Archive for December, 2011

BlueClaws Year in Review

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

yearinreview2011We’ve done this the last two years and we’re doing it again this year…the annual BlueClaws Year in Review post. Click here for 2010 in review and click here for 2009 in review.

Sultan of Swat Award goes to 1B Jim Murphy, who hit 22 home runs this year to tie the franchise single-season home run record originally set in 2001 by Juan Richardson. In the process, Murphy also broke the franchise all-time home run record (the same 22 from Richardson) in May when he hit his 9th home run, adding onto the 14 he hit with Lakewood in 2009.

Will White Award goes to RHP David Buchanan. White, as you know, threw 75 complete games for the 1879 Cincinnati Reds (75! – he threw 680 innings). Buchanan, meanwhile, threw a complete game for the BlueClaws on May 7th in Charleston, becoming the first BlueClaws player to throw a nine-inning complete game since Carlos Monasterios in 2007.

Jack Chesbro Award goes to RHP Lisalberto Bonilla. Bonilla followed up Buchanan on July 6th by throwing nine shutout innings but was denied the win when the BlueClaws couldn’t score for him. Lakewood would win the game in the 10th inning but Bonilla would get a no-decision. We couldn’t give him the Will White Award because he didn’t get the win but he gets the Jack Chesbro Award – Chesbro threw a mere 48 complete games with the 1904 NY Highlanders, the most in an American League season.

Grant Hill Award goes to RHP Ryan Duke (figure it out). Duke joined the BlueClaws in late July as a 25th round pick from Oklahoma earlier in the year. He had six saves and gave up just two earned runs in 15 innings with Lakewood as part of a great debut season.

Bob Nieman Award for 3B Drew Hillman. Nieman homered in his first two at bats for the Red Sox in 1951. Hillman, who joined the BlueClaws on August 18th, had a two run HR and an RBI double in his first BlueClaws game, a win over Greensboro in front of the largest crowd of the season and 5th largest crowd in team history – 9,503.

Mike Munchak Award for Greg Legg. Munchak, the coach of the Tennessee Titans, was drafted by the organization, then the Houston Oilers, in 1982 and has been with the team since, as a player (a Hall of Famer), assistant coach, and now the head coach. Legger, meanwhile, has been with the Phillies for the same time period as a player, coach and manager. He was honored by the Phillies and the BlueClaws this year.

Nice Knowing You Award to OF Domingo Santana. Santana was named, on August 16th, as the player-to-be-named later in the deal that brought Hunter Pence to the Phillies. He joined Lexington, still in the South Atlantic League, in the Astros organization and hit .382-5-21 in just 17 games with the Legends.

Garden State Award for best New Jersey BlueClaw to OF Bill Rice. Rice, who is from Sewell, NJ and went to Washington Township HS, joined the BlueClaws in late July and hit .293 with eight stolen bases while playing a very good LF. After starting 4-20 while playing sporadically, he finished 32-103.

Laser Award to 3B Maikel Franco. Franco hit a home run off #2 overall pick Jameson Taillon that left the park in about 1.5 seconds. 95 mph fastball on the outer half and Franco just turned it around and out quickly in a most impressive home run. Franco will likely be Lakewood’s starting 3B on Opening Day this year.

Willie Mays Hayes Award for OF Anthony Hewitt. Hewitt had 36 stolen bases in 41 attempts this year. He ranked 2nd in the league in steals.

O Canada Award for best Canadian goes to LHP Jay Johnson. “JJ,” a side-arming lefty, played for Canada in the Pan-Am Games this past off-season and after signing with the Phillies in spring training, he had a 2.94 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 49 innings with Lakewood this year. He had an inauspicious debut, walking all for hitters he faced, but turned into one of Lakewood’s most valuable relievers.

Experienced Traveler Award to LHP Austin Wright. An 8th round pick from Ole Miss, Wright was flying from Williamsport to Philly to Salisbury (MD) to make his BlueClaws debut the next night when his Philly to Salisbury flight was canceled. He ended up meeting a baseball fan and fellow stranded traveler who rented a car and drove down to Salisbury. Wright gave up a run in six innings the next night and won his first start. He would go on to finish with a 2.67 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 33.2 innings with the BlueClaws.

Attendance Boost Award goes to Nationals OF Bryce Harper. Playing with Hagerstown, Harper made his FirstEnergy Park debut on May 13th and 8,215 fans came out to see him. The next day, in front of over 7,000, he homered to account for the only scoring in a 1-0 Suns win. The BlueClaws were also in Hagerstown for Harper’s home debut in April which brought out 6,500 fans to a stadium that comfortably holds about 4,900. And it was 45 degrees. With 30 mph winds.

Former Shortstop Award to RHP Lendy Castillo, who was converted to the mound last year. This year with the BlueClaws, he went 4-2, 2.54 and got picked by the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft. If he makes the team, he could well be the 40th BlueClaw to go From the Shore to the Show.

Rolling Stones ‘Start Me Up’ Award to LHP Mario Hollands, who threw five shutout innings on Opening Night in a 2-0 win over Kannapolis. As it worked out, the BlueClaws did not allow a run over the first 24 innings of the season, but ended up 1-1. How does that work? In game two, after 15 scoreless innings, Kannapolis put two on the board in the 16th and won 2-0.

Robin Ventura Award for 3B Travis Mattair. This was an easy one. On July 4th, Mattair hit what appeared to be a walk-off grand slam to beat Hagerstown in the bottom of the 9th. He ran around the bases, threw his helmet off and jumped into the pile. However, the umpires ruled that the ball did not clear the wall as we thought (everyone thought the ball had hit a picnic table on the other side of the fence before bouncing back). Since it was a tie game, only one run was needed, and one run counted, for a true “Grand Slam Single.”

Rollie Fingers Award for best Moustache goes to 1B Jim Murphy. This was tweeted to us:

cheering on and appreciating Jim Murphy and his awesome mustache! &
Here is a picture. And finally…
PETA Award goes to this unnamed Hagerstown player who threw water on one of our horses coming down the stretch of the Preakness preview race, Mucho Macho Man. Mucho Macho Man, incidentally, for those that care about such things, is on the comeback trail.

BlueClaws Bowl Guide

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

An annual tradition…as you sit down to watch the college football games this bowl season, here is a list of former BlueClaws and their connections to the various schools.

(Note – if a bowl game is not listed, we can’t find a connection – if you want to email any updates, please do: ggiombarrese @ blueclaws dot com).

Enjoy!

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl (12/22) – Arizona State vs Boise State…Tuffy Gosewisch (2007) is a Sun Devil, the lone rooting interest we have in this game.

(UPDATE – Sean Houston, the voice of the Charleston RiverDogs and member of our broadcast and blogging team in 2011, calls in to remind us that all-time BlueClaw Travis Mattair, who is celebrating a birthday today, went to Boise State in 2010 walking on the basketball team, so he should certainly be added in here).

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (12/24) – Nevada vs Southern Miss…Ryan Frith (2005-06) went to Southern Miss. No Wolfpack alums.

AdvoCare V100 Independence (12/26) – Missouri vs North Carolina…2010 BlueClaw Jarred Cosart committed to Missouri out of high school but signed with the Phillies and 2009 BlueClaw Jason Knapp committed to North Carolina before signing with the Phillies.

Belk Bowl (12/27) – Louisville vs NC State…2009 BlueClaw BJ Rosenberg is a proud Louisville Cardinal.

Military Bowl (12/28) - Toledo vs Air Force…2008 BlueClaw Karl Bolt went to Air Force.

Holiday Bowl (12/28) – California vs Texas…2011 BlueClaws C Cameron Rupp was a three-year Texas Longhorn.

Champs Sports Bowl (12/29) – Florida State vs Notre Dame…Two Seminoles – Aaron Cheesman (2006) and Robby Read (2003)…The only Fighting Irish alum is 2010 BlueClaw Jeremy Barnes – though Brad Lidge, who rehabbed here this year, also went there.

Alamo Bowl (12/29) – Washington vs Baylor…2009-10 BlueClaw Trevor May committed to Washington before signing with the Phillies and 2003 BlueClaw Andre Marshall played there…Baylor alums are Anthony Hensley (2001) and Josh Scott (2002).

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (12/30) – Rutgers vs Iowa State…No players but good luck to the alma mater of BlueClaws AGM Brandon Marano.

Insight Bowl (12/30) – Iowa vs Oklahoma…Nathan Johnson (2005) is a Hawkeye, and legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas went here too…Two Sooners – Will Savage (2006) and Ryan Duke (2011).

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (12/31) – Texas A&M vs Northwestern…JA Happ (2005) and Dan Brauer (2006) went to Northwestern and Ryan Wardinsky (2003) went to Texas A&M.

Hyundai Sun Bowl (12/31) – Georgia Tech vs Utah…Jeremy Slayden (2006) is a Yellow Jacket. 2007 BlueClaw Jarrod Freeman committed to Utah before signing with the Phillies.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (12/31) – Illinois vs UCLA…UCLA is the alma mater of 2008 BlueClaw Tyson Brummett and 2011 BlueClaw Garett Claypool (and Chase Utley).

Chick-Fil-A Bowl (12/31) – Virginia vs Auburn…Two Auburn alums: Javon Moran (2004) and Sean Gamble (2006). Michael Schwimer, a 2008 Phillies draftee, went to Virginia and skipped Lakewood.

TicketCity Bowl (1/2) – Houston vs Penn State…Rod Perry (2003) is the lone PSU alum.

Capital One Bowl (1/2) – Nebraska vs South Carolina…The BlueClaws have a pipeline to these schools. First, Nebraska: Luke Wertz (2009-10) and Trevor Bullock (2001) played here. Jacob Diekman (2008-10) committed here as did Tyler Cloyd (2009), though both signed with the Phillies. Cody Asche, drafted this year, went to Nebraska and he could be in Lakewood in 2012, as could 2010 draftee Matt Nesseth. Michael Floyd (2002), Andrew Cruse (2007), Mike Cisco (2008) and Aaron Rawl (2006-06) all went to South Carolina.

Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl (1/2) – Ohio State vs Florida…No Buckeyes or Gators, though 2007 BlueClaw Adrian Cardenas committed to Florida before signing with the Phillies, as did 2010 BlueClaw Jiwan James. 2011 draftee Matt Campbell, who played for Williamsport, went to Florida and he could be here in 2012.

Rose Bowl (1/2) – Wisconsin vs Oregon…Chad Sidowsky (2001) went to Wisconsin. No Oregon alums though Jesse Biddle (2011) committed here before signing with the Phillies.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (1/2) – Stanford vs Oklahoma State…Big one here as Michael Taylor (2008) went to Stanford and three went to OSU: John Urick (2006), Michael Dabbs (2010), and Jason Jaramillo (2005).

Discover Orange Bowl (1/4) – West Virginia vs Clemson…Zac Cline (2004) went to WVU and Herm Demmink (2007) went to Clemson.

AT&T Cotton Bowl (1/6) – Kansas State vs Arkansas…Two Razorbacks: Chris Rhoads (2007) and Matt Riethmayer (2001).

BBVA Compass Bowl (1/7) – SMU vs Pittsburgh…Nick Evangelista (2004) went to Pittsburgh and Phillies broadcaster Scott Franzke went to SMU.

GoDaddy.com Bowl (1/8) - Arkansas State vs Northern Illinois…2007 BlueClaw Matt German went to NIU.

BCS Championship Game (1/9) – LSU vs Alabama…Austin Hyatt (2010) is a Crimson Tide alum. 2011 Williamsport LHP Adam Morgan went to Bama and he could be with the BlueClaws this year.

Castillo, Mattiar Taken in Rule 5 Draft

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

castillo-mattair-blogTwo 2011 BlueClaws, RHP Lendy Castillo and IF Travis Mattair were selected in today’s Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings. Castillo was taken in the Major League portion by the Cubs and Mattair in the Triple-A phase by the Reds. Here is the full list of drafted players from MLB.com.

Castillo joined the BlueClaws in June and went 4-2, 2.54. He struck out 46 hitters in 46 innings pitched. He pitched across three levels (Dominican Summer League, Gulf Coast League, and NY-Penn League) in 2010 after three years as an infielder. He hit just .239 in those three seasons so the Phillies tried him as a pitcher and it certainly worked out. He’s considered somewhat raw (expected considering he has only thrown 111 professional innings) but throws in the low to mid 90s with excellent movement. Now he’ll have a chance to make a big league roster out of spring training.

Mattair was a 2nd round pick of the Phillies in 2007 and was with the BlueClaws in 2008 and 2009. After taking a year off to pursue college basketball, he returned to baseball this year, which he split between Lakewood and Clearwater. This year with Lakewood he hit .266 with 2 HRs and 18 RBIs. You may remember that it was nearly 3 HRs and 21 RBIs but his apparent walk-off grand slam on July 4th was changed to a single. Mattair played 288 games in a BlueClaws uniform, more than anyone else (the second highest total is 205 by Carlos Rodriguez). His 256 hits are 72 more than Greg Golson.

Steve Roadcap, who managed Mattair here in 2008, is now a scout for the Reds, which could be the connection to the Cincinnati organization.

What It Means
In Castillo’s case, he will now have an opportunity to make the Cubs Major League roster out of spring training. If he does, and is with them the entire year, the Cubs carry his rights into 2013. If not, he must be offered back to the Phillies, who would probably take him back.

In Mattair’s case, he will now go to the Reds where he will have a great shot to make at least their Double-A roster out of camp. Travis is as good a guy as you will ever meet and we wish him nothing but the absolute best.

Good luck to both guys!

From the Winter Meetings

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

BlueClaws Director of Sponsorships Zack Rosenberg is part of the BlueClaws contingent in Dallas at the Winter Meetings and checked in with this new blog post. Thanks Zack…

DALLAS, TX – After three full days in Dallas, here’s a quick recap of the BlueClaws involvement in Baseball’s annual gathering.

- Sunday Night is always one of the events for us to look forward to. The Phillies host a great evening for all of the affiliates to get together to share some time together. They go above and beyond to make sure we feel like part of the parent club and insist that we mingle amongst our counterpart at the other teams.

- Monday is promotional seminars all day. This is sort of the must attend day for the MiLB guys. A productive docket of all day roundtables, breakout sessions, and networking to share best practices and ideas. We always come back with a few new tricks to add to our promotional plans for the new season.

- Tuesday for us this year was all about the Trade Show and interviews. The trade show is one of the most unique of its kind. You can hop right from the hot dog vendors to the entertainers to learn what new offerings are out there. My personal favorite booth is the championship ring display. On one side of the glass sit back to back BlueClaws rings as samples, on the other side some serious bling from their Major Leagues and NBA.

Interviewing is intense for us, but more so for the job seekers. Hundreds of aspiring baseball professionals descend upon the meetings for the chance to work for a team and just knock out one interview after another. As we make our final push to fill our full time assistant positions, I think we’ve found some solid candidates. (It’s one more interview today and then decision time! (editor’s note – good luck to the poor soul that has to interview with Zack*)

- Now here we are at Wednesday and we’re very much looking forward to checking out the Cowboys stadium thanks to the Legends Hospitality group that is offering tours. Right after that, we hop across the highway to the gala at the Rangers Ballpark. Should be great additions to the list of stadiums visited.

Of course the meetings do provide time to catch up with past colleagues and folks at other teams. Always great to walk through the lobby and run into some friends we used to work with or have met at prior meetings. As a matter of fact, we just had a good time at breakfast with former BlueClaws AGM Rich Mozingo.

Hope this gives you a sense of things down here. Now we’re just looking for a little warmer weather so we’ll head back north to Jersey tomorrow! (Seriously.)

*Kidding

Thanks to Zack for providing a great rundown for the readers of BlueClaws Blog.

Checking In With Colby Shreve

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

shreveblog1We had a chance to catch up with 2010-11 BlueClaws RHP Colby Shreve earlier this week for a new interview in which he talks about his time in Lakewood, his time in the Arizona Fall League this year, his plans for the offseason, and much more.

Shreve, a 6th round pick in 2008, missed that year and 2009 after having elbow surgery, but joined the BlueClaws in April of 2010. He stayed the duration of that year and settled into a relief role with the BlueClaws in 2011 before an August promotion to Clearwater.

On Arizona Fall League: It was good. It was a bit humbling, as you have the best minor league hitters down there but it was a good experience to know what it takes to play at the AA or AAA level. I met a lot of new guys from different organizations and see how the Red Sox or Angels or Nationals run their organizations.

What was the biggest thing you took out of your experience there? For whatever reason, when I got down there, maybe it was subconsciously, I started walking a lot of guys. A lot more than I usually did. During the year my K/BB ratio was pretty good but it fell off down there. Throwing strikes is #1 on the to-do list. Half of my earned runs reached base on walks. It was a hard lesson on what not to do. You fall behind those guys, at 2-0, 2-1, they’re going to mash it somewhere.

What was the call-up to Clearwater from Lakewood like? It went real good. I got up there, and the hitters were a little more disciplined and if you throw it over the plate it will get hit harder but it wasn’t as big a jump as I thought it would be. Towards the end, I gave up a few earned runs but I felt good about how I pitched down there.

What do you plan on doing throwing-wise in the off-season? I think they want us to throw about five or six bullpen sessions. It’s worked very well for me in the past. I’ll start tossing at the end of the month. They have a really good off-season program for us. We’ll progress in the bullpens and go down 5 or 6 in.

Do you have any goals as you head into the 2012 season? I never want to go in expecting to go somewhere. We have a ton of really talented guys and a lot are right on the edge. Where you end up when the season starts depends on how you go into spring training and how you play there.

Favorite experience with Lakewood? Definitely winning the title last year, that was a lot of fun. We had a great team too, a lot of great guys.

Shreve also mentioned his AFL teammate, Bryce Harper. Both are from the Las Vegas area and worked out with the same physical therapist in the last offseason.