Results tagged ‘ Justin Maxwell ’
With Jason Benetti and Kevin Brown back in Syracuse, they have left me to keep you updated on the comings and goings of Spring Training 2011.
* Tigers defeated the Nationals Monday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium 4-2. In the game former Chiefs manager Garth Iorg’s son Cale Iorg doubled in a run and played flawless at shortstop for the Tigers. Look for Cale to begin the season with the Mud Hens.
* Another former Chief’s son, Patrick Leyland, (son of Jim Leyland) caught the final three innings.
* Today (Tuesday) was able to catch the Blue Jays and Phillies in lovely Dunedin, Florida. Phils had most of their starters on hand and former Chiefs Pete Orr and Michael Martinez played in the later innings. Both have a chance to be with the Phillies on opening day after injuries to Chase Utley and Placido Polanco.
* Visted the Chiefs former winter home for 31 years – Englebert Recreational Complex and took in a few innings of their AAA and AA games. Former Chiefs still with Toronto include Doug Davis (Minor League Field Coordinator), Dane Johnson (Minor League Pitching Coordinator), Omar Malave (Gulf Coast League Manager), Jim Czjawski (Pitching Coach at Vancouver-rookie) who was the winning pitcher in the first game ever at then P&C Stadium on April 6th, 1997. Dennis Holmberg will be in Bluefield-rookie and big Sal Fasano will be in AA-New Hamphsire all came over to say hello.
* Former Chiefs outfielder in 2009-10 Leonard Davis is in the Jays camp trying to catch make the AAA-Las Vegas team, closer to his California home.
* Off to Legends Field on Wednesday to see former Chiefs outfielder Justin Maxwell and Chiefs Wall of Famer Ron Guidry who is in camp as an instructor.
Just four weeks until the Home Opener in Syracuse…..
The Washington Nationals signed outfielder Buck Coats to a minor league deal and assigned him to AAA-Syracuse where he played in 2008 as a member of the Chiefs.
Coats, 28, began the 2010 season at AAA-Omaha (Royals) before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in April. He played 18-games at AA-Birmingham before joining AAA-Charlotte for the remainder of the season (80 games) in May. Combined he batted .296 with 7 HR 48 RBI for the Knights.
The left-handed hitting Coats batted .302 with Las Vegas (Blue Jays) in 2009 and .286 with the Chiefs in 2008.
The Nationals potential AAA outfielders include Coats, Jeff Frazier, Corey Brown, Jonathan Van Every, Boomer Whiting, Jesus Valdez and could include Justin Maxwell who is currently on the major league roster.
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
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
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
This season he’s batting .258 with 14 HR, 41 RBI and 18 SB
“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
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.)
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,
Hey! Mike Couzens checking in with you here in the midst of the International League All-Star break. While we’re technically away from baseball for three days, I’ve gone on vacation only to run into…more baseball. I’m spending my time off on beautiful Cape Cod and while I’ve been here, I ran across a story that I couldn’t pass up. I was talking to an old friend of mine and when I told him about the Chiefs, the name Justin Maxwell immediately came into his mind. My friend remembered that he played in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2003, and was a pretty good player back then too. Here’s the story of how Justin Maxwell made a anme for himself before he was a Chief:
Anybody worth their weight in sea salt can tell you that the
state of Maryland has some of the best soft-shell crabs the east coast has to offer. One
thing that became very clear in the summer of 2003 was that Marylanders don’t
do lobsters, quahogs, or clams. Why’s that? Justin Maxwell made it obvious.
Maxwell, then a 19 year-old outfielder from the University
of Maryland, was another name among hundreds in the prestigious Cape Cod
Baseball League. It’s the nation’s top summer wooden bat league in Cape Cod,
Massachusetts. Maxwell was a member of the Bourne Braves and was trying to make
a name for himself in front of professional scouts alongside the best
collegiate players in the nation.
Bourne is a small town nestled into the northwest corner of
Cape Cod and has a strong fan base for baseball. Current New Jersey Devils
President Lou Lamoriello played on a championship team in Bourne back in 1965.
The baseball might be different now then it was back then, but one constant in
the CCBL is families hosting players. The ballplayers are coming from all over
the country to play for the summer, and families give them a place to stay and
food to eat.
Maxwell lived with then Braves General Manager Sean Walsh,
and one day Maxwell was invited over another family’s house for food, lots of
“I invited him, his parents were over and we had a Cape Cod
clambake–lobsters, clams, quahogs, sausage, onions and stuffing. He didn’t know
what he was getting into when he sat down to the table at that one. His parents
knew less. But they really enjoyed it and they’re great people,” said Stanley
“Froggy” Eldridge, the father-in-law of current General Manager Mike Carrier.
Carrier remembers that Maxwell wasn’t quite sure how to dig
in to a lobster or how to eat a clam.
“You would think with the crabs and everything (from
Maryland). But you know, we have some unique seafood up here that you don’t get
down there. But how many of us know what soft shell crabs are up here?” Carrier
That was Justin Maxwell off the field. On the field, he
almost didn’t even garner a roster spot.
Each year the league holds the Frank Finn tryout at
Wareham’s Spillane Field. It’s a diamond that doubles as a football field and
uses stonedust on the infield rather than dirt. It’s a striking image at first
to see gray covering the basepaths rather than the normal parched brown of the
Players usually from smaller schools are invited to the
tryout and will come from places like the University of Maine or Delaware to
compete with players from the big name schools like Texas, Southern Miss, and
Auburn who already have guaranteed contracts for the season. Out of the nearly
eighty players that try out, maybe ten will be lucky to make a roster. In 2003,
Maxwell was one of those ten.
“At the Wareham tryout that he was the top athlete of that
whole group of about 80 players. You could see that he was an excellent
ballplayer and it was pretty amazing that he hadn’t been signed by one of the
Cape League ball clubs by then,” said Carrier.
Carrier wasn’t the only one watching. Representatives from
every team, whether it be a general manager or field manager, will be on hand
to look at potential players. Cooper Farris, who has managed the Wareham
Gatemen since 2001, was at the tryout at his home field and has vivid memories
of a 19 year-old with a hulking frame and a lethal weapon for an arm.
“I probably messed up because I had some Maryland guys (who
had played for me). I didn’t know the name coming out (of the tryout) and the
big thing is, a lot of the guys go on the scene–we’ve got two guys on our team
hitting .300 that we got from the tryout. There’s a lot of guys out there and
he’s one of them but he’s a special one,” said Farris.
Maxwell was scooped up by Bourne and in a 44 game season, he
played in 43 of them. Maxwell hit .307 with two home runs and 47 hits in just
153 at bats.
Photo courtesy of SportsPix
He helped his Braves team to a 23-19 record and a first
place finish in the Western Division. A record of four games over .500 may not
sound like much, but in a league where even some of the best teams hover around
.500, it’s a feat to remember.
The record isn’t the only thing people remember.
“I remember Justin was a big kid and he was a strong kid and
he could hit the ball a long way. I remember watching him at Coady Field, which
was our field before Doran Park, and he was a great player. I’m not surprised
at all that he’s at the level he’s at. He was a great hitter and was great in
the outfield,” said Bob Kruse, the Vice President of Operation for the Braves.
Farris says Maxwell had one of the best arms of a
centerfielder he has ever seen in a decade of coaching the best the country has
Maxwell was the starting leftfielder in the All-Star game
for the Western Division that year and also picked up an award once bestowed
upon Nomar Garciaparra in 1993.
He was given the Manny Robello 10th player award
for his stellar season.
Photo courtesy of SportsPix
“He was pretty well stunned over that. He was shocked that he
won it because there were other players that were as good as he. He was
outstanding. He shined,” said Eldridge.
Looking back, it shouldn’t have been all too surprising to
anyone. Maxwell was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 Major League
Baseball draft and began to play professionally in 2006.
By 2007, he was already in a Washington Nationals uniform.
“You could definitely see that he had the potential to get a
lot better and obviously he has. He’s been very successful between Triple-A and
the Major Leagues. It’s a nice feeling to see our former players succeed (in
the Majors) like that,” said Carrier.
At Triple-A Syracuse this year, Maxwell was hitting .296,
with 6 HR and 18 RBI before his most recent call up–the third this season.
With the Nationals in 2010, Maxwell is just 4-38 (.105) with
1 HR and 3 RBI.
The quest still lives within Maxwell to be an everyday
outfielder for the Washington Nationals. That remains constant and so does the
desire of fans, whether they be in Bourne, Massachusetts, Syracuse, New York or
his hometown of Olney, Maryland, to see him succeed at every level.
Whether it was Cooper Farris, vividly recalling images of
Maxwell, after his team had just won a 12 inning marathon ending at 11 p.n.
last Monday, or Mike Carrier jogging his brain for the Terps star who couldn’t
crack a lobster claw, or Stanley “Froggy” Eldridge just showing up to an early
July game with a folding chair to see the next Justin Maxwell play–the
sentiment is the same.
“He’s a great kid. He was a good defensive centerfielder,
could hit good and I just wish him the best,” said Eldridge.
EXTRA: Watch video of Farris and Carrier talk about Maxwell
I hope you’re enjoying the All-Star Break. If you get the MLB Network, you can watch Chase Lambin on July 14th as he represents the Chiefs as the International League takes on the Pacific Coast League in Allentown, PA.
Please do get in touch to share any thoughts, questions, concerns or comments. I would love to hear from you. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter we are @ChiefsRadio.
With one week until the start of the 2010 baseball season the Washington Nationals will need to decide who they will take north to DC in the next few days.
Here is our take on the competition:
Pitching: John Lannan, Jason Marquis and Garrett Mock have been announced as three members of the rotation. Craig Stamman has been very good this spring while Livian Hernandez has been okay as well. the skinny: Scott Olsen who is coming back from an injury pitches on Sunday. Stamman or Olsen could start in Syracuse or the Nats could release the veteran Hernandez.
Bullpen: Matt Capps is the closer with Brian Bruney the 8th inning guy. Sean Burnett, the lone lefty in the pen and Tyler Clippard will face lefties. Miguel Batista works as a long man and sometime starter and Jason Bergmann has pitched will enough to provide innings.
Catching: It’s Pudge Rordriquez and Will Nieves with Jesus Flores starting the season on the disabled list.
Infielders: Adam Dunn plays !B, Adam Kennedy is at 2B, Ryan Zimmerman is the 3B. Christain Guzman appears to have proven he can throw and will begin the season as the shortstop. Alberto Gonzalez has hit well enough to be a capable back-up at three infield positions. Mike Morse can play 3B, 1B and the outfield.
The skinny: Ian Desmond returns to Syracuse to play everyday at shortstop. Eric Bruntlett could stick as utility man.
Outfielders: Josh Willingham is in LF, Nyger Morgan in CF, Willie Harris and Willy Taveras look to platoon RF, while Roger Bernadina has hit enough to provide the team with defense and speed off the bench.
The skinny: Bernadina has a leg up on Justin Maxwell for the last spot on the roster.
That’s 24 names we see on the team. The dilemma is do the Nats take 11 or 12 pitchers north. A 12th pitcher Tyler Walker, who has pitched well lately could happen. If not they need to add another infielder/outfielder. Eric Bruntlett has played well all spring and can play both the infield and outfield. Justin Maxwell did not hit enough in spring but can run and is an excellent defensive player. The skinny: The Nats keep Bruntlett and option Walker and Maxwell to Syracuse.
If all this happens what’s in store for the Chiefs. Check back with us a little later on for the Chiefs part of the puzzle.
The Washington Nationals released outfielder Elijah Dukes earlier this week after speing three years in the organization. The Nationals decided that Dukes who struggled this spring would not be in their plans for the future and gave him his unconditional release.
That opens up the rightfield spot for a number of players who are still in camp: Speedy slap hitters Roger Bernadina and Willy Taveras add more speed and defense, while prospect Justin Maxwell can provide excellent defense, speed and has more power.
Veterans Kevin Mench and Chris Duncan also have played well and former Chief Mike Morse has impressed Nats brass with his bat as well this spring.
Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen both were optioned to AA-Harrisburg on Saturday and will begin the 2010 season with the Senators. Both pitchers were impressive in spring training after being drafted number #1 and number #10 in last season June draft. Strasburg out of San Diego State and Storen from Stanford.
Nationals also optioned lefthanded pitchers Matt Chico and Doug Slaten and catcher Jamie Burke to Syracuse today in another round of cuts. The Nationals currently have 39 players in camp.
Remember those commercials from the early ’90s that tried to coerce you to stay outside of Disney World if you went? The ones with the targets that illustrated how close Kissimmee/St. Cloud is to Orlando. I didn’t see a Magic Kingdom nearby. Lots of pawn shops, roadside motels and IHOPs, though.
The Nationals were the visitors of the Astros today at Osceola County Stadium. And, well, they led. Big. 5-1 in the sixth. And lost 8-7.
1) Matt Chico allowed five earned runs in one inning. The rest of the staff (Olsen, Storen, Capps, Atilano and Burnett) surrendered two runs in seven innings and a third.
2) Justin Maxwell made a heck of a diving catch in right field with the bases loaded in the fifth against Geoff Blum.
3) Drew Storen threw six strikes in his first six pitches. Looks smooth, folks. Plus, he’s a really engaging guy.
1) Scott Olsen got one groundout in seven batters faced. The first two hitters of the game–Jason Burgeois and ex-Tide/Bat Jeff Keppinger–tripled and doubled, respectively. Burgeois could have made his an in-the-park home run.
2) On the sixth pitch from Storen, Pedro Feliz floated a ball down the first base line. Chris Duncan was mystified by the 30 mph wind and ended the play on his backside. It was one of three trips to the deck for Duncan at first today.
3) The bullpen isn’t exactly a SuperMax prison. Each reliever walked a batter.
So, the Nats have won as many games as you and me. What that likely means for Syracuse: A lot of guys on the roster who have legitimate Major-League experience.
-Ran into Ian Desmond postgame. He got married this offseason. It’s a pandemic. Everyone’s doing it. Congrats to Ian.
-Roger Clemens’ son Koby played first base for the Astros today starting in the 8th. Koby was in Salem with me in 2008. He’s a brave young man who was willing to talk to all comers that season, a really rough one for his family.
-A little girl sitting four rows behind me took quite a fall mid-game. A man a few seats down offered to get her some ice. Very kind. When he returned, the man told the girl’s father a story about another child he saw fall at a game once. Very odd.
-Dear Denny’s waitress, A blueberry pancake puppy does not sound appetizing. It sounds rabid. Signed, Jason.
Oh, by the way, President George H.W. Bush was here. Talk about burying the lead, huh? Secret service agents were all over the third base seats.
26 days until the opener.
Thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon in Florida as we closed out the Spring Training tour by watching the Mets take on the Braves on their home turf at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney.
The Syracuse Chiefs behind excellent pitching and a two-run home run defeated Round Rock (Houston) on Thursday 3-0,
Jordan Zimmerman went 5 innings, allowing only 1 hit and recorded 8 strikouts. Former Toledo Mud Hen Preston Larrison also tossed two shutout innings in relief.
Outfielder Ryan Langerhans hit a solo home run in the 4th inning and Jorge Padilla drove in two runs with a single in the sixth.
Ryan Langerhans RF
Pete Orr 2B
Brad Eldred 1B
Justin Maxwell CF
Joel Guzman 3B
Jorge Padilla DH
Leonard Davis LF
Freddie Bynum SS
Mike Vento PH
Javier Herrera C
The Chiefs are home vs the Gwinnett Braves today in Vierra, FL.
The Round Rock Express (Houston Astros) defeated the Syracuse Chiefs on Monday 4-3 in Kissimmee, FL.†
The Chiefs lineup consisted of:
Roger Bernadina CF
Mike Vento 2B
Justin Maxwell† RF
Brad Eldred DH
Leonard Davis LF
Joel Guzman 3B
Mark Whitney 1B
Jemel Spearman SS
Javier Herrera C
Luke Montz C
Brad Eldred went 2 for 3 with two doubles.† Joel Guzman was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Mike Vento had an RBI single.† Mark Whitney and Jemel Spearman had the other two hits.
On the Mound Tyler Clippard† started and pitched 3 shutout innings allowing only 1 hit.† Righthander Bobby Brownlie pitched the ninth giving up the winning run.
The Chiefs take on the Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers) in Lakeland, FL on Wednesday.