Archive for October, 2011

Chicago Claws – Parent, Manto to White Sox

Monday, October 31st, 2011

whitesoxfullTwo former BlueClaws managers were named on Monday to join the coaching staff of the Chicago White Sox, with Mark Parent becoming the bench coach and Jeff Manto becoming the hitting coach.

Parent was with the BlueClaws in 2010 and Manto was the BlueClaws manager in 2002. They will coach under new White Sox manager Robin Ventura beginning in 2012.

Under Parent, the BlueClaws went 84-55 in 2010, tying the franchise record for most wins in a season. The team went on to win their third South Atlantic League title and second in a row.

Parent, who was a 13-year major league catcher, finished his career with the Phillies in 1998. He later managed in the Mariners system and in the independent Golden League with Chico (2005-2007) before joining Lakewood in 2010. He spent 2011 with Double-A Reading.

Manto led the 2002 BlueClaws to a 69-70 record. Ryan Howard and Gavin Floyd were among the players Manto managed in Lakewood. He played for eight teams over 10 major league seasons and tied a record with home runs in four straight at bats with the Orioles in 1995.

He was the Pirates hitting coach in 2006 and 2007 and was most recently the White Sox minor league hitting coordinator before his promotion to major league hitting coach.

The BlueClaws wish both the best of luck.

- BlueClaws -

Checking In With Jiwan James

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

We had a chance to talk with 2010 BlueClaws CF Jiwan James earlier this week for a new interview with one of the stars to the BlueClaws 2010 South Atlantic League championship team.

James, a Florida native, spent the year with Clearwater, where he hit .268 with 4 home runs and 38 RBIs as well as 31 stolen bases, which ranked 5th in the Florida State League.

“I felt the season went OK,” he said. “I don’t think it was anything great. I could have done better. I’ll use it as a learning experience going into next year.”

Offensively, he said “I probably just need to focus on being more consistent.” He hit .236 in May, went up to .284 in June, .330 in July and then fell off to .229 in August, though he did have 11 stolen bases that month.

The jump from the South Atlantic League to the Florida State League is certainly a noteworthy one and one that forces the hitters to make some key adjustments. “The pitchers were a lot different and more consistent hitting the zone,” said James. “You can’t expect to get a fastball and get one, whereas in the Sally League, if you expected a fastball you got one.”

As for 2012, James is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, since he, as a high school draftee, has now spent five years in the Phillies organization. He can be protected if the Phillies place him on the 40-man roster.

“I did know after the season that it was my time (Rule 5 eligible). It’s not my decision. After the World Series, we’ll see what happens and hope for the best.” He does know that if he is put on the 40-man, he coul dend up with an invite to spring training. “That would be cool. Hopefully it works out,” he said. “I’d try to watch as much and learn as much as I can.”

July 29th was a big day in the Phillies organization. Three players (and later a fourth, Domingo Santana), were traded to the Astros for outfielder Hunter Pence. The three original Phillies in the deal were all teammates of Jiwan with the BlueClaws in 2010. Josh Zeid was with Reading at the time, but two were in Clearwater with James: Jonathan Singleton and Jared Cosart. As James described:

“It was pretty crazy. It was the 7th inning in Jupiter. We had just made the 3rd out and were getting ready to go on the field. Dusty told Singleton to stay in the dugout. That’s when I knew the trade went through. I was sick. I walked all the way to centerfield and didn’t even warm up. After the game I stayed behind with them on the late bus (to the hotel) and got up with them at 5 in the morning. We said our goodbyes and we’ll see them later. I didn’t talk to anyone for two days,” he chuckled, before adding “that’s part of the deal.”

Jim Murphy-Baseball Clinics

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

In this interview with BlueClaws 1B Jim Murphy from earlier this summer, he said that coaching was something he would like to get into when he finished playing.

I don’t like anything else. This is what I grew up wanting to do and when I can’t play anymore I want to coach, be involved somehow, something in the game. I’d like to manage in the minor leagues.

Now, he is laying the groundwork for that.

For the first time, the BlueClaws will host a youth baseball clinic from a current-year player.

Murphy, a Seattle native, hit 22 home runs with the BlueClaws this year, tying Juan Richardson’s single-season franchise record set originally in 2001. In two seasons with the BlueClaws (2009 and 2011), Murphy hit a total of 36 home runs and drove in 144 runs, putting him atop the BlueClaws all-time list in both categories.

Click here for more information about the clinic.

Week Three in the Arizona Fall League

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

We’re about halfway home in the Arizona Fall League, so let’s check in on the progress of some of the former BlueClaws that are down in the sport’s top winter league.

Previously: Intro Post, Week One, Week Two

Anthony Gose (2009): Since our last post, Gose has played in four games. He’s hit safely in all four, going 7-17 with two doubles and a triple. He also stole three bases in as many attempts in Thursday’s game. He’s at .290 with three home runs and 13 RBIs so far, having scored 11 runs in 15 games. So far, so good.

Josh Zeid (2010): He gave up one run in three innings last week, the one a solo home run to Leonys Martin, a Rangers Cuban outfielder. Zeid has allowed six runs in seven innings so far, with seven one-inning appearances as he moves back to the bullpen full time (he had made some starts with Reading earlier in the year before the trade to Houston).

Below are the former BlueClaws still with Philadelphia. All are playing for Scottsdale.

Darin Ruf (2010): Ruf, who was promoted to Clearwater in 2010 when Jonathan Singleton joined the team, is just 6-35 so far but does have two home runs, including one on Saturday. Ruf has five RBIs in his last four games.

Tyler Cloyd (2009): Cloyd started the game last Saturday and gave up four runs, three earned, over five innings, with six strikeouts and one walk. He did allow two HRs in that game, one to Michael Choice of the A’s, a former #10 overall pick. In four starts, Cloyd has allowed nine ER in 15 innings, though he’s fanned 15 and walked just three.

Jake Diekman (2008-10): Diekman has done a great job so far, having thrown 5.1 shutout, and hitless innings. He walked three in his first outing, on October 5th, but one in four outings since then. Also of note, most of the damage has been done against right-handed hitters, who are 0-14. Diekman is a side-arm lefty who held lefties to a sub-.100 batting average this year in Reading. Of the 16 outs he’s recorded, six are on strikeouts, eight on groundouts, and just two are on fly outs.

BJ Rosenberg (2009): BJ made two appearances last week, allowing two runs over two innings (taking the loss) on Wednesday, and then throwing a scoreless inning last night. He’s allowed three runs in five innings so far.

Colby Shreve (2010-11): Like Rosenberg, Shreve has thrown just five innings and allowed three earned runs (four total). His only appearance last week was four perfect hitters on Thursday.

Also…Read the Daily News’ David Murphy on Anthony Gose here.

Gose Interviewed in Arizona

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Here’s a quick interview with 2009 BlueClaws centerfielder Anthony Gose thanks to the fine media folks at the Arizona Fall League:

Rising Tides

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Lifting boats, so the saying goes…Wednesday night in Spring Lake, the BlueClaws were presented with the Rising Tide Award from the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau and were one of five businesses/entrepreneurs honored at the event.

BlueClaws Assistant GM Brandon Marano is shown (3rd from the left) accepting the award in the photo below (not on the right, that photo is a Van Gogh painting).

All joking aside, the BlueClaws are honored to receive this award and also congratulate the other honorees: the Storino Family of Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant, Six Flags Great Adventure, local restaurateur Danny Murphy and Frank Sementa of D’Jais in Belmar.

The full release is below.

LAKEWOOD, NJ – The BlueClaws were presented with the Rising Tide Award from the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau at their 2nd annual Jersey Shore Big Wave Awards on October 19th.

The Rising Tide Award is given to “an individual or organization that, although somewhat new to the Jersey Shore, has quickly made an exceptional impact on tourism.”

The BlueClaws, who in April will start their 12th season, have drawn over 4.8 million fans to FirstEnergy Park since their 2001 inception.

Click here for the full story.

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Eric Krupa From the League Meetings

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Greetings from Savannah, Georgia where we are enjoying the 2011 South Atlantic League Fall Meetings. Yesterday, we had a chance to sit down with league president Eric Krupa for a quick interview, which you can read below.

I know you handle a lot of the administrative stuff for the league as the president, but you’re a baseball fan too. How nice was it to see what was really a tremendous championship series? This year with Greensboro and Savannah every game was a close game, even the games that weren’t “close” became close or were close until late. Game four, Greensboro was down to their last strike. They prolonged it, and game five was interesting too. It was a well played series. It was fun baseball.

With Greensboro down to their last strike, you must have been all ready to go with the trophy and the banner? I was tucked back on the side. I left the trophy and the banner on the side and it was a matter of if they won, I’d go get the trophy and go back out there. Obviously we waited. The next night, I knew I was giving it away.

(Background: the majority of the Tuesday session were social media discussions with four different guest speakers and representatives from the teams)

What are really the goals of these meetings? Idea sharing, this part being social media. Last year we talked about game production, this year social media. So hopefully teams with the four speakers have some useful information that they can bring back and incorporate or consider incorporating into their 2012 campaigns.

Did anyone really stand out to you? The second speaker, Adam Moore, he was discussing specific examples of monetizing sponsorships through social media, utilizing the different platforms, and tying everything together. It wasn’t theory, it was case studies.

Do you build on this before the Winter Meetings in December? They’re two separate events. Here, I set the agenda. At the Winter Meetings we’re at the mercy of what they have planned for us. There are always topics to go to, but we just don’t have control over it.

Also at these meetings the 2011 league award winners were recognized and the GMs get to see their counterparts around the league, gentlemen that they talk to and do business with all year long but really only get to see each other at these meetings, the Winter Meetings, and the league All-Star Game, which this year was in Delmarva and next year will be in Charleston (SC).

Week Two in the Arizona Fall League

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Two weeks are in the books down in Arizona at the Fall League and let’s take a look at the former BlueClaws and how they’ve been playing.

Previously: Intro post, Week One

Anthony Gose (2009): Through 11 games he’s at .244-3-8 and had a pair of two hit games earlier this week. Gose is one of the priority guys down there, judging by his playing time. No steals yet, but he did throw out Bryce Harper from centerfield trying to score on a single.

Josh Zeid (2010): After allowing two runs last Tuesday, he threw scoreless innings on Thursday and Saturday. This is Zeid’s second year in the AFL (this time with Salt River), first with the Astros (he was in the Hunter Pence trade at the deadline).

Among the Phillies prospects, all playing for Scottsdale…

Darin Ruf (2010): Ruf is 2-18 in limited action, homering in his first AB two weeks ago.

Tyler Cloyd (2009): Cloyd pitched yesterday and gave up five runs in four innings while striking out six. In that game, Anthony Gose went 0-3 against Cloyd. The two were teammates with the BlueClaws in 2009.

Jake Diekman (2008-10): Diekman has been very good, throwing four shutout innings over his four Arizona outings. He had a scoreless inning behind Cloyd yesterday.

BJ Rosenberg (2009): BJ has only pitched twice so far, allowing one run in two innings. His last outing was on Friday when he gave up the run.

Colby Shreve (2011): Shreve ran into some trouble on Friday, allowing three runs, two earned, in 2/3 of an inning which included four walks. That was his third AFL outing.

Other Notes: Rob Segedin is off to an 11-34 start. We saw him with Charleston this year and he is from Old Tappan, NJ.

Here is your best place to follow the AFL, on MLB.com…Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies is blogging about the AFL here (Gillies, if you remember, was acquired in the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle)…Josh Zeid is blogging here (though he hasn’t posted since our last update a week ago).

Joe Jordan Joins Phillies Development Staff

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The Phillies have made an addition to their front office, adding Joe Jordan in the role of director of player development. They announced the move today in a release. Todd Zolecki has the story on Phillies.com.

Jordan, who was with the Orioles for the past seven seasons, was responsible for drafting catcher Matt Wieters, outfielder Nolan Reimold and pitchers Zach Britton and Brian Matusz.

Prior to joining Baltimore, Jordan spent eight years with the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins. He replaces Chuck LaMar, who resigned last month. LaMar carried the title of assistant general manager, although Jordan will not assume that additional role.

We look forward to seeing Joe at FirstEnergy Park this year.

Week One in the AFL

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

With one week in the books in the Arizona Fall League, let’s take a look at the former BlueClaws down there an

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d how they are playing. Here is our intro post from last week.

Anthony Gose (2009): The centerfielder got off to a great start for Phoenix, hitting home runs in his first two games. He’s 5-22 with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs so far. Gose, of course, is now a Blue Jays prospect.

Josh Zeid (2010): Playing with Salt River, Zeid gave up three runs in his first inning last week and then threw a scoreless inning on Saturday.

Darin Ruf (2010): He’s 1-8 in two games but the one was a two-run home run in his first AFL at bat on Thursday.

Tyler Cloyd (2009): Cloyd threw two perfect innings with two strikeouts in his debut on Wednesday and in theory could pitch next later today.

Jake Diekman (2008-10): Diekman has pitched twice, throwing a scoreless inning on Wednesday (in which he walked the bases loaded) and then got the last four outs on Saturday for his first save.

BJ Rosenberg (2009): BJ threw a 1-2-3 inning in his debut on Thursday.

Colby Shreve (2011): The only 2011 BlueClaw playing in the AFL this year, Shreve has appeared in two games, allowing a home run in one inning on Thursday and throwing two scoreless innings last night.

The AFL is considered very much a hitters league, and PhuturePhillies explains why.

Note: Zeid is blogging again, click here for his first post in which he notes the following…

I want to thank the the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks for opening up their facilities to us and letting us use their Major League facilities. It is a state of the art facility with a movie theater, a gigantic weight room, and a clubhouse with 8 leather couches and 6+ flat screens ranging from 47- 60+ inches. We are extremely spoiled in there but it makes bonding with brand new teammates much easier.

Catching Up With David Buchanan

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

buchananblogWe had a chance to speak recently with 2011 BlueClaws RHP David Buchanan, who began the year with Lakewood, started the All-Star Game, and was promoted to Clearwater in July.

Previously: Catching Up With Jesse Biddle.

Buchanan, a 7th round pick in 2010 from Georgia State University, went 11-5, 3.38 with the BlueClaws this year and then finished up 3-2, 3.70 in six starts with Clearwater.

“Overall, I think I had a good year,” Buchanan said. “I learned a lot, had a lot of fun, faced some good hitters and saw a lot of different things I can take into next year.”

He noted that “I had some success, I failed, and I experienced a lot.” Buchanan had a 1.97 ERA through May but had an ERA over seven over his next eight starts.  It was a start in Greenville on July 14th where he felt his season turned around.

“I was going through a tough stretch. I’d get to the 2nd inning, give up a few hits and someone squares one up, and suddenly it’s a four-run inning. For some reason that 2nd inning was killing my whole start. That game, I calmed myself down, got a big ground ball and got out of the inning.”

Buchanan, who grew up in Peachtree City, GA, outside Atlanta, had 15 friends and family members at that start (about three hours from home), just as he did in Charleston, SC on May 7th, when he became the first BlueClaws pitcher in four years (Carlos Monasterios) to throw a nine inning complete game.

A week later, he faced Greenville again, allowing one run over seven strong innings to earn the win (Brad Ligde pitched a scoreless 8th and Ryan Duke the 9th). Buchanan came back with eight shutout innings on July 25th in what would be his final start as a BlueClaw. Two weeks after his turning point start in Greenville, he was a Thresher.

“I was ecstatic. I was looking forward to that all year,” he said. “I got caught up a bit in that and had a few bad outings but I let it all go and said whatever happens, happens and started to pitch my game again. It’s only the first step of many but I was ecstatic to go up there.”

On the transition, he said that “I wasn’t nervous because I knew that wouldn’t help me but the biggest thing was to go there and be confident. I still need to realize that me being the pitcher, I had the advantage.”

Asked what he took most out of his season, he said “You have to remember that no matter what level you’re at, you can still get hitters out. A lot of times we get caught up pitching to the hitter’s name or their place in the order. When big leaguers came down to rehab, you expect them to go 4-4 with 4 home runs, but anybody can get anybody out. No matter who you’re facing, stay within yourself and pitch to your strengths.”

This has been an exciting few days for Buchanan, as his new favorite team, the Phillies (obviously) are now a win away from a spot in the NLCS. It’s been a little tougher on some family members, Georgia natives, after the way their hometown Braves saw their season end last week.

David went to all three games in Atlanta last week between the Braves and the Phillies with his sister Sarah and her boyfriend James. David says he was wearing red, but admitted that “Two years ago, I would have been rooting for the Braves.”

Manuel on Hamels

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

hamelsblogIn 2003, Charlie Manuel was in his first season as special assistant to Phillies then-General Manager Ed Wade. In his role, he went around to see a number of prospects at the different minor league parks and included were a few trips to Lakewood to see Cole Hamels.

After Hamels pitched six shutout innings last night and earned the win as the Phillies moved up two games to one over St. Louis in their best-of-five National League Division Series, Manuel said the following (via the Philadelphia Inquirer):

“He keeps his cool whether some people realize it or not,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s gutty. And he’s been gutty ever since I’ve known him . . . Even when I saw him in Lakewood, I knew he had that. I like him out there in any situation.”

Click here to see a game-by-game of Hamels with the BlueClaws (pdf file).

Assuming that Manuel did not see any of his road starts, he saw one of three starts in Lakewood (Hamels made 13 starts with the BlueClaws in 2003 but only three of them were in New Jersey).

May 24 vs Lake County (W): 6.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K
June 8 vs Hagerstown (W): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 K
July 15 vs Delmarva (W): 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K

The July 15th game was indeed exactly what it looks like, six perfect innings against Delmarva in what turned out to be his final home start (he was promoted to Clearwater two weeks later). He came out of that game early due to pitch count.

Victor Menocal came in and gave up a hit to the leadoff man in the 7th inning, Delmarva’s Gera Alvarez, who was a coach this year with West Virginia. Alvarez scored the only Shorebirds run in a 5-1 BlueClaws win.

In three starts in Lakewood, Hamels went 3-0, threw 19.1 shutout innings, gave up five hits and three walks and struck out 36 hitters.

This is what Ryan Howard said (via the article linked above) about Hamels yesterday:

“Cool, calm, had that San Diego attitude, that air going,” Howard was saying at his locker after yesterday’s 3-2 gut check gave the Phillies a 2-1 Division Series lead. “He was a movie star. Hugo Boss.”

Arizona Fall League Getting Underway

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

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r of former BlueClaws will kick off play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League tonight. The league runs through November 19th and is an annual fall showcase for some of the best prospects in the game.

Phillies prospects, which had been playing with Mesa over the past few years, will this year play for Scottsdale.

Here are the headquarters for the AFL on MLB.com. You can follow them on Twitter here.

Below, a quick note on the former BlueClaws who will be participating in this year’s AFL, first with the Phillies prospects:

Pitchers
Tyler Cloyd (2009): Cloyd was Lakewood’s best pitcher in the first half of 2009 (he was promoted to Clearwater at the All-Star Break. He went 7-3, 3.05 with Lakewood that year. He opened 2011 with Clearwater before getting bumped up to Reading and went 9-4, 2.77 between the two stops. He was an 18th round pick in 2008 out of Nebraska-Omaha.

Jake Diekman (2008-10): Diekman’s career turned around after he had a 7.09 ERA at the All-Star break in 2009 and then became a side-armer. In the second half of that season, his ERA was 1.24 and this year with Reading, he struck out 83 hitters in 65 innings and held lefties to a .099 batting average (9-91). Note he shortened Jacob, which he was known by when he played with Lakewood.

BJ Rosenberg (2009): A 13th round pick in 2008 from the University of Louisville, BJ had a stretch in 2009 of 30 innings without allowing an earned run, from Memorial Day through August 6th, when he was promoted straight to Reading, which doesn’t happen often. He had an injury-plagued 2010 but this year had a solid season with Reading (5-7, 4.28), split between the bullpen (2.27 ERA) and rotation (5.62 ERA). Have to think that he’ll be a reliever going forward into 2012 but we’ll see.

Colby Shreve (2010-2011): You sometimes see current year BlueClaws get to play in Arizona, as Troy Hanzawa did following the 2009 season. Shreve spent last year and most of this year (5-5, 2.75) with Lakewood before getting a jump to Clearwater in August (1-1, 3.55 in seven games). His season turned around when he was moved from the rotation to the bullpen, and he noted that he could really let it loose back there. Pitching coach Steve Schrenk helped him develop a cutter as well. He was a 6th round pick in 2008 from the CC of Southern Nevada who missed two years (Tommy John Surgery) and made his pro debut in 2010.

Position Players
Darin Ruf (2010): Ruf smoked the ball for a month with Lakewood in 2010 (.330-4-17 in 32 games), including a 5-5 game in Greenville on May 12th last year. He was promoted after that game to Clearwater (when Jonathan Singleton came up to Lakewood) . He’s been in Clearwater ever since and had a great season in 2011, hitting .308 with 17 HRs and 82 RBIs. Here is a Q&A with Ruf from January.

Other Phillies
There are two Phillies prospects who will be in Arizona who did not play with Lakewood:

Cody Overbeck: This infielder hit .277-24-72 between Reading and Lehigh Valley this year. He skipped Lakewood after being a 9th round pick in 2008 from Ole Miss (would have been here in 2009)

Tyson Gilles: This outfielder came over to Philadelphia in the Cliff Lee trade (from Seattle) but has only played in 31 games in two years due to injury (three this year). Now healthy, this is essentially his season, rather than him winding down his season like everyone else.

Non-Phillie BlueClaws
Anthony Gose (2009): Lakewood’s all-time stolen base leader also became the all-time stolen base leader with AA New Hampshire (he stole 70 this year) and has led his league in steals the last three years. Gose, of course sent to Houston and then Toronto during the Roy Oswalt trade last year, won his third minor league title this year when New Hampshire won the Eastern League crown. He had previously won with Lakewood in 2009 and the GCL Phillies in 2008. He’s playing for the Phoenix Dirt Dogs. His New Hampshire teammate Travis d’Arnaud is not here, by the way.

Josh Zeid (2010): Zeid makes his second trip to the AFL, first as an Astro and he’ll play for Salt River. With Lakewood last year, he threw 8 perfect innings in the SAL Championship Series to help the BlueClaws win a title. This year, he was double-jumped straight to Reading where he was 2-3, 5.65. A part of the deal which brought Hunter Pence to the Phillies, Zeid went to AA Corpus Christi and appeared in 14 games, allowing 18 runs in 16 innings. He was a 10th round pick in 2009 from Tulane.

Other Notes
The Scottsdale team that the Phillies prospects will play on has both Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Mike Trout of the Angels, arguably the two best prospects in all of baseball, which means that they’ll play in front of the biggest of the crowds down there. Josh Zeid faced Harper last year in Harper’s first pro at bat.

Joe McEwing, considered to be a rising managerial prospect, is managing Mesa this year and top overall pick Gerrit Cole (Pirates, UCLA). Also on that team is White Sox prospect Jake Petricka. BlueClaws fans may remember Petricka and David Buchanan matching zeros in the second game of the season (April 10th) this year in Lakewood. It was the first game of a double-header and while the starters were long gone, Kannapolis won 2-0 in 16 innings. Lakewood didn’t get a hit off Petricka until the 6th inning. The man who accounted for the scoring, hitting a two-run home run, was Mike Blanke, one of the Mesa catchers.