Results tagged ‘ Mitch Moreland ’

Kirkman Called to Texas

kirkman.JPGVia a press release from the Texas Rangers, it is confirmed that former LumberKings’ left-hander Michael Kirkman (’06-’08) has been called up to the 25-man roster to take the place of fellow former King Derek Holland (’08), who has been sent back to triple-A Oklahoma City.

Kirkman, 23, went 13-3 with a 3.09 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 24 games with the RedHawks.  He lead the PCL in strikeouts, ranked second in wins and third in ERA at the time of the promotion. 

The fifth-round pick by Texas back in 2005, Kirkman went 0-3 with a 6.98 ERA in six outings with the Kings in 2006 before having his season ended by a hamstring injury suffered in the team’s final series ever at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, MI.  He’d return again in 2007 (0-1, 7.43 in five games, two starts) and 2008 (4-3, 4.36 in 15 games, 14 starts) before really taking off last year.  Kirkman went 4-1, 2.06 in Bakersfield and ended up in double-A Frisco by year’s end, going 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 18 starts for the RoughRiders.

Kirkman will join first-baseman Justin Smoak (Texas/Seattle), right-hander Omar Beltre (Texas) and 1B/OF Mitch Moreland (Texas) as former Clinton players to make Major League debuts this season.

EDIT:  I knew I forgot someone.  Thomas Diamond also debuted with the Chicago Cubs this year.

Kirkman will be wearing #62 and will most likely be pitching out of the bullpen.  I’ll post an update after he makes his official debut.

-DL

Diamond Debuts, Beavan Impresses in Tacoma

diamond.JPGMy apologies lately for letting a lot of LumberKings alumni news slip through the cracks, but I’ll attempt to resolve some of that right now.

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.

-DL

Moreland Goes 2-for-4 in Debut

moreland debut.JPG

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Former LumberKings’ 1B/OF Mitch Moreland is a .500 career hitter in the Major Leagues.  Ok, so it’s through one game, but still exciting.  Starting at first base and hitting in the eight spot for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, Moreland singled to right in his first big-league at-bat and added another single in a 2-for-4 game.

Check out the Rangers’ article on Moreland, including video from his first professional hit here:  http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100729&content_id=12785732&notebook_id=12785738&vkey=notebook_tex&fext=.jsp&c_id=tex

He also got the shaving cream pie to the face afterwards on what has to have been a magical night for the former 17th round pick out of Mississippi State in 2007.

To add to the excitement, the Rangers have sent down first-baseman Chris Davis, meaning that Moreland will stay with the club for the forseeable future.

On another note, I incorrectly reported yesterday that Moreland is the second former Clinton player to make a Major League debut this season.  I did leave out right-hander Omar Beltre, who made his debut with the Rangers as well this season.  Beltre pitched for the LumberKings in 2003, going 3-3 with a 2.39 ERA in 16 games, five starts.

-DL

Rangers Call Up Moreland

moreland2008.JPGWith former LumberKing Ian Kinsler hitting the 15-day disabled list today, the Texas Rangers announced the inevitable promotion of 1B/OF Mitch Moreland today.

Moreland was hitting .289 with 12 HR and 65 RBI with triple-A Oklahoma City this season, following a 2009 campaign in which he won the Rangers’ Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year Award.  With the LumberKings in 2008, Moreland hit a team-best .324 with 37 doubles, 18 HR and a league-high 99 RBI.

Mitch will become the second former Clinton player to make a Major League debut this season, following Justin Smoak.  Smoak debuted with the Rangers before being shipped to the Seattle Mariners as part of the deal for Cliff Lee.

More to follow once Moreland plays.

EDIT:  I was doing some digging through my audio archives and found my favorite Moreland highlight from 2008, his Grand Slam against Beloit on May 31.  Please excuse the crude quality, this was recorded back before I updated my recorder: 
Moreland Grand Slam 5.31 vs Beloit.mp3

-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

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):  http://rangers.scottlucas.com/site/TX100316/TX100316b.htm

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 rangers.scottlucas.com.

-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

Spring Training, Day 2

Hello once again from Arizona, this time from the computer center at my hotel in Scottsdale.  I found some free internet (although no way to hook up my digital camera) and thought I might take advantage.

No former LumberKings suited up for the Mariners today, however, Seattle did win their first Cactus League game 9-3 over San Diego.  Ryan Garko and Tommy Everidge each went yard in their Mariner debuts.  You can read the box score here.

I was nowhere near Peoria today, rather, I was checking out the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants (again) at Scottsdale Stadium.  A quick summary of my day there:  I snagged three batting practice homers without the aid of a glove (thanks, Aubrey Huff), was interviewed by a writer from the Arizona Republic for a Saturday feature and got sunburned beyond belief.  Oh yeah, and Prince Fielder got the long-awaited retalitory plunk from Barry Zito as the main highlight of a 5-3 Giants win.

Elsewhere, Mitch Moreland (’08) went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI as the Rangers pounded Kansas City, 13-3 in Surprise.  Several former Kings had a nice day at the plate, including Craig Gentry (2-for-3, 2 runs scored) and Chad Tracy (1-for-1, RBI triple, 2 runs scored).

Now, for the “this has nothing to do with baseball” news.  This evening, I attended my very first regular-season NHL game to watch my favorite team, the Colorado Avalanche take on the Phoenix Coyotes.  John-Michael Liles tied the score at 1-1 with a power-play goal in the second period, but the Coyotes won in the final seconds as the just-traded former Avs winger Wojtek Wolski beat Craig Anderson for the winner.  Deflating, but still the most fun I’ve had at a hockey game.

I will have some pictures and video of my day in Scottsdale coming up next week.  Tomorrow, it’s back to Peoria as the Mariners take on the Padres again.  The buzz will be out on the back fields as Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee are scheduled to throw simulated games.  I might get some pictures of that, if I can get close enough.  Stay tuned.

-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 

Moreland, Gentry Receive Rangers Accolades

In a press release sent out yesterday by the Texas Rangers, former LumberKings Mitch Moreland (’08) and Craig Gentry (’07) were named winners of 2009 Minor League awards.

mitch moreland.jpgMoreland (left) took home the Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year honors, hitting .331 with 16 home runs and 85 RBI in 116 games between Baksersfield and Frisco.  He then went on to hit .300 with three blasts and 12 RBI in 18 games in the Arizona Fall League.  Of course, many of you will remember Moreland’s monster 2008 in black-and-green when he hit .324 with 18 homers and 99 RBI.  He also struck out three batters over 2.0 innings as a left-handed reliever.

The speedy Gentry was named the Minor League Defender of the Year thanks to stellar defense primarily with Frisco.  He was third in the Texas League in putouts (296) and tied for eighth in outfield assists (8).  Gentry was called up to Texas in September and became the first 2007 LumberKing to reach the Majors.

Coming up in the near future on the LumberBlog, we’ll take a look at former LumberKings that are switching uniforms in 2010 (yes, others not named Jason Bay) and throw out some possible names for next year’s roster.  That’s right, content coming up!

-DL

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