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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

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Pedro Alvarez: Finally Meeting The Hype in Pittsburgh

Saturday September 15th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: Pedro Alvarez is starting to turn the corner. Taking the next step. But, early career struggles had insiders, fans, writers, and everything in-between, labeling him as a “bust”. Let’s not forget that he was the second overall pick in the 2008 draft. So pressure and expectations are sky-high for him, and that’s not anything out of the ordinary. That’s a common theme with almost all high MLB draft picks. Alvarez, however, didn’t meet or exceed those expectations when he first broke into the majors, which caused some concern throughout the club.

In an article on Baseball America, one writer called him “the biggest waste of hitting talent in draft history”. That’s a pretty bold statement especially from a respected baseball publication.  Sure, if it came from some snobby fan, then a statement like that would simply be shrugged off. That wasn’t the case, however. And believe it or not, that bold statement was pretty precise. Harsh? Yes. True? You bet. Yes Alvarez was young, but there were too many red flags to ignore at this stage of his young career. Read the rest of this entry

September MLB Call-Ups: The Fantasy Low-Down

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst)

In what many have dubbed the “Year of the Rookie”, can we really expect any more impact youngsters in the crop of September call-ups?  This is the time of the year that we generally have to wait to the teenagers and early twenty-something’s. However, competing teams, particularly in the NL West, have showed increased willingness, or perhaps found it a necessity, to expedite the developmental process of their minor league talent and give them a taste of the big leagues. For many, they have had more than just a taste and proved ready to produce at the big league level. As a result, after Trout and Harper led the way, there has been an implosion of young talent in the big leagues.

From a fantasy perspective; however, this does not mean that the talent well has run dry in the core of players called up when the rosters expanded this past Saturday. And, if you find yourself out of the playoff race in your league, now is the time to scout talent for next year and try to locate the bargains of the 2013 draft. A prime example of such a player in 2011 was Addison Reed, who pitched brilliantly last September and a year later is the closer of the Al Central leading White Sox. Let’s take a look at the September call-ups who have potential to provide value down the stretch as well as in the 2013 season: Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 Center Field Prospects in Baseball

Saturday August 25th, 2012

Codey Harrison: (Lead MiLB Prospect Analyst) - Today represents the final installment of the three-part series featuring middle of the field positions. The most important outfield position usually is played by the team’s most athletic position player has seen some big stars come into the big leagues in recent years. With the likes of Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, Mike Trout, Adam Jones, and Austin Jackson the center field position has grown from a defensive minded position, into one that includes some of the games biggest superstars. The current minor league crop of center fielder’s is a very solid group which is led by 2011 first round pick Bubba Starling of the Kansas City Royals organization.

1.) Bubba Starling (Kansas City Royals Rookie Lg) - The 6’4″ 180 pound former University of Nebraska quarterback commitment has it all in terms of abilities on a baseball field. The fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Gardner Kansas has drawn comparisons to Cincinnati Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs, the only difference is that scouts see Starling as a much better pure hitter than Stubbs. In his first pro season, it’s pretty evident that Starling is still very raw as a baseball prospect, as he began this season with Rookie League Burlington at 20 years of age. In his first 50 career games, Starling has shown off all of his tools as he is currently batting .282, with a .379 OBP, .505 SLG, with 10 home runs, and 10 stolen bases. The Royals are already loaded with young hitting studs like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, Wil Myers. With Bubba Starling, the Royals should be one of the AL’s premier offenses within the next 3-4 years. Read the rest of this entry

Dustin Ackley: What’s Gone Wrong For The Once Highly Touted Prospect?

Saturday August 18th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto:  Dustin Ackley has a lot to live up to with the Seattle Mariners. Anyone who is selected in the top five of any draft in any sport is expected to perform right from the get-go. The Mariners highly touted prospect was selected second in the 2009 draft, right behind Stephen Strasburg, and in the same draft class as the American League MVP frontrunner Mike Trout. Granted, Ackley barely has a year of experience under his belt, but it’s safe to say that the bar is set extremely high for him. And thus far, he’s crawling under that bar.

Last season, Ackley, 24, bursted onto the scene in mid June. Of course, the Mariners were far out of contention at that point, but he brought a much-needed spark to the lineup. He was one of the few reasons that made Mariners’ fans look forward to the future of Seattle. And he still his.

However, he has hit a massive dry spell. After hitting .305/.366/.534 is his first 36 big league games last year, he went on a downhill slide that has continued into his second year in the majors. To be specific, the tumble began on the 1st of August in 2011. From that point, he would hit for a triple slash of just .252/.338/.342 for the remainder of the season. And 2012 has followed a similar script. For the season, he’s hitting .225/.296/.330 in 113 games. Thus far, his best month was May, although the numbers he posted were nothing to write home about (.255/.333/.402). Simply, he’s yet to find success for a consistent period of time. Sure, he gets a few hits here and there, then he hits a dry patch.

So what’s going on with Ackley? Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 Shortstop Prospects in Baseball

Sunday August 12th, 2012

Codey Harrison: In Major League Baseball, middle of the field players (catcher,shortstop, centerfield) are a premium position. So much so that most teams are reluctant to trade away elite level prospects from those positions. Shortstop is arguably the most important position in baseball. Every once in a while, shortstops like Troy Tulowitzki, and Derek Jeter come along and can propel a team to great success. The top prospects in baseball this year is fairly deep at shortstop with potential superstars in the making. Lets take a look at some of the best shortstops who are still prospect eligible.

1.) Jurickson Profar (Rangers AA) - Texas Rangers shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar is the best shortstop prospect in all of baseball. Profar is so highly thought of by scouts, that some believe the Rangers may end up trading 23-year-old 2-time All-star shortstop Elvis Andrus or moving him to second base, with Ian Kinsler going to the outfield. Profar has all five tools (hit, power, speed, glove, and arm) and he’s proven he knows how to use all five. He’s currently raking in AA Frisco at only 19 years of age, posting monstrous numbers of .279 AVG, .356 OBP, .458 SLG, 23 doubles, 7 triples, 13 home runs, and 53 walks to 69 strikeouts. Some scouts believe Profar has a chance to be a gold glove caliber top, or middle of the order run producing machine, that is a perennial All-Star. No prospect is a guarantee, but Profar looks to be legit as far as prospects go. Read the rest of this entry

The Reds Should Not Call Up Billy Hamilton This Year

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of Giants fan: Crystal Ramos

Sam Evans: Double-A Pensacola shortstop Billy Hamilton is one of the best prospects in baseball. He might be the fastest player in baseball history, and the other areas of his game are steadily improving. Cincinnati is currently in first place in the N.L. Central, and according to Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds, they have a 97.5% chance of reaching the playoffs. Due to Hamilton’s current level of readiness and potential impact, the effect he will have on fans, and Hamilton’s future development down the road, Cincinnati should not call up Billy Hamilton in 2012.

In eighty-two games in High-A Bakersfield this year, Billy Hamilton hit .323 with a .413 OBP and he stole 104 bases. However, Hamilton was playing in the offense-friendly Cal League, where the average hitter is hitting .273/.342/.424. The Reds eventually promoted Hamilton to Double-A Pensacola, where he has hit .282/.404/.405 with eighteen steals in twenty-two games. Hamilton’s numbers at both levels this year have been tremendous. Billy Hamilton is going to be a superstar, and he might pass Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, in terms of being the fan favorite in Cincy. However, that doesn’t mean he is ready to contribute right away. Read the rest of this entry

In The Year of The Rookie: Who’s For Real? Comparing MLB Prospects and Suspects in Fantasy Baseball

Monday July 30th, 2012

Peter Stein:  2012 truly has been the year of the rookie.

With all of this new talent and many surprises, it most likely means that there is a lot of parity amongst fantasy leagues. This is great. But the question you must ask moving forward: which players can actually sustain this level of play? Remember that last year, the entire buzz was around Eric Hosmer, whose sophomore campaign (.232/9/42) indicates that he might actually need some time in AAA.  Don’t forget about Jason Heyward’s disappointing encore after his breakout rookie campaign too. And didn’t we all write of Anthony Rizzo after he was completely over matched by major league pitching in 2011?

Amazingly, Yoenis Cespedes has produced a stat line of .305/14/54 and 8 SB through 69 games played and has no shot of winning rookie of the year. That honor will belong to Mike Trout – .350/16/49 and 31 SB in 79 total games. A plethora of other rookies are mashing too, including Rizzo (.941 OPS), Todd Frazier (.857 OPS), Will Middlebrooks (.848 OPS), and Matt Carpenter (.836 OPS). Not included in this list is Bryce Harper, who is already a dynamic fantasy option at the age of nineteen. Read the rest of this entry

Interview with Arizona Diamondbacks Outfield Prospect Marc Krauss

Friday July 27th, 2012

Codey Harrison: Arizona Diamondbacks AA outfielder Marc Krauss joined us recently to talk some baseball. Krauss was Arizona’s second round pick of the 2009 first year player draft from the University of Ohio. Since being drafted, Krauss has played at various minor league levels: Low A South Bend, High-A Visalia, and 2 seasons at AA Mobile. For the last 3 seasons, Krauss has been ranked as one of the Diamondbacks top prospects by most baseball analysts. Marc Krauss is a corner outfielder/ first baseman, who brings big time power, as well as very good plate discipline to the plate. In 2012 with the AA BayBears, Krauss is posting solid offensive numbers: .289/.420/.521, 15 HRs, 61 RBIs.

Get to know baseball prospect Marc Krauss, as we proudly feature our interview with the rising star in the Arizona Diamondbacks system:

Codey – With some pro athletes you hear about them being multiple sport stars in high school, did you play any other sports in high school? If so how do you feel that they helped you with baseball?

Marc Krauss – “Yes I played football and basketball in high school along with baseball, so I was pretty busy in high school. I loved it though, being able to compete in all the sports. I grew up in a small town and there were not enough athletes to really specialize in one or two sports, so everyone pretty much played something year round. I definitely think it made me a better baseball player because it kept me active and I became a better overall athlete. And also when you’re in tough situations in any sport and can learn how to handle success or failure and pressure, it only benefits you in the other sports.” Read the rest of this entry

Bryan LaHair: The Future of the Cubs or Simply Another Trade Deadline Candidate?

Tuesday July 17th, 2012

John Burns:  The 2012 season has been one to forget for the Chicago Cubs, as they currently stand in fifth place in the NL Central with a 36-52 record. Chicago has had some pleasant surprises this season so far even though the record doesn’t show it. The All-Star emergence of Bryan LaHair brought Cubs fans something to talk about in the first half. LaHair was never even in anyone’s Top 100 prospect list ever in his career. The 29-year-old was drafted in the 39th round of the 2002 Draft by the Seattle Mariners and has spent a majority of his baseball career in the minors. LaHair is having a solid 2012 campaign and earned himself a trip to Kansas City for the All-Star game. Even though LaHair has slowed down, I expect his name to be swirled around at the trade deadline. Numerous teams could be in on LaHair who is hitting .282, with 14 homers and 31 RBIs. Read the rest of this entry

Toronto Blue Jays: 2012 Trade Deadline Predictions

Friday July 13th, 2012

Alexander McWilliams (MLB reports Intern Candidate):  As of yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans can completely throw out the idea of trading the surging Edwin Encarnacion at the trade deadline on July 31st. General Manager Alex Anthopoulos locked up the 1st basemen/Designated Hitter to a 3-year deal worth $27 million, with a club option in 2016 worth a reported $10 million. With this deal taking place some 19 days before the trade deadline, what can fans expect to happen with their beloved Blue Jays? Many say they will be sellers, and others say buyers. Buy why can’t they be both?

                  The Blue Jays have developed, arguably, the best farm system in the MLB ever since Alex Anthopoulos took over as GM. Not only do they possess some of the best pitching prospects, but position players as well. All teams across the league are more than aware of the injuries that Toronto has suffered over the past few months, and could look to exploit said farm system in order to provide an immediate need for the team north of the border. Names such as Justin Upton, Carlos Quentin, Matt Garza, and Cole Hamels are the big names being talked about by a lot of teams these past few months. All are huge impact players which could benefit any team that acquired their services, but at what cost? 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

Lars Anderson Needs a New Team: Red Sox Prospect Slowly Turning into a Suspect

Friday July 6th, 2012

Sam Evans:  Red Sox prospect Lars Anderson went from being an 18th round draft pick, to being in-line for a starting spot on one of the most storied teams in baseball. However, after the Red Sox signed Adrian Gonzalez, Anderson no longer was part of the Red Sox future. Now, in Triple-A, Anderson needs a new team that believes in him. After all, he’s only twenty-four years old and just a step away from the majors.

Lars Anderson was drafted in the 18th round of the 2006 MLB Amateur, draft mainly because teams thought he wouldn’t sway from a commitment to the University of California-Berkley. However, the Red Sox went way over slot to sign Anderson handing him a $825,000 signing bonus. $825,000 was a lot for a second-round draft pick, let alone an eighteenth rounder. Pretty soon, Red Sox nation got excited about this young first baseman/outfielder and his seemingly bright future. Read the rest of this entry

Adeiny Hechavarria and his Future with the Blue Jays

Sunday June 17th, 2012

Sam Evans: Adeiny Hechavarria might be the best defensive shortstop in the minor leagues. However, his bat has always been far behind his glove, in terms of development. When the twenty-three year old started to hit at the end of last year, people started to take notice. Now, after over four hundred at bats in the minors, Blue Jays fans are starting to wonder when they’ll get to see this talented shortstop at the major league level.

Hechavarria isn’t exactly the youngest shortstop prospect. Cubs’ shortstop Starlin Castro and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus are both younger than Hechavarria, who has yet to reach the majors. However, Hechavarria is still one of the younger players in Triple-A.

The Blue Jays signed Hechavarria to a contract that will pay him $10 million, when he was a free agent out of Cuba back in 2010. Back then, Hechavarria was thought of as a light-hitting shortstop, with tremendous potential due to his outstanding defense. The Toronto organization showed they believed Hechavarria could provide just enough value to be worth  the big signing bonus they gave him back in 2010. Read the rest of this entry

Bryce Harper: 2012 National League All-Star, ROY and MVP?

 

Wednesday June 13th, 2012


Bernie Olshansky: It’s finally Bryce Harper’s time. He’s been up for just about a month and a half and he’s already making a contribution. Some were a tad bit skeptical as to how he would break into the league (including myself), but with the way Harper is playing now, there isn’t a doubt in my mind about his readiness for The Show and the Midsummer Classic. Harper clearly hasn’t had a problem producing, hitting a solid .303 with seven home runs and 19 runs batted in, to go along with three stolen bases in 39 games. For the amount of games he’s played, with these numbers he should named be an All-Star in 2012. If he gets voted in to start, he would be the youngest positional starting player in MLB All-Star game history.

With the Nationals fans’ excitement behind him, Harper should have no problem getting the votes to get to Kansas City. Over the past few years, fans have elected some questionable players, most notably last year’s election of Derek Jeter, who got off to a slow start. Even if Harper isn’t a shoo-in (which with his numbers, he is), he should be on the team. Harper hasn’t played enough to qualify for the batting leader board, but if he did, he would rank 13th among National League outfielders in average, and he is ahead in home runs of notables Justin Upton (5), Adrian Gonzalez (5) Pablo Sandoval (5), and fellow rookie star Mike Trout (6). Read the rest of this entry

Manny Machado and the Shortstop Dilemma Brewing in Baltimore

Sunday June 10th, 2012

image courtesy of thelosscolumn.com

Sam Evans: Despite being only a teenager, and never having played a full season above High-A, Manny Machado has already drawn comparisons to Alex Rodriguez. Machado has great instincts and covers a lot of ground as a shortstop. Not to mention, he has outstanding bat speed for a player his size. Even though Machado has yet to truly dominate at any level of the minors, Orioles fans are already pegging him to be their shortstop of the future. However, Orioles’ fans shouldn’t be the only ones excited for Machado’s major league debut. If Machado can put all his tools together, he has the chance to be the best shortstop in all of baseball.

Manny Machado was born in July of 1992 in Miami, Florida. After playing in high school at Brito Miami Private School, Machado was considered a top-five prospect for the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft. After all, he had been recorded throwing up to 92 MPH, his footwork at shortstop looked great, and he squared up a lot of balls. If Bryce Harper wasn’t available at number one for the Nationals, some thought Machado could have been the #1 pick.

Machado stands 6’3’’ and weighs roughly 190 pounds. He hits from the right side of the plate, and has striking plate discipline for a teenager. Machado has a lot of room to grow, so if he does grow into his frame, he could potentially move over to third base. He is athletic enough to make this change, and become one of the top defensive third baseman in the league. However, as long as Machado can stay in shape and not bulk up too much, his team will use him at shortstop, where he will be of the most value. Read the rest of this entry

Carlos Correa: Welcome to the Houston Astros

Wednesday June 6th, 2012

                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                      Image Courtesy of Aol.Sportingnews.com

Brendan Henderson: Coming into this year’s MLB Draft, the main question people kept asking themselves was, “Who are the Houston Astros going to take with the first overall pick?” Many thought the Astros would go with college pitcher Mark Appel or the young centerfielder Byron Buxton from Appling County High School in Georgia. Instead of taking the players most people thought they would, the Astros took the young shortstop from the Puerto Rico, Carlos Correa. Was it a good move for the Astros? I will tell you what I think below. (more…)

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

Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper: Who is the Biggest Prospect in Baseball?

Thursday May 3rd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  For prospect watchers, last Saturday was one of the most exciting baseball days in a long time. Not only was Angels prospect Mike Trout (20) making his season debut against Cleveland, but Bryce Harper, the Nationals prospect and teen-wonder at only nineteen also made his highly anticipated major league debut against the Dodgers. Amazingly, two of Baseball America’s top three prospects debuted on the same day. Harper’s first and second at-bats were a couple to forget, but his third was one to remember. He roped a hard line drive over Matt Kemp’s head in center for a stand-up double. Trout’s debut was nothing special, but after hitting .408 in the minors this year he’s bound to get it going. Read the rest of this entry

Interview with Robby Rowland: Discussing the Trade from the Diamondbacks to the Pirates

Tuesday April 3rd, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  We welcome back to MLB reports one of our most famous almuni, Robby Rowland.  Robby interviewed with us on December 1, 2011 and also appeared as a Guest MLB Blogger on February 6, 2012 and December 31, 2011 in his blog that we call “Robby’s World”.  RobbyRow is back on MLB reports…and he has some major news to discuss. As you are aware, RobbyRow was traded this past weekend to the Diamondbacks in exchange for pitcher Brett Lorin.  Originally taken by the Dbacks in the Rule 5 Draft, the team was able to keep Lorin’s rights by completing this trade. RobbyRow was a 3rd round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2010. Now, after 2 seasons in the Dbacks organization, he is off to a new team and a fresh start in Pittsburgh.

Trades are a way of life in baseball. It’s the reality of a sport that is first and foremost a business. While difficult to be leaving the only team that he has ever known, Robby Rowland has taken the trade in stride. While he is grateful to Arizona for everything that they have done for his career, he is exciting to be joining the Pirates and competing for a rotation spot one day. It takes a very mature player to recognize the nature of a trade and the opportunities that can arise as a result, especially at such a young age. The Pirates are very lucky to have obtained this pitching prospect, as he will quickly become a fan favorite!

I caught up with RobbyRow as soon as the trade was announced. He was digesting news of the trade and preparing to join the Pirates. But being the gentleman that he is…RobbyRow still fit us into his hectic schedule. We discussed the trade, from the moment that he got to news to his future plans. Robby was extremely generous with his time in discussing the move and his thoughts. So let’s jump right into it!

Today exclusively on MLB reports, we are proud to present the newest member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and addition to their pitching prospect arsenal, Robby Rowland:

Read the rest of this entry

Shawn Griffith Interview: Call Him Griff… and a Future MLB Closer

Tuesday February 28th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:   We are definitely fortunate to have many of the Blue Jays top prospects appear here on the Reports. Perhaps because we are based out of Toronto. Or maybe the Jays just have some of the friendliest prospects in the game. Whatever the reason- today’s guest is no exception. Shawn Griffith is the latest Jays prospect to sit in the hot seats and talk ball with us. Griff was a 37th round pick of the Jays pack in 2009. Right after signing, Griff jumped right into pro ball and played for two different levels right off the bat. He finished his professional debut with some very obscene numbers. In 2009, Griff pitched in 25 games to the tune of a 0.53 ERA, 9 saves and a whopping 52 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. Try a 0.683 WHIP on for size to boot. Overall, in his 3 seasons, Griff has a formidable 9-6 record, 3.31 ERA, 1.197 WHIP, and 66/147 BB/So in 117 innings pitched. Making it as far as high-A Dunedin in the last 2 seasons, the MLB reports crystal ball is seeing AA in Griff’s future. Get an apartment rented in New Hampshire Griff…as you will soon get to know what exactly a Fisher Cat is!

For a pitcher with a closer mentality and tools, we get to know Shawn Griffith today. From his time in George Mason to his 2012 outlook, this is the complete Shawn Griffith story. One of the most polite young men you will ever meet…and he even brings tea to the bullpen every game. Talk about a sophisticated reliever! On that note, we are proud to present our exclusive interview with one of the top Blue Jays reliever prospects, Shawn Griffith:

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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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Michael Kickham Interview: Giants Lefty Prospect Starter- Kicking it into Gear

Saturday February 25th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:   How do the San Francisco Giants do it? When you think of quality starting pitching, the names Cain, Lincecum and Bumgarner are bound to enter the conversation. The Giants appear to have a factory where they are able to produce quality pitching prospects at will. Well, you know that we love discovering and analyzing top prospects on the Reports. We are fortunate to have found a great one in the Giants system. Starting pitcher (of course). Left-handed (of course). Stands 6’4″ (of course). Michael Kickham is a name that you will be hearing for many years to come in baseball. A 6th round pick of the Giants back in 2010, Kickham is going into his 3rd professional season. As a 22-year old in the South Atlantic League (A-Ball) in 2011, Kickham certainly looked like a poised veteran. He made 21 starts, throwing 111.2 innings. Kickham struck out 103 and only walked 37 batters, for a SO/BB ratio of 2.78…and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Considering the lack of depth of pitching in major league organizations these days, it baffles my mind how the Giants keep doing it. The key is two-fold. Good scouting/drafting and player development. Clearly the Giants knew what they were looking for when they drafted Michael Kickham. Now he is on the fast-track to joining Bumgarner and company in the Bay area. 

Get ready to learn the Michael Kickham story. From the draft to his journey thus far in the minors. Find out what makes a top MLB prospect tick. What motivates him and drives him to succeed. Michael Kickham gives us a peak into the mind of a pitcher…and a lefty one at that. Today on MLB reports, we are proud to present our exclusive interview with Giants prospect pitcher, Michael Kickham:

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Christian Colón Interview: Ready to Take His Game to Kansas City

Sunday February 19th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:   A special day on MLB reports. It is the first official day of Spring Training, as camps officially open and pitchers/catchers report for most teams. To honor this special day, we present a very important interview. An exciting interview. For today, we are featuring the highest MLB draft pick to grace the pages of MLB reports. Christian Colón of the Kansas City Royals. Originally a 10th round pick of the Padres in 2007, Christian waited to sign. The gamble paid off, as the Royals took the shortstop prospect in the 1st round of the 2010 draft, 4th overall. Christian completed his second professional last year, playing for AA Northwest Arkansas of the Texas League. He showed a nice overall game, stealing 17 bases in 127 games, while popping 8 home runs. Christian drove in 61 RBIs and scored 69 runs. With the ability to play shortstop as well as second base, the Royals have a very exciting prospect on their hands. With a prospect base including the likes of Hosmer, Myers, Moustakas, Lamb and Perez, expect Christian Colón to join the other top Royals prospects in KC very soon. The Royals look to build a dynasty, with playoff aspirations becoming a near reality. Christian Colón is certainly excited about to become part of that future.

Today on MLB reports, we proudly present Royals prospect and future lead-off hitter, Christian Colón:

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Willy Kesler Interview: The Big Cat is Ready to Pounce on Seattle

Wednesday February 15th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Good news Mariners fans! The Big Cat is headed to your city one day very soon. No…Andres Galarraga has not come out of retirement. Your cat is a homegrown talent, being groomed for a spot on your pitching staff. Willy Kesler is his name. The 24-year old Kesler was a steal of a pick by Seattle in the 18th round of the 2010 draft. He went from the University of Mexico to pro ball and the transition has been seemless. How good is this kid? Try a 2.21 ERA over 2 seasons, with a 1.260 WHIP. Kesler rarely gives up a long ball and a strong 3.52 SO/BB ratio. At the rate that he is going, we could be seeing him in the Mariners pen as soon as 2013. With a young team based on gifted pitching talent, Kesler is coming up at the right time with the right organization. Plus he loves Bull Durham- so we know he is legit. Hailing from Colorado, today we get to meet one of bright pitching prospects in the Mariners organization. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you- Willy Kesler: 

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L.V. Ware Interview: The Hometown Prospect is Grinding His Way Back to Atlanta

Sunday February 12th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Get ready for a real treat today fans. This is another interview that has been a year in the works. He has a hectic schedule, but we finally pinned down one of the great young players in the game for an interview. One of our favorite all-time twitter masters is finally here. Atlanta Braves outfielder prospect, L.V. Ware. If you spend any kind of time on Twitter, the name L.V. has come up in your timeline at some point. One of the most fan-friendly athletes that you will ever meet, L.V. has that special charisma about him. Baseball fans from all over flock to speak to him.  With almost 3,000 followers on Twitter and growing by the day, L.V. is certainly cementing his place in the baseball social media world. 

Now for the 411 on L.V. Ware. The Atlanta Braves prospect will be 25-years of age come opening day. He can play all three outfield positions, but center is his primary position. His game is built on defense and getting on-base. He can steal you a base, as shown by his consistent base stealing over his career (highlighted by a career-high 30 steals in 2010). When Curtis Granderson is your primary modern-day role model, you know that you aim high. I can definitely see why L.V. would look up to Granderson. He plays the game the right way and has become one of the best all-around outfielders in baseball. But besides working hard on the field, Granderson is a true ambassador to the game- working tirelessly for charities and kid-centric organizations. Hailing from Atlanta, I could see L.V. taking on a Granderson-type role in the community as a member of the Braves one day. He understands the importance of his role as a role model and leader. The Braves have a good one in their system and Atlanta fans will definitely enjoy this young man for years to come.

Exclusively on MLB reports, we proudly feature our interview with the one and only, L.V. Ware- Atlanta Braves Prospect. Ever wonder what the L.V. stands for? Plus you won’t believe what L.V. would be doing for a living if he wasn’t playing baseball. Get ready to find out all these answers and more: Read the rest of this entry

Les Williams Interview: Blue Jays Pitching Prospect is Ready to Roll in 2012

Sunday February 5th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  One of our favorite type of stories on MLB reports is when we see a local kid that “makes good” in baseball. For the Blue Jays, then dipped into the Toronto market to draft Leslie Williams in the 37th round of last year’s draft. The Toronto native Williams went directly to the Appalachian League to suit up for the Bluefield Blue Jays.  Les got into 17 games, all but 1 coming out of the pen. Looking to 2012, Les is open to his role but would very much value a starting job. Standing 6’2″ at a solid 220 lbs, Les looks every part of a major league starting pitcher. His go-to pitch is his cutter, which he complements with a changeup. Les and I had the opportunity to speak while he was still in Toronto before leaving for Spring Training. A down-to-earth person, Les is definitely grounded and has his priorities in order. For a city looking for local heroes, Toronto fans can look forward to one day seeing Les Williams standing on the Rogers Centre’ mound- wearing the blue and white Jays uniform.

If you catch Les Williams away from the park, he will likely be eating chicken parmesan and listening to the Temptations. Just whatever you do…don’t stay overnight in an unlocked room at his place (or he will make sure that you have nightmares for years to follow!) With his dynamic personality and storytelling abilities, it was a treat to learn about Les Williams, the person. Today on MLB reports, I am proud to present my interview with Jays pitching prospect, Les Williams:

MLB reports:  Thank you for taking the time to join us today Les.  How has your offseason gone so far?

Les Williams:  My off-season has been great. I’ve been able to get a lot of work done physically and just preparing myself mentally for the season ahead. I’ve been able to get a good job that falls within my field of study at school, so that has been a lot of fun as well. I’m not a huge fan of the snow here in Toronto, so I’m looking forward to heading back down south.

 

MLB reports:  You just completed your 1st professional season.  How have you found the process of getting adjusted to playing professional baseball?

Les Williams:  The process has been for the most part what I expected. I’ve heard many stories from players who have experience life in pro ball and most of those stories hold true. The experience is something I’ve longed for since I started playing the game.

 

MLB reports:  You were drafted by the Jays in the 37th round of the 2011 draft.  Did you expect to be drafted by Jays – any pressure to be chosen by your hometown team?

Les Williams:  After going through the draft process in high school, I learned that anything can happen, and not to expect anything at all. I did well at a pre-draft workout for the Jays and I was hoping that I did well enough for them to consider taking me this year. As a college senior getting drafted in the later rounds there’s no pressure. All you can do is go out and prove to the organization that you are worth keeping around and that you are determined to reach your highest potential.

 

MLB reports:  How did you first find out you were drafted: what was that like?

Les Williams:  I was excited to say the least. I was in the middle of class watching the draft and when I heard my name I stepped out of class and called my parents. They pretended they were surprised but I’m sure they were watching the draft as well.  Seeing my name beside the Blue Jays logo was a dream come true.

 

MLB reports:  Ever have to pinch yourself: does it feel like a dream playing professional baseball?

Les Williams:  Have you ever had a dream and just moments after you wake up, you forget what you dreamt about? That’s what the couple of days after the draft were like. I barely remember anything between that day and the day I signed the contract in Florida.

 

MLB reports:  What other sports did you playing growing up? 

Les Williams:  I played just about every sport up until my sophomore year in High School. I continued to play basketball up until my senior year, which is when I decided not to take the risk of hurting myself and jeopardizing my scholarship.

 

MLB reports:  What are your most dominant pitches?  Any new ones you are working on?

Les Williams:  My cutter is my best pitch. I used it quite a bit my Junior and Senior years in college and it helped a lot during my season in Bluefield. I’m working on sharpening up my slider to have a pitch with some depth. And I’m placing a lot of emphasis on the effectiveness of my changeup as well.

 

MLB reports:  How would you describe “your game”?  What “type” of pitcher are you?

Les Williams:  I like to fill up the zone and get ahead of batters early. I HATE walking guys. There is nothing worse than giving up a free base because a defense can’t stop that. I much rather give up a hard hit single or a double because the next time the batter comes up, I know how I can approach his at bat better.

 

MLB reports:  Looking into a crystal ball, when do you expect to make it to the Show?

Les Williams:  That’s something I can’t put a timeline on. There are so many variables that determine that. The only thing I have control of is the way I compete and carry myself on and off the field. That is my ultimate goal and I am doing everything in my power to reach that pinnacle. I’m not going to stop until they rip the jersey off my back.

 

MLB reports:  Long term:  do you expect to stay a starter or will you consider a move to the pen?

Les Williams:  I’ve always been a starter and this year was the first time I was in a relief role. To be honest, I love to start. I enjoy being in control of the game and giving my team a chance to win. But being in a relief role, I experienced a type of adrenaline rush that you can’t get as a starter. Being in situations with the game on the line is what this game is all about. Any role that I can take to best help the organization succeed is one I am more than willing to take.

 

MLB reports:  What are your goals for 2012?

Les Williams:  I plan on having a very successful year and show the organization that I’m here to stay. I hope to spend the majority of the year in A with Lansing and if all goes well, an end of season stint in Dunedin. As college guy, I have to set my expectations high because of the experience and the maturity level that college signed guys possess.

 

MLB reports:  If you weren’t playing baseball, you would be __________________

Les Williams:  Probably be working as a Federal Agent in ICE or A Fugitive Task Force. Or I’d be in grad school working my way to become a Forensic Accountant!

 

MLB reports:  Favorite pre-game meal?

Les Williams:  Chicken Parm. I threw a no-hitter when I was 12 after a chicken parm dinner, so now I try to eat it when I know I’m going to pitch.

 

MLB reports:  What music are you currently listening to?

Les Williams:  I listen to any and anything. Anything from The Temptations to Hip-Hop to Darius Rucker to plain old instrumentals.

 

MLB reports:  Funniest prank you ever saw in a clubhouse? 

Les Williams:  Well it wasn’t in our clubhouse but it was in our dorm where our team stayed after classes had finished for the year and our season was still in progress. One of our pitchers was staying off campus and moved out a couple of days to early, so he needed a place to stay. So he decided it was a good idea to sleep in a vacant room in the dorm. The doors don’t lock on this vacant room so one night at about 1am, me and another teammate dressed in all black and put on masks. We snuck into the room, opened the curtain to let some moonlight in and hovered over his bed. I ripped the sheets off him and said in a deep voice “You shouldn’t have left the door open”. I have never seen a grown man scream like that in my entire life. It is still by far the funniest moment of my time in college. (editor’s note: I will admit that I cannot stop laughing at this one…although I do feel sorry for this nameless soul that has been traumatized for life as a result…)


MLB reports:  Final question:  What would you most want to be remembered for in baseball when you hang up your spikes?

Les Williams:  I want to be remembered as someone who played his heart out and never wasted an opportunity to get better and succeed.


***Thank you to Les Williams for taking the time today to speak with us on MLB reports.  You can follow Les on Twitter (@LesRWilliams).  Les is VERY excited to be entering his 2nd professional season. Be sure to say hello and wish him the best of luck in 2012!

 

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.

Young Phenom Pitchers May Ignite Your City

Monday January 30th, 2012

Doug Booth-  Baseball Writer: Perhaps it is because we see pitchers for more plays in any given baseball game, or maybe it is that young pitchers so rarely dominate to start their careers. But witnessing young pitchers start their careers with a flash- ignites the baseball cities they play for at epic levels.  Sometimes these players may even captivate the baseball world across the nation or even the world.  Today I take a look at 4 players that I have watched or heard about from my baseball experiences.  These players are:  ‘The Bird’ Mark Fidrych, Kerry Wood, Dwight Gooden and (the last player is underneath everyone’s radar,) former Blue Jays pitcher Juan Guzman.

Juan Guzman- Career Record was 91-79 with a 4.08 ERA.  For those people that watched this guy burst onto the scene in Toronto, this was guy was virtually unhittable in his first four seasons.  Barring any other person telling me different, he holds the record for winning percentage for his first 50 starts.  Guzman started his career 39-11 (.780).  Guzman helped anchor a pitching staff that won back to back World Series in ’92 and ’93, by going 5-1 with a 2.44 ERA in his postseason starts.  Guzman would routinely walk batters and throw wild pitches, but when he was looking at runners in scoring position,  he often left them stranded with a strikeout or a weak grounder.  The early 1990’s Toronto Blue Jays  were the model franchise in the Major Leagues. The SkyDome created enough buzz about futuristic ballparks to have all teams look at building their own new ballparks for themselves.  Juan Guzman was there for much of the early successes.  The fans gravitated towards him at the park.  It seemed the more they cheered for him, the better he would bear down and concentrate.  Even though Juan struggled after coming out of the lockout in 1995 (until he retired) going 51-69, he is forever entrenched in the Blue Jays championship seasons.

 Dwight Gooden- Career Record was 194-112 with a 3.51 ERA.  As a teenager at age 19, Dwight Gooden went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA in capturing the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award.  In his next season, Gooden had one of the best pitching seasons in the modern era.  He went 24-4 with a mind-boggling 1.53 ERA.  He threw 16 complete games and 8 shutouts, while his 268 strikeouts in 271 innings pitched helped solidify the pitching ‘Triple Crown’ of wins, ERA and strikeouts.  This New York Mets team was looking like they were on the verge of a dynasty with the likes of Gooden, Strawberry and veteran catcher Gary Carter playing so well.  In 1986, the New York Mets won the World Series with Gooden as their ace.  Even though he struggled in the postseason for his career with an 0-4 record, most times his ball club would have never made it to the playoffs without his strong regular seasons.  By the age of 26, Gooden was 132-53 for his career(.721).  He was headed for a Hall of Fame Career, however drug problems (as was the case with fellow Met Darryl Strawberry) caused the rapid decline of his career.  Gooden spent parts of many seasons fighting the addiction.  Gooden had his career revived with the New York Yankees in 1996.  In wearing the pinstripes, he threw a no-hitter and helped the team win the 1996 World Series.  His career winning percentage is still decent at .634, but what could this man have done if he was playing it straight?  As years go by, he is still revered by both New York clubs. So who knows what could have been?

 Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych- Career Record was 29-19 with a 3.10 ERA.  This guy is the best of example of a phenom pitcher capturing a city by storm.  At age 21, Mark Fidrych blitzed onto the scene with a 19-9 record, with leading the league in ERA (2.34) and CG (24), even though he did not make his first start until early May.  He won the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award and his pitching galvanized the city of Detroit despite a 74-87 season.  Fidrych displayed some of the weirdest antics on the mound.  He would fix scuffs on his cleats, talk to the baseballs, manicure the pitching mound and throw back baseballs to the home umpire he thought ‘were going to make him give up hits.’  As a tall and lanky player, with constant body-jerk movements, he was given the nickname ‘The Bird” with his likeness to Sesame Streets character ‘Big Bird.’  Fidrych had his own fans come out for games at Tiger Stadium.  These fans were often referred to as ‘Bird Watchers.’  He was a big draw for attendance for both home and road games.  His 16 starts drew half of the teams 81 home games attendance in 1976.  Fidrych was truly a national celebrity by the time he started his second year.  However, a torn rotator cuff plagued him for the remainder of his brief career, as it went improperly diagnosed until Dr. James Andrews saw him in the mid 80’s.  Fidrych was still a popular figure around MLB until he was killed while working on his truck in an accident in April of 2009.

 Kerry Wood- Career Record is 86-73 with 3.64 ERA.  Still only age 34 right now, Kerry Wood has been pitching in the Majors since 1998.  In his 5th start as a player at age 21, Wood turned in one of the best all time single game performances.  The man struck 20 batters in tying Roger Clemens established record.  There were only two batters to reach base, a hit batsmen and a questionable hit that could have easily been scored an error, prevented Wood from throwing a no-hitter or perfect game.  Instantly Wood’s name was recognizable across the Cubs fans.  This was the year that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were going toe to toe in the historic single season homer chase, yet  Wood was just as popular at Wrigley Field.  Soreness in his elbow forced Wood to miss the last month of the season.  He still registered a 13-6 record, en route to a ‘Rookie of the Year’ award.  Wood spent 1999 on the shelf, from there he struck out 200 batters or more in three of the next four season.  In 2003, the ace teamed up with Mark Prior to deliver a great regular season that ultimately led to a 3-2 lead in the NLCS before the Marlins came back to win the NL Championship (Bartman).  The next 4 seasons were marred by injury, as neither he nor Prior could stay healthy for the Cubs.  It was only a move to the bullpen that finally saw him revive his career in 2007.  Wood was part of 2 division championships in his time with the Cubs, but the one that was sweeter was the 2008 season.  He made the All-Star team as a reliever and the fans were able to cheer for him on a regular basis again.  That season he converted 34 of 39 saves.  After decent years with Cleveland and New York in 2009 & 2010, Wood took less money to return to the city that he loves and started his career with.  Chicago fans will always return the love back for Wood.  He is where he ought to be, wearing number 34 for the Cubs.

So who might be the new pitcher to take on this mantra?  Could it be Matt Moore?  Or maybe it will be Stephen Strasburg in a larger sampling?  Whoever it is, that MLB team and/or baseball will be better served with another new pitching phenom entering its ranks!

 

*** Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Doug Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Doug Booth, you can follow Doug on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here Doug’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com*** 

 

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.

On the Verge: Talking Baseball with Jays Prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Tuesday January 24, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Being based in Toronto, we have heard the name Dwight Smith Jr. discussed frequently this year. Smith, drafted 53rd overall by the Jays in the recent 2011 draft, has Jays fans excited about him patrolling the Rogers Centre outfield one day soon. I was able to catch up with Dwight recently to discuss his offseason and future goals. As a second generation baseball player, Dwight enters the professional ranks with expectations already attached to him. The benefit/curse of being a high draft pick and carrying on a famous baseball name. But Dwight is ready to take on those challenges and make his name in the game. 

Like many young players, Dwight grew up admiring Ken Griffey Jr. Probably one of the best all-around talents this game has ever seen, Griffey is a great player to look up to. Interestingly though, it was Albert Pujols who Dwight favorites today. “He has so much success and yet he is still humble.”  If every baseball prospect could keep that approach, the game would definitely have more future stars in its ranks! In addition to baseball, Dwight played basketball. Many top athletes are involved in multiple sports based on their high athleticism. When asked why he chose baseball, Dwight replied, “I played basketball until my senior year, but I chose baseball because I always loved it.” With Dwight Smith as his father, I have no doubt that Jr. grew up around the game and developed a deep love for the sport. But it’s not like Smith did not have choices. If he hadn’t signed with the Jays, he would have attended Georgia Tech and played college ball. When I asked Smith if he expected to go the Jays in the draft, he said that he did not…but “was grateful they picked me.”  The baseball gods smiled down on draft day upon this outfield prospect, as I see a very good fit between the player and organization. With his strong tools and power/speed potential, Smith could be in Toronto one day very soon.

I actually grew up watching his father, Dwight Smith (Sr.) and outfield partner Jerome Walton patrolling the Wrigley outfield for the Cubs. While his dad was not a hall of famer, he was a good overall player who did everything right. He played solid defense and contributed timely hits with the bat. I asked Dwight about the influence that his dad had on his career. Talking about his dad, Dwight replied that “he was a huge influence on me and the reason why I picked up a glove and bat. I learned so much from him not only about baseball but about life that helps me each everyday perform.” I was glad to see the strong bond between father and son. But it led to me wonder how being a “jr” affected Dwight and the type of pressure it put on him as a player. Dwight responded that “…it’s a blessing and a curse  because being a 2nd generation ballplayer, so much is expected from you early and when you succeed they say it’s because your dad. Which isn’t fair to anybody because my dad never played a game for me but life isn’t fair. However, I never really felt much pressure because I have to play my game.” I found it very refreshing that Dwight could so clearly conceptualize the reality of being a 2nd generation player, but still stay focused and keep his position in the game in perspective. It is this type of thinking that I believe will lead Dwight far in the game of baseball.

Whenever I talk to a young player, I always ask them when they expect/hope to make the big leagues. Most are unwilling to put a timetable on their progress, while trying to work hard and hope that everything works out for them in the end. Dwight was a little different, as he set the goal for himself to make the show in 2-3 years. The secret for his success will be “hard work, dedication and if the good lord keeps him healthy.”  Dwight cannot wait for the 2012 season to begin, as he is looking forward to his first year of professional baseball. After this year though, life will never be the same for him. Imagine the changes. One minute he was playing the high school ball…the next he is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays!  Life can change in an instant. At the end of the day, his great baseball tools got Dwight Smith Jr. drafted and part of a Major League team. But it is focus and ambition that will carry him at the end of the day. For a team longing for more stars on its roster, help is on the way.

The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Dwight Smith Jr. is definitely part of the new-look Jays prospects. He wants to work hard on every facet of his game until he becomes a complete player. Will we see the next Ken Griffey Jr. or Albert Pujols? Time will tell. But he definitely set the bar high for himself. Getting to know Dwight Smith Jr., he wouldn’t have it any other way.

***Thank you to Dwight Smith Jr. for taking the time to speak with MLB reports!  You can follow Dwight on Twitter (@dsmith25blujay). Dwight enjoys speaking with his fans, so please feel free to send him any questions/comments you have.  Or just wish him good luck on the season!***

 

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.

Steven Bumbry Interview: The Baseball Story of an Orioles Prospect

Saturday January 21, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Imagine this scenario. Your dad played fourteen seasons in the big leagues, all but one with the Baltimore Orioles. Now you get to play pro ball as a second generation player, working your way up the ladder for that same big league organization. Welcome to the world of Steven Bumbry! When Manny Ramirez calls you to wish you a happy birthday at 11-years old, you know that you are strongly linked to the game. You may know the last name “Bumbry”, but today you get to learn about the man known as Steven Bumbry.  The Killer B has been around the game is whole life. From growing up in clubhouses and baseball diamonds, Steven is a member of the Baltimore Orioles organization as an outfield prospect. He completed last season playing for the Frederick Keys of the Carolina League. Steven will be 24 by opening day and looking to make the climb up to Baltimore in the future. Today we sat down with the Killer B to discuss his baseball life and story. From the baseball he equipment he uses- to autographing strange body parts.  Today on MLB reports, we are proud to present the Killer B- Steven Bumbry:

MLB reports:  Welcome to MLB reports!  Steven- you play professional baseball for a living.  Has that sunk in yet?

Steven Bumbry:  During my first offseason: when all of my college teammates were heading back to school and I literally had nothing on my plate besides keeping in shape. While they were worrying about going to classes and study hall, is when it really sunk in. Although I haven’t completed my degree yet, I wouldn’t trade anything for the time and experiences I’ve had since I started my pro career.


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

Steven Bumbry:  I prefer to use a Rawlings glove with the H-Web. My first two years I stuck to the good ‘ol Louisville Slugger bats. But in the middle of 2011, I was introduced to an up and coming company called DS Wood Bats. They are made outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and this offseason they gave me the opportunity to visit their factory and customize a model bat for myself.  So I have made the switch to them and I feel that they are very comparable, if not better than what I was getting from Louisville Slugger. I hope to continue to grow my relationship with them as I continue my career.


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

Steven Bumbry:  Manny Ramirez was by far my favorite player and still is at the top of the list today.  When my father was coaching with the Cleveland Indians in 1998, I had the chance to visit and travel with the team during the summer when I wasn’t in school.  I was only 10 at the time and all of the guys treated me so well, giving me gloves and bats all the time. But Manny was one of the guys who I could stand with during team batting practice and we would play shagging games in the outfield. I thought that was the coolest thing until April of the next year when the phone rang on my birthday and it was a call from Manny personally wishing me a happy birthday.  I don’t think there was anything in the world when I was 11-years old that would have been a cooler birthday present.


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

Steven Bumbry:  I admire the hard work and the type of game that Justin Morneau plays. I have the opportunity of working out with him and about 15 other current major leaguers in the offseason here in Phoenix and I enjoy picking their brains about the game. I think that Justin is a great role model both on and off the field.


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

Steven Bumbry:  My number one goal is to stay healthy, I don’t want to miss a game. Unfortunately I haven’t had a season in the last 4 years where I didn’t miss any time.  While fighting off the injury bug, I have taken some encouraging steps in my game both offensively and defensively. So when healthy, I will put it all together and hopefully have a break out season in 2012.


MLB reports:  You were drafted by the Orioles in the 12th round of the 2009 draft.  Tell us about that process.

Steven Bumbry:  I first started to realize that I would have the opportunity to play professionally my senior year of High School because Dean Albany (the scout who signed me with the Orioles) had been asking me to play with his summer wood bat team in the Cal Ripken League. After going undrafted in High School, I moved on to Virginia Tech and he continued to show a lot of interest in me, asking me back to play with him after my freshman and sophomore years there. The attention continued throughout my Junior year and I had been in pretty frequent contact with the Orioles and a handful of others in the months leading up to the draft. I eventually went to a couple of pre-draft workouts, one being at home in Baltimore for the Orioles.  Then two weeks later, it was draft day and we had calls going back and forth between two teams and it was kind of a roller coaster ride back and forth. But it ended up being the Orioles who called my name and myself and my whole family were ecstatic.

 

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

Steven Bumbry:  I learned a lot about myself and the game this past season.  The game really tests you every da. You have to be able to handle the successes the same way you handle the adversity that happens in this game.  The game really humbles you and teaches you to stay level-headed.  As far as on the field- I think it was a pretty big success. Our team won the Carolina League Championship and I had some career highs in a couple of categories offensively.

 

MLB reports:  You have played every outfield position in your career.  Is the outfield your long-term position?

Steven Bumbry:  I think that will be my home for the rest of my career. Being left-handed limits me to only a few positions and I have never really pitched seriously. I am also a little undersized for the typical first baseman.


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

Steven Bumbry:  My defense is something that really stands out when you look at my game. I can play all three outfield positions interchangeably and my arm is one of my best tools. I also think that with more experience at the plate, my offensive tools will continue to develop. It will be interesting to see how they pan out and what type of player I become as I continue to mature and learn- as I get the opportunity to play.


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

Steven Bumbry:  I think the most successful players in the game are also the most consistent at everything they do. If I continue to learn the game and about myself, I think that my consistency will improve and that is something that I want to continue to work on each and 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 and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Steven Bumbry:  I don’t necessarily like putting time frames on things… because I know anything can happen. I don’t want to be caught off-guard with any moves or decisions that are made because ultimately, they are really out of my control. I just like to focus on doing what I have to do and I know that if I do that and take care of myself and continue to work on my game, that things will happen when they’re supposed to happen.


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

Steven Bumbry:  I think I probably signed my first autograph when I was in middle school tagging along with my dad when he was still coaching. I don’t exactly remember the story behind it but I know it was long before I knew that I would be playing baseball as my career. But the strangest request probably had to be these three sisters that all wanted me to sign their arms, but to personalize them with each of their names. I just had to laugh and smile and go along with it. I’m still not sure that they have washed that part of their body.


MLB reports:  Final Thoughts?

Steven Bumbry:  Thank you for selecting me to be a part of this piece and your website. Let’s go O’s!


***Thank you to Steven Bumbry for taking the time today to speak with us on MLB reports (and for most of the pictures used in todays’ feature)!  You can follow Steven on Twitter (@SBumbry). Please feel free to send Steven 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)

 

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