Thursday, February 28, 2008

Know a Cy Young!

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

As the season winds down the debate over who should take home the hardware heats up. Here is a look at the contenders and pretenders for the major awards.

NL Cy Young

Contenders: Kazuhiro Ong, Kirt Hooper: Ong's got it going on, being near the top of every pitching category. Hooper has been shopping at Dominant Pitchers Warehouse, and could bring home the merchandise.
Pretenders: Geoffery Gates, Talmadge Young: While Gates has been very good, he isn't even the thrid best pitcher on the Sluggers staff, which is frightening. Young has been riding the power of the Tyson's offense to some very good stats, but isn't quite in the category of Ong. Editors Note: Young and Hooper are interchangable in this article, please feel free to switch them as you see fit.
Dark Horses: B.C. Steenstra, Ivan Canseco: Surprise! Two more Sluggers pitchers enter the fray. Of the two, Steenstra has been incredible but hurt by poor run support. Canseco has only lost twice.
And the winner is... Ong. Bang a gong, it's Ong! Kaz finally lives up to his potential after several disappointing seasons to win his second Cy Young.

Kazuhiro Ong
Omaha
Sluggers
Age: 27B/T: R/R
Born: Osaka, JP
Position(s): P (SP2)
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AL Cy Young

Contenders: Olmedo Contreras, Albert Franco: With the injury to Philip Brown, Contreras is in the drivers seat for the Cy Young. Franco has been good, only losing twice against 15 wins so far.
Pretenders: Henry Perez, James Morris: Both Morris and Perez have been riding high run support that has masked their only above average pitching. Neither is truly dominant enough to win.
Dark Horses: Brian Wells, Gerald Kojima: Wells and Kojima are having fantastic campaigns, each throwing lights out this season. Either of them could steal the Cy Young if things go their way.
And the winner is... Contreras by a landslide. This one isn't even close at this point, Contreras is head and shoulders above the rest of the league.

Olmedo Contreras
Anaheim
Sharks
Age: 33B/T: L/L
Born: N Augusta, SC
Position(s): P (SP2)
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Know an MVP!

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

As the season winds down the debate over who should take home the hardware heats up. Here is a look at the contenders and pretenders for the major awards.

NL MVP

Contenders: Hades Booker, Jose Barrios: Barrios has more homers and RBI's, Booker has a better average and has scored more runs. Either player would be featured in any lineup. Both are solid gold choices.
Pretenders: Josh Price, Vasco Chantres: Both Price and Chantres are having fine seasons, but Price is hurt by the fact that he split time between the AL and NL, and Chantres, while enjoying a fine rebirth this season, doesn't quite have the numbers of the front runners.
Dark Horses: Milt Serafini, Domingo Montana: Serafini is tearing it up in his rookie season, and should be a shoo in for the rookie of the year award, but it will be tougher though to get the MVP. Montana is carrying the Pollocks on his back, but will it be enough to top Barrios or Booker?
And the winner is... Barrios by a hair over Booker. The Times Herald digs the long ball, and Barrios rides his power to a third MVP.

Jose Barrios
Omaha
Sluggers
Age: 28B/T: L/L
Born: Darillo, NI
Position(s): LF/1B/2B/RF/DH
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AL MVP

Contenders: Ken Puffer, Samuel Kennedy: The top two run producers in the AL, Puffer is hitting for a very high average, and Kennedy is clubbing the lights out.
Pretenders: Alfredo Cruz, Thomas Hill: Cruz may swipe 100 bags, but he can't steal the MVP. Hill is playing well, but not at the level of Puffer or Kennedy.
Dark Horses: Donte Wright, Orber Olivo: Wright is riding the New Kids reunion high and playing lights out, and Olivo is still crunk'd up with Lil' John in Helena, both could crash the MVP party.
And the winner is... Puffer by a handful. Puffer is a one man show in Scranton, and his play has helped get the Dragons further into contention than Kennedy's has helped the Dogs.

Ken Puffer
Scranton
Dragons
Age: 25B/T: L/L
Born: Dale, OK
Position(s): RF/1B/DH
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Devil's Baseball

Buster Gunns - Cobb Times Herald

The raindrops splattered noisily on giant leaves in the canopy of the rainforest above us as I followed my guide, Ernesto Hermano, deep into the jungles near El Morro, on the island of Puerto Rico, searching for the fabled "Fábrica de béisbol de diablos," the Devil's Baseball Factory. How I got to this point is tricky, as I was following a lead from a reliable source that there was something weird going on in the jungle, and it involved international recruits. I boarded my plane to San Juan, met up with my contact, and proceeded to Club Gallistico to talk about this secret baseball matter over a cockfight. In a hushed whisper, my contact told me to look to the forests for the source of baseball riches, and that he had a guide who would take me there. But the journey would be arduous, and the path would be dangerous.

I loaded up my pack at the outfitters, and together with Ernesto I went searching for the fabrica, driving through intersections without stopping to avoid the local gangs, eating fried foods at roadside stands, and being careful not to have the angels share of the local rum. After hours of tromping through the jungle we finally found it, a barbed wire enclosed compound with smoke streaming from banana leaf roofed huts. We had to hide in the brush to avoid detection, but I was able to make out several crucial details.

Of particular interest was the large number of teenage boys lined up in a seemingly military rank, throwing pitch after pitch to an equal number of young catchers, who were all calling the same pitches in a seemingly choreographed routine. Then a bell rang and with precision the players moved to the base running station, several diamonds that had been clear cut through the jungle. Grizzled looking men barked orders at them to hustle to first, slide feet first, and to collide with the catcher dummy at home plate. More than one prospect lost his teeth in this drill.

On the other side of the camp I was able to glimpse some hitting drills being carried out, as musclebound young men smashed watermelons with their Louisville Sluggers, clubbed coconuts for distance, and practiced other bizarre baseball rituals unseen in the states. Most disturbing though was the strike zone practice, where if a player swung at a pitch out of the zone, he was caned three times by the instructor.

At that point we had to make a quick exit, as an armed guard with a sub automatic machine gun was nearing our position, and I certainly did not want to be on the receiving end of it's payload. Before I left however, I snapped a couple of shots of what seemed to be the man in charge of the camp, I do not know his name, but I know that he runs a horrifyingly efficient program, and if rumours are to be believed, is responsible for much of the talent that is infusing Cobb World at this time. Now if I only knew what the payback was, as it must be significant to warrant the secrecy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Sick Ward

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

It happens every year to many teams, and every GM prays that they don't wake up to a star player on the DL. Unfortunately though real life has set in for several franchises, and some big names are now sitting at home in rehab. Here are some of the stars who have fallen this season.


The first casualty of the season was Pawtucket's Andres Franco. The career .300 hitter made it six games into the season before suffering a herniated disk in his neck. "I saw him take some swings in BP, and he looked good," said teammate Hong-Gu Hernandez, "but then he grounded out and his cut was so hard that it like twisted his neck like a snake dude. It was sick!"


The next victim of cruel fate was the New York Pick Pockets star offseason acquisition Elvis Christman. There had been whispers in camp that his tendonitis from last season hadn't fully healed, but Christman's agent was adamant that it had. Four games into the season however Christman came up lame after a pitch in the 5th inning against the team that had traded him, the Omaha Sluggers. Perhaps they knew something the rest of the league didn't.


Up next in the injury list is Wichita Wankers reliever Davey Rijo. The Wankers were counting on Rijo to provide valuable relief in the 7th and 8th innings for the course of the season. But Rijo only pitched in 9 games before the home crowd was witness to a horrifying snap of Rijo's elbow in the 9th inning of a close game. "It was so gruesome that I almost needed a bucket," said Wanker Milt Serafini. It is debatable at this point if Rijo can come back from this injury.


Perhaps the biggest name to end up on the DL was Tucson's A.J. Buck. Buck had the misfortune of suffering a herniated disk in his neck during a game against the Wankers. The injury supposedly happened when he hit a single and strained his neck trying to beat the throw. But insiders say that Buck actually suffered the injury the night before in a clubhouse hazing ritual that involved Barcelonan tower building. Regardless, his season is over.


Our next entrant into the halls of the disabled is Scranton Dragon Jose Pescado. "Joe Fish," as he is called by those in the know, suffered a bout of tendenitis in his elbow midway through his season after throwing an awkward pitch against the N.Y. Brokers. Never known as a health nut, scouts are saying that his training regimen finally caught up with him. "I never knew Jose to turn down a deep fried ding dong, or a deep fried corn dog, or a deep fried anything for that matter," said former teammate B.C. Steenstra. Perhaps now Pescado will try out that Bowflex in the weight room.


The most recent addition to the sick ward is Sioux Falls Corn Cleats ace Benito Rodriguez. Undoubtably the best pitcher for the Cleats in season 7, Rodriguez suffered a season ending torn labrum injury in the sixth inning of a "War of Southern Aggression" rivalry game vs. the Jackson Pollocks. The injury occurred on a freak play when Rodriguez tossed a wild fastball that plunked opposing pitcher Pat Grey in the head, which resulted in both pitchers crumpled on the ground in pain on the same play. "After seeing that, I am now a strong believer in instant karma," said Pollock RF Trent King.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

NL shuts out AL in All Star Game

Buster Gunns - Cobb Times Herald

The Omaha Sluggers powered the NL to a 4-0 victory in the 2nd Cobb World All Star game with 2B Bill Norton earning game MVP honors with a 2-2 performance that netted 2 runs and 3 RBI's. Slugger Jose Barrios drove in the other run, and teammate Fred McConnell scored a run as well. The only player not a Slugger to score was the Wichita Wankers Vasco Chantres, who made the most of his first all star appearance since season 2. Slugger Kazuhiro Ong pitche 3 scoreless innings, and it was Fargo Fug Nut Kirk White who picked up the win. Sioux Falls Corn Cleat closer Shane Parrish pitched 1.2 innings only 9 pitches to pick up the save. After the game the largely Omaha filled roster celebrated on the field, and thumbed their noses at the rest of the league. "We don't get the press coverage we deserve," said Barrios, "just because we play in Omaha doesn't mean we are a baseball backwater." Norton added, "Maybe now the league will take notice that the Sluggers mean business, and we're on a mission." If the all star game is any indication, the rest of the league had better watch out.

Jones Swats Zeile in Swing Off!

Valerio Velasquez - Cobb Times Herald

It was a clash of the titans at Pawtuckets McCoy Stadium in the 2nd annual Cobb World Home Run Derby as Sioux Falls slugger Vernon Jones outlasted Chicago Sabercats star Kip Zeile in a swing off of epic proportions. The derby started off with the Corn Cleats catcher serving notice to the league that he was there to win when he knocked out 11 dingers in the first round, including a derby high crusher at 527 feet. Jackson Pollocks SS Domingo Montana followed with a respectable 6 home runs, and perennial all star Jose Barrios of the Omaha Sluggers didn't perform to his potential with only 4 home runs. Corn Cleat RF Hades Booker attempted to match his teammate but came up one home run short, finishing with 10 in the first round. After Bookers impressive display, Zeile stunned the crowd with a whopping 14 home runs in the qualifying round. Newcomers Samuel Kennedy of Charlotte, R. J. Cubillan of Pittsburgh, and Brace Davey of Kansas city couldn't overcome their awe of Zeile, and only managed 4, 3, and 2 home runs, respectively.

That set the stage for the final four, where Zeile continued his home run eruption with an astounding 8 dingers, double the next highest total of 4, which belonged to Jones. Barrios and Booker bowed out with a paltry 1 homer apiece, leaving the two established clubbers to take the center stage for the finals.

Jones then took the plate to start the final round, and started off the round with a 515 foot shot that wowed the crowd. He crushed several more over 500 feet, and finished the round with 6 home runs. Zeile then stepped up to a thundering chorus of boos from the Pawtucket crowd, and belted 6 home runs to match Jones total, including several shots that barely made it over the fence. It was then left to be decided in a swing off. Jones was up first and promptly smacked a home run down the rightfield line. Zeile matched the feat with a shot to right, but Jones was up to the task and belted another home run to nearly the same spot as before. Zeile had the chance to match, but could only muster a weak fly to center, leaving Jones the victor.

After the match, Jones was thrilled. "I dedicate this win to all my peeps in Sioux Falls, and I couldn't have won it against a more worthy opponant, Zeile was amazing," said the Corn Cleat catcher. Zeile continued his media boycott and refused to comment to the Times Herald, but his agent offered a signed glossy print for the occasion. In honor of Jones derby victory, the Sioux Falls franchise will be offering a "King on the King" night, where all fans will get a free whopper from Burger King to enjoy while they watch the Corn Cleats play the Toledo Tsunamis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

If the season ended today...

Buster Gunns - Cobb Times Herald

If the season ended today, here is how the playoff picture would look.

American League
  1. Anaheim Sharks (60-31) bye
  2. Pawtucket G-Maniacs (59-32) bye
  3. Boston Heat (58-33)
  4. Mexico City Diablos Rojos (48-43)
  5. Helena Hellraisers (57-34)
  6. Pittsburgh SSP (54-37)
Last three out:
  1. Chicago Sabercats (50-41)
  2. Scranton Dragons (47-44)
  3. Los Angeles Drillers (47-44)
National League
  1. Omaha Sluggers (66-25) bye
  2. Louisville Tysons (64-27) bye
  3. Fargo Fug Nuts (58-33)
  4. Cincinnati HoundDogs (49-42)
  5. Jackson Pollocks (56-35)
  6. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats (55-36)
Last three out:
  1. Huntington Hillbillies (47-44)
  2. Syracuse Beagles (46-45)
  3. New York Pick Pockets (45-46)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

#1's - Where Are They Now?

Cortez Mack - Guido Giacoletti - Cobb Time Herald

With the season 7 draft just finishing up, it is a good time to take a look at past drafts to see where the sure thing #1 picks have ended up, and how their careers are progressing.

Season 1 - SP Elvis Christman - Tacoma Boogity Boogity Boogity
--Talented yet injury prone starter Christman has been very effective when he is healthy enough to take the mound. Traded twice, he is now sitting on the DL for the New York Pick Pockets. Injuries have prevented him from reaching his full potential, but he still has been able to accumulate 35 wins at the ML level with a career ERA of 3.76, and a WHIP of 1.26. The seven trips to the DL haven't derailed his career yet though, there is still potential that he will be a dominant everyday starter.

Season 2 - SS Enrique Guardado - Chicago Cubbies
--SS Guardado is now plying his trade in Atlanta via Huntington, and is starting to come into his own. He is suffering a bit of a hitting drop since leaving the hitter friendly confines of Eble Park, but is still a talented hitter for the Warthogs. With 119 HR's and a career BA of .296 at the age of 23, the future looks bright for Guardado.

Season 3 - SS Carlton Nelson - Los Angeles Lobos
--Gifted with the glove and the bat, Nelson is now playing for Wichita's AAA squad, and tearing it up at the plate. Kept in the minors to allow his glove to properly develop, he has a career minor league OBP of .398, and is showing that he is just about ready for the big leagues. The future is very bright for Nelson to have an award filled ML career.

Season 4 - SS Omar Lewis - Oakland Frozen Koreans
--Lewis has stayed with the franchise through it's relocations to Arizona, and is currently playing for the Devildogs big league squad as the team develops its young players together in the majors. A very good hitter in the minors, he is having some trouble adjusting to major league pitching, hitting only .243 this season. But he is still only 21 years old, and has some time to develop before management starts to look more critically at his performance. The jury is still out on Lewis, but he has the potential to be a solid performer in the coming years.

Season 5 - 2B Jamie Beimel - St. Louis Silver Sluggers
--The talented hitter Beimel has split his time between the Philadelphia and Fargo franchises, and is currently starting in LF for the Fug Nuts. This season he hasn't hit as well in Fargo, but is still a very good player who is developing his fearsome hitting skills while still producing at an acceptable level. His career OPS is already .850, and is only going to go up in future seasons.

Season 6 - Jerry Torrealba - Boise Bombers
--Playing for the Devildogs AA team one year after he was drafted, the 19 year old Torrealba is doing well with a 9-3 record and a respectable 4.13 ERA. There are high hopes for Torrealba to contribute, but he is several years away at this point.

Ron Reilly - Stud Pitcher and Savior of Ashtabula

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

Toledo Tsunamis #1 draft pick Ron Reilly has arrived with quite a fanfare to the rookie league affiliate in Ashtabula Ohio. The small town team on the Lake Erie coast isn't accustomed to quality pitching, and seeing a hurler who can throw the ball with the skill that Reilly can has caused quite a stir. "Ron is the greatest thing to happen to Ashtabula Micorpolitan Statistical Area since the coal boom," said Ashtabula Mayor Robert F. Lee. Indeed, the hubbub surrounding Reilly is helping locals forget about the state of their once fine city, documented in the website, http://trashtabula.com/.

Reilly himself is looking forward to his time in Ashtabula, saying, "I am going to bring an era of excellence not seen before in the Toledo organization, I plan on being the dominant pitcher of my time!" Reilly has backed up his claims so far and has yet to lose a game. Also of interest to the locals is how Reilly plans on spending his 3.35 million dollar signing bonus. "So far I have bought a Cadillac Escalade, because I buy American, none of those crappy foreign cars in my garages!," said Reilly, continuing, "I have also purchased the finest manor in town, in which I fully intend to party like it's going out of style once the season is ended, until then, I am all business."

Indeed, the citizens of Ashtabula are waiting with weighted breath to see how Reilly fulfills his promise for the Toledo organization, and if the towns newest adopted son will remember them once he hits the big time.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Season 7 Draft Recap - Toledo through Wichita

Draft analysis of the first two rounds by Peter Van Stoeke, Hardball Scout Specialists, special to Cobb Times Herald.

Toledo Tsunamis
SP Ron Reilly, round 1, #8: A+
--Everything about Reilly says "Ace." Which is a good thing because the GM of the Tsunamis has been unable to get any kind of pitching up to this point. Unless Reilly is stupidly rushed to the majors, he will be a dominant force for years.
CF Napoleon Scott, round 2, #52: B+
--Superspeedy CF Scott owns the basepath. He has excellent range and a great glove. Is scary good vs. left handed pitching, though his other hitting skills, notably his eye, leave something to be desired.
Overall draft grade: A-
--The Tsunamis helped their farm system immensely with their top two picks, which filled two big needs for Toledo. They better start preparing a locker for Reilly at Fifth Third Field.

Tucson Hot Sauce
SP Fernando Coronado, round 1, #4: B
--Above average SP with good splits, velocity, and pitch selection. Average control will hurt him a bit however, as will the lack of a second dominant pitch.
SP Micah Conigliaro, round 2, #48: B+
--Actually a better prospect than Coronado, Conigliaro boasts better splits, control, GB/FB ratio, and pitch selection. His pitch selection is excellent, with one near unhittable pitch and four more quality pitches.
Overall draft grade: B
--Two quality pitchers were selected, and both should make the majors as starters at some point. The only knock is that the Hot Sauce probably could have gotten someone better with the 4th overall pick.

Vancouver Vultures
SP Erubiel Owen, round 1, #7: A-
--Will need some seasoning before hitting the bigs, but his superb control will make his blazing fastball and dynamic breaking ball extremely effective. Should be a front end pitcher in the majors at some point.
RP Gabby Morris, round 2, #51: B
--Morris boasts superior control and two good pitches, which should allow him to be a good option in the 7th or 8th innings. Occasionally gives up the flyball though, and is only average vs. right handed pitching.
Overall draft grade: B+
--The Vultures solidified their farm system with three solid picks, including contact hitting IF Sherman Brantley. Solid draft that produced three future big league players of quality.

Wichita Wankers
CF Dorian Woolf, round 1, #9: A
--Slugging CF with tremendous hitting skills and frightening power with the bat. Great glove and good range for a CF as well. Only knock is average durability and batting eye. Still will be a monster in the bigs at some point.
CF Pascual Velazquez, round 2, #53: A-
--Velazquez doesn't have the power of Woolf, but sports better range and a better batting eye. Potential to play 2B as well. Above average hitter, and slightly more durable than Woolf.
Overall draft grade: A
--With slugging 3rd pick Pete Jensen, the Wankers drafted some serious hitting for their already deep farm system. Woolf will be a monster, and the other two will be in the majors as well. Great draft.

Season 7 Draft Recap - Scranton through Syracuse

Draft analysis of the first two rounds by Peter Van Stoeke, Hardball Scout Specialists, special to Cobb Times Herald.

Scranton Dragons
SP Sam Roberts, round 1, #24: B+
--Solid SP with great splits and velocity, and no weak pitches. Is hurt by is average control and low durability, which may prevent him from going every fifth game.
SS/3B Erv Castillo, round 2, #68: B-
--Below average defensive capabilities for the SS position, but not quite enough skill with the bat for the hot corner. Probably has a future as a utilityman.
Overall draft grade: B-
--Roberts is good but needs lots of rest, and Castillo doesn't really have a natural position, but both should make the bigs.

Seattle Seacows
LF Roger Sanders, round 1, #11: A-
--Great hitting LF with power and a superb eye. Excellent glove for the LF position as well. The only knock on Sanders is his durability, which will only allow him to play maybe 120-130 games in a season.
SS Phil Prior, round 2, #55: B+
--Gifted with the glove, shows great range and accuracy as well. Durable SS who can play every game. Enigmatic with the bat, has a great eye and good contact hitting skills, yet has real trouble at the plate, esp. vs. right handed pitching. Still manages to draw a lot of walks however.
Overall draft grade: B+
--Sanders will be a rock solid player in the majors when he makes it, and even though Prior has some troubles at the plate occasionally, he will be an impact SS as well in the field.

Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
SP Bobby Joe Hill, round 1, #30: B+
--Hill has what it takes to be a solid innings eater. He has deceptive movement on both sides of the plate and throws 4 quality pitches with high heat. But his control is suspect, which could cause problems down the road.
SP Tommy Conway, round 1, #42: B
--Conway boasts impeccable control, above average splits, and smoking velocity. But his pitch selection is merely adequate, and he has trouble sometimes giving up flyballs.
SP Cozy Linden, round 2, #74: C+
--Linden has above average splits, and three good pitches. The problem is he only has three pitches, average control, and a weak arm. Could make it as a long man in the majors.
Overall draft grade: B
--Hill and Conway are going to make the majors at some point, and Linden might as well. Sioux Falls addressed the lack of pitching depth in their farm system, so this draft while not great is a success.

Syracuse Beagles
CF Charles Reese, round 1, #13: A
--Stud CF with outstanding range and glove. Hits for high contact and power, with a remarkable batting eye. Only knock is his average durability, but this kid can play.
CF Curt Fox, round 1, #37: B+
--Speedy CF with great range and glove. As talented defensively as Reese, but not the hitter that the Beagles first pick is. Still solid with the bat, just not spectacular.
CF Mitchell Marshall, round 2, #57: N/A
--Unsigned draft pick, perhaps because of salary demands, perhaps because he has two last names, or perhaps because the Beagles already have two very good CF prospects signed.
Overall draft grade: A-
--Drafted two very good CF prospects, both of whom should make the majors. Coupled with a couple of intriguing picks in rounds 4 & 5, that could develop into solid hitters, and you have a very good draft in Syracuse.

Season 7 Draft Recap - Philadelphia through Santa Fe

Draft analysis of the first two rounds by Peter Van Stoeke, Hardball Scout Specialists, special to Cobb Times Herald.

Philadelphia Floppin' Phils
SP Josh LaRue, round 1, #12: B+
--Solid SP with good control and velocity. First two pitches are good, second two are suspect. Good vs. left handed hitting, struggles at times vs. righties. An innings eater who should make the big league rotation eventually. Potential injury problems.
Overall draft grade: C-
--The Phils picked up a quality pitcher with their first pick, but a lack of a second round pick and the quality of their subsequent picks leave something to be desired.

Pittsburgh SSP
SP Gabby Baez, round 1, #22: B
--Solid but not spectacular across the board SP, with above average splits and pitches. Average control and stamina, but with four good pitches he should have no trouble making the bigs.
RP Willie Estrada, round 1, #35: A-
--Dominant closer with devastating movement and a near unhittable first pitch. Very good control as well. Could be the lights-out closer that the SSP have been looking for.
SP Sal Monahan, round 1, #40: A-
--Five pitch workhorse pitcher with above average control and splits. Four very good pitches should make life difficult for opposing hitters. Projects to a #3 starter in the bigs.
SP Keith Watson, round 2, #46: B
--Another quality SP with excellent control and 4 good pitches strengthens the farm system of the SSP. A little low on stamina for a starter, but has all of the other tools to make the majors in some capacity.
RP Burt Sutton, round 2, #66: B
--Setup man with two dominant pitches and high velocity. Excels vs. left handed hitting, but struggles at times with righties and his average control.
Overall draft grade: A
--Very good draft by the SSP, picking up quality pitching depth with five upper round picks. All five of their first picks should make the majors at some point, which is an unqualified success. Estrada and Monahan are easily the best prospects now in the SSP system.

Richmond Cohibas
RF Benji Ordonez, round 1, #1: A+
--Hard not to be pleased with the #1 overall pick. Barely a RF, Ordonez will eventualy settle in at 1B or LF. 90+eye, 87 contact 76 power and 1 99 split vs. righties serves notice that RHP should book an extended vacation beginning sometime in late Season 12. Could have gotten a bit more defense by taking the next 88-rated 2B, but The Cohibas were seduced by all the hitting prowess.
2B Geronimo Vizcaino, round 2, #45: B+
--Great eye on a solid, high contact banjo hitter. His defense is solid, all he lacks is power to be a top-tier 2B.
Overall draft grade: A-
--Hard not to go wrong with the #1 overall pick, and Ordonez is certainly worth it. Vizcaino is solid, and the drafting of defensive superstud Edgardo Olivares in the third round solidified Richmonds quality draft.

Santa Fe Wranglers
SP Ruben Gonzales, round 1, #2: A
--Stud SP Gonzales is worthy of the #2 overall pick with outstanding control, deceptive movent on both sides of the plate, and an electrifying first pitch. Projects to be a #1 starter in the majors, and a potential all-star.
SP Tony Sojo, round 2, #78: D+
--Sojo can eat the innings, but his movement is easily picked up by hitters, and his pitch selection leaves a lot to be desired.
Overall draft grade: C+
--Any draft that nets Gonzales is a success, but the rest of the draft for Santa Fe wasn't as productive, thus lowering the overall grade.

Season 7 Draft Recap - New York (AL) through Pawtucket

Draft analysis of the first two rounds by Peter Van Stoeke, Hardball Scout Specialists, special to Cobb Times Herald.

New York Brokers
SS Luther McNamara, round 1, #3: A-
--Defensive wizard McNamara has an exceptional glove. Also has excellent skills vs. both lefties and righties. May not hit for much power, but should hit for high average.
SP Clint Meche, round 2, #47: B
--Meche is a potential end of the rotation starter. Has very precise control, powerful velocity and a very good first pitch. His average splits offset this a little bit, but he should make the bigs at some point.
Overall draft grade: B
--McNamara is solid, and Meche will be servicable, but these players don't address the need for a power hitter in the NY system. Still the draft had good depth, with later rounds also yielding very good defensive shortstops.

New York Pick Pockets
2B Mike Wilson, round 1, #18: B+
--Wilson is an above average hitting 2B. He has a good eye, good splits, good contact and power, but none of those skills are elite. His glove is average, but he shows good range.
SP Tom Christopher, round 2, #62: N/A
--Christopher could be a #5 starter or long reliever if he signs. Good control is offset by weakness vs. left handed hitting and poor GB/FB ratio.
Overall draft grade: C
--The Pick Pockets signed a solid if not spectacular player in Wilson, but the inability to sign their round 2, 3, & 4 picks lowers the draft grade.

Omaha Sluggers
SS Raymond Sanford, round 1, #27: A-
--Slugging SS Sanford was drafted for his power and good splits vs. lefties and righties. Lack of range and accuracy could portend a move to another position in the future. Should be a 5 or 6 hitter in the bigs.
SS J.R. Brunette, round 2, #71: B+
--Brunette has solid splits, is very good vs. right handed pitching, and slightly above average power. Drafted as an SS, his defensive skills project better at 2B or a corner OF position. Should be a solid platoon or super utility player in the bigs.
Overall draft grade: B+
--Omaha drafted solid and talented players with their first two picks. Neither will be superstars, but both will be solid contributers at the big league level.

Pawtucket G-Maniacs
SP Frank Harper, round 1, #28: A-
--Harper projects to be a very solid SP, possibly a 2 or a 3 starter in the bigs. Good pitches, splits, and control are only slightly offset by average GB/FB ratio and low stamina.
SS Chris Parrish, round 2, #72: B
--Parrish is a very good defensive SS, but is only average at best at the plate. Still, his glove and ability to play almost every day will land him a spot on a big league roster someday.
Overall draft grade: B-
--Harper has the potential to be a good major league pitcher, Parrish will be solid in the field, but neither of these two players will be stars in the bigs. Solid but not great draft for the G-Maniacs.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Season 7 Draft Recap - Jackson through Mexico City

Draft analysis of the first two rounds by Peter Van Stoeke, Hardball Scout Specialists, special to Cobb Times Herald.

Jackson Pollocks
RP Derrick Hunter, round 1, #23: B
--Hunter has excellent splits and control. But he is hurt by his velocity and GB/FB ratio. Potential to be solid setup/part time closer.
1B Brutus Cooper, round 1, #29: B
--Cooper has great contact skills with some pop in the bat, but a brutal batting eye. Jackson is overstocked at 1B already so where he will fit is uncertain.
C Hal Wise, round 1, #36: B-
--Solid defensive catcher with some pop, will probably make the majors as a backup.
CF Wayne Lowe, round 2, #67: B+
--Excellent defensive CF with speed. Good contact at the plate. Should be a starter in the bigs some day.
Overall draft grade: C+
--Jackson picked late, but had an extra compensatory pick. Given that, the haul was not that strong. No real stand outs with any of the picks, and later picks weren't even signed for depth. A weak farm system wasn't helped much.

Kansas City KILL
SP Steve Kerr, round 1, #16: A
--Kerr has all the tools to be an ace starter for any team. The only potential weak point on this player is his health, which could lead to nagging injuries.
SP Walt Mays, round 1, #33: A-
--Mays should be a very good pitcher, with excellent splits, pitches, etc... Only weak area is his velocity, and control which is only a little above average. Still, should be solid.
RF Mateo Lopez, round 2, #56: B
--Lopez is an above average hitter with some pop and a decent eye. His glove will suffice at the position. Could be an everyday player in the bigs.
LF Mario Baxter, round 2, #60: N/A
--Talented hitting LF with great power and eye. Probably won't sign though as his demands top 7 million dollars.
Overall draft grade: A
--K.C. scored big time in the draft with their two SP's Kerr and Mays. Lopez will be solid as well. If Baxter somehow signs this is an A+ draft.

Los Angeles Drillers
SP Tommy Wakeland, round 1, #15: A
--Wakeland has what it takes to be a #1 starter on any team. The crafty rightie has an excellent pitch selection, great splits and phenomenal control. Very bright future.
1B Kent Stanley, round 2, #59: A-
--Talented hitting 1B with great power and superior batting eye. 50+ HR potential with .300 average are what he is capable of.
Overall draft grade: A-
--Very good draft for the drillers, with two definite ML starters selected. If 3rd round pick Ron Priddy signs, this draft is an A.

Louisville Tysons
1B Nate Callaway, round 2, #73: B
--Injury prone 1B with good eye and power. He can hit the ball when he's healthy.
1B Lonnie Holzemer, round 3, #105: C+
--Power hitting 1B, but is strikeout prone. Average splits and glove, but should play when Callaway is on the DL.
Overall draft grade: C
--Not having a first round pick hurts the draft grade for the Tysons. But they did succeed in getting power at the first base position, as their 2nd and 3rd round picks are capable of making the bigs.

Mexico City Diablos Rojos
SP Eric Collins, round 1, #21: B+
--This years Eric Collins is not as good as last years Eric Collins, but is still solid. Excellent splits and control are offset by poor health and deficient secondary pitches. Still should be a quality starter in the bigs.
C Charlie Baker, round 1, #34: C
--Baker can hit the ball fairly well and call a good game, but only when he is rested and healthy enough to play. He probably could have been had much later in the draft.
2B Ira Riggs, round 1, #39: B
--Riggs has only an average glove for a 2B, but can hit the ball out of the park with regularity. Should be an everyday player in the bigs at some point.
2b Stan Oliver, round 2, #58: B
--Better defensive 2b than Riggs, Oliver hits almost as well too. Less power and slightly worse splits, but still has the potential to be an everyday player as well.
RF Ryne Gipson, round 2, #65: C+
--One dimensional player, Gipson has tons of power and a good batting eye. Good range for RF but average glove. Still, his power will find him a spot in a lineup somewhere.
Overall draft grade: B+
--Good draft adds lots of depth to Mexico Cities farm system. Collins has the potential to be good, and Riggs, Oliver, and Gipson should all make the bigs in some capacity. The mystery is drafting Baker so high.

Season 7 Draft Recap - Chicago through Huntington

Draft analysis of the first two rounds by Peter Van Stoeke, Hardball Scout Specialists, special to Cobb Times Herald.

Chicago Sabercats
RP David Bryant, round 1, #10, B
--The flamethrowing lefty Bryant has two good pitches, is good vs. lefties, and has a great GB/FB ratio. He gets into trouble sometimes with his average control and slighly above average work against right handed hitting.
RP Matt Warner, round 2, #54: B-
--Warner is another hard throwing reliever who doesn't often give up the home run. He has better control than Bryant, but the movement of his pitches isn't as good.
Overall draft grade: B-
--The Sabercats drafted two solid but not spectacular relievers. Both should be able to pitch in the majors, but whether or not they can succeed as closers remains to be seen.

Cincinnati HoundDogs
2B Bob Erving, round 1, #26: B+
--Erving has a good bat, and should be able to succeed vs. big league pitching. His glove leaves a lot to be desired for a 2B, so he probably has a future in the outfield.
RF Charles Hall, round 2, #70: C
--Slap hitter Hall has good contact hitting skills and a solid eye at the plate. Very susceptable to left handed pitching, and his glove is only average.
Overall draft grade: C+
--Erving is a good pick and can play multiple outfield positions, and perhaps the hot corner, but the rest of the draft is nothing exceptional.

Durham Pitbulls
CF Brook Colin, round 1, #6: A
--Colin is a five tool player with the potential to be a perennial all-star. His bat is superior, he has excellent power, and a very good glove. A fine first round pick.
SP Haywood Sodowsky, round 2, #50: C
--Sodowsky has good control, a fine first pitch, and excellent stamina. But his below average movement, velocity, and pitch selection leave a lot to be desired.
Overall draft grade: B
--Colin is an excellent pick that will be a star barring injury. But the rest of the draft yielded borderline pitchers who might not help the Pitbulls big league team.

Fargo Fug Nuts
SP Omar Fuentes, round 1, #31: C+
--Fuentes is a workhorse with good control and velocity. But his splits are only average, and he only has one good pitch. Still, he has a shot to produce at the ML level in some capacity.
SP Miguel Colon, round 2, #75: C
--Colon is another workhorse SP with excellent control and velocity. His splits are average, as is his pitch selection. He is hurt by his poor health and tendency to give up lots of fly balls.
Overall draft grade: D+
--the pitchers drafted by Fargo are servicable, but only just. But considering that they probably won't be Fug Nuts by the end of next season, grading this teams picks is probably a moot point.

Helena Hellraisers
SP Brook Lennon, round 1, #19: A-
--Lennon has what it takes to be a top of the rotation innings eater. He has incredible stamina, excellent splits, a good GB/FB ratio, and two very good pitches. Is hurt only by is avearge control and last two pitches, which are slightly below average.
RF Justin Villano, round 2, #63: B
--Villano will be a slugging RF who will hit a lot of homers, but only bat in the .250 range. Average glove for the position. Will probably platoon with 3rd round pick Justin Stein, who is cut from the same cloth.
Overall draft grade: A-
--Lennon will be a solid major leaguer, and the power from the combination of Stein and Villano will make them an everyday force in the outfield.

Huntington Hillbillies
1B Spud Upshaw, round 1, #17: A-
--Very good slugging 1B with solid hitting skills across the board. Great in the clubhouse as well, and should reach his full potential.
1B P.T. Wiggins, round 2, #61: B-
-- Wiggins can hit, but with less power and contact than Upshaw. Joins an already loaded with 1B farm system, so his future with the Hillbillies is uncertain. 3rd round pick Joel Lee offers a contact hitting approach that Wiggins lacks, and is a change of pace.
Overall draft grade: B
--Upshaw will be a very good hitting 1B. Wiggins and Lee should be able to hit as well. The only problem is that Huntington is already loaded with 1B prospects, so where these players fit is in question.

Season 7 Draft Recap - Anaheim through Charlotte

Draft analysis of the first two rounds by Peter Van Stoeke, Hardball Scout Specialists, special to Cobb Times Herald.

Anaheim Sharks
SS Lew Allen, round 1, #32: B+
--Allen projects to be a very talented hitter with superior power and splits. But his range is below average for the SS position, and he has a tendency to get hurt.
CF Preston Brand, round 1, #43: B+
--Brand has an exceptional glove, which offsets his average range. Good contact hitter with a good eye vs. lefties. Has trouble with right handed pitching however.
3B Morgan Stargell, round 2, #76, C
--Stargell has good range and a good glove for a 3B, but his bat is only average. Should be a solid backup in the bigs.
Overall draft grade: B+
--The Sharks drafted two starters and a solid backup with their first three picks. If Allen can stay healthy he should be a very good player.

Arizona Devildogs
3B Brandon Miller, round 1, #5: A
--Stud prospect with a good glove at the 3B position. Can hit equally well vs. lefties and righties. Has good pop with the bat as well, and can play every day without a rest if need be.
SS Curtis Hogg, round 2, #49: N/A
--If he signs the Devildogs will get some good depth at the SS position, but until then the jury is out.
C Ossie Bryne, round 3, #81: B
--Bryne is a good catcher who can throw runners out. His bat is solid, he has an exceptional eye vs. all pitching. Hurt by his below average pitch calling, contact, and power.
Overall draft grade: B+
--The Devildogs drafted two future starters who can both hit the ball very well. If Hogg signs then the draft will be even better.

Atlanta Warthogs
RP Hack Wyatt, round 1, #20: A-
--Wyatt projects to be their Warthogs big league closer in a few years after Sutton starts to tail off in production. He should have good control, velocity, GB/FB ratio, killer movement vs. righties, above avg vs. lefties, and two outstanding pitches.
SS Pablo Pinzon, round 2, #64: N/A
--Pinzon showed great defensive promise and good skills with the bat, but his contract demands are proving too high for the Warthogs.
3B Vernon Davis, round 3, #96, B-
--Davis has good skills with the glove for a 3B, and the Warthogs expect him to hit for decent average and power in the bigs in 4-5 seasons.
Overall draft grade: B
--The Warthogs filled a need with their first pick, but the inability to sign Pinzon knocks down their overall grade. Wyatt is a good third pick, but doesn't have the glove of Pinzon.

Boston Heat
SS Rob Taylor, round 1, #25: B+
--Taylor projects to be a solid hitting SS. His glove will only be average for the position, but his superior splits and batting eye should keep him in the lineup every day. Perhaps a position change to CF might be in his future.
SP Omar Lopez, round 1, #41: B
--Lopez could be a back end of the rotation starter, with above average splits, and excellent control. He is hurt by his average pitch selection, lack of velocity, and sub-par stamina.
2B Francis Kent, round 1, #44: B+
--Kent should be an everyday player in the bigs. His glove is only average, but his hitting skills are above average for the 2B position.
SS Russell Nady, round 2, #64: C
--Nady has the durability to play everyday, but unfortunately his glove is only average, which is not enough to offset his below average hitting abilities. Could be a solid bench player though.
Overall draft grade: B+
--The Heat bagged 3 solid big leaguers, and one fringe player with their four picks. While there may not be an all-star in the bunch, the quality of depth was well done.

Charlotte Dogs
SP Ariel Cervantes, round 1, #14: N/A
--Cervantes has what it takes to be a front line starter, if the Dogs meet his obscene contract demands. Good control, splits, and pitch selection would help Charlotte if he signs.
SS Stephan Cogan, round 1, #38: B+
--Cogan projects to be a below average defensive SS, but can hit the ball quite well vs. righties. Would be well served by a switch to 3B, where his glove would be better used.
Overall draft grade: C
--If Cervantes signs, the grade moves to a B+, but without a second round pick the depth of the draft is lacking.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Kip Zeile - Still No Comment

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Chicago Sabercats slugger Kip Zeile is still refusing to talk to the media. His boycott, stemming from several misconstrued comments in the Cobb Times Herald, has been going on since opening day. Thus we are unable to report on rumors involving wagers on UFC matches and the purchasing of a European sports car for each day of the week. Sources have indicated that Zeile has purchased a Lotus, a Lamborghini, two Jaguars, a Ferrari, an Aston Martin, and two Porsche 911's. Zeile refused to comment about the purchases, and referred the Herald to his agent, Guido Giacoletti, who said, "Kip's cars are none of your business." But the fans seem to think that his foreign car habit is ok. "As long as he keeps hitting the dingers, I don't care if he prefers foreign or domestics," said Sabercat fan Chuck Harris.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Owner Q&A - squidvicious

Cortez Mack - Cobb Times Herald

Today we were able to get some quotes and comments on the league from the often controversial, always outspoken squidvicious, owner of the Jackson Pollocks, and the only consecutive loser of the World Series in Cobb World history.

Well let me first say thank you for giving me this forum to refute some of the vicious rumours that have surfaced recently about me and Ms. Cleo - I absolutely did not pour oil on my head and rub it all over her...I'm not even bald!

You are the only owner to lose two world series in Cobb World, do you consider that an honor or a curse?
--C-O-N-S-E-C-U-T-I-V-E world series! That's gotta count for something...I mean, our model is to consistently challenge for the 5th or 6th playoff spot, and so far we've been able to accomplish that most seasons. That we snuck in to the WS once was, like, OMG! To get there again the very next year, well...we weren't really paying attention, but had we been, I'm sure we would've pee'd our pants.

Where do you think it all went wrong in your world series appearances?
--Season 4 was our best chance. It was a somewhat down year for the rest of the division, 90+ wins finally got us 1st place! And we had some really good offensive production out of our homegrown guys, as well as newcomers Michael Ellis and Roosevelt Lowell. After a tough series with Fargo, we swept Omaha and were actually up 2-0 over Anaheim before losing 4 straight. What went wrong? Eh...lost a couple key starters to injuries just as the WS began, but still, I was up 2-0!!! I think my players weren't exactly motivated by my offer to give them each a Yugo if they swept.

Your team has always been quite solid with it's pitching. Who is the best hurler you have had on your team through the years?
--Great question! Sorry my answer is lame...I think I've always tried to build depth rather than target top of the line studs. Not that my current #1 & #2 aren't legit, they are. But even my best pitchers are a half-step or so behind the really good pitchers in the league. Another key is more luck I suppose. I've been able to find decent 'cast offs' who perform really well in Jackson. This season's example is Miguel Fernandez. Not sure why he left Helena, I think he was caught sniffing glue with the owner's son....but we don't mind...we don't mind.

If you could pick one pitcher and one hitter from any other franchise to be on your team, who would they be and why?
--We see a lot of Pat Barber and Dallas Kline, and they kill us routinely. Having them in Jackson would be great. But I like balance, and having a LH counter punch to Domingo Montana would be fantastic, so a guy like Jose Barrios would be at the top of the list. As for pitchers, there are lot of solid starters who would go right at the top of the rotation and help us a ton. But consistency in the bull pen is hard to come by. We traded away two closers in Sean Hill and Sarma Inge who’ve had great success, but a guy like those two or Randall Harvey of the Sharks would anchor pen nicely.

Which Sid Vicious do you prefer, wrestler or rocker?
--Rocker. The legacy of the Sex Pistols is awesome! They helped bridge rock from the “classic”, hippie style to the 80’s alternative movement, which later spawned grunge and a punk revival….at least, that’s what I learned watching “School of Rock”.

Is there any truth to the rumor that Big Pig Pork Rind night at Boone Stadium was the highest attended game of the year in Jackson?
--That and Free Dental Implant night.

Who is the Pollocks biggest rival, Huntington, Louisville, Fargo, Sioux Falls, or art critic Craig Brown?
--The Brits hate Americans who can procrastinate and still produce. By the way, for those who still don’t know who Pollock is, create your own masterpiece at http://www.jacksonpollock.org/.

As far as teams go, we’re sort of the third wheel in the division. The Louisville/Huntington rivalry is always strong, we’re sort of the little brother always tagging along. Sioux Falls has always been in a similar position in the North, and we’re always vying for those WC spots with them…maybe next time they’re in town we’ll call the series the “War of Northern Aggression”.

Who on the Pollocks roster would you enter in the World's Strongest Man competition?
--Catcher Carlos Machado is our version of Pudge. Plus, his nickname practically writes itself.

Do you think that Gary Oldman did a good job portraying you in Sid and Nancy?
--Oldman’s a stud, just fantastic. But like Nancy says, ‘never trust a junkie’.

Which prospect of yours are you most looking forward to seeing in the bigs?
--Our cupboard is pretty bare, and the recent draft wasn’t great. And a couple previous top picks have been wiped out by injuries. So we’re probably going to hit a real bad patch soon unless we start spending more on college scouting, signing international prospects, or skip the draft and sign a ton of free agents.

What do you think of mrploppie referring to alogman1 as "log" ?
--It’s obvious his remaining brain cells have a hard time with multi-syllabic words…it’s a shame too, I feel partly responsible since I spiked his Ensure with corn whiskey last time Fargo was in town.

Which pitcher and hitter do you dread facing most?
--Hmmm, well…there are times when our pitching will get anyone out, or nobody. Similarly, our hitters sometimes crush all comers, or go ‘oh for’ against the ball girl. So…we fear no one, and everyone.

Is Domingo Montana's mustache as cool as Eric Collins'?
--Maybe…we tease Dom all the time about that thing. It’s odd, but growing up in the Dominican Republic, he listened to a lot of Jimmy Buffet and thought all Americans really did have pencil thin mustaches.

If you had to pick a player from the Pollocks that would make the Hall of Fame, who would it be?
--Well, Montana obviously has a shot. Great production and he mostly plays SS, which makes him pretty valuable. I’m not sure any of the pitchers will get there.

Better video: "Fat" by Weird Al or "Breaking the Law" by Judas Priest?
--I’ve never been a fan of latex suits, unless it involves pulleys, Vaseline, and couple cheerleaders. I guess the same could be said for spiked dog collars and leather chaps. So I’d have to call it a draw.



Friday, February 1, 2008

Prospect Report - Wichita Wankers

The top five prospects for the Wichita Wankers, as rated by Baseball Guru LLC, special to the Cobb Times Herald

SP Davey Silva: A
--Devastating pitcher with the potential for perfect control. Absolutely dominant vs. right handers, and very good vs. lefties as well. Doesn't give up the flyball, and has two elite pitches. A complete package.

LF Tanner Durham: A
--Monster LF with the bat, shows no weakness in any area at the plate. Very good vs. lefties, and should be an everyday fixture in the lineup when he makes the bigs.

3B Rodney Toombs: A
--Toombs has the potential to hit 5o HR's a year, with an average over .300 every season. Should be an offensive powerhouse in the majors. Glove is average, perhaps mroe suited to a corner OF position.

SS Carlton Nelson: A+
--If there was a can't miss prospect, it's Nelson. Gifted with the glove and bat, he is a true 5 tool player. Bringing gold glove and silver slugger potential to the SS position makes him an A+.

2B Ignacio Lopez: A
--Great glove and range will make him a great defensive SS. His bat is good as well, especially vs. lefties. Speedy player should cause lots of trouble on the basepath.