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Your 2016 Starting Point

Happy New Year, Timber Rattlers fans.

When we left you before Christmas, there was no snow on the newly installed field at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.

Then, Monday December 28th happened…and it’s still here over a week later.

January 6 16 a

 

January 6 16 b

It finally looks like winter around here.

There are 94 days to the Home Opener!  The Season is Coming:

Season is Coming

Rattler Radio Podcast with Rob Zerjav and Aaron Hahn – December 15, 2015

Rob Zerjav and Aaron Hahn are the guests on this week’s podcast.  They talk about the winter meetings from the perspective of minor league teams, protective netting, drones, some upcoming promotions for the 2016 season, the condition of the new playing surface at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium, and a host of other topics.

Since I don’t have pictures of the other stuff, here are some photos of the field as of yesterday.  To put their comments in perspective, we had well over 2 inches of rain.  Normally, the outfield would be a lake and the warning track would be at least a tidal pool.  The new drainage worked perfectly and just look at the lack of water!

Green Grass and no puddles 2

 

Green Grass and no puddles

To the Podcast!

Mehring Monday: A long time ago

Apologies for posting this to the blog instead of the website, but I have been having some issues with the software to publish it to there.
Mehring Monday December 14 2015

The image for this week’s Mehring Monday should tip you off as to my plans this week because the only way to prepare for this weekend is to go old school.

The new Star Wars movie is out later this week. I won’t be attending for a midnight showing on Opening Night. I’ve done that once* and that was way too many people for my liking.
Yes, those are VHS tapes of the original movies…or Episodes IV, V, & VI. I just couldn’t get into the prequels because….well….prequels. I mean come on. Plus, there are, what, a total of four memorable scenes from the prequels.

I will need to watch these again because they are not the versions that George Lucas fooled around with after they were originally released. In other words, Han shoots first and Anakin’s Force Ghost is played by Sebastian Shaw…um….spoilers for a 38-year-old movie.

The movies have never strayed too far from my memory because of the Star Wars Night the Timber Rattlers have done every season for the last several seasons at the ballpark. As a brief aside (and to fill this week’s baseball requirement) the Timber Rattlers will host Star Wars Night on Saturday, June 4.

Every time we unveil the jerseys for Star Wars Night and every time the characters are here I am taken back to the first time I saw the first movie.

The movie premiered on May 25, 1977, but it didn’t turn up until a few weeks later in my hometown’s one screen Ford Theater**.

We went to a small diner to grab something to eat before the show and had seen the commercials and heard the buzz, but were still a little unsure as to what the movie would be like.

Pardon the phrase here, but kids today don’t know how good they have it for special effects in movies. Prior to the first movie, a special effect for a spaceship was pretty much this.

We just didn’t want Star Wars to be that – and it wasn’t. There was something perfect about it for an 8-year-old.

A lot has changed between the first time I saw that movie and now. For example, that diner in my hometown is now a travel agency. I couldn’t see Episodes V and VI at the Ford Theater because it became a XXX movie theater, which is something that was just weird and something that we don’t normally talk about or mention to outsiders… Anyways, that theater is now a Vape Shop and HVAC dealership.

I am hoping that this new movie is good and carries on the spirit of the originals. Speaking of which, I need to find my VCR.

*-It was The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Totally worth it!
**-Not that one.  That one was called Ford’s Theater.

Rattler Radio Podcast – December 8, 2015

This week’s guest is Matt Erickson.  We talk a little about the past, a lot about the present, and some about the future.

Thank you for checking out the podcast.

 

IMG_1147

Rattler Radio Podcast – December 1, 2015

This week’s episode of the Rattler Radio Podcast features Kyle Lobner.

We discuss  his upcoming article on Trent Clark and Malik Collymore, Brewers Top 10 Prospect lists from 2016, 2011, & 2006, What If…?, and many other topics.

MiLB.com’s Brewers Organization All-Stars

MiLB.com is….well….I will let them explain.

This offseason, MiLB.com will be honoring the players — regardless of age or prospect status — who had the best seasons in their organizations. We’re taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League baseball

The link at the top of the post leads to their All-Stars in the Brewers organization.

The biggest moves for the organization came off the field when the Brewers hired 30-year-old David Stearns as their new general manager, succeeding Doug Melvin. Stearns had been assistant GM for the Astros and helped their rebuild, which began, of course, with the farm system. Stearns dismissed former farm director Reid Nichols, replacing him with Tom Flanagan, who started as a Brewers batboy in 1990 and had spent the last decade as the club’s director of baseball operations. He takes over a system on the way up.

Spoiler Alert: No one on the list played for the Timber Rattlers in 2015.  However, there are several Rattlers from past seasons who made the list….Like Orlando Arcia:

This year Arcia showed why he is the Brewers top prospect with a breakout season — and he has the MiLBY to prove it. The 21-year-old led the system with 157 hits while posting career highs in homers (eight), RBIs (69) and average (.307).

“He is a natural leader, not necessarily a kid that has to be loud, but just the way he goes about the game. It speaks for itself, all players look up to him,” Subero said. “If it’s a tight ballgame in the seventh, you want Orlando up. He wants to be up there and he’ll deliver. So that’s the type of player he is, he’s a kid that, with help and God-willing, he’ll definitely be an impact at the Major League level soon.”

Chris McFarland:

After repeating the Midwest League, McFarland found success at the next level. The 22-year-old hit .274 with a career-high 46 RBIs and 28 walks. McFarland ranks second in the organization with 150 hits, while topping second basemen with 183 total bases.

A shortstop in high school, the Texas native continued to work on his defense as he transitioned to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League this past season. McFarland will look to cut the errors down as he enters his fifth campaign as a second baseman in 2016.

Jorge Lopez:

Lopez turned his Double-A introduction into an eventual Major League debut with an organization-leading 137 strikeouts and 12 wins. The 22-year-old posted a 2.26 ERA and finished the year with three straight Brewers Pitcher of the Month honors en route to being named the Southern League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher.

“I was able to see him turn from a kid into a man in terms of baseball savvy and on the mound, working with his pitches,” Subero said. “Just a kid who’s hard-working, great competitor with three pitches — all three are plus pitches — and he would even show plus command at times during the game. That’s what got him over edge and definitely made him one of our top guys in the whole system.”

Damien Magnifico:

Along with the promotion to Double-A, Magnifico was sent to the bullpen. The right-hander started out as a middle reliever, but after rebounding from a tough outing, Subero saw a closer in Magnifico. The University of Oklahoma product allowed three inherited runs without registering an out against Mississippi on May 10. Instead of letting him fester over it, the manager threw Magnifico back in the fire the following day.

“He performed and saved the game, and ever since, we called him our closer,” Subero said. “It’s just really electric stuff with good sink on it, mid-90s to upper-90s and is developing a slider, which has been very impressive, in the Fall League.”

Click the link up top for the whole list.

This seems odd to me – Rookie of the Year musings

I know….I know…great title for a post.  What do you want on a day that looks like this:

November 17 Field

The news of Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa being named – respectively – Rookies of the Year in the National League and American League got me to thinking about past winners of those awards and how they had done against the Timber Rattlers.

Correa was a monster against the Rattlers in 2013 as a member of the Quad Cities River Bandits (15 games; .305/.397/.458; 2HR, 12RBI, 14 runs).  Bryant skipped over the Midwest League on his quick move to the big leagues.

As I got to the list at Baseball Reference and worked back through the NL winners something seemed odd to me.  After a quick triple check…which is something I rarely do…I can safely say that the last NL Rookie of the Year winner to play in the Midwest League was Jason Bay, who played for the Clinton LumberKings in 2001.  At the time, the LumberKings were an affiliate of the Montreal Expos.  Click that link for Baseball Reference and check my work, if you feel like proving me wrong.

The AL Rookie of the Year winners are a different story.  Five of the last seven players to win that award have played in the Midwest League.

2015: Carlos Correa (Quad Cities – 2013)
2013: Wil Myers (Burlington – 2010)
2012: Mike Trout (Cedar Rapids – 2009, 2010)
2010: Neftali Feliz (Clinton – 2008)
2009: Andrew Bailey (Kane County – 2007)

Here’s a look at how Myers, Trout, Feliz, and Bailey did against the Rattlers during their MWL seasons.

Myers (’10): 10 games; .382/.500/.735; 2HR, 8RBI, 6 2Bs
Trout (’09): 3 games; 2-for-9
Trout (’10): 13 games; .436/.508/.618; 2HR, 6RBI; 13 Runs; 13 Stolen Bases
Feliz (’08): 1 game, 1 start; 0-0, 1.69 ERA; 5.1IP, H, R, 3BB, 11K
Bailey (’07): 3 games, 3 starts; 1-1, 1.08ERA; 16.2IP; 8H, 3R, 2ER; 6BB, 29K

No real lesson to learn here about their performance and the award that they eventually won.

Alumni Update – Fall and Winter Leagues (Through Games of 11/15/15)

Premier 12 Tournament:
Canada (5-1):
Brock Kjeldgaard: 6 games; 0HR, 4RBI; .417/.611/.583
Taylor Green: 2 games; 0HR, RBI; .200/.200/.200
Phillipe Aumont: 3 games, 1-1, 2.08ERA; 4.1IP; 4BB, 3K

Netherlands (3-3):
Wladimir Balentien: 6 games; 0HR, 3rbi; .227/.333/.318
Kalian Sams: 6 games; HR, 3RBI; .450/.577/.750
Shawn Zarraga: 5 games; HR, 7RBI; .200/.278/.400

Mexico (3-3):
Brandon Macias: 6 games; 0HR, RBI; .211/.273/.211
Martin Viramontes: 2 games, 1-0. 0.00; IP, 2BB, 0K

Canada made it through Pool play of the Premier 12 tournament unbeaten.  But, they lost 4-3 to Mexico in a quarterfinal game.  Mexico scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning to erase a 3-1 lead for Canada.

This is kind of amazing:

The three-run rally gave Mexico the win and put it into the semifinals in a major world baseball championship for the first time since 1965.

The Dutch team was 3-2 in Pool Play.  They lost 6-1 to Team USA in the quarterfinals.

USA v. Mexico and South Korea v. Japan in Friday’s semifinals.

Arizona Fall League:
Surprise Saguaros (16-10):
Michael Reed: 11 games; 0HR, 2RBI; .211/.388/.237
Yadiel Rivera: 18 games; HR, 11RBI; .323/.400/.452
Jacob Barnes: 7 games; 0-0, 0.00ERA; 9.2IP; 2BB, 13K
Damien Magnifico: 8 games; 0-0, 3 Saves, 8.10ERA; 6.2IP; 5BB, 11K

Australian Baseball League:
Sydney Blue Sox (5-9):
Craig Anderson: 3 games, 3 starts; 0-1, 6.59ERA; 13.2IP; BB, 4K

Liga de Beisbol Dominicano:
Aguilas Cibaenas (9-16):
Juan Sandoval: 8 games, 2-0, 5.63ERA; 8.0IP, 3BB, 5K

Gigantes del Cibao (13-12):
Carlos Peguero: 5 game; HR, 4RBI; .200/.304/.350
Carlos Triunfel: 11 games; HR, 5RBI; .235/.250/.382
Ryan Rowland-Smith: 1 game; 0-0, 0.00; 1.2IP; BB, K

Leones del Escogido (12-10):
Edward Paredes: 8 games; 1-0, 1.69ERA; 5.1IP; 4BB, 8K
Rafael Soriano: 10 games; 0-0, 5 Saves, 1.80ERA; 10.0IP; 0BB, 7K
Jorge Sosa: 8 games; 0-1, 3.86ERA; 7.0IP; BB, 5K

Tigres del Licey (13-11):
Jason Rogers: 22 games; HR, 11RBI; .267/.315/.349

Toros del Este (11-12):
Luis Ortega: 1 game, 0-0, 0.00ERA; 0.1IP; BB, 0K

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico:
Charros de Jalisco (16-16):
Alex Liddi: 32 games; 5HR, 25RBI; .352/.378/.568

Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico):
Cangrejeros de Santurce (4-8):
Omar Garcia: 3 games
Rene Rivera: 1 game; 0HR, 0RBI, .250/.250/.250

Criollos de Caguas (9-4):
Efrain Nieves: 3 games, 3 starts, 0-0, 3.38ERA; 16.0IP; 6BB, 6K

Gigantes de Carolina (5-7):
Jeff Dominguez: 12 games; HR, 4RBI; .354/.407/.479
JC Romero 5 games; 0-0, Save; 4.15ERA; 4.1IP; 2BB, 2K

Indios de Mayaguez (6-5):
Joshua Torres: 1 game, 0-0, 0.00ERA; BB, 2K

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional:
Aguilas del Zulia (15-17):
Eric Marzec: 9 games, 5 starts; 2-3, 4.50ERA; 26.0IP; 7BB, 15K
Gian Rizzo: 9 games; 0-0, 2.53ERA; 10.2IP; 2BB, 10K

Cardenales de Lara (17-15):
Cesar Jimenez: 1 game; 0-0, 0.00; 1.0IP; BB, 3K
Jose Jimenez: 10 games; 0-0, 6.23ERA; 4.1IP; 2BB, 4K

Navegantes del Magallanes (17-15):
Carlos Maldonado: 9 games; 0HR, 2RBI; .308/.444/.308

Tigres de Aragua (19-13):
Austin Bibens-Dirkx: 7 games, 7 starts; 4-2, 1.80ERA; 40.0IP; 8BB, 26K
Renee Cortez: 14 games; 0-3, 4.26ERA; 12.2IP; 6BB, 10K
Brent Suter: 5 games, 5 starts; 1-1, 4.35ERA; 20.2IP; 11BB, 14K

Top Ten Brewers Prospects for 2016

Baseball America released their Top Ten list of 2016 Milwaukee Brewers Prospects yesterday.

1. Orlando Arcia, ss
2. Jorge Lopez, rhp
3. Trent Clark, of
4. Brett Phillips, of
5. Gilbert Lara, ss
6. Kodi Medeiros, lhp
7. Tyrone Taylor, of
8. Clint Coulter, of
9. Cody Ponce, rhp
10. Devin Williams, rhp

Seven of the ten played for the Timber Rattlers. Two of the remaining three players (Trent Clark and Gilbert Lara) on that list could be Timber Rattlers at some point during the 2016 season.

 

Since the majority of the information on the players is behind the BA paywall, I will limit what I share here to Clark, Lara, and the three players (Medeiros, Ponce, and Williams) who were Rattlers during 2015.

Clark:

The Brewers were surprised to find Clark available at No. 15 in the 2015 draft. They ponied up $2.7 million, the second-highest bonus in club history, to sign him away from Texas Tech. Clark ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Arizona League…He is polished and mature for his age, showing bat speed, a real understanding of hitting and leadership skills. He understands the strike zone and is tough to whiff. At times, he can be too patient, but he became more aggressive as his debut progressed. Clark hit just two homers in 2015 but should develop power as he matures and gains experience…A potential five-tool talent, Clark looked so smooth in a 12-game trial at Rookie-level Helena that he probably will head to low Class A Wisconsin at the outset of 2016.

Lara:

The Brewers dedicat[ed] their entire international budget to sign Lara for $3.1 million in July 2014. He made a big impression in instructional league after signing…He has tremendous power potential if he can keep his swing quick and direct, but he hit only one home run in the AZL. Lara also must improve his plate discipline after recording a lopsided walk-to-strikeout ratio. He has no real speed on the bases and is not a threat to steal. Given Lara’s tall, physical build, scouts have pegged him as a future third baseman…Given that Lara faded down the stretch in the AZL, the Brewers might push him only to Rookie-level Helena in 2016. That would require spending time in extended spring training.

Medeiros:

The Brewers gambled that he could handle the jump to low Class A Wisconsin in 2015, and they were right. Medeiros struck out 9.1 batters per nine innings and allowed Midwest League opponents to hit just .228, though he pitched just 33 innings in the second half as the Brewers regulated his workload…Many clubs believed that Medeiros would profile as a reliever because of his low arm slot. The Brewers believe his ability to induce groundball contact will keep him alive as a mid-rotation candidate, and he’s ready for high Class A Brevard County in 2016.

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Ponce:

Ponce rocketed up draft boards in 2015, when the NCAA Division II Cal Poly Pomona junior ranked as one of the top college arms in his class…Because he pitched well in his debut, Ponce probably will begin 2016 at high Class A Brevard County. Some scouts consider him bullpen material, but the Brewers believe his repertoire and competitiveness will allow him to stay in the rotation.

July_5_147

Williams:

[Williams] improved as the season progressed and pitched to a 3.31 ERA in 14 second-half appearances, recording a 57-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 52 innings…could be just a few small tweaks away from a breakthrough. He seems destined to begin 2016 at high Class A Brevard County as he reaches for a ceiling of mid-rotation starter.

June_27_105

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel did a chat with BA subscribers yesterday, too. The chat is also behind the paywall, but here are a few bits that I can share.

@Jaypers413 (IL): Do you think the Brewers got a potential steal in [Demi] Orimoloye? Also, do you believe he’s ready for full season ball?

Tom Haudricourt: I indeed think Orimoloye was a steal in the draft. His tools are unbelievable. You don’t see that many guys that big who are so athletic. I’m guessing the Brewers will give him a shot at low Class A Wisconsin next year and if he can’t handle it, he can drop back to Helena as Monte Harrison and Jake Gatewood did last season.

Phil (Milwaukee): Any update on Monte Harrison’s rehab? Any reason not to expect him 100% for spring training?

Tom Haudricourt: Harrison’s injury indeed was a bad one but barring setbacks he is expected to be ready to play in the spring. Speed is a big part of his game, so we’ll see how compromised he is upon his return. The good thing is he still has youth and athleticism on his side.

EdgarDiazRocks (Seattle): Any idea how player development will change under the new regime? I would guess that the aggressive level starts of players like Gatewood and Harrison would be a thing of the past.

Tom Haudricourt: I’m not so sure of that. I think it’s OK to take chances on high-reward players at times as long as you think they can handle struggles mentally. It’s not for everybody. You go case by case. Look at Trent Clark. He handled low rookie ball so well he was moved to high rookie ball. He showed he could handle it.

Spencer (Tosa, WI): I’m wondering if Ponce could fly through the minors as he is an “older” prospect and flourished in Low A already last year. What do you think Tom?

Tom Haudricourt: Good chance of it happening. That’s why he is ranked so high. Took an immediate liking to pro ball? Has the big body and big arm to move through the system. The Brewers think he was a steal in the second round.

Larry (Vault 857): What type of power can we expect from Trent Clark? Will his golf style grip limit him to below average power?

Tom Haudricourt: I think it’s too soon to know because high school hitters, even advanced ones like Clark, often take time to develop their power. That may not be a big part of his game but he does everything else so well, that shouldn’t limit him.

Teddy (Granville): Hey tom, I live near Low a Wisconsin, and it seemed like a lot of there good players graduated, any players I should look forward to seeing next year

Tom Haudricourt: Well, look for Gatewood and Harrison to come back after starting there last year and then going down to Helena. I’m guessing you’ll see Trent Clark, Gilbert Lara, Marcos Diplan and Demi Orimoloye either at the start of the season or shortly thereafter. That’s four young studs right there. Cody Ponce might be past that stage. So, you should see plenty to top prospects at Class A Wisconsin next year, for sure.

Big League Brad

I saw this news over the weekend and was looking for a good time to share it.  Today seems like that time.

Brad Holman was the pitching coach for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers from 2003 through 2005 when the Rattlers were affiliated with the Seattle Mariners.

He spent last season with the Round Rock Express, the Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Texas Rangers.  Round Rock won their division, but lost to Fresno in the PCL Championship Series.

Round Rock announced that Holman will be with the Rangers in 2016.

Former pitching coach Brad Holman and hitting coach Justin Mashore got the call to join the Texas Rangers major league staff, the club announced Thursday. Holman will serve as bullpen coach while Mashore was named assistant hitting coach. Former Express manager Bobby Jones was named replay coordinator.

Holman served as the Express pitching coach for the last three seasons (2013-15), leading the pitching staff to a 4.36 ERA over those three years. He was the co-recipient of the Bobby Jones Player Development Man of the Year Award following the 2013 season. Holman has been a coach in the Rangers system for seven years, after coaching stints in both the Pittsburgh (2008) and Seattle (2002-07) organizations. Drafted by the Royals in the 35th round of the 1990 June Draft, Holman had a seven-year playing career as a pitcher from 1990-96, including a stint in the major leagues with the Mariners in 1993.

There was this story from the Rangers website back in June of 2013 about Brad that sums up his teaching style to perfection.

“In the way I explain things, it’s not necessarily simple; it’s just logical,” Holman said. “Once they understand it, they can feel it. The inevitable goal is for them to repeat the feeling and not have to be mechanical, or thought out, as they throw the pitch.”

Holman also assisted Neal Cotts when he started the season in Triple-A. Holman said Cotts’ body spun sideways during his delivery. Holman said Cotts did a “goofy” drill where he stood on one rubber in the bullpen and threw at the opposite plate. He then reversed it throwing off the other rubber in the bullpen, teaching Cotts how to direct a pitch without creating rotation.

“That was the last conversation we had and he absolutely took off,” Holman said. “Being an older guy, they take the information and apply it much more quickly than the lower level guys.”

Cotts was called up on May 21, almost four years to the day when he last pitched in the Majors. Cotts has a medical file as thick as a phonebook dealing with Tommy John and hip surgeries. He’s 4-1 this season with an improbable 0.52 ERA in 15 appearances after such a layoff.

I wish we had the video of when he debuted his song “The Loyal Fan” after a Timber Rattlers game back in 2003, but…well….2003.  Here is video of the song from after a game with Myrtle Beach in 2011.

Now, I suppose is the time to share one of my favorite Brad Holman stories.

Back when the team made trips to every Eastern Division team each year, the visiting team hotel in West Michigan was just outside downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. There was a Marc’s Big Boy and a Burger King near the hotel. The restaurants were on opposite sides of the street and the Big Boy had undergone major renovations between our visits to play the Whitecaps.

We got into Grand Rapids late one night/early one morning. The next day Brad gets on the bus and was laughing and started to tell us that he when he went to go to lunch, he walked in, and stopped at the hostess station. The hostess came up to him and Brad said, “This is the nicest Burger King I’ve ever seen.”

Brad had crossed the street and walked into the Marc’s Big Boy.

I will have to catch up with him in Arizona at Spring Training in March.

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