Pittsburgh Pirates Organization All-Stars 2017.

S.Samek

The best minor league players in the Pittsburg Pirates system were honored with milb.com organization all-star status.

 

Infield

Today I take a look at the selection to see what’s good and who deserves their status.
At the Catcher Position you have Jacob Stallings. Stallings saw time at triple a and a very short stint in the majors. He hit .301 with 16 doubles, four home runs and 38 rbi.

 
Being as catcher is one of the weaker positions in the Pirates system and that Elias Diaz has graduated from being a prospect make this an easy choice.

 
At first base Edwin Espinal was honored. Espinal hit .294 with 15 home runs and 86 rbi. Both of these totals ranked near the top of the organization leaderboard. Sadly, they let him walk in free agency. Well-deserved all-star spot.

 
At second base it was Pablo Reyes. Reyes was an on base machine for the Altoona Curve with 115 hits and 51 walks during the season. Reyes may not be well known and plays at a position with more depth, but isn’t entirely out of the mix after a season like that.

 
At shortstop it’s Cole Tucker. Tucker saw time at high a and double a in 2017. Tucker hit .275 with six home runs and 50 rbi. Tucker also swiped 47 bases this season, up from just six last year.

 
Shortstop is a position of depth for the Pirates, but Tucker could still be that future shortstop for the big-league Pirates.

 

At Third base the all-star is Ke’Byran Hayes. Hayes is the fourth ranked Pirates prospect. While Hayes has been injury prone in the past this year was better. He played in 108 and hi .278 with two homers and 43 rbi. Good to see him get on the field healthy and showing his stuff.

 

 

Outfield

In the Outfield its Jordan Luplow, Chris Bostick and Edison Lantiqua.

 
Luplow was the Pirates minor league player of the year and saw time in the majors this year. He hit .302 with 23 homers, best in the system. Luplow could be in Pittsburgh to start next year and absolutely earned every accolade he gets.

 
Bostick had a good season despite no real expectations. He hit .294 with seven homers and 57 rbi with 33 doubles at Triple A Indianapolis.

 
Lantiqua played for Bristol this season, so he is unknown to most Pirate fans. Though he showed he maybe a future top 30 prospect by hitting .307 with four homers and eight steals during 48 games this season. He routinely topped offensive categories for Bristol this year and could be a breakout candidate in 2018.

 
At the utility position Albert Baur was selected. Baur played at West Virginia in the South Atlantic League and hit .298 during the season after spending two seasons in short season a ball. His campaign included 117 hits, 31 doubles and 65 rbi, all near the top of the Pirate system leader boards. Baur could be another unranked, yet sleeper player to watch.

 

 

Pitchers

The right-handed pitcher for the Pirates comes as no surprise, despite a talented system with plenty of depth at the position. Hammer Down favorite and number two Pirates prospect Mitch Keller earned the spot.
Keller made 23 starts, including six at double a. This included clutch starts in the double a playoff, where he went 2-0 with a 1.10 era. Keller is most likely going back to Altoona to start 2018, but after a stint in the AFL is primed to make a run toward starting in Pittsburgh real soon.

 
The best left hander in the system is Steven Brault. Brault is often time thrown in the mix as a fifth starter in Pittsburgh after making four starts and pitching in 11 games for the big club. He went 10-5 with a 1.94 era at triple this season. This earned him the Pirates minor league pitcher of the year award. Great pick for an all -star honor.

 
Tate Scioneaux was the all-star reliever for this team. He was Altoona’s closer after the promotion of Montana Durapau. He went 14 of 17 in save opportunities while pitching 83 innings with a 2.44 era. Scioneaux is another unranked prospect, but could surprise a lot of people if he keeps putting up good numbers.

 
Overall the list is pretty good. It’s just a little alarming that more ranked prospect don’t appear on this list. Though it adds some variety to the players to watch list.

To compare with the 2016 list check here.

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Sports Collections

Throwback to some of the coolest sports merchandise.

S.Samek

When I was a kid not only did I watch sports, I would collect them. Yes, I collected the standard baseball cards, but a couple other things too.

 
The first of which are the baseball helmets from Dairy queen. The ones that you could get when you ordered a sundae. It even had a display with each of the divisions, so you could keep the standings.

 
I have eight of them including a Montreal Expos one. They are still available, but maybe a bit forgotten about.

 
No doubt one of the most popular stadium giveaways of all time is the bobble head. A while back Post brand cereals took advantage of this by offering mini bobble heads of current MLB stars.

 
I remember always begging for the Oreo o’s or the like just so I could collect them. Even though most often the cereal became neglected after two, or three bowls and was left to become stale. Didn’t matter to me, I collected seven MLB stars, with a couple of them becoming hall of famers.

 
The final novelty I remember collecting is the mini team mugs. One could be had for .50 out of the toy machines at Walmart, or the grocery store. Yet again I ended up with seven from both the NFL and MLB.

 
They have come in handy too. I keep them on my baseball bat shaped shelf with a lot of my collectables and trophies. Actually, all the collectables mentioned in this post make their home on that shelf. Then I take my collection of baseballs and sit them on top of the mugs. Making for a pretty neat holder.

 
Note I didn’t and don’t collect these for the value. They aren’t worth much even several years after release. It was just a fun way to have merchandise from different teams.

 

 

 

Minor League Championship Games

By S. Samek

The triple -a baseball season wrapped up for the 2017 campaign on September 19,2017. The matchup for the level championship was the Durham Bulls and Memphis Cardinals. Th champs of the International League Durham won it thanks to a big grand slam by Kean Wong in a 5-3 victory.

As I was looking on twitter I saw a tweet asking why the other levels of the minors didn’t have national championship games. I figured it would be something to look into.
I think that it would be a good idea to see championships be played at other levels of the minors. It gives teams another game to play for a championship. If nothing else it’s a couple extra at bats and innings thrown for your pitcher. No down side really. Sure, injuries may occur. But these always a risk of those anytime you play.
If anything, you would think that the Triple A game wouldn’t be played. This is because most September call ups occur from Triple A. So, a decision is in play to call up players for the big club, or stay pat and try to win a triple a title. Double A players may get called up as will some high a players. Levels lower than this shouldn’t have this issue.

One issue though is the number of leagues.

Triple A has two leagues in the states, so they just play. Double A and High A have three. Class A and short season have two apiece, while rookie has five leagues. So, would the other leagues, just take the best two records, or play a round robin. I think that would be the hardest choice to make. Which team gets to host said game could be an issue to. I would just solve that simply by rotating it between leagues.
Plus, if it’s only one game, or even a round robin it’s only an extra day at most. A double header could be played with the three entrant classes and it would be over without elongating the season. Giving players time to relax before fall leagues and instructs. Call ups would then be able to join the MLB clubs for at least a solid month of development.
I’m all for more baseball and a chance to see elite prospects more times. A championship game for each class would give that opportunity. Make it happen MILB.

Holy Toledo

By S. Samek

Took the weekend and visited Toledo. Here are some pictures from my tip to visit the world famous Toledo Mud Hens.

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Copy of the Game Program.
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Hat for the collection. Road version

 

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Give away of the night: Fidget Spinner

 

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Night shot.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.