It was an eventful day on Wednesday for the B3 fam, our first full one since arriving in the NJ/NY area with a van full of canned goods. We drove to Staten Island, to the distribution center for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
The distribution center, by the way, is a sight to behold. Just a couple of weeks ago, it was an abandoned building. It’s been painted, wired for electricity and unbelievably well-organized, so folks can come in and find the things they need. I liked what the Siller Foundation was doing from afar, but seeing it up close, I am blown away by what they’ve already accomplished.
Earlier in the day, former Met great John Franco was kind enough to go to the MLB.com studios to talk about the hurricane relief work going on and how baseball is involved. He’s been working with the Siller Foundation closely and also talked about the work that ConeyRecovers is doing on Coney Island (we will be there tomorrow, so if you’re volunteering, let me know and say hello. Former big leaguer John Halama will be there to help out). It’s a great interview, so I encourage all to watch.
After dropping off all the cans — see slideshow below for the B3 kids in action — we then got the chance to ride around the surrounding area with Gary Perone of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Gary has been instrumental in getting Minor League Baseball involved in efforts here (Staten Island, Brooklyn and down in Lakewood, NJ — three minor league markets hit hard). He also helped organize the Siller Foundation’s distribution center. So many New Yorkers have stepped up to help out, and Gary has done more than most. Seeing the devastation up close after having just seen TV footage is jarring, to say the least. I remember being in New Orleans the spring after Katrina and feeling the same way. The areas we saw were startling, if not quite as horrible as the tour of the lower 9th Ward I was on back then (there are areas in Staten Island and other places that are), but in some ways it was more startling to see one spot seem almost “back to normal” and another spot nearby condemned. There’s a long way to go, for sure.
After that tour, we met up with the folks from the Siller Foundation — meeting Frank Siller was a thrill and everyone there greeted us as family — and then headed to one of three Thanksgiving dinners being held for victims of the hurricane on Staten Island. Joining us was Major Leaguer Jason Marquis and he was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes. On the video, you can also see some footage of the distribution center.
It was an unbelievable day and evening, one we’ll never forget. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow on Coney Island has in store. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I, for one, am feeling incredibly grateful for everything in my life and all the people in it, including the ones we just met who are doing such fine work here.
You’ll have to forgive me over the next few days, as I take a quick break from the usual prospect fodder and share with anyone who might be interested in what most of the B3 clan is doing over the upcoming holiday.
After watching the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, we wanted to do something. So we packed up the van and drove to New Jersey.
No, that’s not all. First, the van was packed with can goods collected at the B3 offspring’s school (and synagogue). It was a pretty good haul.
After that was all organized, it was time for the fam to get going. In tow was yours truly, the two B3 kids and B3′s mom. (Mrs. B3 is getting a well-deserved break).
We made it to Jersey safely, where B3 headquarters will be until Friday, when we drive back to Pittsburgh. Here’s what’s on tap and I’ll try to get on here to update with photos, even video, getting the kids into the act, as time permits.
- Travel to the MLB.com studios for an interview with John Franco and all the work the New Yorker (and former closer) is doing to help in the region.
- Drive the canned goods to Staten Island, dropping them off at the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation distribution center.
- Tour some areas in Staten Island hit by the storm.
- Accompany the Siller Foundation as they facilitate three different Thanksgiving Dinners for folks impacted by the hurricane. There should be some players, current and former, joining us (more on that tomorrow)
- Head to Coney Island and help the efforts staged by ConeyRecovers. They need volunteers Wednesday and Thursday in the lot by the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones (a huge tip of the cap to the Cyclones’ Gary Perone, who’s been working tirelessly to help people in Brooklyn and Staten Island while helping to initiate the idea for these dinners). So if you’re in the area, head out and help out. The B3 will be there on Thursday to help organize and distribute food. ConeyRecovers has a big Thanksgiving Day meal planned as well.
I’m back in Arizona, watching the final night game here at Scottsdale Stadium, and started thinking about alumni from this league and how they fare during awards season. So I did some digging…
While one was unanimous and one was close, it really shouldn’t have surprised anyone that Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were this year’s Rookie of the Year Award winners.
It also shouldn’t shock anyone that both are Arizona Fall League alumni. For six years in a row now, at least one of the Rookies of the Year played in the AFL previously.
The Trout-Harper perfecta isn’t even that unusual. In five of the last seven seasons, starting with Huston Street and Ryan Howard’s ROY Awards in 2005, both winners cut their teeth here. The other dynamic duos:
Dustin Pedroia and Ryan Braun, 2007
Evan Longoria and Geovany Soto, 2008
Andrew Bailey and Chris Coghlan, 2009
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, 2012
Trout and Harper have something in common with Street and Howard. In both cases, the Rookie of the Year tandems both played in the AFL the year prior to winning the top rookie honor. Not only that, in both instances, the award winners were AFL teammates. In 2004, Street and Howard were Phoenix Desert Dogs. Last year, Trout and Harper played in the same Scottsdale Scorpions outfield.
There have now been 24 Rookies of the Year who once called the Arizona Fall League home.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at Cy Young Award winners.
In case you missed them, here are two more AFL team reports:
The Yankees report focuses on Mark Montgomery. Their video report takes a look at Montgomery, Slade Heathcott and Dellin Betances:
Gary Brown is the focus of the Giants report. In the video report, Brown, Joe Panik and Chris Dominguez are featured.
Finally, Stars of the Day for Monday and Tuesday:
Monday: We’ll go with Kevin Siegrist of the Cardinals, for his four-inning, one run performance. The lefty gave up four hits, walked one and struck out eight. He’s now 10th in ERA (2.37) and second in strikeouts (27).
Tuesday: The aforementioned Slade Heathcott gets the nod after going 4-for-5, including his first homer of the fall. He drove in two and scored a run. Heathcott is now fifth in the league in batting average (.371) and second in OPS (1.084).
The Oakland A’s AFL report focuses on Grant Green. The video report looks at Green, James Simmons and Max Stassi.
I haven’t posted the Reds’ AFL video report on here. This might surprise you, but it talks about Billy Hamilton, along with Didi Gregorius and Donald Lutz.
And here are your Stars of the Day for Friday and Saturday:
Friday: Astros prospect George Springer had a perfect day, going 3-for-3 with a pair of homers and two walks. He went 20-30 during the regular season and after a homer on Monday, he has four homers and five steals this fall.
Saturday: I don’t often give a Star to a pitcher who gives up a run, but I’ll make an exception here. Robbie Erlin of the Padres gave up a run on five hits over four innings, but he didn’t walk anyone and he struck out eight. He’s now second in the AFL in strikeouts with 25.
Been a busy week, what with participating in our democracy and all. Let’s catch up, shall we?
The report on the White Sox featured Trayce Thompson. The video report focused on Thompson, Carlos Sanchez and Andy Wilkins.
The Orioles’ report featured Jonathan Schoop, while the video report’s focus was on Schoop, Clay Schrader and Chris Petrini.
And, finally, the report on the Braves centered around Nick Ahmed , while the video report focused on Edward Salcedo, Ahmed and Cory Rasmus.
And a quick catch up on Stars of the Day:
Wednesday: Logan Darnell of the Twins. The left-hander went four innings, allowing no runs on one hit while walking none and striking out five in his first AFL start.
Since last we spoke, we’ve missed two team reports:
Here’s the Royals report, focusing on Whit Merrifield.
The video report hones in on Orlando Calixte and Brian Fletcher.
And here’s the Padres report, which features top prospect Rymer Liriano.
Their video report talks about Liriano, Cory Spangenberg and Nate Freiman.
Quick Star of the Day from Friday, again an in-person account, though the choices from the Surprise-Phoenix game are somewhat limited.
But I’ll mention the opposing shortstops. The Braves’ Nick Ahmed had just one hit, but it was a home run. The UConn product, Rising Stars participant and the Braves’ No. 10 prospect, is hitting .326 this fall after a solid first full season in the Carolina League. But the Star goes to the other shortstop, the one for Surprise. Luis Sardinas is No. 7 on the Rangers’ Top 20. Just 19, Sardinas had a fine full-season debut, hitting .291 with 32 steals in the South Atlantic League. In the AFL, he’s hitting .364 in 33 at-bats. He went 3-for-4 on Friday and continues to impress scouts. Doesn’t seem fair, for a system that already has Elvis Andrus in the big leagues and Jurickson Profar knocking on the door soon, does it?
The video report features Brentz, Michael Almanzar and Brock Huntziger.
Got two Stars of the Day for you, one from Wednesday and one — witnessed in person! — from Thursday.
For Wednesday, I’m going to go with T.J. House of the Indians. This is the second Star of the Day nod for the lefty and for good reason. He’s been solid this fall. On Wednesday, he went four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four. For the fall, he has a 1.59 ERA and .175 BAA over 17 IP. It’s been a pretty good way for House to cap off a successful 2012 season that saw him spend much of the year in Double-A.
For Thursday’s Star, I have to go with a guy I saw. Kevin Jensen has been mentioned here before, too, named the Star of the Day for last Thursday. I threw out some fun stuff from our friends at Trackman about how Jensen was among the leaders in hardest, and farthest, balls hit in the AFL. Well, he was at it again on Thursday at Salt River Fields. The Marlins’ outfielder went 3-for-3 in the game, driving in driving in a pair and scoring twice. His second hit was a laser triple to center field that hit the batter’s eye (without knowing the ground rules of the place, I thought at first it was gone). In his next at-bat, he crushed a ball out the opposite way. Not sure what Trackman would have to say about either, but they’d have to register somewhere on the hard hit balls list, I’d wager. I’m told that Jensen is more of a mistake hitter than anything else (he did strike out over 160 times in 2012 and his Double-A numbers weren’t great), but boy, he’s not missing any mistakes here so far this fall. He currently stands second in RBIs and SLG and he’s third in OPS.
The Houston Astros are up next, with intrepid reporter Brian McTaggart writing about new manager Bo Porter’s visit to his prospects in the AFL.
As always, here’s the video report, focusing on Jonathan Singleton, George Springer and Jarred Cosart.
Now, a look at Tuesday’s Star of the Day:
The Yankees’ Slade Heathcott hasn’t had the easiest path as a professional. No. 5 on the New York’s Top 20, the former first-rounder has had some issues on and off the field. Injuries have really hampered him (2 shoulder surgeries) and his career high in at-bats is just 351. So he’s really trying to make up for some lost time with Scottsdale this fall. He certainly did that on Tuesday, going 4-for-5 with a double, two triples and five RBIs. He’s hitting .275/.408/.400 over 11 AFL games (40 ABs). He’s really enjoyed hitting from the leadoff spot, with a .471 average in four games. And yes, he was in that slot on Tuesday.
As could have been predicted, I’ve fallen behind on AFL updates in recent days. I’d love to blame Sandy for that, but that wouldn’t be fair. So… let’s catch up on team reports and Stars of the Day, shall we? Oh, and stay tuned for news on the Rising Stars Game rosters, the exciting game being played at Salt River on Saturday (And I’ll be there in person to cover).
First, the team reports:
Tampa Bay Rays: Focuses on Tim Beckham
Miami Marlins: Focuses on Christian Yelich
Chicago Cubs: Focuses on Tony Zych
Los Angeles Dodgers: Focuses on Chris Reed
Thursday: While there were some good hitting performances — Nick Franklin homered and drove in a pair for Peoria; Kyle Jensen homered and drove in two for Phoenix, Brian Goodwin went 3-for-4 with two doubles and Carlos Sanchez went 2-for-3 with a triple and 4 RBIs, both for Salt River. But I have to give the tip of the B3 cap to Tim Crabbe of the Reds. He tossed four hitless innings for Peoria, walking one and striking out two. That brought his AFL batting average against down to .182.
Friday: It really comes down to two hitters from the Peoria-Salt River game. Vinnie Catricala of the Mariners had a nice day, going 2-for-4 with a homer and 3 RBIs. But the Rockies’ Kent Matthes one-upped him a bit, going 3-for-3 with a home run and 4 RBIs. Matthes is now fifth in the AFL with his .596 SLG and tied for fourth with 10 RBIs.
Saturday: It was tempting to give a rare star to a reliever. Chris Martin of the Red Sox went two perfect innings and struck out four for Surprise. But it was too hard to ignore Tyler Botnick‘s day for Salt River. The Diamondbacks’ infielder went 4-for-5 with a double, four RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Those were the first four RBIs of the fall for Bortnick, who is hitting .296 for the Rafters.
And, finally, Monday: A couple of good candidates, including another homer from Matthes. Ryan Perry of the Natinals went five scoreless, allowing just one hit while striking out three. But the Pirates’ Kyle Kaminska was just a smidge better. He also went five scorless, allowing just one hit. But he struck out six to earn the Star. He’s on a one good, one bad start pattern. In the two good starts, he’s gone 10 IP, allowing no runs on just four hits and no walks while striking out nine. In the not as good starts, he still isn’t walking anyone — just one free pass allowed all fall — but he’s given up four earned runs on 13 hits over eight innings. Kaminska came to the Pirates at the trade deadline along with Gaby Sanchez. He hasn’t started regularly since 2009, so it’ll be interesting to see if the fact that he is starting in the AFL means anything in 2013.
The video report below focuses on Cowart, Travis Witherspoon and Randal Grichuk, all in that Top 20.
And Wednesday’s Star of the Day is…
Someone from the Phoenix Desert Dogs, who absolutely pounded the Surprise Saguaros, 15-1. Honestly, I thought going for the two-point conversion after their second touchdown was a bit much… The Dogs, as I like to call ‘em, had two players with four hits. Brock Kjeldgaard of the Brewers went 4-for-6 with a pair of ribbies. But Tim Beckham of the Rays outdid him just a bit. The former No. 1 overall pick went 4-for-5 with a double, triple and four RBIs. Beckham has been working on his play at second base while making up for lost time and trying to restore his prospect status following a 50-game suspension this year.