Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Both right-hander Will Savage and third baseman Corey Smith are in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system, but at a time when major league organizations often drop players they have signed new contracts. And, both have some time to reach the top. Savage is 26, Smith 28.
Savage, who only pitched twice for Lancaster in 2009 after a longer stint with independent Wichita, KS (American Association), was 10-5 with a 4.32 earned run average split with three Dodgers clubs this season. He ended up with Double-A Chattanooga, where the going was tough (0-1, 10.80 in four starts), but the Dodgers obviously like the upside.
Smith, who we wrote about frequently in our Atlantic League Notebook and Independent Baseball Insider for his all-star year in the Southern League (Chattanooga), was one key factor in Newark winning the AL title in 2007. He drove in 86 runs this season, and Los Angeles has promoted him to Triple-A Albuquerque. Smith also got some at-bats in major league spring training this last season.
Both players are in the Venezuelan League now, Savage 0-0, 0.93 for two starts at Margarita while Smith had a three-run homer in his initial game for LaGuaira.
MORE HOT WINTER LEAGUE STATS
New York Yankees minor league outfielder Justin Christian, who was at Southern Maryland briefly before signing early this season, is pounding away at a .400 clip (20-for-50) in the Mexican Pacific League and outfielder Michael Ryan, a Somerset grad who got some time in the majors again this season (Los Angeles Angels) before becoming a free agent this fall, is tied for fifth in the Venezuelan batting race at .378 (17-for-45).
On the mound, lefty Alberto Castillo, a reliever with Baltimore off and on in 2010, threw six innings of two-hit shutout ball this week. The onetime Newark and Road Warriors hurler leads the Venezuelan league early on with a 1.54 ERA and has won his first two decisions.
Friday, October 22, 2010
While Atlantic League fans recognize him as the owner of the Somerset Patriots, he originally became known because of his string of automobile dealerships in New Jersey. More recently, Kalafer has added a series of movies and documentaries, usually with the title of Producer. The films often stray far away from baseball although he does have "Bottom of the Ninth", which featured the Patriots, among his credits.
The newest production, with Kalafer as co-producer, was to debut in select theatres Friday (October 22). This one is called "The Soprano State", telling the story of questionable political power and corruption in New Jersey. The 90-minute movie is based on a New York Times bestseller.
Interestingly, Gov. Chris Christie and other politicos attended the premier Monday.
OSBORN JOINS FORMER BOSS HOBSON IN MANAGERIAL CHAIR
Pat Osborn, considered one of the Atlantic League's most professional players, has a big pair of shoes to fill in replacing Butch Hobson as manager at Southern Maryland since Hobson had the Blue Crabs in the playoffs the last two seasons. At 29 and with a career that topped out at Double-A, Osborn also will be dealing with a number of players with more successful careers and more years on this earth.
But it surely shows the regard Osborn has from Opening Day Partners bosses Peter Kirk and Jon Danos or they would have taken some time to look outside the organization.
Meanwhile, Hobson takes his lengthy resume to another ODP team in Lancaster, where he replaces local product Tom Herr.
CATCHING UP ON PLAYERS IN WINTER LEAGUES
I could not get nearly all of the Atlantic League players now in winter baseball into yesterday's Independent Baseball Insider column so several more nuggets are presented here.
--Scott Patterson, who was closing for Lancaster as recently as the early weeks of this season before signing with Seattle, has a loss to go with a 2.67 ERA for his first six innings.
--Another 2010 Atlantic Leaguer (Southern Maryland), Jarrett Grube is 1-1, 1.64 and has not walked anyone in 11 innings covering two starts. He also played in the Seattle organization this season.
--Jon Huber (Lancaster) is off to a rocky start with a loss and a 7.71 ERA for 4.2 innings. He is in the Los Angeles Dodgers system.
--Sam Narron, at Camden early in '10, is 0-1, 6.75, but this only represents 2.2 innings (two earned runs). Narron pitched in the Milwaukee system.
--Right-hander Jon Hunton (Oakland farm system) is 1-0, 2.25 for four outings. He has been with Somerset and Lancaster.
--Speedy outfielder Justin Christian, a New York Yankees farmhand, is flying out of the gate with a .344 average (11-for-32) with two home runs. Christian played briefly at Southern Maryland this spring.
--Southpaw Nick Bierbrodt has been near perfect in four appearances (0.00 ERA), giving up just two hits and two walks in four innings. He has worked at Bridgeport, and Somerset.
--Outfielder Cory Aldridge (Newark), who got some time with the parent Angels this summer and remains on their 40-man roster, is off to a slow start (5-for-29, .172) although he has driven in five runs in his first seven games.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
This is not choosing sides between the team and Herr because the 'Stormers surely know their business, and the team's new skipper (to be announced later today) most likely will fit a similar mould.
Herr certainly showed his skill in keeping Lancaster in the playoff hunt after such players as Matt Watson, Brett Harper and Jason Perry left and no less than seven pitchers departed for affiliated organizations or to satisfy personal needs.
WILLIS OTANEZ STILL HITTING HOMERS
It should come as no surprise that Willis Otanez wielded one of the big bats that carried the Dominican Republic to the title in the World Cup Qualifier played in Puerto Rico.
The husky 37-year-old, who has shuttled between the Atlantic League (Bridgeport, Newark and late this season Long Island) and Mexico since 2002, had a pair of two-run homers in key games, first in second round play against Cuba and later in the 7-2semifinal victory over Team USA.
Otanez went 0-for-2 in the 5-2 finals win over Cuba although he scored a run in the five-run first inning. Victor Mercedes, who left Bridgeport during the Atlantic League championship series in order to earn a bigger paycheck in the Qualifier, drove in the final run in that inning. He was with Newark one year ago. Alberto Castillo, the regular catcher for the Dominicans, went 1-for-3 in the championship game. He has played for Camden, Newark and Long Island, and was in the major leagues (Baltimore) earlier this season.
ANOTHER TEAM IN PENNSYLVANIA?
It is pretty early in the game to understand the chances of it happening (or what league would be involved), but about 175 people turned out in West Chester, PA (mere miles west of Philadelphia) to discuss a plan for a multi-use stadium which would include a minor league team.
The presentation was held at the Chester County Historical Society, and DailyLocal.com said applause indicated most of the attendees were supporters of the concept.
Friday, October 15, 2010
It was no surprise to see York's Scott Grimes make Baseball America's all-Independent Baseball team because of the record-setting season he had in the Atlantic League. But the other Atlantic rep on the 14-man squad had one of those can-you-believe-this-is-really-happening seasons.
Brian Barton of Newark was another of the three outfielders selected. He won the Atlantic League batting championship in a miracle run after being traded from Bridgeport, where he was a part-time outfielder and strikeout machine for the Bluefish. Barton hit .348 for the season, with a .375 average plus 16 of his 19 home runs and 65 RBI in only 77 games for the Bears. He hit .264 for Bridgeport, striking out 34 times in 91 at-bats with only seven batted in.
Grimes obliterated the AL runs scored record with 138, and was the leadoff hitter and centerfielder for the champion Revolution. He hit .312 with 17 homers and 59 RBI.
Lancaster third baseman Aaron Herr, Pitcher of the Year Dan Reichert of Southern Maryland and standout closer Jorge Julio of Bridgeport were selected for the second team.
Two members of the '09 Bluefish made the first team. First baseman Brandon Sing was with Sioux Falls, SD in the American Association and reliever Casey Hoorelbeke with Fargo, ND of the Northern League this season.
MICHAEL RYAN, ALBERTO CASTILLO RELEASED
Two former Atlantic League players who played part of 2010 in the American League have been released. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim dropped outfielder Michael Ryan (Somerset), who had an outstanding spring training and got some mid-season time with the parent team, while Baltimore cut catcher Alberto Castillo (Newark and Road Warriors).
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
CAN-AM, ATLANTIC LEAGUE ANNOUNCE BEARS MOVE
DURHAM, NC – The Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball (Can-Am League) and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs (Atlantic League) today jointly announced the transfer of the Newark Bears, who have played as a member of the Atlantic League since inception, to the Can-Am League for the 2011 season.
“We are once again delighted to work with the Can-Am League,” said Atlantic League Founder & CEO Frank Boulton. “Bears Baseball can continue in Newark for many years to come and build upon it’s natural geographical rivalries within the Can-Am League thanks to this cooperative effort. “
“It is exciting for the Can-Am League to be able to add Newark to our roster,” commented Miles Wolff, Commissioner of the Can-Am League. “The Bears have a great history, and they will be an important part of our league. Our relationship with the Atlantic League enables us both to work together in the strengthening of independent baseball.”
New Bears owner Tom Cetnar shared the sentiments of Mr.’s Boulton and Wolff. “The Bears are excited to be part of the Can-Am League and we look forward to a friendly rivalry with the Jackals and Skyhawks,” said Cetnar. “Off the field the Bears, Skyhawks and Jackals will unite to serve all of the residents of Essex, Union and Sussex Counties. Our organizations are committed to the fans and look forward to delivering a great product.”
In addition to the Newark Bears, the Can-Am League lineup for 2011 will include the Brockton Rox, New Jersey Jackals, Pittsfield Colonials, Quebec Capitales, Sussex Skyhawks and Worcester Tornadoes.
The Can-Am League 2011 season will begin May 26 and the final regular season game will be September 5.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
York, which had to be given the longest of odds when the four-team playoffs started because of a struggling second half of the season and major questions about its pitching, rallied from three runs down in the eighth and ninth innings, finally pulling even at 4-4 when the apparent final out of the game went awry in the cool air at Bridgeport's Ballpark at Harbor Yard. Andy Etchebarren's Revolution went ahead in the top of the 10th and held on behind the right arm of their eighth pitcher of the evening, Michael Nix, to win, 5-4 and complete a three-game sweep for a worst-to-first turnaround and their initial title since joining the league in 2007.
The four-hour, 16-minute contest lacked some of the artistry of a normal game, with 17 hits, 18 walks, 22 strikeouts, seven errors and 26 runners left on base, but it did not lack for tension.
Both teams were less than full strength, but Bridgeport had the worst of it with cleanup hitter Josh Phelps lost the previous night with a broken hand and switch-hitting infielder Victor Mercedes, one of the Bluefish's key hitters down the stretch, departing to pick up a big paycheck playing for the Dominican Republic in a World Cup-qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico. York was without outfielder Erold Andrus, who left the team even though he had come off the bench with a 2-for-2 performance (home run, single) in Game 2.
The new champions were scheduled to be honored in York on Monday.