Results tagged ‘ Austin Hedges ’

Triple Shot, Reader Questions, Team in Perspective

It would have been difficult to ask for a better finish to the TinCaps’ game against Lansing on Wednesday afternoon. Trailing 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Fort Wayne rallied for two runs–an Austin Hedges homer to tie and a Kyle Gaedele RBI single to win–to defeat the Lugnuts 3-2. With the victory, the TinCaps won the series two games to one and secured a 4-2 record on the half-opening home stand. It was the first time Fort Wayne had won a series from Lansing dating back to August of last year.

The bats have come to life in the second half, the pitching has kept the team in games and now they’ll have to do it on the road. Today the TinCaps open a three-game series with the Great Lakes Loons (3-3) at Dow Diamond. The Loons have struggled pitching-wise, and Fort Wayne will certainly look to capitalize on that aspect of the game. The 2012 draft is already starting its trickle-down into the Midwest League, as Duke von Schamann, a 15th round pick by the Dodgers earlier this month, will make his Loons debut against the TinCaps on Friday.

Today it’s a triple-shot of the TinCaps Report Podcast:

Hear from Austin Hedges, who hit the game-tying home run in the ninth:

Hear from Kyle Gaedele who hit the walk-off hit for the TinCaps:

and hear from Tom Felice, who put together a feature presentation on how the TinCaps players relax by hitting the links:

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Sweep Opportunity, Catching Clinic, Dialing Zero

Make it two in a row for the TinCaps, who steamrolled the Captains 4-0 on Saturday night at Parkview Field. All four runs scored in the first inning, and Lake County was down for the count after that. Adys Portillo worked six innings, giving up three hits, and striking out four. His fastball was nearly untouchable, and he said he didn’t use his curveball until about the third inning. If he hadn’t used it once, his success rate in getting hitters out might’ve been nearly the same. All four of his strikeouts caught batters looking.

Skipper Jose Valentin was a bit concerned, as he was in the first half, the all of his team’s run production came in the first inning, and that the team only picked up one hit, a second-inning single by Jace Peterson, for the remainder of the game. The TinCaps sent no more than five batters to the plate in an inning in frames two through eight. However, a 2-0 start is something to be happy about, and Fort Wayne will look for its first three-game sweep at Parkview Field for the first time in over a year. The last time the TinCaps took three in a row from an opponent at home was May 27-29 last year against Great Lakes.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, an elated Adys Portillo details his outing in which he allowed three hits over six innings en route to his fifth win of the year:

YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW…

Whenever roving instructors come into town, that usually means that the TinCaps will be out on the field for some early instruction. Whether it’s PFP (pitchers fielding practice) or infield work, the coordinators want to see how each member of the team is progressing.

Yesterday it was a chance for the catchers to get some extra work in, with some great insight from a member of the Padres front office–A.J. Hinch, who is a Vice President and Assistant General Manager. According to the Padres media guide, “Hinch oversees all aspects of the professional scouting department, while assisting Executive Vice President/General Manager Josh Byrnes with determining the Major League club’s roster composition, player acquisitions, talent evaluations and contract negotiations.”

Saturday afternoon he was simply a teacher for Fort Wayne catchers Matt Colantonio and Austin Hedges. For maybe 30-45 minutes, he worked with the two right in front of the TinCaps dugout. They worked on what looked like receiving techniques, and then talked about situational catching.

“The most important count in the big leagues is 0-1″, Hinch told the two catchers. “After that, it’s 1-1.” He pointed out that getting ahead of every batter was paramount to determining how an at bat would go. Hinch, a former major league catcher and then manager, demonstrated in a crouch where he would position himself when trying to help a pitcher get a strike called in certain counts. There are some days where you think baseball can be a simple game, and then you get a glance of ten minutes of A.J. Hinch breaking down arguably the game’s most difficult position, and it’s amazing how much more you can learn.

Hinch, by the way, was a one-time teammate of TinCaps hitting coach Jacque Jones. Go back and take a look at the United States 1996 Olympic baseball roster, and you’ll find those two, born a year apart, were together on that bronze medal-winning team. Also on the roster was R.A. Dickey, who’s starting tonight for the New York Mets against the Yankees on Sunday Night baseball. I think I know what my plans are around 8 PM this evening…

DIAL “0” FOR…

When was the last time, other than your most frequent stay at a Midwest League hotel where the wireless internet wasn’t working, that you dialed “0” for an operator? You can’t think of one, right?

The Journal Gazette hops in the WABAC Machine and takes us to a time before there was a definitive (Ok, not at all definitive) Yahoo! Answers response to every question ever.

Today, we learn about the mysterious telephone operator! 

“For decades, you could not make a telephone call without an operator physically putting the call through. Then it was only long distance calls that needed that familiar “Operator … ” to connect you. Then such service was only needed to make a collect call or to make sure a line was working.

And then … it has come to this: Most of us don’t even know whether telephone operators still exist.

We put the question to Patricia Amendola, communications manager for Frontier Communications.

“Well, we have call center representatives,” Amendola said.

But if you pick up the phone and dial zero does someone answer?

“To be honest, I don’t know because I’ve not done that,” she admitted.

And we’re not picking on Frontier. We called Verizon Wireless, too, and asked spokesman Tom Pica what would happen if you dialed zero on your cellphone.

“I don’t know, I’ve never done it,” Pica said. “I can’t remember the last time I ever did try that.”

He put us on hold, then tried it, and said he got a recording saying whom to call for different needs. We tried it and got no answer at all.

The answer is yes, telephone operators still exist, but their numbers are a tiny fraction of what they were just a couple of decades ago.”

This piece is of particular interest to me because my grandfather, whose first and middle name I share, used to work in New York City installing telephone lines. He would wake up before the crack of dawn and commute from Long Island into Manhattan each morning. I remember the story he told me about getting to go install phone lines in the world headquarters of CBS News, and meeting Walter Cronkite, who he says was a pretty good guy.

And now, you can make a VoIP call sitting at your computer– no phone lines required. I’m still waiting for teleportation…

MUSICAL GUEST

Bruce Springsteen…take it away!

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

All-Star Game, Padres Tryout, Bob Dylan

Feeling like a bear coming out of winter hibernation, I’m ready, refreshed and excited to jump into the second half of the 2012 Midwest League season. While the team was on the All-Star break I caught up on some reading, got some sun by the pool and had a good time relaxing.

Here are a few notes to catch you up on what’s been going on:

-Infielder Casey McElroy was promoted to Advanced-A Lake Elsinore of the California League. That amounts to the first real promotion the TinCaps have had this season. McElroy was a first-half rock for the team, playing in all but 11 games, hitting .237 and knocking home a team-high 30 runs. Congrats, Casey.

In other transaction-related business, pitcher Chris Haney was transferred to Short-Season Eugene. He worked three games for the TinCaps and had an ERA of 15.75. Also, infielder Felix Cabrera was added to the roster to replace McElroy. Cabrera was signed as a free agent in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic, and before this year had never played above the Arizona League. He’s played in six games this season between Double-A and Triple-A.

-All of the TinCaps All-Stars performed well at the All-Star game on Tuesday night. Craig Wieczorkiewicz (aka @MWLTraveler) has a write up on the game here. Here’s his picture of Austin Hedges:

Austin Hedges went 2-3 with a double and 3 RBI. Jace Peterson went 1-2 with a double. Adys Portillo pitched a scoreless first and was named the winning pitcher. Frank Garces worked for 2/3 of an inning and picked up a strikeout.

-Speaking of Austin Hedges, Reggie Hayes of The News-Sentinel put together a feature piece on the 19-year-old catcher.

“I try to stay away from goals and numbers and just try to get better every day,” Hedges said. “I’m always trying to make adjustments and do something to get better every day. When you’re doing that, then obviously you are achieving some of those goals you have.”

Hedges expects the game to be much like showcases he has been involved with as a player. He’ll talk with and warm up pitchers prior to their appearance to try to get a feel for what they throw. In an all-star setting, the pitchers won’t be on the mound long.

Hedges is one of the younger players on the TinCaps and in the Midwest League. But he says he tries not to be too anxious about how fast he can move up the farm system ladder.

“It’s a long process and I want to do everything the right way,” he said. “I’m happy to be where I am right now. …It was hard for a little bit to be so far away (from his California home), but there’s nowhere I’d rather be right now. This is a good town, a good baseball town.”

You can read the full story by clicking here.

A UNIQUELY TALENTED TRYOUT PARTICIPANT

Before coming to Fort Wayne, my only familiarity with Ron Howard was from his involvement with Arrested Development. However, there’s also a Ron Howard who is a member of the Mad Ants, the NBDL franchise located in town. The TinCaps and Padres held an open tryout at Parkview Field over the break and Howard gave it a shot. Once again, Reggie Hayes has the details:

Unlike a few, Howard showed up in perfect shape, toned by his always working basketball career. In fact, he made the Mad Ants at a similar open tryout. Yet while most, if not all, of the 50 other players Wednesday spent their youth concentrating on baseball, Howard is a novice. He’s also 29.

Jeff Stewart, Midwest area scout for the Padres, talked with Howard after the tryout and gave him an honest assessment. He saw a great athlete. And he told him to keep working on his basketball career.

“If he was in a baseball uniform on a daily basis, his throwing would improve quickly, his fielding would improve quickly, just through repetition,” Stewart said. “But I’m not sure he would ever hit. He’s (29) years old. He’s well, well, well below average at this point, and that’s in batting practice, seeing a ball intended for you to hit exercising a swing.

“You get in a game situation where pitchers are using varying velocity, breaking planes with curveballs, changeups, sliders – I’m not sure the learning curve would be quick enough.”

It was definitely worth a shot, right?

JUST BECAUSE

This article in The Atlantic explains how Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is just like the European debt crisis. Seriously.

AND OH, BY THE WAY…

Bob Dylan will be performing at Parkview Field on August 24th. MLB.com’s Corey Brock has a great take on the concert:

MUSICAL GUEST

Carly Rae Jepsen (miraculously avoiding one-hit wonder status) partners with Owl City (it’s near Albatross Township) for this latest earworm:

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

Troublesome Takeoff & Dancing with the TinCaps

I can now say that after Thursday’s game in South Bend, I’ve called a game (well at least a half inning) in a manner I’ve never experienced: with a piece of tissue in my left nostril.

Let’s set the scene…It’s about 7:03 PM in the visiting radio booth at Coveleski Stadium and I’ve just tossed to the final commercial break before the national anthem begins and the game can get underway. So I say something along the lines of “First pitch comes your way next. It’s the TinCaps and the Silver Hawks on 1380 ESPN.” So far, so good.

Then, I stand up. You know that feeling when you think your nose is running, but it happens a little too quickly and you get worried. Yeah…that. It was 85 degrees outside, so it’s not like I had the sniffles or anything. I had to stay standing, though, because the anthem was being performed.

So I took a tissue out of my pocket to try and dab away whatever was coming my way, thinking “No big deal” and bam…nosebleed. Uh oh. I’ve only got about two minutes at this point, depending on the anthem singer’s speed, to get this to stop. Well, it didn’t stop by the time we heard, “The following is a presentation of 1380 ESPN and The Fort Wayne TinCaps…”, and that means I’ve got about 30 seconds to go.

I begin to have every nightmare situation run through my head. I think back to the year 2004, when my oldest sister graduated from Providence College. It’s my entire family out at a really nice restaurant and we’re celebrating with a fancy dinner. Leave it to me to have a nosebleed that lasts the entire dinner. The entire night my middle sister was running back and forth to the bathroom to get me more tissues. Lesson learned: never take me to a nice restaurant.

Back in the booth, quick thinking was needed…

What do I do?

Well, I just ripped off a giant hunk of tissue and hoped that it would act as the Kleenex Hoover Dam to my Colorado Blood River. Luckily it did, and by the time the top of the first was over, I was back in working order.

What makes this all the more entertaining for me is that the TinCaps scored five runs in the first inning, including an Austin Hedges grand slam.  And that was only Thursday. Who knows what Friday will bring!

Oddities aside, the TinCaps have now won four games in a row, which ties their season-long winning streak. Donavan Tate has hit in eight consecutive games, tying Matt Colantonio for the longest hit streak of the season. Lee Orr has homered four times in 10 games, and Hedges now leads the team with five homers and 24 knocked in.

Tonight’s pitching matchup should be pretty good, too. The scheduled starters are Adys Portillo for Fort Wayne (league best ERA) and Archie Bradley for South Bend (6 wins, league-low .132 BAA).

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from shortstop who made his return to the lineup on Wednesday, going 3-5 and knocking in two runs. He shares what he remembers of the injury that put him on the disabled list and his jubilation about returning to action:

DANCING WITH THE TINCAPS

It’s commonly known that pitchers tend to have a lot of time on their hands. If you’re a starter, the mound is yours once every five days. So during the other four days, you’re watching the game. If you’re a closer, you’re generally not needed in innings 1-8, and sometimes 9.

Thus, I present to you one starter and one closer: Cody Hebner and Matt Stites, as they showcase their dancing talents with Myron Noodleman:

MUSICAL GUEST

I think those guys might have watched this video a few times before taking the field with Myron:

James Brown…take it away!

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

Wednesday Win, Port Gets Pub, Don’t Tell Johnny

It’s game two of a seven-day homestand for the TinCaps, and Joe Ross takes the hill today against lefty John Pedrotty for South Bend. Also, it’s just one day away from Video Game Night tomorrow at Parkview Field. As someone who spent far too much time as an elementary school student playing Game Boy rather than learning long division, this is a very exciting time.

The 18-year-old Ross is coming off of his best outing of the season. Last time out he threw six innings against West Michigan, striking out seven, walking one and allowing two earned runs. He didn’t get the win as the game went to 12 innings, but did get help from fellow Californian Austin Hedges, whose 12th inning sac fly lifted the team to victory.

Padres Farm Director Randy Smith is in town this week to have a look at some of the system’s top prospects, so keep an eye on the blog, or become an e-mail subscriber and have your daily dispatch delivered to your inbox each day, for Smith’s thoughts on players like Ross and Hedges.

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Winning Big, Off Day, Spot the Hat, Red(s) Storm

TAKIN’ CARE OF BUSINESS

Samuel Hoffman/The Journal Gazette

That was the view that construction workers had for Monday morning’s game at Parkview Field. Not bad, I’ll say.

The TinCaps won 8-4, behind seven first inning runs as they sent 11 men to the plate and hit for the cycle as a team. Austin Hedges hit a home run, Jace Peterson hit a three-run triple, and Cody Hebner picked up his third win of the year tossing a career-high five and two thirds innings. Listen to the highlights and hear post-game comments from Hebner and second baseman Casey McElroy in today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:

TOUGH CHOICE

Imagine having to choose between trying to play basketball or baseball as a pro. For those of us who celebrate over just touching the rim while playing basketball, this choice seems like it would never be in the realm of possibility. However, for Amir Garrett, a St. John’s University student, it’s his reality:

“The Cincinnati Reds drafted him out of high school based on a left arm they believe is full of potential.

The Reds were undeterred that the 6-foot-6 Garrett had committed to play basketball and baseball at St. John’s. They signed him to a $1 million contract, agreed to let him play forward for the Red Storm this winter and asked him to be ready to report to their player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz., once the academic year ended.

Now a month away from doing just that, Garrett is in a springtime no man’s land. The basketball season is over. N.C.A.A. rules prohibit him from playing baseball for the Red Storm. Classes remain. Eligibility pitfalls abound. And a question lingers.

“Everybody asks me which sport I like more,” Garrett said. “I can’t really pick between the two right now. They’re both the same. I love them both.”’

It’s quite a story, and it’s not without precedent either. The most recent example is Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker:

“It has not been uncommon for football players to play baseball, too, even signing contracts with professional teams while finishing out their college football careers. Washington’s Jake Locker, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson and Michigan’s Drew Henson, all quarterbacks, and the Heisman Trophy-winning running back Ricky Williams are notable examples.”

Although Garrett will report to the Reds complex in Arizona, it doesn’t sound like a stretch that he could make his way to Dayton and play for the Dragons this season. The TinCaps have plenty of games left against their Eastern Division rivals, and that’d be one opposing pitcher you wouldn’t want to miss at Parkview Field.

LOTS OF HATS

I found this cool picture yesterday courtesy of Ben Hill, the business blogger for MiLB.com. Can you find the TinCaps hat in there? If you need a hint and are a minor league baseball junkie, you’ll easily identify it when I tell you that it’s located in between the Fort Myers Miracle hat and the Frederick Keys hat.

Looking at all of the logos for minor league team is pretty fun. On Monday’s TV broadcast, Kent and I were talking about logos, and the Casper Ghosts came up. They’re no longer in Casper (now Grand Junction, CO), but when they were in Wyoming, they had a glow-in-the-dark logo, the only such of it’s kind in Minor League Baseball.

Because…why not, right?

OFF DAY AT THE MALL

While Bryce Harper’s only got a handful of Major League games under his belt, he did have a recent off day with the Nationals while they were back in Washington, D.C. So what did he do with that off day?

He stopped by a pick-up softball game on the National Mall:

Today also happens to be an off-day for the TinCaps. So if you happen to see anyone that looks like they’re way too good and has never been in your Tuesday night softball league before, they may be a Midwest Leaguer enjoying a rare day off.

MUSICAL GUEST

May has begun. After plenty of cool weather took April into the rear view mirror, I’m hoping those 75 and 80 degree nights are right around the corner.

With that in mind, today’s musical guest is…Rascall Flatts!

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

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