Results tagged ‘ James Jones ’

On the Bright Side (June 6 Edition)

Thumbnail image for brightside.jpgIt’s certainly been a while since I’ve had to roll out the OTBS segment here on the LumberBlog, but I think the events of the last two nights qualify.  In case you’ve missed it, the LumberKings lost 7-6 on a walk-off single in Dayton on Friday night, then saw leads of 2-0 and 5-3 erased in a 7-5 loss to the Dragons again last night.

While the LumberKings have slipped to 4-4 on this road trip and now 3.0 games behind second-place Quad Cities for the West Division Wild Card spot…

  1. At least there’s still 13 games remaining (including nine at home) to get it together.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but a win today and a River Bandits loss would put the Kings just 2.0 games out.
  2. At least James Jones has stayed red-hot.  Jones drove in three runs last night, including two on a bases-loaded single (highlight: 
    Jones 2-R single 6.5.10 at Dayton.mp3).  So far on this trip, Jones is hitting .300 (6-for-20) with three HR and nine RBI.
  3. At least we have right-hander Erasmo Ramirez on the mound today.  Ramirez is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA over his last four starts and is now fifth in the league in ERA (1.90).
  4. At least you can still read LumberKings’ Game Notes: 
    6.6.10 kingsnotes.pdf
  5. At least we have our first off-day since May 17 coming up tomorrow.  We’re going to need it after the nine-hour ride home from Dayton.

That’s all for now.  As mentioned, Ramirez gets the start today as this 10-game, three-city road trip finally draws to a close.  The broadcast gets underway at 12:45 PM central time on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Greetings from Dayton

As you can probably tell by the lack of content from yesterday, the LumberKings were rained out in Bowling Green and will not play the finale of the series against the Hot Rods.  That is, unless we schedule a doubleheader for 2011.  The two teams won’t play again till then, and the Kings won’t return to Bowling Green Ballpark until 2012.

100_1816.JPGThus, the 10-game, three-city trip moves into its final leg here in scenic Dayton.  Still the “big leagues” of Midwest League parks, Fifth Third Field is home to the Dayton Dragons, the only club in A ball that continually sells out every game.  There’s additional excitement this season with former Big Red Machine right-fielder Ken Griffey on the staff as the hitting coach.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an interview sometime in the next three games.  I know some of you are probably wondering why I haven’t weighed in on Ken Griffey Jr.’s retirement yet, but I’m holding out in case I get the chance to talk to his dad.

One storyline to follow in this series.  Fifth Third Field is usually a power-hitter’s haven most seasons as the ball really jumps to left for right-handed sluggers and also gets out to right equally well.  I’ve done some checking in on Clinton’s home run numbers here over the past four seasons:

  • 2006:  6 HR in 4 games (including five in one game, two by John Whittleman)
  • 2007:  2 HR in 4 games (both by Mauro Gomez)
  • 2008:  3 HR in 3 games (two by Ian Gac, including a Grand Slam)
  • 2009:  8 HR in 3 games (Denny Almonte’s coming-out party, he hit 4 of them)

How will this year’s club fare?  The LumberKings have a league-best 57 home runs as a team and are coming off a six-HR game in pitcher-friendly Bowling Green Ballpark.  Will the likes of Kalian Sams, Nick Franklin, James Jones and Mario Martinez tee off?

One more thing to consider.  Dayton pitchers have allowed just 15 homers in 29 home games this year.  Also, don’t rule out the Dragons’ sluggers.  Chris Richburg has belted six homers (four at home) from the right side, while left-handed hitting Josh Garton has six also (three at home).   Kings’ pitchers have allowed 24 road homers this season and 35 total.

For those who regularly listen to my pregame interviews, you didn’t miss it last night, I decided not to post it with the impending rain in Bowling Green.  I sat down with James Jones to talk about his three home runs on the road trip, the six-homer game against the Hot Rods and more.

Listen Here: 
Jones Interview 6.3.10.mp3

Tonight’s Game Notes: 
6.4.10 kingsnotes.pdf 

Right-hander Taylor Stanton (5-2, 3.31), pushed back by last night’s rainout, will make the start tonight against the Dragons.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:07 PM central time, listen in on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

The Sound of Six Homers

In case you missed it, the LumberKings won for the first time ever in Bowling Green tonight thanks to a season-best six homer game. 

The blasts, in order:  Nick Franklin (leadoff to right-center), Mario Martinez (solo, opposite-field), Brandon Bantz (completely out of the park in right), Hawkins Gebbers (just over the wall in left, back-to-back with Bantz), James Jones (laser to right-center, off the scoreboard) and Franklin again (into the bullpen in right).  Tim Morris would have had #7 if his double off the wall had been a few feet to the right.

Enjoy a whole lot of “Start your Trot”: 
Six Homer Night in Bowling Green (6.2.10).mp3

-DL

Happy Memorial Day!

100_1791.JPGIt’s not the most picturesque day here in Geneva, IL after a pretty strong (yet brief) storm came through, but it looks like we’ll have baseball here on this Memorial Day.

It’s another “show-and-go” for your LumberKings, meaning an 11:00 AM bus and no batting practice.  That also means that the pregame interview is on one-day hiatus.

Still, enjoy the highlights from last night’s 6-1 win over the Kane County Cougars, Clinton’s 14th in their last 16 games.  Today’s red, white and blue Game Notes are also below.

Memorial Day baseball begins at 1:00 PM, it’s lefty Jimmy Gillheeney (3-3, 2.22) on the mound in search of the four-game sweep in his 11th start of the year.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com starting at 12:45 PM.

-DL

A Doubleheader to Remember

In case you missed it today, the LumberKings took both ends of a doubleheader against the Peoria Chiefs at O’Brien Field.  The twinbill sweep is the first for Clinton since they did it on April 12, 2008 against West Michigan.  That itself is great news, but here’s the better news…they did it with six home runs and outscored Peoria 24-5 in the two games.

Mario Martinez went 3-for-3 with a three-run homer and six RBI in the 13-3 victory in game one, becoming the first LumberKing to drive in a half-dozen since Ian Gac did it on May 4, 2008 at Kane County.  Henry Contreras, making his first start of the year (1-for-3 as a pinch hitter/reserve) went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, a solo home run and two RBI as well.  And that was only the beginning.

Rather than hold back all the highlights until tomorrow, here’s the audio from today’s games.

As you can see, it was a fun day of baseball.  Hopefully it continues tomorrow as we close out the series in Peoria.

-DL

Franklin Homers Twice, Falls Short of Cycle

Shortstop Nick Franklin belts homers from both sides of the plate, goes 4-for-4 in 8-2 win

   


franklin 4.10.10.jpg

Clinton, IA – Shortstop Nick Franklin homered twice and fell a single short of the cycle, leading the Clinton LumberKings to an impressive 8-2 victory over the Peoria Chiefs Saturday night at Alliant Energy Field.  Seattle’s first-round pick in 2009 tripled and scored in his first at-bat, doubled and scored his second time around and then homered from the left and right sides in his final two at-bats to finish 4-for-4.

 

Highlights Here:

 

Franklin would have been the first Clinton player to hit for the cycle since Josh Spoerl did it against Kane County on July 19, 2000, however, his final at-bat produced an opposite-field clout just over the wood wall in right.

 

The first blast by Franklin came back-to-back with Daniel Carroll, who himself lifted his second two-run homer in as many nights to push the Kings’ lead to 5-2.

 

Vinnie Catricala also chipped in two RBI, finishing 1-for-4.  Mario Martinez added an RBI single and James Jones registered his first hit with Clinton, an RBI triple scoring Dennis Raben in the seventh.

 

The big story heading into the game was the professional debut of Mariners’ fifth-round pick, right-hander Tyler Blandford.  The Oklahoma State product stifled the Chiefs to just a hit over 4.1 innings, but also issued five walks.  Blandford exited after allowing two runs, both earned.

 

Right-hander John Housey (W, 1-0) worked the next 3.2 innings, keeping Peoria off the scoreboard despite three more walks.  Left-hander Jose Jimenez pitched a scoreless non-save ninth.

 

Peoria right-hander Jonathan Nagel (L, 0-1) gave up three of the Clinton runs on six hits over 3.0 innings.  Right-hander Tim Clubb surrendered the Carroll and Franklin back-to-back blasts and lefty Jeff Beliveau gave up the second Franklin homer.  Righty Andres Quezada did not allow a run over the final 1.2 innings.

 

The LumberKings (2-1) begin their first road trip of the season at Time Warner Cable Field in Wisconsin tomorrow night against the Timber Rattlers.  Left-hander Jon Hesketh (0-0, 0.00) is slated to make his first start of the year beginning at 5:05 PM. Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN or www.lumberkings.com.

 

-DL

Predicting the 2010 Roster (Part 2)

The second and final installment of my look at the potential 2010 roster finally makes its way to the LumberBlog today.  I had originally planned on getting it out before the Hot Stove, but last week was a busy one.

In a way, it’s nice to save this second part till now.  I had the opportunity to talk with manager John Tamargo about the team during our car trips to and from the Quad City Airport in Moline, IL.  It was good to pick his brain on some of the talent he had in Everett last year.

With that being said, I want to preface my following predictions.  At this time, we do not know the 25-man LumberKings’ roster for next year.  The Seattle Mariners will not finalize that until camp breaks in early April, and at that time we will know for sure.  It is common for changes to be made even after that point.  Many people didn’t know that Scott Savastano, the man who turned into the offensive MVP of the team last year, was a last-second add to the roster.  Two years ago, Mitch Moreland was scratched from our Opening Day roster because of a minor injury.  You just never know until the bus shows up.

A First-Rounder Not Named Ackley

In my post last week regarding the Top 10 Seattle Prospects as selected by Baseball
franklin.JPG
America,
I mentioned a young man by the name of Nick Franklin (pictured right).  While Dustin Ackley has attracted most of the spotlight, Franklin is also a rising star.  The 18-year-old shortstop was Jack Zduriencik’s second first-round pick (taken 27th overall) out of Lake Brantley (FL) High and had a nice showing in six games with Tamargo’s AquaSox (.400, 3 XBH, 2 RBI in 20 at-bats).  Seattle scouting director Tom McNamara liked his confidence and fielding ability in a brief workout with the big-league club last August.  I don’t think you’ll see Ackley in Clinton next year, but Franklin could very well add some first-round flavor to the roster.

Franklin might not be the only talented shortstop to head here.  South African-born Anthony
Phillips
made 67 starts at short for Everett last season and put up some respectable power numbers at the plate.  The 19-year-old hit .247 with 8 doubles, 7 HR and 28 RBI over 68 games in the Northwest League last season.  Venezuelan shortstop Gabriel Noriega could also make the club, following an impressive second season at Pulaski.  Noriega hit .311 with 14 doubles, 4 HR and 26 RBI in 61 games last year. 

Avila Following the Gac Path?

Thumbnail image for avila.JPGStaying on the Everett infield, a lot of folks have asked me if Gerardo Avila (pictured left) might head to Clinton.  As Midwest League diehards already know, Avila is a three-season veteran with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (’06-’08), but never hit above .260 and had just one career homer in the league in 63 games.  Then, following the Ian Gac pattern, Avila went to High Desert in 2008 and found his way back to the Northwest League in 2009.  There, he finally went off for a league-high 13 HR while also finishing first in slugging (.582), second in RBI (54) and third in hitting overall (.333).  As Gac-like as this story is going, he could very well be in Clinton.  However, he could also go back to the Cal League, where he hit .303 in nine games two seasons ago as a Maverick.

If Avila heads back to High Desert, Jharmidy DeJesus could be the man to fill first base.  DeJesus was amongst my predictions for last year’s club and was the #8 prospect in the Mariners’ system prior to last year.  Hailing from Jose Vallejo’s hometown of Bani, Dominican Republic, DeJesus hit .249 with 7 doubles, 4 HR and 24 RBI in 48 games with Pulaski last year.  He made 30 starts at first base in a platoon situation with 11th round pick Tim Morris (.214, 4 HR, 24 RBI in 50 games).   

Rounding Out the Infield

Second-baseman Hawkins Gebbers, Seattle’s 33rd round selection hit .301 with 13 doubles, 2 HR and 21 RBI in 54 games with Everett last year.  Cesar Fuentes (.261, 4 HR, 20 RBI) and Fred Bello (.250, 5 triples, 2 HR, 12 RBI) each split time at second base in Pulaski.  Third-baseman and 10th-round pick Vincent Catricala led Pulaski with 40 RBI, hitting .301 with 14 doubles and 8 HR in 59 games.  Blake Trinkler played the utility role for Everett, hitting .229 with 18 RBI in 41 games.

The Backstops 

Headlining the group of potential Clinton catchers is certainly Steven Baron, Seattle’s supplemental first-round pick (#33 overall) out of Ferguson (FL) High School.  Baron struggled in his first pro assignment with Pulaski, hitting .179 with 2 HR and 13 RBI in 30 games.  However, his numbers slightly improved towards the end of the season.  Baron raised his average 39 points over his final seven games.  Taking into consideration that ’09 LumberKing Nate Tenbrink hit just .198 with Everett in 2008 prior to batting .282 with 10 HR and 59 RBI last year, it’s possible that Baron comes to Clinton and improves at the plate.  However, Tenbrink was older and more experienced than Baron will be heading into 2010.  Tenbrink also didn’t have the added responsibilities of working with a pitching staff like Baron has.

If no Baron, 2009 draft picks Trevor Coleman (9th round) and Brandon Bantz (30th round) could catch for the Kings.  Coleman struggled, hitting .184 in 32 games with Everett, while Bantz produced a solid .290, 3 HR, 15 RBI stint with the AquaSox.  Given the fact that Juan Fuentes, Tommy Johnson and Henry Contreras all saw limited time behind the plate in Clinton last year and could be back, it’s quite possible that none of these three arrive in ’10.

A Wealth of Potential in the Outfield

When looking at the outfield of both Pulaski and Everett, it’s hard not to get excited about the
Rivero.jpggroup that could be coming in.  The AquaSox had both James Jones (4th round) and Matt Cerione (13th round) in their outfield last year, in addition to Jose Rivero (pictured right).  Jones hit .311 over 45 games, mashing 3 HR and 24 RBI in that span.  Cerione flashed a little more power with 7 HR, hitting .266 with 14 RBI over 43 games.  Rivero finished third on the club in RBI behind Avila and Mario Martinez with 32, going along with his .251 average and 4 HR.

Brandon Haveman (29th round) was Pulaski’s standout outfielder thanks to a .339, 5 HR, 18 RBI campaign.  Jarrett Burgess (.187, 5 HR, 22 RBI), Mark McGonigle (.283, 2 HR, 14 RBI) and Greg Waddell (.195, 2 HR, 6 RBI) all saw time in the Mariners’ outfield as well.  Burgess is still trying to find his way after a 6th round selection in the 2008 June draft.

Much like the catching corps, it’s tough to say which of these players will be LumberKings this year.  It’s more likely that we see the return of Ryan Royster, Welington Dotel, Dwight Britton and others at least at the beginning of the season.

The Rotation:  A Tough Act to Follow

It’s no question that pitching was the key to success for the LumberKings last year, specifically starting pitching.  At times last year, at least three Kings’ hurlers ranked amongst the league’s Top 10 in ERA.  Kenn Kasparek finished the season as the ERA leader, Clinton’s first since Salomon Torres in 1991.  Quite simply, it’s going to be hard to top last year.

Stanton.JPGHere’s some of the new names that might try.  Right-hander Taylor Stanton (pictured left), Seattle’s 26th round pick in 2008, had a breakout year of sorts with Everett.  In 15 starts, he went 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA.  Most notably, he led the rotation in innings (87.1), WHIP (1.23) and wins (5).  Outside of Stanton, only two other pitchers made at least 14 starts for the AquaSox…Chris Kirkland (a LumberKing briefly last year) and right-hander Luke Burnett.  Like Stanton, Burnett was an ’08 draft pick (14th round) that finally saw action last year.  He went 2-4, 4.66 in 14 starts.

Righty Taylor Lewis (3-1, 7.82 in 5 starts) and left-hander Nick Czyz (2-2, 3.34 in 5 starts) were also brief members of the Everett rotation.  Lewis also logged one start for Pulaski.

Transitioning back to the Appalachian League, the Pulaski club featured four pitchers with eight-or-more starts.  Thirty-sixth round right-hander John Housey (3-2, 2.62) was the most successful of that bunch, posting a 1.10 WHIP and a .194 opponent batting average.  Righty Brandon Maurer (3-4, 3.61 in 12 starts, 1 CG) and Jean Tome (3-4, 5.18 in 10 starts) put up very similar numbers. Eighth-round lefty James Gillheeney is the top draft pick of the group (8th round), but he went 0-3, 4.84 over six games, four starts.

This is a resounding theme, but with Kirkland, Anthony Vasquez, Maikel Cleto, Andres Esquibel and Jon Hesketh all possible returnees, its not for certain who might join the rotation this year.  One thing is for sure, they have their work cut out for them to match last year’s league-leading 3.35 team ERA.

Can the Pen Get Any Mightier? 

Much like the conversation on the starting rotation, it’s fairly clear that next year’s bullpen will have big shoes to fill.  Last year’s staff featured All-Stars Ruben Flores and Cheyne Hann,staehely.JPG plus solid set-up in guys like Brandon JosselynJose Jimenez, Brian Moran and Matt Renfree.

Next year’s pen might very well consist of some of the pitchers mentioned in the above section, but here’s a few more to consider.  Right-hander Christian Staehely (pictured right) went 4-2 with a pen-best 3.16 ERA in Everett, striking out 40 while walking only nine over 31.1 innings.  Pulaski right-handers Jorden Merry (40th round in ’09) and Chris Sorce (26th round in ’09) were the most serviceable relievers in an otherwise lackluster pen.  Merry led the club in saves, converting 5-of-6 in addition to his 2-1, 3.06 statline.  Sorce was 2-1, 3.45 with a save in two chances over seven outings.

Some AZL Standouts

At about this point, I’m sure you’re thinking “what about the guys in Peoria?”.  Well, many of the players listed above (Franklin, Rivero, Housey, etc.) did spend some time in the Arizona League last year.  I’ll list a few more below who could see Clinton this year.

First-baseman Rich Poythress, last year’s second-round pick and a Golden Spikes finalist while at Georgia made his pro debut in AZ and hit .300 with a HR and 6 RBI over six games.  It’s very possible Poythress’s college experience (.376, 25 HR, 86 RBI as a junior) will help him move directly to High Desert like fellow second-rounder Dennis Raben did a year ago. First-baseman Evan Sharpley, Seattle’s final draft choice in 2009 (50th round) had a nice showing over 37 games, hitting .333 with 12 doubles, 7 HR and 29 RBI.  Second-baseman Kevin Mailloux (45th round) hit .311 with 14 doubles, 5 HR and 37 RBI before a brief call-up to Everett.

On the mound, Peoria’s most impressive man was their closer.  Right-hander Jeff Breedlove went 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA and converted 10-of-12 saves.  Opponents hit just .205 against him over his 20 appearances.  In the rotation, Miguel Celestino (5-3, 4.73) and Chris Kessinger (5-3, 2.45) were the only pitchers with at least seven starts.  Kessinger was a 37th-rounder last season.       

And there you have it, my preview is complete.  Again, this is all speculation and we won’t know until early April who has actually made the 25-man roster.  Once that announcement is out, you’ll see it here and on LumberKings.com before anywhere else.  Finally, as I said at the finale of Part One, if there’s anyone I’ve overlooked, any mistakes you’ve caught or any differing opinions you might have, feel free to add your thoughts/comments.

-DL

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