to be. We were very up front with how we hoped it would go with Kyle. We were going to set up a pretty strict pitching regimen for him with a target innings pitched and pitches thrown, wanting to make this first season for him meaningful but not detrimental physically in any way, real similar to what we did with Jon Gray last year. In some ways, that freed him up. He knew exactly what was in store and was able to compete to his highest ability within the framework of what was set out for him. He went out and did just that.

His stuff, you can see it. He’s got stuff. He’s got control and command of pitches to a very high degree, which might very well be the separator for him in terms of the path that his career takes next year and the year after that. He was a pro when we said we were shutting him down in the playoffs. He was a pro about that, fully understanding of the reasons why. He still obviously wanted to compete and be a part of that playoff experience, but it was what it was. He really made the most of the opportunity he was given in his first season of professional baseball, even though there were some limitations on it. He’s a standup professional thus far. He came to work every day, had a plan, had a point to being there every single day to try to make the best he could out of that day to try and get better, to learn. He’s been great thus far.”

On 2010 first-rounder Kyle Parker: “Positionally, he still needs to take some more steps. That’s really not a surprise based on that he’s only been playing first base for a year and a half now. Really not even that because he got sporadic time last year and then went to the Fall League and did it for a while. There definitely needs to be some improvements defensively there, and I think there will be because he works hard at it. Some of that is just going to come from playing the position more and more where it will be second nature.

Offensively, I think it was a good year for him. I think he was challenged well. He didn’t get a lot of time at the big league level, even in September, but he was challenged with probably the best pitching and most diverse pitching that he’s ever seen at the Triple-A level. You’re not hitting against a bunch of young kids anymore. You’re facing some older veteran-type guys, and you have to make adjustments quickly. You have to learn how to adjust and why. His raw tools and raw talent, based on the numbers he put up, show you the type of baseball player he is and the type of player he can be. He had almost 50 extra-base hits at the Triple-A level and missed a couple weeks of time because of his participation at the Major League level. From the profile perspective as a corner bat, he still very much fits that.

Now it’ll be knowledge, the lessons he needs to learn as he hopefully translates and moves up to the big league level. It’s been good, the time that he spent there in June and July and also in September, to be able to see what big league hitters do and what big league pitchers are doing against our hitters. It’s all a learning opportunity for him.”

On 2013 first-round pick and No. 1 Rockies prospect Jon Gray: “At this point, no surprise, Eddie (Butler) is a little bit closer to the big league level than Jon. Neither one has completely broken through that ceiling and solidified anything at the Major League level. For Jon, it was his first full year, his first full professional season. For a pitcher, for a starter, I think in his own mind, he expects to pitch a lot of innings. Certainly for the organization, that’s how we see him impacting us in the future, being a starter every fifth day. He’s going to be a starter and give us innings, give us a chance to win. Learning that routine and what that entails over the course of a long season, there were a lot of lessons that I think he learned this year that you can’t learn in college and can’t learn in high school. He was pushed and learned them at a tough level. I think that in the long run, that’s going to be good for him.”

On No. 2 Rockies prospect Eddie Butler, who made his Major League debut in June: “Eddie, it was a little bit back and forth, up and down in terms of going up, pitching five innings, getting hurt and spending a lot of time on the DL. Eddie’s quite a talent in terms of what he brings to the table as a pitcher. I think that if you’d ask him, his year probably didn’t go exactly as he’d envisioned it, but again, there were a lot of lessons learned in between Double-A and the big leagues for him in terms of what it takes to succeed at the Major League level especially and how that’s going to happen for him. For (Butler and Gray), the sky’s still the limit in terms of their ability, and 2015, I would imagine, is going to be a really productive year. It’s tough to say where they will be starting out or where they’re going to end up, but in terms of adding the lessons learned to the talent they have, 2015 should be big seasons for both of them.”

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