Fayetteville Baseball 2019 Name

Fan vote determines new identity.

By S. Samek

It was discussed in a prior post how bad and boring the new Houston Astros affiliate in the Carolina league’s new name would be. http://bit.ly/2mBxu8e

 Fortunately, this is just a two-year stop gap name until the team moves to a new stadium in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Name possibilities have been announced and well let’s check them out here.

 

First up is The Fatbacks. The name is explained as coming from a pork dish, popular down south. Absolutely not does this need to be a nickname. Food nicknames are starting to get ridiculous. http://bit.ly/2uJuui0.

Also, really a pig them, it doesn’t show much creativity. I mean you have the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs the Texas Air Hogs any Razorbacks you can think of, the former Winston-Salem Warthogs. I don’t think swine is the way to go.

Batting second is the Flytraps. Apparently, the plant is native to the wetlands of Carolina. It also matches up with catching fly balls. To me it screams backyard baseball copycat. It’s a fun name for a kid’s game, but not for the major leagues.

Third we have the Jumpers. The name comes from parachute regiments at Fort Bragg nearby, specifically the 82nd airborne division. Good effort though I think misplaced. Jumper isn’t really a flattering term. Why not try like the artillery, Battery, or old school Generals, maybe Cannons, or raiders. The possibilities are there if you look and think a bit creatively.

Fourth up is the Wood Dogs. This is a meh name. Sounds too much like the Down East Wood Ducks. It’s just rather boring. Also, too close to the Fayetteville Swamp Dogs of the Coastal Planes League.

Finally, we have the Woodpeckers.  Named after an endangered species in the area. It just doesn’t seem like an exciting name. It just falls into the generic bird category.

Not impressed with this crop of names. They just feel generic and boring. Not much better than Astros. I think they have something with a military angle, but it needs to not be jumpers. Interesting to see the final name and logo.

 

 

 

 

 

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More Food

Teams embracing a new trend with naming.

By S. Samek

In this post, we took a look at some food themed nicknames.

 Sense then it seems like new food names are popping up left and right in Minor League baseball. Most with disastrous results that hopefully show the end of the trend.

Starting in Aberdeen, where the awesome name of the Iron Birds, gets traded in for steamed crabs. This logo actually looks pretty cool with the giant mallet the crab wields.

However steamed is a bad adjective for a team. To me it is about your team getting crushed and beaten, badly, as in steamrolled. Why you want your team named after this I really don’t know. Stone Crabs and Blue Claws are better options for crab themed name. This is a poor attempt at regional appeal marketing.

The Rochester Redwings wore went out and played a game as the garbage plates on August 10,2017.  A garbage plate regional dish of a whole mess of stuff in one dish. It turns 100 years old this year and was invented at a local eatery not too far from the Redwings ballpark.

It’s still a stupid idea. These jerseys look so weird. The shorten version of the name to the plates is so silly and unintimidating. Too much for my liking.

I must be wrong though, as in 2018 the team will rock these threads as the plates for every Thursday home game. 

Promotion wizards the Brooklyn Cyclones join in as the slices. Named after slices of Pizza that New York is famous for.  The Hats have the famous Brooklyn bridge inhabited by a piece of pizza.

 

Its goofy and the best of the bunch from this article. It’s still a bit much though.

The final squad is the Syracuse Chiefs becoming the salt potatoes.  A salt potato is a local dish of potatoes soaked in brine. Once popular with minors for lunch, this now has become a popular side dish for all to enjoy.

The Chiefs are enjoying this one. Merchandise sales are up, as potatoes gear has reached at least 39 states via online sales. 

Positive for the team yes, something that needs to stay no. I get a bad reminder of a backyard baseball logo from 2005 in the form the of mashing tators.   Sales may have hit a home run, or tator, but I just think the name is a strikeout on three pitches for ridiculousness.

Yes, I am a bit of a fan of goofy names for teams. No, I don’t like ones that don’t make any sense. Food is best eaten, not named your team after. That is where I think they crossed the line into names that don’t make sense. Please don’t let this trend continue.

 

 

Gwinnett Name Change

By S. Samek

 

Name change time. This time for the better, or is it? The Gwinnett Braves are change their name. The final six options were revealed the other day. The finalists include Lamb Chops, Sweet Teas, Buttons, Big Mouths, Hush Puppies and Gobblers. Each one has a local connection attached.

While I am a fan of each team having a unique name.

 

I don’t feel better about it in this case. Braves is a better name than all of them.

Big Mouths is a after a big mouth bass. At best, this is a generic fish theme logo, or confused with Bass pro shop. At worst, well I see some perversion with this name. Its sadly, may be the best of the bunch.

Buttons has to be the worst of the bunch. What the heck logo would you come up for this. The whole idea stems from the Namesake of Gwinnett, Button Gwinnett. He signed the Declaration of Independence. Good for history and America, bad for a baseball team name.

Gobblers is a generic bird name at best. Slang word for a turkey, should make it better right. Wrong, turkeys would be unique, but don’t make for the most intimidating team.

Hush Puppies and Sweet Teas follows the food theme trend in MILB. While Montgomery, Fresno and Lehigh Valley did this well. A few teams did not. See New Hampshire, Rochester and Albuquerque. Lamb Chops is thrown in there too. Terrible choices with very loose regional, not even city exclusive ties make for a weak crop of pickings.

Fans seem to be agreeing that the picks aren’t so great. Voicing displeasure of them on social media.

I think the Gwinnett Gators, Peanuts or Dragons would make cool names. Sticking with the Braves is another option. Though it would help the organization to add a unique name after finishing last in this pool. Stay tuned to see how the vote and logo turns out.

 

Striking Distance

Pirates have chance to gain ground in division.

By S. Samek

 The Pittsburgh Pirates have started out strong in the first two games of a four-game set in Milwaukee. The Pirates have outscored the Brewer’s 15-four in what I think could be a pivotal point toward the rest of the season. The Pirates it just four games out of first place and a half game back from second in the NL Central. Even taking just one of the next two keeps them at four games back from first place in the division. Plus depending on what the Cubs do against San Diego, a move up to second place is possible.

 

This would then lead them into a series against St. Louis, a team they are currently tied with in the standings. Having momentum from a big series in Milwaukee, should help the Pirates do well against the Cardinals and add separation between the two for at least third place in the division.

 

Then the Pirates end June and enter July with series against the Rays and Giants. The Rays being similar to the Brewers in record can be hung with, more so being at home where the Bucs have a winning mark at 19-18. The Giants then come into town with one of the worst records in baseball and provide another chance to gain ground by beating them.

The schedule keeps staying easy with the Phillies and Cubs rounding out the pre-all-star game slate. The Pirates realistically could go 11-6, or 12-5 during this stretch. This puts them at 44-44, or 45 – 43. This would then give them strong momentum going into the All-Star game, before seeing the Cardinals and Brewers immediately after the break.

Having the separation from before the all-star break would help a lot. Then With more games scheduled against the Giants and Padres, now could be the start of the big month that plays into a playoff spot.

The Pirates are currently on a 7-3 run in the last 10 games. This includes a pair of wins against the Marlins after losing two games to the them. A two-one series win against NL West leading Colorado, a win over the Cubs and the two in Milwaukee. Showing a sample of how teams better than the Pirates can be beaten.

The offense is picking up for Pittsburgh. Jordy Mercer has a 10-game hitting streak going. He is hitting .389 with a homer and five extra base hits during the streak. He hit his third triple of the year last night as part of a 2-4 effort.

Andrew McCutchen is also hitting better in the sixth spot in the order. McCutchen went 3-3 last night with a home run, walk and three rbi. This is part of a resurgence in which McCutchen is hitting .406 with six homers and 19 rbi in June.

Jose Osuna, Josh Bell and Elias Diaz are developing well in the bigs, and break out second halves could be just what this team needs. Josh Harrison is also contributing with regularity.

The Pitching is still a work in progress, but with Jamison Taillon back and Ivan Nova and Gerrit Cole pitching consistently this team has a chance.

Starling Marte is also due back in Mid -July. Having his glove and bat in the lineup is a major plus. This addition would put some confidence back into the outfield and combined with McCutchen and crew could keep the Pirates around in a weaker NL Central.

 

 

 

LA Lights Up

Rookie displays big power.

By S. Samek

The American League and National League always seem to go head to head over which league is superior. This season is no exception. Taking the American League by storm is Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge.

To counter punch for the national league it’s the LA Dodgers Cody Bellinger. Bellinger is bringing the power knocking 21 homers after a two-homer night on Monday.

 This continues a string of nine home runs in nine games.  Hes played in just 51 games this season after his April 25 call up. Bellinger is the fourth player to mash 20 home runs pre-all-star break being younger than 21. The last person to do so was Miguel Cabrera in 2004.

Bellinger is hitting .269 with 10 doubles and 47 rbi this season. The 21 home runs are tied for second in the majors behind only Judge and his 23 dingers. Though while Judge is doing well in the all-star balloting, Bellinger is not. He hasn’t ever cracked the top 15 in outfielders.  In fact, in the ESPN article it looks like it would take quite a bit of work to get the man into the all-star game.

While this would be a shame, I think it is going to happen and Mr. Bellinger will be staying home. Though I feel like the snub will only motivate the kid to do bigger and better things. Like win a rookie of the year award. He has a very early edge if nothing else.

Bellinger is another home-grown product. In 2016, he hit 26 homers in the upper two level of the minors while hitting .271. When he was called up this season he was hitting .343 with five homers and 15 rbi in 18 games for the Oklahoma City Dodgers.  He was a Double-A all-star for Tulsa and played in the AFL, where he was all-prospect team and an AFL rising star. He also owns two Dodger’s organization all-star nods.

Bellinger won last month’s rookie of the month award on the National League side. He also won the player of the week honor for the week of May 7th,2017.

While Bellinger has caught a lot of national attention like Judge has. Bellinger may serve as a symbol of the new culture of baseball.

 The idea of drilling the ball hard, his average exit velocity is almost 93 mph, or failing he has 65 strikeouts proves this.

This is very true with all the advanced metrics of the game and obsession with pitchers that hit triple digits on the gun. Not a bad thing, as who doesn’t love seeing the ball go sailing 500 feet out for easy runs. Who doesn’t love to see dominant pitchers rack up strikeout numbers in the teens. It’s an evolution of the game. If seeing players like Judge and Bellinger come around by the hundreds over the years that would be great. It gets media attention and fans in the stands. I embrace Bellinger and wish him the best of luck this year, Judge too.

As for which is better, time will tell. It’s only been a small sample for Bellinger, and Judge is still less than a full season into his pro career. Open the debate back up in five years for a more fair comparison.

West Virginia Black Bears 2017

By S. Samek

Tonight, the West Virginia Black Bears begin season number three. The Black Bears had a .500 campaign in 2016 with a 38-38 record. This was after taking the championship in 2015, their first year in the league as the Black Bears.

Taking a look at tonight’s opening roster. The team looks rather pedestrian.  One of the top 30 Pirates prospects have been assigned to the roster.

Mitch Keller is listed, but it is as a rehab assignment. He belongs with Bradenton.  Michael Suchy is also on a rehab assignment.

The rest seem to be call ups from the Gulf Coast league and Bristol.http://www.milb.com/roster/index.jsp?sid=t5020. No one stands out to even have done anything really worth noting. The closest thing to doing something is Jonathan Schwind. Schwind has seen time at the Double and triple a level. He just hasn’t done much with the bat and isn’t really considered a prospect. This just has to be lineup filler.

Sandy Santos returns to the black and gold after spending last season with them. Santos was with the West Virginia Power, but struggles this season have led to a demotion back to Morgantown. Santos tied for second on the team with 34 rbi, while hitting .281, also second best on the team.

A fast start with the Bears and it won’t surprise me if he gets returned to Charleston. Last season he showed a bit of dominance, but nothing top 30 worthy, yet.

Though aside from the yawn fest of a line up, the Black Bears have an interesting addition to the coaching staff. Joel Hanrahan is an assistant pitching coach for the team. Hanrahan was a former all-star closer in Pittsburgh with 100 career saves. This gives that big league feel and experience to the young pitchers and should serve them well.

I will say though even with a lack of pedigree in the lineup I can see moves being made to improve this roster. Shane Baz, the first-round pick that recently signed with the Bucs could perhaps make an appreance here. Though the most likely spot for him would be the GCL. Recent draftees from the college ranks maybe sent here as well after signing.

 

Though it won’t surprise me either if top 30 ranked pitchers in Braeden Ogle, Travis MacGregor and Max Kranick see time in West Virginia after short, or successful stints in the GCL.

Plus, with no expectations comes the high possibility of a sleeper prospect emerging.  First pitch for the season is at 7:05 p.m.  against Mahoning Valley.

2017 MLB Draft round 1

By S. Samek

2017 MLB draft day one is in the books. The Pittsburgh Pirates had four selections from the initial 72. Starting with pick number 12. With the selection, the Pirates took right handed pitcher Shane Baz.

 Baz a high school pitcher from Texas. He came into the draft ranked as the fifth best right hander and 11th best overall prospect.  Putting him at about where he was projected to be drafted.

Baz is a pretty hard thrower. His fastball hits 92-96 and has touched 98. Complementing that is a curveball, changeup and cutter.

Though it may be difficult to sign Baz and take him from his commitment at TCU. Though should Baz sign it will boost a strong, yet depleting pool of arms at the minor league level. This can help the system with the loss of Glasnow as a prospect, despite his struggles and Jameson Taillon.  Taillon was the last high school pitcher taken by the Pirates in the first round when he went number two overall in 2010.  Though a recent trend isn’t helping the chances to sign Baz. Last year Nick Lodolo picked TCU over the Pirates. Should be an interesting follow to see if Baz will sign. The Slot value for the pick is over four million dollars and would take up a large amount of the Pirates over 10 million in bonus money. .

Reports are coming in that Baz may officially sign on Thursday.

 

With the 42 pick Steve Jennings, another right hander joins in. Jennings can throw 95 mph heat and was a two-sport athlete.  Though not as hard of a thrower as Baz, with a fastball siting in the 89-92 range. Jennings is a Mississippi commit if he doesn’t sigh.

 

To me this is a nice arm to add to the lineup. The speed can be upped in the minors, or is serviceable as is. A curveball, slider and changeup compliment the fastball. Jennings should be sigh able.  Though he may have been a slight reach of a pick, as he was projected as the 49th best prospect in the draft.

Eight picks later and Calvin Mitchell was next to hear his name called by Pittsburgh. Mitchell was prospect number 79 by MLBpipeline.com and 74 by Baseball America. Making this selection at number 50 a bit of a reach. The high school outfielder hit .369 with 11 home runs and 34 rbi this season. Mitchell has an offer in place from the University of San Diego. For about a million and a half in bonus money from the slot pool Mitchell can join the Pirates. Potential yes, at this price, no. Though it would add to a system lacking a good, as in top 30 organization true outfield prospect and knock some weaker top 30 guys off the list.

With their final selection of day one, number 72 overall the pick was another high school outfielder. This one in the form of Connor Uselton from Southmoore high school in Oklahoma. Interesting discrepancy in draft positions for this kid. MLBpipeline.com had him ranked 46th, Baseball America had him 89th. /

Though the kid adds another multisport athlete to the Pirates system. Though he is also 19 years old and a bit older than most high school players. A maturity that may help with the day to day grind of the minors and professional life. For just around 800,00 he can be placed in the Pirates system. I like this pick. If he can play like the mid second round projection of MLBpipline.com the Pirates have a steal. Though the upside is there even if it’s closer to the 89th ranked pick, which would come as a small loss.

I like the stocking up on younger players. With a strong core in place and many fast-moving prospects in the minors, a lot of draftees don’t have to be MB ready now. Giving the high school player time to develop without the pressure of now or never is a plus. Though I’m still waiting on a stud lefty to complement the big-league rotation. Its’s one of the systems lacking pieces, even with three left handers in the top 20 organization prospects. None of them have the real dominance top of the rotation wow factor.