September 2013

SCG renovation underway for 2014 MLB opener

SCG4

Murray Cook is the self proclaimed ballpark guy for MLB and is responsible to MLB for the correct preparation of the SCG for the Dodgers/D’backs Opening Series next March.   This is the latest information from Murray about progress in Sydney

The pitch is being graded to be more like a baseball field in preparation for the 2014 MLB opener. They removed about 45000 sq ft of grass and slightly leveled the area where the infield will be placed in front of the new grandstand. The grandstand also had permanent dugouts installed as part of the total renovation. The SCG is not touching the cricket wicket so those hallowed grounds are safe. The SCG crew is awesome. What a great group to work with.

Follow him:

@cookmurray

The ballpark guy for MLB – 58 countries, 3 million miles. Prefiero ser las pesca con mis hijos en Virginia!

Location: in a plane probably · groundskeeper.mlblogs.com

Also read his blog:- MLB heads down under for 2014 opener

SCG2

More seats now available for Sydney’s MLB Opening Series

Balfour has fine final workout against Seattle

Balfour12

Grant Balfour will be all the rage in the post season

His 1st pitch was hit for a single to RF, but it only took Grant Balfour 13 pitches to finish off the A’s regular season at Seattle.   A ground out to 2nd, a pop up and a fly ball was all that it took to bring down the curtain on the A’s wonderful regular 2013 season with a convincing 9-0 win.

No final day dramas like last year; the A’s had clinched the Title last week; and will now have four days to rest before hosting Detroit for the first game of the American League Divisional Series on Fri Oct. 4. That series will match the A’s against the same team that eliminated them in five games a year ago.

Grant Balfour is ready and waiting as he prepares to grab that Tiger by the tail.  Talk about the rage – with the A’s opening up the upper decks it will be bigger and better than anything during the season.

Hendriks is getting a little sharper – Is relief pitching his Thing?

Liam HendriksOne-time rotation prospect Liam Hendriks was called on Friday night to mop up the mess that turned into the Minnesota Twins’ 12-6 loss to the surging Cleveland Indians.

Instead of going through the motions as his team plays out a dismal season, the right-hander took the opportunity to have one of his best outings.

Sure, the scorecard shows he allowed five runs and eight hits, but two of the runs scored when a diving Ryan Doumit let the ball slip from his glove on a blooper by Mike Aviles. Two more came across when Drew Stubbs hit a home run after barely checking his swing on a 2-2 pitch.

In between, Hendriks used a rare (for him) fastball-breaking ball combination to strike out a season-high eight and kept the Indians relatively close in the second half of the game.

“I made a couple of mechanical changes, really worked on shortening up from the set and getting rid of the longer stride,” said Hendriks, who started 28 times over three seasons with the Twins before making his first relief appearance on Sept. 21. “My velocity is going up and I feel like everything has been a little sharper as well.”

The Twins had to go to the bullpen early after starter Pedro Hernandez (3-3) was rocked for six runs while retiring jut five batters.

“Whenever he made mistakes, we hammered them,” Stubbs said. “When we got good pitches to hit we put good swings on them and gave ourselves a pretty good cushion.”

The Twins cut the lead to 9-6 while Hendriks found his groove out of the bullpen.

“I sure wish we knew what happens when he comes out of the pen,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Maybe he should warm up shorter and do less out there. I don’t know.”

Hendriks didn’t get the call until midway through the game.

“When you start, you kind of sit around and look over the hitters, and do all that, it’s a different mentality” said Hendriks, who doesn’t plan to change his routine if he gets another chance to start.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 

Texas Rangers Wives to partner with Texas Rangers Foundation on fundraiser to benefit Christopher Lane Memorial Fund

Lane2

Grab Bag Sale to take place during Rangers-Angels game

Arlington, Texas-The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and the Texas Rangers Wives will hold a special fundraiser during Saturday’s game with the Los Angeles Angels from 9:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Part of the proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the Christopher Lane Memorial Fund, which was created in the memory of Chris Lane, the East Central (OK) University baseball student-athlete and native of Australia who was murdered in August.

The fund was originally established by friends and the Essendon Baseball Club out of Australia to be used to repatriate Christopher along with the associated travel and funeral costs. More than $150,000 was raised originally and the family will create an ongoing legacy using those funds and funds raised through this sale along with any other future donations. The exact nature of the legacy will be named by the family at a later date.

During the fundraiser, fans will be able to purchase “grab bags” that will contain autographed baseballs, game-used bats, and jerseys from current and former Rangers. The grab bags will be priced at $50.00, $100.00, or $200.00.

In addition, a silent auction will be held for autographed jerseys of Australian-born pitchers Travis Blackley of the Rangers and Grant Balfour of the Oakland A’s.

The Grab Bag Sale will take place at the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation Kiosk, which is located on the third base concourse near section 13 and the escalators. Cash and credit cards will be accepted.

Balfour has impressive ‘tune-up’.

Ready for the post season

Ready for the post season

Grant Balfour threw the 9th against Seattle today with an 8-2 lead in a well timed tune-up in preparation for the post season.  Apart from walking the 3rd hitter, in what seemed like an obvious exercise in fine tuning his breaking ball, he struck out the other three.

Whilst his manager might have preferred not to have had him throw 22 pitches he would have also been happy seeing Grant looking relaxed and focussed with his control of his fast ball showing continuing improvement.

Bring on the play offs.

Liam Hendriks’ 8 Ks end drought

By TYLER MASON/foxsportsnorth.dom
 Liam Hendriks leaves in the ninth inning Friday after giving up a two-run homer to Cleveland Indians' Drew Stubbs. The Indians won 12-6. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

Liam Hendriks leaves in the ninth inning Friday after giving up a two-run homer to Cleveland Indians’ Drew Stubbs. The Indians won 12-6. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

Prior to Friday, no Twins pitcher had struck out eight batters in a game. Right-hander Liam Hendriks finally ended that drought — as a reliever.

Hendriks pitched 4 2/3 innings and struck out eight in Friday’s 12-6 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Minnesota needed help early from its bullpen after starter Pedro Hernandez lasted just 1 2/3 innings. Shairon Martis came in and got seven outs for the Twins before Hendriks got his work in.

While Hendriks allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire felt Hendriks’ numbers didn’t indicate the quality of his relief outing.

“He did a really nice job,” Gardenhire said. “You look at his numbers, he threw the ball great. He gave us a great effort tonight. Good fastball, good breaking ball. Kind of what you’re hoping for.

“He did everything he was supposed to and his numbers were terrible. Unjustified.”

Hendriks spent most of the season with Triple-A Rochester but made eight starts and now two relief appearances for Minnesota. As a starter, Hendriks was 1-3 with a 6.87 ERA. The 24-year-old Australia native hasn’t been able to translate his minor league success to the majors.

Friday, Hendriks was a victim of some bad luck. Right fielder Ryan Doumit couldn’t make the play on a shallow fly to right with two outs in the fifth, and Cleveland scored a pair of runs as a result. Hendriks also served up a two-run home run to Drew Stubbs in the ninth, but Stubbs appeared to have been out on a check swing for strike three that wasn’t called.

After the game, Hendriks and Gardenhire weren’t making any excuses for the four runs that probably shouldn’t have scored.

“It happens,” Hendriks said, shrugging off his misfortune. “I know the guys out there are busting their ass and trying to make every play. It happens. It’s one of those things that happens. Hopefully we can knock them out the next two and finish the season on a high.”

Added Gardenhire: “That’s unfortunate, but you can’t blame it on the umpires after we play the way we did.”

Lewis Thorpe -Twins’ rising Star

Thorpe1By Steve Adams/TwinkieTown.com 

For the past two Septembers, there’s been little to get excited about on the Twins front, and this September hasn’t been that different as the only thing the Twins have clinched is a third consecutive 90-loss season. Such occurrences lead to looking for silver linings, and the Twins got one today when Baseball America released its Top 20 Gulf Coast Leagues prospect list, featuring 17-year-old Twins hurler Lewis Thorpe in the No. 7 spot (Jesse also listed Thorpe on his list of 10 unranked Twins pitching prospects to pay attention to). An excerpt from BA’s write-up of Thorpe:

When Thorpe signed, he sat at 86-88 mph and touched 91 with long arms, but he’s grown an inch and added 55 pounds, which helped his fastball tick upward. He pitched at 88-93 mph in the GCL, then in Taiwan he touched 95. Even when he was throwing in the high-80s, Thorpe’s fastball was a swing-and-miss pitch because the ball explodes out of his hand and looks quicker than it is with sneaky late action. His changeup, a potential plus pitch, is his most polished offspeed offering with sink and fade.

The big eye-opener, for me anyway, was to see that Thorpe packed on 55 pounds from age 16 to 17. Reports at the time of his signing described him as projectable, with most predicting that velocity will come, and filling out that much (he also grew an inch) will certainly do that to a young kid. BA goes on to write that in addition to size and velocity, Thorpe’s arsenal of breaking pitches has also improved, and his once-questionable command has now become a positive. Thorpe averaged just 1.2 walks per nine innings pitched in the GCL this season.

Overall, his stats look pretty damn impressive: 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA, 64 strikeouts and just six walks in 44 innings pitched. He allowed only two home runs. Opponents batted just .203/.238/.316 against him, and lefties went a ridiculous 3-for-42 against him, totaling a .071/.093/.119 batting line that our own Andrew Bryz-Gornia could probably muster over the course of a season (I won’t give myself that much credit).

A couple of things about Thorpe’s season and ranking:

The average hitter in the GCL was 19.5 years old this season. Thorpe won’t turn 18 until November, so he was doing most of his damage against hitters that were, on average, two years older than he is. Not bad.

Thorpe is the seventh-best prospect in the league, but he’s the second-best pitcher. Only Nationals right-hander Lucas Giolito (No. 2 overall) is ahead of him in terms of pitchers.

Thorpe ranked ahead of 2013 first-rounders Rob Kaminsky (LHP, Cardinals) and Nick Ciuffo (C, Rays) — each of whom was a high schooler that was touted as one of the better available players in the 2013 draft. Kaminsky, the No. 28 pick in the draft, signed for about $1.8MM. Ciuffo, drafted 21st by the Rays, signed for just under $2MM. The Twins signed Thorpe for $500K last July.

Obviously, Thorpe is a long ways away, and big numbers from the GCL don’t mean that a prospect will carry them over to higher levels and against better competition. However, sometimes those numbers do translate, as we’ve seen with Oswaldo Arcia. J.O. Berrios is another player who posted big numbers in the GCL and looked strong at the next level.

As fans, we never want 17-year-old prospects to be the subject of our September focus, but it’s better to continually hear about the strong minor league system the Twins are building than it is to be staring a 90-loss season in the face and knowing that there’s little to no hope on the horizon as many other fanbases routinely have to do.

Melbourne Aces complete first ABL supplemental draft

Burns

Texas Rangers’ Joe Burns will strengthen the Aces’ bullpen

LAVERTON, Victoria – The Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces had the first pick in the first ever supplemental draft held on Thursday 19 September in Sydney.

The Aces were looking to bolster their already strong roster by adding a couple of new pitchers and some strong batters from the list of over 100 players who signed up for the opportunity to play in the fourth season of the Australian Baseball League (ABL) this summer.

With the first pick in the ABL draft, the Aces selected left handed pitcher Joe Burns. Burns was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2011 and is currently assigned to the Hickory Crawdads in the Class A South Atlantic league.

Burns’ stats from his most recent season with the Crawdads are as follows:

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
HIC SAL 4 5 4.89 31 0 0 0 2 49.2 51 32 27 4 18 35 0.78 .266

The Aces selected eight players in the draft and will evaluate the team’s roster needs before getting in touch with the all players to discuss their possible future with the club.
The Aces Manager, Phil Dale, says the club is very excited to have played a part in the first ABL draft.

“There are a lot of quality guys out there and we just need to see what our requirements are for the team so that we make the right choices on who we bring on board,” he said.

Here is the top 10 list of players selected and the links to their stats:

#2 – Corey Kimes

http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=607346

#3 – Zak Adams

http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=592095

#4 – Dustin Ward

http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=607102

#5 – Brett Zawacki

http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=519453

#6 – Paul Geuy

(No stats available)

#7 – Kevin Fuqua

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=fuqua-000kev

#8 – Brett Houseal

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?P=brett-houseal

The Aces first home series this season (Opening Weekend) is a three-game series that will be played out at the team’s home ground, Melbourne Ballpark, on Friday 15 November, Saturday 16 November and Sunday 17 November. This first home series is against traditional rivals, the Adelaide Bite.

Complete end-of-season Aussie Player List

John Hussey has indicated that he will pitch at some stage during the ABL season for the Aces.

John Hussey has indicated that he will pitch at some stage during the ABL season for the Aces.

This is how the season finished up for the Australian [and NZ] pros.   Most of those who had a solid season will be rested by their clubs but it is possible that some will be ready to play in the ABL later in the summer depending on their clubs’ requirements.   Pitchers in particular will require an enforced rest during the summer.

A number of free agents, like Grant Balfour and Peter Moylan, might change clubs prior to Spring Training.   Players like Rich Thompson, Josh Spence and Tim Kennelly might well be searching for another club during the off season and it is possible that they may choose to play in the ABL to gain further exposure.   We also believe that Luke Hughes will play for the Heat.

oOo

Majors: Grant Balfour (A’s), Travis Blackley (Rangers), Liam Hendriks (Twins), Peter Moylan (Dodgers),

Triple-AJames Beresford (Twins),  Matt Kennelly (Reds),  Trent Oeltjen (Angels), Ryan Rowland-Smith (Red Sox), Andrew Russell (Braves),

Double-A:  Cameron Lamb [Astros],  Warwick Saupold (Tigers),

High-A Corey Adamson [Padres], Ryan Battaglia [Indians], Allan de San Miguel (Orioles), John Hussey (Padres), David Kandilas [Rockies],  Ryan Searle (Cubs), Stefan Welch (Red Sox).

Low-A:  Tim Atherton [Twins], Boss Moanaroa (Red Sox).

Short Season-A:  Darryl George [Rays], Jackson Lodge  [Pirates], Daniel McGrath [Red Sox], Josh Warner [Phillies],

Advanced Rookie leagues: Rory Rhodes [Twins], Logan Wade [Twins],

Rookie leagues: Dean Aldridge (Tigers),  Alex Da Silva [Angels], Ryan Dale (Royals), Daniel Devonshire (Blue Jays), Sam Gibbons [Twins], Josh Guyer (Twins), Elliott Hargreaves [Reds], Nathan Hass (Braves), Sam Holland (Padres),  Jason Kilby (Reds), Ben Leslie [Giants], Todd McDonald (Rangers),  Robbie Perkins [Rockies], Pita Rona (Orioles), Aaron Sayers [Tigers], Rick Schwarz (Twins), Adam Silva [Yankees], Lewis Thorpe (Twins),

Rehabbing: Josh Kennelly [Reds],  Mitchell Nilsson [Indians],

MLBAAP: Jake Bowey [Astros], Jared Cruz (Braves), Karl Hoschke (Braves), Nick Hutchings (Pirates), Sam Kennelly (Pirates),  Connor MacDonald (Astros), Dakota Mitchell (Reds), James Philibossian (Tigers),  Ben Shorto [Indians], Zac Shepherd (Tigers), Hayden Timberlake [Astros], Matthew Wilson [Orioles].

Note: We have also included NZ players

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