Off Day Odds and Ends
No baseball yesterday here in Clinton because of more rain, no baseball today because of a scheduled off day. What does a Midwest League broadcaster do with his free time?
We’ll start with #3.
Both the LumberKings and Seattle Mariners are off to hot starts this year, both teams are alone in first place in their respective West Divisions. The Kings have done it with pitching, timely hits and speed on the basepaths, the Mariners have done it largely the same way.
I’ve already been talking up the 1-3 starters on this staff quite a bit on the broadcasts, and for good reason. The Steven Hensley-Brett Lorin-Aaron Pribanic combination is 5-0 with a 0.77 ERA (3 ER / 35.1 IP) so far on the season. I believe Kenn Kasparek and Adam Harben will chip in big starts in their next two outings this week.
That 1-3 of the rotation doesn’t look too much different than the Erik Bedard (1-1, 1.86), Felix Hernandez (2-0, 4.26), Jarrod Washburn (2-0, 1.29) combo that’s got the Mariners off to a hot start.
Then there’s the comparisons of the lineup. There’s a nice write-up on Endy Chavez on the front of Mariners.com at the moment, talking about his excellent on-field start and clubhouse presence. The Kings are getting that out of MWL veterans Maximo Mendez and Denny Almonte already this year. On-field, Mendez hitting .290 and is already 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts (including a three-steal game on Saturday night), while Almonte has quietly hit in eight of nine games, batting .281 with four RBI. When that tandem has been able to produce runs early in the game, the Kings have won…Clinton is 5-0 when scoring first this season, and the club has scored 21 of their 42 runs before the fourth inning.
Of course, Scott Savastano (.440, third-best in the league), Luis Nunez (.320, 5 runs scored, 3 RBI), Travis Howell (.294, 2 HR, 3 RBI) and others have contributed as well.
The biggest early offensive stat that jumps out about this club? Triples. The LumberKings recorded six triples on the homestand and lead the league with eight overall.
On to big-league debut news. Many of you have already seen it (or at least heard about it), but the LumberKings stand to have their first player from the 2006-2008 era make a Major League debut. Left-hander Derek Holland (’08) was recalled from triple-A Oklahoma on Friday despite a less-than-stellar start to his Redhawks career. He replaces another former King in Josh Rupe (’03) on the Rangers’ 25-man roster.
Still no debut yet for Holland, who went 7-0 with a 2.40 ERA in 17 starts with the LumberKings and was the club’s Opening Day starter last season. He was a Midwest League West Division All-Star last year before being promoted to high-A Bakersfield and ultimately double-A Frisco.
On a personal note, once Holland (#45) makes that first appearance out of the bullpen, it will be the first player that I myself have known, interviewed and broadcasted to make it to the Majors. It’s amazing to think that Holland, who just last June was here taking the same trips to Burlington, Beloit, Cedar Rapids, etc. has risen so fast. With the talent still coming up through the Rangers pipeline, he won’t be the last recent LumberKing to get called up this year.
We wish him the best of luck. I’ll be sure to update once he pitches.