Results tagged ‘ American League West ’
Here is Profar at Class A Short-Season Spokane (2010), Class A Hickory (2011) and Double-A Frisco (2012) in advance of potentially his first assignment to Triple-A Round Rock, where would begin but perhaps not stay too long this month. Click on any picture to begin a slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Uniformed, head here.
The timing was cruel. Twenty-four hours after 12th-ranked Mariners prospect Stefen Romero (@stefonson) recorded a seven-RBI effort in a Major League Spring Training game last Thursday, he strained his oblique while swinging and missing.
I caught up with Romero (bio, stats here) on Wednesday to check on his status and discuss, among other topics, his mental approach to his first big league camp and baseball at large.
On his injury: “It feels way better since it happened Friday. The strides I have made just resting it, and I’m feeling healthier. I don’t feel it doing everyday activities like walking. If you look at me, you wouldn’t think I was injured.”
On whether he looked back on his 2012 season, in which he batted .352 and hit 23 home runs between Class A Advanced High Desert and Double-A Jackson: “The only time I got to really marvel at it was when I got home [because] family members would just reminisce about the season, tell me how great of a season I had. And that’s when it hit me.”
On whether he surprised himself last year: “I just wanted to go in and be as consistent as possible. I knew I was going to fail at times. I knew I was going to have up-and-down days, up-and-down weeks even, and I just wanted to limit the downs as much as I could and just stay positive throughout. Thankfully, I did that last season and, hopefully, it transitions into the season.”
On what he used the offseason for: “It was more of the same, a combination of rest and taking that time to focus on my goals and what I wanted to accomplish coming into this season. Last offseason, I read quite a lot of mental books [to] get my mental game up because you always hear the same thing [from coaches] in Spring Training: ‘It’s 90 percent mental, the game.’ So I took that to heart and really improved my mental game because that’s something I should be practicing as well. I re-read the same books: The Way of The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman and Training Camp by Jon Gordon, a couple other books here or there.”
On how the books help him in baseball: “Training Camp talks about what you can do to strive to become great, to become better everyday no matter if you’re [only] improving. .001 percent, you’re still improving constantly over years, over months, over days. All that adds up. That’s what I try to stay consistent to, trying to get better every single day, whatever helps me get better, whatever gives me that slight advantage over the competition. It pushes me forward.”
Prospect Flashback: Angels’ Mike Trout Way Back When He Was Swinging for Cedar Rapids, Arkansas and Salt Lake
I had the opportunity to interview Mike Trout (MiLB career stats) before his 2012 call-up, and the best quote I was able to pull out of the five-tool, old-school ballplayer was most indicative of his playing style:
“We’re having a blast,” Trout told me. “I just go out there, do my thing.”
Now everyone gets to see him do his thing.
Here is a gallery of then-prospect Trout in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 wearing variety of uniforms, including those of Class A Cedar Rapids, Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake. Click on any picture to begin the slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Flashback, head here.
Twitter is one weird monster. It’s so gigantic and, at times, completely scary (in the way it reflects humanity). But it can also help in ways, both huge and small, and in very little time.
An example: The exchange below, which including colleague @BensBiz introducing me (@AndrewMiLB) to reader @spage13, comprises 10 Tweets between five users over an eight-hour period and it answers one question useful for prospects hounds: Where will Addison Russell (bio, sats here), the No. 1 prospect in the A’s system, begin his first full pro season this spring?
Together, we found the answer.
Prospect Flashback: Athletics’ Opening Day Starter Brett Anderson in Silver Hawks, Ports, RockHounds and River Cats Unis
Here is a gallery of Anderson in every uni he wore aside from Class A Advanced Visalia’s. Click on any picture to begin the slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Flashback, head here.
PHOENIX — A’s manager Bob Melvin came with news Thursday morning, and he didn’t waste any time delivering it.
“Let’s go ahead and say Brett Anderson is our Opening Day starter,” Melvin said, smiling.
The news isn’t so much surprising as it is rewarding for the 25-year-old Anderson, who is entering his fifth season with the A’s. He’ll face the visiting Mariners at the Oakland Coliseum come April 1.
Thrust into a playoff run upon his August return from Tommy John rehab last year, the southpaw responded beautifully, winning his first four starts while posting a miniscule 0.69 ERA while walking just three in 26 innings.
Anderson lost his next two starts and suffered an ill-timed oblique strain, before making a seemingly miraculous comeback in short time to pitch Game 3 of the American League Division Series. He allowed two hits in six scoreless innings in Oakland’s 2-0 win over the Tigers, saving the team from elimination.
“Based on the guys that we have and how successfully he came back for us last year, we really feel like he’s the man to lead the staff,” Melvin said. “He worked hard to get back and put himself in a position to compete with us at a time of the season where there’s no easing into things. You got to be good right away, and he was. Then he gets hurt and we think he’s done, and he works just as hard to get back and pitch in a playoff game.”
To continue reading MLB.com’s story, head here.
Interview Outtakes: Rangers Slugging Prospect Mike Olt Answers Five Questions About Playing The Hot Corner
MiLB.com will soon publish the fourth part of my nine-part series on top-ranked prospects who are also top-rated defenders. The piece focuses on Rangers slugger Mike Olt (bio, stats here), the second-ranked third base prospect in all of baseball. In terms of interview extras — answers that didn’t make it into the story but are significant nonetheless — see below. Enjoy.
On his adjustment from college to pros defensively in 2010: “It took me a while in [Class A Short-Season] Spokane to get the feel of a wood bat every day. You deal with hot summer days and the ball coming off aluminum bats [in college], and your first reaction is different with a wood bat. Once I got adjusted to that, same deal. The [Rangers] wanted to make sure everything was correct form-wise and they liked what they saw.”
On his strengths as a third baseman in 2013: “What I take pride in is I’ve gotten a lot better at [fielding] slow rollers and in-between [hops], hard-hit balls with short hops — those are plays that came easy, but I worked a lot to get better at.”
On what he needs to improve at third: “Cutting down my path to the ball, trying to cut some distance. Sometimes I can get a little bit lazy and sit back on a ball instead of really attacking it, so that’s something I always have to keep working on. That just comes with my instincts of reading the ball off the bat.”
On watching incumbent Adrian Beltre play the position in 2012 and this spring: “He makes everything look easy. He makes tough, tough plays look easy. He does it everyday. He’s very consistent, and that’s what makes him a good baseball player. He’s very controlled. He doesn’t try to hurry throws. Everything he does is smooth, and that’s something I have tried to incorporate, because when I got up to [Texas], things kind of got rushed a little bit, so now it’s really just slowing the game.”
On learning other positions with Beltre blocking him: “Last year, my main focus was third base because that’s where I knew I was going. I knew I was going to [Double-A] Frisco, playing third base. Now this year, my focus is working on my weaknesses [at first base and right field]. I’m going to continue to work at third base, but I’m definitely going to put more effort into learning other positions and being more versatile. I would love to play third base full-time, but I’ll be ready for whatever happens.”
Prospect Flashback: Picturing The Mariners’ Felix Hernandez In San Antonio, Before He Got to Seattle
Felix Hernandez hasn’t pitched in the Minors since he was 19 years old. And he only started pitching in the Minors when he was 17. That’s something, isn’t it? Makes you remember that this recent trend of teenage Harpers and Profars and others reaching the Majors isn’t all that new. Wildly impressive, yes, but, no, not all that new.
Hernandez, now 26, has been in the news lately, of course, in the wake of his new record-breaking contract (see story below). But before he got to Seattle, he was just a Minor League prospect, making stops with the following clubs: Everett, Wisconsin, Inland Empire, San Antonio and Tacoma.
Here is Hernandez as a Texas League hurler in 2004. He is 18, finishing up a season in which he went 14-4 (his overall MiLB record stands at 30-10 in 58 games, 48 of them starts). Click on any photo to begin the slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Flashback, click here.
SEATTLE — It was a reception fit for a King.
When Felix Hernandez arrived in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon to put official ink to his much-talked-about seven-year, $175 million contract extension, the Mariners ace stepped out of the field-level elevator at Safeco Field and was greeted with raucous cheers and a sea of about 100 team employees wearing yellow “King Felix” T-shirts. They held signs of his likeness and that of his comedic alter-ego, Larry Bernandez. They chanted his name until he covered his eyes, overcome with emotion.
Happy Felix Day, indeed.
“To all the people in Seattle that trust me and believe in me. I will say this: I will not disappoint you,” said Hernandez, who shed tears at various points during a news conference that also included general manager Jack Zduriencik and was attended by chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln, team president Chuck Armstrong and Hernandez’s agents, Wil Polidor and Scotty Pucino. “I’m doing this because I love this city, because I want to stay here. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I love this place. This has been my life. This has been my family.”
To continue reading MLB.com’s story, head here.
Interview Outtakes: Rangers SS Luis Sardinas on Hitting off the Orioles’ Eduardo Rodriguez, Other Stuff
This morning, MiLB.com published my Prospect Q&A with Rangers prospect Luis Sardinas (@thesardisardi), who ranked 84th on our Top 100 Prospects list. The piece (linked here) focuses on Sardinas’ abilities, comparisons to Texas shortstops Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar as well as his Venezuelan heritage. Below are outtakes from the interview, quotes that did not fit into said story. Enjoy.
Thanks to Sardinas’ agency, Beverly Hills Sports Council for translating the interview from Spanish to English.
Me: Did you enter this offseason with personal goals – things you wanted to accomplish, and have you been able to make progress on them?
Sardinas: My goal for the offseason was to take care of my body, get stronger and improve my speed.
Me: Were you the fastest player on Class A Hickory’s club in 2012? Ever lose a race?
Sardinas: I probably was, I think so. Not really [many races]. With my injury history, I try to be careful and not be goofing around.
Me: Looking at the numbers, it’s clear you had a great 2012 in the Sally League. What was the key to your success in the batter’s box?
Sardinas: Always being positive, not paying attention to my numbers and taking it day by day.
Me: You have hit consistently in your three Minor League seasons — have you had to make any adjustments as a hitter in the Minors? If so, what adjustments?
Sardinas: We make adjustments every day, but I just try to put the ball in play and be more consistent.
Me: What is the secret to being a good base-stealer?
Sardinas: Looking for a good pitch count and reading the pitcher’s mechanics.
Me: What was the Arizona Fall League experience like? Does your success — you posed an .830 OPS there — give you even more confidence entering Spring Training?
Sardinas: It was a great experience. It was a blessing. It gives me a lot of confidence going into Spring Training because I learned to play the game the right away and I got to watch the way older players approach their business.
Me: What coach or teammate has been helpful to you in your development, and what did they help you with most?
Sardinas: I’m very close with Yohander Mendez. He’s a younger player in the organization who I love like a little brother and he motivates me a lot. Humberto Miranda and Josue Perez on the coaching staff have helped me a lot too with my on the field development.
Me: Who is the toughest pitcher you have faced in the Minor Leagues, and how did you fare against him?
Sardinas: Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles. He’s hard to square up, but I was 2-for-6 against him. [He throws] 94 mph with movement from the left side and [has] some good secondary pitches. He’s a very underrated player. He’s hard to square up.
Me: Who is the best player you have played against in the Minor Leagues, and why?
Sardinas: Gregory Polanco – just looking at him you can tell the guy is a beast.
Me: What is something that you would like your fans to know about you?
Sardinas: I have a little brother who’s six years old ,and he’s better than me. His name is Alejandro Sardinas.
Me: Aside from baseball, what is your passion? Is there something else you love to do? If so, could you tell us about how you got into it, and why you enjoy it?
Sardinas: I play a lot of golf. My dad plays a lot too,and I got into it in Arizona. It helps me clear my head and relax. [I haven't played] with my teammates yet, but I did play a tournament in Venezuela and came [in] second. My other passion is my family. I love being with them.
Prospect Q&A: Mariners SP Jordan Shipers on Strikeouts, the Walker-Hultzen-Paxton Motivation Factor, and Facing Miguel Sano
The Mariners doled out $800,000 bonuses to two of their draftees in 2010. The first was 43rd overall pick Taijuan Walker, a Louisiana prep right-hander who is now MLB.com’s fifth-ranked prospect in all of baseball.
The second was Jordan Shipers.
You probably know less about him, but not because there’s less to know. Seattle gave Shipers (bio, stats here) the same amount of money to sign despite the fact that he, then a Missouri prep left-hander, wasn’t drafted until the 16th round. Shipers showed he was worth the investment in his first full season in 2012, compiling a 3.89 ERA in 23 starts for Class A Clinton.
Know this, too: The power-armed if diminutive 21-year-old has accomplished something that Walker — and the M’s other top pitching prospects — have yet to sniff: a professional no-hitter, which was just one of his two complete game shutouts last year.
I caught up with Shipers, presently ranked 13th in Seattle’s system, this afternoon, and we talked about that achievement, among other topics. We started our chat, however, with his off-season job at the gym. Because six-figure bonuses don’t last forever.
Me: So what’s this about your job — working where you work out?
Shipers: I have a job to take up my off-time, when I’m not working out. I work out five days a week, hit the weights hard, run. I work at 68 Inside Sports in Overland Park, Kansas. I just work at the front desk and just sit down, take phone calls and greet people when they come in. Pretty simple.
Me: Nice way to earn a little money in the offseason?
Shipers: Yeah, I just sit. I mean, before I got the job, I would just sit downstairs and do nothing after I was done working out. Then I was like, ‘You know what? I could just get a job and sit somewhere and make money.’ I’m usually pretty busy because there are a lot of baseball, softball people coming in and getting ready for their season.
Me: I bet they don’t know that a pro ballplayer is manning reception…
Shipers: No, they don’t. I try to keep that on the ‘DL,’ so they don’t try to act weird around me.
Me: Aside from workouts, how is your throwing coming along?
Shipers: I started throwing, probably, about three weeks ago. I feel great. I’m excited. I threw my first bullpen three days ago, and it was about 30 pitches. I was already hitting my spots on the corners, which I wasn’t really trying to do. I was just trying to get it across the plate to loosen up the arm a bit. I have another bullpen tomorrow [Friday].
Me: Now that some time has passed, how do you evaluate your 2012 season?
Shipers: I thought it was a really successful season. I learned a lot, and that’s what I tried to achieve. I’m going to take what I learned last season into this coming season.