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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

His Honor

Yankees rookie is on many radars.

By S. Samek.

The New York Yankees a team of money. Known to flash the cash at whatever free agent can come their way. Yet what if I told you the Yanks did it the old-fashion way and have a home-grown talent dominating the game today.

The domination comes in the form of rookie outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge is hitting at a .344 clip with 21 home runs and 47 RBI. All of those are top marks in the American League.  The 21 homers are a league-wide best. Throw in additional top marks for runs scored, walks, total bases and the dominance is real.

Judge is coming off a week where he hit .500. Got on base at a .600 while slugging 1.00. The Yanks won five of the six contests and led the American League East.  The impressive week gave Judge the nod as player of the week for the first time in his career.

 

This comes on the heels of Judge being named AL rookie of the month for both April and May.

If that doesn’t get your attention his power should. On Sunday June 11,2017 Judge hit 495 feet, clearing the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. It was the second longest tracked home run ever, sense 2015 and the longest homer in the majors this year.

 The power looks to be real too. By homering 21 times to date, Judge has already amassed a career high in homers. Judge hit 56 homers in the minor leagues, with 39 of them coming in the past two seasons. 27 of those round trippers came at the triple a level. Think twice pitchers before throwing the high heat.

Judge was a great player in the minors. Three times he was selected as an Milb.com Yankees organization all-star. In 2014, he received an invitation to play for Scottsdale of the Arizona Fall League for advanced prospects. Judge made the AFL all-prospect team for his play with Scottsdale, while also being an AFL player of the week award. Then in 2015 Judge was selected for the Futures game as a member of the Scranton/WB Railriders. The first call to the majors came on August 13,2016 when the Yankees selected his contract.

Judge suited up in 27 games during that final month of 2016. He hit .179, but had 4 home runs and 10 rbi. Though an oblique strain sent him to the 15-day DL. Now the injury looks to be behind him and the numbers are improving.

Judge’s stellar season has gained the attention of fans league wide. Judge has the led in the All-star game vote for the American league outfield. His over a million and 250 thousand and 500 votes is the top mark in the American league for any position. To capitalize on this success Judge has earned his own cheering section. The section has been dubbed the Judge’s chambers and sits in right field. Fans wear judges robs and receive foam gavels that say “All Rise.”  True intimidation factor for opposing right fielders. Judge approves of the section too.

 

Can’t wait to see this guy in the all-star game. Should he win the triple crown, Judge can easily put a stamp on Rookie of the Year as well. No jury deliberation needed on that one.