Entries Tagged as 'Minor Leagues'

Cubs affiliate pokes fun at LeBron

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

This Thursday, the Peoria Chiefs who are a Cubs’ single-A affiliate, will be holding a LeBron James NBA Championship Replica Giveaway night.  “Replica Rings” (in other words, air), will be given out to fans.

The Chiefs said they are "looking into" whether they can skip the fourth inning to poke fun at James, who scored just 18 points during the fourth quarter in six NBA Finals games.

"We aren’t sure if the league will allow it," Peoria president Rocky Vonachen said in a statement. "But if LeBron doesn’t need to show up for the fourth, maybe we won’t either."

All in good fun, I guess. Anything to take their mind off their parent organization.

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Ryne Sandberg is a pig

No, really, he is.  An IronPig.  Us Cub fans probably have lost track of Ryno but he’s quite busy trying to get used to his new setting and job as manager of the Phillies Triple-A Lehigh Valley (PA) IronPigs. 

The local Lehigh Valley Live media outlet did a quick 5 question interview with Sandberg during late preseason. Ryno talks about his playing days, his aspirations and plans for the IronPigs

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I interviewed Shawn Roof from the Toledo Mudhens

I did an interview with former Illini shortstop Shawn Roof.  I gleaned some questions from some of his Illini fans and ran them by him. 

Roof has continued his success since leaving the Illini.  This midseason, he advanced to Detroit’s AAA affiliate, the Toledo Mudhens.  Once he got there, he caught fire hitting .354 for the rest of the year. 

You can read the interview at my Illinois baseball blog, the Illinois Baseball Report

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Friday night at Victory Field

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I went to the Triple-A Indianapolis-Toledo game Friday night.  Admittedly, the main reason was to see my friend and former Illini Shawn Roof play.  It’s the first time he’s played close to this area so I couldn’t pass up the chance. 

But the idea of going to Indianapolis’ Victory Field thrilled me too.  It’s been a while.  The last time I went the Indians were the Brewers’ farm team.  Victory Field is one of nicest Triple-A minor league parks I’ve been to.  I’m not the only one to think so… Baseball America named it Best Minor League BallPark in America.

The banners along the runway of former Indian player like you see above (I know a couple readers who might appreciate my choice of Minnie Minoso) were a nice touch and very well designed. 

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Look out!  Indian mascot Rowdie looks angry.

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I thought the scoreboard designed like a Facebook page was kinda hokey but I bet it goes over pretty well. 

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Not a particularly great photo but it does show how many people show up at games.  Over 12,000 were at Friday’s event. 

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No one left after the last out.  It was Fireworks night. 

The Mud Hens won 8-2.  Shawn Roof helped the cause by going 1 for 3, scoring a run. 

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The Corn Crib hosts Illini night Aug. 26

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As we were passing by going north of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, I got took this photo of the home of the Normal Cornbelters. 

The Cornbelters who are in the independent Frontier League, have one of the more original names for a ballpark, in my opinion.  It’s called “The Corn Crib”. 

My city-dwelling friends are snickering already.  I know it.  But as a farm kid who had a “corn crib” not too far away from the house, I think it’s pretty cool. 

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The Corn Crib is officially sponsored by the Illinois Corn Farmers.  In this day and age of sports sponsors that consist of wireless phone companies, soda drinks manufacturers, and insurance companies, that’s a little refreshing in my opinion.  Note the tractors out front of the stadium. 

For those University of Illinois sports fans, the Cornbelters have declared August 26th, “Illini Night” and have even convinced men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber to come down and throw out the first pitch.  There’s added significance since the Cornbelters will be playing a team in the vicinity of Weber’s former team, the Southern Illinois Miners.  More info at the Normal Cornbelters website.

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Touch home plate before getting into a fight, dude

Here’s a hint… talk smack AFTER you round the bases. 

The word is, he actually did get around to home plate.  Here’s the write-up from Huff Po

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Where to find info on the MLB Draft

Within a week, the 2010 MLB Draft or as it is officially known, the MLB First-Year Player Draft, will take place.  I’m certainly no expert on the MLB Draft but since I follow college baseball pretty closely, I have an interest in it and hence, have a little knowledge on where to find some good info on the draft. 

MLB’s Draft Central is probably your first stop.  They’ve done a pretty good job year in and year out covering the draft and each year they seem to increase their coverage. 

The Draft Tracker is a must, especially on the draft days. 

Jonathan Mayo covers the minor leagues for mlb.com.  His blog is well worth following throughout the year but during draft time, he’ll have some good nuggets.  

The Hardball Times is a source I trust for many things and prospect scouting is no exception.  A couple days ago, they posted THT’s projected top 40 draftees

Mock Drafts are the thing now.  Take a look at mymlbdraft.com or draftsite.com to get a sense of what people are thinking.  I’ll give you a hint… Bryce Harper looks like he’s going #1.  Or heck, just go to dugoutdoctors.com and check out their whole list of mock drafts that are going on. 

If lists aren’t your thing, MLB.com has Ten Names to Watch for 2010 Draft complete with a scouting report for each.  This list is “Bryce-less”, assuming you’ve heard enough of him already ala 2009 Strasburg. 

If history of the draft is your thing, you can try two avenues.  MLB.com has a page dedicated to the “complete draft history”.  For my money, I like browsing through Baseball Reference’s Draft section.  Lots of fun to click around.

If anyone has any other good resources for the MLB Draft, please share them and I’ll add them to the list. 

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Fun with Minor League names

Bus Leagues Baseball compiles a list of the best names in minor league baseball

I just noticed Seth Schwindenhammer was on the list.  Red Sox farmhand Schwindenhammer was drafted by the Illini.  I remember his name because when I wrote about him, it was just plain easier to copy and paste his name than to type it out. 

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Grant Desme becoming a man of the cloth

desmeOakland A’s prospect Grant Desme is going from Arizona Fall League MVP  to the next Billy Sunday. He’s giving up the church of baseball for the priesthood.

Desme had a breakout year in 2009.  Playing for the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars and California League’s Stockton Ports, he hit 31 homeruns, stole 40 bases to go along with his .288 batting average.

Last fall, the A’s had good words to say about Desme potential:

“If he keeps putting up these kinds of numbers, it’d be hard not to bring him in [to Spring Training],” Keith Lieppman, A’s director of player development, told MLB.com in October. “There’s a lot of good things happening with him right now. At this stage, he looks like the complete package.”

Now A’s GM Billy Beane has nothing to do but to accept the inevitable.  “We respect Grant’s decision and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors,” he grumbled.

According to the Huffington Post, Desme is quoted in 2007 as saying, “above all, my faith comes first and I dedicate myself to church.”  Now, we’re seeing just how dedicated he really is.  Desme will plan to enter a Catholic seminary and and says it will be a 10-year process and likens it to  “re-entering the minor leagues.”

Oakland can tell themselves that they probably get along without Grant Desme (the California League is a hitters league, right?).  Most likely, Desme would have been trade bait anyway.

Regardless, he would have been a player to watch.  It wasn’t an easy decision for Desme to make, I’m sure.

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Second coming of Mr Cub?

The Southern (IL) reports on a trade in the Frontier League whose name seems to ernie_banks_washington_wild_330hearken back to older Cub days (emphasis mine):

When Southern Illinois Miners’ manager Mike Pinto traded for the Gateway Grizzlies’ Stephen Holdren last July, he called it one of the biggest trades in Frontier League history.

Pinto said the deal he finalized Monday, sending Holdren to the River City Rascals in exchange for power-hitting first baseman Ernie Banks, is even bigger.

Apparently, Banks, a former Marlins draft pick, is more than just a namesake to the former Cub.  This minor league firstbaseman really can hit, too.  Last year he hit .353 for the River City Rascals, good for 3rd in the Frontier League.  He also placed 5th with 24 homeruns (in just 77 games no less). 

Banks will be looking at a new team this coming year in the independent league based in the Midwest.  The Southern Illinois Miners are based in Carbondale, Illinois

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