Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game ’

Memories of NL All-Stars… before they were stars

Earlier today, I ran through the American League All-Star rosters with notes on when I covered them as Minor Leaguers or amateurs. Now it’s time to take a look at the NL squad.

Prince Fielder, 1B: I didn’t make it to that 2004 Futures Game, but he did.

Rickie Weeks, 2B: I did a feature on Weeks when he was coming out of Southern University in 2003, though I missed the 2004 Futures Game he attended.

Troy Tulowitzki, SS: We all got to see Tulo as a prospect when he came to Pittsburgh for the Futures Game in 2006.

Lance Berkman, OF: He helped get it all going, playing in that very first Futures Game at Fenway Park in 1999.

Matt Kemp, OF: The Dodger did a journal for us back in 2006. Here’s an example.

Miguel Montero, C: Montero played for the World Team in the 2005 Futures Game, held in Detroit.

Gaby Sanchez, 1B: Sanchez wrote an Arizona Fall League journal for us in 2006 (Sorry I could only find a printer-friendly link).

Joey Votto, 1B: Not only did Votto play for the World Team in the Futures Game in 2006 and 2007, we also interviewed him at the 2007 Rookie Career Development Program.

Brandon Phillips, 2B: When the 2002 season started, Phillips was a Montreal Expos prospect. Just a couple of weeks before his appearance in that year’s Futures Game in Milwaukee, he was traded to Cleveland (along with Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee in the Bartolo Colon deal.

Jose Reyes, SS: Reyes actually played second base for the World Team in the 2002 Futures Game and won MVP honors for his big triple. Hmmm, Grant Green just won Futures MVP this year and he moved over to second for the game… maybe more guys will volunteer to make the switch.

Pablo Sandoval, 3B/1B: Panda played in the 2006 and 2008 Futures Games and we also interviewed him at the 2009 Rookie Career Development Program.

Starlin Castro, SS: The Cub played in the 2009 Futures Game in St. Louis. The following year, he was a ROY candidate.

Ryan Braun, OF: It started with a feature on Braun while he was at the University of Miami prior to the 2005 Draft, it continued with the Futures Game in 2006, and then AFL that same year.

Jay Bruce, OF: We miked Bruce up at the Florida State League All-Star Game back in 2007, then interviewed him at the 2008 Rookie Career Development Program, where he was also a part of our feature on the outfielders from the 2005 Draft class who were at the RCDP that year.

Hunter Pence, OF: Pence played in the 2006 Futures Game in Pittsburgh and in the AFL.

Andrew McCutchen, OF: He was a 2008 Futures Gamer (and one of the 2005 Draft outfielders who wasn’t at the RCDP in 2008), and since I’m a Pittsburgh guy, I get to watch, and talk to, him regularly.

Justin Upton, OF: Upton was part of that RCDP feature linked to above and he homered in the 2007 Futures Game in San Francisco.

Shane Victorino, OF: Seeing Victorino at the All-Star Game again is one of my favorite things here. Victorino was a two-time Rule 5 pick and we once joked about having to re-name the rule after him. We also interviewed him at the 2006 Rookie Career Development Program.

Andre Ethier, OF: Ethier was the 2005 winner of the AFL Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. Just a short time after the AFL season ended, Ethier was traded from the A’s to the Dodgers.

Matt Cain, RHP: Too bad I missed that 2004 Futures Game, huh?

Jair Jurrjens, RHP: Back in 2007, we traveled to Erie, Pa. to talk to this young right-hander from Curacao. He was pitching for the SeaWolves, the Tigers’ Double-A affiliate. He got traded that offseason to the Braves.

Clayton Kershaw, LHP: In 2007, we went to Michigan and the Great Lakes Loons to check out the new ballpark and interview the then 19-year-old during his first full season of pro ball. He pitched in the Futures Game that season as well.

Tim Lincecum, RHP: Back in 2006, when Lincecum was a curiosity of sorts coming out of the University of Washington, he did a Draft journal for us.




Memories of All-Stars…before they were stars

One of the best things about my job in covering prospects is that I get to know players at the very beginning and see them “before they are stars.”  Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to meet and cover a vast number of young players on their way up who have now gone on to bigger and better things. I must admit, I take a certain kind of pride when I see someone I knew in the Minors (or as an amateur) make it to an All-Star Game.

When Adam Jones made the All-Star team in 2009, I was able to talk to him about the journal he used to write for us (you can sample one here if you like) when he was an up-and-comer in the Mariners system, just making the transition to center field.

When Shane Victorino was an All-Star that very same season (perhaps he’ll go again as the Final Man), we joked about the times we talked about him being a two-time Rule 5 pick and how they might need to re-name the rule after him.

The list goes on and on. So I looked through this year’s All-Star rosters to keep an eye on anyone I’ve had the good fortune to cross paths with when they were prospects on the way up. I’ll do the American League now, with the NL later on today:

Robinson Cano, 2B: I didn’t make it to the 2004 Futures Game (it’s the only one I’ve missed, but I had a good reason: my daughter, Elena, was born that week), but I was there in Chicago in 2003 to see him play.

Curtis Granderson, OF: Granderson, then a Minor Leaguer with the Tigers, wrote an Arizona Fall League journal for us back in 2004. Here’s a sample of that journal, where he talks about dressing up as Rick James for Halloween.

Josh Hamilton, OF: When we saw Hamilton play in the 2000 Futures Game in Atlanta — and get three hits, if my memory serves — we knew he had special talent. We obviously didn’t know the adversity he’d face, but the pure on-field skills were apparent back then.

Josh Beckett, RHP: That was a pretty good U.S. squad in 2000, wasn’t it? Hamilton and Beckett went 1-2 in the 1999 Draft and both made it to the Futures Game a year after being drafted. He was in the big leagues the following year, at age 21.

Gio Gonzalez, LHP: Ahh, Gio. Gotta love Gio. Gio played in the Futures game in 2006 and also played in the Arizona Fall League. Back in the day when we had MLB Radio, he did a weekly segment from the AFL with us. It wasn’t always so easy to track him down, but when we did, it was about as much fun on the radio as we had.

Russ Martin, C: I met Martin when he was the catcher for the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate at the time. They won the Southern League title that year and that was a squad with just a ridiculous amount of talent on it (James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Andy LaRoche, to name a few).

Miguel Cabrera, 1B: He was a 19-year-old third baseman  when he played in the Futures Game for the first time, in 2001. He was there again in 2002 and there was plenty of buzz around him any time he hit, with it pretty apparent what was to come.

Howard Kendrick, 2B: He was Howie when I met him for the first time and he did an AFL journal for us (here’s an example) which was fantastic. Even if he’s Howard now, he still stands out as one of the all-time good guys I’ve covered.

Kevin Youkilis, 3B/1B: Youk played in the 2003 Futures Game and he was still getting a lot of attention for his “role” in the book Moneyball. We had a good laugh over how he should be called “The Jewish God of Walks” instead of the “Greek God of Walks.”

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF: He was in the 2007 Futures Game in San Francisco. The year before that, in 2006, I got to chat with him during the Eastern League playoffs, when he was playing for the Portland SeaDogs.

David Price, LHP: Price didn’t spend too much time as a prospect, did he? But when he was at Vanderbilt, the year he became the No.  overall pick in the first televised Draft, he did a Draft journal for our site.

Ricky Romero, LHP: Romero was the first pitcher take in the 2005 Draft’s first round (the one with Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun taken ahead of him, along with Jeff Clement). In 2007, the Cal State Fullerton product wrote a season-long journal for us and was probably one of the most reliable journal writers we’ve ever had.

C.C. Sabathia, LHP: Remember what I said about the 2000 U.S. Team in the Futures Game? Sabathia was there as well.

James Shields, RHP: He was Jamie when I first saw him pitch. But anyone who saw him throw his changeup in the Arizona Fall League championship game back in 2005 knew he was going to be a big leaguer soon thereafter.

Justin Verlander, RHP: In 2004, I went to Virginia to see Verlander and his Old Dominion team take on Justin Orenduff and Virginia Commonwealth (Orenduff would be a supplemental first-round pick of the Dodgers, but arm troubles derailed his career). Verlander struck out 16 in that game for the win. The result of that trip was a two-part Q&A with both Justins (Part I and Part II)


Minor League All-Stars: Florida State League

Same deal, different league. So far we’ve covered: The Midwest League and the South Atlantic League. Now it’s time to move up a level, to the Class A Advanced Florida State League. There have been some changes along the way, but I’ll include anyone who’s been named, either originally or as a replacement. Here goes:

North Division

Jarred Cosart, Phillies — No. 43 on Top 50; No. 3 on Phillies Top 10

Trevor May, Phillies — No. 7 on Phillies Top 10

Deck McGuire, Blue Jays — No. 5 on Blue Jays Top 10

Scooter Gennett, Brewers — No. 10 on 2B Top 10; No. 4 on Brewers Top 10

Sebastian Valle, Phillies (injured) — No. 10 on C Top 10; No. 5 on Phillies Top 10

South Division

Matt Harvey, MetsNo. 2 on Mets Top 10

Alex Colome, Rays — No. 9 on Rays Top 10

Joe Kelly, Cardinals — No. 8 on Cardinals Top 10

Hak-Ju Lee, Rays — No. 7 on Rays Top 10

Final tally: North 21, South 8

Minor League All-Stars: Midwest League

A couple of days ago, I took a closer look at the South Atlantic League All-Star Game rosters, cross-refrencing with the Top 50 prospects list and the Top 10s by organization and position, all of which can be found on Prospect Watch. Today, we’ll look at the Class A Midwest League in the same manner.

Eastern Division

Jake Marisnick, Blue Jays: No. 9 on Blue Jays Top 10


Western Division

Yordy Cabrera, A’s: No. 6 on A’s Top 10

Matt Szczur, Cubs: No. 8 on Cubs Top 10

Tyler Thornburg, Brewers: No. 9 on Brewers Top 10


That, believe it or not, is it for the Midwest League. According to my scoring system (5 points for Top 50, 3 for Top 10 by position, 2 for Top 10 by organization), that gives the Western Division a 6-2 advantage. It also shows that the South Atlantic League is a little more robust when it comes to “prospects.”

Next up: Florida State League, which has its All-Star Game this Saturday.

Minor League All-Stars: South Atlantic League

We’re quickly approaching the time of year where the various full-season leagues in the Minors have their respective All-Star breaks. The rosters for those games are often stocked with legitimate prospects, especially at the lower levels. So I thought it would be a  fun exercise to look at the rosters and cross-reference it with the Top 50 prospects list, as well as the team and positional Top 10s, all of which can be found over on the Prospect Watch. Today, we’ll take a look at the South Atlantic League, whose All-Star Game will take place on June 21 in Delmarva.

North Division

Jameson Taillon, Pirates: No. 13 on Top 50; No. 1 on Pirates Top 10; No. 3 on RHP Top 10

Manny Machado, Orioles: No. 18 on Top 50; No. 1 on Orioles Top 10; No. 1 on SS Top 10

Bryce Harper, Nationals: No. 2 on Top 50; No. 1 on Nationals Top 10; No. 2 on OF Top 10

Trayce Thompson, White Sox: No. 6 on White Sox Top 10

Christian Yelich, Marlins: No. 3 on Marlins Top 10

South Division

Jio Mier, Astros: No. 5 on Astros Top 10

Kyle Parker, Rockies: No. 5 on Rockies Top 10

Slade Heathcott, Yankees: No. 8 on Yankees Top 10

Cory Vaughn, Mets: No. 7 on Mets Top 10

Using an oh-so-scientific system of giving 5 points for a Top 50 player; 3 points for a Top 10 position player and 2 points for a Top 10 organizational player, we end up with:

North: 34

South: 8

Hmm, not so close on paper in terms of prospect status. So I’ll guesstimate the South will win, 3-2.

Louisville, finally

At long last, my post on the trip to Louisville. I know you’ve all been waiting impatiently for my description of my time there.

I have to say that I really liked the city. For me, I look for uniqueness, atmosphere, vibrance and, of course, good eats, in any urban area I visit. L’ville did well on all fronts, in my opinion.

One of the dishes  the city is know for is called “Hot Brown” and I got to sample the dish at a place called Bistro301 my first night in town. While it lends itself to some pretty off-color jokes about Big Brown and what’s become of him, it’s tasty fare. Here’s the description from the restaurant’s menu:

Our rendition of a Kentucky classic. Smoked turkey, bacon, tomato, Parmesan
and Jack cheese. Finished with Mornay sauce and served golden brown.

What could be bad, right?

Louisville slugger.jpgThe Bats did a wonderful job hosting, including a terrific All-Star Gala at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. What a great location! I got the chance to get a “behind the scenes” look at the bat vault, which basically had a version of pretty much every model of bat the company has ever made. Considering they started making bats in 1884, just imagine how much lumber was there. Just picking up a bat like the all-time greats used was such a thrill and it was amazing to consider how much bats have changed — and stayed the same — over the years. The highlight of the gala (kids, turn away at this point, please) may have been the Official All-Star Cocktail. I figure if we can have the release on our site, I can talk about it here, right? Check out the link if you want the recipe. Lets just say it was quite refreshing and a good time was had by all.

The All-Star Game itself actually turned out to be an exciting contest, with a ton of runs scored late. The game rosters didn’t have a ton of “prospects,” but there were some great performances nonetheless. Luis Pena may have caused the biggest buzz, hitting triple digits on the radar gun on more than one occasion, though Pawtucket’s Chris Carter certainly got folks in the stadium (which is beautiful, by the way, and the folks in Louisville packed the house not only for the game, but for the Home Run Derby on Monday night as well.) going when he turned around one of those Pena heaters for a two-run homer in the ninth to make the score close. For me, personally, I had a great time as I got the opportunity to serve as ESPN’s sideline reporter for the game. I had a blast and hope those of you who checked it out thought I didn’t stink.

Next year, the game is in Portland (Oregon, not Maine) and they’ll have a lot to live up to. I’ve been to two Triple-A All-Star Games now: the one here in Louisville and last year in Albuquerque and both clubs did a fantastic job putting on a great show. Let’s hope it continues in the Pacific Northwest in 2009…

I’ll be back soon with a report on my trip to Los Angeles (not really Minors-related, but who cares?).

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