The second edition of Triple-A Trickledown takes a look at the highest affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Indianapolis Indians. The Chiefs and the Indians are in the middle of a three-game set at NBT Bank Stadium. Indianapolis took the first two games by a combined three runs against Syracuse.
Catcher: Tony Sanchez, Elias Diaz and Wilkin Castillo
The Indians have an abundance of talent behind the plate. Both Elias Diaz and Tony Sanchez are prospects on the rise in the Pirates’ organization. However, with a plethora of talent comes the problem of playing time. Manager Dean Treanor is doing his best to share time equally behind the plate with two guys who consider themselves everyday catchers. Diaz features the most upside out of both players only because he is younger than Sanchez by three years. Sanchez is 27 years old while Diaz is only 24. Both catchers have been in the Pirates organization since 2009 so they are familiar with one another. However, Sanchez has always been a step ahead of Diaz. The former Boston College-great Sanchez made his major league debut in 2013 and spent three games with the Pirates this year while Diaz has yet to see any time at the big show. Diaz and Sanchez are both on the 40-man roster and with injury-ridden Francisco Cervelli as the starting catcher for the Bucs, it is possible that either catcher could see extended time in a Pittsburgh uniform in 2015.
First Base: Brent Morel and Hunter Morris
Brent Morel made a meteoric rise through the Chicago White Sox organization to start his career. After a third-round draft selection in 2008, Morel appeared in his first major league game in 2010 with the White Sox. The peak of his young career so far occurred in 2011 when he played 126 games as a third basemen for Chicago and hit .245 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs. However, the 28-year old has struggled with the bat since. In 2015, he is hitting a lowly .176 with 29 strikeouts in 108 at-bats. Hunter Morris was also highly touted out of both college and high school. In 2007, the Boston Red Sox drafted Morris in the second round. But, Morris decided to attend Auburn University until 2010 when the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the fourth round. Just like Morel, Morris has yet to live up to his potential in 2015 with the Indians. The 26-year old is batting just .146 in 26 games with 37 strikeouts in 89 at-bats.
Second Base: Alen Hanson
Alen Hanson is igniting Indianapolis in 2015. In 39 games for the Indians, Hanson is hitting .301 with 12 extra-base hits (including five triples) and 18 runs batted in. The 22-year old is not only a threat at the plate, but gives pitchers a problem on the base paths as well. In 18 attempts, Hanson’s swiped 14 bags so far in his first season for the Triple-A Pirates, which is good for third in the International League at the moment. Hanson has yet to appear in the majors but is on the 40-man roster. According to Baseball America, Hanson is the sixth-best prospect in the Pirates organization. However, he has experienced some roadblocks getting to the majors with Neil Walker, Jordy Mercer, and Jung-ho Kang filling the middle-infield spots on the Pittsburgh roster.
Third Base: Deibinson Romero
Deibinson Romero has been a great edition to the Indians’ infield in 2015. The Pirates signed Romero as a free agent before the start of the season and he is exceeding expectations. In nine seasons in the Minnesota Twins organization, Romero was a .270 career hitter with an average of eight homers per year. Last season was one of his poorer performances. He hit .265 in 123 games for Rochester in 2014, which was his lowest batting average in a season since he hit .252 with the Fort Myers Miracles in 2010. This year is a completely different story as Romero is hitting 33 points above his career average at .303 with five homers and a team leading 25 RBIs. Romero is not currently on the 40-man roster so it is unlikely that he sees time in the majors this season. But at 28, Romero is still young enough to prove he deserves a spot in the show at some point in his career.
Shortstop: Gustavo Nunez and Pedro Florimon
Nunez is in his first season in Triple-A in his ninth season in the minor leagues. After hitting .301 for the Double-A Braves last season, Nunez signed a free agent deal with the Pirates in November of 2014. In 31 games for Indianapolis in 2015, Nunez has hit for average. The 27-year old is hitting .300 with 27 hits in 90 plate appearances. However, all 27 of those hits have been singles as he has yet to record an extra base hit in Triple-A. Pedro Florimon, on the other hand, is a former major leaguer in the Twins organization who, like Deibinson Romero, comes to the Indians after playing in Rochester in 2014. In 2013, Florimon played a full season in the majors with 134 games for the Minnesota Twins. He hit .221 with four home runs and 44 runs batted in. However, Florimon is a career .249 hitter in the minors and is regarded mostly for his glove. In 159 career Triple-A starts, Florimon has only committed 27 errors in the field. If he wants to make it to the MLB, Florimon will have to show some more consistency at the plate, especially with an already stacked middle infield in Pittsburgh.
Outfield: Gorkys Hernandez, Mel Rojas Jr., Steve Lombardozzi and Jaff Decker
The Indianapolis outfield is a solid core of players. Gorkys Hernandez is a workhorse for the Indians. Primarily the centerfielder, Hernandez has appeared in all 43 games for Indianapolis in 2015. Hernandez clobbers the Chiefs. He is a career .474 hitter against Syracuse going 18-38 in games against the Nationals affiliate. Hernandez hit safely in six straight games against Syracuse including five multi-hit efforts. Over the first two games of the series Hernandez has five hits against Syracuse pitching.
Steve Lombardozzi is tearing it up in Triple-A this season. Lombardozzi was a former Chief and Washington National. The Nats drafted him in the 19th round of the 2008 Amateur draft. Lombardozzi played in 69 games for Syracuse in 2011. He was an infielder at that point in his career and he hit .310 in 69 games with four home runs, 29 runs batted in and 14 stolen bases. This year, Lombardozzi is hitting out of his mind at .333 with 36 hits in 108 at-bats. Lombardozzi appeared in six games for Pittsburgh this year before being optioned to Triple-A on May 18th.
Jaff Decker is battling calf injuries so far in 2015. Decker, who is on the 40-man roster, was optioned to Triple-A on April 19th but was placed on the DL just 10 days later. He was reinsated on May 22nd and is still looking for a full bill of health. Despite the injuries, Decker is a solid bat in the Indians lineup. In only 9 games, he has 10 hits in 33 at-bats with three runs batted in. Despite the early success, Decker seems to be the odd man out in Pittsburgh with the recent call-up of Jose Tabata.
Starters: Wilfredo Boscan, Clayton Richard, Casey Sadler, Adrian Sampson and Chris Volstad
Indians’ pitching is ranked third in the International League heading into Sunday. A big part has been the success of the starters over the first 43 games. Casey Sadler is on the 40-man roster and has been the obvious front-runner in the Indianapolis rotation. The right-hander ranks fourth in the International League in ERA with a 2.12 mark in 46 and two-thirds innings in 2015. His WHIP is at a staggering 0.81 so far this season. Sadler has impeccable control. In 177 Triple-A innings over three seasons, the 24-year old issued only 33 walks to opposing hitters. His strikeout to walk ratio is at 3.33 to 1 in 29 Triple-A games. Sadler made his major league debut out of the bullpen in 2014 and made his first major league start, a 10-2 win, at the beginning of this season. Wilfredo Boscan is the other starter on the 40-man roster and has been up to Pittsburgh already this season but did not make an appearance. For the Indians in 2015, Boscan is 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA in six starts. He’s allowed only 10 earned runs in 32 and one-third innings pitched in 2015. Boscan also fanned 20 hitters in seven total games.
Adrian Sampson and Chris Volstad are throwing well for Indianapolis this season as well. Sampson is 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts. The 24-year old has already earned IL pitcher of the week honors in May this season. Meanwhile, the 6’8” Volstad is 2-1 with a 3.92 ERA in seven starts for Indy. A fun fact about Volstad: he owns a brewery called the Civil Society Brewing Company that is located in Jupiter, Florida. The 28-year old spent time with the Marlins, Cubs and Rockies over his 11 seasons in professional baseball.
Relievers: Deolis Guerra, Bobby LaFramboise, Brad Lincoln, A.J. Morris, Adam Miller, Josh Wall and Blake Wood
The back end of the Indianapolis bullpen is shutting every one down so far. Deolis Guerra, Blake Wood and A.J Morris are nearly untouchable, as those three have pitched the Indians to the most saves in the International League with 15. Blake Wood is the predominant closer for Indianapolis as is responsible for 11 saves in 12 tries in 2015. Wood allowed a .179 batting average over 17 and two-thirds innings out of the bullpen so far and his ERA is a sparkling 1.53 for the Indians. Deolis Guerra has been just as masterful this season. In 14 games for Indy, Guerra surrendered only five earned runs in 23 innings while striking out 25. His WHIP is a dazzling 0.91 and he is holding hitters to just a .173 batting average. A.J. Morris, who nailed down his first save on Saturday night against Syracuse, surrendered only 19 hits and struck out 27 in 22 and two-thirds innings of relief. Teams can’t expect to do much damage off the back end of this bullpen. Pitching has been a big reason why Indianapolis sits in first place in the International League West, 30-percent of the way through the 2015 season.
That’s all for Triple-A Trickledown for the Indianapolis Indians. The Chiefs hit the road for a seven game road trip against Norfolk and Durham starting on Monday. Triple-A Trickledown returns on June 1st when we take a look at the Louisville Bats. Thanks for reading – Broadcast Intern Andrew Grella
Another dispatch from Charlotte…I had to break this report up into two parts because I took so many pictures. You can find Part One here.
A close friend of mine recommended a place in the “South End” district of Charlotte for breakfast and, generally, for hanging out. Friday morning, I took an Uber for about two miles down to Owen’s, a local breakfast-sandwich hot spot, and, well…
I should have known better than to seek a bagel outside of New York.
With my first attempt resulting in failure, I headed down the road until I stumbled across Tupelo Honey Cafe, just in time for its 11 a.m. opening. The resulting fried chicken and biscuits did not disappoint.
The South End is around two miles from our hotel, a distance that, according to the woman in the lobby, “you can’t walk”. Naturally, I walked back to the hotel after breakfast. Here were some of the sights…
Back Uptown, I took the advice of a friend and wandered over to the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, which features “objects in ceramics, glass, fiber, metal and wood”. The artists featured here will never have anyone in the mainstream world know their name – and yet their work is more creative, imaginative and stunning than anything most of us will ever do. A sample:
…and then, for some reason, there was a vacuum.
BB&T Ballpark is located right down the road from the Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium, which sports this terrifying greeter outside its gates…
Finally, there was a game to be played on Friday, which allowed me to soak up all the photogenic glory of the sunny park…
That’s simply a minor-league park with a major-league view. There’s not a better backdrop to be found in the league, methinks.
The elevators in Charlotte contain pictures of great Knights of the past. (Sir Galahad is nowhere to be found.) One of them, Jim Thome, even put ink to…wall. (See the left sleeve. Also, how skinny was Jim Thome?!?!)
That’s all for our first North Carolinian dispatch of the year. Starting tomorrow, the Chiefs will be on the road to Norfolk, Virginia and Durham, North Carolina, with a further report to come.
Don’t forget to tune in tonight, Memorial Day Sunday, as the Chiefs and Indianapolis play at 5:35 on The Score 1260. Great seats are still available for what should be an awesomely sunny day of baseball. Hope to see you there.
As we roll into the middle of month two of the 2015 Chiefs season, I thought it was a good time to begin my new weekly Wednesday feature, Gallanty’s History Corner. I have always been fascinated by the quirkiness, oddity, and lore of baseball history, more than any other sport. It’s really interesting to just look up a date, go through the history, and find the most obscure event you never would’ve known about before. So I’ll try, every Thursday, to give you a little taste of some of the unique and wacky stories that happened on dates spanning the next week in baseball history. -Eric
May 21, 1904: Boston Americans SS Bill O’Neill became the first and only player in the 20th century to commit six errors in a game. In O’Neill’s defense, the game was 13th innings. O’Neill made errors in the first inning on each of the first three balls hit to him, and the first ball hit to him in the second. His sixth error in the 13th allowed two runs to score.
May 22, 1937: Hank Greenberg hit a long home run out of Fenway Park, over the centerfield wall to the right of the flag pole. It is still believed to be the longest home run ever hit at Fenway.
May 23, 1897: A waterslide opens at Sportsman Park in St. Louis. Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe attempted to draw customers by any means possible to watch the dismal Browns, who were just 5-20.
May 23, 1901: Nap Lajoie was so feared in his day, that he was intentionally walked with the bases loaded. Lajoie was still a memeber of the Philadelphia Athletics. Lajoie would eventually sign with Cleveland, and the team would be called the Naps in his honor.
May 24, 1928: A record 12 future Hall of Famers played in game one of a doubleheader between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics. That number does not included two players on the bench, both managers, and an umpire. Some of the names included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzari, Leo Durocher and Miller Huggins for the Yankees, and Connie Mack, Mickey Cochrane, Tris Speaker, and Ty Cobb for the Athletics.
– Baseball Reference and Baseball Almanac were used for information for this post.
Hello Chiefs fans and welcome back to Triple-A Trickledown in 2015. To refresh your memory, Triple-A Trickledown takes a look at the prospects for the Chiefs’ opponents and breaks down what fans can expect to see when they come out to NBT Bank Stadium. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are in town for a three-game set against Syracuse. The Pigs have taken the first two of three from the Chiefs. Syracuse looks to salvage the third game Wednesday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.
Catchers: John Hester, Tommy Joseph, and Logan Moore
The catching core for the IronPigs is plagued with injuries through 40 games in 2015. John Hester began the season on the disabled list but returned to Lehigh Valley on May 8th. But then, Tommy Joseph, the only catcher of the three on the 40-man roster is serving a stint on the DL with a concussion for the third straight year. There is reason for concern for the Phillies as Joseph’s series of concussions limited the sixth-best prospect (per the Philadelphia Inquirer) to just 83 games over the past three seasons. Hester is making the most of his increased playing time. In the week Joseph has been out, the backup backstop hit .294 with three doubles and two runs scored in seven games. 24-year old Logan Moore also picks up some of the slack behind the plate with Joseph sidelined.
First Base: Chris McGuiness and Russ Canzler
Both McGuiness and Canzler are career minor-league players and don’t seem poised to make a run at a major-league job. The 27-year-old McGuiness made his Major League debut for Texas in 2013 but only had six hits in 37 opportunities. Canzler is now 29 years old and has yet to see action in the Majors since 2012. However, Canzler is much more versatile and has shown more promise as he approaches 30. The utility man is hitting .310 this season with 10 extra base hits and nine runs batted in while playing four different positions for the IronPigs. Canzler is a valuable teacher as well and was instrumental in Maikel Franco’s development and eventual call-up to the Phillies.
Second Base: Tyler Henson and Jayson Nix
Tyler Henson bounced around the minor leagues for most of his career but has not tasted the Majors yet in his 10-year career. Henson is changing his approach at the plate this season and is driving in runs like a machine. The second basemen is hitting .268 and with a team-leading 17 runs batted in. Jayson Nix is a journeyman whom the IronPigs traded for as a spot-filler with Franco in the majors and an infield with little depth. He has experience with nine major-league teams in parts of eight seasons in the show. Offense is a rarity from Nix over the past few seasons. However, his stellar glove that can be used at any position around the infield is the 32-year old’s greatest asset. Nix spent the end of the season with Kansas City and was part of the 2014 Royals run to the World Series.
Shortstop: Chase d’Arnaud and Edgar Duran
In his first full season at Triple-A, Edgar Duran is having a rough going for the IronPigs. Not only has his offense been poor, he committed five errors in the field in 26 games at short this season. He now finds himself on the 15-day disabled list, so in the meantime, Chase d’Arnaud takes over the responsibilities at short. d’Arnaud may be competing to take Duran’s place. d’Arnaud is seeing success at the plate in his first season for the IronPigs. In 22 games for Lehigh Valley, d’Arnaud is hitting .313 with a .349 OBP. The numbers don’t scream All-Star, but d’Arnaud is a formidable Triple-A option in an infield that is relatively weak. It doesn’t help d’Arnaud’s cause that J.P Crawford waits in the balance. Crawford is as advertised so far, hitting .364 at advanced-A Clearwater.
Third Base: Cord Phelps
The left side of the infield is a big debate in Phillies nation recently. With the recent promotion of Maikel Franco, there was some controversy. Cody Asche, a former third basemen, who began the season with the Phillies at third, was brought back down to Lehigh Valley right before the Franco promotion. But Asche isn’t back in Triple-A to play third. The Phillies want him to learn the outfield so he can be called back up. So now, that leaves Lehigh Valley with a huge hole at third base. Cord Phelps natural position is second base but he is forced to move to the hot corner. Jayson Nix will also fill time at third base as well (See Second Base for more).
Outfield: Brian Bogusevic, Domonic Brown, Cody Asche, and Jordan Danks
The IronPigs outfield is their strong suit this season in a team that only put together 14 wins so far through 40 games. Lehigh Valley’s outfielders are hitting 26 points higher at .286 than the rest of the team combined at .260. But, there is still the curious case of Domonic Brown. The 27-year old was sent down to Lehigh Valley on a rehab assignment at the beginning of the season and for some reason, unbeknownst to anyone else, he still remains in an IronPigs uniform. The strangest part of the entire situation is that the platoon of Jeff Francouer and Grady Sizemore in right field for the big club has only 38 hits in 163 at bats. Brown is proving himself as a productive bat for Lehigh Valley with a batting average of .273 with 16 runs batted in and twelve runs scored.
I already mentioned Cody Asche, but here’s the full scoop. The 24-year old third baseman is attempting to transition into an outfield role. This is not a voluntary move for Asche, but with his career on the line, he is making an exception. Asche is a vital part of the Phillies’ future and a strong bat in a lineup that ranks amongst the basement of the National League. In three minor league seasons in Triple-A, Asche is a .300 hitter with 16 homers and 74 RBIs. He hit two homers in 30 games for Philadelphia this season. But transitioning to a new position could be mentally demanding and could take the 24-year old a little while to get the hang of. At the end of the day, Asche still remains on the 40-man roster; so once he develops in the outfield, expect big things from the fifth-best prospect (per the Philadelphia Inquirer) in the Phillies’ organization.
Starters: Phillippe Aumont, David Buchanan, Adam Morgan and Joely Rodriguez
IronPigs pitching ranks poorly in 2015. The lone bright spot in the rotation has been Phillippe Aumont. The 26-year-old pitched well against Syracuse on Monday night. Although his control was not as sharp as it has been, Aumont lasted six innings, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out four. The Canadian right-hander is a power pitcher standing tall at 6’7” on the mound. His fastball touches the mid-90s while his breaking ball has been clocked in the high-70s/low-80s. He’s learned to mix his pitches well. Aumont carries a 1.38 ERA in nine games (only five starts) while holding opposing hitters to a .190 batting average in 2015.
Another player to watch is Adam Morgan. Once a highly touted prospect for the Phillies, Morgan battled shoulder injuries last season before he was sidelined with surgery. Craig Morgan (no relation), the same surgeon who performed Curt Schilling’s career-saving surgery in 2000, operated on Adam Morgan’s pitching arm. Schilling went on to win three World Series titles after that surgery. Adam Morgan is still working back towards peak form. Morgan’s been roughed up a bit in Triple-A in 2015. His ERA is a not-so-eye-popping 4.81 through eight starts.
David Buchanan and Joely Rodriguez are both on the 40-man roster along with Morgan. Rodriguez is eating innings in 2015. In eight starts, he compiled 41 and two-thirds innings of work. Meanwhile, Buchanan is 1-0 in three starts so far in 2015.
Relievers: Jason Berken, Nick Hill, Cesar Jimenez, Dustin McGowan, Adam Loewen, Colton Murray, Seth Rosin and Anthony Vasquez
Colton Murray is the workhorse out of the pen for the IronPigs so far in 2015. The right-hander leads the International League in appearances with 18 games out of the 40 Lehigh Valley contests this year. The 24-year-old is proven as a reliable option out of the IronPigs bullpen. The right-hander only allowed 10 earned runs over 21 innings in 2015. Cesar Jimenez is the most impressive out of the bullpen for the IronPigs so far. The left-hander holds an ERA of 1.83 in 16 appearances. In 19 and two-thirds innings of relief, Jimenez surrendered only four hits while striking out 12. The now 30-year old Jimenez also converted two out of three save opportunities.
That’s all for Triple-A Trickledown for Lehigh Valley. Up next is Indianapolis. The Indians come to town on Friday night to finish the Chiefs’ six-game homestand. Thanks for reading – Broadcast Intern Andrew Grella
Welcome to the first edition of Road Trip Report, my new regular feature with dispatches from the Chiefs’ road trips. I’ll be posting photos and thoughts from the league’s other cities to give folks a feel for life away from Syracuse. First up: last week’s seven-game road trip to Gwinnett and Charlotte.
Life on the road isn’t always glamorous. Case in point: last Monday morning’s travel itinerary.
7 a.m. flight = 5 a.m. bus = 4 a.m. wake-up. And all I had to do on Monday night was talk. There’s no hope of simply rolling out of bed in sweatpants and hopping on a flight, either – the Nationals have mandated sport coats and slacks for the team as a travel dress code.
Our hotel at Gwinnett (quick side note: it’s at Gwinnett, not in Gwinnett – we’re technically in Lawrenceville, GA, in Gwinnett County) is a Courtyard by Marriott, with a tremendous walking and wildlife trail (complete with random bridge) down a staircase right next to the hotel – perfect for an hour-long walk on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
I’m not normally a big chain-restaurant aficionado, but I make a pair of exceptions in Lawrenceville. The first: Chick-Fil-A…not even so much for the food, but for the heavenly Polynesian, Chick-Fil-A and Honey Roasted Barbecue sauces. (I tried to smuggle Polynesian sauce back from Georgia last year in my suitcase. The result was a bit stickier than I had intended.) I asked our hotel shuttle driver to take me to Chick-Fil-A in the mall, which is around a mile away. On the way there, we passed a new Chick-Fil-A. I went to the new one each of the following two days.
The second is Mimi’s Cafe, a mostly western and southern restaurant chain. I have no idea how the lunch or dinner is, but the cinnamon roll French toast is quite delectable:
Gwinnett’s Coolray Field is in its seventh year of existence this year, but it has a brand-new view behind the center and right-field walls: an apartment complex known as The Views at Coolray Field. As far as stadium backdrops go, it’s no Charlotte (more on that in a second), but it sure beats “nothing”.
After four games at Gwinnett, we hopped on a bus around 2 p.m. Thursday and headed to Charlotte – one of the jewels of the league. This was my first time making the trip to Charlotte since the Knights moved from Fort Mill, South Carolina to the actual city in which their name states they exist. Weird, right? That’s like if the New York Giants played in, oh, New Jersey. Wouldn’t make a lick of sense!
I did something Thursday that I otherwise never want to do – I went to a non-Chiefs baseball game. Some people around the game and in this profession can’t get enough of baseball. I have more than my fair share. A night off generally means watching a movie, reading a book or doing anything that has nothing to do with sports – but just hours beforehand, Baseball America‘s list of the top minor-league stadiums in the country came out, and BB&T BallPark in Charlotte was named #1. I had to see it with my own eyes, especially since I’d be solo on the air and couldn’t experience walking around the stadium in-game. So I grabbed my I.L. broadcaster pass and headed Uptown, for the spectacular sight of the park under the lights…
Charlotte’s the league’s most hitter-friendly park – here’s a view from the short “Home Run Porch” in right field.
Built in the middle of the “Uptown” area, BB&T BallPark provides a street-level view for fans walking by – including these two diehards who tell me they’re at just about every game…
With all the pictures from Charlotte, we’re splitting this into two posts – the second dispatch will come later this week, while I sit and dream about the 80-degree weather south of us here in, um, a more temperate climate.
Some of us are feeling particularly inspired today, after seven games in 80-degree weather down south and a 4-3 Chiefs road trip – so, without further adieu, here’s the return of the popular to quite-popular “Stuff You’ll Like” – our daily list of links, Chiefs-related and otherwise, we think you need to know. We’ll start with an outstanding photo recently captured by our own Rick Nelson before moving onto the list…
– Check out all the highlights from Syracuse’s winning road trip.
– Bud Poliquin, our greatest local ponderer, wonders aloud: what happens when people stop going to football games?
– Donna Ditota and her golden retriever, with a dog’s-eye view from last week’s Bark in the Park.
– The Lost Laughs of David Letterman (who’s beginning his final week at CBS.)
– …and while you’re at it, Norm Macdonald’s final standup set and teary goodbye to the show.
– A survivor of Amtrak train 188 writes a brave, gripping account of her ordeal.
– Finally, the first look at my most anticipated film of the year, steve jobs.
“Artists lead. And hacks ask for a show of hands.”
Catch you tonight at 6:50 on The Score 1260 or thescore1260.com.
Denard Span is back from his stint on the disabled list to open the season, which means his replacement, Michael Taylor is headed back to Syracuse to contribute to the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Taylor filled in at center field for Span over the first twelve games of the MLB regular season. He spent most of last season in Double-A Harrisburg but did appear at the Triple-A level for 12 games last season for Syracuse. Here are five reasons why Chiefs fans should be excited to see the future major leaguer in action in a Syracuse uniform.
1. He’s fast
Speed is a necessity to be a successful outfielder in professional baseball. Taylor certainly has that attribute. The 32nd-ranked prospect by Baseball America stole 51 bags in 133 games at Single-A Potomac in 2013. He followed that up with 37 total stolen bases between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse in 2014.
2. He’s a power performer
In 2014, Taylor slugged 23 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A. In 98 games with Double-A Harrisburg, Taylor owned a .539 slugging percentage. In 441 at bats, Taylor had 41 extra base hits, including 17 doubles, 2 triples and 22 home runs.
3. He gets on base
Taylor is a guy that you want at the top of your lineup because he gets on base at a consistent tick. Since 2010, Taylor has failed to finish a season with an on base percentage under .300. His highest on base percentage came with Double-A Harrisburg last season with an OBP of .396 before being called up to Syracuse.
4. He’s a versatile fielder
The 24-year old centerfielder has committed only 44 errors in his five-year career in professional baseball. However, not all of those seasons have been in the outfield. In his first season of professional baseball for the Gulf Coast Nationals, Michael Taylor was a shortstop. He struggled mightily as he committed 13 errors in 19 games. But after moving to the outfield in 2011, Taylor has tightened up his defense. He has averaged just five errors over the past four seasons.
5. He can flat out play
In his first 12 games with the Washington Nationals to open up 2015, he hit .271 with two home runs, six extra base hits and eight RBI’s out of the leadoff spot. Even Taylor’s replacement in the majors, Denard Span, has praised the centerfielder for his ability. “He can play, man,” Span said earlier in the season. “I’ve watched him for the last two spring trainings and watched him go about his business during drills and pregame stuff. Mentally, he has a real good head on his shoulders and he’s going to be real good.”
Eric Gallanty writing to you today, what an opening day in Syracuse it was. Personally, it was my first Chiefs game, and what an amazing way to start. The crowd was awesome and the Chiefs offense answered the call, with 10 runs and 13 hits in a 10-2 win over the RailRiders. We’ll do it again tonight at 6:05 at NBT Bank Stadium. In case you missed it over the first week of the year, here are some roster updates the Chiefs have made so far.
Rafael Martin called up by Washington:
The Chiefs dominant closer a year ago, Martin was added to Washington’s bullpen and what a MLB debut he had. The right hander struck out five consecutive Red Sox on Sunday, the first Nationals pitcher to achieve that feat in his ML debut since Steven Strasburg in 2010. The Chiefs back-end of the bullpen is still in good hands though with former Major League all-star Evan Meek.
Matt den Dekker optioned to Syracuse:
Acquired in a trade from the Mets on March 30th, den Dekker comes to Syracuse after a week in Washington filling the void of the injured Jason Werth. It’s been a great start for den Dekker in his first three games with the Chiefs, picking up four hits and four RBIs.
Felipe Rivero to Washington, Taylor Jordan back to Syracuse
The Nats recalled Jordan before his scheduled start Wednesday after Craig Stammen was placed on the disabled list. Washington designated left-handed pitcher Xavier Cedeno for assignment a few days before, which left the big club short a southpaw in the bullpen. Enter Rivero, who will swap places with Jordan and act as Cedeno’s replacement, with Martin holding Stammen’s spot for now. Jordan is expected to arrive back in Syracuse in the next day or two.
Opening Day for the Syracuse Chiefs takes place tomorrow on the road against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. In order to get Chiefs fans into the baseball spirit, we decided to take a look at five new additions to Syracuse in 2015 to help you get to know your Chiefs before the season begins. Today’s five players to know is written by broadcast intern Andrew Grella.
1. Tony Gwynn, Jr.
– Gwynn has spent parts of eight seasons in the Major Leagues with four different teams in his career. He has played for the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Philadelphia Phillies.
– The 32-year-old center fielder is a career .238 hitter with a .309 on-base-percentage in 685 Major League games. Once Gwynn reaches base, he wreaks havoc on the base paths. In 2011 for the Dodgers, Gwynn swiped 22 bags and has 80 total career steals.
– Tony Gwynn Jr. is the son of the late and great Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
2. Dan Butler
– Butler was the catcher for the Pawtucket Red Sox since 2011 until he was acquired by the Nationals for Danny Rosenbaum in January of 2015.
– Butler made his major league debut on August 10th, 2014. He was pulled from Pawtucket’s August 1st game against the Chiefs because he was called up to the Majors that day.
– Butler was named the team MVP in 2013 for the Pawtucket Red Sox. In that season, he hit .262 with 14 homers and 45 runs batted in.
3. Rich Hill
– Rich Hill brings a ton of experience to the Chiefs pitching staff. The veteran left-hander has played for six major league teams over parts of 10 seasons in the Majors.
– In 2007 with the Cubs, Hill ranked fifth in the National League with 183 strikeouts and batting average against which was just .235 against the left-hander.
– Hill pitched in 14 games for the New York Yankees last season but only accumulated a total of 5 innings. Expect a heavier workload for the 35-year old this year for Syracuse.
4. Kila Ka’aihue
– Kila Ka’aihue is a native of Kailua, Hawaii but will be braving the cooler temperature of Syracuse, N.Y to open up the 2015 season.
– Ka’aihue led the Pacific Coast League in home runs in 2013 before he was sold to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He spent two seasons in Japan. In 2014, Ka’aihue hit .257 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs
– Ka’aihue is notorious for his power. He made his Major League Debut in 2008 and hit his first home run that year off of Gavin Floyd. Ka’aihue has also homered off of Nationals starters Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer.
5. Evan Meek
– Evan Meek was an all star in 2010 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before the All Star Break, he led all National League relievers with a 0.98 ERA.
– Meek pitched very well in Triple-A last year for the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles the Norfolk Tides. In 39 appearances, the right hander posted a sub two ERA and notched 37 strikeouts.
– Meek was the pitcher who served up Derek Jeter’s walk off single in Jeter’s final at bat at Yankee Stadium in 2014.
Some more updates from Nationals training camp as the 25-man roster is almost set down in Jupiter, Florida…this update is brought to you by braodcast intern Andrew Grella.
Nationals Reassign Rafael Martin and Ian Stewart to Minor Leagues
The Nationals announced their latest roster moves after yesterday’s game against the Miami Marlins. Rafael Martin and Ian Stewart have been reassigned to minor league camp and will start the season with Triple-A Syracuse. Washington manager Matt Williams said that both Stewart and Martin can help the big league club later in the season but will start this year in the minors. That’s good news for the Chiefs. Rafael Martin was dominant for Syracuse in 2014. The 30-year old posted a 0.80 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 33 innings in Triple-A last season. In just over six innings of work this spring, Martin allowed six hits and only one earned run while holding opposing batters to a .250 BAA. As for Ian Stewart, he hit .279 in 43 at bats this spring with two doubles and three home runs. Stewart fell short of obtaining the final bench spot for the Nationals to open up 2015.
Nationals Roster Down to 27 with Two Cuts Remaining
With the final 25-man roster due on Sunday afternoon, the Nationals are down to 27 with four days left to cut two more players. Washington will have to cut one pitcher and one position player. The battles will be for the final spot on the bench and for the final spot in the bullpen. For that final spot in the pen, two left handers will be battling to be the second left handed relief pitcher on the roster. The battle appears to be between Xavier Cedeno and Rich Hill. Hill has had better numbers than Cedeno so far this Spring, however if the Nationals choose Hill, Cedeno will have to clear waivers and it is unknown whether he will return to Washington or be traded. So if the Nats would like to keep both lefties, it may be easier to send Hill down first and call him up later. For the bench spot, the battle seems to be between Mike Carp and Clint Robinson. Both players are first basemen who can play a corner outfield position and both hit from the left side of the plate. Carp has more experience than Robinson, but Robinson has had a better spring training so that battle will continue over the final four days for that final roster spot.
What this means for the Chiefs?
1. The Chiefs get a solid reliever in Rafael Martin returning to the roster to start 2015. He may not be down in Triple-A for long but will be a solid addition to the back of the bullpen to help Syracuse win some games to start the season.
2. Ian Stewart looks to have regained some of his power that he was touted for when he was younger. The 29-year-old is looking to have a resurgent year for the Chiefs after bouncing around several teams over the past few seasons. He is a legitimate power threat in the Syracuse lineup for 2015.
3. Mike Carp or Clint Robinson would both provide an offensive spark for the Chiefs. Carp was a major contributor off the bench for the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox but has struggled offensively since last year. He only hit .189 this spring and may be sent down to get his swing back. As for Robinson, he has not played in the Major Leagues up to this point in his career, so we will see whether they want to see more from him in the minors or give him a shot to start the season.
4. The battle between the relief pitchers may come down more on contractual obligations than to skill of each of the left handers. Rich Hill can start out in the minors and has an option to opt out if he is not promoted by June 1st. Meanwhile, Xavier Cedeno will have to go through waivers if he does not start 2015 with the new club. Chiefs fans won’t want to miss Hill who has pitched very well in the Spring. When his curveball is biting, it is one of the nastiest benders in the majors.