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Can-Am League terminates Worcester Tornadoes ownership

Posted by Craig Forde August 31, 2012 11:40 AM

Tornadoes.pngThe Can-Am League announced on Friday morning that they have terminated the membership of the Worcester Tornadoes baseball club, the final nail in the coffin of an organization that suffered a tumultuous financial downfall over the past few months.

The league will seek new ownership in an effort to keep the team in Worcester.

"We have taken this action because the league wants strong, financially viable ownership in the Worcester market," said league commissioner Miles Wolff in a press release. "We will begin immediately looking for ownership for a team in Worcester that will be a positive influence in the community for many years to come."

The Tornadoes started the season with a high level of anticipation after the team inked controversial slugger Jose Canseco to a one year contract.

That marriage quickly went sour as Canseco routinely was unable to accompany the team on road trips due to various legal and physical issues before they cut ties after only 20 games.

Canseco has now filled a suit against the team for $840,000 in unpaid wages and interest.

Last Saturday the team had their uniforms seized by lawyers prior to a game for failure to pay a cleaning service and on Tuesday employees were locked out of the team offices while moving trucks packed up furniture.

The team, operated by Streamlined Sports Inc., has also allegedly failed to pay local vendors and detail services.

If the Can-Am League is unable to resurrect a team in Worcester under new ownership, other viable options include the NECBL and Futures League, both wooden-bat summer collegiate baseball leagues.

The current roster of Tornadoes will be able to complete the final three games of the season, all on the road against the Newark Bears.

Mauro Gomez named International League MVP, post season All-Star

Posted by Craig Forde August 28, 2012 11:06 AM

Mauro.jpgIn a season during which he has made four separate trips to the big club, where he now currently resides, former Pawtucket Red Sox 1B/DH Mauro Gomez was named the International League’s Most Valuable Player on Tuesday.

Gomez and fellow Boston shuttle-takers Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway were also named to the 2012 International League post-season All-Star Team.

In 100 games with Pawtucket, Gomez hit .310 with 59 of his 120 hits going for extra bases. He is second in the International League with 24 home runs, first in slugging percentage (.589) and fourth in RBIs (74). He becomes the seventh PawSox player to win the league MVP and first since Jeff Bailey received the honor in 2008. Gomez made his big league debut with Boston back on May 14th and returned to the club on August 18th where he has been since.

Highly regarded as one of the best fielding shortstops in the game, Jose Iglesias battled through injuries and an early season slump to play in 88 games for the PawSox. Voted the league's Best Defensive Shortstop for the last two years, he had a .966 fielding percentage on 384 chances at the position this year. Iglesias batted .266 with 23 RBIs, 46 runs, 12 stolen bases and struck out only 46 times in 353 plate appearances. The Cuban born shortstop was called up to Boston on August 25th for the second time this season.

Due to the hot play of both of Boston’s catchers early in the season, Ryan Lavarnway may have been forced to endure more time in Pawtucket than most would have liked, but he was rewarded for his patience. In 83 games he hit .295 despite a slow start that saw him limp out to a .268 average over the first two months of the season. His power numbers were down from a year ago, but Lavarnway still contributed 8 home runs, 22 doubles and 43 RBIs to the cause. He was also voted the league’s Best Defensive Catcher. Lavarnway was finally called up to Boston on August 1st where he remains.

Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) RHP Tyler Cloyd was voted Most Valuable Pitcher and Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees skipper Dave Miller was named Manager of the Year. First baseman Ernesto Mejia became the third start Gwinnett Braves players to win Rookie of the Year, following 1B Freddie Freeman (2010) and RHP Julio Teheran (2011).

The International League postseason awards are voted on by the managers, coaches, media and club representatives.

Connecticut uses extra frame to sink Lowell Spinners

Posted by Craig Forde August 26, 2012 08:36 PM

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LOWELL - A tenth inning home run from Jake Stewart helped the Connecticut Tigers back a solid night of pitching in a 2-1 win over the Lowell Spinners at LeLacheur Park on Sunday night.

The Spinners jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when a Deven Marrero single brought in Matty Johnson from second base and it looked as if they might be on their way to a .500 record for the first time since June 25th.

Unfortunately for the Spinners, they would not pick up another hit until the sixth inning thanks to an impressive five innings of work from Connecticut starter Edgar De La Rosa who allowed only one hit, striking out two and walking two. DeLaRosa.jpg

“De La Rosa did a great job,” said Tigers manager Andrew Graham of his starter, who routinely threw his fastball in the high-90s. “He gave us five quality innings, giving up only that one hit, so you can’t ask for any more than that. Obviously we’d like him to go further in the game, but we've got pitching restrictions, which is why he came out [after] the fifth.”

Equally effective for the Tigers was reliever Ramon Lebron who worked a knee-buckling breaking ball for six strikeouts over three innings.

The Spinners bats continued to avoid pitches when side-armer Matt Davenport came on in the ninth, striking out two to send the game into extra innings.

Lowell reliever Gerardo Oliveras whiffed Carlos De Los Santos to start the tenth, and had two strikes on Stewart before he caught a hold of a fastball that touched the left field scoreboard for what would be the game-winning hit.

Despite an errant pick-off attempt that put Aneury Tavarez at third base in the bottom of the tenth, Davenport held tight for the win, striking out Oscar Perez for the final out.

“De La Rosa and Lebron have plus arms and they pitched off their fast ball tonight, doing a great job of staying in the zone,” said Graham. “Davenport has been doing a great job for us all year. He’s been really effective, a little bit deceptive from down there and just does the job.”

Jared Reaves tied the game in the fifth inning with a one out double that scored Edgar Corcino. The win halted a five game losing streak for the Tigers and ended a five game Spinners win streak.

NOTES: Spinners starting pitcher Pat Light was effective in his three innings of work, facing eleven batters, striking out two and pacing himself thanks to a four pitch, 1-2-3 second inning. “I felt good. All my pitches were working well. It’s been a long year for me, my first start was the third week in February. I’m still going and I like it, but I’m ok with it ending.” Light is scheduled to make two more starts, including the final game of the season on the road in Brooklyn….OF Seth Schwindenhammer has been shut down for the remainder of the season as he recovers from appendix surgery.

Cultivating the Farm: Portland finishing with a flourish, PawSox with best playoff chances

Posted by Craig Forde August 23, 2012 12:56 AM

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PawSoxlogo.gifPawtucket (71-61, 2nd in IL North – AAA) – Only 12 games remain on the schedule for the PawSox who grip tightly to a one-game lead in the Wild Card standings over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. They cap the season with four games at McCoy against the Yankees first place Travelin’ Wilkes-Barre-ies, giving Pawtucket the slightest chance of defending their I.L. North crown…In the ten starts since RHP Zach Stewart was traded from the Chicago White Sox he has allowed 24 runs, all of them earned, for a 4.13 ERA. He has struck out 38, walked only 14 in 52 1/3 innings and has gone five-plus frames in eight of his starts while stretching back into a starting role after 17 relief appearances with Chicago…RHP Daniel Bard’s roller-coaster ride continues, as he proceeds to put together two solid outings, then couples it with three straight bombs. However, his ride with the PawSox has been pretty even-keeled when it comes down to numbers. He has made 29 appearances, throwing 30 innings, allowing 27 hits, 28 runs, 29 walks to go with 30 strikeouts…SS Jose Iglesias has as many hits (24) so far in August as he had in all of July. He has also scored more runs (14) and has more extra-base hits (5) than in any other month this year…3B/1B Andy LaRoche has hit safely in ten straight games, a span in which he has four home runs, 11 RBIs, six runs, and four doubles. He is hitting .274 in 44 games with the PawSox after hitting .234 in 46 games with Columbus (Cleveland Indians, Triple-A).

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SeaDogslogo.gifPortland (63-66, 4th in EL Eastern – AA) – The SeaDogs have won eight of their last nine games, are 14-4 in August and 33-25 in the second half of the season. They will need to make up a five-game deficit and chase down both Reading (Phillies) and New Britain (Twins) over their last 12 games in order to make their first playoff appearance since 2008. They do finish the season with four games at home versus the Rphils…OF Bryce Brentz is in the top-20 of many categories in the Eastern League, including games played (10th – 115), hits (10th - 124), batting average (11th - .290), slugging percentage (6th - .480), doubles (7th - 28), home runs (6th - 17), runs (14th - 58), RBIs (7th - 69), strikeouts (3rd – 123) and total bases (5th - 205)…RHP Stolmy Pimentel leads the team with nine quality starts on the year. On Wednesday night he picked up his first Double-A road win, allowing one earned run in six innings against New Britain…OF Jeremy Hazelbaker is second in the Eastern League with 33 stolen bases. He has been caught 11 times, as have two others in the top-five…RHP Jason Urquidez is 4-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 13 appearances, 2 starts. He has not a run in his last 18 innings of work.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SalemSoxlogo.gifSalem (21-37 second half, last in CL Southern – High A) – It’s been a second half to forget for the Salem Sox as they continue to lose top-ranked prospects and games at about the same rate. They are 3-9 since the promotion of Xander Bogaerts. Salem has long since been eliminated from playoff contention, but will play out the remaining 12 games of the season with pride on their minds…RHP Keith Couch became a ten-game winner for the first time in his career. He has picked up a decision in 19 of his 26 appearances this season (20 starts). His 102 strikeouts are sixth most in the Red Sox organization…Leading the farm in strikeouts is RHP Matt Barnes with 130 over 112 2/3 innings. In his last ten starts he is 0-3 with a 5.63 ERA and has pitched less than five innings in six of those outings. Barnes has not picked up a win since June 14th…After collecting twenty or more hits in each of the first four months of the season, OF Brandon Jacobs has only six hits in August. HE is 2-for-26 over his last ten games, with eight strikeouts and one RBI. Jacobs 118 total strikeouts are fifth most in the Carolina League.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Drivelogo.gifGreenville (24-34 second half, Tied 5th in SAL Southern - Low A) – Just 2-8 over their last ten games, and 6-14 in August, the Drive are looking to put this season in park by this point. Eleven games remain for Greenville who are 58-70 overall on the year…OF Keury De La Cruz continues to be a model of consistency at the plate, with a team high .311 batting average that is good enough for sixth in the Sally League. He is third in the league in hits (142), fifth in doubles (33), second in home runs (19) and fourth in RBIs (79)…RHP Tyler Lockwood has made a team-high 41 relief appearances this season, notching 8 saves, also a team-high. He made 39 appearances with Greenville last season and walked only 9 batters over 69 innings. This season Lockwood has allowed 25 free passes in 59 innings with the Drive this year...SS Jose Vinicio has 15 extra-base hits and 24 stolen bases in 70 games for Greenville. The 18-year-old from the Dominican boasts a .924 fielding percentage in 331 chances at his position.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Spinnerslogo.gifLowell (29-33, 2nd in NYPL Stedler - Short Season A) – The Spinners have cooled a bit following a red-hot start to the month. Tri-City sprinted away with the Stedler Division title and Lowell is still nine games back and would have to climb over four other teams to earn a wild card spot. Stranger things have happened, but with just 14 games remaining it looks as if the Spinners will miss out on the postseason for the third straight season…Despite batting .221 in the month of August, SS Deven Marrero has reached base safely in his last ten games. He is second in the league with 21 stolen bases and has only been caught 6 times…1B David Chester hit his 9th home run of the season on Wednesday and is second in the league behind Staten Island Yankees’ 1B Saxon Butler (10). Chester led the Gulf Coast League in home runs last season with nine in 46 games…INF Mookie Betts has driven in a team-high 15 RBIs in 20 games in August after having 11 in his first 38 games…RHP William Cuevas continues to shine in the piggy-back starters role, going 7-1 in his last 8 games. His 1.36 ERA is second lowest in the NYPL and his 0.93 WHIP is fifth…LHP Brian Johnson visited the team on Sunday after being discharged from the hospital after suffering multiple orbital fractures in the left side of his face. Johnson was hit with a line drive on the second pitch of Saturday’s game at Fenway Park. He is headed back to his home in Florida and should be ready to go at the start of next season.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Red Sox logo.gifGulf Coast (32-25, 1st in GCL South – Rookie) – The GCL Sox cling to their one game lead over the Twins with just three games to be played. Two of those games will be against the Twins…LHP Cody Kukuk, a 2011 seventh-rounder, has allowed only one run over seven innings in four relief appearances. He has stuck out ten and allowed only one hit and three walks…LHP Robby Scott has allowed just one earned run over 20 1/3 innings of relief work. He has struck out 23 and walked five. Over two seasons (between GCL Sox and Spinners) Scott has posted a 1.16 ERA in 20 appearances…The Gulf Coast Sox have used four catchers thus far – David Sopilka, Miguel Rodriguez, Beau Bishop, Carlos Coste – and they have combined for a .182 batting average and nine extra-base hits.

Rays first-round pick Richie Shaffer making most of Mass. trips, pro ball

Posted by Craig Forde August 21, 2012 02:22 PM

Shafferkick (1).jpgWhenever Richie Shaffer spends some time in Massachusetts, it seems to come with the added bonus of playing at Fenway Park.

After his sophomore season at Clemson, the third baseman from Charlotte spent the summer of 2011 with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League, and found his way to the fabled ground on Yawkey Way via All-Star Game festivities.

“I had been [to Fenway] before and did a little home run derby, but I didn’t actually get to play in a game,” said Shaffer, who won the contest with six long balls. “The Cape last year was my only real experience up here. For the most part you are playing every single day. It’s just a very condensed version of what this is right now. Those experiences helped me prepare for now.”

This past Saturday he returned to Fenway Park as a member of the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn League, the Short-Season Single-A farm team of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Shaffer, the 25th overall pick of this past June’s draft, did not send any balls over the Monster in his return trip, but he did finally get his chance to play in a game, in which his Renegades would win, 6-5, over the host Lowell Spinners.

“It’s pretty neat and obviously the tradition is incredible at Fenway, so just being out there on the same field where some of the legends of baseball played is obviously a tremendous honor,” said Shaffer, who went 0-for-5 on the day but flashed some solid defense. “You respect it, it’s pretty amazing and hopefully that’ll just be a taste of things to come for all of us.”

For now Shaffer is enjoying his first taste of professional baseball, after having captained his Clemson squad to a 35-28 mark during his junior year.

He earned two First Team All-ACC nods in his three seasons with the Tigers, compiling a .325 batting average to go along with a .448 on-base percentage, 30 home runs, 47 doubles, 137 RBIs, 156 runs and 125 walks.

It didn’t take long for Shaffer to realize a striking difference in jumping from college to the pros.

“The everyday grind, it’s what everyone talks about, and it’s honestly the truth,” said Shaffer. “Coming out here you have to be mentally prepared every day and be physically ready to accept the challenges that the day holds. You’ve got to have that mental intensity and that focus, one-hundred percent, every day. There’s some off days where you can relax in college, but here you have to bring it every day.”Shafferfield2.jpg

Keeping it all in perspective, Shaffer added, “The bases are still 90-feet apart and the mound is still 60-feet, 6-inches away. At the end of the day you’re still playing baseball, it’s just getting used to a new environment, getting used to a new group of guys and getting used to playing every day.”

Sharing the experience with a highly-talented group of players (Hudson Valley boasts four first-round or supplemental first-round selections) Shaffer is finding his comfort zone amidst the daily grind, but is still trying to find his groove at the plate.

In 19 games, the 21-year-old is hitting .254 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and 19 runs. He has only one double and has struck out 20 times while drawing only nine walks.

He continues to show an improved approach to patience when he hits the box, having walked three times and struck out only twice over his last six games.

If that pattern holds, the numbers will certainly increase as he works his way through the Rays system. His ever-positive attitude will help him maintain.

“I’m feeling pretty good, just trying to get into a groove and stay consistent,” said Shaffer of his approach to hitting. “That’s the name of the game. You can have and 0-fer day one day, then turn around and go 3-for-4 the next. It’s just staying confident mentally and just trying to be as consistent as possible every day.”

He has displayed this consistency in the field, having posted a .923 fielding percentage in 12 games at third base, a position many believe he may not be long for mainly due to what the Rays already have in place with Evan Longoria.

If the organization takes that approach then they may miss out on a nice gem at the hot-corner, as Shaffer also possesses accuracy in a cannon arm. But if a move became necessary, Shaffer put in two seasons of work at first base while at Clemson.

Shafferfield (1).jpg“I’m really working on just trying to become a complete player overall,” said Shaffer. “I’m trying to limit all of my weaknesses and trying to extend the positives, working on my reactions and my first steps at third.”

The Renegades are 40-20 on the year and maintain a three game lead over the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York-Penn’s McNamara Division, giving this young group a chance to extend their on-the-job training.

Shaffer would have it no other way, as he continues to find the positives, even when he stumbles.

“If you have rough days where you boot a ball or go 0-for-4, there’s something you did in the day to help you grow as a player,” said Shaffer. “Whether you spit on a breaking ball that you usually swing at or you’re a step quicker on a ground ball, there is something throughout every day that you can draw a positive on and that’s what’s key.”

Keeping this mentality will be the key to Shaffer earning another return trip to Fenway Park, which would most likely come with the big club.

Craig Forde can be reached by email at cforde@globe.com and you can follow him on Twitter @BeyondFenway.

No live chat today

Posted by Craig Forde August 20, 2012 10:48 AM

On Friday we had announced that Lowell Spinners pitcher Brian Johnson would be joining us this afternoon for a live chat session. Unfortunately he was struck in the face with a line drive during his start at Fenway Park on Saturday and suffered multiple orbital fractures on the left side of his face, so today's chat has been cancelled.

Of course, first and foremost we wish Johnson all the best and hope for a speedy recovery. I'm sure it won't be too hard to get him on here sometime in the future, but ultimately we look forward to seeing him back on the hill as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we are trying to line up some more live chats over the coming weeks as we hit the home stretch of the season, so keep checking in to see what's coming up. I will also be up in Lowell tonight, so check in for updates from LeLacheur Park.

Red Sox first-rounder Brian Johnson hit in face by line drive

Posted by Craig Forde August 18, 2012 04:59 PM

BOSTON – Lowell Spinners pitcher Brian Johnson, the 31st overall pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2012 MLB draft, suffered multiple orbital bone fractures in the left side of his face after being struck by a line drive during the first part of the Futures at Fenway doubleheader on Saturday.

“He’s seeing the surgeon right now so we have no idea what the results are but it’s not a pretty sight,” manager Bruce Crabbe said after the 6-5 loss to Hudson Valley. “There was no blood or anything, and he wasn’t unconscious. So that’s a good sign. But we’ll just have to wait and see what the doctors say.”

In the game’s first at-bat, Joey Rickard lined a fastball straight back at Johnson, striking him just below the left eye. Johnson immediately fell to the ground clutching his face and was taken off on a stretcher after being down for about five minutes. He was able to wave his hand to the crowd upon leaving.

“It was pretty scary,” said teammate and fellow 2012 first-rounder Pat Light. “It’s tough because I wanted to see him out there. He was hit on the knee in his first start with us, so he’s had some tough luck.”

A Red Sox spokesperson said that there were no signs of a concussion. He was taken to an area hospital and is resting comfortably.

“It was a tough thing to watch,” Crabbe said. “You’ve been with this guy all year and something happens like that, it’s trying, no doubt.”

With two weeks remaining in the Spinners’ season, it is doubtful that Johnson will return this season, though nothing is official.

Johnson had not allowed a run in six innings over five starts for Lowell. He was also forced to leave in the first inning of a start in late July, when he was nailed in the knee by a liner.

Johnson had been on a light work schedule after hurling 90 innings for Florida, compiling a 3.90 ERA while also collecting more than 200 at-bats as a position player, hitting .307.

Futures at Fenway - Players initial reactions

Posted by Craig Forde August 18, 2012 01:34 PM

FenwayFutures.jpgThe Lowell Spinners have hit the field to kick off the Futures at Fenway festivities as they take on the Hudson Valley Renegades. Prior to the game I got some reaction from some of the players about having the chance to come and play at historic Fenway Park

Son of former Red Sox catcher Rich, former UMass Minuteman and native of Framingham, Matt Gedman – “In college I played in the field maybe 3 or 4 times during the Beanpot. Every time you come back here it’s a really special experience. You definitely appreciate everything [his father] did and everyone who has played here and the whole history of the ball park. It’s pretty cool.
“Some of the guys have been here before, but a couple of guys whose first time experience is now, you see their eyes bulging out a little bit and looking around. Hopefully we’ll have some fun today.
“I haven’t been inside the Monster, but I’ve been on top of it before. The ball park is so cool, it has so many dimensions to it. Just to be here is pretty neat.”

Spinners' first baseman David Chester, by way of Collinsville, Oklahoma and the University of Pittsburgh – “It’s awesome! It’s the first time for me at Fenway and a lot of the other guys too. It’s a neat experience walking out on the field and all that and I just can’t wait for the game now. I come in here and see all the seats in the stands and stuff and it realty gets you going.
“I walked in from the first base side and I just sat there for a second and looked around. You see the Green Monster, you see everything like the seats and Pesky Pole, everything. Then we got to walk out and see where people signed the pole. You always hear about it, but getting a chance to see it was cool.”

Starting left fielder for Lowell Dreily Guerrero from Higuey in the Dominican Republic – “You know what, it’s the first time we’re going to play her. To think about the other Dominican players around the big leagues who have played here, it’s so interesting and I’m so excited to play here.”

Tiverton, Rhode Island native and Spinners DH Zach Kapstein – “It’s definitely something special that everyone looks forward to, especially as a ballplayer. The actual Red Sox organization, that’s your goal. Every day you’re actually working to get to this spot. It makes you feel like you’re not working for nothing. When they give you the chance to come here and play, you’re always try to take advantage of every day, but this day is going to be really special. It refreshes my memory of my ultimate goal of getting up here full time.
“Growing up in Rhode Island, I’ve been lucky enough to come to this ball park and go out on the field [in the past]. I appreciate every day I come up here. It’s not something that I get accustomed to or take for granted. I really enjoy coming up here; the history, the background, the organization and the people working in it, the players, the whole scene.”

Hudson Valley RHP Jeff Ames – “I’ve been wanting to play here my whole life. It’s a pretty surreal experience. I’m really excited. My first thoughts [when I walked out] was thinking about what this place must be like when it’s filled up.”

Chat with Red Sox first-rounder Brian Johnson on Monday

Posted by Craig Forde August 17, 2012 12:32 PM

johnson.jpgWe had a fun time this past Tuesday chatting with Lowell Spinners RHP Pat Light, so we’ve decided try another live chat again this coming Monday, August 20th, when we welcome fellow first-rounder Brian Johnson for a live chat.

The 31st overall pick of this past June’s draft, Johnson will have the privilege of starting for the Lowell Spinners this Saturday at the annual Futures at Fenway event, so he’ll be more than eager to share his thoughts on that experience as well as his days at the University of Florida and any other questions you may have.

We will also have full coverage of the Futures at Fenway happenings all day tomorrow, starting with the Spinners versus the Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay Rays) at 1:00 p.m., followed by the Pawtucket Red Sox against the Buffalo Bisons (New York Mets) at 4:30 p.m.

LIVE chat with Pat Light

Posted by Craig Forde August 15, 2012 01:26 PM

Cultivating the Farm: Portland Sea Dogs benefit from system shuffling

Posted by Craig Forde August 14, 2012 09:02 AM

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PawSoxlogo.gifPawtucket (66-56, 1st in IL North – AAA) – In the midst of the annual late-season organizational shuffle, the PawSox lost their foothold atop the North Division in the International League. A 5-7 start to August has aided the slide from the top, but they do maintain a 1 ½ game lead in the wildcard race. They are looking to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1996-97…SS Jose Iglesias is in the midst of a season-high nine game hitting streak. He has collected four doubles in August, matching the total amount of doubles he hit in the prior four months of the season…Almost half of 1B Mauro Gomez’s 115 hits have been of the extra-base variety (57). He is batting .311 in 95 games, third best average in the International League…In their recent Best Tools edition, Baseball America named OF Alex Hassan as having the ‘Best Strikezone Judgment’ in the International League. On the season he has drawn 55 walks and has 1.134 OPS when working ahead in the count.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SeaDogslogo.gifPortland (55-65, 5th in EL Eastern – AA) – The Sea Dogs may have received the bulk of the talent during the recent run of organizational transactions. The likes of Travis Shaw, Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez and Brandon Workman have all made their way north since the start of August. It won’t turn the season around by any means, but it should provide a glimpse of what Portland might look like at the start of next season…After steam rolling through the first three months of the season, OF Jackie Bradley is finally facing a little adversity at the plate. In 40 games over July and August, he is batting .254, after hitting .358 through June…OF Bryce Brentz was named the ‘Best Outfield Arm’ in the Eastern League by Baseball America. In 76 games as a right fielder he has ten assists…RHP Stolmy Pimentel has lost two of his last three starts, including the shortest outing of his career against Binghamton on July 28th when he lasted only a third of an inning. He allowed 12 earned runs on 13 hits and 11 walks in his last three appearances.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SalemSoxlogo.gifSalem (18-32 second half, last in CL Southern – High A) – First it was the promotion of Jackie Bradley, now it’s the departure of Xander Bogaerts that has the Salem Sox reeling. They have lost all five games since the 19-year-old shortstop headed to Portland and the team is batting .192 during the losing streak…RHP Yeiper Castillo has gone five or more innings in each of his seven starts for Salem. His 104 total strikeouts (between Greenville and Salem) rank fourth in the organization…OF Brandon Jacobs is in a 0-for-18 slump and is 4-for-45 (.089) in the month of August…C Adalberto Ibarra has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, including five multi-hit games. The 25-year-old Cuban is batting .536 during this stretch.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Drivelogo.gifGreenville (22-25 second half, 5th in SAL Southern - Low A) – The Drive have yet to make a playoff appearance since become a Red Sox affiliate in 2005, and unfortunately that trend will continue. Greenville is 4-6 in August and have allowed 46 runs in those ten games…3B Garin Cecchini has stolen 40 bases on 44 attempts and has the most swipes of any player in the Red Sox organization. Baseball America voted him as having the ‘Best Infield Arm’ in the South Atlantic League…After picking up two straight losses, LHP Henry Owens has won his last two starts, striking out ten batters over eleven innings. He has a total of 117 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings and trails only Matt Barnes (124) for most Ks in the organization…After allowing two home runs and four runs in an August 4th outing, RHP Justin Erasmus was released after four years in the Sox system. The reliever from South Africa had allowed 13 home runs in 49 2/3 innings this season. In 24 appearances with Greenville last season he went 4-1 with a 1.11 ERA, but in 26 appearances this year he was 1-3 with a 9.24 ERA.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Spinnerslogo.gifLowell (26-28, 2nd in NYPL Stedler - Short Season A) – Mired in the basement of the Stedler Division since the get-go, the Spinners have made a remarkable run, rattling off fifteen wins over their last eighteen games. Sure, they are still 14 games out of first place, but this was a team that lost eleven straight at one point, so a turnaround of this magnitude is noteworthy…OF Dreily Guerrero and RHP Francisco Taveras will play for the American League in the New York-Penn League All-Star game on Tuesday night in Mahoning Valley, Ohio…RHP Mike Augliera has gone three innings in his last four starts and has not allowed a run in that twelve inning span. He has struck out 17 and walked only one batter in those games. A fifth rounder in the 2012 draft, Augliera has struck out 30 and walked 2 in 23 1/3 innings of work…OF Aneury Tavarez has six multi-hit games in his last nine. In 40 games he has 41 hits and is batting .311, tied for eighth in the league…After a 0-for-21 stretch, SS Deven Marrero has gone 4-for-10 with a home run, two RBIs, three runs and two stolen bases.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Red Sox logo.gifGulf Coast (27-21, 1st in GCL South – Rookie) – The GCL Sox maintain a slim, half-game lead over the Twins heading into the final 11 games of the season. They are 6-5 in the month of August…CF Jose Colorado is ninth in the league in batting (.295), tied for sixth in stolen bases (13) and fourth in runs scored (29). He has also walked 21 times and has made only two errors in a team-high 42 games played…3B Nick Moore had a seven game hit streak snapped, a span in which he hit three home runs. He has played in 41 games and has a .390 on-base percentage, fifth best in the league…RHP Austin Maddox, a third-round selection in the 2012 draft out of Florida, made his pro debut on August 10th, working a scoreless inning in a start against the Twins. Maddox struck out one batter.

Chat with Red Sox first-rounder Pat Light this Wednesday

Posted by Craig Forde August 13, 2012 12:43 PM

Light headshot.jpgThis Wednesday, August 15th, Boston Red Sox supplemental first-round pick and Lowell Spinners RHP Pat Light will join us for a live chat at 2:00 p.m.

The 37th overall selection of the 2012 draft, and former Monmouth standout, will take to the keyboard to mow down your questions for a while, so please join us and take some cuts off the big-righty.

Talk to him about everything from the Spinners upcoming Futures at Fenway trip, to his summers spent with the Newport Gulls (NECBL) and Chatham Anglers (Cape League), to his New Jersey roots.

Blake Swihart grows in Greenville

Posted by Craig Forde August 13, 2012 12:14 PM

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Darrell Snow /Greenville Drive


When Blake Swihart turns 21-years-old next April, he will not be living it up like most would. Instead, the 26th overall pick of the 2011 MLB draft will be getting ready to start his second full season of professional baseball, trying to build off of all that he has learned so far.

Shortly after being drafted out of Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Swihart arrived in the Rookie Gulf Coast League where the then 19-year-old knew things would be different right away.

“The minute I arrived at instructs, with all the guys around me, and I saw the guys rehabbing there like Dice-K, I was like, “Whoa,”” said Swihart of his first impressions of pro ball. “I took a big step back right there.”

Swihart would appear in only two games for the GCL Sox, but having that initial introduction to his new career made him hungry and determined to rise up the ladder as quickly as possible.

“I wanted to be able to make a full season team and I just wanted to develop and learn as much as I can,” said Swihart of his goals coming into the 2012 campaign. “I think things are going great, I think I’m developing and learning every day.”

Prior to being sidelined at the beginning of August with a strained hip flexor, Swihart had logged 75 games (55 behind the plate) for the Sox Low Class-A affiliate, the Greenville Drive.

He has had the opportunity to hone his game behind the plate by catching fellow 2011 first-round pitchers Matt Barnes and Henry Owens as well as rehabbing Major Leaguers such as Andrew Miller and Rich Hill.

“When you think baseball and developing relationships you are always going to think pitcher-catcher first,” said Owens, who played with Swihart on Team USA’s U-18 team prior to both being drafted by Boston. “It was good just to know each other before we even came out for our first instructional league in the GCL. We already had a six-month relationship with each other so he already had a feel for how I throw.”

It didn’t take long for Swihart to build a rapport with his other pitchers either, aiding them with his ever-improving game calling ability and defense, throwing out would-be base stealers 31% of the time while maintaining a .986 fielding percentage.

“Every game I’m getting more and more comfortable behind there,” said Swihart who only started catching in his junior year in high school. “It’s going really well and I’m learning my pitchers really well. I’m blocking well, throwing well and everything’s going good so far. They haven’t had me change anything or do anything different than what I’ve been doing.”

Regarding those who choose to run on him, Swihart added, “I think when a base runner does steal on me, I get upset. It’s kind of a “me-versus-him” thing. Sometimes you don’t have a chance, but there’s a bunch of factors that go into it. I try to throw out
every one I can.”Swihart throw.jpg

A switch-hitter, Swihart batted .545 during his senior season in high school, adding 27 extra-base hits, a .970 slugging percentage, 41 RBIs, 54 runs and 19 stolen bases.

Some of those numbers have been tough to duplicate right of the gate, but he did come in with some wood-bat experience under his belt and he has improved his approach when stepping into the box.

“For me, at the beginning, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself trying to do too much,” said Swihart who on the season is batting .255 with six home runs and 41 RBIs. “The last couple of months I’ve been relaxed and doing what I know how to do.”

After batting .178 in the opening month of the season, Swihart put up a .282 average over the following three months and was even 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts in July.

“The hardest transition was just knowing that you are going to have 100 more at-bats, besides just this one at-bat,” said Swihart of what he learned from his early struggles. “If for one at-bat you don’t have a quality appearance, you know that you can make up for it.”

If he can build on his 6’1”, 175 pound frame and continue to show improved patience at the plate, then he has the potential to develop a big-league ready bat. The defense is already on its way.

There has been no time frame given for Swihart’s return from his current injury, although he is not expected to miss too much time. But you can bet that the 20-year-old will still learn something just by observing.

There is much hope that Swihart is the future of the catching position for the Boston Red Sox. For now, he is just a 20-year-old learning the game, and growing with it each day.

Craig Forde can be reached via email at cforde@globe.com and you can follow him on Twitter @BeyondFenway.

An interview with Lowell Spinners pitcher Pat Light

Posted by Craig Forde August 11, 2012 10:52 PM

With my household being utterly turn upside-down since the arrival of my second child a month ago, I have been slacking with Red Sox prospect information and for that I apologize.

Thankfully our friend and blogger-in-arms Brian Moynahan of MiLB.com and Bus Leagues Baseball was kind enough to toss us a bone by providing me with a word-for-word transcript to a recent interview he conducted with Lowell Spinners pitcher Pat Light...and if you've caught on by now, Light is more than ready to sling some words around.

We have Futures at Fenway this coming Saturday and a possible live chat with Mr. Light himself at some point during this week. We will keep you updated on both, but in the meantime, please enjoy this interview and I will do my best to crank out some more quality work when the sanity of the household is restored for a long enough period of time.

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Brian Moynahan: I read in an interview you’d done before about going to Monmouth, and how it kind of helped you develop a little different because you got to fight through some of the struggles and stuff. Are you surprised that more talented guys out of high school don’t go that route instead of going to Vanderbilt or the baseball factories?

Pat Light: I’m not surprised. I mean, you can see the teams on TV,Light3.jpg just like in pro ball. Mainly you see the Yankees on TV any state you go, you see the Red Sox anywhere you go, and you want to go play for those teams. As a kid growing you see South Carolina, who doesn’t want to go to South Carolina? They just went to the College World Series three years in a row. So I’m not surprised, but for those guys that do end up going to the little bit smaller schools to make sure they play at the beginning, I’d say it can turn out a lot better for them just because they have that opportunity to grow at a very young age.

As a freshman, I was thrown into the fire. My second start was against ECU, who I think was a Top 15 team in the country at the time. My first start was against San Diego, who was Top 25. And I did awesome against San Diego and got DESTROYED against ECU. I got a standing ovation coming out of the game at ECU because I was giving up so many runs. So it was one of those things where I was thrown right into the fire, and like I’ve told people before, my freshman year was my worst year of baseball and it was the most rewarding because I was able to learn so much from it.

I got so much I learned from that year. Most people would say they wish that first year would go away; I love having it there because it’s something I can look back on and say, “This is what I was doing wrong at this point. I’m doing it again. This is how I fixed it.” So it’s something that is easy to learn from.

BM: When did you realize that? Was it as you were going through it or was it where you had to kinda look back after and say, “You know what? There was good to this.”?

PL: It was afterwards. I mean, going through that, let me tell you man. I went 20-0 in high school, and that wasn’t easy either. My freshman year, my coaches didn’t think very highly of me. My sophomore year I was still fighting for stuff. And then finally junior year, I was the fifth pitcher on the roster, four of the pitchers ahead of me all got hurt. And they ended up giving me the start on Opening Day and I just went from there.

So that was tough, and then I [went to college] and I was like, “I got it all figured out. I’m good, I’m going to Monmouth. It’s not South Carolina. I’m good to go.” And I just got smacked around. It was so…it was heartbreaking. It was tough to go through that year. And then the beginning of my sophomore year I did the same thing, and I had a breaking point my sophomore year. You can go ask my coach. At Wagner, I came out and we ended up winning the game, but I gave up like six runs in three innings and I was thought I had had it. I thought that I had no more left of baseball. I thought I couldn’t do it anymore. I was just at my point.

And then from there on out, me and my coaches got together and we sat down, we started talking, and from there on out I was good. I pitched well. I don’t know how it happened, but looking back on it, it was the most beneficial year and a half I’ve ever had. But when I went through it, it was the toughest year and a half I’ve ever been through.

BM: After the Draft, you signed quickly. Did that have anything to do with the new CBA that was in place or do you think that no matter what year you were drafted you would’ve wanted to get right into it?

PL: I wanted to sign early. You always hear those – and I love Deven [Marrero] and I love Brian Johnson; they signed a little bit later than I did and they do whatever they think is best for them – I didn’t want to be seen as something where I was a first round guy, you know, “He’s asking for way more money, hasn’t even pitched anything yet.” I thought it was a good idea just to kind of sign quick, come out and play, make sure everyone knows that I’m still playing baseball. That’s my main focus. It’s not the money. It worked out great for me. Three years at Monmouth, that’s my plan going the whole way, was to sign early and get out and play. So I’m happy with what I did.

BM: It was a month between the time you signed and the time you actually debuted. What was that month spent doing?

PL: You have to ask Abby [pitching coach Paul Abbott] a little bit more than me, but it was working as if I was starting, I just wasn’t starting. The workload was the same, everything was the same. I just wasn’t pitching in a game, which as a competitor is tough to do. We were going through a 10 or 11 game losing streak at the time, and it’s tough. You want to help the team any way you can and the best thing I could do was say, “Good job,” you know? It’s tough. But I worked as hard as I could in the month of time and tried to keep myself in game shape and keep my arm in game shape and get ready for that one time I get back into the starting rotation, which I have been now. So far it’s been pretty good.
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BM: Right here, we’re sitting at sort of the entry level to professional baseball, long way from the major leagues…but was it still cool to make your home debut against the [Staten Island] Yankees?

PL: Yes. Yes, for sure. I mean, I don’t know if you have a Twitter or anything, but I tweeted – I actually put it on my Facebook too – that, “home start, versus the Yankees, can’t wait, extremely excited.” I grew up in Jersey. I grew up in the heart of Yankee Nation. It’s Yankees-Red Sox constantly. Whenever the Yankees play the Red Sox, everything else stops. So I grew up on the other end of the rivalry, I grew up on the Yankee end, but going against these guys, it’s awesome. I had so many people text me thinking I was pitching against the actual Yankees, which obviously I’m not, but I mean, I couldn’t have asked for a better team to pitch against. Home debut, in a Boston Red Sox uniform, pitching against the Yankees. It’s awesome. It’s a dream come true.

BM: You talked about what you did leading up to your actual debut. At this point, what are you trying to do when you’re out there on the mound? What are you focusing on from game to game?

PL: Just getting better. When I’m out there I try to focus on the stuff I focused on in college. I’ve given people too much credit when I’ve gone from level to level. I pitched at Monmouth, who like we’ve said like three times already in the interview, they’re not South Carolina. It’s not those big schools. Then come up here and [I’m] facing guys that got drafted after me that went to big schools, I’ve seen on TV, I’ve seen them do well in college, and I give them too much credit. I think that because I went to a smaller school, I might [have to] be too good, I might have to be too fine. That’s the thing I focus on the most. I did it in my first start and it didn’t go well. I gave up five hits, two runs, a walk, and a strikeout. And the walk was the first batter. I walked him on four straight pitches. That’s something I’ve never done in my life.

So that is one thing that I focus on when I’m out there, is stay simple. You know, you’ve got the stuff, obviously the front office of Boston thought I had the stuff. People have confidence in me, so I have confidence in myself in going there out there, focusing one pitch at a time, and getting those guys out. That’s what I did against the Yankees, and I may have given up a run, but I thought I attacked every hitter and it was a huge confidence boost for me.

BM: So it’s more of getting past the mental side of it.

PL: Yeah, it’s huge. I’ve got the stuff. I have the physical stuff. I have a great fastball. I have good stuff, there’s no question about it, but the mental side is the hardest thing. You ask any baseball player in the world, it’s the mental side of the game that’ll get you. Because at this level there’s a difference in talent, but every level you go up it gets shorter and shorter and the difference between the best players in the world and some of just the good players in the world is the mental side of the game, and that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on.

BM: You mentioned your fastball. Where do you hope to see your secondary stuff by the end of the season?

PL: Just more consistent. Coming from college with a bigger seamed ball, they have bigger seams on the ball, my slider’s been a little bit off, so I’ve basically messed with some new grips. I found one that works well for me. It’s a little bit harder, little bit sharper. So just more consistency. My changeup’s good. Sometimes I baby it, but overall, when throwing them my best, they’re great pitches. They’re awesome.

The difference between me and some of the better pitchers in the organization is consistency. They’re able to do it day in and day out, pitch in and pitch out, and right now I’m just not able to do that. That’s my thing. It’s just consistency, being able to throw my slider great every time instead of just one out of three or one out of four. At the end of the season I won’t be Josh Beckett or any of those guys that can do it every time, but I just hope to see a little more consistency out of them.

BM: I talked to one guy last year, and he was the same kind of guy, threw in the mid-90s. He said the changeup was really hard for him because it was the mental side of it was you’re throwing a pitch up there going slow. Do you kinda understand where he’s coming from?

PL: Yeah, sure. You can ask my dad, I would never throw a changeup my entire high school career, all the way up until college, because it was like, “Why am I throwing a changeup? Throwing hard, why am I gonna throw it soft up there?” I’m gonna throw hard – let them catch up to that! But it’s such an effective pitch. I’ve found a changeup that’s not really a changeup, it’s not a true changeup. It’s a split-change, and it just dives off the plate. It’s a lot more movement to it. And I love that changeup because it’s slower but it also breaks a lot. So whoever that was, I can understand where he’s coming from, believe me.

It took me a while, but it’s such an effective pitch. You talk to anyone, you talk to Abbie, you talk to any big league pitcher, that’s the thing that’ll get you from here to the big leagues, is that changeup. The changeup is so effective because it brings so many guys off your fastball. So if I throw my changeup, now my fastball went from 93 to looking like 98. So it’s such an effective pitch, but I can understand where the guy’s coming from about how it’s slower and why would you ever do that. It makes sense.

BM: We always hear that guys from the Northeast – like you said, you’re from New Jersey – we always hear about how they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to professional baseball. In the perception, at least, and also not being able to play year-round, stuff like that. Are there any advantages to playing up in this area as an amateur?

PL: I think the biggest advantage for a pitcher is that we don’t throw as much. People told me coming into the year, coming into pro ball as a raw talent, that I don’t throw year-round. I don’t throw like those guys in Florida who can throw year-round, so my arm’s a lot more fresh. It’s not something I do often. I throw inside in a gym until like the middle of April, really, and then end of April I’m able to throw outside. It’s such a different thing, so I think that’s the biggest advantage to being in the Northeast, is that even though it’s cold out, it helps your arm rest more because I’m not going out there in fifteen degree weather and throwing, I’ll tell you that right now.

So I think we’re just more fresh, we haven’t thrown as many pitches, and those people that believe the whole, “you only have so many pitches in your arm,” I would be a lot farther behind than those other guys. Some of those Southern guys, they’ve thrown way more pitches than I have. It’s all based on how you look at it. I think I’m more fresh but some other people might think I’m not. Who knows? I just think we’re all in pro ball now, and if I’m in the same spot as someone else and they’ve thrown more than me, I think it’s an advantage.

BM: Another thing that you hear about a lot is guys struggling to adapt to the pro lifestyle and the pro game. You were talking about how going from high school to college, you had that time where it was like, “I can’t do this.” Do you feel like that’s helped you coming in here to have gone through something like that already?

PL: Yeah, again, if you ask anyone that’s talked to me, it’s one of those things where I feel like that was the biggest advantage I’ve ever gained out of college. And it wasn’t making my fastball go from 89 to 99. It wasn’t my slider being sharper or learning my split-change. It was just the mental side, of learning how to fail. That was my biggest thing because again, technically, in high school I didn’t experience failure at all. I didn’t lose. We lost one game that I pitched and it was to the number one team in the country, Don Bosco, who hadn’t lost all year. They ended up going 33- or 34-0. And even then, I came out of the game we were tied. I had a no-decision.

But it was that whole 2-6 my freshman year, then 4-5 my sophomore year. I think I was like 1-4 going into the second half of the season. It was learning how to fail because I didn’t know how to. Everyone thinks they know how to, but when you go out there and you experience so much failure in such a short period of time, you just don’t know what to do with yourself. I didn’t even throw any of the same pitches I threw anymore.

Everything was changed about me and that’s exactly what you don’t want to do. So I think it was such a huge advantage coming in here because you experience failure all the time in pro ball. I experienced it the first time I pitched. It’s just something you do and if you learn how to deal with it and you learn not to change your whole thing, your whole repertoire like I did in college, it helps a lot.

I couldn’t be happier about going to college. I wasn’t ready mentally, I wasn’t ready physically, and college got me ready for pro ball for sure.

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You can read more of Brian Moynahan’s work at MiLB.com where he cover the New York-Penn League and at Bus Leagues Baseball where he covers it all. He has also co-authored two books, The Bus Leagues Experience: Minor League Baseball Through The Eyes Of Those Who Live It and The Bus Leagues Experience: Volume 2, both of which can be purchased on Amazon.com. You can follow Brian on Twitter @OMDQ and he can be reached via email at onemoredyingquail@gmail.com.

Bourne Braves bats lead game one charge over Cotuit

Posted by Craig Forde August 9, 2012 10:13 PM

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COTUIT - Bruised and battered the Bourne Braves lived by the notion that you throw out the records once the playoffs start as the fourth seed in the West took down the top-seeded Cotuit Kettleers, 12-7, at Lowell Park on Thursday in the first game of the playoffs.

The Braves found themselves in firm control of things early after they plated five runs in the second inning, punctuated by a L.J. Mazzilli (UConn) three-run homer, to give them a 6-0 lead.

That lead would be short lived when the Kettleers rattled off seven runs of their own in the bottom half of the second. Cotuit left fielder Tony Kemp Farrell Bourne.jpg(Vanderbilt) went 2-for-2 with a double, home and three RBIs in the frame as the team batted around.

The Braves needed a stop-gap and found one in reliever John Farrell (William and Mary) who kept the Cotuit hitters in check over 4 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out seven and keeping his team within one.

Jordan Patterson (South Alabama) led off the top of the fifth inning with a single back up the box for the Braves, setting up Joe Jackson (Citadel) who hit a one-out, two-run home run over the right field fence to give Bourne an 8-7 lead that they would not relinquish.

The Braves would double up on insurance in the sixth and seventh innings, scoring two runs in each frame as Mazzilli (4-for-6, two doubles, home runs, five RBIs, two runs) continued to lead the offensive charge.

In a game that took three and a half hours to complete and featured 28 hits, the Kettleers looked to have a late rally at hand as the final glimpses of daylight faded, loading the bases with one out. But Tony Giel (Columbia) shut the Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for JacksonHR.jpgdoor by striking out Kemp and forcing James Roberts (USC) to ground out to third to end the game.

Jack Reinheimer (East Carolina) went 4-for-6 with two runs and two RBIs to help the Braves' cause. Cotuit got a 4-for-5 effort from Mike Ford (Princeton) who added an RBI and a run.

Game two will be played under the lights at Bourne's Doran Park on Friday night at 7:00p.m. Game three will be back at Lowell Park on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. if necessary.

NOTES: Cotuit starter Adam McCreery (Arizona State) lasted only an inning and a third, allowing five runs on four hits and two walks. In two regular season appearances against Bourne, McCreery allowed four runs over five innings...Bourne starter Jon Keller (Nebraske-Lincoln) didn't fare much better, lasting only an inning and two thirds after allowing seven runs on seven hits and two walks. In eight regular season starts, Keller did not face the Kettleers...Jeff Thompson (Louisville) is schedule to be the Braves starting pitcher on Friday night. Cotuit has not announced their starter.

Hyannis Harbor Hawks fight to end against Y-D in season finale

Posted by Craig Forde August 7, 2012 10:46 PM

Thumbnail image for Y-D dugout.jpgSOUTH YARMOUTH – It was a game that meant nothing to the final standings or playoff seeding, but nobody told that to the Hyannis Harbor Hawks who pulled out a thrilling 10-9 win over the playoff bound Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the final regular season game of the year at Red Wilson Field on Thursday.

“Usually when you end the season winning in this league it’s the championship,” said Hyannis Head Coach Chad Gassman. “There were some things that didn’t always go our way that maybe kept us from the playoffs, but that group out there never quit.”

Knowing that this would be their final game this summer the Harbor Hawks came out swinging with seven runs over the first four innings, highlighted by a two-run first inning homer by Brad Zebedis (Presbyterian) and a three-run, fourth inning bomb by Brandon Trinkwon (Cal-Santa Barbara).

Yarmouth-Dennis did their best to keep pace, getting solo home runs from Morgan Mickan (Texas State), Danny Diekroger (Stanford) and Sean McHugh (Purdue) over the first three innings. Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Mickan Y-D.jpg

The Red Sox pulled within one, 7-6, with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, two coming on a double by Mickan (3-3, 4 RBI, R, BB) who would then tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with a sacrifice fly to the center field wall that plated McHugh.

“He’s done a good job,” said Y-D Head Coach Scott Pickler of Mickan who has a .438 BA and .558 OBP in eleven games. “He’s a student of the game and I’m glad I got him.”

Y-D would strike again in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead, 9-7, on a two-run double from Zac Blair (Mercyhurst) that found the gap in left-center.

The Red Sox relievers would keep the Harbor Hawks bats in check after their early onslaught, holding them scoreless for four innings.

Sox reliever Jose Lopez (Seton Hall) looked as if he would continue that trend to the end when he got the first batter of the ninth inning to ground out.

He then drilled Trinkwon right between the numbers on his back and three pitches later Pat Fortunato (URI) made Lopez pay when he took a fastball over the wall in straight-away center field to tie the game at nine.

“I’ve been struggling for the past 5 or 6 games,” said Fortunato, who will be a redshirt-senior at Rhode Island. “I knew it was probably going to be my last at-bat, so I just wanted to make it memorable. I think I did and that’s something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”

Mitchell Garver (New Mexico), Zebedis and Blake Austin (Auburn) followed with three straight singles that ultimately plated Garver for the 10-9 lead.

Gage Smith (Florida State) would shut the door on the game, earning his lone win of the summer after pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch.

“I think they were really disappointed two nights ago when they found out they didn’t Thumbnail image for Hyannis - Miller.jpgmake the playoffs,” said Gassman. “But they wanted to finish strong and they did. I felt like they gave the fans of Hyannis a treat at the end. It was good.”

NOTES: Hyannis starter Peter Miller (Florida State) allowed six runs on sevens hits and three walks in five innings. The three walks doubled his season total. He also fanned five Red Sox hitters on the night...Y-D starter Spenser Linney (Stanford) gave up seven runs, six earned, on five hits (three home runs) in 3 1/3 innings. On the bright side, the lefty did strike out six batters besting his season total of four coming into the night…RHP Andrew Thurman (Cal-Irvine) is slated to start game one of the playoffs for Y-D versus Chatham at Red Wilson Field on Thursday. “I think we got a chance,” said Pickler of his team heading into the playoffs. “It’s a matter of getting hot at the right time when you come in to the playoffs. It used to be the top two teams, now it’s anybody.”…Hyannis pitcher Sean Manaea scooped up two big pieces of hardware before departing the Cape for the summer. On Monday the left-hander from Indiana State was named winner of both the B.F.C. Whitehouse Top Pitcher Award and Robert A. McNeece Outstanding Pro Prospect Award. In nine games (eight starts) he posted a 5-1 record with 1.22 ERA and a 12.12/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio thanks to a league-high 85 Ks. “I feel honored,” said Manea. “I feel amazing right now. I’m going to remember this summer for the rest of my life. It was fun being out here playing against the best competition in the nation.”

FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
(lower seed will host game one on Thursday)

Eastern Division
#1 Harwich Mariners vs. #4 Orleans Firebirds
#2 Y-D Red Sox vs. #3 Chatham Anglers

Western Division
#1 Cotuit Kettleers vs. #4 Bourne Braves
#2 Falmouth Commodores vs. #3 Wareham Gatemen

Cultivating the Farm: PawSox finish July back on top and other Sox system notes

Posted by Craig Forde August 1, 2012 07:26 AM

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PawSoxlogo.gifPawtucket (62-39, 1st in IL North – AAA) – In the second half of July the PawSox went 10-5 to regain first place in the International League’s North Division. Pawtucket will face the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, who are just a half game back in second place, eight times down the stretch. The PawSox are 5-2 against the Triple-A Yankees this year…C Ryan Lavarnway had his worst month of the season with lows in batting average (.244), home runs (1), runs (10) and on-base percentage (.303)…LHP Chris Hernandez, a 7th round pick in 2010, picked up his first Triple-A victory at Indianapolis on July 27th. In that game he threw five innings of scoreless relief, scattering four hits and striking out three...OF J.C. Linares batted .356 with four home runs, 14 RBIs and 12 runs in twenty-four July games. Linares played seven games with Pawtucket in June and batted .179 with no home runs, RBIs or runs.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SeaDogslogo.gifPortland (49-61, 5th in EL Eastern – AA) – The Sea Dogs were an even 15-15 in July. In twelve of those wins they held their opponents to two of fewer runs. In ten of the losses they allowed five or more runs…OF Bryce Brentz suffered his worst month of the season, batting just .200 over 26 games in July. He still has a .272 season average, best of any Sea Dogs player with 60 or more games played…OF Jeremy Hazelbaker went 10-for-10 on stolen base attempts in July. He has a team-high 26 steals on the season which is tied for fourth in the Eastern League…RHP Steven Wright, acquired at the trade deadline for Lars Anderson, made 20 starts for Akron (Cleveland) of the Eastern League. He has a 2.49 ERA which is second best in the league and his 101 strikeouts are fourth most…RHP Aaron Kurcz posted a 0.71 ERA in July after allowing just one run in 12 1/3 innings. The reliever went 1-0 and struck out 18 batters in 6 appearances.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SalemSoxlogo.gifSalem (14-24 second half, last in CL Southern – High A) – The Salem Sox longest win streak of July was three games, which happened once. Their longest losing streak was also three games, but that occurred three times in the month. Their elimination number is 25 heading into the final full month of the season…1B Michael Almanzar’s record-setting string of reaching base in 16 straight at-bats helped him climb to a .309 batting average. He had his best month of the season at the plate in July, batting .333 with a .415 OBP, five home runs, 15 RBIs, 15 runs and 5 stolen bases. After walking 15 times over the first three months combined, he drew 12 free passes in July…2B Sean Coyle has picked up 16 hits over his last nine games…RHP Brandon Workman, 2nd rounder in 2010, posted a 2-2 record in five July starts. He struck out 32 batters and walked only four in 31 innings. He has a team-high 94 strikeouts and only 19 walks this year.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Drivelogo.gifGreenville (18-20 second half, 5th in SAL Southern - Low A) – A respectable finish of 6-3 helped the Drive salvage an otherwise rough July. They had a 12-16 record for the month…OF Keury De La Cruz finished the month with six two-hit games over his last seven. He has a team high .314 batting average, tied for seventh best in the league. He also leads the team with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs…3B Gavin Cecchini and OF Henry Ramos have both played a team-high 95 of 108 games this season. Last year the two combined for 119 games played…RHP Michael McCarthy has put together two solid starts, allowing no runs, four hits, and one walk, with six strikeouts in eleven innings. McCarthy has allowed only one home run and is the only Drive pitcher to allow so few in 49 or more innings of work.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Spinnerslogo.gifLowell (16-26, last in NYPL Stedler - Short Season A) - The Spinners are in the midst of a season-long, four-game winning streak that has been spearheaded by some impressive pitching. Lowell ran off three straight shutouts and a franchise-record, thirty-inning scoreless streak. They also managed to get through a complete game without walking a batter for the first time since August of 2010…RHP, 37th overall pick in 2012, has had five two-inning starts and allowed three runs on eleven hits, most of which came in his first two outings. He has struck out 12 batters and only walked four over ten innings…LHP Brian Johnson, 31st overall pick in 2012, made his pro debut for the Spinners on July 29th against State College. He allowed two hits and a walk in working a scoreless inning and a third. It was the first live game action that he had seen since June 16th when his Florida Gators lost, 7-3, to South Carolina in the College World Series…Infielder Mookie Betts entered July batting .245, but ended the month with a .285 mark, best among active Spinners players. He has fourteen hits and five walks over his last ten games.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Red Sox logo.gifGulf Coast (21-17, tied for 2nd in GCL South – Rookie) – A 9-5 run in the second half of July puts the GCL Red Sox three games back of the Twins…First baseman Nathan Minnich was shipped to the Gulf Coast after batting just .136 in twelve games with Lowell. In tens games since being sent down, he is batting .324 with a .457 OBP and 10 RBIs…RHP Jeffrey Wendleken, a 13th round selection in 2012 out of Middle Georgia College, is 1-0 with a save and 0.71 ERA in 7 appearances. He has struck out 16 batters and has not allowed a walk in 12 2/3 innings…Andrew Bailey is slated to begin a rehab assignment with the Golf Coast Sox on Wednesday. Expected to be Boston’s closer heading into the season, Bailey has been on the disabled list since Spring Training following surgery on his thumb.

About the author

Craig Forde covers baseball talent as it develops into the next big thing. He has covered high school and college sports for the Boston Globe, and the minor league teams More »

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