Results tagged ‘ Andrew Oliver ’

Putting money where his arms are

I love it when someone is willing to stand behind his team. I’ll get to exactly what I mean in a minute.

As I’ve discussed the last couple of days, the Arizona Fall League is teaming up with the Joe Niekro Foundation for a great
fundraiser/awareness-raiser this week. Any pitcher from one of the
seven organizations Joe Niekro pitched for who strikes out a batter
this week helps raise money for aneurysm awareness and research. Four
sponsors have agreed to donate $36 (Niekro’s number during his playing
days) per strikeout. That’s $144 per K.

But now there’s more to make this interesting. Oneri Fleita is the VP of Player Personnel for the Chicago Cubs, one of the seven teams Niekro played for. When he heard about what was going on in the AFL involving his pitchers, he wanted to get involved. So he’s standing behind them and putting his money where his arms are. Should the Cubs pitchers strike out the most batters this week, he will make a donation to the Joe Niekro Foundation in his pitchers’ names.

I’m hoping the other six teams involved in this great effort will see how Fleita has stepped up and will follow suit. It would make for an exciting contest — as well as raise more money and awareness for the Foundation if every team got involved in this way. I’ll be sure to update here if and when others make the same fantastic pledge Fleita has made.

With that in mind, let’s see what the totals are after Day 2 of Aneurysm Awareness Week:

Andrew Oliver, Tigers (Javelinas) — 4 K
Daniel Meszaros, Astros (Saguaros) — 2 K
Day Total: 6 K x $144per K = $864
Grand Total: 17 K = $2448

OK, Tuesday was a little light, but there weren’t that many pitchers from those organizations going. Today, the Padres’ Steve Garrison gets the start for the Saguaros, as does the Cubs’ Andrew Cashner for the Solar Sox (a good chance for Fleita’s Flock to jump into the lead). And it sometimes works that the relievers coming in back of the starters are from the same organizations, so here’s hoping for a huge Wednesday. Here are the organizational standings through two days:

Tigers — 7 K
Twins — 5 K
Astros — 3 K
Cubs — 1 K
Yankees — 1 K

Some quick notes and Stars of the Day. Royals’ first round pick Aaron Crow, discussed in this brilliant article (OK, it was written by me) not long ago, makes his AFL debut today for the Rafters. As for stars, going to make them brief:

Hitter: Jose Tabata, OF, Pirates (Scorpions) — Hitting leadoff for Scottsdale, Tabata went 3-for-6 with a double, a homer and six RBIs. That’s no easy feat, driving in a half-dozen from the leadoff spot. His home run came in the second inning off of Nick Hill, a three-run shot with two outs to highlight a four-run second. Tabata, at age 21, seems to be prepping for the start of his big-league career. He’s hitting .326 and slugging .535 so far this fall and by all accounts simply punishing the baseball on a regular basis.

Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals (Desert Dogs) — As much as I wanted to give it to Oliver for racking up 4 K’s for the Niekro Foundation, it’s hard to look past what Strasburg did in this bounce-back effort. The No. 1 overall pick went four innings without giving up a hit, allowing just a single base knock in the fifth before leaving the game. In 4 1/3 IP, he gave up just the one hit and one run, while walking two and striking out five. No Pitch FX from that game, so I’m not sure what he was throwing, but it seemed to be working for him on Tuesday.

Draft update: UYA Showcase and other tidbits

I need to come up with a better way to show that i’m blogging about the draft, don’t I? I mean, just saying “Draft update” or “Draft alert” is extremely ho-hum. Any ideas? Let me know.

At any rate…. A few things I wanted to pass along. First, let’s talk about the showcase at the Urban Youth Academy. I was able to talk to some scouts and wrote up something that threw out 10 names to watch based on performances that day.

Aside from those 10 names, a couple of others who stood out were Aaron Wirsch, a LHP out of El Toro High School and Paul Strong, another lefty out of Marina High School. One of the bigger surprises was outfielder Austin Wilson. Don’t go looking on your 2009 draft lists for him. He’s not eligible until 2010. Dave Perkin did a nice job detailing that over on BA and I had one scouting director tell me that Wilson put himself on the radar quickly with good showings in BP and in infield/outfield. Wilson as a good, live, althetic body with tools aplenty. It sounds very similar to Aaron Hicks, the Twins’ first-round pick this past June. Hicks, an Urban Youth Academy product, played in this showcase as a junior in 2007, putting him on the map for ’08. We’ll have to see if Wilson can do the same thing in ’10.

Elsewhere, there was the annual Major League Scouting Bureau workout in Puerto Rico in late January. My apologies for not getting to it sooner, but better late than never. I talked to a scout who was there and he mentioned a pair of names. The good thing about the two-day event is that it brings together the players from the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy along with the top players from all over the island. The first day is dedicated to workouts and on Day 2, a game is played. There wasn’t much pitching to speak of, but a couple of outfielders opened some eyes. One is Reymond Fuentes from Fernando Callejo High School. He’s a speedy center fielder who is a Johnny Damon type, a future leadoff hitter with good running ability. The second is a name that might sound familiar to many: Ruben Sierra Jr.

The elder Sierra actually played in the bigs as recently as 2006, at age 40, and finished as a four-time All-Star who hit 306 homers, 2152 hits and 1322 RBIs. It seems that Junior inherited some of dad’s abilities. The scout I spoke with said he didn’t see Sierra Sr. as a kid, but could just imagine that this is what he looked like. He’s a five-tool guy who oozes ability and could be quite a draft, especially if the bat comes around. But he ran extremely well — he covered a lot of ground in the outfield gracefully, as well as posting a good 60 time — and he had a 60 arm (that’s pretty darned good for those of you scoring at home). Dad ended up as a corner OF guy, but at least right now, Junior seems to have more than enough to handle center.

Finally, on the college front, you can put Andrew Oliver back on the map. Originally supposedAndrew Oliver.JPG to be suspended for most of the 2009 season, the Oklahoma State lefty won his suit against the NCAA to be reinstated. The NCAA had suspended him over claims that his advisors had directly contacted a Major League club when he was drafted in 2006. Direct contact, according to NCAA rules, is a supposed no-no. The NCAA said they plan to appeal, but for now, pencil in getting to see Oliver pitching for Oklahoma State soon (their season opens on Feb. 20). If he’s able to pitch all season, he could be among the first college pitchers taken in the draft, and certainly among the first southpaws selected.

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