Results tagged ‘ omaha storm chasers ’
FRISCO VIES FOR TEXAS LEAGUE CROWN
Texas Rangers Double-A affiliate Frisco begins play in the 2012 Texas League Championship Series tonight. It will be a rematch – of sorts – of the 2011 World Series as the RoughRiders face St. Louis Cardinals affiliate Springfield Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. CDT at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo.
It is a best-of-five series with Game 2 scheduled for 7:08 p.m. Wednesday at Springfield. The series then shifts to Frisco’s Dr Pepper Ballpark for Friday’s 7 p.m. Game 3 and continues Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (7 p.m.) if necessary. The Texas League Championship Series can be heard online at www.ridersbaseball.com.
Frisco got a boost to its roster this morning as it was announced that catcher Mike Napoli will join the RoughRiders on a rehab assignment. He is expected to be with the RoughRiders for at least the series’ first two games.
RoughRiders catchers – Jose Felix and Zach Zaneski – combined to go 2-for-10 (both singles) in Frisco’s three-game sweep of Houston Astros affiliate Corpus Christi in the division series. First baseman Chris McGuiness led the RoughRiders’ offensive attack, going 6-for-12 with two doubles and four RBI. Val Majewski (3-for-6, home run, three runs), Tommy Mendonca (3-for-10, run) and Guilder Rodriguez (3-for-9, two RBI) – each of whom played for the Express this season – also were strong contributors.
However, Frisco dominated Corpus Christi on the mound, outscoring the Hooks 14-7. RoughRiders hurlers posted a 2.33 ERA with 21 strikeouts against eight walks and held Corpus Christi to a .206 average. Game 3 starter Nick Tepesch was most dominant, yielding only three walks and one hit over seven scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Wilmer Font and 2012 Express member Ross Wolf finished Frisco’s 5-0 win.
Leury Garcia and McGuiness had consecutive RBI singles in the sixth inning, and the Riders added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth on a Rodriguez RBI single and Engel Beltre’s two-run double.
Highly touted right-hander Cody Buckel starts tonight’s championship series opener for the RoughRiders. The 20-year-old and 2010 second-round draft selection was 10-8 in the regular season, splitting the year between Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach (5-3) and Frisco (5-5); he posted a sub-3.00 ERA for the season with 159 strikeouts in 144.2 innings. Buckel did not pitch in the division series. He was considered the Rangers’ sixth-best prospect entering the season by Baseball America and has risen quickly through the system, going 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA for Class-A Hickory last season in his first full professional season (he pitched four games for the AZL Rangers in 2010).
Buckel faced Springfield once this season – a June 29 loss at Hammons Field when he allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks over 6.1 innings. It was not smooth transition to Double-A for Buckel, who was 1-5 with a 4.45 ERA (16 ER/32.1 IP) in his first six games with Frisco (he worked six shutout innings July 4 at Arkansas in the lone victory). However, Buckel was 4-0 with a 3.19 ERA (13 ER/36.2 IP) in his final seven outings. Runs allowed in his final four starts: one, one, none, none (21.2 IP).
Tepesch is scheduled to start Game 2, followed by right-handers Barret Loux and Wilfredo Boscan. Frisco has not announced a potential Game 5 starter, meaning 2011 and 2012 Express member Neil Ramirez is at least a possibility.
Frisco won seven of 12 meetings with Springfield in the regular season, going 2-4 at Hammons Field.
PCL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
The Pacific Coast League Championship Series opens tonight as the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) host the Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals). Omaha (83-61) won the American Northern Division by 16 games, while Reno (81-63) won the Pacific Northern Division by six games. Sacramento (86-58) had the PCL’s best record for the second straight season, but failed to return to the PCL Championship Series for a second straight season.
Omaha, however, is back to defend its 2011 league crown. Only one franchise has won back-to-back PCL titles since 1998 – Sacramento accomplished the feat twice (2003-2004, 2007-2008). The only other franchise to win consecutive PCL crowns since Albuquerque’s three-year run 1980-1982 was Edmonton (1996-1997); seven years later, the Edmonton franchise was purchased by Ryan Sanders Baseball and the Round Rock Express joined the PCL.
For the first time since 2005, both division championship series went five games. Omaha got three field goals a touchdown to edge Albuquerque 16-7 in Sunday night’s series finale at the ever-offensive Isotopes Park. (One night earlier, the Isotopes used four field goals to nab a 12-10 victory.) In all seriousness, the Storm Chasers scored at least once in eight of nine innings Sunday night (we’re still not sure what happened in the anomalous sixth inning).
Meanwhile, Mike Jacobs’ three-run homer sparked a four-run seventh inning as Reno defeated Sacramento 7-4 in Sunday’s series decider at Aces Ballpark. The homer, which snapped a 3-3 tie, was off Merkin Valdez – a member of Round Rock’s 2011 division-title squad. That was not the only Express tie in the game; Reno’s starter was none other than Brett Tomko, who was 9-6 with the E-Train last season. Furthermore, Aces shortstop Wladimir Sutil played for Round Rock in 2010 while both were members of the Astros organization.
Omaha right-hander Jake Odorizzi (11-3, 2.93 ERA) faces Reno right-hander Trevor Bauer (5-1, 2.85 ERA) in tonight’s championship series lid-lifter.
Reno wielded the league’s most potent lineup this season, including PCL Player and Rookie of the Year Adam Eaton. In fact, the Aces posted three of the league’s four best individual batting averages in Eaton (first, .381), Ryan Wheeler (second, .351) and Jake Elmore (fourth, .344). However, that trio combined to go hitless in the division championship series. Eaton was busy hitting safely in each of his first five major league games with the Diamondbacks (four multiple-hit outings). Wheeler was promoted to Arizona in mid-July, and Elmore has been with the Diamondbacks since early August.
On the other hand, Omaha was fifth in team average (.290) and third in staff ERA (4.24). The Storm Chasers have the bulk of both their lineup and rotation intact for the postseason. Omaha hit .323 with nine homers and 8.8 runs per game against Albuquerque. Former Express member Jason Bourgeois was 7-for-24 with two triples, a homer and five runs scored in the division series; he was one of six Chasers with at least six hits in the five-game series.
Given Omaha’s rotation of Ryan Verdugo (12-4, 3.75 ERA), Nate Adcock (8-6, 5.53 ERA) and Doug Davis (9-4, 4.66 ERA) behind Odorizzi and a deep bullpen, we like the Storm Chasers in four games. The series begins with a 9:05 p.m. CDT first pitch tonight at Aces Ballpark.
FORMER EXPRESS MEMBERS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES
Several former Express members currently are in the majors with organizations other than Texas. Here is a look at a few; we’ll check in with others throughout the remainder of the season.
If at some point this season you’ve caught a Baltimore Orioles game and thought, “Hmmm. This team looks familiar,” you were onto something. Eight 2012 Orioles played for the Express in 2011: catcher Taylor Teagarden, infielders Chris Davis and Omar Quintanilla, outfielder Endy Chavez, and pitchers Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day, Zach Phillips and Pedro Strop.
Teagarden (.119, two homers, five RBI) spent the season’s first three months on the disabled list but returned to the O’s in mid-July. Quintanilla (.240, three homers, 12 RBI) began the season in the Mets organization; he spent the first two months with Triple-A Buffalo before a 29-game stint in New York. The Orioles nabbed Quintanilla in mid-July. Chavez (.190, two homers, eight RBI) has been on the disabled list since early August.
Davis (.256, 24 homers, 67 RBI) has split time between first base and the outfield, playing in 118 of Baltimore’s 140 games. How good was he with Round Rock last season? Well, Davis had the same number of homers and one fewer RBI in 48 games. Then again, Davis does have a 1-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in one relief outing with the Orioles this year.
Hunter (4-8, 5.85 ERA) has started 20 games for the Orioles abut worked in relief in each of his last two outings. He has surrendered 32 homers, tied for third in the American League. O’Day (7-1, 2.22 ERA) has been one of the league’s best bullpen arms; he’s allowed one run since July 19 – a stretch of 19.1 innings over 21 outings (0.47 ERA). Phillips (0-0, 11.57 ERA) spent nearly the entire season with Triple-A Norfolk (2-2, 3.17 ERA, seven saves), rejoining the Orioles last week; he’s pitched only three games with Baltimore. Strop (5-2, 2.26 ERA, three saves) has struggled of late, allowing eight runs over 12.2 innings in 16 games since Aug. 1 (5.68 ERA).
Baltimore arguably is baseball’s biggest surprise this season. The Orioles are one game behind the Yankees in the American League East standings entering tonight’s game against Tampa Bay (one game back of Baltimore). Furthermore, the O’s currently are in the lead for the American League’s second wild card spot.
A lot has changed in Charm City over the past 24 months. The Orioles went 66-96 and finished 30 games back in last place in 2010. Last year, former Rangers manager Buck Showalter took over the helm. After a 69-93 record in 2011, Showalter has the Orioles in legitimate postseason contention with what would be at least a 20-game turnaround even if the Birds go 11-11 the rest of the regular season.
All this begs the question: When will the Orioles fire Showalter?
Confused? Check in next time for the explanation.
Today we highlight Johnny Giavotella, the future second baseman of the Kansas City Royals, and current second baseman of the Omaha Storm Chasers.
Giavotella was drafted by Kansas City in the second round out of the University of New Orleans, where he teamed up with Express outfielder Joey Butler to lead the privateers to the NCAA tournament in 2008. Giavotella has made very short work of the minor leagues, hitting for high average at each stop and making his first MLB appearance in only his third year with the Royals.
Since reaching double-A in 2010, Giavotella has hit no lower than .321, and hit .338 last season with Omaha. He played so well that he earned two appearances in KC, playing fairly well in limited action, but did not stick. The 25-year-old is back down in Omaha this year, picking up right where he left off, tearing up opposing team’s pitchers and leading the team offensively.
One of the bigger problems that Giavotella faces in the eyes of scouts is his size. Physically he is not exactly the specimen that his Omaha teammate Wil Myers is. Standing at only 5’8 and 185 lbs, to the naked eye Giavotella does not come off as a particularly striking offensive force. Do not be fooled though.
Giavotella has very quiet swing mechanics (meaning he does not have any unnecessary hitches, or wasted movement) and keeps the bat very flat through the hitting zone. Despite being more of a line-drive hitter, Giavotella gets enough loft on the ball to generate decent power as he has hit nine homeruns each of the last three seasons, and is likely to finish with anywhere from 14-17 this year. He also has excellent plate discipline, and every time he steps in the box you get the feeling that he is waiting for his pitch and will not give away any free strikes by swinging at pitcher’s pitches.
One area that is not necessarily a point of weakness for Giavotella, but is certainly not an area of strength is that he has rather limited range on defense. There were several balls in the Express series that we thought he could have gotten to or made a better play on but was unable to reach them, resulting in infield hits or ground balls through the infield. Managers can live with this out of their second basemen though, especially if they produce on the offensive end the way that Giavotella is prone to do.
Getting back to Giavotella’s size, it cannot be overlooked. He makes up for it with a pretty swing and great approach but he does play in a very hitter-friendly league that has a tendency to inflate offensive numbers. Although KC plays in a hitter-friendly park, playing in Minnesota’s, and Detroit’s ball parks several times a year will cause a huge dip in those numbers, at least from a power stand point. As mentioned, part of what makes Giavotella a dangerous hitter, and helps make up for his lack of physical limitations, is his patience at the plate to wait for his pitch and attack it when he sees it. At the big league level though, hitters do not always get their pitch in an at bat and have to learn to swing out of their comfort zone at times to battle off great pitches.
Giavotella is the type of player that will make an impact at the next level but will likely fall a little bit short of stardom. He has the skills and plays with the want to and the heart to develop into a huge KC fan favorite, and will be a solid late order bat for what is shaping up to be an extremely young, EXTREMELY dangerous Royals offense in the next few years.
On that note..
Strengths: Smooth swing with sound mechanics,Good plate discipline and approach, Has improved each minor league season, Scrappy player, Winner
Weaknesses: Not a particularly strong defender, His size will likely hinder his power numbers at the next level, Has underwhelmed in two stints in the MLB already
Player Comparison: Aaron Hill - Of the more notable offensively capable second basemen in the majors today, Giavotella bears the most resemblance to Hill. Giavotella is unlikely to play up to MVP standards we have come to expect from the likes of Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia, but he handles the bat very well for his position and his power has developed more and more each year. Kinsler is a possible comparison, but I don’t think his power will ever be at Kinsler’s level, and Giavotella will probably hit for a slightly higher average. In my opinion, Giavotella will end up being a carbon copy of Hill: a player who can affect the game in many ways, but is most known for his ability as a slugging second baseman.
Estimated Arrival Time: Giavotella has already seen time with Kansas City, which has removed his prospect status. In my book he is still a prospect though because he has not really seen any meaningful big league action. Giavotella’s permanent big league call-up will likely come next season, as I believe he will force his way into the every day spot with the Royals. Yuniesky Betancourt is the regular second baseman in KC right now, but will be a free agent at the end of the season, and Giavotella, while he doesn’t have the defensive prowess of Betancourt, is a series offensive upgrade. Giavotella may not start right away next season, but I doubt he’ll be back in Omaha when spring training breaks.
Postgame Evaluation: In the series finale against the Express Giavotella displayed many of the tools that make him a promising young offensive second baseman. In his first at bat he fell in a hole early and fought off a few pitches to eventually draw a bases loaded walk. He would later single to extend his hitting streak to 18 games. He did not display much power during the series but did show off a little bit of his plate discipline and approach by going 5 for 19 (.263) with three RBIs and three walks.
Giavotella’s final line from July 23, 2012 – 1 for 4 with a walk, no errors.
Final Thoughts: While he is not a premiere prospect, Giavotella should be a good MLB second baseman. One reason that I like the Hill comparison so much is because Hill is a recognizable name that on his best years will be anywhere from an all-star vote-in to all-star snub (which he was this year). Giavotella will not command star power, especially if he plays out his prime years in the Kansas City market, but he will be a solid player with a meaningful role on a Royals team that in three or four years will suddenly be flush with young talent (The line up in KC four years from now could potentially feature an infield of Giavotella, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar, an outfield of Bubba Starling, Wil Myers, and Alex Gordon, with Billy Butler as your DH. Say what you want about their pitching situation, but that is a young, terrifying offensive force). Giavotella will never be a star, but he will be a solid piece of a talented core, and a player that any team would be happy to have on their ball club.
Other Express Tracks Scouting Reports
By Will Weinstock
Today Express Tracks are taking an in-depth look at Kansas City Royals OF Wil Myers.
The 21-year-old was destined to be a star from the time he started as a freshman at Wesleyan Christian Academy in North Carolina. Before his junior season he committed to baseball powerhouse South Carolina. Myers would go on to have a star-studded high school career and was considered one of the best prep bats going into the 2009 MLB Amateur draft.
With the 12th overall selection the Kansas City Royals selected RHP Aaron Crow, and thought they had waived any chance at getting Myers goodbye. However, pick after pick teams were passing on Myers because they were worried about his “signability” concerns. The Royals selected the North Carolina native with the 91st pick, and met his $2 million signing bonus.
After signing, Myers wasted no time announcing his arrival to professional baseball. At rookie ball he had .429/.488/.735 line with four home runs, 14 RBI, and 18 runs scored in 18 games. In 2010, Myers did more of the same. He hit .315 with 14 home runs and 83 RBI over stops in Burlington and Wilmington.
Despite setting the world on fire offensively there were some question marks surrounding his defense and what was the best position for him to play. At the time the Royals were developing Myers strictly as a catcher. Although he had a strong arm, the 21-year-old needed a lot of work on his receiving skills and blocking balls in the dirt.
Going into the 2011 season the Royals decided to move him to the outfield in an effort to not let catching slow down his developmental time. However, for the first time the North Carolina native struggled offensively. Myers only hit .254 with eight home runs over 99 games at Double-A. However, the Royals were not concerned because he was still only 20 years old.
During the offseason Myers went back to the drawing board and made some changes in his swing. Since high school Myers had always used a crouched stance at the plate. But after only hitting 8 home runs in 2011 he decided to stand up taller in his stance in an effort to generate more power. And to say the changes have worked would be an understatement. Through 94 games this season Myers has 29 home runs, which 15 more than in his career high in any season.
Myers has proven himself in the minor leagues and is ready for a big league promotion.
Strengths: Plate discipline, offensive skill set, raw power, confidence at the plate, strong arm, and plays the game with an all-out approach.
Weaknesses: Needs to improve his reads and routes in the outfield.
Player Comparison: When we saw Myers out there for the first time, we immediately saw a young OF Hunter Pence. We not only believe they will put up similar numbers, but they play they game in a similar way. Both Myers and Pence take an all-out approach and play every game as if it is there last. Additionally they are throwback players as neither wears batting gloves. Despite playing mostly center field this season, Myers profiles as an aggressive right fielder with a strong arm much like Pence. In terms of sheer numbers Pence career averages come out to a .290 hitter with 26 home runs and 92 RBI a season. We anticipate Myers numbers will look similar to Pence with the chance of a little bit better average. Physically they are both freaks of nature, because of their big frames go to along with great athletic ability.
Estimated MLB Arrival: We believe that Myers will make his arrival in the major leagues sometime in September of this season. The only thing keeping the 21-year-old in the Triple-A right now is that there is no position for him to play. The Royals have OF Alex Gordon and OF Jeff Franceour in left and right field. And I do not believe the front office trusts Myers defensive abilities enough to stick him in center field. We anticipate him coming up as a September call-up and forcing himself into the starting lineup before the start of the 2013 season whether Franceour is still in Kansas City or not.
Postgame Evaluation: In the previous three games, Myers had struggled a bit. He only managed two hits in 15 at-bats against Express pitching. However, the North Carolina native had his revenge last night going 2-for4 with two RBI and a monstrous home run to the home run porch over the left field fence. We believe last night’s performance showed the confidence he has at the plate. Even after struggling he showed the ability to take one at-bat, one pitch at a time, and not let past struggles effect him.
Final Thoughts: Myers is an extremely talented player. His impressive numbers and play this season have shown he is ready for major league pitching. Although his swing is a tad unorthodox, like Pence, he still does a very good job of getting the head of his bat on the ball. And the ball jumps of his bat with ferocity. When Omaha takes batting practice you know when Myers is hitting just by hearing the sound the ball makes off his bat.