Results tagged ‘ Derek Holland ’

More Photos from Scott Lucas

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:

Also, yesterday’s elusive Kasey Kiker (’07) footage is now available here:


Photos and Video from Rangers Camp

Dedicated LumberBlog followers will recall that during my six-day trip to Arizona, I was sadly cheated out of a chance to see many former LumberKings due to Mother Nature.  My plan to see the Texas Rangers take on the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear was cut off by the rare desert rain.

Thankfully, I’m not the only blogger in the world who has ventured to the Cactus League this Spring.  Scott Lucas of Newberg Report fame is down there right now covering the back fields.  He has shot some pictures and video on many of your favorite former Kings.

Here’s some photos from a “B” game, including Craig Gentry (’07), Mitch Moreland (’08) and Chad Tracy (’07):

Scott has also posted some very sharp looking video on his YouTube site:

He’s got a link to some video on Kasey Kiker (’07) as well, but I wasn’t able to get that to work.  I will post it if that changes.

You can check out more from Scott at


Former Kings to Watch this Spring

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
feliz.JPGemerge 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.

Smoak Rising

smoak.JPGAfter 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
moreland.JPGquietly 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

poveda.JPGFour 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!


MWL Playoff Update, Etc.

The first round of the Midwest League Playoffs concluded last night, so let’s see how my predictions have fared so far.

It turns out I couldn’t have been more right about the East Division, but I couldn’t have been more wrong about the West.  Fort Wayne survived a scare and beat South Bend 5-4 on Cole Figueroa’s late two-run double last night, taking a series that was much closer than most people thought.  Mark Haley’s Silver Hawks finally won a game at Parkview Field and pushed the TinCaps to the brink.  They should be proud of that.

The Great Lakes Loons won, 3-2 in 10 innings to oust the West Michigan Whitecaps thanks to Jaime Pedroza’s blast.  You’ll recall, Pedroza was my darkhorse for the second round.  Looks like he’s showing up early.  So, the Loons take on the TinCaps in the MWL East Division Championship Series starting tonight, just as I predicted.

Over in the West, it’s a very different story.  The Burlington Bees are now 8-0 in the playoffs over their last two seasons following a clean sweep of the Kane County Cougars.  I thought the Cougars would fare well with Kenny Smalley getting the game one start, but he served up two homers and exited early.  It was all Bees after that (12-7, 4-0 wins) as Jim Gabella takes his club back to Brian Rupp territory, the West Division Championship Series.

It’ll be a rematch of the ’08 MWLWDCS as Cedar Rapids pulled off the stunning upset of offensive powerhouse Peoria.  How did they take out the West’s best team?  In classic Kernel style…seizing opportunities, capitalizing on miscues and winning in frustrating ways.  The Chiefs lost 6-4 in 10 innings in game one, then had a disastrous bullpen lapse in game two as the Kernels loaded the bases on walks.  Closer Chris Huseby tied the game on a bases-loaded walk and then hit Matt Crawford for the walk-off winner.  Season over on a hit-by-pitch?  That hurts Peoria far more than it did Crawford.

So, it’s Bees-Kernels Part Two:  The Revenge.  Since my pick for the West was Peoria, I’ll re-pick amongst these two teams.  It’s really anybody’s guess between these clubs, especially in a three-game series.  Burlington won last year, but I’ll go with the Kernels by virtue of their home-field advantage.  Plus, the Bees have to lose a playoff game at some point, right?

Overall, I’m still sticking by the Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooons.  I like them over Fort Wayne and whoever comes out of the West.

On to LumberKings Alumni news.  Outfielder Craig Gentry (’07) finally got a taste of big league baseball on September 6, going 0-for-1 with a groundout in his Major League debut with the Texas Rangers in Baltimore.  The Rangers lost, 7-0 with Derek Holland (’08) falling to 7-10.  Gentry has not appeared in a game since.

Former Kings’ manager Carlos Subero (’04-’05) has been called up to join Joe Torre’s coaching staff in Los Angeles.  It’s fairly routine that extra minor league coaches get brought up this time of year, but it’s the first time for Carlos.  Well deserved.

That’s all for now. 


Gentry Gets the Call

Former LumberKings center-fielder Craig Gentry (’07) is reportedly getting the call up to the Texas Rangers today, according to our old friends at the Newberg Report

The Rangers’ 10th-round pick in 2006 hit .274 with 15 doubles, three HR, 40 runs scored, 12 RBI and 24 steals with the Kings in 2007.  He was hitting .303 with 21 doubles, eight HR, 53 RBI and 49 steals in double-A Frisco for former Clinton manager Mike Micucci (’07-’08) this year. 

In case you’re keeping track, Gentry is set to be the fourth former LumberKing to make a Major League debut in 2009, joining Derek Holland (’08), John Mayberry, Jr. (’06) and Neftali Feliz (’08).


Conflicts of Interest

Holland 7.30.09.jpg

Photo courtesy of the Texas Rangers, Tony Gutierrez/AP.

Admittedly, I was excited to see former LumberKings left-hander Derek Holland (’08) take a perfect game two outs deep into the fifth and finish with a win over a career-high 8.2 innings.  Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of the team whose minor league system I now cover, the Seattle Mariners.

I had Holland on the blog a while back for a phone interview when he was still just starting his Major League career.  It looks like he’s starting to settle in.  After struggling through June weith an 0-3 record, 6.46 ERA, Holland has solidified himself in the rotation with three-straight starts and a 3-1, 4.45 month of July.  Welcome to the show, permanently.

I wonder what he’d have to say if we did that interview again today.  The first year through the Majors has got to be a bit like your first year of school.  So much to learn, so many new experiences everyday.  Can I bother him for a phone interview every time he accomplishes something?  Probably not, but maybe I can catch him again following the season.

I did some digging and found my game notes from July 9, 2008…Holland’s last start in a LumberKings uniform at West Michigan.  I recall him getting the call up to Bakersfield following that start, a scoreless 6.0 innings of three-hit baseball along with seven strikeouts.  We all knew following that start that he had out-grown the Midwest League, we didn’t figure to this extent.  Check out my rather crude ’08 notes:  7.9.08 kingsnotes (Holland’s last start).pdf

Enough about Holland, on to the wheeling-and-dealing Mariners.  GM Jack Zduriencik traded young arms away in Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic two days ago, but this morning he restocked.  Gone is Jarrod Washburn (a favorite of mine because he went to my college, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh), here are pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles.

I’ve seen both French and Robles pitch in this league, and both have shown shades of dominance.  French went 11-8 with a 3.72 ERA and 94 strikeouts over 157 innings with the 2006 Midwest League Champion Whitecaps.  Robles was here to start the season with the ‘Caps, going 4-4 with a 4.63 ERA and 71 strikeouts over 56.1 innings.  He left the league with the strikeouts lead.

Unfortunately, neither will be LumberKings.  French was bouncing between the Tigers and triple-A, while Robles was in the Florida State League, qualifying him for High Desert or higher.


Special Guest: Derek Holland

Holland LumberKings Rangers.jpgThe interview that many have been waiting for, including myself.  Today I catch up with former LumberKings’ ace left-hander Derek Holland.  After occupying the seat behind me on the bus for half a Midwest League season just a year ago, Holland has risen to the Texas Rangers bullpen and now starting rotation in a way that can only be described as meteoric.

Holland talks about his time in Clinton, rising through the Rangers ranks, donning that #45 for the first time in Toronto, his goals for his first pro season, even a bit about being the man with the pink backpack.

Listen Here: 
Derek Holland Interview 6.1.09.mp3

Some more photos of Holland that I took at last year’s All-Star Game:


2008 MWL All-Star MVP Tim Smith (left) and Holland represented the West last season.

Holland ASG 08.jpg

Holland tosses to fellow ’08 LumberKing and West All-Star Jose Felix.


Holland in USA Today

On my way out the door to the Perkins next to the Peoria Super 8, I reach for a complimentary USA Today, only to find our favorite Major League lefty Derek Holland on the cover of the sports section.  It’s an article about young pitchers in the big leagues, and Holland is seen toting the pink backpack as many a Texas Rangers’ rookie before him has done.

Click here to read the article.

Off to the ballpark!


The Future Is Now

I could tell you about the Major League debut of Derek Holland (’08) from last night, but wouldn’t you rather see it?

Enjoy.  I did.