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The Philadelphia Phillies Prospects + Organizational Depth Charts For All Affiliates – 2014 (MLB + MiLB)

Among Amaro's staff of scouts and underlings, there must be some level of discomfort because no group of baseball men this large who evaluate talent for a living can make that many mistakes on a professional level. Unless, of course, these men are afraid to go against Amaro's will. If that's the case, it will be up to Phillies President and team ownership to hear that the citizens of Philadelphia have already figured out that the emperor has no clothes. It's time for Amaro to go.  It won't happen soon enough, and with Montgomery's latest proclamation, this club will set themselves back for a few more years by not selling off some players in a futile season.

Among Amaro’s staff of scouts and underlings, there must be some level of discomfort because no group of baseball men this large who evaluate talent for a living can make that many mistakes on a professional level. Unless, of course, these men are afraid to go against Amaro’s will. If that’s the case, it will be up to Phillies President and team ownership to hear that the citizens of Philadelphia have already figured out that the emperor has no clothes. It’s time for Amaro to go. It won’t happen soon enough, and with Montgomery’s latest proclamation, this club will set themselves back for a few more years by not selling off some players in a futile season.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): & Jeff Kleiner (Org Depth Chart + Payroll Expert – find his website here)

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TRADE DEADLINE CHAT/Build your system by trading veterans and regroup for 2015.

I have a newsflash for David Montomery (President, part -owner of the Phillies), your fanbase already hates the team right now, and it is not like you won’t spend money on the club in 2015.

The Boston Red Sox were smart enough to realize that 2012 was a lost season.  Instead of riding it out, they made huge changes to the roster.

Deals that led to numerous Free Agent signings in that winter, that helped them win the 2013 World Series..

A lot of the trades they did were based on the team dumping payroll, becoming younger, and also not having lengthy contracts plaguing their franchises for many years to come.

The “Phigtins” are 8.5 Games the NL East leading Braves, and 8 behind the playoff bar, but here is the problem…. Read the rest of this entry

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The St. Louis Cardinals Organizational Depth Charts – Spring 2014 (Majors and MInors)

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): & Jeff Kleiner (Org Depth Chart + Payroll Expert – find his website here)

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For all of those websites that put off writing about the Cardinals after the World Series due to fatigue, it is time to brush up on the best run franchise in the Major Leagues.

The majority of the players in the system and in the Majors were developed by the Cardinals franchise.

Last year, I did a Roster Tree of how all of the players were acquired.  Something like 18 of the 25 players were Drafted by the club.

That is light years ahead of the next team in the race.

When you see that St. Louis has made it to the final four clubs 8 teams in 13 years, and now has made 4 trips to the World Series in a decade, you are leaving another chapter in the legacy of the franchise. Read the rest of this entry

St. Louis Cardinals Organization: Payroll Contracts, Depth Charts + Rosters, (Majors + Minors)

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Monday, Aug.12/2013

The Cardinals have made it to 7 NLCS's since 2000 - going 3 - 4 in them.  The Cards won the World Series in 2006 and 2011, while losing in 2004.  With a plehora of awesome talent in their system, coupled with star Veterans, all playing the St. Louis way, they could be poised for another playoff run in 2013 - and for years beyond.

The Cardinals have made it to 7 NLCS’s since 2000 – going 3 – 4 in them. The Cards won the World Series in 2006 and 2011, while losing in 2004. With a plethora of awesome talent in their system, coupled with star Veterans, all playing the St. Louis way, they could be poised for another playoff run in 2013 – and for years beyond.  The club is just on the fringe of the MLB’s top ten for team salaries, however they do hold the most expensive club in the NL Central.  The franchise rarely doles out a bad long – term contract.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): and welcome Jeff Kleiner (Salary, Roster and Depth Chart Expert for the MLB) – visit his website  here  

You guys are all in for a treat.  Jeff Kleiner recently contacted me about a partnership merge for the website. 

He has developed a site (prosportsrosters.com) that covers all organizational affiliates in the Minors for all of the Major League Baseball Clubs. 

We are going to combine efforts to bring you the best look at salaries, current 25 Man Player Rosters and Depth Charts for all 30 teams. 

Jeff is going to provide the documents in form of spreadsheets and I am going to accompany the posts with deep analysis of what the numbers tell us from my perspective. 

If you can’t wait for all of my assessments for each club, go and visit Jeff’s website over at http://www.prosportsrosters.com.

In Speaking with Jeff, he is one of the more passionate fans I have come across towards the game of baseball.  He spends enough time in updating his MLB Facts for it to be a Full-Time Job. 

So after the usual Video Clip and READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY button, you will find some serious &*!@?!#!

Jeff updates this page below on a daily basis.  After you click on it….Bookmark it.  There is a 3 year salary forecast and stats not listed here on this page. 

Jeff updates these pages daily and these changes include any Roster moves!

For a Full 3 year Salary Outlook plus last years Stats for every player in the Cardinals Organization click here.

St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Run – Mature Lyrics So Parental Guidance Is Advised

Read the rest of this entry

Chris Swauger Blog: Swags’ Baseball Gear

Tuesday January 17, 2012

Chris Swauger-  MLB reports Blog (Swags’ Hotspot):  I was given an idea for this blog and I tried to run with it.  I ended up plowing headfirst into a brick wall.  The idea was to write about how I choose my equipment.  How do I decide on what gear to arm myself with to go into baseball battle?  I started thinking about it and writing about it… when I realized something: it doesn’t matter.  As a minor leaguer grinding and struggling my way up the food chain, I will take anything I can get.  I don’t care if I have the latest batting gloves or the newest cleats.  There are no style points awarded in this game.  Any and all equipment provided for me is acceptable.  If I don’t have to pay for it, that’s a huge plus.  One of my teammates and I came up with a saying, “FREE is in the budget.”  Truer words have never been spoken.

Contemplating this equipment idea led me to two alternatives.  The first was I could talk about the brands I use and prefer, and possibly galvanize any other company into belly-laughing the next time I or my agent called them to talk about supplying me with gear or a contract.  So that was out.  Then I started thinking about the fact that I have used so much different equipment over the years.  So many different gloves, batting gloves and cleats.  So many different bats. So many different models.  Why?  I concluded that I was looking for an edge.  I’ve been searching for the next best thing to make me better.  I constantly adjusted and changed until I found tools that were comfortable and useful to me and my skill set.  I realized that all the time (and money) I’ve spent playing guinea pig and copycat with my coaches’ and teammates’ gear suggestions mirrored my playing career.  It’s all about adjustments.

Adjustments are the main reason I am still playing.  While I would never be so ignorant as to say I have no talent, I will say that I was not a 26th round senior-sign for nothing.  I have always been a productive player everywhere I have gone, but that is definitely not because it has come easy to me.  Any success I’ve had has been because of hard work and adjusting to what I see, feel, and hear on the diamond.  I believe in and repeat my routines daily, but I am not scared to tweak them and look for alternatives based on what I feel that day.  I try to be consistent with the bats or gloves that make me feel confident on the field, but if something is not working- then it’s time to adjust.

I would estimate I have used about 20 different bat models in my four years playing professionally.  Sometimes I had to change out of necessity, because I have a penchant for buzz-sawing bats faster than factories can ship them to me.  Other times, it was because I got curious what works for other players.  Maybe their “magic sticks” could work for me.  While I’ve never been one to completely throw my hands in the air by blowing up everything I have been working on and radically change my approach, I will shake things up when I think it is necessary.  I have never been accused of being superstitious, and I think that is because of my willingness to change anything and everything to be successful.  I am consistent in what I do and stick to what works. But when it stops working, I grab my gear and move on to the next idea.

That concept is not exclusive to my preparation.  Once the game starts, I take the same approach to each play, each at-bat, each pitch.  I try to have a solid plan going into the game, but if I feel it’s necessary to adjust- I will.  Brad Pitt has a great line in the movie “Moneyball” where he says “Adapt or die.”  I love that.  There is a constant chess match being played on the field between the managers, the hitter and the pitcher. Between the offense and defense.  Falling behind in these tiny point/counterpoint contests usually decides the winner and the lay-HOO-zay-herrr (thank you Ace Ventura).  So when I get in these situations, I’m not afraid to flip my game plan based on what the opposition seems to be doing to me or my teammates.  No one on the field is going to change just for the sake of changing.  Until I prove that I can adjust, players are going to continue to attack me the same way and be successful.  Once I evolve, I get the edge and the pressure to change falls back on them.  Casual observers don’t always see it, but this happens every pitch.  That is why baseball is so fun and interesting. Especially if you pay attention.

I appreciate all of my readers’ attention. If you would like to give me even more of it, follow me on Twitter (@CSwag8).  I hope everyone enjoys my insights as much as I enjoy giving them.

Until next time,

Swags


***Chris Swauger (AKA Swags) is an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals system.  Swags played for the Springfield Cardinals (AA) in 2011.  With his own Blog Page on MLB reports known as Swags’ Hotspot, Swags provides a behind the scenes look into the life of a professional baseball player.  One of the funniest guys we know, these blog entries are a MUST read for every baseball fan! *** 


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.

Chris Swauger MLB Blog: My Offseason (Part 2)

Tuesday January 10, 2012

Chris Swauger-  MLB reports Blog (Swags’ Hotspot):  A minor league baseball season lasts about five and a half months from start to finish.  Add in anywhere from a month to six weeks for Spring training and playoffs and the total time playing adds up to about seven months.  Seven months of grinding out games, bus rides, and late-night meals.  Days are filled with early work, extra work, batting practice, bullpens, conditioning lifts, rehab, pre-hab, post-hab, and so on.  Free time is a precious commodity and soreness is an epidemic.  However, when September rolls around, all of us are left with five months to do…absolutely nothing.  After days upon days planned to the minute, what am I supposed to do when I don’t have anything planned for months?

I have worked the part-time jobs (Team Sports Associate and near-Employee of the Month at Dick’s Sporting Goods).  I have worked the awful jobs (landscaping). I have worked the desk jobs (best receptionist EVER at Sportscenter Tampa Bay). I have done the internships (at the University of Tampa). I have given batting lessons.  I have coached AAU teams.  In all my experience trying to fill the time between the end of the season and Spring Training, I have done some crazy things and met some strange characters.  Still, the two things that I have enjoyed the most in the off-season are playing winter baseball in Latin America and substitute teaching.  I have played two seasons in Colombia for Los Caimanes de Barranquilla, as well as this past offseason in Panama for Los Caballos de Cocle.  In the interim, between seasons I have substituted grades K-8 in my hometown of Tampa, Florida. These are two very different activities, but they both have some interesting similarities.

The strongest bond that Winter Ball and substituting share is they are both utter chaos.  Be it a locker room full of fired up Latinos or a classroom full of sugar crazed 3rd graders, someone or something is bouncing off the walls. Not that I am the calmest person in the world, but these people make me look like a Zen master on adderall.  It takes one bikini clad chica to walk across the television screen (which happens about twice every second on Latin American TV) to send every native player into a fist-pumping, chest-bumping, eardrum-thumping frenzy.  It takes just the mention of recess, lunch or PE to whip a room full of elementary school students into gymnasts; chairs are flipped, tables are hurdled and cartwheels are performed.  I can honestly say that if the world was filled with my teammates and students, I would rule it with a Maxim and a jungle-gym.

Not far beyond the realm of complete disarray are the absolutely absurd questions, answers, and statements I have heard in Winter Ball, as well as in the classroom.  This past season in Panama, we were short an infielder on our team because of an injury.  Our coach came to the cage and asked, “Hey [nameless player], can you play third base?” He responded “Oh yeah!” I responded, “Dude, you’re left-handed.”  He replied, “Well yeah, but if I was a righty I’d be better than like, Derek Jeter.”  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe and ended up with the hiccups. This same player also told his teammates that a pregnant waitress would not be serving tonight because she was on “fraternity leave.”  Once again, I couldn’t breathe.  I similarly busted out laughing this year when I opened up the floor to questioning in front of a group of 8th graders.  I said they could ask any question they wanted. The first question I got was “Do you have a girlfriend?” The second was “How much do you bench?”  Such simple minds… and I love it. 

One other question I got from a 5th grader was “If you are a baseball player, how come I’ve never seen you on TV?”  Yeah…about that…well I am just a minor leaguer right now so I don’t play with the big league Cardinals yet.  “Oh so you suck?” was the response.  Leave it to an 11-year-old to give me a nice dose of reality; just when I thought I’d gained some status around the elementary school campus.  However in all seriousness, he was right.  I have only begun to prove myself and in the big scheme of things, I am still just an Internet-streaming broadcast minor league player.  It is great motivation to get better and stay humble.  The same can be said for Winter Ball.  Taking an 0 for 4 or making an error can give a quick ego check and a nice reminder that I still have a lot to prove.  There is still much work to be done in my career.

The one thing that has been consistent throughout my career is that I have loved every minute of it.  The pure joy that I get out of playing this game is only matched by the happiness that I experience seeing a student light up when he solves a problem- or a concept clicks.  When the kids get excited about learning, I am reminded out how I feel when I get a hit or make a good play.  It’s that same feeling that keeps me going.  I have come to think of professional baseball as a roller coaster: I am just enjoying the ride so far, during the season and out of it.  The journey itself has been the reward.

Follow me on Twitter (@cswag8) if you would like to get a daily perspective and interact with me.

Until next time,

Swags

 

***Chris Swauger (AKA Swags) is an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals system.  Swags played for the Springfield Cardinals (AA) in 2011.  With his own Blog Page on MLB reports known as Swags’ Hotspot, Swags provides a behind the scenes look into the life of a professional baseball player.  One of the funniest guys we know, these blog entries are a MUST read for every baseball fan! *** 

You can catch Part 1 of Swags’ Offseason report by clicking here

 

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.

Chris Swauger Guest MLB Blog: My Offseason, Part 1

Wednesday December 28, 2011

Chris Swauger-  Guest MLB Blog:  The winter months are an interesting time for a minor league baseball player.  When the season ends in September, we all exchange hugs, handshakes and well-wishes, knowing full well some of us will never see each other again.  It is a very strange feeling and it carries over into the off-season.  Some of us head home to relax and recover from 140 games or more.  Some get ready to showcase their skills in the Arizona Fall League.  Others, like me, sign up to keep playing in foreign countries.  Those of you who have read my previous blogs know about my experiences playing in Panama this fall.  It was a great experience and now I am back home, enjoying family, friends, and the holiday season.

While this is a time to have some fun, take a vacation, learn a new skill, and basically live the good life, it is also a time to become a better player.  There is not nearly as much communication between the organization (front office, coaches, staff, etc.) and players as there is during the season.  Other than an occasional health update, workout/conditioning check-in, or a friendly phone call, players are generally on their own during the winter.  It is the responsibility of the player to prepare himself for the spring and upcoming season.  This is absolutely the way it is supposed to be because we are all grown men and professionals who ultimately SHOULD be responsible for our own careers.  There is no one there every day checking to make sure we get our work in.  No one grabs us for extra early work or a quick film study.  It is on our shoulders to motivate ourselves and to get better every day.  And nothing motivates hungry minor leaguers more than opportunities.

A few weeks ago the MLB’s Winter Meetings took place in Dallas.  It was a crazy few days filled with transactions and speculations for the approaching season.  It was great for baseball.  Sports and social media were filled with reports about baseball, right in the middle of the NFL and NHL seasons and an ending NBA lockout.  The game of baseball and its following is as strong as ever right now and I am proud to be a part of it.  However I imagine that I, along with every other minor league player, watched and read reports coming out of the meetings with a different perspective than most.

When fans hear that their favorite team signed a huge free agent, lost a big-time player, or brokered a blockbuster trade, their emotions run the gamut from extremely excited to overwhelmingly unhappy.  But the players in the minor leagues think differently.  We look at everything positively.  We are trained that way.  It’s the only way to recover from an 0 for 4 or a bad outing.  Everything has to be taken with a shot of optimism.  Everything has to be looked at as an opportunity.  An opportunity to move up or get more playing time if your team loses a player.  An opportunity to make a great first impression if you are changing teams.  An opportunity to compete if your team adds a player.

My coach in college used to say that competition breeds winning.  That is every organization’s ultimate goal.  Win at the big league level.  The minors exist to mold players who can help that cause.  Every player knew this when he signed or learned it very quickly.  We compete on a daily basis against the other team, the game, and ourselves.  I have always felt that playing with other good players has made me better.  When someone new comes into our organization I have always made it a point to get to know them.  They may know something about the game that I don’t.  They may hold the key that unlocks MY potential.  I may be different from other players in that regard, but I think that has helped me and made me better.

I know for a fact that I am NOT different from other players when I say I want to be the someone who steps up when a player leaves our organization.  Be it free agency, a trade, or any other means, when a spot opens up every single player wants to fill it.  Even if it’s a bullpen spot, I am convinced I could get outs.  A chance to showcase my skills is what drives me every day during the season.  And the thought of getting that opportunity, or getting to compete for that opportunity, is what drives me during the off-season.

I genuinely cannot wait for baseball to start again.  I love the downtime and the chance to train and recover in the winter, but I already have the itch for spring training.  There I will be able to give hugs to those guys I left the previous September, and hopefully get to shake hands with someone new.

Follow me on Twitter (@cswag8) if you would like to get a daily perspective and interact with me.

Until next time,

Swags

 

***Chris Swauger (AKA Swags) is an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals system.  Swags played for the Springfield Cardinals (AA) in 2011.  A regular contributor to MLB reports, Swags provides a behind the scenes look into the life of a professional baseball player in his Guest MLB Blog.  One of the funniest guys we know, these blog entries are a MUST read for every baseball fan! *** 

 

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.

The End of the Winter Ball Season in Panama: The Chris Swauger Guest MLB Blog

Friday December 9, 2011

MLB reports:   Chris Swauger (aka Swags) is back in North America and returns to the Reports!  Swags has wrapped up his Winter Ball season in Panama and shares his experiences with us.  We even get an inside look at a Winter Ball All-Star Game!  A big thank you to Swags for his time in preparing his second blog feature on MLB reports, as well as the photographs used which were supplied for from his personal collection.  

 

Chris Swauger–  Guest MLB Blog:  The end of a season is always an interesting time.  Depending on the team’s position in the standings, players have a few different perspectives.  When they are cruising in first place, the main objective is to not get hurt.  When they are in a playoff chase or jockeying for positions, the intensity is cranked up to the max and everyone seems to take their focus to a new level.  When they are completely out of the race altogether, it becomes a tragic comedy.  Regrettably and hysterically, my experiences in Panama fall into the third category.

 

Safely buried in third place out of four teams, our team accepted the fact that we were out of contention.  Admirably, we did not completely mail in the season.  Maybe it was because we had so many guys with MLB affiliated teams in the states.  Maybe it was because some guys were playing to try to get seen and signed to play with an affiliated or independent team.  Maybe it was just pride.  Whatever it was, guys continued to show up early and get their work in regardless if a practiced schedule was posted or the coaches even bothered to show up before the national anthem.  No staff meant no authority, rules, or organized workouts…which also meant my tan improved significantly.

 

Our last three game series was against the last place team in our league who had won a total of nine games all year.  Six were against us…stay hot Caballos.  With both teams out of the race the games became more of a friendly, stat-chasing fiesta.  Oddly enough, the Panamanian TV station decided it would be a good idea to put two of these games on national television.  The opposing team had sent all of their foreign (not from Panama) players home and had three players who were moonlighting as taxi drivers.  Their starting pitcher in game one was missing a finger and the tip of another, although I will admit it did give his pitches some wicked movement.  One of our pitchers rolled his ankle on the mound, called timeout in the middle of an at-bat, went to the locker room to get it taped, then came back out to resume pitching.  He must have known the game was on TV and wanted some face time.  I think the other team’s left fielder wanted some as well, because by my official count (One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi…) it took him 73 seconds to get off the field after being called out at first base.  He did not say one word to the umpire AND his team was in the first base dugout.  He did have three gold chains, two enormous cubic-zirconia earrings, and a fresh tight-fade haircut though.

 

Apparently these two guys didn’t get the memo that when games don’t mean anything, the objective becomes to play as fast as humanly possible.  It doesn’t mean sacrificing the integrity of the game or playing nonchalantly.  In fact, it’s the complete opposite.  Guys who haven’t hustled all year are sprinting down the line and on and off the field in an attempt to finish nine innings under two hours (which is amazing considering average game time in winter ball is closer to five).  What it DOES mean is any attempt to delay the game, like mound visits or calling timeout for any reason other than a seizure, will be met with harsh criticism from both dugouts.  Throwing first pitch breaking balls and not swinging at first pitch strikes are also highly frowned upon.  I practice what I preach; the last game of the season I swung at all 7 pitches I saw in my 5 at-bats.  I would not have been nearly as proud of that if I hadn’t snuck 2 hits out of those 5 at-bats, but the point remains the same: play fast, avoid injuries.

 

After the final out was made, everyone exchanged handshakes, hugs, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.  The crazy thing about the end of a season in professional baseball is there is a legitimate chance it is the last time you will ever see some of the guys on your team in your life.  Guys you are together with nearly 24/7 and share intimate details of your life with become distant memories after lockers get cleaned out.  It’s a harsh reality of a cutthroat game, but it is a fact.  Baseball keeps rolling along. The players, coaches, and their careers are merely passengers that can be thrown off as quickly as they are scooped up.  I have enjoyed my ride thus far and can’t wait to see what road lies ahead.

 

My ride in Panama culminated with a trip to the All-Star Game in Panama City.  I was extremely excited because our game was being piggy-backed by a celebrity softball game that included Derek Jeter, C.C. Sabathia, Ozzie Guillen, Curtis Granderson and many other big leaguers.  It was also going to be a fun experience because my father was able to make the trip down to see me play in the game.  He even got an all-access pass into the dugout and onto the field for the event (it’s amazing what Panamanian security officers will let you get away with if you are a gringo, act like you don’t speak English, and pretend you know exactly what you are doing.  Wearing absolutely zero credentials my dad got to hang out with the team and sit in the VIP section right next to the dugout.  He volunteered to shag balls during batting practice but we ended up not having it.  It was cancelled because there were no baseballs.  We ended up hitting in the batting cage with the dozen balls the league brought in for the team to autograph.

 

The game itself is more of a friendly expo than an intense competition.  While players still want to win and show off what got them into the game in the first place, the atmosphere is more like a country club than a Roman coliseum.  The same last-game-of-the-season rules apply about throwing a lot of fastballs and swinging early in the count.  Well, at least I thought they did.  That is until the pitch sequence of my first at-bat went curveball, change-up, slider, curveball, change-up, fastball to the backstop, change-up.  I still swung at every pitch.  I had a few choice words and slightly inappropriate body language for the pitcher.  I also, had zero remorse when our team of “Internacionales” (American, Dominican, Venezuelan, Cuban, Brazilian, Japanese, and Korean) commenced to trouncing the Panamanian players to the tune of a 6-0 lead and a perfect game into the 6th inning.  Save for an error and a meaningless 3 run homer with two outs in the last inning, the International team dominated the game.  Keeping my Panamanian teammates in mind, I respectfully say “WEAR IT!!! That’s what you get for playing a showcase game like it’s Game 7!”

 

After the game both sides shook hands and thanked the fans.  They were what this game was really about and we acknowledged that.  One last cold shower and we were back on the field to mingle with the big names with big wallets playing in the next game.  Like an idiot I left my camera in the hotel room, paranoid that it might get stolen on the last day.  I seem to have inherited this ability to brain fart from my father, who forgot to charge his camera’s battery and it died before the first game ended.  So, I have no proof that I met any of these awesome guys that made an appearance.  Just take my word for it.

 

As I finish this blog entry reminiscing on my time in Panama, I am extremely happy.  Happy that I jumped at the opportunity and happy that I got to experience this journey.  I grew as a man and as an athlete during my time in Panama and am a better person and player because of it.  There were hysterical moments and miserable ones, but they were all a good time and will make great stories.  I hope to use this blog to continue to tell those stories and the ones that lie ahead.

 

Thanks for the opportunity

Chris Swauger

PS: Follow me on Twitter @cswag8 for daily doses.  However, be warned: my followers have an extremely high rate of eye-rolling.




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.

Playing Winter Ball in Panama: The Chris Swauger Guest MLB Blog

Friday December 2, 2011

MLB reports:   We are proud to welcome Chris Swauger (aka Swags) back to the Reports!  After our interview with the St. Louis Cardinals prospect, we are fortunate to have Swags return as a Guest MLB Blogger.  Have you ever wondered what goes through a player’s mind playing winter ball in a foreign country?  Swags is here to give you the scoop on the experience of playing ball in the offseason.  A big thank you to Swags for his time in preparing this feature, as well as the photographs used which were supplied for from his personal collection.  

 

Chris Swauger-  Guest MLB Blog:  I was walking out of a LA Fitness in Tampa when I got the call to play winter ball in Panama.  After an hour of being stared at like I was an alien by the juice-monkeys for actually using the squat rack and leg machines, I figured why not be a true alien in a foreign country again?  Having played the last two years in Colombia, I was used to the funny looks and had become fluent in Spanish.  It seemed like a great opportunity to see a new place and continue to improve my baseball skills.  So a week later I said goodbye to my family and the motherland and got on a plane to the middle of nowhere.

I didn’t see the sun for the first 5 days I was down here.  I was a new member of the Caballos de Cocle, and I felt like I should have been playing in galoshes instead of cleats.  Our practices started at 9 AM because it poured every afternoon.  It felt a lot like Spring Training, with the heavy eyes and constant practicing of fundamentals.  However, the practice field was slightly different.  I had played on fields with pebbles and rocks sprinkled on the field, but this place had full-blown boulders laying around.  The warning track consisted of grass as tall as me and was home to a family of iguanas.  But I figured if we could play defense on this field, when we got on ours we would all be Gold-Glovers.  We grinded it out for a week and went into opening night feeling invincible.

We were exactly that for two games.  We pitched, hit, and played defense like seasoned veterans en route to two straight walk-off wins.  I had both of the walk-off hits, but before we crown me a clutch performer, I must inform you that they were the only hits I had in either game.  I would have probably been put on a plane home if I hadn’t come through in those at-bats.  Going into the final game of our first series, we were pretty much fitting ourselves for championship rings.  Then reality kicked in.

We started blowing saves and our clutch hitting disappeared.  Guys on the team, including myself, continued to put up good numbers but the wins did not come.  As a team we could not get in sync.  We would pitch well and not hit.  Then we would put up four runs in the first and our pitchers struggled to hold the lead.  It is one of those things that happens in this game.  Rough patches are bound to happen, but they take the highway to panic mode when the season is only 36 games long.  I sit here today writing this blog with our team sitting 5 games out of the playoff race with 3 games left to play.  On paper our team should have not lost a game, but that’s why you play.  The better teams are in the playoff hunt, and ours is sitting here like me trying to figure out where we went wrong.

When the game starts challenging you on the field you start to look for positives off of it.  In a town as small as Aguadulce, Cocle, Panama, you have to look really hard.  By my official head count the town has 50 people in it (I might be off by a few hundred).  The biggest structure in the town is the church, and, outside of a few restaurants and dollar stores, there really isn’t much to do.  My roommates and I began to find humor and entertainment in the smallest things.  Such as:

 

The gym that has every piece of Tony Little endorsed equipment from the 80s and 90s…but has no free weights or squat rack.

The clubhouse that has TWO washing machines but no dryer.  When I show up to the stadium early, right field looks like a Goodwill clothing yard sale.

The ability for men to wear Capri pants and be considered stylish.

The maid that works diligently every day cleaning and scrubbing the entire 4 room two-story house every day…and also has a habit of turning off the A/C every morning so we wake up like we are in the middle of a Bikram yoga class.

The Korean player on our team who plays “light-field” and complains about the “blain fleeze” he gets when he eats ice cream.

The fact that one of my roommates thought a mothball was a Mentos.

The flocks of geese people have as pets.

The chauffeur that honks at every female we passed regardless of age (extremely creepy).

The amount that the Latin guys on my team enjoy mayonnaise sandwiches.

The Thanksgiving meal of ham and cheese sandwiches.

The clubhouse attendant who scrubs down our lockers, shoes, uniforms, AND batting practice balls.  No one has hit a home run in BP for 3 weeks because they are water-logged but they sure do shine like pearls.

The fact that I only eat at two restaurants because the others have made me do my best bus-driver impression on the toilet seat.

The team bus that is an Aladdin movie prop during the day, and the hottest club in town at night.

 

As you can tell it’s not the most glamorous of lives, however it is quite amusing.  Paying dues in the Minor Leagues and foreign countries can be a bit of an adventure, but it has provided me with many life experiences.  I hope to use this blog as a means to share those experiences.  I would like people to see what players like myself go through to chase their dreams.  Follow me on Twitter @cswag8 if you would like to get a daily perspective and interact with me.

Until next time,

Swags




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Interview with the King of Swag: Cardinals Prospect Chris Swauger

Sunday November 27, 2011

 


Jonathan Hacohen:  We are proud to welcome to MLB reports: Chris Swauger, outfield prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals system.  When your nickname is Swags and your parent team wins the World Series, life is very sweet.  Swags was originally a 26th round pick for the Cardinals in the 2008 draft.  A steal for the Cardinals, Swags recently completed his 4th professional season.  2011 was his first full season in AA ball and Swags definitely did not disappoint.  Hitting .296 on the season, Swags popped 12 home runs in only 114 games, with 56 RBIs, 52 runs scored, .343 OBP and .442 SLG.  Swags also showed a good eye at the plate by only striking out 67 times.  The upcoming season represents a big one for Swags, as he looks to move up to AAA Memphis and eventually, the show.  One of the most down to earth people that I have ever met, Swags had me in stitches every time we spoke.  In my estimation, Swags represents everything that is good and real about the game of baseball.  While he is 110% devoted and dedicated to the sport, he does not take himself too seriously and keeps the game fun and loose.  Get ready for some great baseball talk- Swags is definitely one of a kind!

Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Swags, aka Chris Swauger – Cardinals Prospect:

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MLB reports:  The year is 2008.  You find out that you are drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.  How did you find out and first reactions?

Swags:  Honestly, I was convinced it wasn’t going to happen.  After a few months of every scout telling me I was one of the best seniors available and would go in the top 10 rounds, I sat at my computer for almost two days waiting.  I nearly went blind tracking it into the 20th round and just walked away from the computer.  After being told by my mother to get a real job, I happened to walk by the study where the online radio broadcast was being streamed and heard my name.  I figured it was a mistake and checked the Draft Tracker.  There was my name in the 26th Round by the St. Louis Cardinals.  As upset as I was before, my emotions turned to pure elation that I would have a chance.  They say senior-signs play for a plane ticket and a jockstrap.  My jockstrap must have gotten lost in the mail.

 

MLB reports:  Going to school at The Citadel:  Pretty cool!  Can you drive a tank or fly an airplane?  What kind of military training do you have?

Swags:  Let me clarify that I PLAYED BASEBALL at The Citadel.  That is completely different from being a regular cadet.  I did get some mandatory ROTC Training and ran a few obstacle courses, but the only tanks and planes I can pilot are the GI Joe models stuffed in the attic with all my old baby toys.  However, I can shine shoes, sweep floors, and make hospital corners on beds with the best of them (I may be qualified to open a retirement home with that type of training).  Basically, I gained a great understanding of discipline and time management going to a military school and it has absolutely made me the man I am today.

 

MLB reports:  Did you know that the Cardinals were going after you in the draft- where did you think you were headed?

Swags:  I had gotten a letter from the area scout, but the first time I talked to him was when he called me to congratulate me on being selected.  I honestly had no idea where I was headed I just wanted to play.  I had no idea who wanted me or where I would go.  And, for 784 picks, I was certain I was going to graduate school.

 

MLB reports:  As a 22-year old rookie- you played in Batavia the year you were drafted.  Tell us about your experiences in Batavia, New York and what the heck is a Muckdog?

Swags:  First of all, a Muckdog is a CHAMPION! One of the best experiences of my life was that championship season in Batavia.  It was my first dose of professional baseball and I got the prescription strength.  First day of practice our cleats were clicking on the rocks in the outfield that used to be a parking lot.  I was fortunate enough to get a host family that provided me with transportation, a 1989 Huffy 5-speed mountain bike.  The swiveling seat and rotating handlebars came standard on that model.  A kickstand did not.  The good news was that I could be anywhere I wanted in Batavia in 20 minutes on that hog.  The lack of anything really fun to do made our team rely on itself for entertainment and with a group like ours that was not hard to find.  In an attempt to keep this interview below an NC-17 rating, I will not go into detail but I will say the shenanigans involved a one-eyed dog, two broken chandeliers, swimmies, M-80s, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and a clothes hamper being mistaken for a urinal.  As far as on the field, we started the season with more errors than hits in our first 3 games, rattled off 12 wins in a row at one point, and rode solid pitching and clutch hitting to a championship celebration.  We were rewarded with a trophy, banner, and a Venezuelan flag.  Not sure how that snuck in there.

 

MLB reports:  You have posted some nice numbers every stop so far in your career.  What is the key to your game- will it be Bautista home run power, Rickey Henderson speed or Willie Mays defense?

Swags:  I appreciate the compliment but I don’t think i deserve to be mentioned with those names just yet.  There is no doubt the key to my game is hard work.  I will admit I am talented and would not be here if I were not, but work ethic that I learned at the Citadel and with the Cardinals is the only reason I am still around.  I have no problem with that.  I would not change one thing about my career path thus far.  I would change about 20 things.  I would have gone in the first round, signed for $4 million, would have been 6’5″…

 

MLB reports:  From Batavia you went to Quad Cities, Palm Beach and Springfield.  Compare the four teams you have played for so far- which has been your favorite and why?

Swags:  There really isn’t that much difference between the teams I have played for in my career.  That is a testament to the consistency that exists within our system.  We preach executing the fundamentals…and don’t be afraid to hit a 3-run homer.  Each team has been my favorite at the time because each stop has its own new experiences and team personality.  Looking back I would have to go with Palm Beach because I’m a native Floridian and I loved getting to play in front of my family and friends quite a bit.  The weather wasn’t too bad either.  I lobbied for shirtless BP a few times but our coaches had no concept of tan lines.  I still cherish the memories of the other places as well.  The atmosphere and the people in Quads and Springfield were unmatched.  Batavia became like a home to me, if only because I was on a first name basis with all 50 residents.  Everywhere I have gone I have enjoyed and will continue to do the same.

 
 
MLB reports:  Do you see yourself playing outfield long-term:  corner or centerfield?

Swags:  I see myself playing catcher if that’s what I have to do to get to the big leagues.

 

MLB reports:  How long have you been playing this game Chris- was baseball always the “plan”?  Why not rock star or monster truck driver?

Swags:  Rock-star is still my back-up plan.  I only recently learned to drive a stick-shift, so I will require more education in order to get in a monster truck. “The Plan” with baseball started out with making my high school team.  Then, it was try not to embarrass yourself in high school.  Then, it changed to try to play in college.  Then, it became try to get drafted my junior year.  Then, it became well, there’s always senior year.  Then, it was woohoo I got drafted.  Then, I thought does this really count as a signing “bonus”? Then, it switched to wow I never knew how bad I was at this.  Then, I got better.  And THAT has been the key to the whole plan and why it is still in progress.  I AM A WORK IN PROGRESS.  There is an end game, but “the plan” keeps adjusting with every pitch, out, inning, game, and season.

 

MLB reports:  You just finished off your 2nd year in AA- will we be seeing you in Memphis in 2012?

Swags:  I hope so because I certainly don’t want to gain Double A Veteran status.  I think I have earned a spot in Memphis, but this game is fickle sometimes and our organization has a tremendous amount of talent.  That being said, if my career turns into a NASCAR race (aka another lap around the Texas League) the only thing I can do is be thankful to still be playing and fighting for an opportunity.

 

MLB reports:  Watching your team win the World Series must have been cool.  They won it 2006 before you were drafted and again in 2011.  How badly did you want to be on the field playing with the big club in October?

Swags:  To play in a World Series is every 6-year-old’s dream.  Conveniently, I still act like a 6-year-old so it’s still my dream. It was great getting to see some guys that I have played with get to experience that and I hope and pray I get that opportunity some day.  It’s what gets me up in the morning; that and the rooster that lives next door to me right now.

 

MLB reports:  You have a great name for baseball:  do teammates call you Swag or Swags?  Do you have swagger my man?

Swags:  Swag, Swags, Schwaugs, Schwaaaaaaaaugs, Swagga, and Swagness.  The only name I’ve never heard on a baseball field is Chris.  As far as the swagger goes, that must be a rhetorical question.

 

MLB reports:  What do you need to do to make it to St. Louis and play in the show?

Swags:  The entire starting outfield to get hurt.

 

MLB reports:  Toughest pitcher you have faced in the minors?

Swags:  That would have to be an old St. Louis farmhand who now plays in the Angels organization, Matt Meyer.  In only a couple of at bats against him, he has effectively gotten me to swing at a pitch that hit me, shattered two of my bats, and is the reason I started wearing a shin guard.

 

MLB reports:  Longest home run you have hit in your career?

Swags:  In Batavia, I hit one on the basketball court behind right field.  I was told later that it went through the hoop and  gave someone an H in HORSE.

 

MLB reports:  Do you remember your first professional home run- what was the home run trot like?

Swags:  I remember the home run and the advice I was given prior to it.  I was in Batavia, getting ready to face my first knuckleballer.  My hitting coach said, “See the ball at your eyes and swing as hard as you can.” I was fresh out of the Citadel and pretty good at following orders, so I went up there and tomahawked the first pitch I saw out to center.  I remember running around the bases with a huge grin knowing a career in beer league softball was waiting for me if the MLB didn’t work out.

 

MLB reports:  What song plays when you come up to bat?

Swags:  “Here Comes The Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze.  My goal is to make everyone in the stadium’s head perk up and then immediately start bobbing. Done.

 

MLB reports:  Any superstitions/rituals you have before and after games?

Swags:  I try to stay away from superstitions and rituals because it always ends up being too much to keep up with.  For some guys it becomes an obsession.  I once had a summer ball coach question guys who wrote Bible verses on their shoes.  He said “I guess everyone needs a crutch in life.”  I think he has reserved his spot in hell.

 

MLB reports:  Final question:  if you could change one thing about baseball- what would it be and why?

Swags:  I should be allowed to eject the umpire.  Self-explanatory.

 

Thank you again to Chris Swauger 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 Swags.  As well, please follow Swags on Twitter (@CSwag8)

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.

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