October 2006

Star crossed

Help, I’m running out of pithy star-related titles…

I’ve got the streak up to 3, which, sadly, ties my best for the AFL. Today, I’m going with Michael Garciaparra.

Before I get to the Star O’ the Day, hats must be tipped to Chip Cannon. Not only does he have a name that belongs in a novel about baseball, he’s been the best hitter in the league so far. He’s just four RBIs shy of being a Triple Crown leader in the AFL, topping the league with a .393 average and eight homers. His 18 ribbies trail only Ryan Bruan’s 22. He also leads the circuit in OBP and SLG. Maybe it’s too early right now, but sure looks like an MVP to me.

Now onto the star for Monday. Cannon did go yard, but thereJosh_burres were a pair of players who doubled himAllstarmichelabreu up. Michel Abreu (left) hit two out and drove in five runs as Mesa crushed the Saguaros, 11-5. The Mets’ 1B now has 11 hits in the AFL, nine for extra bases (five homers, four doubles). The Braves’ Josh Burrus had an identical day, going 2-for-5 as well with a pair of homers and five RBIs and his Javelinas beat the Scorpions, 12-3. Burrus now has three homers and 12 RBIs in 10 games for Peoria.

So, for the first time, I’m giving out two stars, to Burrus and Abreu. Congrats, gents.

Frannie gets it done

I’m back in business, baby!

Kevin_frandsenKevin Frandsen, author of the award-winning blog, Frannie on the Farm (ok, so it hasn’t actually won any awards…yet), got me back on the AFL Beat the Streak board. And he got me back in a big way. Frannie went 3-for-3 with two homers, two runs scored and four RBIs. The second homer came in the ninth inning and broke a 5-5 tie as Scottsdale went on to beat Mesa, 7-5. (On an aside, I’m becoming a big Billy Sadler fan. The Giants reliever went another inning and a third without yielding a run — or a hit — to get his first win. For the AFL season, he’s gone 7 1/3 IP, picked up three saves, allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out 12).

There are other possibilities for Star of the Day. Jarrod Saltalamacchia went yard twice as well, driving in five as his team scored nine runs. Of course, they lost by 14 runs as Phoenix beat the Javelinas, 23-9. That’s right, 23-9. The Desert Dogs had 24 hits. Eight different players had multi-hit games. Somehow Ryan Klosterman went 0-for-2 in that game. Chip Cannon had four hits, including a homer, and drove in three runs while Curtis Thigpen homered , doubled twice and drove in six for the D-Dogs. On the pitching side, Darrell Rasner tossed five shutout innings for the Saguaros. Peoria then went on to lose, 5-0.

When it comes down to it, though, Frannie gets the nod because his second blast was a game-winner and, yes, because he pushed my modest BTS streak to one.

Star Hunter

I like it when it’s easy to find a Star of the Day.

Hunter_pence_1In the case of Tuesday’s AFL action, that would be Mesa’s Hunter Pence, who went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers, three runs scored and four RBIs in the Solar Sox’s 12-7 victory over the Peoria Saguaros. Pence is now sixth in the AFL with a .367 average, tied for fourth with his three homers, eighth in SLG with a .612 mark, ninth with a 1.027 OPS and tied for ninth with 10 RBIs. Oh, and did I mention he’s a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen bases, which puts him in a tie for the league lead with Mesa teammate Eric Patterson. It seems that the Astros OF prospect is just continuing on from a terrific 2006 season with Corpus Christi in the Texas League, where he hit .283 with 28 homers, 95 RBIs and 17 SB. Corpus won its first league title in nearly 40 years and Pence hit .387 with nine RBIs in seven games during the playoff run.

As for my feeble attempts to get a streak going on AFL Beat the Streak, Scottsdale had the nerve to not put Kevin Frandsen in the lineup yesterday. So I’m going with Frannie again today. That’ll show ’em.

One other note. There’s been a change in the chat schedule. Initially, Rays pitching prospect Jeff Niemann was going to chat on Thursday at noon ET. Instead, it’ll be Reds pitcher Jon Coutlangus. So get those questions in early and often to the Reds southpaw.

Quick star

About 10 minutes from show time, but wanted to get the star of the day up.

There’s no doubt that it belongs to Matt Albers. The Astros pitching prospect tossed four perfect innings as Mesa beat Scottsdale, 9-1. The Scorpions didn’t get their first hit or baserunner until the seventh, in fact. Kudos to Tyler Pelland, who also put up four scoreless for Phoenix (Pelland hasn’t given up a run in 6 1/3 IP so far in the AFL), but he gave up three hits. Anthony Raglani hit two homers, but that’s not so uncommon in this league. Four innings of perfection? Now that’s star worthy.

I’m officially in a Beat the Streak slump. I’m going with Tulo — Troy Tulowitzki to help me get out of it today.

Pitching for a change

Yes, believe it or not, there were some fine pitching performances on Tuesday out in the AFL.

In Scottsdale’s 3-1 victory over Grand Canyon — the Rafters’ first loss of the season — both starters went three scoreless. So kudos to Corwin Malone and Josh Shortslef. Shortslef, the Pirates prospect, now has a 1.59 ERA across two outings. Billy Sadler picked up his second save in that game for Scottsdale with a perfect inning that included two strikeouts. He may be the most dominant reliever in the league so far. The Giants righty has appeared in four games (four innings total), allowed just one hit and one walk  and has struck out nine.

Felfoldi_3The Saguaros got some good pitching, finally. Four pitchers combined on a six-hit shutout of the Desert Dogs, bringing the team’s ERA down to 7.94. Jon Felfoldi became the first pitcher, I believe, to go more than three innings in one AFL outing this season. The Nats lefty went 3 1/3, allowing just two hits, walking none while striking out five. He got the win for his efforts, but that’s not all. He also gets my star of the day.

Sure, there was the usual assortment of offensive playerfs to consider. Anthony Raglani drove in five runs in Mesa’s 14-9 win over the Javelinas. Brett Gardner and Brendan Ryan had three hits and two RBIs each to back the Saguaros’ pitchers in the win over Phoenix. But this was a day to honor the pitchers.

Even with the strong performances, though, the league numbers still should make people want to grab a bat:

All-time batting average record: .296 (2005)
2006 batting average: .290

All-time worst ERA: 5.40 (2005)
2006 ERA: 6.25

All-time homers per game:
2.21 (2005)
2006 HR/G: 1.86

All-tiem runs per game: 12.15 (2005)
2006 R/G: 14.14

All the more reason to play AFL Beat the Streak and have a chance at winning $500. There are plenty of hits to be found. Brendan Ryan got it done for me yesterday. Today, I’m going with the Saguaros’ Chase Headley. The leaders have six-game streaks. Not for nothing, in the days I’ve actually remembered to make a pick, I’ve gotten a hit every time. That’s a perfect five-for-five for those of you scoring at home.

Star struck

Monday’s action, once again, provided many options for Star of the Day. First, let’s give it up for the Grand Canyon Rafters. I know it’s only a week and change into the season, but they just don’t seem to want to lose. Quite the comeback yesterday, coming back from a 7-0 deficit and scoring four times in the ninth for a 9-8 win over Scottsdale. That ran their record to a perfect 5-0.

But Monday’s  star does not come from that game, though Neil Walker did go 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs for the Rafters, Matt Palmer tossed three scoreless, one-hit innings for Scottsdale (some say any time a pitcher puts up zeroes for three innings in this league, that’s an automatic star), and Neal Musser struck out four of the six batters he faced in relief of GC starter Luke Hochevar.

Cannon_chipBut I’m going to the Desert Dogs for Monday’s  star. I was very tempted to play favorites and go with Travis Buck. It wouldn’t be only because he’s writing a journal for us during the AFL season. In his first game in three months because of injuries, the A’s prospect went 3-for-6 with a homer, three runs scored and four RBIs. That’s certainly star-worthy. But, in the end, he got trumped by a teammate. Chip Cannon, the Blue Jays 1B prospect, reached base all five times he came to the plate, going 3-for-3 with a pair of walks, two homers, three runs scored and three RBIs as Phoenix beat up on the Suguaros, 14-6.

As for Beat the Streak, I had mine up to three then carelessly forgot to make picks over the weekend. Mark Reynolds got me going again yesterday with his three-hit effort. Today, I’m going with Saguaros shortstop Brendan Ryan.

AFL Star — Day 3

Boy, was there some offense in the AFL yesterday. So much for the pitching being better — at least to this point — this season. Both Peoria teams have ERAs over 10.00. Ouch.

OK, gotta be quick today because the AFL on ATM is on at 11 a.m. ET instead of the usual noon (guests include Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Crowe).

I don’t know if you can pick one offensive star from that 17-15 Peoria-Peoria game, what with 32 runs and 40 hits combined. I guess Brett Carroll would be the first choice, since he homered twice and drove in four runs, though his Javelinas teammate Trevor Crowe had three hits and drove in four runs as well. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had four hits for them, too, while Michael Garciaparra had three hits and drove in three runs. For the losers, Brendan Ryan went 4-for-6 with a homer and 4 ribbies and Amaury Cazana Marti hit his second homer of the season and drove in three. Maybe a joint star should go to Cardinals pitchers Stu Pomeranz and Eric Haberer, who somehow managed to toss four combined shutout innings in this mess.

Yates_in_college_1In the end, though, I’m going to go with another pitcher from another game. Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Yates went three innings for Phoenix in the Desert Dogs’ 7-3 win over Scottsdale. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out six. So the U Texas product (pictured here pitching for the Longhorns) becomes our first official pitcher to get the Star of the Day.

As for Beat the Streak, I’m up to 2 games, so you better pay attention. Today, I’m going with our journal writer, Gaby Sanchez.

AFL Day 2

Seems a little trivial to do something like picking an AFL Star of the Day with the news of Cory Lidle’s death still reverberating throughout the baseball world (Lidle, by the way, played for Mesa in the AFL back in 1995). I didn’t know Lidle well, having spoken with him a handful of times over the years. If you really want to know the impact he had on the people he came in contact, read MLB.com’s Mychael Urban’s moving column or Alan Schwarz’s account of the last eerie conversation he had with Lidle on ESPN.com.

OK, onto the AFL…

Kory_castoI guess there’s going to be a grand slam every day in the AFL this year. The Opening Day Star was Matt Miller for his. On Day 2, it was the Nationals’ Kory Casto who hit the grand salami. He went 3-for-3 with five RBIs in the Saguaros’ 15-9 victory over Scottsdale and earns today’s star. It was one of four round-trippers for Peoria (Vince Sinisi, Amaury Cazana Marti and Chase Headley had the others).

Other hitting nominees: Vinny Rottino had two doubles and 5 RBIs as well in a losing effort for Scottsdale; Joe Koshansky homered, doubled, walked three times and drove in two as the  Rafters beat the Javelinas, 9-2 .

On the pitching side: Errol Simonitsch went 2 2/3 scoreless for Mesa as they beat Phoenix, 3-0. Kevin Cameron relieved him and struck out three in 1 1/3 IP (Kevin Slowey pitched the ninth for a save. Did you know he and other Twin prospects were blogging for us at Twin Peeks?); Pat Misch tossed an inning and struck out the side for Scottsdale.

AFL Beat the Streak: Trevor Crowe came through for me yesterday, going 2-for-5. Today, I’m going with speedy Yankee Brett Gardner.

AFL Star of the Day

I’m sitting here watching rain fall in Pittsburgh, jealous of Lisa being in Arizona for the start of the Fall League. So I thought I’d try to get over myself by blogging a bit about Opening Day action. During the course of the AFL season, I’m going to try to pick a Star of the Day every day. Luckily for me, the choice for Opening Day was fairly obvious.

Matt_miller_1Rockies OF prospect Matt Miller certainly got off to a good start for the Grand Canyon Rafters in their 12-6 victory over the Peoria Javelinas. Miller went 3-for-5 with a home run — a grand slam, to be precise — and 6 RBIs. If you clear the bases with a homer on Opening Day, that’s almost  a guarantee for Star of the Day honors.

Other offensive nominees include: Grand Canyon 3B Travis Metcalf also homered and drove in three runs, going 2-for-5 overall; Scottsdale 3B Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBIs as  the Scorpions beat the Saguaros, 7-3; Phoenix 2B Kevin Melillo went yard and drove in a pair; Grand Canyon’s Craig Stansberry hit the other homer in AFL action on Tuesday, while Scottsdale’s Terry Evans went 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs.

On the pitching side (if I see that pitchers aren’t winning any Stars of the Day, I’ll start naming PItchers of the Day), Jeff Niemann clearly stood above the rest (and not just because he’s really tall). The Devil Rays prospect tossed three scoreless innings for Phoenix, giving up two hits and a walk while whiffing four. The only other pitcher who went more than one scoreless was Grand Canyon’s Danny Touchet, who got the win for his two innnings of work. He allowed two hits, walked none and struck out three.

Think I left someone out? That’s what comments are for.

Be sure to play our new Arizona Fall League Beat the Streak. Great way to make the offseason go more quickly! I’ve got Trevor Crowe today, though I may have missed my opportunity since he had three hits yesterday.

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