July 20, 2012
Corpus Christi Caller Times
By: Greg Rajan
While Friday was Luhnow’s first Hooks regular-season game this year, he said he’s been apprised of the team’s progress with daily reports. The Hooks’ first-place status was reflective of the Astros’ farm system, which boasted a MLB-best 280-233 record entering the weekend.
“First of all, we want to win at the big-league level — that’s the ultimate goal,” Luhnow said. “But what I’ve found in my career in baseball is that if you have minor-league teams that are winning and you’re doing it with your own players who are prospects, that usually results in winning in the major leagues eventually.”
July 9, 2012
Wall Street Journal
By: Mike Sielski
Nimmo, who stands 6-feet-3-inches, bats left-handed and throws right-handed, signed for $2.1 million, and he’s the most intriguing long-term project in the organization. He attended Cheyenne East High School in Wyoming but didn’t play baseball there. He couldn’t: Wyoming doesn’t have high-school baseball. (He did play in elite traveling leagues and for his local American Legion team.)
During Nimmo’s first two weeks in Brooklyn, his unfamiliar surroundings—the hotel room near Prospect Park that is his new home, a subway car stuffed with passengers, the sight of parents pushing strollers along the Coney Island boardwalk after midnight—unsettled him, and he admitted that he allowed that discomfort to bleed into his play.
In his manager’s mind, Nimmo’s unfailing politeness has been something of an impediment, too. Donnelly has told him to break his habit of calling men “sir” because he comes off as too deferential, too passive, and Donnelly wants to cultivate more aggressiveness in Nimmo as a hitter. “We’ve tried to get him to attack, attack,” Donnelly said.
Then, on June 30, Nimmo socked a game-winning grand slam against Aberdeen on the second pitch of an at-bat. “A thousand pounds came off my back,” he said. The home run was part of an eight-game stretch over which he drove in 12 runs and raised his batting average 42 points.
“If I’d had at-bats like he had, I’d have gone home by now—I’m serious,” Donnelly said. “He’s been fried up at the plate. They’d filet him, too. And the next day, it’s like it never happened. That’s an amazing quality to have in a 19-year-old.”
July 20, 2012
By: Elliott Pap
“It wasn’t really great in Korea, we were living in Seoul, so he just decided to move us,” Chung explained Thursday, sitting in the stands at Nat Bailey Stadium prior to the C’s 7-4 victory over the Spokane Indians. “I mean, I had no idea what was going on. I was in elementary school, like the fifth grade. Then we got to the airport and I said: ‘Are we moving to another island or a different country?’ I didn’t speak any English at the time but it wasn’t really hard for me to pick it up when we got to California because I was young and I played baseball and my friends helped me out.”
Chung, 24, went on to star in high school and earned a scholarship to Sacramento State where he played shortstop and also caught. He hit .340 in his senior year and was drafted by the parent Toronto Blue Jays this past June in the 31st round.
July 13, 2012
NY Times Opinionator Blog
By: Doug Glanville
“How you do one thing is how you do everything.”
The more I learned about Dickey’s life, not just from having been his teammate but from his recent book, “Wherever I Wind Up,” the more prophetic I found my father’s words. Dickey has simplified life by returning to his core, and finding the original blueprint of his success.
Ironically, it was a fastball that he used to rely on — the surest and truest pitch of them all. But he threw it with little plan and little purpose. He was robotic with it: catch, aim, fire and do it again, hoping to have a tomorrow, trying with all his might to be in control, to hide his tumultuous state behind a pitch that surprises no one and that every pitcher has in his repertory.
But Dickey, as a person, has been full of surprises, from his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro to his apology — from the mound, in the heat of competition — when a wayward knuckleball almost took off Alex Rodriguez’s head. There was nothing strait-laced about him, and the boring, linear fastball was not a path to success for him. He had to keep searching for a pitch that was his everything. And with the knuckleball, he has replicated, in a way, his approach to life — throwing something unpredictable.
So I would add this to what my father has said: being at peace with the way you approach one thing can set you free. Once you have confidence in that, you can hit the “copy” button and maybe, someday, rack up an all-star appearance. And never again have to depend on a pitch that may have been your third best one.
July 13, 2012
By: Jason Parks
We all know the story by now, as Beras had represented himself at one age while the Rangers found out he was another; the player having little involvement in the deception on any level. The Rangers put in more wrench work with Beras than other teams and were able to position themselves to acquire the player ahead of the J2 window, but the false documentation on record gave teams enough ammunition to mount a strong attack against the Rangers, and the investigation was born. Each side had a good case, as Beras’s age was on record as being only 16, so it’s hard to fault teams for working under those assumptions. But it’s also hard to fault the Rangers for doing their homework, discovering the real age of the player, and working under those assumptions. It’s a very gray area, one that the national media only knows how to paint as a black and white event. Lost in the shuffle is a teenager that used to sleep on a dirt floor and couldn’t tell you how old he actually is because he actually doesn’t know, but that’s another story altogether.
The prolonged investigation by Major League baseball into the Beras situation was a punitive measure to remind the Rangers that you can’t always win, and that when you piss off powerful teams and powerful people, you eventually have to pay the tolls. The market is corrupt, and the Rangers aren’t saints and they know how to play the game. But they’ve been winning the game, and teams like the Yankees (among others) don’t like losing the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the league didn’t get their wish; yes, the Rangers had to sit out the J2 rush, missing on several targets because of the nebulous Beras situation, but the signing was eventually approved and the organization were able to secure the best player on the market in recent memory. The secondary punishment is a yearlong game ban, preventing Beras from playing in league accepted game action until next July, but that will hardly temper his development. The Rangers come out ahead, yet again. You can actually see the disdain on the faces of some teams around the league.
July 13, 2012
By: Jeff Bradley
The Paul Bunyan-type stories about Trout are abundant in this town. A trip to Millville High’s baseball field, where a group of grade school campers have gathered to play ball, brings stories of Trout’s New Jersey-record 18 home runs in 21 games his senior year.
“The first day of camp, I asked the kids if they’ve been watching the Phillies, since that’s really our local team,” says Travis Laferriere, who coaches at nearby Schalick High. “And the kids were like, ‘Nah, we watch the Angels.’ They make a catch and they shout, ‘Mike Trout! Mike Trout!
’ It’s contagious and it’s great. I mean, he’s from Millville. You never hear of kids from this area making it. It’s incredible the things he’s doing.”
A trip to the Little League field brings about tales of a 9-year-old Trout playing a mean shortstop and dominating kids two and three years older.
“We all said, ‘That kid’s got something,’ ” recalls Tim Ahlquist, who was a senior at Millville when Trout was a sophomore. There’s just something in that kid. And he hasn’t changed a bit. When he’s home, we’re at his house playing ping-pong, or we’re at the gym playing basketball. He’s loved not only because he’s great, but because he’s just Mikey.”
And the rally only grows stronger. Shannon’s office in City Hall is adorned with all sorts of Trout memorabilia, including a signed, framed Angels jersey and a home run ball from a Little League game that Shannon’s wife tucked away and recently had Trout sign. At the Elks Lodge, men in their 60s, 70s and 80s wear Angels gear and talk about the late hours they’ve been keeping, watching Trout’s West Coast games on television.
“You walk in here and everyone knows what Mike did the night before,” says Tim Ayres, the retired city zoning officer, sitting at the bar around lunch time the day of the All-Star Game. “And it’s not just recently. I mean, we’ve been following him so long. I have the hats of his Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A teams. He’s made us all so proud.”
July 12, 2012
By: Dave Selvig
He (Rick Helling) received a scholarship to play football at UND, but prior to his freshman season in Grand Forks he helped the Fargo Post 2 American Legion baseball team to the World Series where he became a hot commodity in scouting circles. He red-shirted his one season in Grand Forks, but was still being tugged by scouts and teammates to stick with baseball.
So after much consideration he transferred to a community college in Illinois and had more success, which led to being recruited by Stanford.
His grades were “good enough to get in,” to the academically renowned university and after a strong season for Stanford in 1992 he was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft.
“I went from being a nobody literally, to in a couple of years I’m at Stanford, then pitching on the Olympic team (1992) to being a first-round pick,” Helling said. “There was a lot of hard work in there obviously, but I was fortunate too. For whatever reason things fell into place.”
Not blessed with great stuff like Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and other greats of his era, Helling was a true pitcher. His 93-81 career record included a 20-7 mark in 1998. He was also a two-time World Series champion. He did not finish the season with the Florida Marlins when they won in 1997, he was traded to Texas in the middle of the season, but was still awarded a championship ring. He was back with the Marlins in 2003 when they beat the New York Yankees.
July 10, 2012
By: Adam Kilgore, Washington Post
“I was kind of in awe, just looking at the stands and all the people,” Meyer said. “It was cool. It was humbling.”
The former Wildcat waited until the eighth inning to take his turn. In six pitches and two quick outs, Meyer showed a sellout crowd, a national television audience and a field full of the best prospects why he is considered the Nationals’ top pitching prospect.
His 6-foot-9 frame towered over everyone, three inches higher than the next-tallest pitcher at the game. He threw four fastballs; three hit 98 mph and the fourth zipped in at 99. He threw one work-in-progress change-up. He threw one slider, which curled into the dirt and induced the final swing and miss during a strikeout.
“I showed all three pitches,” Meyer said. “I showed them what I got.”
Meyer, who grew up in Greensburg, Ind., spoke with an earnest, aw-shucks smile for the duration of a postgame interview, as if he could still not get over the experience. His parents, girlfriend and extended family all traveled to watch in person, 14 people in all. When he came out of the game — which the USA won over the World, 17-5 — Meyer handed the ball to George Brett, the USA manager. “Good job, and go get in the dugout,” Brett told him.
July 7, 2009
By: Troy Renck
Recognizing the difference in the humidity and barometric pressure in Denver compared with other ballparks, Wilson made multiple strategic decisions leading up to his start. For starters, he ditched his sinker. That runs against conventional wisdom, given that two-seamers and sliders have long been considered the best weapons at altitude.
Wilson used his cut fastball, four-seamer, sliders and changeups.
“I used my cutter because I knew it would stay flatter with late movement. It gives the impression that it’s almost rising. Hitters are trained to see the dip in the cutter, and it would stay true,” Wilson said. “The ball will still move laterally in Denver. I tried to use that to my advantage.”
The changeup became a great equalizer. For Wilson, the pitch is about subtracting velocity, not movement. It worked perfectly, keeping the Rockies off balance while inducing meek swings.Sinker pitches have excelled at Coors Field, namely Aaron Cook, Jason Jennings and Ubaldo Jimenez. But to a man, they struggled to find the proper arm slot for the pitch on the road.
This season, it’s interesting that Drew Pomeranz has done well in Denver with an arsenal similar to what Wilson adopted — namely a cut fastball that broke 10 Padres’ bats in his last home start. On the advice of teammate Dan Haren, who had pitched frequently at Coors Field as a member of the Diamondbacks, Wilson tested his grip on baseballs from the humidor before his start. Haren goes as far as playing catch with them before his games in Denver.
June 8, 2012
By: Nick Piecoro
Earlier this week, Kendrick said in a radio interview that Drew should already have returned from the ankle injury he suffered in July. He said Drew was more concerned with his impending free agency than on helping the team that currently is paying his checks.
Why Kendrick feels so strongly, he won’t say. He said he “knows enough to have an informed opinion” but would not elaborate.
“It’s just disappointing he questioned my integrity,” Drew said. “Everybody in that clubhouse, from coaches to the players, they know what I’m about. I’ve exemplified that for seven years now, on and off the field, I feel like.”
Prior to last season, Drew had been a fairly durable everyday player. From 2007 to 2010, he played in 150, 152, 135 and 151 games, respectively. His 588 games were third-most among National League shortstops in that span, more than Troy Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes.
But at times Drew has had to battle a reputation for being “soft,” a characterization that many believe comes from being the younger brother of the injury-prone J.D. Drew. Reno manager Brett Butler made that point on Friday.
“One thing about Stephen that you know is that Stephen’s got integrity and character,” Butler said. “I know there’s been a lot of stuff said and whatever, but I’ve been around the man seven years. I think a lot of times he gets a poor rap because of his brother. I know what kind of character he’s got.