Results tagged ‘ Casey McElroy ’

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.

On the Road, From the Top, Where Does Email Go?

HITTING THE ROAD

Today the TinCaps travel approximately two hours north on Interstate 69 to take on the Lansing Lugnuts at Cooley Law School Stadium.

The Lugnuts are red hot and have the league’s best record through 39 games. Not surprisingly, they’ve got the best team ERA in the league, showing that pitching will win you games in this league. That is a promising item for the TinCaps, though, as they have the fourth best ERA in the Midwest League and the second in the Eastern Division behind Lansing.

In Tuesday’s win, Donavan Tate returned to the lineup for the first time since April 28. Tate batted leadoff and was the designated hitter for the TinCaps, going 2-4, scoring two runs and picking up an RBI. Fort Wayne has relied on that leadoff spot to be one of its most productive positions this year, and it was almost exclusively occupied by Jace Peterson until his recent injury. Kyung-Min Na had filled in at the top of the card the last four games, but was 0-14 in four games as the leadoff man. Peterson led the league in runs scored and stolen bases before his injury, and so if Tate can match some of Peterson’s production, that will be a big boost for the TinCaps.

Fort Wayne has now won three out of its last four, and four of the last seven. The TinCaps offense has showed great signs of life, especially with the two eighth-inning home runs on Monday afternoon. Clark Murphy and Casey McElroy each hit solo homers as the TinCaps turned a 4-3 deficit into an eventual 6-5 victory.

First pitch tonight is at 7:05 and I hope you can join me from Michigan’s capital city beginning at 6:45 for pregame coverage on 1380 ESPN and ESPNFortWayne.com.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Manager Jose Valentin as he gives his thoughts on how his team coalesced on the homestand and the return of Donavan Tate to the lineup:

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Three Straight, Too Much Flying, Harper To Home

After Sunday’s matinee victory for the TinCaps, the team has now put together four straight dominating pitching performances. Starting with Adys Portillo’s outing on Thursday night, and continuing on with Joe Ross, Matt Wisler and Cody Hebner, the last four outings have yielded the following:

-25 innings pitched

-15 hits

-3 earned runs

-6 walks

-26 strikeouts

-1.08 ERA

That’s pretty darn good, and it’s no surprise that Fort Wayne is in the midst of the first three game winning streak of the year. Not to be overlooked, either, was the performance that the TinCaps had at the plate on Sunday. They beat the Dragons 11-1, Casey McElroy went deep twice, and Mike Gallic hit his first home run of the year. Kyung-Min Na had two triples in his first two at bats, and the TinCaps sent Dayton to loss number seven in a row. Pretty good Sunday, huh?

Frank Garces takes the hill tonight at 7 against Dan Jensen, who is making a spot start for Dayton after their ace, Justice French (Top-10 best names in MWL?), was promoted to Advanced-A Bakersfield of the California League.

Dan Jensen

Pregame coverage gets underway at 6:45 on 1380 ESPN in Fort Wayne and ESPNFortWayne.com. I hope you can join.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my chat with Casey McElroy, who after hitting two home runs yesterday, leads the team in longballs and RBI:

FLYING TOO MUCH?

Ever seen Up In The Air? I think that’s a fantastic movie for two reasons: 1) It’s entertaining and tells a good story. 2) What guy doesn’t want to be George Clooney?

London or Paris?

In the movie, Clooney is a traveling businessman who flies all over the country for work and gets rewarded when he reaches the 10 million miles mark. Big deal, right? Not for a few folks in real life who have far surpassed that.

The L.A. Times has a story about how with AAirpass, a program instituted back in the 1980′s, fliers could pay upwards of $350,000 for unlimited first class travel for the rest of their lives.

“We thought originally it would be something that firms would buy for top employees,” said Bob Crandall, American’s chairman and chief executive from 1985 to 1998. “It soon became apparent that the public was smarter than we were.”

The unlimited passes were bought mostly by wealthy individuals, including baseball Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays, America’s Cup skipper Dennis Conner and computer magnate Michael Dell.

Mike Joyce of Chicago bought his in 1994 after winning a $4.25-million settlement after a car accident.

In one 25-day span this year, Joyce flew round trip to London 16 times, flights that would retail for more than $125,000. He didn’t pay a dime.

“I love Rome, I love Sydney, I love Athens,” Joyce said by phone from the Admirals Club at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. “I love Vegas and Frisco.”

And I love that quote. I laughed the first time I read that, sitting outside the team hotel here in Dayton last night, waiting to head to dinner. If you had the opportunity to fly like that, wouldn’t you?

Well, the gist of the story is that now American is involved in lawsuits with some people who bought AAirpasses, there’s potential fraud and it’s gotten costly and ugly. Interesting concept, probably not a good ending, though.

HARPER STEALS HOME

In Sunday’s Nationals-Phillies game at Citizen–, uh, I mean Nationals Park, Bryce Harper decided that a pickoff throw to first base would be an excellent time to attempt a steal of home plate. He was right:

Very impressive. Cole Hamels, who made the pickoff throw to first base, had plunked Harper, allowing him to reach in the first place. Hamels later admitted after the game that he hit Harper on purpose, saying, “I was trying to hit him. I mean, I’m not going to deny it. It’s something that I grew up watching. I’m just trying to continue old baseball, because I think some people get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie, the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything, because that’s the way baseball is … It’s just welcome to the big leagues.”

The Phils got the last laugh as they went on to a victory.

MUSICAL GUEST

Golden Earring…Take it away!

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

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.

Shipers’ Long Road, True Connections, Chronicling Life

Game one in Clinton was not as friendly to the TinCaps as they would have hoped. Despite taking a 3-0 lead in the third inning, Fort Wayne didn’t score again for the rest of the afternoon. The LumberKings scored once in the fourth, and then two more runs each in the fifth, sixth and seventh for a 7-3 victory. The loss fell on the TinCaps bullpen, which is the sixth time in their 11 losses that that has happened.

Of note in this series for Fort Wayne, is that two players return back to their home state. Travis Whitmore (Burlington) and Colin Rea (Cascade) are both from Iowa. I ran into Travis’ mother yesterday while I was fetching my pregame meal, and she was very happy to be seeing her son playing back in Iowa. Travis told me that he had about nine or 10 family members at the game on Sunday.

Additionally, TinCaps infielder Zach Kometani’s older brother, Paul, was once a LumberKing. Paul, a pitcher, played in Clinton during the 2005 season.

Paul Kometani in 2005

He made 13 appearances, 9 starts, and went 3-2, with a 2.40 ERA.

——————–

Today Fort Wayne’s Joe Ross takes the hill, and he’ll be opposed by Jordan Shipers. The lefty from Bethany, MO, population 3,087, didn’t play high school baseball because his school didn’t have a team. Here are some details from a story written last summer about Shipers:

“The local high school, South Harrison, had just 400 students and did not have a baseball program. There weren’t any summer team opportunities beyond Little League.

So when Shipers was 12 his mother, Debbie, decided to take the dramatic step of driving her son to Kansas City to play baseball, about 100 miles away.

This became Shipers’ routine through high school. The two would drive to Kansas City three times a week for practices, then again on the weekends for games. The round trip lasted three hours. Because Shipers is a pitchers, sometimes those three hours of travel ended up being for as little as 45 minutes worth of practice. When Shipers had multiple games on a Saturday with time in between, he’d head to a nearby skate park to pass the time — much to his coach’s chagrin.”

The only other player who I can think of in Minor League Baseball like Shipers is Brandon Nimmo, the Mets’ first round pick last year. Nimmo grew up in Wyoming, one of three states without high school baseball (Montana and South Dakota are the other two), and had to play American Legion baseball to get noticed. If you know of any other players like this, please let me know. The email is Couzens@TinCaps.com

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my Sunday Conversation with TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin, where we’ll talk about what helped the team to a back-to-back wins over the weekend, the return of Casey McElroy, and the squad’s starting pitching:

SPOT-ON COMMENTARY

Do you ever have one of those moments where you read something and find your self nodding your head in a moment of complete agreement? That’s what happened to me after yesterday’s game when I got back to the team hotel. I read this piece from The New York Times entitled “The Flight From Conversation”. It laments the loss of real, everyday, meaningful conversation with one another, which has been replaced with online blips of interaction:

“We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.”

I think I’m one of the first people to be guilty of this kind of thing. I was on the phone with a friend last night, and he relayed a funny bit of conversation he’d had with someone saying, “If you want to get in touch with me, you can do office intranet chat, GMail chat, work email, personal email, Facebook message, Facebook chat, phone call, text message, Twitter @ reply, Twitter direct message. Ok, I think I’ve named them all.” Look at that list! Didn’t it just used to be either face-t0-face or a phone call?

“I am a partisan for conversation. To make room for it, I see some first, deliberate steps. At home, we can create sacred spaces: the kitchen, the dining room. We can make our cars “device-free zones.”

This is what I do when I go to the gym. I lock my phone away in the locker room and take some time to enjoy solitude (relatively speaking, considering I’m surrounded by people, music and televisions) and freedom from being around my phone. I use my cellphone for email ,Twitter, Facebook, etc., so to not think or worry about that for an hour or so a day is a nice feeling. I have no interest in texting while I’m on the elliptical, anyway.

“Most of all, we need to remember — in between texts and e-mails and Facebook posts — to listen to one another, even to the boring bits, because it is often in unedited moments, moments in which we hesitate and stutter and go silent, that we reveal ourselves to one another.”

It’s just so true. So last night, I called a couple of my friends–one from college and another from home. I learned that one friend has a new girlfriend, and is enjoying life in New York City. I learned that another is going to be starting a new job in  Connecticut this summer. I laughed. I learned. I was human.

Even though I’m in Iowa and was talking to people thousands of miles away, I had an experience that no Twitter or Facebook conversation could replicate.

SMART THINKING

I’ve very few memories before I was, say, in kindergarten. Some people can think back to when they were really young and remember what life was like, but I don’t think that strong memory gene runs in the Couzens bloodline. A certain father out there, knowing that his own child might want to know what she looked and acted like when she was young, decided to take a video of his daughter from when she was born until she turned 12. It’s fun to watch, and reminds me of this video, where a guy took a picture of himself every day for six years.

Since I can’t embed the 0-12 years old video, here’s a link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/thefalafel/amazing-12-year-time-lapse-video-of-a-girl-named-l-4x8q.

MUSICAL GUEST

Brantley Gilbert…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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