By Steve Melewski/masnsports.com
For Orioles minor league players, it provides a chance to extend their summer, play more baseball and work on their games. It also provides a chance to see a land far, far away and maybe even spend Christmas in Australia.
Over the years, the Orioles have developed a strong professional relationship with the Perth Heat of the winter Australian Baseball League. Perth has won the championship three of the last four years. It has become a destination for O’s farmhands to play winter ball and see the world.
The point man on the Australian end of this relationship is Owen Reid, a 27-year-old American from Moberly, Miss., who played college baseball at Baylor and Winthrop. He’s a 2009 Winthrop grad.
Reid played in the Australian League himself and is now the player development manager for Perth. He moved to Perth permanently in October 2010.
Reid said the Perth team has a strong relationship with the Orioles.
ReidSarasota.jpg”We have, I wouldn’t say working agreements, we have relationships with other staff members or coaches in other organizations. But, by far, the Orioles are the best relationship we have with any of the 30 major league teams. That goes way back through a lot of people that held various positions in the organization,” he said.
“It might be more of a longstanding partnership or relationship. It has been an incredible experience for us. We know we are getting class players from a classy organization that are there to work and make the baseball experience better.”
In recent years, among the current or former O’s farmhands to play with Perth are Micheal Ohlman, Mychal Givens, Brenden Webb, Brett Jacobsen, Cole McCurry, Robbie Widlansky, Robbie Welty, Steve Bumbry and Allen de san Miguel.
Last winter, Tucker Nathans, Zach Staniewicz, Kevin Grendell and Pita Rona played with Perth. Perth has won championships in that league for the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons.
So what is the level of ball in the Australian League?
“It is a broad spectrum of players there,” Reid said. “There are both active and former major leaguers and there are players that have never played a day of pro ball. That stems from the playing system that Australia has. You play for a local club and build your way up to a top team.
“It seems like the guys always compare it to A-ball on average. On a good day, there are a handful of guys in a lineup that are maybe Double-A caliber talent.”
Rookie League – Barrie, Cruz, Dale, Gibbons, Guyer, Hoschke, Hutchings, Kennelly, Rona, Sayers, Shepherd
Atlanta’s Jared Cruz has played in 6 games this week and is hitting 4-17. After 15 games he is hitting .205, a slight improvement from last week.
Also with Atlanta is Karl Hoschke who got into only 1 game this week going 1-2 and 2 walks. His lone hit was a triple and he also scored 2 runs. He is hitting .120 after 10 games with the GCL Braves.
In his 6 games this week Kansas City’s Ryan Dale went 4-21, scoring 1 run with 1 RBI. After 17 games he is hitting .207 for the Burlington Royals in the Rookie Appalachian League.
Sam Gibbons who is pitching for the Elizabethton Twins in Advanced A, suffered his 2nd loss yesterday in a 5 inning effort giving up 5 runs [4ER] on 7 hits and 2 walks. In his other game this week he threw 5.1 innings allowing only 1 run on 6 hits whilst striking out 6 in a no decision. Now after 6 games his record is 2-2 and 3.06ERA
Twins’ Josh Guyer appeared in 2 games and suffered his 1st loss in a blow out game in which he gave up 8 runs on 8 hits in 2 innings in a relief appearance. His next start saw him allow 2 runs on 3 hits over 3 innings. He also allowed 3 walks whilst striking out 4, both his highest in those categories so far this season. His record after 5 games is 0-1, 11.08ERA.
Pirates’ Nick Hutchings had a no decision and a loss this week. He threw 4 innings for 3 runs on 4 hits and in his loss he threw 4.2 innings for 5 hits and 2 walks for 5 runs. His record after 6 games is 1-2, 5.33ERA
Also with the Pirates is Sam Kennelly who appeared in only 1 game this week going hitless. He is hitting .257 after 10 games and 35ABs.
In 2 games this week the Oriole’s Pita Rona has hit 2-6 and scored 1 run giving him an overall avg. of .200 after 8 games.
The Tigers’ Aaron Sayers is getting his fair share of work appearing in 5 games this week. In 4 games he hit 2-11 but collecting 5 walks and scoring 3 runs. So after 15 games and 51ABs he is hitting a respectable .294.
Zach Shepherd has played in a total of 7 games this week for the Tigers and hit 9-25 whilst scoring 4 runs and increasing his impressive RBI rate by 7 to bring it up to 16 for the season. He is hitting the phenomenal avg. of .429 for his last 10 games and a team leading .341 for the season of 23 games and 85ABs. He also leads his team with a SLG of .553 and is 2nd in RBI. Quite an impressive start to his pro career.
Yankees’ Adam Silva has been sent to the Dominican Summer League [see report below]
Braves’ Nathan Hass is on the 7-Day DL.
Dakota Mitchell is on rehab.
We report on the rookies in the Arizona League tomorrow.
Fan favourite will assume player-coach role for 2014/15
Bite fans will have to get used to one the team’s favourite sons having a decreased on-field workload during season 2014/15.
Veteran catcher Chris Adamson will this year take on the role of player/assistant coach this season, giving him new perspectives on the game and developing his leadership skills.
Bite Manager Brooke Knight reflected on Adamson taking up a coaching role. “I couldn’t be happier to have Chris Adamson come on board as a player/coach for our upcoming season. Chris brings some genuine knowledge of the game to the table, and is well-respected by his peers as well. Chris should have a bright future in coaching and on field management as he continues to direct his energies to the game of baseball.”
During season 2013/14 Adamson cemented himself as a calming influence on the pitcher and he looks to use that in-depth knowledge and experience to enhance the Bite’s younger players.
Adamson said of his upcoming introduction to coaching, “I can’t wait to transition from playing to coaching, while learning from one of the best there is in Brooke Knight. It’s going to be an awesome year for the Bite, with the return of Brooke, a solid core of locals and the addition of some quality imports there are some very exciting times ahead.”
This season will see the occasional appearance at DH for Adamson, but his focus will mainly be on the development of the Bite’s younger players and taking the first steps into his coaching career.
Source: Adelaide Bite
Connor MacDonald continues to impress. In fact he has joined a small but prestigious group by getting selected to play in the DSL All Star game in his rookie season. He joins Phil Dale (1985), Craig Anderson (1999), Chris Snelling (1999), Luke Hughes (2003) and Scott Mitchinson (2004) who were all selected for All Star honours in their rookie year.
No surprise of course that he was selected as we have being saying every week that he is performing very well and in his 2 games this week he hit 3-6 which means that he is hitting .421 in his last 10 games and that includes a grand slam home run and 2 doubles. Overall he is hitting .328 after 35 games and 128ABs. All Star indeed.
After only 4 games in the GCL the Yankees have sent Adam Silva back down to the Dominican Summer League where he spent the 2013 season playing in 5 games for a .357 avg.
In the GCL this year he hit 2-5 in 5ABs for a .400 avg. He has only had the one outing in the DSL going 0-4, striking out 3 times.
By Drew Jenkins/rayscoloredglasses.com
Earlier this year, we saw a classic change-of-scenery deal between the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates. In that trade, two former closers in Ernesto Frieri and Jason Grilli changed hands. Both had seen past dominance, but were struggling this year, and thus the clubs thought a change of scenery would do them some good. Could the Tampa Bay Rays look to do the same with Grant Balfour?
Balfour was signed by the Rays to a two-year, $12 million deal in the offseason expecting to seamlessly replace Fernando Rodney as the Rays closer. From 2010-2013, the highest ERA that Balfour had posted was 2.59, and he had also notched 64 saves over that time. But the signing has not worked out so far. In 39 appearances this year, Balfour has allowed a 5.40 ERA, an 8.8 K/9, and a 7.1 BB/9. His average fastball velocity has hovered under 93 MPH for the for the first time in his career. This signing can’t have gone much worse for the Rays, and thus they could try to flip Balfour in return for another player that has seen similar struggles.
One example of a deal that could work would be trading Balfour to the Boston Red Sox for Edward Mujica. Of course, dealing within the division can always be an issue, but we aren’t talking about dealing a superstar like David Price or Ben Zobrist in this case. Mujica signed a similar two-year deal with the Red Sox last offseason worth $9.5 million. Like Balfour, he had experienced plenty of success in the past and was coming off a successful season in which he put up a 2.78 ERA with the St. Louis Cardinals. But in 36 games this season, he has posted a 5.35 ERA and like Balfour has turned from late-innings option to the guy you don’t want in the game unless it is already out of hand.
As far as control, both will be under contract through 2015. Mujica will be cheaper, making $4.75 million against Balfour’s $7 million. However given that Balfour has a stronger track record than Mujica, the disparity in salary seems fair.
With the Red Sox and Rays both unable to fix Mujica’s and Balfour’s problems so far, a different perspective may be what is needed to get the players going. This certainly isn’t the only deal the Rays would be limited to, but one of this kind would make plenty of sense. Grant Balfour’s second stint in a Rays uniform hasn’t gone as expected, and as the trade deadline approaches, a change-of-scenery deal makes plenty of sense
Catcher Allan de San Miguel has improved his batting in the past few weeks with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Atlantic League. In the last 10 games he has had 4RBI  and a home run  and so after 43 games and 132 ABs has raised his average from .192 to .220 [29-132] which certainly looks a little healthier.
Justin Erasmus appeared in 10 games and suffered 1 loss as well as earning 1 save for Fargo-Moorhead. He now has a 2-2 record in 21 games and 42IP with 2 saves and has lowered his ERA to 4.71.
Frontier Greys’ Cameron Lamb has appeared in 21 games [25IP] for a 2-4 record and a team leading 8 saves. He has one of the best ERA’s in the team at 2.16.
Connor O’Gorman is continuing to struggle with Amarillo getting action in only 2 games since our last report. He is now hitting .111 after 13 games and 27ABs.
Grand Prairie Airhogs’ Ryan Searle collected his 3rd win but also suffered 3 losses. His record now stands at 3-5 with a 4.54ERA after 11 games and 71.1 innings.
Josh Spence has seen little action at the Amarillo Sox appearing in 3 games and 4.1 innings. He has been fairly expensive allowing 9 runs on 10 hits and 5 BBs including 1HR.
Also with Amarillo is Sydney born Clayton Tanner who has had 2 starts for an 0-1 record and a 5.59ERA after 9 IP.
By Jeff Johnson/The Gazette
CEDAR RAPIDS – The only way to distinguish Michael Collins from his players is the stop watch tucked in the back pocket of his uniform. He uses it to time pitchers’ deliveries to the plate.
Otherwise you really couldn’t tell him apart from his Fort Wayne TinCaps. He is so chiseled physically and youthful in appearance.
Collins is just 30 years old, come to think of it. So hard to believe the native Australian and former Cedar Rapids Kernels catcher is in his third season as a professional manager.
“I guess I haven’t really ever thought about the age thing because I’ve always been young,” he said, after Fort Wayne blanked the Kernels, 2-0, Sunday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I signed when I was 16, came over here and was pretty ignorant, like most 16 year olds, to a lot of things. I started playing young, finished playing young and then got into the coaching part of it. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Collins played 10 years in the minor leagues, including part of 2004 and all of 2005 with the Kernels. He and his wife drove separately from the team this week for a six-game road trip to Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids.
They’ve seen some familiar places and faces, including the daughter of his housing family here.
“It’s good to be back, man. A lot of fond memories,” he said. “I played about a year and a half here, had some success on a personal level. It was fun.
“My wife is living with me in Fort Wayne, and we actually drove here because she wanted to come back. She spent some time here when we were dating and said ‘Well, I’ve got to go back and see Cedar Rapids.’ We took a little drive up First Avenue and through downtown. Checked out some of the things we’d seen before.”
Collins appears to have a bright future in the game, even if it’s not as a player. He managed the Arizona Rookie League Padres last season and the Dominican Summer League Padres in 2012.
With the Rays leading 5-3, Grant Balfour was given a rare opportunity to Save the game against the Twins today but his lack of control caused his removal with only 1 out. After quickly getting the 1st out Grant, as we have seen so often this season, then walked the next 2 hitters and was yanked. It must be a frustrating time for the former closer who was chasing his 12th Save only to see it slip, literally, from his fingers. Fortunately for him, and the Rays, rookie Kirby Yates came on and got his 1st major league Save.
But the question remains, what has happened to Grant’s radar that he is struggling so much to get the ball in the strike zone. Yesterday, on the other hand, he was surgical in his 1-2-3 inning when he came on in the 8th. Why the difference today? Baseball is a tough mistress.
By Marc Topkin/Times Staff Writer
Grant Balfour has made his share of bad pitches, as the 27 walks he has given up in 361/3 innings shows.
But there may be another reason for his rough performance — posting a 5.45 ERA and allowing 29 hits — this season: pitch-tipping.
Balfour acknowledged — without revealing specifics — that there has been an issue and said he has made recent changes in his delivery to correct it.
“I have a few things, and it’s been cleaned up,” Balfour said. “You look at the numbers and you think maybe they knew what was coming at certain times. That can explain a few things here and there.
“I’m not saying I pitched the best, but it doesn’t help when someone knows what’s coming. It could be an issue. It’s definitely cleaned up, so we’ll find out.”
Friday against the Twins was a good start. He had just his ninth 1-2-3 one-inning appearance and first since late June. “If you know what’s coming, it’s definitely a problem,” Balfour said.
This week Logan Wade returned to Low A after time on the DL and 10 rehab games in the GCL and David Kandilas has returned to High A after a short stint of 17 games in AA.
Jake Bowey [Astros] has been sent to the Dominican to allow him more game time.
Tim Atherton remains on the DL after a spot start in AAA.
Dean Aldridge and Elliott Hargreaves are on the 60-Day DL.
Majors: Grant Balfour (Rays),
Rookie: Jack Barrie [Twins], Jared Cruz (Braves), Ryan Dale (Royals), Sam Gibbons [Twins], Josh Guyer (Twins),Nathan Hass (Braves), Karl Hoschke (Braves), Nick Hutchings (Pirates), Sam Kennelly (Pirates), Ben Leslie [Giants], Todd McDonald (Rangers), James Philibossian (Tigers), Pita Rona (Orioles), Aaron Sayers [Tigers], Zac Shepherd (Tigers),
Independent Leagues: Allan de San Miguel [Blue Crabs], Justin Erasmus [Fargo Redhawks], Cameron Lamb [Frontier Greys], Connar O’Gorman [Amarillo], Ryan Searle [Grand Prairie], Josh Spence [Windy City],
MLBAAP: Brandon Stenhouse (Yankees)