When Darin Mastroianni was traded away from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in early May, he immediately began growing out his beard. Through almost two months with the Syracuse Chiefs, Mastroianni has solidified himself in the outfield and as the leadoff hitter. The one element that Mastroianni enjoys the most about the Washington Nationals organization, however, is not the playing time; it’s the ability to be himself.
Growing up in Mount Kisco, New York, about an hour north of New York City, Mastroianni was surrounded by baseball. Although local competition was not always stellar, his dad, Paul, and grandfather, Sylvio, had experience in higher-level baseball. Paul played college baseball for Fordham, but Sylvio played professional baseball as a pitcher in the Detroit Tigers and New York Giants organizations in the 1950s. Mastroianni always loved playing baseball and his dad was a huge supporter.
“As long as I showed interest, he was gonna support me and I would keep playing,” Mastroianni reflected while noting that his father never pressured him to be involved with baseball.
Once he started playing organized baseball, it was clear Mastroianni found the right game. Mastroianni started playing Tee Ball and showed glimpses of a future major-leaguer.
“I remember playing Tee Ball as a kid and just really liked being out there running around,” Mastroianni said. “I was the kid, kind of like how I play now, just running all over the field. If I was at shortstop, I was always trying to catch the ball in the outfield or at second base.”
Still, Mastroianni was not the biggest or most athletic kid on the field, a fact that would motivate him throughout his entire career. As a smaller kid, Mastroianni learned the proper way to throw and hit “because if I didn’t have a good swing, I wasn’t going to be able to hit. So that was a blessing for me and a benefit of being small and undersized through high school.”
After little league, Mastroianni focused on playing shortstop during his high school and travel baseball career. To make sure their son played against the best competition, Mastroianni’s parents would him drive to Long Island up to three or four times a week, traveling up to hours each way. Nevertheless, Mastroianni was successful in high school baseball, winning a sectional championship his senior year. In the title game, he went 3 for 4 with a home run and earned MVP honors.
Following high school, Mastroianni attended Winthrop College for two years, getting only two at-bats. So, he transferred to the University of Southern Indiana, where he quickly became a major player. In his first season at Southern Indiana, Mastroianni batted .323 with 15 stolen bases. His second season, however, would prove to be the breakout year Mastroianni needed to put his name on the Major League radar. Southern Indiana finished in third place in the Division II College World Series with Mastroianni named to the First Team National Championship. After leading the nation in stolen bases with 64 in 66 games, connecting for 97 hits, and batting over .400, Mastroianni decided to enter the draft to “see what happens.”
On draft night, Mastroianni was sitting in his parents’ den with his father, fielding phone calls from teams saying they would pick him, only to choose someone else. In the 16th round, the Blue Jays called, saying they were “100 percent for [him]” and would take him if he agreed on the spot.
“I looked at my dad and my dad just smiled and said, ‘go for it,’” Mastroianni recalled. “My dad was such a big baseball fan and my dad supported me so much that I think it meant more to him than to me. It was more of the look on his face that struck me and I can still see that in my head today.”
Knowing this could be the only chance Mastroianni had to make the majors, he agreed to be a Blue Jay. Mastroianni became somewhat of a journeyman before arriving in Syracuse in May 2015. He played in different levels in the Toronto, Minnesota and Philadelphia organizations, but never had the ability to show who he is. With the IronPigs, there was a rule against facial hair. Now he’s in an organization that thrives with diversity. That’s where the beard comes in.
For the future, Mastroianni knows that the Chiefs allowing each player having their own personality is key for the team to achieve its goals.
“I love that this organization lets us have our own personalities and that’s a big part of the success in this organization,” Mastroianni said. “They let us have our personalities come out.”
He’s a grinder and runs everywhere on the field because that is what he has been doing since Tee Ball. The beard? Well, that only feeds into the image that Mastroianni wants to portray: “It’s part of my personality. I like being a grinder out there and I think when I have my beard, I’m just a filthy mess and I feel like I’m just out there trying to roll around in the dirt like a little kid. It makes it fun and I enjoy having it… it’s part of me.”
— Josh Hess, Broadcast Intern
Joe Ross is making his Triple-A debut for Syracuse on Thursday night at NBT Bank Stadium. Ross was traded to the Nationals at the end of the 2014 season in the trade that sent Steven Souza Jr. to Tampa Bay. Ross was called up to Washington at the beginning of June and impressed many in the Nationals organization. He has been optioned to Triple-A to make room for Stephen Strasburg, who came off the disabled list yesterday. Here are three reasons why Chiefs fans should be excited for Joe Ross.
1. He has Major League potential
After making nine starts for Double-A Harrisburg this season, Ross was called up to Washington and made three starts for the Nationals. He was outstanding in his outings in the Major Leagues. Ross compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.66 ERA in 20 and one-third innings pitched. During those innings, the 22-year old allowed only nineteen hits, six earned runs and two walks while striking out 23 batters. In his last two starts for that Nats, Ross threw 15 and two-thirds innings and allowed 13 hits, two walks and most impressively 19 strikeouts. In his last outing against Pittsburgh, Ross fanned 11 hitters over seven and one-third en route to his second win of the season. Joe may have taken a few pointers on how to pitch in the Majors from his brother Tyson, who is a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres.
2. He has good stuff
According to Baseball America, Ross is a, “young, athletic right-handed pitcher with a power arm. He’s a power (91-93 mph fastball) sinker-slider guy who has an above-average groundball rate, a plus slider that helps him get more strikeouts as he learns to pitch (his strikeout rate was up the second half of 2014), and a changeup that has been playable against left-handed hitters.” After the 2014 season, Ross was ranked the 10th best prospect in the Padres organization by Baseball America before he was traded to the Nationals. In the updated 2015 Top 10 Prospect rankings by Baseball America, Ross is the fifth-best prospect in the Nationals organization. He has tremendous upside as a three-pitch pitcher and will continue to develop those pitches as he gains more experience. He is the youngest prospect to start for the Chiefs since A.J. Cole started for Syracuse last season. Cole was ranked the second-best prospect before the start of the 2014 season.
3. He is a workhorse
Ross is an innings-eater. He has thrown close to 300 innings in his minor league career. The 22-year-old has thrown at least 122 innings over 45 starts the past two seasons for Single-A Fort Wayne, High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio. On average, Ross lasts just over five innings per start. Over that stretch of 244 innings over the past two years, the right-hander has fanned 185 hitters and walked just 69 batters he has faced.
Ross will start the final game of the Chiefs four-game set against the Knights on Thursday night. Syracuse seeks its second series win on the homestand. Hope to see you at the ballpark, but if not tune in to Kevin Brown and Eric Gallanty on the Score 1260 AM.
Triple-A Trickledown: Charlotte Knights
Triple-A Trickledown returns with a review of the Charlotte Knights who began a four-game series against the Chiefs at NBT Bank Stadium on Monday night at NBT Bank Stadium. The Triple-A White Sox are in first place in the International League South with a record of 40-30.
Catchers: Kevan Smith and George Kottaras
Kevan Smith is the everyday catcher for the Charlotte Knights in 2015. Smith began his athletic career as a football player. He attended the University of Pittsburgh and played quarterback for the Panthers. Smith started at quarterback in 2007 for a few games after an injury to Bill Stull but was benched after just a few games. However, after the season, Smith’s coaches decided to change his position so he decided to change sports all together. In 2008, Smith switched to baseball and has excelled since. The White Sox drafted Smith in 2011 in the seventh round. He advanced to Double-A in just his third professional season last year. For the Birmingham Barons, he hit .290 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs in 106 games. The 26-year-old is in his first Triple-A season in 2015.
Smith’s back up is former major leaguer George Kottaras. The 32-year old Canadian-born catcher played for 10 organizations (Padres, Red Sox, Athletics, Royals, Indians, Cubs, Indians, Cardinals, Blue Jays, White Sox) including seven seasons in the majors over his 12-year professional career. Kottaras was drafted by the Padres in 2003 and was traded to the Red Sox as part of a deal for David Wells in 2006. He made his major league debut for the Red Sox in 2009. During that season, Kottaras was the personal catcher of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. As a member of the Brewers in 2011, Kottaras became one of seven Brewers to hit for the cycle. He accomplished the feat against the Houston Astros. Kottaras also played for the Greek national teams in the second to last Olympics that baseball was played in. The Ontario native signed with the White Sox in December of 2014 and is in his first year with the Charlotte Knights.
First Base: Neftali Soto and Chris Marrero
Neftali Soto and Chris Marrero share time at first base for the Charlotte Knights. Soto has been in a Knights uniform since the beginning of the season. However, Marrero signed a deal with the Knights on June 5th. Soto began his career as a supplemental third-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in the 2007 draft. He made his major league debut in 2013 but did not record a hit in 13 games that season. The 26-year-old was out righted off the Reds 40-man roster in October of 2014. The Puerto Rican born first-baseman was traded to the White Sox in March for cash considerations. This season for Charlotte, Soto is hitting just .243 but he has drawn 30 walks for an on base percentage of .343. Marrero was originally drafted by the Nationals organization as the 15th pick in the 2006 draft. He attended Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Florida and was teammates with Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Marrero made his major league debut in 2011 for Washington and played for the Chiefs from 2011-2013 but was taken off the 40-man roster two years later in 2013. During his time with the Chiefs, Marrero hit .281 with 25 home runs and 140 RBIs in 275 games. He held an on base percentage of .353 over three seasons with Syracuse. The 26-year old spent two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles organization before signing with the White Sox earlier this month. Neither Soto or Marrero are on the 40-man roster and with Jose Abreu playing first base with Chicago and 10th best prospect (Baseball America) Rangel Ravelo chomping at the bit in Double-A, there is not much room for advancement for first basemen in the White Sox organization.
Second Base: Micah Johnson
Micah Johnson is ranked the fourth best prospect in the White Sox organization by Baseball America. Johnson began the season in the big leagues and was the starting second baseman for Chicago on Opening Day in 2015. Johnson has moved up quickly through the White Sox organization. He was drafted in the ninth round of the 2012 draft and just two years later was playing for Charlotte in Triple-A. Johnson’s time in Triple-A was cut short last season due to a left hamstring issue. However, Johnson has picked up where he left off in 2015. This season for Charlotte, the 24-year-old is batting .310 with nine extra base hits, 14 runs batted in and an on base percentage of .380. In 27 games for Chicago to open up the season, Johnson hit .270 with five walks, three RBIs and eight runs scored. He was optioned down to the Knights to make room for 22-year old Carlos Sanchez. Johnson remains on the 40-man roster, so it is very reasonable to assume he can still make a splash in the big leagues this season.
Shortstop: Drew Garcia and Leury Garcia
Two Garcias play shortstop for the Charlotte Knights, Drew and Leury. Leury Garcia is a 24-year from the Dominican Republic. Drew is a 29-year old from California. The Texas Rangers signed Leury Garcia as an international free agent in December of 2007. Leury made his major league debut in 2013 for the Rangers. He also played for the 2013 World Baseball Classic Champion Dominican Republic team. Leury Garcia did not play in the tournament but gained valuable experience behind veterans Jose Reyes and Miguel Tejada. Leury was traded to the White Sox as the player to be named in the deal that sent Alex Rios to Texas in 2013. He made the Opening Day roster for the White Sox in 2014 and played 74 games for Chicago last year. Drew Garcia was drafted out of UC Riverside in 2008. Drew was an all-star second baseman for the University of California Riverside and was drafted in the 21st round by the White Sox. The 29-year-old is in his fifth season in Triple-A. Over five seasons for both Charlotte and Colorado Springs, Drew Garcia is batting .222 with 18 home runs and 156 RBIs in 398 games. Leury Garcia is the only one of the two on the 40-man roster. However, the second ranked prospect Tim Anderson awaits just one level below in Birmingham. So, perhaps there could be some stiff competition at shortstop in the upcoming months.
Third Base: Matt Davidson
Matt Davidson has provided the most power out of the lineup for Charlotte in 2015. Davidson currently leads the International League in home runs with 13 in 68 games for Charlotte. That is equivalent to a home run every 19.54 at bats for the 6’3” right-hander. He is also amongst the IL leaders in RBIs with 41 on the season. Davidson attended Yucaipa High School in California and was drafted in the first round out of high school by the Arizona Diamonbacks. He was supposed to attend the University of Southern California but decided instead to join the Diamondbacks. Davidson appeared in the 2013 Futures Game and was named the most valuable player after he hit a go-ahead, two-run home run. One day later, he took home the home run derby crown with 11 home runs over three rounds to beat out Brock Peterson. Davidson’s major league career has not panned out in one stint so far as he hit just .237 with three home runs in 31 games for Arizona. The Diamonbacks decided to part ways with Davidson in December of 2013. Arizona traded Davidson to Chicago for Addison Reed. Davidson has yet to appear in the majors for Chicago but is on the 40-man roster.
Outfield: Jason Coats, Trayce Thompson, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Tyler Colvin
Trayce Thompson is the only outfielder on the Knights on the 40-man roster and he is arguably the best, most consistent outfielder on the team. Trayce also happens to be the brother of NBA Finals champion Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. Thompson has appeared in the second most games of any player in the IL this year with 70. He is fourth in the IL in at bats with 258. In those at-bats, Thompson is hitting for power. The 24-year-old has 29 extra base hits and boasts a slugging percentage of .473, which is second in the IL. Thompson scored the most runs in the league so far as well with 39 total on the season and has accumulated 122 bases. Trayce is the only one of the three Thompson brothers to not play professionally in a sport. But, after spending time in the off season with hitting coordinator Vince Law and former White Sox great Jim Thome, the second round draft pick could see some time towards the end of the season.
Jason Coats is in his third professional season out of Texas Christian University. Originally considered a high draft pick after his sophomore season at TCU, Coats tore his ACL in the final regular season game of his senior season. The White Sox took advantage of his damaged stock and selected him in the 29th round of the 2012 draft. In his first 53 Triple-A games, Coats is hitting .248 for the Knights with 17 extra base hits, six of them home runs and 37 runs batted in in 53 games.
Matt Tuisasosopo comes from a football family. His father Manu played professional football as a defensive lineman l from 1979-1986 with the Seattle Seahawks and San Fransisco 49ers. His brother Marques was a quarterback in the NFL for eight seasons with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets and is currently the tight end and offensive associate coach for the USC Trojans. Matt Tuiasosopo signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Washington but decided to sign with the Seattle Mariners after his third round selection in the 2004 MLB draft. Tuiasosopo has spent parts of four seasons in the majors with the Mariners and the Detroit Tigers. He made his Charlotte debut in 2014 after being dealt to the White Sox for cash considerations from the Blue Jays. This season, he has made 23 starts in the outfield for the Knights.
Starters: Chris Beck, Kyle Drabek, Terance Marin, Erik Johnson and Shawn Haviland
Erik Johnson is the only one of the 12 Knights pitchers to be on the 40-man roster for Chicago. The right-hander was drafted in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of the University of California, Berkeley. Johnson made his major league debut for Chicago in 2013. He has a 4-3 record in the Major Leagues with a 4.73 ERA and 36 strikeouts. In 2015 for Charlotte, Johnson is having a solid year. The 25-year-old is 6-5 with a 3.00 ERA. He is also the IL leader in strikeouts with 88 in 78 innings pitched.
Kyle Drabek is also having a great season for the Knights. Drabek is eighth in the IL in ERA with a mark of 2.98 in 60 and one-third innings. Kyle is the son of former 1990 National League Cy Young award winner Doug Drabek. Kyle Drabek was a first round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2006 MLB draft. He did not spend much time with Philly as he was dealt in the Roy Halladay trade along with Travis d’Arnaud and Michael D. Taylor in 2009. The following year in 2010, Drabek threw the second no-hitter in Double-A New Hampshire’s history. The right-hander made his Major League debut for Toronto in September of 2010. He spent parts of every season with the Blue Jays from 2010-2014. In 2012, Drabek underwent Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. The 27-year-old pitched in three games for Chicago in 2015 but was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on April 23rd.
Terance Marin spent the beginning half of the 2015 season in the Mexican League with los Toros de Tijuana. He was reinstated to the Chicago organization and assigned to the Triple-A Knights on June 5th. In two starts since joining Charlotte, Marin is unbeaten. The 25-year-old has yet to allow an earned run in 15 innings and has only surrendered 10 hits in the International League.
Relievers: Jarrett Casey, Maikel Cleto, Matt Lindstrom, Zach Phillips, Onelki Garcia, Miguel Chalas and Arcenio Leon
Maikel Cleto is the strongest arm out of the Knights bullpen. His fastball touches anywhere between 96 and 99 M.P.H. He began his career as an undrafted free agent with the New York Mets in 2006 and began his career in 2007. He has made appearances in the majors for the Cardinals and the White Sox. In 2014, he made 28 appearances out of the bullpen for Chicago. Cleto surrendered 24 hits, 15 earned runs and 23 walks while striking out 32 in 29 and one-thirds innings of relief.
Miguel Chalas is a 22-year old prospect from the Dominican Republic. Originally a member of the Orioles, Chalas was brought over to the White Sox in a trade for Alejandro de Aza. In his first season in Charlotte, Chalas has a 5.27 ERA in six games. Chalas was originally a started in his first few seasons with Baltimore, but the right-hander struggled so he was moved to the bullpen where he has found success.
Zach Phillips is considered the closer on the Knights and so far in 2015, he has converted four of five save opportunities. The 28-year-old is another starter turned reliever. He made the switch to the bullpen in 2009. Three years later, after minimal success in American baseball, he signed a one-year deal with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan. Last year in 2014 was Phillips first season with the White Sox. In his second year with the Knights, he has appeared in 24 games and has pitched to a 2.35 ERA so far.
That’s all for Triple-A Trickledown. I hope you learned something about the Triple-A White Sox. They are an interesting team filled with athletes from all different backgrounds. But so far this year, the team has been clicking and sits in first place in the IL South. Thanks for reading- Broadcast Intern Andrew Grella.
2015’s been a long, often arduous season for the Chiefs’ players. But yesterday provided an amazing moment when Tony Gwynn, Jr. – the son of late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn – picked up a walkoff single on Father’s Day, nearly one year after his father’s passing.
– Here’s the video and call of the winning hit.
– Tony talked to MiLB.com about the hit and the emotional week he’s had.
A few non-Gwynn pieces of note today…
– Norfolk Tides beat writer David Hall spent some time on the road with the team, presenting an accurate representation of Triple-A travel.
– Jonah Keri discusses the Nationals’ problems and possible solutions in his weekly Grantland power rankings.
– NY Magazine reviews the brilliant, beautiful, instant-classic Inside Out from Pixar – my favorite movie of 2015 to date.
The Chiefs and Charlotte Knights begin a four-game series tonight at 7:05. Coverage begins on The Score 1260 at 6:50. Talk to you then.
Good morning. The Chiefs are one game away for their second three-game sweep of the season, with a 1:05 start vs. Toledo today. Some things to see beforehand…
– Chiefs outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr., reflective on the anniversary of his father’s passing.
– Some thoughts and notes from a wacky 16-run, 23-hit attack for the Nationals last night.
– Hitting for the cycle is overrated. This is not blasphemy.
– ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (an S.U. alum!) on the mentality of LeBron James’ crushing Finals defeat.
– Stephen Colbert’s Late Show cannot come soon enough.
Coverage begins today at 12:50 on The Score 1260. Hope to see you there.
Welcome to Columbus, Ohio, where the Chiefs begin a four-game series against the Clippers tonight at 7:05. Some things to know beforehand:
– A recap of yesterday’s sloppy Chiefs/Mud Hens game.
– Dwight Gooden and Lenny Dykstra are headed to Syracuse next week.
– The Clippers got a boost from a brand-new player last night.
– With the Chiefs set to play in the inaugural Wiffle Ball Classic…
– …a look at the history behind the ball.
– Hey, you! You might have been picked in the MLB Draft!
Coverage tonight begins at 6:50 on The Score 1260. Hope to see you there.
Luis Severino is set to start his second game of the season for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday night against Syracuse at NBT Bank Stadium. According to BaseballAmerica, Severino is considered the number one prospect in the Yankees organization and the 35th best prospect in all of baseball after the 2014 season.
What’s the buzz about?
In just his fourth professional season, Severino has skyrocketed through the minor leagues. At just 21 years of age, Severino is 16-11 in 58 minor league appearances with an ERA of 2.42 in that time span. Over 264 total innings in the minors, he surrendered only 71 earned runs and 213 hits. Meanwhile, he struck out 276 hitters with an average WHIP of .106. Over his career he played with the Gulf Coast Yankees, the Charleston RiverDogs, the Tampa Yankees and the Trenton Thunder. Severino started the season in Double-A with the Trenton Thunder but was called up to the RailRiders. The Domincan Republic native made eight starts for the Thunder this season. He held a record of 2-2 with an ERA just above three at 3.36 in 2015. In 38 innings, the right-hander fanned 48 hitters and only allowed 10 walks. Over two seasons with Trenton, Severino recorded 77 strikeouts in just 63 innings.
What does he throw?
At the moment, Severino is primarily a two-pitch pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and a changeup. However, he continues to develop a slider to mix in a third pitch. Normally, a starter who only throws two pitches does not experience too much success. What makes Severino so special is the movement he has on both his fastball and his changeup. His pitches tail down and away from lefties and down and in to righties at the plate. It is very similar to a sinker, but is not considered a true sinker. The sinking action does create a lot of groundballs and groundball pitchers are always top priority with short fences in Yankee Stadium. The changeup is especially deadly since Severino can take off 10 M.P.H. off his secondary pitch. With the tailing action, it looks exactly like his fastball so it is easy for hitters to be fooled and swing ahead of the pitch. His slider is the only pitch that needs work. Severino throws the pitch from a different arm angle, which can be easily identified by the better, more veteran hitters in the Majors. However, seeing as he is only 21, he has time to perfect his craft before reaching that level.
What to watch for?
Severino is one step away from the big leagues and with a few impressive outings with the RailRiders could find himself on the Yankees Major League roster before long. He has a very good chance to make it this season based on the amount of injuries to the starting rotation that New York is experiencing this year. Masahiro Tanaka was just taken off the disabled list with a forearm injury while C.C. Sabathia suffered injuries over the past two years of his career. If any of the starting five go down with an injury and Severino shines in Triple-A, he could be making an impact as early as next month. But for today, Severino is seeking his first Triple-A victory in today’s game against Syracuse. Come catch all the excitement at NBT Bank Stadium at 7:05 p.m., but if you can’t, you can listen live on The Score 1260 A.M.
Triple-A Trickledown is back for a third time in 2015 as the Louisville Bats finish up a three-game set with the Syracuse Chiefs at NBT Bank Stadium. After a rain out on Monday, Syracuse dropped both games of a doubleheader on Tuesday to Louisville. The Chiefs look to bounce back and take the final game of the series on Wednesday morning.
Catchers: Ramon Cabrera and Chris Berset
Ramon Cabrera is the everyday catcher for the Louisville Bats since the promotion of Tucker Barnhart to the Reds. Barnhart played only five games with Louisville before his promotion to the majors. Since then, Cabrera started 30 games behind home plate in his first season for the Louisville Bats and his first season in Triple-A since 2013 when he played in 39 games for the Toledo Mud Hens. Cabrera hits for average at the plate and he is not highly sought after for his defensive skills behind the plate. The 25-year old from Venezuela is hitting .273 with 12 RBIs for Louisville so far in 2015.
First Base: Chris Dominguez and Josh Satin
Warning: The Bats have a ton of corner infielders that spend time at both first and third base. These are just the most prevalent players at each position. Chris Dominguez is familiar with the Louisville area having played for the Louisville Cardinals for four years during his college career. In 2009, he was drafted to the San Fransisco Giants. Dominguez found his way to Triple-A by his third season in professional baseball and made his major league debut in 2014 with the team that drafted him. This season, Dominguez has three at-bats in the majors for the Reds but is refining his skills in Triple-A. His competition is Josh Satin and corner infielder Ivan De Jesus. Satin just came off the disabled list yesterday and appeared in his first game since May 15th. At the moment, Dominguez has the upper hand since he is on the 40-man roster and has not battled any injuries.
Second Base: Irving Falu
A 13-year veteran in professional baseball, Falu is surging this season for the Louisville Bats. The 31-year old played in parts of three seasons for the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. After a hot start with Kansas City at the end of 2012 where he hit .341 in 24 games, he did not continue that success. His most recent stint ended after 11 games with the Padres in 2014 where he went 3-20 (.150) for San Diego. This year, Falu is more consistent at the plate in Triple-A. The second-basemen is 10th in the league in hitting posting a .316 batting average in 36 games. Falu does not hit for power but can get his bat on the ball and get on base. He has to hit with more consistency in the majors if he wants to find a spot on the Cincinnati team. Especially with Brandon Phillips holding the everyday spot for the Reds at second base.
Third Base: Hernan Iribarren and Ivan De Jesus
Trading time at third, Ivan De Jesus and Hernan Iribarren are primarily at the hot corner. Iribarren is in his seventh season in Triple-A since he signed as an International free agent from Venezuela in 2002. The 30-year old only tasted the majors for 12 games with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009 but is a career Triple-A player since then. This season marks the second for Iribarren in a Louisville uniform. So far, Iribarren is reaching base a lot with a .270 batting average and a .360 on base percentage. He is third on the team in runs scored with 18 in 28 games played this season. Iribarren holds great value for the Bats as well since he can play multiple positions on the diamond. He appeared at four different positions for Louisville this season. Son of former major leaguer Ivan De Jesus, Ivan De Jesus Jr. is having a stellar season for the Bats. De Jesus is fifth in hits in the International League as he collected 55 hits in his first 48 games for Louisville this season and is hitting .309. However, the two positions that De Jesus plays are currently occupied by two all stars in Cincinnati. Todd Frazier and Joey Votto are not going anywhere anytime soon, but De Jesus could be a valuable backup if any of the two went down with an injury. The fact that he can play both corner infield positions makes him a valuable asset in the Reds farm system
Shortstop: Eugenio Suarez
Suarez was one of two pieces traded to the Reds from the Tigers for Alfredo Simon in the offseason. The other was Jonathon Crawford who is still working his way up the lower totem of the minors. After just 12 games in Triple-A, Suarez got his break for Detroit last season when Jose Iglesias saw his season fall short with stress fractures in both of his shins. Suarez did a solid job at short for the Tigers. At only 22, he hit .242 in 85 games with 14 extra base hits and 23 runs batted in. Now at 23, Suarez is consistently getting on base for the Bats and is scoring runs. In fact, he leads the team in walks with 23 and home runs with seven and is second on the team in runs scored with 24. Suarez is one of two Louisville infielders on the 40-man roster along with Chris Dominguez.
Outfield: Yorman Rodriguez, Steve Selsky, Ryan LaMarre and Bryson Smith
Yorman Rodriguez is the only healthy outfielder on the 40-man roster in 2015. Donald Lutz is also on the 40-man roster but is sidelined for the season after having Tommy John Surgery. Rodriguez has also been the most consistent outfielder as he has started the most games in the outfield of any Bat on the roster. The 22 year old was called up from Double-A to the majors for 11 games in 2014. According to BaseballAmerica, Rodriguez is the 10th best prospect in the Reds’ farm system. He leads Louisville in runs scored and is second in runs batted in. Rodriguez is hitting for power so far this season with 18 extra base hits, including 10 doubles and five home runs.
Steve Selsky is quietly having a very good season for Louisville. Selsky has not reached the majors yet in his career and is in his second season in Triple-A. In 55 games last season for Louisville, Selsky hit .240 with 11 RBIs. This season he has turned it up a notch. After 35 games in 2015, Selsky already has more runs batted in than he did last season with 20. That figure is second on Louisville behind Chris Dominguez’s 22 runs batted in. Selsky is second in slugging with a .434 mark heading into Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Starters: Dylan Axelrod, David Holmberg, Donovan Hand, Jon Moscot, and Josh Smith
The Louisville pitching staff as a whole has been fairly poor through the first 50 games of the season. The Bats are ranked just above Toledo for second-to-last in the International League with a 4.12 ERA. Louisville allowed 199 runs and 28 home runs while ranking last in strikeouts with only 316 in 435 innings in 2015.
However, Jon Moscot is sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the five-man rotation that Bats send out. Moscot leads the league with seven wins and holds a 3.15 ERA in 54 and one-third innings. Moscot is in his first full season in Triple-A after posting three starts in 2014. The 23-year old is making the most of his time with the Bats. The 6’4” right-hander won his first six contests this season.
David Holmberg and Josh Smith are the only two starters on the 40-man roster for the Bats in 2015. Holmberg is just 23 and has tremendous upside. Just like Moscot, Holmberg also stands at 6’4” but he is a lefty rather than a righty. He made his major league debut with Cincinnati in 2014 and this year is 3-3 with a 4.73 ERA in nine starts. Josh Smith is not as tall as Moscot and Holmberg. He stands just an inch shorter at 6’3”. The right-hander was sent down to Double-A Pensacola earlier in the season but after dominating through four starts for the Blue Wahoos, Smith got the promotion to Louisville on May 9th. In 5 starts for the Bats in 2015, Smith is 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA in 28 and one-third innings.
Relievers: Nate Adcock, Jose De La Torre, Pedro Villarreal, Sam LeCure, Carlos Contreras and Drew Hayes
Carlos Contreras and Pedro Villarreal are the only two healthy relievers on the 40-man roster in June. Matt Magill is also on the list but is on the disabled list. Contreras is only 24 and made his major league debut for the Reds last season. In his first major league appearance, he only threw nine pitches and recorded a strikeout. He is lights out in the Bats’ bullpen as well. In 13 innings, Contreras allowed only 4 runs and fanned 21 hitters. He is not untouchable but is certainly hard to hit. Pedro Villarreal is now in the bullpen in Triple-A. However, the Reds tried to make him a starter at one point in his career and made one major league start for the Reds in his career. Cincinnati found a better home for him in the late innings out of the bullpen. Villarreal pitched in 20 innings so far this season and has allowed nine runs. His strikeout numbers are a bit low at 16 and he’s pitched to a WHIP of 1.59.
Two other relievers to keep an eye on are Jose De La Toore and Nate Adcock. De La Torre is used primarily as the set-up man and is second in the International League with six holds in 18 games. However, his numbers besides that are a little concerning. He’s surrendered 13 earned runs in 22 and one-third innings of relief and only struck out 14 hitters in that time frame. Opponents are hitting .232 against De La Torre as well. Meanwhile, Nate Adcock is lights out in the ninth for Louisville. Adcock is second in the International League with 10 saves. He holds a WHIP of 1.15 and is holding opposing hitters to a .217 batting average in 21 and two-thirds innings. Adcock appeared in the majors in parts of three seasons and is working his way back after a seven-game stint with the Texas Rangers in 2014.
That’s all for Triple-A Trickledown for the Louisville Bats. I hope you enjoyed the third edition. Thanks for reading. See you next time- Broadcast Intern Andrew Grella.
First of all, you’ll like the weather – there’s no rain in the forecast today. The Chiefs and Louisville Bats (Triple-A Reds) will play a pair of games today at 5:05. Before then, some things to know…
– One of our interns, Josh Hess, talked to the Chiefs’ Emmanuel Burriss on how he got his start in baseball.
– Syracuse’s roster is getting a bit of a makeover, with some changes to the pitching staff.
– How the Nationals fell victim to a three-ball walk.
– For my fellow Game of Thrones fans: who that guy from that last episode was and why he matters.
– Grantland’s Steven Hyden dives inside U2’s new, ambitious arena tour.
We’re on the air today after Mike Lindsley’s show from 3-5. Talk to you then.
Hey Chiefs fans! Welcome to the first edition of Inside the Locker Room, a feature on a different Chiefs player each week or every other week. The piece takes a look at how each player got their start in baseball and what influenced them to keep playing and finally make it to the Chiefs organization. First up, shortstop Emmanuel Burriss!
On April 20, 2008, Emmanuel Burriss made his MLB debut for the San Francisco Giants. Twenty-three years in the making, Burriss had now accomplished his ultimate goal of playing in the major leagues. Since his debut for the Giants, Burriss has played in parts of five MLB seasons, and is now in his second season in Syracuse for the Washington Nationals organization.
The Chiefs’ shortstop has had a head for baseball since he was a young child. Burriss grew up in a family of baseball lovers, with his father, Allen, being his primary influence. Starting at age four, Burriss played baseball in his house or outside with his dad and uncles. Then, when he was eight, Burriss began playing organized baseball under his dad as a coach, and has not stopped playing since. Even with his dad coaching, Burriss took the game into his own hands, emulating the likes of Ken Griffey, Roberto Alomar, Cal Ripken, Jr., Lenny Dykstra and Kenny Lofton.
“I tried to do everything that all of them did,” Burriss noted when talking about his baseball role models as a child. The players Burriss loved to watch, Griffey, Ripken, Jr., Dykstra Lofton, and his favorite, Alomar, each brought their own “excitement, aggressiveness, speed, electricity to their team.” According to Burriss, “They would do anything to win a ballgame.”
Alomar was Burriss’ favorite simply because Burriss “loved everything he did.” Not only did Burriss emulate these major league greats, but he also watched highlight reels of the best yearly plays over and over, studying how professional ballplayers were able to make such incredible plays.
From eight until 11 years old, Burriss played catcher. As a middle schooler, Burriss changed from behind the plate to being an infield utility man, and finally to his position at shortstop when he was 14. The future Chiefs shortstop played high school baseball for Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., where the team won four consecutive league championships with Burriss in the lineup. It was in high school that Burriss solidified baseball as his primary sport over basketball, due to improvement in his defensive ability.
After high school, Burriss went to college at Kent State in Ohio where he began to see adult speed and learned to switch-hit. Never a true power hitter, becoming a switch hitter “only made sense” for Burriss. And, with his newfound speed, Burriss “figured [he] might as well be one step closer to first if [he’s] on the left side of the plate.”
Following his junior year with Kent State, the San Francisco Giants drafted Burriss in the first round of the 2006 supplemental draft. Being drafted was something Burriss “had wanted since [he] was eight years old.”
Two years later, Burriss finally lived his dream and stepped on to a major league field for the first time as a major league baseball player. When he found out that the Giants wanted him in the majors, Burriss was surprised.
“All of it was such a shock because it was unexpected to me,” Burriss reflected. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Looking back on his childhood playing baseball, Burriss believes he was always one step ahead of his teammates because of how much he knew about the game. Burriss would “go over every small detail that the players would do” to burn in his mind how the professionals were so successful.
“I think at an early age I knew how to play, what plays need to be made, and how the game worked before a lot of kids my age,” Burriss said. “I think that helped me stay one step above everyone else.
Now, with the Chiefs, Emmanuel Burriss is at shortstop for almost every game, playing with a smile on his face, something he did not always do as a kid. Burriss now realizes how stressful the game of baseball can be, but for a kid, he thinks it should be all about having fun.
— Josh Hess, Broadcast Intern