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Brian McCann To Rebound in 2013

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Friday, February. 15/2013

Brian McCann has established himself as one of the best offensive Catchers in the game, but will he be able to hold such a title? An injury to his right shoulder seemed to derail his 2012 campaign, but after having surgery in October he is poised to get back to his old ways.

Brian McCann has established himself as one of the best offensive Catchers in the game, but will he be able to hold such a title? An injury to his right shoulder seemed to derail his 2012 campaign, but after having surgery in October he is poised to get back to his old ways.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer):

Brian McCann, Catcher for the Atlanta Braves, has had a great amount of success playing baseball in Georgia his whole life — but could he finally be leaving the Peach State following the 2013 MLB season? McCann was born in Athens Georgia, went to Duluth High School in Duluth Georgia, and currently resides in Lawrenceville Georgia while playing baseball in nearby Atlanta. McCann hasn’t strayed far from his roots to this point in his life. He was drafted out of high school in the 2nd round of the 2002 MLB Draft by his hometown Braves, but his current contract with the team is up after the 2013 season. The Braves just invested a lot of money in the Upton brothers, and may not be so eager to throw a bunch of money at an offensive-minded Catcher whose production at the plate was the worst of his career in 2012. Add in the fact that they have a highly regarded Catching prospect named Christian Bethancourt – who may be ready to contribute to the big club by the start of 2014, or soon thereafter.

There is also Evan Gattis who, while most likely not a threat to steal McCann’s job behind the dish, could be a part of replacing him if need be. So while McCann is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and a career worst season at the plate, he needs to show the Braves, or any other potential suitor for that matter, that he is still a major asset to any lineup and will be for years to come.

McCann’s accolades are quite impressive for a soon to be 29 Year old. McCann reached the Majors in 2005 at just 21 Years of Age, and never looked back. He is a 6 time All-Star (2006-2011), and 5 time Silver Slugger (2006, 2008-2011). He is a career .279/.351/.475 hitter who has averaged 22 HRs and 83 RBI per year since his 1st full season in 2006. Prior to last season he had never hit less than .269 and never had an OPS of less than .772. Last season McCann hit .230/.300/.399 giving him an OPS of only .698. He added 20 HRs and 67 RBI, but overall his numbers were not what you would expect from Brian McCann.

2012 Brian McCann Highlights – Mature Lyrics may be present  so Parental Guidance is advised:

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Cade Kreuter Interview: Padres Prospect Returns To The MLB Reports!

Monday December 3rd, 2012

Jonathan Hacohen ( Lead Baseball Columnist): 

Last February we introduced you to Cade Kreuter.  As part of the interview, we learned all about the “Crocodile Hunter.” A third generation baseball prospect and a member of the Miami Hurricanes, Cade was getting ready to make his own mark on the game. 

Now a member of the San Diego Padres organization, Cade has a bright road ahead. We talked about many facets of his career. From joining the Padres, to playing multiple positions, his offseason in the Dominican and much more. Being around the game his whole life, Cade knows what he needs to do to succeed. 2013 will be his first full season in professional baseball. At 21 years of age, he has his whole career ahead of him. We will be certainly be watching his progress with great anticipation!

Today on MLB reports, we bring you our interview with Padres’ prospect and 3rd generation player, Cade Kreuter: 

MLBR:  Congrats on joining the Padres!  What was the process like joining them?

CK:  Well, as you may know, I missed my entire junior season at The U this past year due to a broken left foot caused by a foul ball I hit off of it in practice the day before our season opener. I was misdiagnosed with a deep bone bruise for the first month of my injury so that was a setback right there for me. I went understandably undrafted after my junior season, after really only playing almost 1 full season out of 3 years in college. But, I felt it was still time for me to move up and play pro ball. I knew another season at The U was not what was best for me. I was contacted by the Padres and they asked me if I was interested in doing a workout and possibly signing as a free agent. I jumped at the opportunity and made the most of it. Later that week I signed and headed to Peoria, Az for the rookie ball season! Read the rest of this entry

A.J. Pierzynski: Going for the Gold in 2013

Thursday,  September 20th 2012

Alex Mednick:  A.J. Pierzynski has undoubtedly done himself a great justice by having a career year in 2012.  Given that he plays the sport’s most physically demanding position and is encroaching on his, “golden years” in this game, the veteran catcher will meet free agency in 2013 with a lot going for him.  All he has done this year, in his 435 at bats so far, is hit .280 with 26 home runs, 15 doubles and 73 RBIs.  Those number are not something to take lightly, and it goes without saying that AJ and his agent are going to have a lot of leverage while negotiating with various front offices this off-season.

A.J. Pierzynski is a “heart and soul” player that drives the White Sox. He works well behind the plate with one of baseball’s top rotations, and has proven consistent offensively while having a career year in 2012.

The White Sox have had the career .284 hitter as their back stop for 8 years now, including the 2005 season (AJ’s first season in Chicago), when the then 28-year-old played an integral role in the franchise winning a world championship.  Since Pierzynski began his tenure in the south side, he has played no fewer than 128 games behind the plate and has been a beacon of consistency.  Part of this durability can be attributed to A.J.’s conditioning regiment that he participates in 365 days a year, including after every single game.  Pierzynski has been very open with the fact that as he has gotten older, he has put more mind into the importance of staying in great shape, especially being that he is required to remain in a squatting position for over 1000 innings a year. Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 Catching Prospects in Baseball

Friday August 17th, 2012

Codey Harrison (Lead MiLB Prospect Analyst) – The second installment of a 3-part series featuring the top 5 prospects from middle of the field positions. This week we are focusing on one of the hardest positions in all of baseball to find superstars at. One of the biggest reasons is that catchers take a lot longer to progress defensively than any other position in baseball. Bryce Harper who was known for being a catcher in high school was drafted as an outfielder by the Nationals so he could make it to the Major Leagues much faster. Being able to call a game behind the plate, and knowing the angles that are needed to block pitches in the dirt can take several years to master. The wear and tear on a catcher can be a vigorous one, as most catchers only catch 140 games an entire season even if they are healthy the entire season. With current catchers in MLB who are stars like Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, Buster Posey, Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, and Miguel Montero, it’s time to take a look at the potential future catching stars who replace the current MLB All-Star catchers. Plus teams look to move star catchers from their primary position to save their bats and extend their careers in the process.


Travis d’Arnaud (Toronto Blue Jays AAA) - Travis d’Arnaud was the prize prospect along with RHP Kyle Drabek the Blue Jays acquired in the Roy Halladay trade. d’Arnaud was named the 2011 Eastern League best catcher by the leagues managers. For the position, d’Arnaud has plenty of future plus tools (Hit, Power, Arm, and Fielding), and is on pace to supplant current Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia by the start of the 2013 season. d’Arnaud is currently on the disabled list, but for the season with AAA Las Vegas he’s batting .333, .380 OBP, .595 SLG, with 16 home runs, and 52 RBIs. One of the very few things scouts are drawn away from d’Arnaud is his approach at the plate, as he is very aggressive having walked on 19 times, while striking out 59 times on the season. Read the rest of this entry

The Reds Sunday Select – Mesoraco vs. Grandal: Did the Reds Make the Right Choice? Plus the Billy Hamilton Report

Sunday July 8, 2012

Ryan Ritchey (Reds Expert): Welcome back to the 2nd edition of Reds Sunday Select. As the All-Star Break approaches, the weekend will be filled with All-Star Weekend previews. This week I have a little sympathy for the catchers out there with this one. The big debate around Reds country is: did Walt Jocketty keep the right catcher for the future? It is my job to debate this and I am going to do just that. The two catchers I am talking about are Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal. Yasmani was given up to the Padres in the Mat Latos trade over the winter. Yes the Reds picked up a pitcher that become an ace in the present and future. But did they send the wrong catcher in the deal?

Lets start out with the positives of keeping Mesoraco, as I am in a positive mood at the moment. Mesoraco is a solid young catcher with some pop in his bat. He can become one of the top catchers in the National League, hit 15 homers and be solid behind the dish. The only problem is that he is splitting time with Ryan Hanigan, who in my mind is the right guy for the job at the moment. Mesoraco on the bright side has a lot more power than Hanigan does. The downfall to that statement is that he also strikes out a lot, and does not currently have the ability to hit for average. Mesoraco, who strikes out almost double the amount of times he walks, isn’t the kind of hitter you want hitting in front of the pitcher. You want a contact guy who can get on base in front of the pitcher, so he has a chance to bunt him into scoring position. Hanigan is that strong OBP kind of guy. Read the rest of this entry

The Future of Kurt Suzuki in Oakland: Long Term Catcher or Trade Bait

Thursday June 7th, 2012

 

John Burns (MLB reports Intern Candidate):  Kurt Suzuki has been in the Oakland A’s organization his entire career since being drafted in the 2nd round out of Cal State Fullerton in the 2004 MLB draft.

Suzuki is having a rough 2012 season so far, he is only batting .207 with no homers and 15 RBIs. The Athletics have struggled in the hitting department this year, as they are dead last in baseball with a team average of .213. This is one of the main reasons for their 24-31 record to start the year.

As the trade deadline approaches, the last place Athletics will most likely be sellers. The A’s will have to make a hard decision this July on their once called “franchise catcher” Kurt Suzuki. The 28 year-old catcher is signed through the 2013 season with a 2014 option with the Athletics. Butt that does not mean Suzuki is guaranteed a spot with the A’s. Read the rest of this entry

Posey or Wieters: Which Young MLB Catcher Has the Bigger Upside? The Friday Faceoff

Friday June 1, 2012

Ryan Ritchey (Baseball Writer): A couple of years ago the Minnesota Twins were talking about moving Joe Mauer to first base, to save his legs. Since he was such a great hitter, the Twins were looking to preserve his bat. That never did happen and the Twins are going down really fast and so is Mauer. The only thing Mauer has been really good for lately is making commercials for Head and Shoulders shampoo and one-liners from video game ads. Joe Mauer has played 9 seasons in the majors and does not have 100 career home runs. Yes he hits for a very high average. But he was supposed to be a great overall hitter. In my opinion, this home-grown Minnesota boy stayed behind the dish too long and now he will never be the same offensive player that he was in ’09. Injuries have taken their toll and the Mauer decline began far sooner than most expected.

The big question for the next two big young catchers is whether they going to stay behind the dish, or undertake a postion change to save their legs…and bats. Buster Posey and Matt Wieters are no doubt the best young catchers in the game right now. Some will look at Mike Napoli, Brian McCann and Alex Avila for that title. But for actual youth, production and potential, Posey and Wieters are the next big things. The only thing is how long will they actually be catchers. If I’m in either the Giants or Orioles front office, I move them as soon as possible. The catcher position is one of the hardest positions in the game and leaving either Posey or Wieters behind the plate too long could prove detrimental. Just look at Joe Mauer as an example of what could happen if you wait. Read the rest of this entry

Jesus Montero: Mariners Franchise Player of the Future?

Thursday May 24, 2012 

Ryan Ritchey (Baseball Writer): Jesus Montero is not a guy that gets a lot of attention because he plays for Seattle, but he did get my attention. Montero is one of the better players in the American League and he is going to continue to show his excellence throughout the rest of this season. Montero came to Seattle from the Yankees in exchange for Michael Pineda, who is done for the year…and maybe longer. The big question is whether the Mariners got the better part of the deal. No one will know the answer to this question for at least another couple of years. But as of right now, I believe they did. This is why. 

Montero, who should be moved from the catcher position in the next couple of seasons to either first base or DH, will be more durable than Pineda, who is coming off surgery. As long as Montero stays relatively healthy, he will be the kind of player who can hit 25 homers every season. We are just a month and a half into the season and the young slugger already has 6. Not putting too much pressure on him but he is on my fantasy team. So he better produce! His RBI numbers will be down though as he plays on a team with terrible overall offensive production, including an inability to score runs. 

The other big question that comes along with Montero is his strikeout to walk ratio. With 38 strikeouts to only 9 walks so far this season, the Mariners should be a little alarmed. With that many strikeouts he is not helping out the team very much as far as getting on base consistently. You can be a 25 homer guy but if your average is around .24o for the season with an OBP under .300, that isn’t a very good overall season. Any general manager is going to want a guy that can hit for average, power and take the occasional walk. A player that does day-in and day-out is Joey Votto and he just got a great contract from the Reds. Production pays off for everyone in the long run.

For Montero to get that big contract one day and to get Seattle into the playoffs as soon as possible, he is going to need to produce and show he can put the ball in play consistently. Nothing against the Mariners, but reality is that this not the team a big time hitter normally chooses to play on from his initiative. Montero if he evolves as a player, could one day end up in Boston to replace Ortiz when he retires. But that is just my opinion. For now, Montero is a player to watch out for. He could do very big things in the near future. The Mariners are counting on Montero to fill the shoes of their current franchise player, Ichiro Suzuki as he prepares for retirement likely one day soon. Until then, Montero will need to grow and develop into the player that the Mariners and the rest of the baseball world think that he can be.

Ryan Ritchey is a Baseball Writer for MLB reports. I am a high school senior, play second base and plan on studying sports journalism in college. I am a huge fan of Barry Larkin and Brandon Phillips. Have been a baseball fan my whole life and have been writing about baseball since freshman year. You can reach me on Twitter(@Ryan13Ritchey)

 

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A.J. Pierzynski Interview: White Sox Catcher Discusses His Love for Wrestling and Hatred For Cold Weather

Saturday May 5th, 2012

Playing in his 14th season in the major leagues the White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is the guy other teams love to hate for his particular brand of competition, but they obviously like having him around on the South Side.  He is a 2x American League All-Star that played a vital role in the 2005 World Series Championship.

Despite his reputation of being Public Enemy No. 1, Pierzynski is only hungry to win.  This reputation only applies to his on field play but off the field A.J. is “not what people think.”

Ten-year-old Haley Smilow had a chance to sit down with A.J. before a game and talk baseball, but discovered the White Sox catcher is one of the most genuine, honest and appreciative guys playing baseball today.  He is just a regular guy who likes to have fun and doesn’t like the cold weather.


Haley: My family went to several games at Kauffman Stadium, Target Field and Camden Yards along with stops at Miller Park, Wrigley and Busch Stadium last summer,  do you have a favorite ballpark and why?

AJ: Seattle Mariners Safeco Field would have to be one of my favorites, it is a good field to play ball on and the retractable roof makes it possible to play ball in any weather conditions.

 

Haley: Is there a ballpark where you feel you always play well other than US Cellular Field?

AJ: I don’t know, I think I play well at Wrigley and at Safeco and not so well at Fenway for some reason. Read the rest of this entry

Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – April 1st, 2012

Sunday April 1st, 2012


Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

Q:  My question this week in about a prospect in the Diamondbacks system. Was reading an article about Trevor Bauer and his 10 different pitches along with his unique training program. What I want to know is how MLB Reports see his future. Will he be a number one starter on their staff one day and where will he end up when he retires?  Larry

MLB reports:  First question this week goes to our #1 fan, Larry! Happy April Fool’s Day by the way! No tricks today from us. Just baseball talk! Watching this kid pitch, it is hard not to get excited about him. Trevor Bauer comes with a lot of hype as a top-3 pick from last year’s MLB draft. He will definitely see time in Arizona this year, with a full rotation spot in 2012 possibly happening. Will Bauer be a #1 starter? Will he retire as a Dback? Very difficult questions, because of the complexity of the circumstances. Injuries. Performance. Financial expectations. So much goes into the equation. But if you are asking me to check the crystal ball (which I think you are), here is what I see: Yes, Bauer will become a #1 starter one day. We love his mechanics too much for him not to develop. As long as he stays healthy, works hard and keeps his nose clean. Which we all hope he does! But I cannot see him retiring as a Dback. In this day and age, it is very rare for a player to stay on the same team for his whole career. The law of baseball probability says that if Bauer becomes a stud, he will go one day to a major contender, like the Yankees or Red Sox. Even if for some reason Bauer does play the majority of his career in Arizona, he will at some point make a team change. Maybe his skills will diminish. Or a conflict with the manager. The bottom line, he will be in Arizona for the next 5+ years likely at least. So let’s enjoy his time there for now. Thanks for writing! Read the rest of this entry

Garrett Maines Interview: Jays Catcher Prospect- on that Minor League Grind Just Tryin to be Showbound!

Sunday February 26th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:   When you think “Blue Jays catcher”, the names Arencibia and d’Arnaud. Arcencibia is the Jay’s power hitting major league catcher, who has quickly become a fan favorite in Toronto. Travis d’Arnaud is one of the Jays top prospects in the minors- and actually, one of the top prospects in the game, regardless of pitching. With the Jays as an organization having some of the best catching talent in baseball, we are ready to throw more names in the mix. Back in December, we interviewed Jays catcher George Carroll. Well, the Toronto Blue Jays have a serious catching factory going, as we were lucky to get some time to speak to catching prospect, Garrett Maines. 

Drafted by the Pirates in 2009, Garrett chose to finish in school and finish his degree (way to go Garrett!) In 2010, Garrett signed with the Jays, after playing a season of indy baseball. After getting his feet wet in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, Garrett made it to Canada in 2011…playing for the Vancouver Canadians of the NorthWest League. Garrett really delivered in his 2nd professional season. He showed good pop, with 4 home runs in only 27 games. He hit .263, with a .337 OBP and .500 SLG, helping lead the Canadians to a league title. Clearly, this kid has some serious pop in his bat! Now going into 2012 and coming off a championship year, Garrett is hungry for more. After a hard offseason of workouts and preparations, Garrett is ready for 2012. Ready to take the next steps in climbing up the Jays organization ladder. Ready to work hard, offensively and defensively in becoming a solid all-around catcher. Remember the name Garrett Maines- this Jays prospect is going places! And if you need some quality baseball bats, give Garrett’s grandma a call. He comes from a serious baseball family! Today on MLB reports, we are proud to feature our exclusive interview with the man behind the mask, Garrett Maines:

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Joe Mauer vs. Alex Avila: Who is the Top Catcher in Baseball?

Saturday February 11th, 2012

Sam Evans: Joe Mauer and Alex Avila have become two of the best catchers in the American League. Both players are at a crossroads in their respective careers heading into 2012. For Avila, can he build on his breakout season last year and lead the Tigers to the playoffs again? Mauer needs to find out whether he can stay at catcher without injury, and if he can return to the level of his previous offensive years. Read the rest of this entry

Cade Kreuter “The Crocodile Hunter” Interview: Miami Hurricanes and 3rd Generation Baseball Prospect

Saturday February 4, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Talk about keeping it in the family. Cade Kreuter certainly knows how to follow in the baseball footsteps of his family.  The 20-year old currently plays infield and outfield for the University of Miami, after spending 2010 as a USC Trojan. Both his grandfather (Mike Gillespie) and father (Chad Kreuter) were head coaches with USC as well. Then to top it all off, all three have worn the #19. Younger brother Cole wears #19 at his high school- so bottom line, if you are a Kreuter: you wear #19. From Chadden (Chad) to sons Cole and Caden (Cade) – the Kreuter family is writing its baseball family legacy. I had the opportunity to watch Cade’s dad on the field and I will tell you, he was as solid as they come. A solid major league catcher for 16 seasons, dad really set the bar high. But Cade is up for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for him.

Cade was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2009 but opted to go to school instead. Playing the infield and outfield in his career, Cade can also catch if called upon.  Just call him Mr. Versatility in Miami. Coming from a strong baseball family background, Cade is definitely learning the family business.  Being named this past year to the California Coastal League All-Star Game and top prospect in the CCL shows that the accolades are coming. Standing 6’5″ and 205 lbs, Cade is a beast on the field. As he finishes up school- the next step will be to take his tools into pro ball.  Maybe to New York one day? ;)

Today on MLB reports, we introduce a prospect from a different side of the game. If you always wondered what it is like to play university ball for a major institution like Miami- today is your lucky day. Meet the man who helped train the actors you watched in the smash movie Moneyball. Plus after his playing days are done, we could be looking at the next crocodile hunter (trust us, it’s true!) Featured on MLB reports, we bring you our interview with baseball prospect and 3rd generation player, Cade Kreuter: 

MLB reports:  First question:  Favorite team growing up?

Cade Kreuter:  My favorite team growing up was always the team my dad was playing for at the time, but with that said, really my favorite team has always been the Yankees. They are the best and everyone knows it. Many of my favorite players have played on the Yankees at some point in time also. It is a dream to be a big leaguer, but it is an entire different dream to be a Yankee. I see it as one of the highest honors in baseball to have an opportunity to be a Yankee.


MLB reports:  You were drafted by the Dbacks in 2009 but chose to attend the University of Southern California instead. How close were you to signing with the Dbacks, what were the negotiations like?

Cade Kreuter:  Being drafted by the Diamondbacks was a very exciting moment of time in my life, I did not expect to be drafted at all actually. I had missed my entire  season senior year after I dislocated my shoulder the first game of the year. So there really were not any negotiations with the Diamondbacks after I was drafted. I was contacted the morning of the draft by the Diamondbacks, about 15 minutes before I was drafted, and I was told to turn on my computer and listen to the draft and for my name to be called out. After I was drafted it was explained to me that I would be a “draft and follow” and I would now be in their system.


MLB reports:  How have you enjoyed your time in University so far (what has your experience been like)?  Do you feel you made the right choice in picking school over pro ball? (if you could go back in a time machine- would you have still made the same choice?)

Cade Kreuter:  No doubt about it that I made the right choice to go to college for a few years before signing professional. I do always think about what  if I signed out of high school, I could be three years ahead into pro ball and who knows where I could be. But I really do think I made the right choice by going to school. I have matured in so many different ways, as a ballplayer, and as a person. My shoulder injury was able to heal during my time in college, and now I am healthy and throwing again. I have met so many people who I may have missed out on if I had skipped college. On top of all that I have put at least 3 years of education in my pocket, from 2 of the top Universities in the country.


MLB reports:  Number 19- how did you pick that number?  

Cade Kreuter:  Number 19 has become a family number, and my grandfather, Mike Gillespie, started it all when he was playing at the University of Southern California. My grandfather continued to wear the number while he was coaching at USC and still continues to wear it now at UC Irvine. My dad wore it when he could while he was playing. I have always worn the number 19 when it is available, and my little brother, Cole, who is a sophomore at Columbus High School also wears 19. We are both very proud to keep the number in the family, and hope to pass it on. 

MLB reports:  At 6’5″ – did you ever consider other sports instead of baseball?

Cade Kreuter:  Growing up I played baseball, basketball and football. In high school I played both baseball and football. I only played football my freshman and sophomore year, but I really do regret not playing football the rest of the way through high school. I have not ruled out walking on as a quarterback in football for my senior season at The U if I decide to stay for my senior year.


MLB reports:  Did you have a favorite player growing up?

Cade Kreuter:  I have had so many different favorite players from Ken Griffey Jr. to Frank Thomas, and to Mike Sweeney. But really my favorite player growing up was Gary Sheffield. I loved everything about Gary, his batting stance, his swing, his cleats. I could go on. But his locker was right next to my dads when they played on the Dodgers together, and I always looked up to him.


MLB reports:  Which current MLB star do you most admire and why? Any current players that you pattern your game after?

Cade Kreuter:  Right now I look at players in the MLB a little bit differently than I did as a kid growing up. Now I look at guys who have similar size and height to me, and I like to see how they do specific things in their swing and their batting stance. Being so tall it is difficult to keep my swing in tune since I am not fully filled into my body. So I like to look at players like Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, and Matt Kemp. They’re all such big hitters at the plate I can see how they use their bodies throughout their swing and relate to that.


MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?  

Cade Kreuter:  My biggest goal for this upcoming season is to get to Omaha and win it. There is nothing else on my mind right now, and I know that with a national championship in my sights and putting my team first that my personal statistics will take care of themselves. That is my goal right now.


MLB reports:  What has your offseason been like?  What are you up to?  What are you doing to prepare for the season?

Cade Kreuter:  Well I consider my fall semester and winter break my offseason really. Fall semester here at The U consist of a lot of intra-squad games, a lot of weight training, and running. That is all done with the team. During my winter break I go two-a-days with the weight training, once in the morning and once at night. When I was not in the weight room I was in the cages taking as many swings I could. I would long toss 3 times a week and keep my throwing short distance on the other days.


MLB reports:  At what age did you know that you would be a baseball player?  Do you see yourself long-term as an outfielder or infielder?

Cade Kreuter:  I have been playing ball since I can remember. Since I was a little kid I knew that I would be playing baseball as long as it allows me to. Right now I am playing the corners in the outfield and I like it a lot out there, but I can play any position and if somebody moves me back to the infield I would be more than happy and then they can move me back to the outfield if they wanted. As long as I am playing baseball I’m ok. But, long-term I do see myself in the outfield because of my body size, and my tools go well in the outfield. I love to throw people out, so beware.


MLB reports:  Ever consider catching (wink)?

Cade Kreuter:  I use to catch when I was young! But I guess the last time I caught was when I probably 13 years old, before my freshman year in high school. I did some catching drills at USC for a little too and I had a decent pop time. If I was told to get back behind the plate I wouldn’t argue, I think catching is a great position to play. I might have trouble with the signs. I would for sure need to practice that a lot.


MLB reports:  What’s the keys to your game- power, speed, patience- or a combination?

Cade Kreuter:  Right now I am focusing on staying aggressive at the plate and letting my natural power take over. So instead of just looking for my pitch to hit I’m starting to drive anything thrown in the zone. My power is a big part of the game, but it is difficult to not get caught up in my power sometimes. So I just need to stay smooth and quick through the zone instead of trying to jack the ball all the time. When I do that, my power really shows. I can turn the running turbo on too, if I think there can be another bag in there for myself I’ll take it.


MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Cade Kreuter:  Right now I strike out a lot, and that is what I want to improve upon the most right now. If you asked me this question a few months ago I would have told you my number thing to do would be get my shoulder healthy and back in game shape. But I know as I continue to learn my body, learn my swing, and become a better hitter mentally at the plate that my strike out numbers will be cut down. That comes with repetition also, I have missed out on a lot of at bats and games  since my senior year in high school because of this injury.


MLB reports:  Who were the strongest baseball influences growing up?  Any particular coaches that had a deep impact on your game?

Cade Kreuter:  I have had so many great coaches and I have had a lot of awful coaches. First major influences that I have had in baseball are my dad and grandfather, Mike Gillespie. They both have so much knowledge about the game and understand that even the tiniest of things can make the biggest difference to a baseball player. That is why they have both been so successful in their careers, and they have taught me in very advanced ways that a lot of other coaches and players I have had or played with can’t even comprehend. I have had coaches that thought  I was an awful baseball player because I was tall and lanky, and I have had teammates tell me that too. A lot of that is just plain jealousy, but you learn to use that negative stuff as fuel after a while.


MLB reports:  Three years of school and then going back to the draft. Is that the plan? Where do you see yourself being drafted the next time around and what do you need to do to get there?

Cade Kreuter:  The plan for me right now is to play as hard and as good as I can play for my team every game. My plan is to go to Omaha and win. Whatever happens with the draft happens. The draft is not going to make me a better or worse player in pro ball because I went high or low in the draft. The situation does need to be right for me to sign and there is a lot of different things that go with that. But I know when I play for my team and not for myself is when I will get the best out of me, so everything will fall into place when the draft comes.


MLB reports:  Tell us about your dad, Chad Kreuter.  What was he like as a dad?  What is your relationship like?

Cade Kreuter:  My dad is everything to me. When he was playing he brought me to the ballpark with him as much as possible, which is something a lot of players  shy away from doing  and worry about having their kid there for different reasons. Looking back it seems I spent every minute with him even while he was doing his work at the park. But he has given me the best life that he could ever give me and I couldn’t ask him for anything more.


MLB reports:  Any pressure to become a ballplayer?  Did you ever consider another career path?  Is having a famous baseball dad any hinderance to you?

Cade Kreuter:  I don’t feel pressure to be a ballplayer ever, it’s just what I have always done. It’s what I have always been good at. I did feel I needed to prove myself as a player to my teammates at USC when I was playing under my dad there.  Really I’ve always wanted to be a Big Leaguer, so I’m just a kid dreaming still. Another career path? No, not really. I guess my backup plan would be something with science and wildlife, which people find shocking and weird. I just know a lot about nature for some reason, probably because I watch more Animal Planet than ESPN.


MLB reports:  Favorite baseball movie of all-time and why?

Cade Kreuter:  My favorite baseball movie has to be “Moneyball” now since I helped Chris Pratt “Scott Hatteberg” and Stephen Bishop  “David Justice” with their hitting and defense for the movie. My dad and grandpa also worked on set while they were filming and they were both actually in the movie. It doesn’t get better than “Sandlot” though.


MLB reports:  Final thoughts?

Cade Kreuter:  Thank you for the interview! Go Canes!   Cade.

***Thank you to Cade Kreuter for taking the time today to speak with us on MLB reports.  You can follow Cade on Twitter (@cadeSWAGGstupid).  Good luck in school Cade, Go Miami Hurricanes! Study hard and we look forward to seeing you playing pro ball very soon!

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Mike Murray Interview: Giants Slugging Prospect – Baseball Runs in the Family

Sunday January 29, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Welcome to the world of Mike Murray! You think we love baseball? This guy grew up in the game! From a father that played pro ball, a brother who was drafted and a sister who captained her university softball team- to say baseball is in his genes is an understatement. Murray is a catcher in the Giants organization. To be a catcher and control a baseball game, you know that he has baseball smarts. He came to the Giants in 2010, playing in two different levels. Last year, Murray played the entire season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanos in the Northwest League. How are the numbers you ask?  Good.  Really…really…good! In the field, Murray has proven to be a solid defensive catcher. A .980 fielding percentage, to go along with a 33% caught stealing in his career thus far. But the real magic has been at the plate. A .331 lifetime BA. .394 OBP. Last year, Mike had close to a 1:1 walk/strikeout ratio (28/37).  A lifetime .460 SLG. Last year, he popped 6 home runs in only 63 games. At the age of 23, we expect to see Mike Murray in AA Richmond very soon (how does 2012 sound?) 

An intelligent young man beyond his years, I can tell that Mike has received a great education. Both in the college classroom (Wake Forest  Dean’s List!), as well as at home. He is grounded, yet confident. He has shown great potential, yet continues to want to learn. If baseball smarts and determination were the 6th tool, Mike Murray would rate an 80 on my scale. Watch out Buster Posey, there is yet another talented catcher rising up the Giants ranks! Mike is showing that San Francisco really knows how to scout and develop solid all-around catchers. With stories of Buster Posey moving to another position one day a real possibility, San Francisco is ready to groom the next top starting catcher from its farm. It might be behind the plate, first base or outfield. But with his slugging bat, Mike Murray is making a statement that he deserves his shot one day- regardless of position.

When all is said and done, to top it all off: Mike will one day be heading to law school and eventually work his way up to a GM role in baseball. The future Billy Beane in the making? We will have to wait to find out, as Mike still has many years left of grinding left on the diamond. Today on MLB reports, meet one of the brightest prospects coming up the San Francisco Giants system – Mike Murray:

MLB reports:  Who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?

Mike Murray:  Growing up I was a huge fan of Paul O’Neill. I loved the passion and intensity he had when he played.  I always felt as a fan that you knew you were always getting his best, which is something I try to think about when I play.  As a hitter, I loved the way he used the whole field and never took at bats off.  My first MLB game growing up was in 1995 when he received his batting title from the strike shortened season at Yankee Stadium.


MLB reports:  Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Mike Murray:  Derek Jeter.  I was 8 years old when he broke in, and was very lucky to grow up in baseball through his career.  I appreciate how seriously he takes himself, the game, and his role in baseball.  I believe that one of the most important things about being a player is being reliable for your teammates.  You always know that Jeter is going to be prepared and will go through a wall to help win games.

 

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Mike Murray:  In the summer of 2002 my dad took my siblings and me up to Cape Cod for a vacation to see a few Cape League games.  The first night we found the Chatham vs. Orleans game. I remember my dad talking to me about the league and how cool it would be to get to play in it.  In 2009 my dad and siblings got to come to Fenway and watch me represent Chatham in the All-Star game.  That night was special for me.  

On the pro side, my first night in the Northwest league in 2010, I hit a home run in the ninth with two outs that was the game winner.  It was my first professional home run, one that I will always remember.


MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?  

Mike Murray:  My first goal going into camp is to break with the San Jose club.  Many of the Giants high round picks from last spring and top performers from the Sally league will already be slated to SJ, so competition to make the club will be for a few spots.  As a hitter my goals always stay the same, to keep my approach consistent and produce runs.  I have been working a bit more this off-season on getting consistent power and backspin.  As I defender, I have been working out a lot at first base and also doing some outfield work.  It is still an adjustment not doing a ton behind the plate, but I’ll be prepared to get at-bats wherever I can and wherever in the field that means.

 

MLB reports:  What was the process like signing with the Giants in 2010?

Mike Murray:  I felt like coming off of a real good summer in the Cape League and following it up with a really solid senior campaign at Wake Forest that I had positioned myself pretty well for the draft.  As it worked out, the teams that showed the most interest in me ended up taking catchers earlier in the draft and it didn’t work out on draft day. About 4 or 5 days later, I got a call from Giants’ area scout Jeremy Cleveland with a contract offer.  That phone call was a relief knowing I was going to get the opportunity to play professionally.  It was also a challenge to prove the Giants right and a whole lot of other people wrong.  It drives me each day I am on the field.

 

MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Mike Murray:  My best skill on the field I have is what I do in the batter’s box.  Everybody that plays professional baseball has some talent as a hitter, and I do believe I am a talented hitter as well.  What I think is more important is that I have a good understanding of my swing, my approach, and how to adjust those things at bat to at-bat, game to game.  I try to think like a catcher when I hit, thinking of how I would try to get myself out if I were calling pitches.  So much of hitting is your approach and confidence, and whether it is true or not, I always believe I am going to win that battle with the pitcher each at-bat.

 

MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Mike Murray:  I am working at a couple of new positions for me. I have been a catcher primarily for my whole life, and I feel extremely comfortable and understand the nuances of catching from experience.  As I am learning first base and the corner outfield, it is all about the repetition for me in learning the intricacies of the positions I am learning now.  Getting acclimated at first base especially has been a focus of my offseason.  

 

MLB reports:  How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?

Mike Murray:  I have always absolutely hated striking out.  The high school stat I was most proud of was that I only had 12 strikeouts in over 350 plate appearances in my career. I think I hate striking out to the point that I won’t even give up a few more strikeouts to hit more home runs.  One of the adjustments I have tried to make as a hitter is being ok striking out a few times more if it translates into more extra base hits.  Our player development staff always preaches that 50% of all at-bats come with two strikes, so you better have a good approach with two strikes.  

I think that a good approach with two strikes and a good amount of walks are stats directly correlated to how good a hitter is in his pitch selection.  The pitchers we face are too good to help out.  I never go into a game trying to walk, as I think that takes away from how aggressive you need to be successful, but you have to make sure you are aggressive at pitches in the zone.  If I can be consistent doing that, I will be happy with where my walk and strikeout numbers end up.

 

MLB reports:  Long term do you see yourself staying behind the plate considering Buster Posey is the current starting catcher? How do you view your role in the organization?

Mike Murray:  Piggybacking on what I mentioned earlier, I see my career moving forward more as a part-time catcher and more so in first base, DH, left field roles.  Even deeper then Buster, the Giants have done an outstanding job getting great catching depth in the minor leagues.  Hector Sanchez, Tommy Joseph, Jeff Arnold, Dan Burkhart are all guys I have worked with and played with that do a great job behind the dish.  I haven’t gotten to see any of second round pick Andrew Susac, but all I hear is great things.  

I’ll help out whenever I need to or can behind the plate, but I know my role in the organization is to hit my way through it, and work to become a solid enough defender wherever there is a spot available.


MLB reports:  How do you see defense as part of your overall game?

Mike Murray:  I always took a lot of pride in being a reliable backstop for my pitchers and my teams in college and summer ball.  As I mentioned, the Giants catching depth hasn’t provided for a ton of opportunities behind home plate, so my focus is on taking the same amount of work ethic from behind the plate into becoming a better defender elsewhere on the field.

 

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Mike Murray:  I would love to have an answer to this question other than I have no idea… but no idea is about as honest as I can be.  One of the things about being a Free Agent and not being a huge bonus guy is that you have to prove yourself each and every day and each and every season.  I don’t think I would want it any other way.  

I understand that signing for more money or in a higher round buys you opportunities and that those types of guys have more equity to cash in if they have a below average year.  I don’t have that luxury and that drives me to produce each and everyday.  I have no plans of having a down year at any point. I will grind my way to really productive offensive seasons and see where that lands me.


MLB reports:  Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far?

Mike Murray:  Pro ball has been mostly what I expected.  There are certainly nights where you are sleeping on a bus floor that you ask yourself if you are crazy. But you usually wake up knowing you are where you are supposed to be and appreciate the opportunity.

 

MLB reports:  What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?  Best friend(s) on the team that you most hang out with and what do you guys like to do to chill?

Mike Murray:  In the offseason I chase around my dog, pick shows to catch up on Netflix, do a lot of reading, and spend a good bit of time in New York City.

I have been fortunate to have some great pro ball teammates.  The great thing about pro ball is that your teammates come from such broad backgrounds.  As a four-year college guy and graduate, my perspective is different from a JC guy, HS guy, or an international sign that is in the country for the first or second summer.

Now that we all have twitter, we are able to keep in pretty good touch over the offseason.  I spend most of off-season texting back and forth with Garrett Buechele over our fantasy sports troubles and recently headed down to Philly with Joe Panik for the Winter Classic to root on the Blue Shirts.  

 

MLB reports:  A .331 lifetime average going into the season. A .394 OBP last year. You can hit and you can take walks. We are intrigued- what has been the secret to your success thus far?

Mike Murray:  Being a college senior sign after four years presents its challenges as a prospect.  You go in with less investment from the Club and a bit older than people may like for prospects.  However, my college career in the ACC, Cape Cod, NECBL, and Valley League have prepared me well to succeed in pro ball.  I had over 800 at bats in those four years against big leaguers, first rounders, and really talented guys.  The experience I have as a hitter has made the transition to pro ball that much easier.

I talk a lot with some of our younger hitters in the organization about approach, staying positive, learning their swings, and I always tell them how much respect I have for them making the jump from High School or after a year of college.  My experiences in college really taught me how to fail and succeed and the best way to put myself in a position to be more successful.  I don’t know if I would be the same hitter if I didn’t have those experiences where I did.


MLB reports:  Do you have a favorite pre-game meal?

Mike Murray:  The favorite pre-game meal has everything to do with where I am.  When I was in the NWL this past summer, my roommates and I made a habit of finding our way to Big Town Hero for our pre-game meal.  When in Scottsdale, there is no better place to start your day then at the Breakfast Club.   


MLB reports:  Final Thoughts?

Mike Murray:  Just figured I’d give you a little more personal information in final thoughts…

I graduated in 2010 from Wake Forest university with a degree in Political Science and History. I was an ACC Honor Roll and Dean’s List student, and captain of the Wake Forest baseball team. I deferred admission into law school when I signed to play professional baseball.  When I am done playing I am going to go to law school, with the hopes of eventually getting into the front office and becoming a GM.  

My dad played minor league ball in the Chicago White Sox organization.  My younger brother was drafted last year by the Houston Astros, but decided instead to enroll at Georgia Tech.  He is a freshmen catcher there and was last year’s New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year.  My younger sister was the Captain of the University of Maryland’s softball team last year and also is a catcher.

Thank you MLB reports!  M.M.

 
***Thank you to Mike Murray for taking the time today from his offseason training to speak with us on MLB reports.  Also, a big thanks to Mike for providing the photos used in today’s feature from his collection. You can follow Mike on Twitter (@MMurray15).  Mike Murray is a name to remember. So give him a follow, say hello and wish him well as grinds his way up to San Francisco!

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Jesus Lands in Seattle: Montero to Save the Mariners’ Offense

Friday January 20th, 2012



Bryan Sheehan (MLB reports Intern Candidate):  It’s no secret that the Seattle Mariners struggled in 2011. Their offensive numbers were the worst in the league in many categories, as the team’s .233 batting average, .640 OPS and 534 RBIs ranked dead last, pushing them to a 67-95 record. So, coming into this offseason, the Mariners’ objective was clear: go out and acquire a hitter.

Last Friday, the Mariners found salvation as the club dealt young pitching talent Michael Pineda and right-handed pitcher Jose Campos to the New York Yankees for top prospect Jesus Montero and righty Hector Noesi. Pineda, 23, had an impressive rookie campaign, with a 1.10 WHIP and .211 BAA. His record of 9-10 may look less than stellar on paper, but of his 28 starts, his team scored less than three runs in ten games.

As for Montero, his future looks extremely bright, even in the cloudy landscape of Seattle. At age 22, Montero has only played 18 games at the MLB level but brings skill and potential that could make him a superstar. In 2011, he hit .288 with 67 RBIs in 109 games for Triple-A Scranton (considered a down year for the .308 career hitter) and was a September call-up for the Yankees, where he hit .328 with 12 RBIs in those 18 games. A catcher by trade, Montero will most likely start the year as the M’s designated hitter, with eight-year-veteran Miguel Olivo as the anchor behind the plate.

Ranked as the third best prospect in the league by Baseball America coming into last season, Montero has much to prove. First, he has to prove that he can hit in the pitcher’s heaven/ batter’s worst nightmare that is Safeco Field. He went 2/9 at Safeco last year, but his career slugging percentage (in the minors) is a respectable .501. In 2011, Montero held a slugging percentage of .429 at PNC Field, the home of the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate that is almost identical dimensionally to Safeco. This is a really promising sign, as Montero should feel right at home in Seattle’s ballpark.

A big question that arises is where Montero will fit into the M’s batting order. He’s had experience hitting in every position after clean-up for the offensively strong Yankees, starting the most games in the seven-hole. In 2012 he’ll be higher up in the order for the M’s, and taking into consideration his power- he will likely bat third or fifth. If he can keep his pace from 2011, Montero could drive in over 100 RBIs, which is almost twice what Seattle’s leading hitter, Miguel Olivo, hit last season (Olivo had 62 RBIs). The offensive spark that Montero provides will help bring life to the middle of the order, which includes young infielders Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak.  The M’s may not be a breakout team or a playoff contender in 2012, but adding Montero to their core of young hitters will definitely prove beneficial in a few years as the team’s young hitters hopefully come into their own together.


Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern Candidate, Bryan Sheehan.  You can follow Bryan on Twitter (@Sheehan99), read his interviews with Phillies’ minor league prospects at PhightingOn.com, and catch him writing the occasional article for BleacherReport.com (search his name). Tweet him about this article and he will follow you back!


Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Jordan Comadena Interview: Funky Astros Catching Prospect

Thursday January 19, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: We welcome today to MLB reports: Jordan Comadena, Astros catching prospect. If you know Jordan well, then just call him Funky. With the last name Comadena- how could you not? But besides having one of the best nicknames in the business, Jordan is also busting his behind to make his baseball dreams come true. After playing for Purdue, Jordan signed with the Astros and played his first professional season in 2009.  Now heading in 2012, Jordan is looking forward to the upcoming season and the opportunities that lie ahead.  From the bat that he swings to the strangest autographs that he has signed, get into the mind of a baseball prospect- as we chat exclusively with Jordan Comadena. Playing for a young organization in search of its next big league players, Jordan Comadena is looking to move up the Astros ladder.  Today we learn what he will need to do to get there.  After a breakout 2011 campaign, we look forward to tracking Jordan’s progress this season as he continues his baseball journey.  For the life and times of the man they call Funky, I proudly present my interview with Jordan Comadena:

MLB reports:  First question:  You play professional baseball for a living.  Has that sunk in yet?

Jordan Comadena:  This offseason I am preparing for my fourth professional season. So at this point in my career I have a nice routine- and the fact that I am playing baseball for a living has certainly sunk in.  I have a good feel for my body and I have learned how to manage the offseason and get myself into the best shape possible to report to spring training.


MLB reports:  What is your brand choice for bat and glove/catching gear?

Jordan Comadena:  I swing a 33 inch 31 oz J155 made by DS Wood Bats.  They are a newer company to Major League Baseball (within the last 2 years).  The founder of the company is a very good friend of mine that I played baseball with at Purdue University.  They make a great product and they have been very accommodating to me over the last couple years.  As long as I am playing, I will be swinging DS.  As far as other equipment, I love the All Star system 7 catchers gear and I use an All Star CM3000BT catchers mitt.  When I play outfield or any other position, all my gloves are made by Rawlings.  (I really like Franklin batting gloves as well, I wear them at the plate).


MLB reports:  Did you have a favorite player growing up?

Jordan Comadena:  When I was very young my favorite player was Andy Van Slyke of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  My parents are from western PA, so I have always been a huge Pittsburgh sports fan and he was certainly my favorite growing up.  As I got to high school and I primarily played catcher, I really enjoyed watching MLB games on TV and I tried to really focus on the catcher.  I loved just watching how they received the ball and how they moved around behind the plate.  I especially enjoyed watching Javy Lopez, Eddie Perez and Mike Matheny.  I tried to emulate them and use parts of their game and make myself better.

 

MLB reports:  Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Jordan Comadena:  I currently enjoy watching Koyie Hill catch because I feel like we are very similar behind the plate.  He’s not an overly big guy and he is primarily used in a back up role, much like I am.  I also really like watching Dustin Pedroia.  He is an undersized guy who works really hard and plays the game every day with everything he’s got.  He has always had to prove people wrong and I like that about him.  I have faced that same kind of skepticism throughout my career as well and I will continue to have a lot of people think that I can’t make it.  I use that as motivation to prove them wrong.


MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?

Jordan Comadena:  First of all I want to have a very productive spring training and continue to show everyone that I can play at any level.  In my opinion, my spring training performance has been better each of the last three years and I expect this year to be the best one yet.  As for the season, my goal is to make the AA roster out of camp and go there and contribute to that team.  I feel like I have a lot to offer as a baseball player and if given that opportunity, I will certainly make the most of it.  Last season I played more outfield than I caught- so I hope that I am able to do more of that this year.  Ideally, I would like to be able to help a team by playing some corner outfield, some first base and catch.  I caught sparingly in college.  I primarily played in the outfield and I played a lot of first base in summer ball in the Northwoods League.  I feel very confident in my abilities to play any of those positions at a high level.

 

MLB reports:  You joined the Astros organization in 2009.  Tell us about that process.

Jordan Comadena:  Like I stated earlier, I played my college ball at Purdue University (2005-2008) and I played my summer ball in Madison Wisconsin (2005-2007) as a member of the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League.  I played four years at Purdue and three summers in Madison.  Throughout my time in Madison, I had a lot of success and was a key contributor to three good teams.  I was even fortunate enough to have my number 14 retired by the Mallards during the summer of 2008.

I had an up and down freshman and sophomore year and Purdue but my junior season I got off to a terrific start and was hitting the ball as well as I ever had.  I hit in the leadoff spot and I was hitting for a high average as well as for power.  I was always on base and I had five home runs (18 extra base hits) in the first month of the season.  During our spring trip at Purdue, I broke the hamate bone in my left hand taking a swing.  For the next 2-3 weeks, I tried to play through it. But the pain got worse and worse and I was forced to have surgery.  I missed roughly the last 40 games of the season.  I got healthy and had my best year in Wisconsin.  My senior year at Purdue was very frustrating and I was never able to regain the rhythm I had the previous year.  As the season came to an end I was hoping that my total body of work, including what I had accomplished in Madison, was enough for someone to take a chance on me in the draft.  

The 2008 MLB draft came and went without my name being called and to say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  Playing professional baseball is all I have ever wanted to do and being drafted by a team would have been a dream come true.  With that not being the case, I immediately started calling and contacting anyone and everyone that I knew with a connection in professional baseball.  I was hoping that I could sign on that summer as a free agent.  I called everyone that I could think of and I even worked out for a couple of independent teams but no one wanted to sign me.  As August approached I decided to stop trying and get ready for my final semester at Purdue.  I would keep myself in shape and pursue signing with someone over the winter.  

Every year at the end of August the Madison Mallards host an alumni game where a number of former Mallards players come back to town and play in a friendly game for the fans.  Mallards players dating back to the team’s first year in 2001 are in attendance and mixed in with a number of former MLB stars from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.  Steve Schmitt, the Mallards owner, knows a lot of people throughout baseball and puts this event together for the fans.  During my time in Madison we would average around 7,000 people in the stands every night.  Even this alumni game got about 4,000 people in the stadium.  At first, when I was invited to participate in this event I was apprehensive about going because I did not want to be bothered by people asking me why I wasn’t playing professionally anywhere.  After being a fan favorite for three summers, I was a little embarrassed to return to Madison in this capacity.  But I took into account everything that the Mallards had done for me and I felt like I owed it to the front office staff to show up and be a part of the festivities.   

I played shortstop during the game and went 2-3 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI.  I hit doubles off Vida Blue and Blue Moon Odom respectively. After the game, in which I was named the MVP, I was approached by former Colt .45 and Houston Astros star Jimmy Wynn.  He was in attendance that night and took time out of his day to come talk to me.  He asked me why I wasn’t playing anywhere and I expressed to him how I very much wanted to continue my baseball career.  He was very friendly and told me that night that he would talk to the Astros on my behalf.  I was very gracious.  Despite everything we talked about that night I did not really expect anything to come of it.  Over the course of the next few months, he and I corresponded via e-mail and he did tell me that the Astros were interested.  In the interim, I had signed a contract with an independent team, the Gary Rail Cats of the Northern League.  January of 2009 rolled around and I got a call form the Astros scouting department saying that they had talked with Jimmy Wynn and the Mallards front office staff.  The Houston Astros wanted to sign me and bring me to spring training.  They asked me that night what position I wanted to play and I told them I wanted to catch.  Despite not really catching in college, I knew that was something I could do and I felt like it would provide me with the best opportunity to win a spot somewhere.


MLB reports:  You just finished your third full professional season, playing mainly for Lancaster.  How did you find your season overall?

Jordan Comadena:  Overall, for the opportunity that I was given, I felt like it was very productive.  When I was in the lineup I played very well and the fact that I showed I could do more than just catch was an added bonus.  At one point in the summer I had an 8-game hitting streak and was arguably our hottest hitter.

 

MLB reports:  You showed great improvement in 2011- you were really able to put it together.  What changed last year?

Jordan Comadena:  I think a big key this year was simply just being a year older and more experienced.  I didn’t try to do too much at the plate.  I tried to keep things as simple as possible and really look for good pitches to hit.  Another key, honestly, was going back to a 33 inch bat and sticking with the same model all year.  I went back to the same bat that I swung in Madison in college.  For some reason I had gotten away from that model bat.  I went back to it and it really felt good in my hands.  From now on, I will only swing that kind of bat.


MLB reports:  You have played mainly at the catcher position in your career.  However, you did play the outfield quite a bit in 2011. Why the change in position and is either the outfield or catcher your long-term position?

Jordan Comadena:  We had some injuries in the outfield last season and it got to a point where we needed someone to fill in out there for a little bit.  I expressed to the coaching staff that I played outfield throughout college and I won a mini tryout against a couple other players on the team for the opportunity to play in the outfield.  I view myself as a baseball player who happens to be able to play the catcher position.  I am able to play a number of different positions and I hope that as my career goes on, I am able to continue to do that.  Catchers are often negatively labeled as un-athletic and not able to run well.  I take offense to that stereotype as I do not fit that description.  I think of myself as baseball player, capable of taking on whatever is put in front of me.


MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Jordan Comadena:  I am not the kind of player that would turn a bunch of heads at a private workout. But I do feel that I play the game the right way and I can do a number of things well.  I can handle the bat and execute different situations that come up throughout the course of the game.  I have also had a very high success rate getting sac bunts down in my career.  I take pride in playing the game the right way and doing all the little things well.  Defensively, I feel like I am reliable in that where ever I am on the field the team will not miss a beat.  I have always had a good rapport with the pitchers I have worked with and I know that they enjoy throwing to me.  As a reserve player, my main goal when I am in the lineup is to have a positive impact on the game in some fashion.  


MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Jordan Comadena:  Every player at every level should always be working on something.  I am always trying to improve my arm strength and improve my catch and throw abilities behind the plate.  I try to do something in early work everyday to make myself better.  It’s part of my routine in getting myself ready to play.


MLB reports:  What do you need to do in order to be successful in this game?

Jordan Comadena:  I would say the most important thing is have a good mental approach everyday.  You need to be able to stay within yourself and not try to do too much.  Stay within yourself and play the game you are expected to play.  Trying to do more than you are capable of will only get you off your game.  Keep things simple and make the most of every day.  

 

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues?

Jordan Comadena:  Well it’s kind of hard for me to answer this question- simply because I have not had a season in which I have had more than 100 at-bats.  I do however, truly believe that if I were to get 200-250 at-bats in a season- I could do a lot with those at-bats and move up in the organization.  I feel like if I were to get that many at-bats per year over the next couple years, I could make it to the big leagues.   


MLB reports:  When did you sign your first autograph?  What is the strangest autograph request that you have ever had?

Jordan Comadena:  I really started signing a lot of autographs when I played summer ball in Madison.  We would get thousands of fans every night and they would want us to sign anything they could get their hands on.  I would say the strangest request was signing someone’s shoe.  Taking a shoe straight off their foot and having me sign it.  I would always say, “Are you sure you want me to sign the top of your shoe?”  You would see a little bit of everything up there.


MLB reports:  Funky Comadena – ever get that nickname before?

Jordan Comadena:  From the first day I showed up at spring training in 2009 ,I have been known throughout the Astros organization as Funky.  Obviously it works very well given my last name… and I do like the nickname.  I have Funky written on my batting gloves, bats, shoes and all my undergarments.  Pretty much everything I have in my locker is labeled with the nickname.

And yes, at various points throughout my life I have heard people refer to me with that nickname. But it wasn’t until 2009 that the nickname really stuck.


MLB reports:  Final Thoughts?

Jordan Comadena:  Thank you very much for allowing me to do this for you guys.  It’s been a lot of fun.  I hope everyone enjoys reading this!


***Thank you to Jordan Comadena for taking the time today to speak with us on MLB reports (and the pictures used in todays’ feature)!  You can follow Jordan on Twitter (@Funky2414). Please feel free to send Jordan any questions/comments you have- he would love to hear from his fans!***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Interview with Cameron Rupp: Phillies Catcher Prospect

Sunday January 1, 2012

 
Jonathan Hacohen:  Today on MLB reports we are proud to feature Philadelphia Phillies Prospect:  Cameron Rupp.  Originally drafted by the Pirates in the 43rd round in the 2007 MLB Draft, Jake was later drafted and signed with the Phillies after being taken in the 3rd round in 2010. One of the most dynamic players that we have enjoyed the pleasure of getting to know, Cameron is truly one in a million.  Born and raised in Texas, Cameron chose in 2007 to attend the University of Texas over signing with the Pirates.  After a successful career at Texas, including a trip to the College World Series, Cameron was drafted by one of the best organizations in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies.  Coming up their system, Cameron just competed a full season in A-ball, playing for the Lakewood Blue Claws.  As his twitter description says, Cameron loves “drinkin beers and killin deers.”  A good old-fashioned Texas boy at heart, Cameron loves the game of baseball and is an extremely grounded young man.  For an organization in need of a long-term solution behind the plate, the team has the answer coming up through its system in the form of Cameron Rupp.  The 23-year old Rupp has a bright future ahead, as strong catching prospects are a rare breed in the game today.  Watch out Philadelphia: Cameron Rupp is on his way!

Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Cameron Rupp, Catcher Prospect with the Philadelphia Phillies:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

MLB reports:  First question:  Tell us about growing up in Texas- is it all cowboy hats and oil barons?

Cameron Rupp:  Living in Texas is Cowboys and Oil Barons in some parts, and I have had the fortunate opportunity to be around that lifestyle, riding horses, working cattle, etc.  But for the most part it is a normal life, like most kids in a suburb town north of Dallas playing sports and hanging with my friends.

 

MLB reports:  Love your Twitter profile:  “I’m from Texas, drinkin beer and killin deers is my way of life”.  All true?

Cameron Rupp:  A buddy of mind made that for me.  I do enjoy being from Texas. I do enjoy a beer from time to time with my buddies and going deer hunting with my cousins.

 

MLB reports:  You were originally drafted by the Pirates in 2007.  You chose to go to Texas and become a Longhorn.  Easy decision?  What was the process like in deciding on school over pro ball?

Cameron Rupp:  The fact that I was drafted in the 43rd round made it an easy decision and a college education was an important goal for me.  In order for me to have decided on pro baseball out of high school, it would have required a substantial signing bonus and an early round draft pick.  I believe the decision that my family and I made was a very good decision and time has shown that.  I had a terrific career at the University of Texas, which was a life long dream. The chance to play in the College World Series and for a National Championship was awesome and I have a lot of lifelong friends and teammates as a result.

 

MLB reports:  Did you have a favorite player growing up?

Cameron Rupp:  Ivan “Pudge” Rodriquez.  He was a catcher and played for the Texas Rangers, my team growing up.  He was successful and played the position the way I wanted to be able to play it.

 

MLB reports:  Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Cameron Rupp:  Derek Jeter. He does it right, both on and off the field.

 

MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?

Cameron Rupp:  I want to continue to progress with my skills and become more consistent. I would like to be a better defensive catcher, working on my throwing and working with the pitchers to call a game to their strengths. Offensively I want to hit .300 with some power. I want to continue to move through the organization to my ultimate goal of playing in the big leagues.

 

MLB reports:  You go from a 43rd round pick by the Pirates to a 3rd round pick by the Phillies in 2010.  How did you find out you were drafted?  Big party that night?

Cameron Rupp:  I was playing in the Super Regional that week at the University of Texas. We were practicing the morning of the draft and during practice, the head of baseball operations walked out and told me the Phillies had drafted me in the 3rd round. A number of my teammates were drafted so we celebrated together that evening.

 

MLB reports:  Did you expect to go to the Phillies- did you think you would go as early as the third round?

Cameron Rupp:  Honestly I was hoping to go earlier, as I had talked to many different organizations that had said that was a possibility. But the third round was great. The Phillies were a surprise because I had conversations and interviews with other organizations that seem to show more interest. But I hope I can show the Phillies made a good choice and justify their confidence in me to draft me in the third round.

 

MLB reports:  You start off your career as a Williamsport Crosscutter and then moved to being a Lakewood Blue Claw last season.  Tell us about your first two professional teams.

Cameron Rupp:  Of course there is a transition from college to pro and it took a little time for me to adjust, as I went like 0-15 to begin my pro career.  I think you press a little at the beginning and being an early draft choice, you feel the pressure to perform.

I enjoyed the my first year at Williamsport learning how to play pro ball and hit with wood on a consistent basis.  You begin to learn the routine of going to the ballpark and playing everyday.

The second season in Lakewood was great, adjusting to a full season of 140 plus games and learning to manage the grind. But when you love something as much as I do playing baseball, it’s not too much of grind.

In Lakewood, I started really slow but finish much stronger during the second half of the year.  I need this to carryover into my third year and put together two halves like the second half of last year.

I also enjoyed the people of both Williamsport and Lakewood. The support of the minor league fan is outstanding.

 

MLB reports:  How did you feel going from school to professional baseball?  What was the transition like?

Cameron Rupp:  I was very excited to start a new part of my baseball career.  Playing baseball at UT (University of Texas) was a phenomenal experience. They kind of treated like us like we were in the big leagues, so it was adjustment.  It was nice not to have to worry about school and classes and to just focus on baseball.   As mentioned before, learning to hit with wood, learning the routine of playing everyday, going to the ballpark and staying mentally focused everyday, for every at-bat and pitch.

 

MLB reports:  At what age did you know that you would be a catcher?  Do you see yourself staying behind the plate long-term?

Cameron Rupp:  I began catching at the age of 8 and have caught ever since.  It is a position I have enjoyed, to be so involved in the game, working with the pitcher and being a position of leadership.  I want to stay behind the plate for the majority of my career.  I think I have the skills and the drive to work to do that. If towards the end of my career first base is an option to extend my career, that would be great.

 

MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Cameron Rupp:  I think my best skill is my work ethic and love of the game. I am not sure what is my best skill. I believe that I have a strong-arm and the ability to be a good power hitting catcher.

 

MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Cameron Rupp:  Consistency in all phases.  I believe at times we all show big league ability. It’s about doing it over and over again.

 

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Cameron Rupp:  I wish I could project when my time will come. I hope it is sooner rather than later, but I understand getting to the big leagues is a process of continuing to improve everyday.

I would like to think that I can have an opportunity within the next couple of years.  In order to do that, I probably will need to hit with power more consistently.

 

MLB reports:  Favorite baseball movie of all-time and why?

Cameron Rupp:  Bull Durham, it really was my first exposure to minor league baseball and it is probably pretty close to reality.

Also, The Sandlot is a great baseball movie. It was more of my dad and uncle’s time, but it showed how baseball becomes such an important part of your life, that your friends and can carry through your whole life.

 

MLB reports:  Have you been to Philadelphia yet?  Are you ready for the Philly Phaithfuls?

Cameron Rupp:  I have been to Philly.  Right after the draft I was fortunate to see a game at Citizens Park, meet some of the Phillies and visit with the organization.  It was a great opportunity for me.

I don’t know if the Philly Phaithfuls are ready for me, as I am a big Cowboys fan.

 

MLB reports:  Final Thoughts?

Cameron Rupp:  It has been a lifelong dream to play in the big leagues. I love the game of baseball and have been very fortunate to do the things I have been able to do because of baseball.  The friends I have made, the opportunity to play at Texas, and now to play professional baseball.

With hard work and focus, hopefully I will be able have a long career playing the game that I love.  

Thank you again to Cameron Rupp for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports.  We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Cameron.  You can also  follow Cameron on Twitter (@CameronRupp)

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Johnny Monell Interview: San Francisco Giants Catching Prospect

Thursday October 6, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist – MLB reports):  We are proud today to feature on MLB reports:  Johnny Monell, catching prospect for the San Francisco Giants.  The 25-year old Monell has the distinction of being drafted on three separate occasions:  by the Giants in the 27th round in 2005; Mets in the 49th round in 2006; and again by the Giants, in the 30th round of 2007.  Johnny from the Bronx- as I like to call him, finished off the 2011 campaign playing for Richmond in AA.  In his five professional seasons, Monell has a .349 OBP and .447 SLG, good for a .796 OPS.  Considered strong with the bat as well as the glove, Monell’s future looks bright as he works towards joining the big club soon.  With his season coming to an end, I had the opportunity to catch up with Johnny Monell and talk some baseball.  Here is our interview with Johnny Monell:

MLB reports:  Welcome to the Reports Johnny.  Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule for us today.  Let’s start with some background on you:  Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Johnny Monell:  My favorite baseball players growing up would have to be Ivan Rodriguez (Pudge) and Ken Griffey Jr.

 

MLB reports:  I would have to say that 90% of players we have interviewed all selected Griffey.  Popular choice!  Looking at active rosters, which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Johnny Monell:  Derek Jeter by far is my favorite player- just because of  the way he carries himself on and off the baseball field!!  He has accomplished so much in that Yankee uniform…He is just great!

 

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Johnny Monell:  I would have to say in 2010, I was invited to major league camp.  Just being in camp was an unbelievable experience.  I learned so much that year.  That year, I actually went on and played for San Jose and ended up having a very good year… You watch how these experienced major leaguers go about their business and how to get ready for a season.  We ended winning a championship and the Giants won the World Series at the same time, which is pretty awesome in itself!!

 

MLB reports:  What were your goals going into the 2011 season?

Johnny Monell:  Goals coming into this season were to play hard and just be ready to play everyday!!  Being in Double “A” for the first time, you realize a lot and see the best of the best!  There are many guys you come across that are ready to make that jump to the majors.  I’m happy with where I’m at and just ready to build on it every year to get where I wanna be!

 

MLB reports:  When you first found out you were drafted, what were your reactions?  Did those reactions change over time?  What was the process like being drafted originally by the Giants in 2005 and Mets in 2006 and not signing with either team?  What made you decide to finally sign with the Giants in 2007?

Johnny Monell:  The story of how I found out that I was drafted was pretty funny!  I was in a McDonald’s with some friends from high school and my college coach from Seminole Community College calls me saying “congratulations you’ve been selected by the SF Giants!”  I was definitely excited by the call.  I called my family to give them the news.  Not too many kids from the Bronx, let alone the inner city, get an opportunity like this.  So it was a big deal for myself, as well my family.  Reactions kind of changed with time to make a decision- because I wanted to sign!  But I knew in my heart that I wasn’t ready.  I was fortunate to have my dad on my side, who played pro ball over the course of 17 years, with the Mets especially.  Part of me did want to sign with the Mets based on that connection.  But at the end of the day, I knew I wasn’t ready and getting advice from my dad helped me to make my decision.  After my second year of Jr college, I knew that I was ready to play.  As a result, I am now where I belong.

 

MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Johnny Monell:  I think I bring a lot to the table.  Whether it’s behind the plate or hitting!  I’m a left-handed hitting catcher.  I think that is one of my main traits.  There are not to many players out there that can hit and play this position.

 

MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Johnny Monell:  At this point of my career, I think I would have to say being consistent and continue to get better.  I work every season towards retaining all of  my experiences of being a catcher in the minors.  I want to take those experiences with me hopefully to the major league level.

 

MLB reports:  How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?

Johnny Monell:  I think they play a huge part!  I always strive to being able to see a lot of pitches in the course of every at-bat.  This also shows the maturity of a hitter being able to stay back and hit the pitch you want to hit!  Walks also can help the batting average.  Big time!!  This year I wanted to cut down on strikeouts.  I did just that by laying off the pitchers’ pitches.  I also found that this helps when you come up to bat with runners in scoring position.

 

MLB reports:  Long term what position do you see yourself playing?

Johnny Monell:  I see myself behind the plate!  I just feel that with every year that goes by, I keep getting better behind the plate.  It’s just a matter of putting it all together and going out there and gaining that experience.

 

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues?

Johnny Monell:  That is out of my control.  I wish it was now, but all I can control is how I play on the field.  Knowing the type of player I am, if I keep going about my business as I always have- hopefully one day I can get an opportunity.  Someday, God willing of course!

 

MLB reports:  Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far?

Johnny Monell:  Pro ball has been an amazing experience! By being with the Giants, I have been able to meet many legends of the game of baseball, such as Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.  I was just grateful to have the opportunity to be in their presence.  Words can’t express how much that means to me.  Also, it has been incredible to have roving coaches that have so many years of major league experience!  I think we are spoiled with the amount of knowledge that is given to us on a daily basis.

 

MLB reports:  What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?

Johnny Monell:  For fun, I usually like to hang out with friends, family  and teammates.  I would say that I am a big movie guy during the season.  Also I was fortunate enough to play on the east coast this year, so I was able to spend time with many of my family members.  Being able to see them throughout the season was something that I cherished greatly.  Being able to play in front of family and friends was a nice treat!  I would say that I am a good teammate, because I try to hang out with everyone.  Team chemistry is a definite priority for me.  This is the only organization that I have ever been with.  Coming up with the same guys, I would say that our relationship only gets stronger.  Throughout each season and especially the last couple of years.

 

MLB reports:  As a catcher in the Giants organization, what was your reaction to the Buster Posey injury?

Johnny Monell:  The Buster Posey injury was devastating.

 

MLB reports:  Have your visited San Francisco the city yet?  How have you found the city thus far?

Johnny Monell:  After playing in San Jose last year, we had a few opportunities to visit San Francisco.  I visited as much as I could.  The city is great.  Food is awesome on the wharf.  Visited Alcatraz and took a lot of pictures.  Definitely a city I could live in!

 

Thank you again to Johnny Monell for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports.  We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Johnny.  As well, please feel free to contact Johnny directly by Twitter (@JMoE220).  He is very active on social media and welcomes your feedback!

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

How to Value and Manage Catchers on Your MLB Fantasy Team

Monday October 3, 2011

 

 

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  The catching position is one that is often the most mismanaged by fantasy owners.  A very thin position, it is difficult to find value from catchers in the deeper leagues.  Furthermore, you take a big risk dedicating a high pick or significant auction money at a very injury prone position, as 2011 owners Joe Mauer and Buster Posey owners know all too well.  Even a healthy catcher will sit for a significant amount of games each year due to the wear and tear of the position.

For these reasons, I generally advise to not overpay for a player at this position.  But with that said, for the right price, the top batch of catchers can provide you significant value.  However, too many times before we have seen significant year yo year decline from players at this position.  You simply should not rely on production at this position.  Spend your bucks elsewhere.  Based on matchups and playing time, it is possible to scrap together value for next to nothing.

For example, Chris Iannetta and his .238 average, 51 runs, 14 HR, and 55 RBI, disappointed many fantasy owners in 2011.  But a closer look at the numbers shows the true value he provides.  We all know the effect that Coors Field has on hitters, but for Iannetta it is staggering.  His 2011 home numbers look like this: .301 batting average, 10 HR, 39 RBI and 3 SB.

If you were to only start Iannetta at home in 2011, you would great numbers all across the board for half of the season.  You are essentially getting 50% of Brian McCann for way less than 50% of the price.  The discrepancy in his splits is dramatic that it makes him so easy to use as an owner.  Only start him at home and never think about starting him on the road!

Now, for the days that Iannetta is on the road, there are plenty of options in the bottom half of the rankings that would be available on the waiver wire.  Let’s pick someone like Miguel Olivo.  His 19 HR and 62 RBI provide great production from the thin catching position, but his .224 average leaves a lot to be desired.  However, an owner is much better equipped to muster this average if the number of at bats are cut in half.  If you combine this morph of Olivo and Iannetta, you are looking at these types of numbers:

.260-.270, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 6 SB.

These numbers are essentially right on par with Brian McCann’s 2011 line (.270, 24HR, 71RBI, 3SB).  McCann is a consensus top five catcher, while Iannetta and Olivo are viewed outside of the top-15.  You are essentially creating McCann for a lot cheaper and inherent risk that comes with investing money in the catching position.  Furthermore, there are more options out there if you think Olivo’s average is too much of a killer.  It all depends on your team’s needs and what categories you are chasing.  If you are more concerned about average, guys like Nick Hundley and Jonathan Lucroy might be more attractive options.  Looking for power and RBI production?  Names such as J.P. Arencibia, Russell Martin, Geovany Soto, Kurt Suzuki (there are even more) are all useful under the right circumstances.

For example, look at Geovany Soto’s numbers against left-handed pitching in 2011: .296 average, 7 HR and 15 RBI in just 98 at-bats. This is in stark contrast to his .207 average and 10 home runs in 323 at-bats against right-handed pitching.

The point is that it’s easy to piece together production at this position. There are several players who contribute in the HR and RBI categories and you can get the most out of them by maximizing their strengths based on matchups and ballparks.

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Tyler LaTorre: Interview with San Francisco Giants Catcher

Thursday August 18, 2011

  

MLB reports:  Today on the Reports we are proud to feature Tyler LaTorre, a catcher with the San Francisco Giants. 

The 28-year old LaTorre is a true example of perseverance.  LaTorre bypassed the MLB draft and signed with the Giants in 2006, his favorite team as a youngster.  After playing four seasons at UC Davis, LaTorre began his professional career in the Arizona Rookie League in 2006.  This season LaTorre worked his way up the ranks to AAA Fresno and looks to be banging on the Giants door.  With Buster Posey entrenched as the Giants starting catcher, the California native LaTorre continues to strive towards a future position with the big league club. 

We are pleased to present Tyler LaTorre of the San Francisco Giants:     

 

MLB reports:  Welcome to the Reports Tyler.  It is a pleasure to be speaking with you today.  Growing up, who was your favorite baseball player?  Which player did you most idolize and pattern your game after?


Tyler LaTorre:  My all time favorite player is Ken Griffey, Jr.  I was always number #24 when playing in little league and on up.  Being a left-handed hitter myself, I idolized and mimicked his sweet swing and tried to play the game with has much fun as he did.  In the end, baseball is still a game and is meant to be fun.  Junior played the game with so much fun and made the game fun to watch.


 

MLB reports:  Griffey is a very popular choice among current athletes we have spoken to.  On the flip side, which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
 


Tyler LaTorre:  I am a huge fan of all major league players and I admire them all.  I love watching big league swings and big league closers throwing hard with dirty off speed pitches.  The MLB At Bat app for the iPhone is amazing.  Multiple times a day I find myself watching big league swings and seeing what it takes to be a big leaguer.  I want nothing more than to someday have people watching my swing on the MLB At Bat app.

 

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
 


Tyler LaTorre:  I have won two league championship rings.  My proudest moment individually though, was getting a call to the big league spring camp this past year.  I was only there for a couple of weeks, but it was a dream come true to be a part of the World Series Champion Giants Spring Training.  I learned as much in those two weeks as I have learned in my four years in the minor leagues.  I was truly blessed to have been given that opportunity.

 

MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2011 season?

Tyler LaTorre:  My goals for 2011 are like years past.  When I get my opportunities, I have to take advantage of them.  I am no longer a prospect and I have never been a player that gets 500-600 AB’s in a season.  So when I get my plate appearances, I have to make the most out of them.  So far in 2011, I feel like I have done that and I am trying to stay sharp even though the next opportunity might not be today or tomorrow, but a week down the road.  Another goal of mine is to help my team win in any way possible.  I hate losing and I’ll do whatever it takes to win.  I would also like to stay healthy and play winter ball somewhere in the offseason.


 


MLB reports:  When you first found out you were signed by the Giants, what was going through your mind?  Why did you choose to bypass the draft and what  was the process like choosing to sign with the Giants in 2006?


Tyler LaTorre:  It was very surreal to me when I signed my professional contract with the Giants.  It didn’t set in until I was sent to Arizona before being sent to Salem, Oregon for short season.  I was a fifth year senior at UC Davis in 2006, and I put together a career changing season that got me a chance to play at the next level.  Since I had already graduated and got my degree when my college season was over, I had up to one week before the draft to sign with a team or I would have had to wait on the draft.  After my last college game I was offered contracts from some MLB organization, including the Giants.  I could have waited for the draft to see where that might take me, but I had the ball in my court and I got to choose where I felt would be the best opportunity for my future.  That choice was the San Francisco Giants.

 

MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?


Tyler LaTorre:  I feel like I am a great leader and that I have the ability to make my teammates better.  I handle a pitching staff very well and pitchers trust me to make the right decision on the field to help the team.  I take pride in pitch calling and controlling the other teams’ running game.  I also like to think that I can handle the bat pretty well and I hit from the left side, so that’s a strong skill that I possess.


MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?


Tyler LaTorre:  I am always looking for ways to get better in all facets of my game.  I want to quicken my foot work when catching and hit for more pull side power.  I also want to try to get some more leg strength to last a full season behind the plate if that opportunity ever arises.  In 2010, I caught the majority of the final two months of AA and I figured out what it was like to catch everyday.  That season  took a toll on my body and I want to be prepared so that I never feel like that again.  I would like to be strong and able to perform at the highest levels.

 

MLB reports:  How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?


Tyler LaTorre:  To me, striking out is the worst thing that I can do when I have a plate appearance.  Walking back to the dugout after a strikeout is a terrible feeling for me and I can’t stand letting my team down.  I have always had a pretty good eye in the box and I feel I know the strike zone very well.  Drawing a walk and getting on base for my team is a victory in itself, and I have always prided myself on having even strikeout to walk ratios in my career.  Strikeouts are going to happen, they are a part of baseball.  But I strive to make the pitcher work to get me out.  I look to walk or put the ball in play to make something happen, and to battle and compete during every one of my  at bats.

 

MLB reports:  Long term do you see yourself staying behind the plate?  How do you see defense as part of your overall game?
 


Tyler LaTorre:  Catching is one of the funniest things I have ever done in my life.  I love catching, blocking, calling a game, and winning baseball games. Nothing more satisfying than working as hard as I can for nine innings and getting that 27th out and walking out to the mound and shaking my teammates’ hands.  However, I know the reality that there is only one catcher on the field at one time and there are prospects in this game that have to play.   So ultimately whatever can get me in the lineup to help the team win is what I want.
 

 

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Tyler LaTorre:  I need a chance.  I need someone or some team to take a chance on me and I need to show them they have made the right choice.  I don’t have a timetable on when I will join the Giants.  I wish it was tomorrow, but whenever that time may come or not come, I will always be ready to play and compete to the best of my abilities. 
 

 

MLB reports:  Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far?  What are some of the highs and lows you have experienced?

Tyler LaTorre:  I didn’t really have many expectations.  I am the type of person that takes things day by day and even pitch to pitch.  I don’t worry about the past or future, I live in the right now and it has helped me stay focused my whole career.  On the high side has to be my short season team in 2007 when we had the best winning percentage in all of baseball and won the Northwest League Championship.  Also being a non-draftee, non-prospect in AAA right now competing at the level right below the big leagues is a pretty big high for me.  On the low side, in 2007 I didn’t make a team out of my first spring training and was sent to extended spring staining in 110 degree Arizona.  I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it out of there and was going to be released before I even had the opportunity to show my abilities.  But I stay focused and dedicated to baseball and four years later I am in AAA and looking forward to each day and an opportunity to make the big league roster.

 

MLB reports:  What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?  Best friend(s) on the team that you most hang out with and what do you guys like to do to chill?

Tyler LaTorre:  I love having a good time and laughing.  Whether it is on the field, the plane/bus, or at our apartment in Fresno, I try to stay positive and have fun.  I mostly hang out with Brett Pill, Jackson Williams, Brock Bond, and Brandon Crawford.  We all have a great time together and play video games, go to the mall, Golf, whatever we can do to take our minds off playing this tough and grueling game called baseball.  I would have retired from baseball a long time ago if I didn’t have such a fun group of friends in this game.   
 

 

MLB reports:  How has the Buster Posey injury affected the organization?  Did it have a direct influence on your playing time in your opinion?

Tyler LaTorre:  The injury hit me pretty hard.  To see a friend in so much pain, made me sick to my stomach.  I had to stop watching replays.  Buster’s injury was tragic and put our minor league organization in a bit of chaos.  We started moving catchers around, looking for trades, and signing free agent catchers.  But it never got me more playing time, which was frustrating.  The truth is that I haven’t really played that much this year.  It doesn’t affect my drive though.  I come to the field everyday expecting to be in the lineup and ready to help the team win.

 

MLB reports:  A big thank you to Tyler LaTorre for joining us today on the Reports.  We wish you the best of luck on your baseball journey and hope to see you playing for the Giants very soon.  You have competed very hard to make it to this point in your baseball career and look for you to take the final step to the big leagues.  We definitely encourage all our readers to feel free to contact Tyler with your comments and questions on his Twitter handle.  Tyler is a must follow!

 

 

 

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2011 MLB Draft: Recap and Draftees who Didn’t Sign

Tuesday August 16, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):  Amongst all the madness that was the Draft Signing Deadline, I first have to say congratulations to Jim Thome for hitting the 599th and 600th home runs of his illustrious career.  He is only the eighth player in MLB history to reach that mark.

There were many signings that went down to the wire last night, and most players in the early rounds signed.  There were five Major League deals signed from this draft.  The Washington Nationals gave pitcher Matt Purke a 4-year, $4.4M deal out of the third round.  Second overall pick Danny Hultzen, the left-handed pitcher from Virginia University selected by the Seattle Mariners was given 5 years and a guarantee of $8.5M.  It was previously reported that the Arizona Diamondbacks gave RHP and third overall pick Trevor Bauer a 4 year, $7M deal.  High school pitcher Dylan Bundy was given five years and $6.225M from the Baltimore Orioles and Rice University’s Anthony Rendon was given four years and $7.2M as the most polished bat in the draft by the Washington Nationals.  Top pick Gerrit Cole was given an $8M bonus by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

However, there were three players in the first two rounds who did not sign, which will result in the teams who selected them receiving a compensation pick in next year’s draft.  First of those was RHP Tyler Beede.   Known to be extremely tough to sign, the Toronto Blue Jays selected him 21st overall.  Beede’s talent alone could have taken him into the top 10 picks, but his lofty demands as well as his desire to play for Vanderbilt University dropped him down to the Blue Jays.  It was reported that the final offer The Blue Jays offered was in the $2.3M range, but Beede did not budge from his demands.  In a tweet from his Twitter handle @TylerBeede, he said “g-d has plans for me and that is college first.”  Beede will look to follow in the footsteps of recent first round pitchers from Vanderbilt; David Price and Jeremy Sowers.   Beede was one of my picks that would come down to the wire, and I said that it would take close to $3M to sign him.  The Blue Jays will now pick 22nd in the 2012 draft.

North Carolina State University will get their coveted catching signee, as the San Diego Padres were unable to sign switch hitter Brett Austin.  The first supplemental round pick, 54th overall, has plus speed for a catcher, being clocked at less than 6.9 seconds in a 60-yard dash.  He has a quick release and routinely has a pop time (throwing the ball home to second as if a runner were stealing) under 2 seconds.  He has quick feet and a quick bat, although he has more bat speed from the right side of the plate.  With the Padres already locking up catcher Austin Hedges for $3M, they felt as though Austin was expendable, and did not offer a contract near his demands.  The Padres will choose 55th in the 2012 draft.

When the New York Yankees selected college junior Sam Stafford in the second round, 88th overall, it was widely believed that the University of Texas Longhorns had lost their top two pitchers.  Taylor Jungmann was selected 12th overall and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for $2.525M.  However, talks with the Yankees hit a snag over parts of his physical, and Stafford was never offered a contract around the slot value.  Stafford was 6-2 with a 1.77 ERA in 81 1/3 innings this past season at UT.  The left-handed pitcher has had consistency issues with fastball command, but pitches in the 90-93 mph range.  His curveball and change-up are both works in progress and he shows flashes of plus potential in both.  The Yankees will select 89th in the 2012 draft.

The biggest surprise to me was that the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to sign Josh Bell.  It did not take a Major League contract, and only $5M to pull him away from the University of Texas.  This was much less than originally predicted, and his huge demands seem to have just been posturing.  The Pirates signed both of their top picks for a total of $13M, which in itself would have been the most money spent by one team in draft history.

Other notable signings were second round pick LHP Daniel Norris of the Toronto Blue Jays at $2.5M, 14th round pitcher Dillon Maples of the Chicago Cubs at $2.5M, and 6th round catcher Nicky Delmonico of the Baltimore Orioles at $1.525M.

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

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THE MYSTERY OF GEOVANY SOTO

MLB reports:  Rewind to the 2010 season.  If I told you there was a 27 year old catcher that hit .280 with 17 home runs in only 105 games that year, I bet that you would be impressed.  Add in 62 walks, a .393 OBP and .497 SLG and I would fathom that you would be very high on this player.  The same player that in 2008 hit 23 long balls in 141 games and managed a .285 average, with a .364 OBP and .504 SLG.  Again, very impressive for a catcher, as top hitting catchers are hard to find in baseball.  Yet this same player, who was an 11th round pick in 2001, was the same player that hit .218 in 2009, with 11 home runs in 102 games, with a measly .321 OBP and .381 SLG.  Fast forward to 2011 and this player is hitting an embarrassing .189 with 1 home run.  Confused?  Many baseball experts are.  Welcome to the mystery that is Geovany Soto, catcher for the Chicago Cubs.

In 2006 and 2007, Soto had barely a sip of coffee in his brief appearances in the show.  Having showcased some good pop though in 2007, Soto was handed the job in the 2008 season and ran with it.  At the conclusion of that season, the sky was the limit for Soto.  Entering the 2009 season, Soto was selected to play for his native Puerto Rico in the 2nd edition of the World Baseball Classic.  However, the discovery of marijuana use during the WBC tainted Soto’s reputation and results for that baseball season.  The mystery surrounding Soto was whether he had suffered a mere relapse or was already hitting a decline.  Reports indicated immaturity and laziness on his part and Soto’s play and results on the field were indicative of his reputation.  Much like Russell Martin was due for a change of scenery in leaving the Dodgers this past offseason, experts questioned whether Soto still had a future as a Cub going into 2010.  A rebound was in order.

2010 turned out to be a bounce-back year for Soto, despite reports of a hurt shoulder and various ailments that caused him to miss over 50 games in the season.  Having alternated good and bad seasons, 2011 represents Soto’s chance at redemption by showing consistency in consecutive outstanding seasons.  That would be the hope if one is a Soto and/or Cubs fan.  However, as his slow start has indicated, the future of Soto remains unsettled to this day.  How Geovany Soto performs remains a mystery to us all, let alone what the next few years have in store for the stocky catcher.  If I had to look into a crystal ball though, I would predict big things still for the Cubs backstop.

For all the doubts surrounding Geovany Soto, I propose that the potential is there and has never left this underrated talent.  2009 was a strange year for Soto that never seemed to get untracked.  The marijuana story created a distraction for Soto as part of the WBC and then in the MLB regular season.  Embarrassed I am sure for the negative exposure in his native country, Soto ended up having one of those years that just need to be written off.  After all, Tim Lincecum faced similar charges and scandal this past offseason and his reputation seems to have recovered more than ok.  As long as Soto is healthy, the opportunities should still be there for him and all Soto has to do is work hard and play the game the right way.  The Cubs are a team in desperate need of leadership, both on and off the field.  Geovany Soto can finally make the Cubs “his team” and help the team rise as a result.

As long as Albert Pujols is hitting .150 (already up to over .200 with a strong game tonight), Soto can be allowed a slow start to the 2011 season.  Having shown that he can produce in the past, there is no reason why Soto should not succeed this year.  Hitting in the middle of the lineup in the cozy confines of Wrigley, Soto is of  the right age and experience tha a monster season should be coming.  I truly believe that Geovany Soto has all the talent in the world and that we are just scratching the surface as to what he can do.  Why he has taken step backs and where he is headed may be a mystery, but there is no doubt that the potential and promise is still there.  In my opinion, any so called “baseball expert” that can write off a catcher with power and patience like Soto is foolish.  Jason Varitek is a name that often comes to my mind when I think of Geovany Soto.  Their style of play, bats and hustle are cut from the same cloth.  The Cubs would be thrilled if Soto could grow into the captain of their team one day.  With a breakthrough year this year, I think the Soto that was expected will emerge that will dominate and likely erase all the negative images of his past.  If all goes according to plan, by the all-star break can erase the mystery portion of his life and create a positive image and results for himself.  Gut feel, I can see this coming together for him soon.

 

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At the Crossroads: Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB reports:  On paper, taking a look at Ryan Doumit (“Dough-Mitt”), there are two sides of the coin.  Heads, you find a switch-hitter turning 30 this year.  A 2008 career season consisting of 15 home runs, 71 runs, 69 rbis, .357 obp and .501 slg.  A catcher by trade, Doumit who stands 6’1”, also plays the outfield and first base.  Despite an injury plagued 2010 season, he still managed 13 home runs in 124 games played last year.  Tails, you find a baseball player that may be labelled as a catcher but often branded as a defensive liability without a home.  Injury prone, 2010 represented the most games Doumit has ever played in a major league season.  Bouncing between the minors and stints on the DL, Doumit next closest seasons were 116 games in 2008 and then 83 in 2007.  The power, while seen in small spurts through his sweet swing, has never materialized into the 20+ home runs projected for him.  Now cast as an outfielder/ back-up first baseman, the future is unclear for Ryan Doumit.  After signing a significant contract with the Pirates, the team has now spent two unsuccessful seasons trying to unload him.  There is even talk of a possible release on the horizon for Doumit.  But is the negativity surrounding this once bright star justified?  Let me put it simply: no.  I am not ready to write off Ryan Doumit and quite frankly, neither should anyone else.

For those of you that read me regularly, you will know that I tend to be biased towards high walks and obp type hitters.  Analyzing Doumit’s number of walks since 2007:22, 23, 20 and 41, it would seem surprising on the surface that I would invoke any type of support of him as a hitter.  Doumit does not have a great reputation as a catcher, lacking the natural instincts for blocking balls in the dirt, throwing out runners etc.  Believe, I have it heard it all and read it all when it comes to Doumit the player.  My discussion on Doumit falls into the “moneyball” vs. scouts debate.  The numbers vs. tools argument.  Having watched Doumit countless times on television and numerous times in person, I will state that the tools override the numbers in this case.  Doumit is a big strapping switch-hitter with the power for 30+ home runs in my estimation.  In the right line-up and ballpark, we could see a whole new player.  Further watching Ryan behind the plate, it always appeared to me that pitchers were very comfortable with him behind the plate and that he had a strong presence of controlling his team and game like a general.  The multi-positional abilities I believe have hurt Ryan in the long run and created a utility player tag on him that is unjustified.  Thus goes the game of baseball and very often the careers of many players.  But hope is not lost yet. 

This spring has already been a rough one for Doumit.  Low batting totals in only 10 games played thus far, Doumit has been sidelined for much of the spring with a strained oblique.  If I was viewing Doumit as a team, I would see a buy low and high reward candidate.  All of the lost games over the years means that Doumit has a lot of miles left, whether in the outfield or behind the plate.  I cannot see the Pirates at this point releasing Doumit for nothing.  Proven health and production this year would lead to an inevitable trade, likely by the all-star break.  Top teams are always in the need of reinforcements and as players continue to drop like flies this spring (Brandon Morrow just announced to start the year on the DL as I write this article), the demand will be there for Doumit.  Why the faith in a player that has not proven much to-date?  Again, simple answer:  tools.  The ability is there and when healthy, we have seen the production.  But we cannot fault Doumit because of injuries alone as he does play on a team that often resembles a AA team on many of its off-nights.  I have never personally seen Ryan Doumit every take a game off, night off or going through the motions during an at-bat.  Playing on a sub .500 team for as long as he has though, one imagine that it would start to take a toll on the confidence of any player, Doumit included.  The Pirates are rebuilding on an upswing, with talented players such as Alvarez, Sanchez and Meek ready to lead the team in the coming years.  I do not see the rebirth of the team occurring on Doumit’s clock, but that does not mean that opportunities should not exist for Doumit.  A fresh start and a defined role and purpose would make all the difference in the world.  Hopefully this will happen soon.

2011 represents a crossroads year for Ryan Doumit.  A talented player once expected to be the centerpiece of his franchise, Doumit is a man without a position and seemingly chance this year.  Given the opportunity to perform, I believe that Doumit will put up the numbers.  McCutchen is healthy and playing strong and as long as he is in the line-up, Doumit will hopefully see some good pitches to hit.  Rounding back into form, Doumit I expect will be on a new team and line-up by May or June at the latest this year.  Motivated by the move, I expect Doumit to flex the baseball tools we know that he has and start to live up to the expectations that are starting to fade for him.  Never count out a talent like Doumit.  The Pirates gave up on Jose Bautista back in 2008 and at age 30 he did pretty well for himself.  Good luck to Ryan Doumit on this upcoming year, I am looking forward to his march back to baseball stardom in 2011.

 

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Meet Tony Sanchez – Future All- Star Catcher of the Pittsburgh Pirates

 

MLB reports:  “With the 4th overall selection of the 1st round in the 2009 Major League Baseball Entry Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates select, Tony Sanchez, Catcher, from Boston College.”  With those words spoken, life would never be the same for Tony.  Much publicity surrounded the most recent 1st round pick of the Pirates, centering around the reasons for his selection.  To fully understand what was transpiring, one would need to look back briefly at the recent 1st round draft history of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

2008:  Pedro Alvarez 3B – 2nd overall

2007:  Daniel Moskos P – 4th overall

2006:  Brad Lincoln P- 4th overall

2005:  Andrew McCutchen OF – 11th overall

2004:  Neil Walker C- 11th overall

2003:  Paul Maholm P- 8th overall

2002:  Bryan Bullington P – 1st overall

2001:  John VanBenschoten 1B- 8th overall

2000:  Sean Burnett P- 19th overall

With the Bryan Bullington pick still fresh in Pirates’ fans minds,  the 2006 and 2007 drafting respectively of Lincoln and Moskos were difficult to swallow.  The moves were seen largely as cost-sensitive selections, with the Pirates foregoing Morrow, Miller, Kershaw, Lincecum and Scherzer in 2006 and Wieters, LaPorta and Bumgarner in 2007 respectively.  Some missed players could be pointed to poor scouting and drafting, but others were seen by many as being salary restrictive.  The most notorious omission being Matt Wieters, a “can’t miss” catching prospect nabbed by the Baltimore Orioles in with the following 5th pick in the draft.  After selecting Pedro Alvarez in 2008, the Pirates maintained their 1st round selection of position players by choosing Tony Sanchez with the 4th overall pick.  Players left on the board were Mike Minor, Mike Leak and Drew Storen.  2009 was an interesting draft in the sense that Trout, the 25th overall pick of the Angels was just selection as MLB’s top prospect for 2011; proving that drafting is truly more of an art than a science.  But the Sanchez pick was not hailed as a victory by the analysts.  Reports seemed to indicate that the Pirates were attempting to make up for their Moskos/Wieters blunder by grabbing the best available catcher with the 4th pick, although Sanchez was considered by some to be a late 1st rounder.  Money was also thrown into the equation as Sanchez was seen as an easy sign for Pittsburgh.  But who is the aforementioned Tony Sanchez?  Lets take a look at the man behind the pick.

Standing 6’1” and weighing a solid 213 pounds, Jorge Anthony (Tony) Sanchez was born on May 20, 1988.   Tony attended Boston College and played the catcher position as a junior upon being drafted by the Pirates.  Known for having taken the “Jared Subway” diet, Tony committed himself to training and exercise and excelled on the diamond in his last season at Boston College.  In his 1st season of pro ball, Sanchez split his time between 3 minor league spots, finishing at a .309 average in 48 games, with 7 homeruns, 48 rbis, .408 obp and .539 slg.  Building upon that season, Sanchez was enjoying a solid 2010 season in Bradenton which ended prematurely by suffering a broken jaw after a beaning.  The final 2010 stat line for Sanchez was a .314 average in 59 games with 4 homeruns, 35 rbis, .416 obp and .454 slg.  Solid numbers for any hitter, especially a catcher.  Sanchez was named to the 2010 All-Star Futures Game and his future appeared to be very bright.  Despite having his season ended early, Sanchez fought weight loss and rust by rehabilitating and joining the Mesa Solar Sox for the Arizona Fall League season.  Despite subpar statistics, Sanchez did enjoy a 2-home run game on November 11th and was named a Rising Star in the AFL and most importantly, proved his health and commitment to playing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, its fans and the MLB community at large.

On February 13, 2011, Tony Sanchez will be reporting to spring training with the Pirates in Bradenton, Florida which ironically was his home field this past 2010 season.  The only other catchers drafted in the 1st round by the Pirates were Neil Walker in 2004 and Jason Kendall in 1992.  If the Pirates get a solid major leaguer like Kendall from Sanchez, the team and its fans will be overjoyed.  Baseball America has rated Sanchez as having the potential to being the first Pittsburgh catcher gold glove winner since Mike “Spanky” LaValliere in 1987.  It is time for the fans of Pittsburgh and baseball to let go of the ghosts of drafts past and live in the present and future.  Tony Sanchez, in addition to Pedro Alvarez and 2010 1st round pick James Taillon represent solid Pirates building blocks for years to come.  In his short time in baseball, Sanchez has shown that he has a potentially live bat and has received strong reviews for his work with the glove.  With an MLB ETA of 2012, the Tony Sanchez era in Pittsburgh will soon be upon us.  With a blue collar approach to the sport that will be well received in his new hometown, Tony Sanchez is starting to silence the critics and build upon the hype surrounding his play.  Remember the name: Tony Sanchez, catcher, Pittsburgh Pirates.

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