Chris Duffy Looks for An MLB Opportunity
By Nicholas Delahanty (MLB Reports Writer) Follow @Nick_Delahanty
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An interesting story broke out last week, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle wrote an article on Chris Duffy, A current independent ballplayer who has been searching for a chance to sign with a Major League team this spring.
During his senior season at the University of Central Florida, Duffy was nominated for the Golden Spikes Award, which is annually given to the country’s best amateur baseball player.
Unlike the other four nominees, Duffy was not a first-round draft pick and was unable to make it to the major leagues just yet. He fell to the 26th round, where the Philadelphia Phillies finally swooped him up.
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Tuesday April 30th, 2013
By Bernie Olshansky (MLB Reports Writer): Follow @BernieOlshansky
Over the past few years, Chicago Cubs fans have not had a lot to cheer about. Anthony Rizzo is starting to break this trend. Rizzo was acquired by the Cubs from the San Diego Padres in early 2012.
Rizzo is exactly what the Cubs need in a power-hitting first baseman, and should hold down the position in the years to come. Andrew Cashner was a prized prospect at the time of the trade, but the Cubs evidently thought Rizzo was more talented and held more value.
The Padres wound up with Yonder Alonso to man First Base, so they did not lose a significant amount in the trade.
Anthony Rizzo Highlights and the song “Go Cubs Go”
Wednesday October 17th, 2012
Codey Harrison(Lead MiLB Prospect Analyst): Jason Giambi, who was once a superstar with the Athletics and Yankees, is more recently known for his role with the Colorado Rockies as the team’s go-to pinch hitter. Giambi, currently rehabbing from offseason surgery, has been given a chance to interview for the vacant Rockies Managerial position. Most people in baseball believe Giambi doesn’t have a legitimate shot at being named the Rockies next manager, given that Giambi is still an active player and has no coaching experience. However it is worth noting that during his tenure in the Rockies organization, Giambi has helped the young Rockies hitters grow and mature on and off the field, as well as discussing strategies with former Rockies manager Jim Tracy. A mentor and leader, Giambi now has the chance to graduate to MLB manager.
The Rockies this year become known for unconventional decisions running the franchise, whether it was the failed experiment of the 4-man starting rotation, or believing in Jim Tracy for so long as they did- given that so many people in baseball thought of Tracy as arguably the worst manager in all of baseball. This is a team that is seen to be run almost completely by the front office. With so much politics and turmoil surrounding the team, it may be very difficult for the Rockies to get an experienced winning manager to take the job. Thus the team may need to look in order directions, including giving Giambi a shot at the vacant role. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday July 12th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Over the past few years, Twins fans have been disappointed with Justin Morneau’s performance. He’s been plagued by a concussion he sustained in Toronto two years ago after sliding into the leg of Aaron Hill. Before the injury, Morneau was hitting .345 through 81 games, hit .274 in the year before that (2009), finished second in MVP voting in 2008 after hitting .300 with 23 home runs and 129 RBIs, and won the AL MVP award in 2006 after hitting .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs. The big question is: Can he return to his original form? Read the rest of this entry
Friday April 13th, 2012
Sam Evans: When the most advanced hitter in the history of the game switched teams this past offseason, it shook up the baseball universe. Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals weakened the N.L. Central and made the A.L. West one of the best divisions in baseball. So far Pujols hasn’t gotten off to an amazing start. Still, we’re only a week into the season, so it doesn’t really matter. Let’s take a up-close look at what Pujols has done through his first six games.
First game: In his regular season debut, Albert Pujols was 0 for 3 with a walk. Despite a crowd that was desperately waiting to go crazy after Pujols did something special, Pujols struggled against Royals starter Bruce Chen. In his first at-bat, Pujols lined into a double play. Next, Pujols popped up to Royals third basemen Mike Moustakas. Later, facing the flame throwing Aaron Crow, Pujols struck out on just three pitches.Finally, Greg Holland intentionally walked Pujols in the ninth inning. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday January 31st, 2012
Bryan Sheehan (MLB reports Intern Candidate): At age 38, it’s a wonder how Rockies’ first baseman Todd Helton is still going. His .302 batting average and 70 RBIs in 2011 are impressive considering his age, not to mention his .997 fielding percentage being second best in the league. On the other hand, his .466 slugging percentage and 14 home runs leave more to be desired from the once ferocious hitter. After the recent retirements of Pat Burrell and Jorge Posada, the question must be asked: How much does Helton have left in the tank? Helton, who was drafted number eight overall in the 1995 draft (which now boasts only three active players – Helton, Roy Halladay and Kerry Wood – from its first round), came into the league with a bang in 1998. In his first full MLB season, Helton hit .315 with 97 RBIs and a .530 slugging percentage. Since then he’s compiled a .323 lifetime batting average, 554 doubles (ties for 24th all time), 347 home runs and 2,363 hits.
But, like most older players, Helton has been having back troubles. To be fair, his back problems started as early as 2002, and his stats were never really affected until 2008, when he hit under .300 (.264) for the first time in his career. His stats may not tell the whole story, as he hit well in 2009 and 20011, but Helton is nearing the end. Last February Helton claimed that he wanted to play baseball through the 2013 season, when his contract with the Rockies is up.
With Michael Cuddyer waiting in the wings, it’s unlikely that Colorado will re-sign Helton after 2013. By that time Todd will, barring a miracle, be unable to play everyday, and he’s not the type of hitter than can perform off the bench: in 47 at bats as a pinch hitter, Helton has struck out 15 times and holds a batting average of .149. It should also be noted that other than his one hit in 2009, the Toddfather hasn’t hit safely as a pinch hitter since 1999.
As much as Helton and many longtime Rockies fans would love to see #17 play forever; it’s not going to happen. If he plays like he did in 2011, Todd will live to see another day and finish out his contract in the Mile High City. But, if he plays like he did in 2010 or his injuries get the best of him, 2012 will be the last year Helton will be wearing the purple pinstripes. From there, the Cooperstown debate will begin on Helton. Will he get in? If Larry Walker is any indication, Helton may have to wait some time until his name is called at the Hall of Fame inductions.
Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern Candidate, Bryan Sheehan. You can follow Bryan on Twitter (@Sheehan99), read his interviews with Phillies’ minor league prospects at PhightingOn.com, and catch him writing the occasional article for BleacherReport.com (search his name). Tweet him about this article and he will follow you back!
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.
Sunday December 11, 2011
Jonathan Hacohen: In our latest interview feature, we are proud to welcome to MLB reports: Xavier Scruggs, the slugging first base prospect of the St. Louis Cardinals. Xavier was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2005 and then by his current club, the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008. Xavier completed his fourth season in the Cardinals organization and is coming off his second straight 21 home run season. With a lifetime .340 OBP and .465 SLG, Xavier has swung a strong bat to-date. Now with Albert Pujols a member of the Angels, there is an opening at first base in St. Louis. In another year or two, Xavier could indeed be the man to fill it. I caught up with Xavier Scruggs this month to discuss his past season, future goals going into 2012 and everything in-between. Xavier spoke from the heart and shared a great deal of insight on the game and his own career. A pleasure to speak with, I definitely look forward to tracking Xavier’s progress in professional baseball and interviewing him again in the future.
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Xavier Scruggs – First Base Prospect with the St. Louis Cardinals:
MLB reports: Welcome to the Reports Xavier. To start off, tell us who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?
Xavier Scruggs: Growing up my favorite player by far was Gary Sheffield. I loved watching him play because he put fear in the pitchers he was facing. No one could deny his bat speed and the ball came off his bat. The ball shot off like a rocket and sounded like a gun shot when he hit it. I told myself at a very young age that he was the player whom I most wanted to hit like. So when I was young I would try to emulate him every chance I got. From his stance, to the way he cocked his hands to hit. I don’t hit like him much now, but it’s a goal to hit the ball as hard as him and to be feared as much as him. Also being younger and not very strong growing up, I noticed he was in very good shape and was very muscular. So naturally I wanted my body to look like his. I don’t idolize anyone, but he is one player who’s game I truly admired!
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Xavier Scruggs: It’s not an easy choice, but I love watching Matt Kemp play the game. He has every tool and uses them to the best of his ability. You can tell he is humbled by the game and plays the game hard. He plays it the right way too and was able to play phenomenal even when his team was truly struggling. You can tell he’s having fun playing the game as well, because he’s always smiling and laughing with his teammates and other players.
MLB reports: Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
Xavier Scruggs: Some of my proudest achievements includes throwing a perfect game when I was in little league. It was special to me because it was a championship game. Having my younger brother on the team and my father being the coach made it mean a lot more. A proud moment was winning the player of the year for my conference (MWC). Another proud achievement was making the Florida state league all-star team in 2010. My last proud achievement was tying the record for home runs at Palm Beach this past year. I shared that moment with my teammates embracing me and there is no better feeling.
MLB reports: Did you fully expect from the start of the draft back in 2008 to sign with the Cards? When was the final decision made in the process to sign with Cards? Any disappointment with being drafted in the 19th round? What factors led you not to sign with the Mariners back in 2005 when you were originally drafted?
Xavier Scruggs: Being drafted out of high school in 2005 by the Mariners was a blessing because it made me open my eyes to realize how much I really wanted to be a big leaguer one day. My parents and I really thought about it and felt it would be best for me to give myself three quality years in college to better myself and be best prepared to be drafted in 2008. I was fortunate enough to get drafted in the 19th round, which was a little disappointing, but I already knew going into the draft that nothing was promised. I use it as motivation and to remind myself that I have serious odds to beat, and the only way to beat them is through serious hard work. The Cardinals never seemed to be a team with a lot of interest but they were the last team I spoke to right before the draft, so I knew there was interest. The final decision was made a week or two after the draft.
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
Xavier Scruggs: I believe my greatest baseball skills include being able to drive the ball to all fields and with power. I feel like I have great knowledge of the strike zone and recognize pitches well. I feel like a have a strong-arm defensively and have a good feel for positioning myself. I also have leadership and love to motivate my teammates.
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Xavier Scruggs: I wish to improve in all areas of my game and just have the strongest focus on doing all the little things and being consistent in everything I do, whether it be defensively or offensively. I have to improve in every aspect of my game in order for me to be the best because that’s what I want to be.
MLB reports: How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game? Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?
Xavier Scruggs: I feel that with me continuing to learn more about myself as a hitter, gaining better plate discipline will help me to better myself in both of those categories. Everyone wants to have a great strikeout to walk ratio and to better that aspect of their game, so definitely I can see that changing for the better in my own game. I’m doing a lot each day to work on that aspect of my game as well.
MLB reports: Long term what position do you see yourself playing- do you see yourself staying at first? How do you see defense as part of your overall game?
Xavier Scruggs: Defense has always been a huge part of my game and I take a lot of pride in taking away hits and saving runs. Any way that I can help my team with my glove is important to me. I have played 1b, 3rd, and outfield so I can be a replacement for anybody. Not just necessarily a first baseman. I am comfortable in a lot of positions and am athletic enough to play a number of them.
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?
Xavier Scruggs: I can’t estimate any sort of time when I will reach the big leagues. But I do know when the time comes for them to call my name, I will be prepared and ready. I definitely hope for it to be soon though. It’s in God’s hands and I’m working hard to be prepared for that moment.
MLB reports: What has the experience been like to play winter ball this year? What have you learned this offseason?
Xavier Scruggs: The experience playing winter ball has been something special. It’s exciting to wake up each day and know that I’m in a different country. My Spanish is ok because I took four years of it in high school, so I can communicate fairly well. Baseball is different here in certain aspects, but there is nothing like having teammates there with you grinding it out each day. There aren’t many teams in the league so you start to learn the tendencies of players and visa-versa, which forces you to learn to make adjustments quicker. I’m learning more and more about myself as a ball player and I’m already improving on some of the key aspects of my game I set out to work on this offseason. I’ve learned that it is as important for me to be just as mentally prepared as I am physically, and to not miss a chance to gain a mental edge. Whether that be learning pitchers tendencies or being able to mentally think about making small adjustments in my own swing and game.
MLB reports: What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?
Xavier Scruggs: When I’m not playing baseball I love playing video games, listening to music, working out, reading, chillin at the beach, and watching tv.
MLB reports: Have you visited St. Louis the city yet?
Xavier Scruggs: I have never been to St. Louis but I hear it’s beautiful and would love to go.
MLB reports: If you could send out a message to the Cards fans, what would it be?
Xavier Scruggs: If I could say anything to Cardinals fans out there, it would just be to join me on my journey to being the person and baseball player I can be. I know how blessed I am to play this game, so I not only play it for myself but for the people who wish they could play it and don’t have the same opportunity that I do.
Thank you for your support and God bless.
Thank you again to Xavier Scruggs 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 Xavier. As well, please follow Xavier Scruggs on Twitter (@Xavier_Scruggs)
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.