Results tagged ‘ Collin Balester ’

Danny’s Song OR Collin All Chiefs

It’s almost October.  Can you believe that?  I mean, really.  Time flies.  And how ’bout that weather….it’s really  been scorching over the past week.  

Wait a second.  Why am I treating you, dearest blog reader, like a random person on the elevator?  That’s inappropriate.  I’m sorry.

For me, it feels like  a year since the Chiefs’ season ended when, in fact, it’s been no longer than three weeks at the time of this writing.  That Labor Day afternoon in Pawtucket was rather similar to the other finales I’ve ever seen.  Some players are excited the season’s over (they get to see their families or, less harmoniously, get to become free agents); others can’t really believe it’s time to put baseball away for half a year.  For the manager of the Chiefs, though, the season was not over.  Trent Jewett was summoned to the big-league team as an extra coach upon the conclusion of the season.  He was reunited there with Wilson Ramos, Joe Bisenius, Collin Balester and the rest of the ex-Chiefs on the Nats’ lineup card.  Trent also has under his watch one of his favorite players from his Indianapolis days, the much-in-the-news Nyjer Morgan.  Knowing Trent after a season, he’ll work until he finds a way to get Njyjer to stop doing Robin Ventura impersonations 

Let’s be honest, the Nats are a haven for former 2010 Chiefs right now.  In case you’ve been in football mode, here’s a rapid-fire what-are-they-now:

RHP Collin Balester:  Owns a major-league ERA of 2.12 in 14 appearances.  Has not allowed a run of any kind in 12 innings and a third, dating back to August 3rd.  He’s getting 2.5 ground balls for every fly ball.  We told you in late July he seemed to have bought into the reliever concept and turned a corner.  Looks like that shoe still fits.

RHP Joe Bisenius:  Has allowed just one run in four appearances–a solo homer for Carlos Ruiz against Bisenius’ former team, the Phillies.  In August, when we were in Louisville, I rode over to the park with Greg Booker and Bats outfielder Dave Sappelt.  When I came upon Book and Dave, they were talking about a reliever from the previous night whom Sappelt couldn’t believe was in the minors.  That man was Joe Bisenius.

RHP Yunesky Maya:  Has made four starts.  Has lost three of them.  Has thrown no more than 92 pitches and has finished six innings only once.  Throws so many breaking balls–a scout told me that Maya’s going to have to mix in the fastball more if he’s going to have any chance to be successful.  Keep showing the breaking stuff, the scout said, and MLB hitters will be all over it.

OF Michael Morse:  .296, 13 HR, 38 RBI.  Has walked in seven of his last eight games.  Most people involved with the Chiefs–and listeners alike–know that I like Michael Morse and his game.  When he was rehabbing in Toledo, though, Morse gave me a reason to appreciate him even more.  Talking to me for our On-Deck Show, Morse told me that he had finally figured out what he was–he’s someone that can play a number of positions at the big-league level and who should have success.  That’s why he was so down about his early-season injury.  He knew he was going to have a monster season.  Changed his mindset completely in the offseason, he said.  Good for him.

C Wilson Ramos:  Has a hit in five straight at the time of this writing.  Battered knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for a homer and a double on September 8th against the Mets.

IF Danny Espinosa:  With Jordan Zimmermann on the mound on September 6th, Espinosa hit a pair of homers, including a grand slam.  Jim Riggleman had this to say, “It’s one of those days where you really feel good about the direction the organization is going, you know, Zimmermann’s out there, young athletic guys are out there, everybody’s swinging the bat…It was a good day. It’s a statement for the organization that, as we say, “there is light at the end of the tunnel.”    Coincidentally enough, that day was one of two in 21 appearances in which Espinosa played his natural position, shortstop.  In each of his other starts, Espinosa has manned second base.  In the two games in which Espinosa has been the shortstop, Ian Desmond has not been in the lineup.

Football note of the week:  Congrats to F-M’s Hornets on starting the season at 4-0 with a win over Utica-Proctor Friday.  The offensive line opened up more holes than Woodward and Bernstein in the ’70s.

Travel note of the week:  I found out Saturday morning that I didn’t know what metal detectors actually detect.  A TSA agent at the conveyor belt at Hancock Saturday morning asked me if my belt usually sets off the alarm.  “No,” I said, never having to take off my belt previously.  I amble through the gray checkpoint and the siren sounds.  I wonder silently if the agent who asked that question is some sort of warlock.  I take off my belt, put it in a circular tub for screening and walk through again.  I’m clean.  

As I stride to gate 21, I place my phone back in my left pocket.  As I do so, my hand lands on the perp.  I had detached my Alliance Bank Stadium key from my ring for the trip to Syracuse.   Mathematically, then:

Belt = no alarm

Key = no alarm

Belt + key = alarm

I would have bet a lot of money that metal detectors scoured my person for types of metal, not a volume of metal.  That’s obviously not the case.

Stupid Benetti moment of the week:  As I fished my license out of my pocket so the gatekeeper with the fluorescent light at security could verify that I indeed am me, I realized I still possessed the keys to my rental car.   No, Jason, you can’t keep the tomato-red Chrysler Sebring.

Hey, and check out the front page of  Those nifty retro jerseys from Throwback Thursday are up for auction along with some Strasburg bric-a-brac.  I think you’ll see something you like.  

Oh, before I forget, the offseason does not exist for my email.  Send your notes or questions to   If it’s a hard question, I may refer you to the appropriate quiz on


Senators of Today..Chiefs of Tomorrow?

HBG to SYR.jpg

As the end of July looms near and the Chiefs are in the
midst of the International League playoff hunt, it seems like a good time to
take a look at some of the players who may join the Chiefs as the playoffs come
ever closer.


September 1st–far away today but really will be
here tomorrow (the older you get, the clearer that becomes), is the day that
Major League rosters expand to 40 players. While this doesn’t mean much today
for the Syracuse roster, it could be significant down the road. Current Chiefs
players on the 40-man roster include: Justin Maxwell (four trips to the bigs
this season), Carlos Maldonado (played in 4 games with the Nats between May and
June), Collin Balester (with Washington as of today), Jesse English, Atahualpa
Severino, and Shairon Martis.


If those players go up come September, that means players
from within the Washington farm system could find themselves moving up to
Syracuse. Josh Wilkie, now a staple of the Chiefs bullpen, didn’t arrive at
Alliance Bank Stadium until July 25th of last season.


To find out about some of the players who might rise, I
spoke with Terry Byrom, the radio broadcaster of the Harrisburg Senators, the
Nationals Double-A affiliate. He’s in his sixth season with the Senators and
has an extensive knowledge of the Nationals of the future.


The first player to talk about was shortstop Danny Espinosa.
He was a third round pick out of Long Beach State University, which has quite a
history of producing major league ready infielders
including Evan Longoria and
Troy Tulowitzki. 

Danny Espinosa.jpg

 Photo via

Last year with Advanced-A Potomac (suddenly that’s the hot
place to be if you want to end up in Syracuse–see Leatherman, D. Whiting, B.)
he hit .264 with 18 HR, 72 RBI, and 29 SB.


“There’s no one area of his game we look at and say,
‘Boy, we need to make huge strides quickly here,’ because he’s polished in all
areas. And you just don’t see middle infielders with his type of arm
strength,” said then Potomac manager Trent Jewett to the Washington Post
last May. 


This season he’s batting .258 with 14 HR, 41 RBI and 18 SB
for Harrisburg.


“I think right now he’s a very good defensive infielder and
I would say his glove is better than his bat. Having said that, his bat is
awfully good. I think he’s starting to figure out the pitching and for guys
that come up from “A” ball it’s just a series of adjustments that need to be
made,” said Byrom.


Espinosa earned himself a spot on the roster for the Futures
Game earlier this month. As Espinosa does advance through the system though,
his position could change, Byrom says.

The Nationals already have 2009 Chief Ian Desmond as their
starting shortstop, but that doesn’t worry Espinosa who played some second base
during spring training.


“Whether I play second or short, I’d just rather be up
there. I don’t really care. I’d like to play short, but if the team thinks I’m
going to play second base better and I can help with second base more than
short, that’s the decision and I’ll roll with that and I’m fine. I’m totally
happy with that. I just want to make it up there,” Espinosa told Adam Kilgore
of the Washington Post last month. 


The Chiefs have used four different shortstops this year
with Pedro Lopez (41 games) playing the most of anyone in that spot.


Another player who may be a Chief not before long is first
baseman Chris Marrero. A first round pick out of high school in Miami in 2006,
he could be a big part of the Washington future. Marrero’s advancement may
depend on whether or not Adam Dunn is still a National after the July 31st
trading deadline. 

Chris Marrero.jpg

Photo via  

Marrero spent parts of 2007, 2008 and 2009 with Advanced-A
Potomac before making the jump to Double-A last season and playing in 23 games
with the Senators for whom he hit .267.


Now with almost a full season of Double-A baseball under his
belt, Marrero is hitting .297 with 13 HR and 58 RBI along with 19 doubles.
Plus, he’s hot now–in June he hit .359, and in July he’s hitting .333.


Byrom says it was about Marrero adjusting to a higher level
after nearly three seasons in Woodbridge, VA.


“I think the Nationals felt that he needed to show some
consistency at the plate and ever since May 1st he’s been
incredible. He’s second in the Eastern League in hits, he’s much better at
first base and he just looks more comfortable there than he did last year. He
has worked really hard on his defense. He has gone from a power hitter who is
serviceable at first base, to one who can end up being a pretty good defensive
first baseman. Most of his errors have actually come on throws, but he’s gotten
a lot better at picking balls out of the dirt. I’d say the biggest thing he’s
improved on is receiving poor throws from the infield. He’s young and will only get better.”


Ever since Josh Whitesell (40 starts at first and at the
time a team leading 34 RBI) left for Japan, the Chiefs have rotated between
Chris Duncan (on the DL), Jason Botts, Chase Lambin, and even Bill Rhinehart at
first base. A combination of two power bats in Botts and Marrero could be
lethal for a late season run at the playoffs.


The last player we looked at was pitcher Tom Milone, who
leads Harrisburg in wins this season with a 7-5 record and a 3.08 ERA. A Rule 5 draft pick out of USC in 2008, he pitched
opposite former Nationals draftee Aaron Crow in the summer of 2007 in the Cape
Cod Baseball League and was named the Pitcher of the Year. (Crow is now with
the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Double-A affiliate of the Royals.) 

Tom Milone.jpg

Photo via 


Milone draws some comparisons to John Lannan but has made his mark in the minors due to his control of his pitches. Through
the 2009 season, he had struck out 155 batters and walked just 45. In addition,
he’s moved quickly through the system spending just six games with Vermont in
2008 and the rest of that season in Hagerstown. Last year he was 12-5 with a
2.91 ERA at Potomac.


“Tom is a lefthander that will throw into the low 90’s and
so he’s not a guy that just kicks around and uses off-speed stuff. He’s also
not afraid to go inside on right-handed hitters. For a lefty that’s pretty
important. This year he has pitched himself onto (the Nationals) radar. He was
on their radar before, but now he is being thought of as a guy that could crack
the rotation in the Majors,” Byrom said.


Syracuse has put together a reliable rotation with Shairon
Martis, Matt Chico, Jeff Mandel, Erik Arnesen and Jason Jones, but two of those
players (Martis and Chico) both have Major League experience. Nobody, including
Collin Balester
, knows when the call is going to come.


But when the phone rings at Triple-A, it starts a game of
telephone with stops in Harrisburg, Woodbridge, Hagerstown and Burlington,


Photo via



Thanks for reading and listening each night. If you would
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Spring Training Bracketology – Pitching

With two weeks gone in spring training 2010 the Washington Nationals roster is beginning to take shape.  In the spirit of the NCAA field of 65 announcement today we thought we would look at where the Nationals might be with their major league and minor league pitching staffs at this point.

Major League starting rotation:  John Lannan and Jason Marquis are locks, while Scott Olsen should be penciled in as the third starter.  Craig Stammen coming off late season surgery is good enough for the fourth spot with veterans Livian Hernandez and Miguel Batista are fighting for the 5th spot – that won’t be needed until April 19th due to off days.

Major League bullpen:  Matt Capps and Brian Bruney are the back end, while Tyler Clippard and lefty Sean Burnett will pitch early.  That leaves Jason Bergmann, who is out of options, and Tyler Walker, who has been hit hard to date to fill out the staff.    Batista could be used as well early of if he doesn’t make the rotation.  Lefty Ron Villone, a non-roster player and now 41 years old would give them a second lefty out of the pen but right now is the 13 pitcher on a 12 or 11 man staff. 

AAA-Syracuse Staff:  A good deal of this staff depends on the health and decisions made with Olsen, Batista and Hernandez, but the Chiefs appear loaded no matter what happens.

J.D. Martin, Garrett Mock, Shairon Martis, veteran lefties Matt Chico, Chuck James, Andrew Kown, Collin Balester, Luis Atilano and Aaron Thompson give the team a wealth of depth to choose from.  In addtion, where does Stephen Strasburg begin his baseball career?

Bullpen includes:  Six lefthanded pitchers are competing for two maybe three spots and include Doug Slaten, Victor Garate, Jesse English – all picked up in the off season, while Nationals prospects Attie Severino, Yunior Novoa and Jack Spradlin return.

From the righthanded side of the bullpen the guy drafted after Stephen Strasburg – Drew Storen has been fantastic in spring training and could begin the season in Washington, but most likley will start in Syracuse with veterans Logan Kensing, Ryan Speier, Joel Peralta, Rafael Martin and Nationals prospect Josh Wilkie giving the Chiefs quality to choose from.  The Nats could even move Collin Balester or Luis Atilano to the bullpen – similar to the last seasons experiment with Tyler Clippard that payed off nicely.

That’s 22 names for 12 roster spots – pitching in 2010 looks very strong.

And we haven’t even talked about these guys……

Jeff Mandel 12-6   3.38 ERA – AA/A last season

Eric Arnesen 12-7   3.52 ERA AA/A last season

Brad Meyers  11-3  1.72 ERA AA/A last season

Marcos Frias  9-5  2.91 ERA Single A last season

AJ Morris  0-4  3.38  ERA in Single A last season

Tom Millone  12-5  2.91 ERA in Single A last season

Willie Atwood  8-8  4.61 ERA in Single A last season

These pitchers will likely play in AA this season and earn AAA promotions at some point during the 2010 season.

Pitching is strong in this organization and it’s all coming very fast through Central New York this summer.

Thank God it’s early!!!!

Spent the afternoon at Space Coast Stadium on Monday as the Nationals lost again 11-2 to the Florida Marlins.  Nats pitching has been giving up runs at an unbelievable pace – 64 runs in their first 50 innings of work.

Today, Scott Olsen made his first start of the spring and gave up three runs in the first inning and was hit hard and often giving up 7-hits in two innings of work.  Collin Balester pitched into the 5th inning but he too was torched for 4-runs and 7-hits before he gave way to lefty Jesse English.
The Nats tallied only six hits, and had solo home runs by Josh Willingham in the 2nd and Ryan Zimmerman in the 6th for their only runs.  Pete Orr played second base and made a fine defensive play in the first to save a run.
Tomorrow, the Nationals take on the Detroit Tigers at Space Coast Stadium as “The Franchise” Stephen Strasburg makes his spring debut,  The game will be televised on MLB Network – Channel 100 for you Time Warner Cable fans.
Chiefs radio voice Jason Benetti arrived in Viera today and is ready to provide interviews, and his take on spring training 2010.


The Chiefs and Yankees will play a doubleheader today beginning at 5:00 PM after last nights game was rained out.  That’s the third rainout of the season and hopefully the last.  Ex-Chiefs pitcher JOSH TOWERS goes in game one for Scranton vs COLLIN BALESTER who has pitched well for the Chiefs in his last two starts.

Game two will have JD MARTIN opposing GEORGE KONTOS.  MARTIN has an incredible 2 walks to 31 strikeout ratio through his first 8 starts this season.

The Chiefs and Yankees conclude the series on Thursday with a 7:00 start.


Hot Stove ignites old and new flames in Syracuse

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The guest list for the 48th Annual Hot Stove and Dinner will be filled with stars on and off the field from the Syracuse Chiefs and the Washington Nationals. However, it has just been recently announced that Randy St. Claire, former Chiefs pitcher and current Nationals Pitching Coach as well as Collin Balester, Nationals’ top right-handed pitching prospect will also be in attendance this Friday Jan 16 for the annual event.

Randy St. Claire was a Chiefs pitcher for the 1993 and 1994 seasons. In 1994 he was named to the International League’s All-Star Team. He was also a big part of the Chiefs team that went to the Governor’s Cup finals in 1994. St. Claire also set a team record with 33 regular season saves, 13 of which earned in the month of August, another club record in itself.

St. Claire arrived in professional baseball when he was signed as a free agent by the Montreal Expos in September of 1978 and made his major league debut for the team in 1984. St. Claire spent ten years in the big leagues as a player then reverted to coaching in 1996. After seven years of coaching in the minor leagues, he made his big league pitching coach debut in 2003 replacing then Expos (Nationals) pitching coach Dick Pole.

Randy 1.jpgTo his credit, St. Claire coached some of the finest talent in the major leagues including Luis Ayala, Chad Cordero, and Shawn Hill. He is also given credit to the entire back end of the 2005 Nationals bullpen that participated in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Randy St. Claire is the NL East’s longest tenured pitching coach. 


Collin Balester, 22, was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. Throughout his young life, with his father’s influence, he has heavily participated in baseball. He even attributes his arm strength to surfing. That work finally began to pay off as he was drafted by the Montreal Expos and then made his professional debut for the Expos’ Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2004 at the age of 18. He pitched in 5 games and collected a .215 opponent batting average, 7.7 strikeouts per 9 innings, and no home runs allowed in over 24 innings.

Collin%20Balester.jpgIn his first complete season, Balester posted an 8-6 record with an impressive 3.67 ERA with the Savannah Sand Gnats. He went on to post exemplary stats during his time in the minors, and Balester got the call to “The Show” and made his major league debut on July 1, 2008, where he pitched 5 strong innings against the Florida Marlins and came away with his first big league win.

Balester pitched in 15 games last season for the Nationals and in 2009 will enter his first full season in Major League Baseball.

For more information about the Syracuse Chiefs Hot Stove Dinner and Auction visit us on the web at

Find out more about Collin Balester with Bally’s Blog at

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