Prospecting, On the Ground Floor, An Ode to Sweet Tea

Rain struck Parkview Field for the first time this season, and postponed Thursday’s game between the TinCaps and Loons.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the last day of the series and the two teams will be able to make up the missed action as part of a doubleheader tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 5:35. Doubleheaders are scheduled for two seven-inning games. Adys Portillo is set to start in game one and Colin Rea in game two. If you were planning on coming out for Star Wars Night, fear not, you must. Scheduled for game two the festivities are.

After a 10-15 April, the TinCaps finished the month of May with a record of 14-14. Fort Wayne is 14.5 games out of first place, but just 4.5 games out of second place. The first and second place finishers in each half qualify for the postseason. It doesn’t look like any team will be able to catch Lansing, but the battle for second place is fierce. Bowling Green and Great Lakes are tied for second place (10.5 games back), South Bend is in fourth (12 games back), Lake County is in fifth (13.5 games back), West Michigan is in sixth (14.0 games back) and the TinCaps are in seventh. Dayton, 18.5 games out of first, is in a distant eighth place.

Looking ahead, the TinCaps have a three-game series at Lake County in Eastlake, Ohio this weekend. Upon Googling “Eastlake ohio” (No, I didn’t use a comma or capitalize for Google…painful, I know),  I found that the mayor of this city is Ted Andrzejewski. Since the Scripps National Spelling Bee was held yesterday, I challenge you to make your own today in your workplace. You’ll only need one word, since nobody will actually be able to spell Andrzejewski. The problem is, you’ll have to figure out how to pronounce it first. I wish you luck.

Back to baseball–the Captains have lost five in a row, so that’s good news for the TinCaps, who have dropped three straight. The name to watch for with the Captains is Francisco Lindor, the top prospect in the Indians farm system. He was hitting as high as .327 on May 17, and is still hitting a pretty solid .286. What folks say has really been impressive is his glove. The TinCaps and Captains played three games against one another to open the year, and no team is the same on Opening Day as it is on June 1st, so I’m eager to see how Lindor has progressed.

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s big paper, recently put together a profile on the shortstop:

“Brad Grant, the Indians’ director of amateur scouting, acknowledged that Lindor, who played just five professional games with the team’s Mahoning Valley rookie league affiliate last season, may be exceeding even the organization’s lofty expectations.

“I knew defensively he’d be able to hold his own. The offensive start was a little bit of a surprise,” Grant said. “To be doing what he’s doing and having multiple hits and hitting for power every night, that’s a little bit surprising. And the leadership side of him, too. I didn’t know at 18 he’d be the field general that he is.”

Two Dayton Dragons pitchers, charting pitches in seats behind home plate at a recent Captains game, had each faced Lindor earlier in the series. They raved about his ability to make solid contact wherever the ball was pitched and how fluid he was in the field.

“He’s only 18,” one said, “and he’s too good for this league.”‘

So if you’re following along with the action this weekend as the team goes on the road and you like to track top prospects, keep your eyes open for Francisco Lindor.

ON THE GROUND FLOOR

Once a player leaves the game of baseball and crosses over to the other side, what’s he to do? Some get into business, others go back to school and some step right back over that line and get into a different capacity within the game. Fort Wayne has Jacque Jones and Jose Valentin as two examples of former players just making their forays back into the game as first-year staff members.

For Brad Ausmus, a special assistant to Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes, he’s getting even more involved with the game. Ausmus is the manager for Israel’s first ever team in the World Baseball Classic. Tyler Kepner of The New York Times has the story:

“These days, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, Texas’ Ian Kinsler and Boston’s Kevin Youkilis are Jewish major league stars. Other Jewish major leaguers include Arizona’s Craig Breslow, the Mets’ Ike Davis and Texas’ Scott Feldman. Israel’s team will include native Israelis, but Ausmus said he also hoped to attract as many major leaguers as possible.

Israel grants citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, so all of those players would be eligible to play for Israel in the Classic. Ausmus said he had a comprehensive list of Jewish players in professional baseball and had reached out to them directly or through their agents.”

It looks like former Blue Jays outfielder Sean Green and Gabe Kapler, who spent a good chunk of time with the Red Sox, will be player-coaches for the squad. It’s neat to see the international appeal that baseball has, especially compared to other sports. The N.B.A has failed to make great headway with expansion efforts in China, and NFL Europe shut down in 2007.

AN ODE TO SWEET TEA

One of my new favorite follows on Twitter, @TheByliner, sent out a great tweet the other day about “Stories of Summer”, and one of them happened to be about sweet tea. Me? I’m partial to peach iced tea, but I know there are legions of folks who are extremely loyal to their sweet tea. I can’t say if I’ll ever be one of those people, but I certainly understand the affinity for the drink. The following passage sums up the sweet tea crazy pretty well:

“It is impossible to imagine eating most Southern foods without sweet tea. You can’t wash down pulled pork with water. It takes a beverage with some oomph to cut through lard-dunked catfish. The sugar in sweet tea is nature’s intestinal Drano. The caffeine makes it possible to drive home after a Sunday brunch of fried chicken and cheese grits. This is not to say sweet tea goes with everything—pizza requires Coke, curry requires beer—only that it marries best with the food of our people, cementing its status as the iconic Southern libation.”

Now, if I could just find a restaurant that served lard-dunked catfish…

MUSICAL GUEST

Rooney…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

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