Results tagged ‘ Justin Smoak ’

Four Former Kings Involved in Lee Deal

Lee Trade Players.JPG

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.

-DL

Off the Diamond: Tyler Hildreth

You haven’t seen much from the LumberBlog the last two days, and you can blame Mother
Hildreth_TylerDSC_0009(edit4x6).jpgNature.  The Kings were rained out in the finale at Peoria on Tuesday night, then saw last night’s game suspended by rain at Alliant Energy Field in the fourth inning with Quad Cities leading, 1-0.

Last night’s game resumes tonight with another seven-inning contest to follow.  Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (5-3, 3.01) will start the second game.  Read more in tonight’s Game Notes: 
7.8.10 kingsnotes.pdf

With no new player/coach to interview, I figured it’s high time to renew the “Off the Diamond” segment.  Tonight, I catch up with LumberKings’ clubhouse manager Tyler Hildreth.  A member of the staff since 2007, Hildreth has seen the likes of MLB All-Star Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak, Derek Holland and Craig Gentry pass through Clinton on their way to the Major Leagues.  He’s also a diehard Miami Heat fan and will weigh in on his excitement over the pending LeBron James decision.

Listen Here: 
Tyler Hildreth OTD Interview 7.8.10.mp3
 

The resumption of last night’s game begins at 6:00 PM with the pregame show starting at 5:45 PM.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

April 24 Game Notes

100_1745.JPGWell, due to some technical difficulties that shortened yesterday’s LumberKings Pregame Show, my interview with Seattle Mariners’ Field Coordinator Andy Stankiewicz will be airing tonight instead.  You, the loyal LumberBlog visitors, have probably already listened to it.  My apologies on having nothing new today.

However, you do get a fresh set of LumberKings Game Notes, jam-packed with notes on yesterday’s rough 5-4 loss to Kane County, the Major League debut of former LumberKing Justin Smoak, the outstanding outing of left-hander Jimmy Gillheeney and more.

Enjoy: 
4.24.10 kingsnotes.pdf

Tonight, the LumberKings look to snap a two-game losing streak with left-hander Anthony Vasquez (0-2, 1.49) on the hill.  Game time is 6:30 PM.  I promise we’ll be on the air at 6:15 this time around.

-DL

Smoak Gets the Call

smoak.JPGFormer LumberKings first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) will join the 200-plus other players that have passed through Riverview Stadium/Alliant Energy Field on their way to the big leagues.  Smoak was recalled from triple-A Oklahoma City today as Chris Davis was sent to the minors and will join the Texas Rangers to make his Major League debut.

Smoak, the Rangers’ first-round pick in ’08, is expected to be the club’s starting first baseman tonight against the Detroit Tigers.  He was hitting .300 with two HR and five RBI over 15 games with the RedHawks.

The switch-hitter started his career with the LumberKings in ’08, hitting .304 with three HR and six RBI for Mike Micucci’s club.

More on Smoak’s debut to follow here on the LumberBlog.

-DL

Three Kings to Minor League Camp

The big-league Spring experience is over for Mitch Moreland (’08), Justin Smoak (’08) and Chad Tracy (’07).  All three have been reassigned to Minor League camp by the Texas Rangers.

-DL

Cactus League Update – March 10

Stoney.JPGApparently, life goes on without me in Arizona.  Today, Clinton’s current Major League affiliate took on its old one as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Texas Rangers, 6-3 in Surprise, AZ.

No former Kings played for the Mariners, but several familiar faces saw action for Texas.  The golden right arm of Neftali Feliz (’08) surrendered four runs over 2.0 innings in relief of C.J. Wilson, ballooning his ERA to 13.50.  Not a great start for a man looking to capture a rotation spot amidst a ton of talent.  Lefty Kasey Kiker (’07) fared better, yielding only a hit over a scoreless inning.

Mitch Moreland (’08) continues to impress.  He went 2-for-4 to raise his Spring average to .357.  Craig Gentry (’07) went 0-for-1 with an RBI, Justin Smoak (’08) reached base as a pinch-hitter and scored, Chad Tracy (’07) went 0-for-2 as did Emerson Frostad (’05), and Davis Stoneburner (’08, pictured) saw his first Spring action, going 1-for-1 with an RBI single.

Cliff Lee got the win for Seattle, giving up a run on five hits over 3.0 innings.

I don’t think I’ll be able to do an Alumni Update every day as Chris Mehring does over at his Rattlers Blog, but I will attempt to post game results from time to time as my busy schedule allows.  Hey, there’s a lot going on here this time of year.  More on that for another post.

-DL

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!

-DL 

USA Baseball Honors Smoak

smoak2.jpgUSA Baseball announced today that former LumberKings’ first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) has been named the 2009 Richard W. Case Award winner.  The award is presented to USA Baseball’s Athlete of the Year and will be given to Smoak on January 29 at the Texas Rangers annual awards banquet.

Smoak tore up international competition at the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup last September, hitting .291 with 9 HR (a U.S. World Cup record) and 22 RBI.  He won the MVP award in helping Team USA capture the gold medal.

Thanks to Jake Fehling of USA Baseball for passing this press release along.

-DL

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