Results tagged ‘ Blake Beavan ’
The San Francisco Giants showed the world last year how far a young rotation can take you, riding the arms of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez past the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers on the way to the World Series title. With eventual NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey emerging as their catcher of now, the Giants were able to move veteran backstop Bengie Molina to the Ranger team they’d face for the title in exchange for a bright young arm from the Texas system.
That arm is 2007 first-round pick and 2008 LumberKings right-hander Michael Main. The DeLand, Florida native was moved along with right-hander Chris Ray in exchange for Molina’s services on July 1. No question Molina’s expertise aided both staffs tremendously in 2010, and his bat proved pivotal for the Rangers against the Rays and Yankees in the playoffs.
Ray was a proven relief commodity and would go 3-0 with a 4.13 ERA over 28 relief appearances with the Giants, but Main can still be considered the key piece of the deal. The second of Texas’s two first-round picks in 2007 (24th overall, seven spots after Rangers-turned-Mariners prospect Blake Beavan), Main entered last season as the #21 prospect in the Rangers’ system according to Baseball America despite relatively average career numbers (9-10, 4.39 ERA, 68 walks, 153 strikeouts and a .258 opponent average in 148 innings) and a propensity to miss time (he’s been through a rotator cuff injury in high school, cracked ribs in 2008 and a two-month bout with mononucleosis in 2009).
Last season, Main looked to be on track to stay healthy and enjoyed his best season since 2008 with Clinton (2-2, 2.58 in 10 starts), going 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA, 21 walks, 72 strikeouts and a .250 opponent average in 91 innings with high-A Bakersfield.
Then came the trade.
Main was already headed to double-A Frisco when the Rangers moved him, so the Giants didn’t interrupt his promotion as they sent him straight to double-A Richmond. Who knows if it was a change in pitching philosophy, lingering jet lag from changing coasts or just jitters with a new organization, but his time as a Flying Squirrel wasn’t positive. He went 0-3 with a 13.83 ERA and walked twice as many as he struck out (14 walks compared to seven K’s) over just five games before injuring his hip in late July and missing the rest of the season.
What does the future hold for Main? It’s uncertain if the highly-touted athlete can finally shake free of the injury bug and find the 96-97 mph fastball and power curveball that got him drafted so highly. The Giants will certainly give him time to do both, probably inviting him to Major League camp before sending him back to Richmond for a full season.
While we wait to see what unfolds for the man we used to call ”The Main Event”, let’s revisit the good old days in Clinton when he was part of a rotation that featured Beavan, Ryan Tatusko (also traded by the Rangers in 2010 to the Washington Nationals) and Michael Kirkman.
The right-hander arrived from the AZL near the start of July, replacing right-hander Neftali Feliz, who jumped two levels to double-A Frisco. Main really never encountered trouble over his 10 starts with the LumberKings, stifling opponents to a .228 average while never allowing more than three earned runs in any of his outings. His signature start came on July 31 against South Bend when he worked six innings of three-hit, one-run baseball, walked none and struck out four.
My featured interview with him took place after his first Clinton start in West Michigan on July 10, a 4.2-inning effort in which he scattered seven hits and allowed just a run in a no-decision (a 6-1 LumberKings’ win). We discussed the start, his fastball/curveball/change arsenal, rehabbing the fractured rib, teaming up fellow first-rounder Beavan in the rotation, learning to pitch under pressure while on the national stage with Team USA, his bat and more.
That’s all for The LumberBlog before the Christmas holiday, but keep an eye out for another entry of “The Interview Vault” on Tuesday, January 4. Until then, happy holidays!
The World Series is over, and the San Francisco Giants are the well-deserved champions. No doubt, their young rotation of Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain/Madison Bumgardner — and to a lesser degree Jonathan Sanchez — handcuffed the Rangers over the course of five games en route to the 4-1 series victory. Only Mitch Moreland hit above .250 for the series, batting .462 with a home run and three RBI.
While the San Fran arms are sure to be the buzz around baseball all winter, there’s no doubt that the young guns of the Texas rotation and bullpen proved a little something as well on the national stage. Colby Lewis stepped out of the shadow of Cliff Lee to prove to be the Rangers’ stopper, going 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts including the lone World Series win. Rookie closer Neftali Feliz shrugged off doubts that he could perform in the playoffs, posting a 1.23 ERA in seven appearances including a World Series save.
Ignore the blowups in Game 2 and left-handers Derek Holland and Michael Kirkman were actually pretty solid. The Rangers might not get past the New York Yankees without the clutch 3.2 scoreless innings thrown by Holland in Game 4 of the ALCS. Alexi Ogando was another unknown heading into late October, and he responded with a 1.50 ERA in five postseason outings before ending up on the disabled list.
All of these pitchers (aside from Lee), at some point on their way to reaching Arlington have worked with Texas Rangers’ Pitching Coordinator Danny Clark. Better known as “DC”, Clark was the pitching coach here in Clinton from 2007-2008 before rising to his current rank prior to the 2009 season.
The 2008 campaign alone saw Clark teach the likes of Feliz, Holland, Kirkman, Blake Beavan, Michael Main, Josh Lueke, Kennil Gomez and Ryan Tatusko. The year before, he guided pitchers like Kasey Kiker, Zach Phillips, Omar Poveda and Evan Reed, all right here in Clinton, IA.
Today, we’ll dust off an interview I did with DC during the second half of that tremendous ’08 year. We talk about Feliz’s development of a breaking ball/changeup to compliment his blazing fastball, Kirkman’s revival after tough seasons in ’06 and ’07, Holland’s 7-0 start to the season, Gomez and Beavan working through struggles and more.
Interestingly enough, we ran into DC just hours before Game 3 on Saturday in Arlington. It was one of those “coming full circle” moments that baseball often provides. I imagine that, like us, he was pretty astounded by how fast the success has come for many of his pitchers. It’s a success I believe you’ll see around Texas for seasons to come.
We sit on the eve of Game One of the 2010 World Series, just a day away from the most hyped pitcher’s duel of the playoffs so far (and there has been many)…Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers against Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants.
As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the Clinton LumberKings have had an interesting connection to these playoffs given our former status as the low-A affiliate of the Rangers. That connection extends to Lee, Clinton’s current affiliate, the Seattle Mariners and the subject of today’s ”The Interview Vault”, right-hander Blake Beavan.
Back on July 9, the Rangers made waves that are still being felt across Major League Baseball when they acquired Lee and right-hander Mark Lowe from the Mariners in exchange for four players, all former LumberKings.
Without question, the player that made that deal move — the one that kept Lee from becoming a Yankee, at least for now — was switch-hitting first-baseman Justin Smoak. Right-hander Josh Lueke and infielder Matt Lawson were also promising prospects at the time of the trade, but the 21-year-old Beavan could very well be the most important piece of the deal when we look back in several years.
To take Beavan away from Texas is to conclude the “local kid makes good” story that he had been working on ever since his first round (17th overall) selection in the 2007 June draft. A native of Irving, TX, Beavan played his high school ball just 12 miles away from Rangers Ballpark at Irving High School. Even before his selection by the team he grew up following, Beavan was already a bonafide star in the area having earned Baseball America‘s 2006 Youth Player of the Year award after an 11-strikeout performance against Cuba in the World Junior Championships. Later in his senior season, he tossed a perfect game and struck out 18 in a 6-0 win over MacArthur High, Irving’s number one rival.
All of those accomplishments were behind him already when he arrived in Clinton in late April, 2008. A lengthy holdout kept him away from rookie ball in 2007, so his April 29 start against the Great Lakes Loons at Alliant Energy Field proved to truly be his first professional action.
What we saw that night was about as sharp a performance possible given all the variables: a nervous 19-year-old that hadn’t thrown a pitch above the instructional league, pitching in front of both his parents and Rangers’ Pitching Coordinator (and later Mariners pitching coach) Rick Adair. Beavan allowed three measly singles, walked none and struck out three over six scoreless innings in a 4-2 win over the Loons. He pitched well to contact, inducing four double plays in the game.
I caught up with Blake after that start, and that’s the interview we’re throwing back to today. He talks about the outing, getting drafted by his hometown team, staying mentally focused while holding out, working with Rangers’ staff in the instructional league, his fastball/slider/change arsenal and more.
Blake Beavan (after first pro start on 4.30.08).mp3
That start was just the beginning of a season that saw Beavan go 10-6 with 2.37 ERA in 23 starts, 121 innings. The strikeout total (73, or 5.39 per nine innings) wasn’t exactly what scouts were expecting, but the 20 walks, .234 opponent average and 5-0 record over his final eight starts showed plenty of promise.
In 2009, he went a combined 9-8, 4.14 in 27 starts between high-A Bakersfield and double-A Frisco. The 2010 season saw his return to the RoughRiders and his best numbers since 2008. Beavan had nearly identical stats as his season with Clinton, going 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA, 68 strikeouts to just 12 walks and a .242 opponent average in 110.0 innings. He stood on the verge of a promotion to triple-A Oklahoma City when Texas struck the deal with Seattle.
As Mariners fans know, Beavan was hit hard with Tacoma, posting a a 6.47 ERA and .331 opponent average in seven starts, 40.1 innings with the Rainiers. Those numbers didn’t beg for a September call-up, but they also aren’t cause for concern. He still walked only eight while striking out 22 in the PCL and was dominant when ahead in the count, limiting opponents to a .222 average. In the playoffs, he went 1-0 with a more respectable 4.26 ERA in two starts, helping the Rainiers win the PCL Championship.
We’ll see what 2011 holds for Beavan. Hopefully he’s heading for a call-up to Safeco Field sometime in the season. Now, at least, you know where he’s been.
A new offseason segment debuts on the LumberBlog today, not-so-cleverly called “The Interview Vault”. Player, coach and staff interviews have been a staple on the LumberBlog since 2009 but there’s a ton of lost interviews I’ve had sitting on cassette tapes in a dusty shoebox.
Those tapes have resurfaced and contain valuable interviews with the likes of former LumberKings manager (now Texas Rangers’ field coordinator) Mike Micucci, former Kings turned big-leaguers like Mitch Moreland, Derek Holland and Justin Smoak, plus up-and-coming prospects like Chad Tracy, Marcus Lemon, Engel Beltre and more.
I will try and revisit interviews that are timely and notable throughout the fall and winter, and with that in mind, I present the first lost interview with Texas Rangers’ beat writer for the Dallas Morning News, Richard Durrett.
I caught up with Mr. Durrett in the late summer of 2008 when he was stopping by Alliant Energy Field to do a story on then-Rangers prospects, right-handers Blake Beavan and Michael Main. While those two were his main focus, he also observed a Clinton offense that included Moreland, Beltre, Jonathan Greene, Cristian Santana and others.
We talk at length about his observations of Beavan, whose now one of the top arms in the Seattle system. He also weighs in on the remarkable 2008 season for Josh Hamilton, the establishment of a plan in the Rangers system and proves very prophetic about his prediction of seasons to come for Texas.
Richard Durrett, Rangers Writer (2008).mp3
A fitting interview from the vault just hours before the Rangers take the diamond in Tampa for the most important game in team history. Game five against the Rays begins at 7:00 PM central time as lefty Cliff Lee takes the hill hoping to give Texas their first-ever playoff series victory.
The 2010 Major League Baseball Postseason begins in just about 40 minutes as the Texas Rangers start things off with the opener of their ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. With Texas’s return to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 there’s an extra-high volume of former LumberKings to watch this postseason. Not all of them, however, are Rangers.
The 25-man playoff roster for the Rangers includes former LumberKings second-baseman Ian Kinsler (’04), first-baseman Mitch Moreland (’08), right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08) and left-hander Derek Holland (’08). Left-hander Michael Kirkman (’06-’08) was left off the playoff roster but will probably still be with the club in Tampa in case of injury.
The man traded for four former ’08 LumberKings (Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Matt Lawson and Josh Lueke) in Cliff Lee gets the game one start for the Rangers, who have never won a playoff series.
Over in the NL, the Central Division Champion Cincinnati Reds also begin their NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies today. They’ll start a former LumberKing in right-hander Edinson Volquez (’04, pictured left as “Edison Volquez”) against the defending NL Champs.
The Reds also have right-hander Nick Masset (’03) on their playoff roster, while the Phillies decided not to include their only Clinton alumnus, outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. (’06) amongst their 25 players.
To my knowledge, there’s no former LumberKings with the Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays or Minnesota Twins. I could be wrong.
Given the high volume of former recent Kings with Texas, the Rangers have my backing this year. Feel free to weigh in on the 2010 MLB Playoffs (and all your old favorite Kings) by commenting below!
Less than a week after first-baseman Mitch Moreland (’08) became the third former King to make a big-league debut, right-hander Thomas Diamond (’04, pictured left) stepped to the mound for the Chicago Cubs to make his first Major League start last night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Diamond struck out 10 of the 27 batters he faced over 6.0 innings, but also allowed three runs on seven hits as the Cubs lost, 4-3 to the Brewers at Wrigley Field. He became only the second Cub in 90 seasons to strike out 10 in his debut.
Amongst his seven seasons in the Minors (all in the Texas chain until this year) was the 2004 season with Clinton, in which Diamond went 1-0 with a 2.05 ERA in seven starts. He walked only eight while fanning 42 batters over 30.2 innings as a LumberKing. Diamond joins Moreland, first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) and right-hande Omar Beltre (’03) as former LumberKings who have made Major League debuts this season.
Diamond isn’t the only former Clinton pitcher moving up in recent days. Right-hander Blake Beavan, a member of the 2008 Kings, moved up to triple-A Tacoma and earned a win in his first start with the Rainiers.
Recently acquired by the Seattle Mariners in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Texas, Beavan was denied his triple-A debut with Oklahoma City but did not have to wait long to get his shot in Seattle. The Irving, TX native and former first-round pick worked 6.0 innings, yielding two runs on seven hits and striking out two in a 9-3 win over Reno.
Right-hander Josh Lueke (’07-’08) has also joined Beavan in Tacoma and has pitched well so far, going 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA, no walks and five strikeouts over 3.0 innings. At least for now, infielder Matt Lawson (’08) has not moved up to Tacoma despite hitting .365 with four doubles, two HR and 14 RBI in just 15 games with double-A West Tenn.
Elsewhere, right-hander Evan Reed (’07-’08) made his first outing as a Florida Marlins farmhand last Saturday, pitching in relief for the double-A Jacksonville Suns. Reed worked 1.2 innings and struck out one of the six Carolina Mudcats’ hitters he faced. The former Clinton starter was shipped by the Rangers along with right-hander Omar Poveda (’06-’07) in the deal that brought them Jorge Cantu. Poveda is still coming back from Tommy John surgery.
Through five games, four starts with double-A Richmond, left-hander Michael Main (’08) is 0-3 with a 13.83 ERA in what has been a rough introduction to the San Francisco system. The former first-round pick has battled control issues with 14 walks and seven strikeouts over 13.2 innings so far. Main was acquired by the Giants in the deal that sent catcher Bengie Molina to the Rangers.
With our bus to the Quad Cities leaving in less than an hour, that’s all the time I have for today. I’ll hopefully have a new interview and game notes prior to the 7:00 PM game against the River Bandits tonight.
Left-to-right: Beavan, Smoak, Lueke and Lawson, all ’08 LumberKings
You’ve already seen the breaking news…the Seattle Mariners (our current parent club) have shipped All-Star lefty Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers (our previous parent club) for four players, including first-baseman Justin Smoak.
Smoak, alongside right-handers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke and infielder Matt Lawson all played in Clinton during the 2008 season. Smoak, Beavan and Lawson were all part of the team during the 2008 Midwest League Playoffs.
It’s unlikely that we’ll see ANY of them come back through Clinton, as all were above double-A at the time of the trade. Beavan had recently made the move to triple-A Oklahoma City, while Lawson and Lueke were in double-A Frisco. And, well, Smoak is a big-leaguer. It remains to be seen if there will be any shifting amongst the upper levels to accomodate the new acquisitions.
Stay tuned to the LumberBlog for more details.
I should have put this out yesterday, but you probably already know anyways. Former LumberKings’ second-baseman Ian Kinsler (’04) and right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08) are American League All-Stars. Both were named amongst five Texas Rangers to play in the game at Angels Stadium in Anaheim coming up on July 13.
Kinsler is a second-time All-Star, replacing Boston’s Dustin Pedroia on the roster. Feliz, who was an active LumberKing through early July three seasons ago is a first-time All-Star. I’m especially excited about Feliz going, as he is the first player from a team I’ve covered to be named an All-Star.
In other less-exciting but still exciting none-the-less news, word has it that right-hander Blake Beavan (’08) has been promoted to triple-A Oklahoma City. Center-fielder Engel Beltre (’08) had just joined double-A Frisco, so they had apparently reached the “08 LumberKings” quota.
It’s good to be a former member of that 2008 club right now.
They just keep coming, and they’re all awesome. Scott Lucas of the Newberg Report posted more photos today of Texas Rangers camp in Surprise, AZ. Former LumberKings amidst this set include Blake Beavan (’08), Kennil Gomez (’08), Derek Holland (’08), Michael Kirkman (’06-’08), Marcus Lemon (’07), Michael Main (’08), David Paisano (’07-’08), Zach Phillips (’06-’07), Evan Reed (’07-’08) and Ryan Tatusko (’08).
View them here: http://rangers.scottlucas.com/site/TX100317/TX100317day.htm
Also, yesterday’s elusive Kasey Kiker (’07) footage is now available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbim2PVU34c
With pitchers and catchers arriving today at both Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers camps, I thought it would be good timing to take a look at some former LumberKings looking to make impacts in Major League camps this Spring.
The Future is Now for Feliz
We’ll start with a man who’s already logged Major League service time, but is looking to
emerge as the top-flight starting pitcher so many in baseball have billed him to be. He of course is fireballing right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08), who is coming off an outstanding 20-game relief stint with the Rangers in 2009. After becoming the first Ranger in history to strike out the first four men he faced, Feliz kept his fastball in the high 90′s and kept Major League hitters baffled to the tune of a .124 opponent batting average. Over his 20 games, the 21-year-old went 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA (just 6 ER in 31.0 innings) and struck out 39 while walking only eight. This performance was enough to earn Feliz the Top Prospect ranking in the entire Rangers’ organization and the #7 prospect in all of professional baseball.
There’s no question that Feliz will be on the Opening Day roster. The question is, will his stuff be good enough this Spring to earn him a rotation spot alongside former King Derek Holland (’08)? Baseball America projects him to be Texas’ #1 starter by 2013, but he’ll still need to prove himself over more than three innings to emerge amongst a host of qualified rotation candidates. Even if he remains in the bullpen, look for Feliz to rise further towards “household name” status this season.
After Feliz, first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) is the next-most-hyped prospect in Surprise. Smoak IS Texas’s first-baseman of the future, but how ready is he to be that guy right now? The former first-round pick is coming off a huge offseason that saw him win the MVP award at the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup while guiding Team USA to gold. He’s also hit .292 with 15 HR and 63 RBI in just 120 games as a pro so far.
The question for Smoak is if he’s ready to unseat incumbent Chris Davis at first. His glove, by all accounts, is ready. His ability to hit for power from both sides of the plate will give him an eventual advantage over Davis, who himself has something to prove following a .238, 150-strikeouts-in-391 at-bats season. Still, Smoak struggled in a transition from double-A Frisco to triple-A Oklahoma City last year, hitting just .244 over 54 games with the RedHawks after shredding the Texas League with a .328 average. Much like Feliz, Smoak is a highly-regarded prospect (#2 with the Rangers, #9 overall) who WILL be a Major Leaguer at some point this season. Only question is, how early will his call-up be?
Moreland on the Radar
In the shadow of Smoak’s hype, Mitch Moreland (’08) has been able to go about his business very
quietly the past two seasons. A 17th-round pick by the Rangers back in 2007, Moreland started out as a first baseman with the LumberKings in 2008 prior to the arrival of Smoak. With the future of first basically locked up, the former Mississippi State Bulldog has carved a new path as an outfielder with average range and a fantastic bat.
Moreland captured the Tom Grieve Minor League MVP Award for the Rangers this Winter following a 2009 campaign in which he hit .331 with 16 HR and 85 RBI between high-A Bakersfield and Frisco. He’s certain to get a look at big league camp this season, but how long he stays there will rest part on his hitting and part on the performances of Brandon Boggs (’05), Craig Gentry (’07) and the recently-signed Endy Chavez. Former LumberKing Chad Tracy (’07) could also give him a run for his money. Moreland will most likely spend the bulk of 2010 with triple-A Oklahoma City and could possibly be a late-season call-up.
A Call to ’07 Arms
Four members of the 2007 LumberKings’ rotation are invites to big-league camp for the Rangers this season. Left-handers Michael Kirkman (’06-’08), Kasey Kiker (’07) and Zach Phillips (’06-’07) and right-hander Omar Poveda (’06-’07) will all try and show why they belong. Of the four, only Poveda has spent significant time in Rangers camp before. Kiker is the highest ranking prospect of the bunch, coming in at #6 on BA‘s list for 2010.
Who has a legitimate shot to make a Major League debut this season? I’d put my money on Poveda, who has shown flashes of dominance in Clinton (11-4, 2.79 in ’07) and Frisco (11-5, 4.14 in ’09), but has yet to log more than one start in triple-A. A good Spring and a solid few months in OKC and Poveda should be a Ranger late in the season. Kiker went 7-7 with a 3.86 ERA and yielded an opponent average of .231 while with Frisco last year, his best season since his 7-4, 2.90, 112 strikeout season with the Kings in 2007. He has a chance to crack the Texas bullpen.
Kirkman and Phillips both have tremendous upsides, but both need to show some consistency. “Captain Kirk” finally found his stuff after four tumultuous seasons, going 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 18 starts with Frisco last year. Phillips got acclimated to life as a reliever last season, going 2-3 with a 1.39 ERA, four saves and an eye-popping .163 opponent average between Bakersfield and Frisco. However, 2010 will be only his second season in the pen following an ’08 campain in which he went 8-9, 5.54 in 28 Cal League starts. Both are probably at least a season away.
Of course, there’s always the chance that a darkhorse emerges in camp this year. Look out for guys like Engel Beltre (’08) , Blake Beavan (’08) and Marcus Lemon (’07). You could even see the resurgence of John Whittleman (’06-’07) this season. That’s the great part about this time of year, you just don’t know until it starts.
The first games of Spring Training in Arizona start on March 3. I’ll be in Peoria, AZ watching the Mariners take on the San Francisco Giants. Blog updates to follow!