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6/8/16

Keep MadBum From HR Derby 

Commentary By Editor Rick Cabral 

Alright, let's quash all this talk about Madison Bumgarner appearing in the Home Run Derby.

I’m the first one to admit I am “hella” impressed with the MadBum’s superstroke with a stick. And his home runs—all 13 of ‘em—have been impressive shots, especially that one earlier this year at AT&T against Clayton Kershaw, who nearly induced whiplash watching that bomb off his rival's bat.

So, now here’s Bumgarner lobbying for selection for the All-Star Game HR Derby. And I say “no way.” 

Doesn’t anyone else spot a pattern here? 

A left-handed pitcher—one with a star-studded World Series resume— is suddenly hitting home runs with greater frequency than some of the bench players on his team. Ring a bell, babe? 

Bumgarner is turning into a modern-day version of Babe Ruth. In his first five years, he hit 11 long balls, while the Babe clubbed 20, including 11 in 1918 when he nearly doubled his innings played by sharing time in the pastures of Boston.

By age 25 Madison “Avenue” Bumgarner had made four World Series starts, pitched 36 innings, while posting a 4-0 record with that famous Game Seven save for a microscopic 0.25 earned run average. 

And the Babe’s World Series mark on the mound? In 31 innings, he was 3-0 with 0.87 ERA. 

Ruth's Red Sox won three World Series titles (1915, '16, '18) as did Bumgarner's Giants (2010, '12, '14).

Are the parallels here not obvious? 

So, if Bumgarner participates in this year’s Derby, and puts on a show like he did in St. Louis last week during batting practice, hitting ‘em where only Mark McGwire could, what can we expect next: browbeating Bochy into letting him start in right field occasionally ahead of the new kid.

And if that happens, and the home runs start coming in bunches, like Ruth will he demand a permanent spot in the outfield and give up pitching? 

And subsequent demands for spicier frankfurters and larger paychecks might drive Brian Sabean into shaving his beard and trading the Giants’ star to their biggest rival.

And then the Dodgers begin an unprecedented series of trips to the World Series, while our forlorn Gigantes turn into the league doormat and never return to the Fall Classic for 80-sumpin’ years.

No, I couldn’t handle that. 

So, let’s put a stop to this MadBum in the Home Run Derby business while there’s time. Please. 


6/8/16

Pro Notes

 Davis,JD

Elk Grove's J.D. Davis  was selected as Texas League Player of the Month for May. The Astros minor-league third baseman collected nine home runs, nine doubles and 25 RBI last month for the Corpus Christi Hooks. He also posted a 12-game hitting streak during that time and hit three home runs in one game.

Davis, 23, was picked in the third round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Cal State Fullerton.

~ ~ ~

Pitcher Brennan Leitao (Sacramento State) of the Peoria Chiefs has been selected to the Midwest League Western Division All-Star team. The 22-year-old right hander is 3-5 with a 2.58 earned run average. He has 51 strikeouts to 11 walks in 58.1 innings pitched.

Leitao was selected in the 26th Round of the 2015 draft by St. Louis after becoming the winningest pitcher in Hornets history with 31 victories from 2012-2015.




4/7/16

Locals Make Top Prospects List By MLB.Com.

A new crop of prospects who played high school and/or college ball in the greater Sacramento area is rising through the ranks of major league baseball organizations.
The official website of Major League Baseball—MLB.com— has selected the Top 30 Prospects for each club, and they include eight local talents.

The first thing that stands out is that four of the eight played for Jeff Carlson, head coach at Elk Grove High, including J. D. Davis, Dom Nunez, Rowdy Tellez and Derek Hill. Nunez is the only one on this list to also be included in the rankings’ per position: Dom is ranked as the No.7 catching prospect among all organizations.

Andrew Knapp, the Granite Bay prepster who was drafted out of Cal three seasons ago, is now playing at the highest level, Triple-A International League.

Surprisingly, this group includes only one pitcher: Brady Dragmire, who prepped at Bradshaw Christian.

Here are the local products per their parent organization, organizational ranking as designated by MLB.com, current team, league and level. To visit their player bio, click on the player’s name.

 

 

Player

School

MLB

Team

Team
Rank

Pos

2016 Team

League

Level

Tellez,
Rowdy

Elk Grove High

Toronto

8

1b

New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Eastern

Double-A

Nunez,
Dom

Elk Grove High

Colorado

9

C

Modesto Nuts

California

Single-A Adv.

Knapp, Andrew

Granite Bay High /Cal

Philadelphia

9

C

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs

International

Triple-A

Hoskins,
Rhys

Jesuit /
Sac State

Philadelphia

20

1b

Reading
Fightin’ Phils

Eastern

Double-A

Hill,
Derek

Elk Grove High

Detroit

3

OF

West Michigan Whitecaps

Midwest

Single-A

Dubon, Mauricio

Capital Christian

Boston

12

SS/2b

Salem Red Sox

Carolina

Single-A Adv.

Dragmire, Brady

Bradshaw Christian

Toronto

17

RHP

New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Eastern

Double-A

Davis,
J.D.

Elk Grove High

Houston

12

3b

Corpus Christi Hooks

Texas

Double-A

 


3/30/16

Pro Notes

Mauricio Dubon (Capital Christian) was just spotted in a Red Sox spring training game on television against the Pirates. Dubon struck out three times today, but in his previous three at bats he has hit safely, bringing his spring training average to an even .500.

Dubon, a shortstop in high school, was drafted by Boston in the 26th Round of the 2013 MLB amateur draft. In just his second full season of professional ball last year, Mauricio hit a combined .288 at Single-A Greenville of the Sally League (where he was a mid-season All-Star) and Salem of the Carolina League.


1/06/16

Griffey and Piazza Selected to Baseball Hall of Fame

by Editor Rick Cabral

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame today.

Griffey set an all-time new record with 99-percent of the 440 votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. 

Their selections also created two new marks: Griffey is the first-ever overall number one draft selection (1987) picked for the prestigious HOF, while Piazza—plucked in the 62nd Round by the Los Angeles Dodgers—is by far the lowest draft selection ever to make the Hall of Fame.

Over his 22-year career with the Mariners, Reds and White Sox, Griffey posted sterling numbers and huge accomplishments. He was a 13-time All-Star selection, won 10 consecutive American League Gold Glove Awards– tied for the second-highest total among all center fielders – and seven Silver Slugger Awards. In 1997 he was tabbed AL MVP, as well as the All-Star Game MVP in 1992. Griffey currently ranks sixth in baseball history with 630 home runs and is among the game’s greats in total bases (13th) and runs batted in (15th). His lifetime offensive numbers included .284 batting average and .907 OPS (On-base Plus Slugging). 

In the field, Griffey was a virtual highlight reel in center field. He finished among baseball’s top 20 center fielders in defensive games played (fourth), putouts (sixth) and assists (12th).  

He twice led Seattle to the playoffs (1995, 1997) and played on the White Sox’ playoff club at age 38. The one blemish on his Hall of Fame career—Griffey never played in a World Series. 

By contrast, Piazza played in one World Series, a losing effort to the Yankees in 2000 when he was with the Mets. In all, the strapping catcher competed in the playoffs five seasons. 

In 1993, he made the Dodgers club, was selected NL Rookie of the Year and named to the National League All-Star roster, the first of six consecutive honors. Piazza played 16 seasons with five different clubs. Known as the finest offensive catcher all time, he posted a .308 lifetime batting average while hitting 427 home runs, 396 of which were most ever by a major league catcher. Overall, Piazza was a 12-time All-Star and earned 10 Silver Slugger Awards.

Jeff Bagwell (71.6%), Tim Raines (69.8%) and first balloter Trevor Hoffman (67.3%) were just a few votes shy or gaining entry into the HOF. Experts believe Bagwell and Raines will make it next year (Raines’ final year of eligibility), and Hoffman’s strong showing in his first ballot suggest he could go in next year as well.

Although Rogers Clemens (45%) and Barry Bonds (44%) each received seven-percent more votes than last year, they finished well short of the 75-percent threshold.  


New “Sheriff” to Manage River Cats in 2016 

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA – “ There’s a new sheriff’s in town,” so goes the news release from the Sacramento River Cats today. 

By “sheriff” they mean new manager José Alguacil who is making his Triple-A managerial debut by joining the River Cats. 

A Venezuelan native, Alguacil (pronounced “All-gwah-seal” and which translates to “sheriff” in English) joins the River Cats after one season with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. During the 2015 campaign with Richmond, Alguacil, otherwise known as “Auggie,” led the Squirrels to a 72-68 (.514) record and a third place finish in the Eastern League’s Western Division.  

Alguacil, 43, made his managerial debut last season with the 2015 Richmond Flying Squirrels. Prior to managing the Squirrels, he worked as a Roving Instructor for eight seasons with the San Francisco Giants. Alguacil also served as the organization’s Coordinator of Infield Instruction during the 2014 season. The former infielder began his coaching career in 2002 with the Montreal Expos, also as a minor league instructor, and coached briefly at the Major League level with the Washington Nationals toward the end of the 2005 season.  

Joining him are hitting coach Damon Minor and returning pitching coach Dwight Bernard. LJ Petra returns as the team’s Athletic Trainer while new Strength and Conditioning Coach Adam Vish rounds out the club’s 2016 field staff.   

As a player, Alguacil spent nine seasons – from 1993 to 2001 – in the Minor Leagues. Primarily an infielder, Alguacil played mostly in the Giants organization, but reached Triple-A with the White Sox in 2000.  

Minor, 41, joins the River Cats after five consecutive seasons with the New Orleans Zephyrs. During his time with New Orleans, Minor oversaw an offense that averaged a .260 batting average and more than 120 home runs a season, including a franchise-best 153 homers in 2012.  

 


11/6/15

NATIONALS’ NEW SKIPPER BAKER
CHARMS THE SOCKS OFF MEDIA

Eddie Matz, ESPN Senior Writer 

WASHINGTON -- If you subscribe to the philosophy that the personality of a baseball team reflects the personality of its manager, then the Washington Nationals will be a completely different team under Dusty Baker than they were under Matt Williams. That’s because Baker is the complete opposite of Williams. 

For starters, he has a pulse. 

 

 Baker_Nationals

Dusty Baker happily shows off his new Nationals jersey, as general manager Mike Rizzo looks on. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports


We know this because Baker is a human being. And we know that because he made it abundantly clear during his introductory news conference at Nationals Park on Thursday. 

In the same interview room where the closed-off Williams repeatedly sat stone-faced night after night, crushing loss after crushing loss, and spewed robotic clichés about having a game to win tomorrow -- the same space where barely more than a month ago, the former Nationals manager sat down following his team’s elimination and with a straight face said, “It was a good night for everyone” -- Baker was more open than John Wall coming off a double screen from Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries

He talked about love, family and being a black man. He talked about being a product of divorce and growing up without grandparents. He referred to himself as “International Bakey” and admitted that he sometimes takes managerial advice from his 16-year-old son. He joked, smiled and laughed his way through the interview, revealing his human side more times in 35 minutes than Williams did during the entire 2015 season. 

A breath of fresh air? Baker was more like a walking, talking thousand-gallon hyperbaric chamber filled with oxygen imported straight from the Rocky Mountains. 

When he slipped into a crisp white Nationals jersey for a photo opportunity (he’ll wear the same No. 12 that he wore throughout his entire 19-year playing career), Baker mugged for the cameras, turning and sashaying as if he were on a Paris runway. “My mom used to model,” he quipped, an army of photographers capturing each and every pose while a room jam-packed with reporters busted out in laughter. 

( Click here to read the full story at ESPN

{Editor's Note: Washington's gain may be Sacramento's loss. Notably that of the La Salle Clubwhich had planned to induct Baker at its upcoming Baseball Hall of Fame banquet February 13. Since pitchers and catchers report February 18, Baker likely will have headed to spring training camp in Florida and forced to miss induction into "Sacramento's Baseball Hall of Fame" as chairman Joe McNamara likes to call it.}


10/27/15

Sacramento Remembers Baseball Legend,
Longtime Scout Ron King

It is with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the death of Ron King, a native Sacramentan and long-time baseball man,who passed at age 87. 

Toni, his daughter, said her father died in his sleep, just as her mother Betty did last year.

King began his career in the Sacramento recreational leagues, joining a team in the competitive National Division of the Winter League at age 14 as a catcher, his prime position. King was the backstop for Christian Brothers High, which posted a 16-0 record his junior season. “And that wasn’t even our best team,” he told this reporter in one of our many conversations.

In 1947, Cleveland signed him out of high school and he played four seasons in the Indians organization, rising to “A” ball in 1953. The following year he caught for the hometown Sacramento Solons, and compiled a .231 aggregate batting average during his eight years in professional ball.

Later, he scouted for Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, becoming a cross-checker for both organizations.

For a complete biography of King’s career, go here to our Spotlight section for the feature we wrote on Mr. King. 

 

 

 King_Camilli
King (right) with Indians coach Dolph Camilli.
(courtesy of the Ron King Collection)

Friends and associates remember King with great fondness.



Harry Dunlop, a few years younger and also a catcher, played against King in the Winter League in the 1950s and as a member of the La Salle Club Baseball Hall of Fame and “Over the Hill Gang,” associated with King for all of their adult lives.

“He was always a good friend,” Dunlop remembers. “A lot of good times talking with Ronnie about baseball.”

Dunlop, who spent 50 years in professional baseball, first as a player, then later as a minor league manager and major league coach, recalled that every spring Dodgers catcher Steve Scioscia credited King with showing him the finer points of the backstop position during the Dodgers’ Instructional League training before he made the majors. Scioscia just completed his 16th season managing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“Butch” Metzger, the fireballer from Kennedy High, recalls that King was one of the first scouts to hand him a card “ showing an interest in me as a junior in high school. I thought that was the coolest thing on the planet,” Metzger says today.

Cleveland Indians scout Don Lyle felt a great bond with King, who was one of the few scouts to "...come down into the 'neighborhood' to watch us play," Lyle recalled of his time at Sacramento High (he graduated in 1972). After Lyle's playing career with the Cincinnati Reds had ended, King provided the young scout with sage advice about the profession.

Lyle loves to tell how when all the scouts congregated behind the backstop and trained their radar guns on a pitching prospect or watched a young hitter intently, King often turned his back to the game to continue a conversation. And after a stunning play on the field, someone would tease the dean of the fraternity, saying "'You missed that one, Ronnie.' Sure enough, he'd tell 'em what had just happened on the field--he was watching. Ronnie never missed a thing out there," Lyle remembered fondly.

Cuno Barragan, another professional catcher to come out of Sacramento in the 1940s and ‘50s, was a lifelong friend of King's. When asked for his favorite memory, Barragan clearly remembers a Winter League at William Land Park in the early 1950s when he was just a JC prospect at Sacramento City. Cuno attempted to throw out a runner stealing second base and the ball sailed into center field. After the inning was over, King—who was standing behind the backstop—called Barragan over from the drinking fountain.

King asked Cuno how he gripped the ball when he threw down to second base. “I just grab it and throw it,” he said.

King suggested he adopt the simple driill every day in practice of finding the ball in his glove, placing his two fingers across the seams before throwing it, to provide better control. “Keep practicing this, and it’ll become automatic,” King advised him.

Heeding the older catcher’s advice, Barragan “never had a ball sail on me like that again,” he said. Barragan played three seasons for the Chicago Cubs (1961-63), and like King caught for the Solons in 1957, 1959 and 1960.

Just last Thursday, Cuno called up his old friend to inquire how he was feeling. Barragan thanked King for his lifelong friendship and concluded the conversation by telling King, “I love you, Ronnie!”

Lots of people throughout this area loved and respected Ron King, who will go down as one of the greatest baseball men this town has ever known.

RIP – Ron King.

Note: A rosary will be held for Ron King on Sunday 6 p.m. at Klump's Funeral Home, and the Mass of Christian burial follows on Monday 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Assumption.


10/2/15

Pro News

Despite Down Season, Giants Place 3 Among Top 10 Defenders 

San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford led all National League players—and all shortstops in the major leagues—in the final SABR Defensive Index rankings for the 2015 regular season. 

The Giants placed three players in the Top 10 among National Leaguers in this sabermetric defensive statistic. 

The SABR Defensive Index (SDI) is used to help select the winners of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award® and Rawlings Platinum Glove Award™, presented by SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research.

Crawford’s mark of 16.8 topped all National League players with Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado second with a 13.2 mark, followed by Miami shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria with a 11.6 score. 

Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier led all players by a wide margin with a 26.7 score. Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado finished second in the American League with a 12.4 mark.

This is the final in-season update of the SDI rankings (through games to September 13) and includes all 2015 qualifiers who will appear on the Rawlings Gold Glove Award ballot sent to managers and coaches.

Giant first baseman Brandon Belt finished third among National Leaguers—and tops among all at that position—with a 11.1 score. San Francisco catcher Buster Posey’s 9.7 mark led all NL catchers, and placed him seventh overall in the NL.

To date, Crawford has made just 13 errors for a .979 fielding percentage, career bests in both categories for the fifth-year player. The 28-year-old player was elected to his first All-Star game this season.

The SABR Defensive Index draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts.

The three metrics representing batted ball data include Defensive Runs Saved from Baseball Info Solutions, Ultimate Zone Rating developed by noted sabermetrician Mitchel Lichtman, and Runs Effectively Defended based on STATS Zone Rating and built by SABR Defensive Committee member Chris Dial. The two metrics included in the SDI originating from play-by-play data are Defensive Regression Analysis, created by committee member Michael Humphreys, and Total Zone Rating. 

The SABR Defensive Index accounts for approximately 25 percent of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process that was added to the votes from the managers and coaches.

(Compiled from SABR News Release)


9/25/15

Bos Cool On Way to NL Wild Card Playoff

 Bosio_Cubs

Chris Bosio (Cordova High / Sacramento City College) appeared on the MLB.tv program High Heat this morning just prior to the Chicago Cubs opener of a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

To begin the day, the Bucs were 3.5 games ahead of Chicago in the National League Wild Card race, and this weekend's series may prove whether the Cubbies can catch Pittsburgh for the coveted top spot in the the Wild Card race, which yields home-field advantage in the sudden-death environment.

Asked how he planned to handle the pitching staff in these final 10 games Bosio calmly replied "Everybody in a uniform has to be available (to pitch). It's all hands on deck, whatever it takes to win a game.

"We're playing every game to win. That's the difference with what we had in the past."

Bosio spoke admiringly of first-year skipper Joe Maddon, whose club has improved its winning percentage this year by .135, leading all major league teams in turn-around over 2014.

Bosio is in his fourth season as the Cubs' pitching coach and this marks the fourth major league staff on which he has served.

In 11 big league seasons with Milwaukee and Seattle, he posted a 94-93 record with a 3.96 earned run average. While pitching for the Mariners in 1993, Bosio tossed a no-hitter against Boston.

After retirement in the late 1990s, Bosio returned home and operated a baseball faciliity in El Dorodo Hills, while also providing instruction and coaching of youth travel teams.

Then he began a collegiate coaching career, which transitioned to the professional ranks.

One afternoon at Raley Field, with Nashville in town and the Sounds manager tossed out of the game, Bosio--the pitching coach-- had assumed the reins. The Sounds were murdering the ball that afternoon, while the 'Cats meekly licked their paws in a poor performance. At one point, with the stadium crowd in a hush, a spectator yelled out, "Hey, Bos! What did you feed your hitters this morning?"

After a slight hestiation, Bosio's voice boomed from the visitor's dugout, 'Beer!"

Concluding the High Heat interview, Bosio offered " I really believe our best baseball is still coming."

~ ~ ~

Game Update: Pirates 3, Cubs 2

Jon Lester and Gerrit Cole battled through 7 innings at Wrigley Field this afternoon, but the Pirates' pitching was a smidge better to take the first of a three-game series, 3-2.

Cole (18-8) allowed four hits, one earned run and struck out eight while posting the win. Lester (10-12), who began the season as Chicago's ace, tossed a strong outing, allowing five hits, 2 ER, while fanning six.

Pittsburgh improved to 94-60, while Chicago dropped to 89-64 and now trail in the Wild Card race by 4.5 games with nine to play.


8/25/15

Hoskins Earns Offensive Player of the Week in FSL

 

 Hoskins_Clearwater

Rhys Hoskins (Jesuit/Sacramento State) posted a .321 batting average in seven games for Clearwater, going 9-for-28 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and 10 RBI to earn Florida State League Offensive Player of the Week honors.

The first baseman is batting .304 with seven home runs and 34 RBI since being promoted from the Phillies' Single-A Advanced Lakewood team where he earned midseason All-Star honors.

For the season, Hoskins' aggregate batting record is .314, 34 doubles and 85 RBI.

A fifth round draft pick last year by Philadelphia, Rhys was signed by local area scout, Joey Davis.


8/17/15

Pro News Update

Well that didn't take long.

One day after Andrew Susac hit the game winner for Sacramento the Giants  reactivated the rookie catcher who joined the team in St. Louis and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup for tonight's game against the Cards.

After injuring his right thumb in a head-first slide into third base, Susac missed 26 games with the Giants.

In just three rehab assignments (one with Single-A San Jose and two with Sacramento), Susac went 6-for-22 with a double, two home runs and four runs batted in.

To make room for the Roseville Rifle, the Giants optioned Hector Sanchez back to the River Cats.

Pro News

The River Cats won their 7th consecutive game last night 3-2 against the Round Rock Express thanks to catcher Andrew Susac's solo home run in the 8th inning that proved to be the game winner.

Susac, (Roseville High/Oregon State) went 2-for-4 and scored two of Sacramento's runs.

The Giants' backup catcher is completing a rehab assignment after injuring his right thumb in a sliding incident one month ago. He was hitting .241 with three home runs and 11 runs batted in.


7/19/15

Pro News

Susac Placed on 15-Day DL Following Thumb Sprain

Giants' reserve catcher Andrew Susac (Jesuit/Oregon State) today was placed on the 15-day disabled list after sustaining a sprained right thumb while sliding into third base Saturday following his triple against the Diamondbacks.

For more on the story, continue here to MLB News.

~ ~ ~

Dodgers Pick-UP Guilmet, Assign Him to OKC 

The Los Angeles Dodgers last week claimed RHP Preston Guilmet (Oakmont High/Arizona) and assigned him to Oklahoma City, their Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.

The Dodgers are Guilmet's third organization this season. He compiled a 1.84 earned run average in 23 combined  appearances for Triple-A Buffalo (Toronto) and Durham (Tampa Bay) before the All-Star break. After pitching five seasons for Cleveland (which drafted him in 2009) he was traded to the Orioles in 2014.  

Overall, Guilmet is 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in 17 major league appearances beginning with Cleveland in 2013, Baltimore last year, and Tampa Bay this season.


7/13/15

Local Pro Roundup 

Duvall Heating Up In Time for Triple-A All-Star Game 

Despite the hometown ‘Cats losing another one yesterday to the Grizzlies, Adam Duvall continues to shine at the plate. Duvall, who will represent Sacramento in the Triple-A All-Star Game Wednesday, went 2-for-4 with his 21st double. Since the start of July, Duvall is hitting .353 (18-for-51) with 4 homers, 4 doubles, 11 RBIs, and 10 runs scored. 

On Saturday the slugger had a 3-home run game, the first of his pro career to tie a River Cats record for most homers in one game. Duvall now leads the PCL with 20 round trippers. 

~ ~ ~ 

Here Come The Judge 

 

Judge Safe

 Aaron Judge #99 returns to first base just before World Team catcher Gary Sanchez applies the tag. Judge, who reached safely on an error, turned inside with thoughts of running to second base. Deciding against the move, he had to hustle to to make it back to the bag in time in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at the Great American Ball Park on July 12, 2015 in Cincinnati.
(Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images) 


Aaron Judge—representin’ the Sac-Joaquin section— yesterday started in the Futures All-Star Game for Team USA, which triumphed 10-1 over the World Team. The Yankees 6’7” farmhand was the team’s designated hitter, going 1-for-4 in the contest. 


Highlights of the contest included Cubs’ catcher Kyle Schwarber’s two-run triple in the third inning to push USA in front 3-1; Mets’ outfielder Michael Conforto’s perfect throw to nail a World runner at the plate Conforto (who last year played twice in Sacramento versus the hometown Hornets) also had a pair of hits; and Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell’s two-run homer with Judge on base. 

Judge, a three-time All-Western Athletic Conference player at Fresno State University, was a first-round draft pick by the New York Yankees in 2013. He is currently playing for Tampa, in the Advanced “A” Florida League. For the season (he started the year in Single-A Charleston) Judge is hitting .308 with 17 home runs and 78 RBI.  

~ ~ ~ 

Susac Homers in Giants 4-2 Win Over Philadelphia 

Andrew Susac, the Roseville Rifle, yesterday knocked a two-run homer in the Giants’ 4-2 win over the Phillies, his third of the season.  

Susac has gotten loads of playing time the past few weeks as Buster Posey rests or plays first base, as he did yesterday. The Giants swept the Fightin’ Phils at AT&T Park.


6/23/15

Pro News

Agosta Tabbed Cal League Pitcher of the Week

San Francisco Giant farmhand Martin Agosta was selected Pitcher of the Week for the California League. Agosta, (Jesuit/ St. Mary’s College), who was taken in the 2nd Round of the 2012 draft, has pitched in both as a starter and reliever this year. According to Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com, although he’s performed better in relief, his start for San Jose Friday against Inland Empire might merit more opportunities to open in the future. Here his report:

Martin Agosta, San Jose

(1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 9 K)
{ The 24-year-old right-hander's gem at home, during which he struck out a season-high nine, was his first scoreless start of the season and lowered his ERA from 6.36 to 5.53. Despite that high number, Agosta has still averaged 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings this season, and his 2.5 BB/9 rate is down precipitously from the 7.9 he put up for San Jose a season ago. His splits are better as a reliever this season (1.53 ERA, 1.19 WHIP vs. 7.50 and 1.46 as a starter), but the 6-foot-1 hurler likely earned himself a few more starts with his latest performance.
}


6/15/15

Pro News

Cain Thrills Sacramento Fans in First Triple-A Start at Raley Field

by Editor Rick Cabral

 

Matt Cain pitched at Raley Field tonight against the Fresno Grizzlies.

A large Monday night crowd of 9,497 Sacramento fans welcomed Matt Cain, a three-time World Champion and three-time All-Star, to his first Triple-A rehab start as a River Cat. Predictably, the performance came with mixed results. 


San Francisco placed Cain on the disabled list on April 7 with a strained right flexor tendon. He hadn’t pitched in a big league game since July 9, 2014. Just after that game, the 6’3” righthander underwent elbow surgery to remove bone chips. He missed the balance of the Giants’ third world championship season.

This spring, after a few starts in Arizona, he developed tightness in his elbow, prompting San Francisco to place him on the Disabled List right before Opening Day. 

This evening against the Fresno Grizzlies, Cain gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) in three and one-third innings.  

He displayed effective command, fanning seven while walking two with a low-90s fastball and a smattering of breaking pitches and changeups.

While Cain seemed slimmer than his reported 230 pounds, he appeared to throw without any difficulties in just his second live rehab start (he last pitched for the Giants’ Double-A Richmond team). 

In the first inning, leadoff hitter Tony Kemp singled on the second pitch. While in the stretch, Cain proceeded to strike out the side.  

In the Grizzlies’ second, after L.J. Hoes singled, River Cats’ second baseman Kevin Frandsen muffed a double-play ball and both runners were safe. After one out, Max Stassi (Yuba City High) came to bat, and the Grizzlies’ attempted a double steal. Cain wild pitched to the backstop and catcher Hector Sanchez took his time retrieving the ball, allowing Hoes to steamroll around third and scamper home with the game’s first run; one of the few times you’ll see a runner steal two bases and score. 

In Fresno’s third inning, Cain (0-1) ran into trouble after retiring the first two batters. Matt Duffy (no, the Giants didn’t trade their third baseman) homered onto the visitor’s clubhouse roof to give Fresno a 2-0 lead.

Three straight singles by Jon Singleton, Hoes and Alex Presley knocked in the Grizzlies’ third run. A walk to Robbie Grossman loaded the bases, prompting a coaching visit to the mound. Stassi then crushed the next pitch where it was hauled in near the top of the left field wall, narrowly missing a Grand Slam for the stocky catcher who starred in Sacramento high school games.

Cain came out for the fourth inning, struck out Nolan Fontana, threw two more balls and then left the game after reaching his predetermined "pitch count." Cain threw 74 pitches, 47 for strikes. 

Meantime, former River Cat and Oakland Athletic Dan Straily was dealing for the Grizzlies. Through three innings he no-hit the home team. In the fourth, Travis Ishikawa (who received the loudest applause next to Cain) doubled to left field. But Sanchez then flew out to center, ending the River Cats’ rally.

Straily tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits, two walks while striking out seven.

Last July Oakland sent Straily to Chicago as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade. He pitched just 13 innings for the Cubs, compiling an 0-1 mark, and spent the rest of the season with Iowa, their Triple-A affiliate. In January, Chicago sent Straily and Luis Valbuena to Houston for Dexter Fowler.

In the River Cats' eighth inning, a Ehire Adrianza single and error by the Grizzlies' right fielder resulted in three runs, closing the gap to 6-3. That ended up being the final score.

With tonight's win over the River Cats (29-36), Straily's record improves at Fresno (39-25) to 5-5.


6/13/15

Pro News

Stassi Earns First Win As Pro 

Brock Stassi (Nevada U / Yuba City High) had one of those rare performances for a minor leaguer: he enjoyed a great day at the plate. 

And an equally effective time on the mound for Double-A Reading.  

Stassi, a former pitcher at Nevada University, hasn’t pitched much since he signed a pro contract. But on Thursday night the first baseman was called to the mound in the 16th inning of a tie ballgame. Stassi threw three innings of no-hit, shutout ball to earn his first-ever victory as a minor league pitcher in the 8-7 win.

The former Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2010 has been summoned to the mound four previous times in his minor league career, and has yet to give up a run.

"This was the first time for me pitching in a competitive setting [as a pro]. The other times were all blowouts, so it was fun to be competing,” Stassi told Josh Jackson of MiLB.com. “Being back on the mound side of the game, it took my back to my college days when I was starting. I love to compete, so it was a lot of fun."

Perhaps more impressive was his offensive contribution. Stassi went 4-for-8 with two runs batted in. 

Stassi, the older brother of Max (Houston Astros) and Jake Stassi (Long Beach State/Sac State) was drafted by Philadelphia in the 33rd Round of the 2011 MLB draft.


5/10/15

Heard about the Pirates first-of-a-kind triple play? 

In the second inning of yesterday's game at PNC Park between the Cardinals and Pirates, St. Louis batter Jhonny Peralta walked and took third on Justin Hayward's double. With no out, Yadier Molina hit a screecher to right field. But second baseman Neil Walker snagged the line drive and seeing Peralta, who originally bolted for home, retreating back to the bag, fired to third base in time for the second out.

Meanwhile, Hayward was lost in no man's land, as Pirates' third baseman Jung Ho Kang fired back to Walker, who stepped on second base for a 4-5-4 triple play--the first of its kind in major league history.

And the Pittsburgh pitcher watching in amazement? Right-hander Vance Worley, the McClatchy standout. 

The 7-5 victory over the Cardinals was the first this season for the Bucs.


5/6/15

Baggarly Holding Book Signing Friday at Limelight Bar and Cafe

Andrew Baggarly, author and columnist for the San Jose Mercury-News, is holding a book signing this Friday from 5-7 at The Limelight.

Baggs’ new book Giant Splash is  “a greatest hits book of the most memorable games in 15 seasons at AT&T Park.” He’ll be signing copies of this work ($25 cash) and paperback copies of his 2011 release A Band of Misfits ($13 cash) regarding the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.

“If you already have one or both books, by all means bring them along and I’ll be happy to sign those as well,” Baggarly wrote this weekend on his blog, “ExtraBaggs.”

Baggarly is a multi-platform journalist who has covered the San Francisco Giants the past 11 seasons for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the San Jose Mercury News and Oakland Tribune.



3/23/15

HOF SPORTSWRITER NICK PETERS -- Dead at 75

Longtime sportswriter Nick "The Greek" Peters passed away today of complications from a Parkinsons related disease, we learned today.

In 2012, we had the delightful privilege of interviewing and profiling Peters for this web site. Following is the feature-length article.

 

SAGE SCRIBE OCCUPIES SEAT IN GREAT HALL   

Peters_Nick_HOF
Nick Peters in Cooperstown where he received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. Credit: Rick Lewis


Not many Northern California sports writers of the past fifty years could lay claim to covering the San Francisco Giants in the 1962 and 2002 World Series, the first Super Bowl, the Warriors NBA championship, the Raiders two Super Bowl victories, and then cap off such a career with the penultimate achievement: induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009. 

But Nick Peters can.  

(continue to the Spotlight feature on Nick Peters)


11/24/14

Sandoval Waves Goodbye to World Champs--Heads to Boston
King Projects Posey at Third Base

by Editor Rick Cabral

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the Giants "Kung-Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval has accepted an offer from the Boston Red Sox (five years for approximately $100 million), an amount and term comparable to what San Francisco is reported to have offered their two-time All-Star third baseman.

While projecting Sandoval’s departure didn’t require a necromancer’s foresight, former Pirates and Dodgers cross-checker Ronnie King last week not only predicted it, but also believes that Buster Posey will move to the hot corner to replace Sandoval, and that Roseville native Andrew Susac (Jesuit and Oregon State) will move from backup to starting catcher.

Quite a prediction. 

“He’ll be the catcher next year for them,” King said by telephone last week. (Posey’s) gonna play third.” Reminded that the Giants denied future plans to shift their MVP player to a corner infield position right after the World Series, the former scout offered, “They denied it, but that’s what’s going to happen. They’ve got to get Susac in the lineup. Every big league club is asking for him in a trade.”

King, a Triple-A catcher in his day with the Indians organization and the dean of area scouts, doesn’t much favor Posey behind the dish, finding flaws in his footwork. King, however, credits Buster with running the ballclub’s pitching staff “real well,” and appreciates his offensive production in the Giants’ middle of the order.

Back to Susac, the Roseville Rifle played well after his May 22nd call-up from the Fresno Grizzlies to replace then backup catcher Hector Sanchez, who left the team with concussion injuries. Susac spelled Posey for the remainder of the season while posting a .273 batting average with three home runs and 19 runs batted in. Defensively he played error-free through 195 innings, and compiled a 32-percent caught-stealing percentage in 25 attempts.

During the playoffs, Susac saw limited action, batting one-for-four in four games. 

By comparison, during the regular season Posey posted a .994 fielding percentage and threw out 25 base runners to post a .298 caught-stealing percentage. He batted .311 with 22 homers and 89 runs batted in, garnering his second Silver Slugger award.

Susac is just one of three local catchers known to have played in the World Series. The others are Brooklyn’s Bruce Edwards (1947 and 1949) and Boston Braves’ Bill Salkeld (1948), both from Sacramento High.  

Edwards a two-time All-Star, hit .241 in two World Series appearances with the Dodgers. In his rookie season in 1946 he posted a remarkable 54-percent caught-stealing percentage, nabbing 25 of 46 base runners.

In the 1948 World Series, Salkeld hit a home run off Bob Feller of Cleveland to tie the score in the sixth inning as the Boston Braves took Game 5, but lost the series to the Indians in six games. 

Susac, who just concluded his rookie season, is looking forward to more opportunities to play in the Fall Classic. Check out these BaseballSacramento.com articles covering Andrew's career here and here.

Look for a cover story on Susac by Steve Martarano in the February 2015 issue of Comstock’s Magazine. 


 

2014 World Series

10/29/14

Bumgarner Preserves Game 7 As Giants Take Series With 3-2 Victory Over Royals

Move over Eric Clapton--Madison Bumgarner is God.

The Giants win their 3rd World Series in five years as Madison Bumgarner comes out of the bullpen to pitch five shutout innings and preserve the 3-2 win in one of the greatest nailbiters in Game 7 history.

The Giants becomes just the first team since 1979 to win Game 7 on the road, joining the Pittsburgh Pirates for that distinction.

Bumgarner came on in relief in the fifth inning--on only two days rest--allowed an immediate single, then didn't allow another base runner until the electric ninth inning.

With two outs in the ninth inning, and Royals fans on their feet cheering, exhorting their team to tie the game, Alex Gordon nearly made their dreams come true. He singled to left-center field and as Gregor Blanco charged the fly ball, he allowed the ball to scoot past him and rolled all the way to the wall. Gordon stopped at third base, but it appeared he could have scored.

The MadBum got the next hitter Salvador Perez to pop out to Pablo Sandoval in foul territory to secure the win, the Giants 12th in this unbelievable wild card run through the postseason.

For his Herculean accomplishment, Bumgarner won the Most Valuable Player award.

Jeremy Affeldt relieved Tim Hudson in the second inning--the earliest he had come out of the pen since joining the Giants relief staff--and earned the victory with 2.1 innings of one-hit ball.

In his third World Series appearance this season, Bumgarner lowered his career earned run average to 0.25, best ever for a pitcher with 25+ innings in the Fall Classic.

After the game catcher Buster Posey told FOX reporter Erin Andrews: "I just can't say enough about how hard it is to do what (Bumgarner) did, pitch five innings on two days rest. It's incredible," Posey marvelled about his star pitcher.

The Giants became just the sixth Wild Card team to win the World Series, and just the first road team to lose Game 6 and win Game 7 since the Cincinnati Reds took the 1975 Fall Classic from Boston.

For Bruce Bochy, this World Series title matches the record he now shares with New York Giants manager who also won three world championship titles.


10/28/14

Game Six:
Royals Force Game 7 With 10-0 Blowout At Home

Kansas City exploded for seven runs in the second inning, while starting pitcher Yordano Ventura threw seven shutout innings to lead Kansas City to a 10-0 win, forcing a Game 7 tomorrow night at the 2014 World Series.

Ventura dominated the Giants lineup, allowing just three hits in his second strong start in the 2014 World Series. The young right-hander threw 100 pitches on the night, two-thirds of which were clocked at 95 mph or faster.

Giants starter Jake Peavy who owned a 7.05 postseason ERA coming into the game, didn't get out of the second inning, as the Royals ripped his offerings like it was batting practice.

Susac
Catcher Andrew Susac replaced Buster Posey in tonight's Game Six of the World Series.

The lone highlight on this night for Sacramento fans was the appearance of Andrew Susac (Jesuit/Oregon State), who took over for Buster Posey at catcher in the 7th inning. The Roseville Rifle quietly rode the bench all series. In the 8th inning, Susac flew out to center field in his lone at bat.

If this one had been a college game, they would have ended it after 7 innings due to the Mercy Rule. The way the Giants swung the bats tonight, they might just as well have ended it there, too. The Bay Boys garnered six hits total. In the Giants previous two games--both wins--they scored 16 runs on 28 hits.

Scheduled starters for tomorrow night's Game Seven are San Franciso's 39-year-old Tim Hudson and Jeremy Guthrie for the Royals.

History doesn't favor the Giants.

The last time San Francisco found itself in Game Six was the 2002 Fall Classic. The Giants were up 3 games to 2 and lost 6-5 to the Angels, which roared back to claim Game 7 in Anaheim.

The last time the Series went to Game 6 was in 2011 when St. Louis trailed Texas 3 games to 2. In that game, the Cardinals were down to their last strike on two occasions before winning an extra-inning thriller. St. Louis won Game Seven and claimed their ninth World Series flag.

In 1985, the Royals found themselves down 3 games to 1 and won the last two games at home to claim their first and only world championship.

The home team has won nine straight Game 7s in the World Series. The last team to win Game 7 on the road was the 1979 Pirates in Baltimore.

And of course there's the infamous Game 7 in the 1962 World Series, played at Candlestick Park, in which the New York Yankees quelled a ninth-inning rally to defeat the Giants 1-0.


10/26/14

Bumgarner Wins Game 5 with 5-0 Shutout Over Royals
Southpaw Posts Best ERA Ever in World Series History

Madison Bumgarner pitched the Giants to the brink of another world series title with a four-hit shutout tonight at AT&T Park, as San Francisco took Game Five 5-0 over Kansas City.

In the process, Bumgarner is now 4-0 in the World Series with a 0.29 ERA, best ever for a pitcher with a minimum of three starts and 25 innings.

The batting heroes tonight for San Francisco were Brandon Crawford with three runs batted in and replacement outfielder Juan Perez, whose eighth inning double off the centerfield fence knocked in two runs, padding the Giants lead to 4-0. Crawford followed with a sacrifice fly to knock in Perez to make it 5-0.

Bumgarner is now 4-1 in the 2014 postseason. With tonight's complete-game shutout he tied with Tom Glavine for the lead with five pitched games of seven innings or more while allowing no runs.

Bumgarner has allowed just one earned run.in 31 innings over four World Series' games,

He is just the second pitcher in post-season history to throw two shutouts (the other being Christy Mathewson in 1905, whose wins were both in the World Series). Bumgarner shut out the Cardinals in the NLCS.

The Series shifts to Kansas City on Tuesday, where the Giants can clinch their third world championship in five years with a win over the Royals.

If Kansas City wins the next game, Bumgarner said he'd be ready to pitch Game Seven on short rest. "I'm ready to go. Tired's not an excuse," said the 25-year-old Hickory, North Carolina native.


10/16/14

Ishikawa's Ninth Inning 3-Run Walk0ff Home Run Propels Giants to 2014 World Series

Ishikawa_HR 
Travis Ishikawa is mobbed by celebratory teammates as he rounds third base after hitting the game-winning 3-run homer off Michael Wacha in the 9th Inning to give the Giants a 6-3 Win Over the Cardinals at AT&T Park tonight.

San Francisco will visit Kansas City on Tuesday night
for the start of the 2014 World Series. It will be the Giants third trip to the Fall Classic in the past five seasons.

This marks just the second time the World Series will feature Wild Card teams from both leagues. The last time that occurred was 2002 when the Giants lost to the Anaheim Angels in seven games.

by Henry Schulman, San Francisco Chronicle

The 2014 Giants fell out of first place with a tremendous early-summer thud. They fell out of the top wild-card spot with a tepid late summer. They kept tumbling until it was time to rise, dust themselves off and become the last National League club standing.

Mobbing was more like it, after the Giants captured their third pennant in five seasons in the most thrilling way possible Thursday night.

After Michael Morse so improbably tied Game 5 of the National League Championship Series with an eighth-inning homer off Pat Neshek, Travis Ishikawa hit a three-run homer off Michael Wacha with one out in the ninth for a 6-3 win that sent AT&T Park into a state of delirium, and the Giants to the World Series.

The Giants won their seventh pennant in San Francisco and 21st in franchise history with, of all things, the long ball.

To read the rest of Schulman's Chronicle story, go here.


Tim Church, a Sacramento native, said this about Ishikawa in a Facebook post this evening:

What a great story Travis Ishikawa is!!! Another beautiful example of redemption. He gets released by the Pittsburgh Pirates in April, the Giants eventually re-sign him (he was with them in 2010 when they won the WS!), he spends most of the season in Fresno where the Giants Triple A team WAS (it now will be in Sacramento, starting in 2015!) and then the G's bring him up late in the year, and NOW he gets them to the World Series again with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth. So happy for Travis Ishikawa! What a moment! What a beautiful moment for a guy like that!

 


 

10/13/14

Scouts Swap Stories

Enjoyed a visit today with Ron King, former dean of scouts, as he entertained two current area scouts, Don Lyle (Indians) and Gary Wilson (Rockies).

During the conversation, King reminded us on how he missed out on signing Lyle, a 18-year-old college freshman who played on Cosumnes River College, that year’s Valley Conference champion under Jerry Conway. We’ll continue the story from our Spotlight feature on Lyle four years ago: 

Always young for his class, that summer he was eligible to play on the Post 61 American Legion team, which won the local district and competed for the state title. With one year of college ball under his belt, Lyle starred in Yountville; snaggin' home run balls over the fence and generally creating mayhem on the basepaths. His performance garnered the attention of Dodgers scout, Ron King. But before King could talk to him, Lyle dropped off the sandlot radar.  

Lyle left with three friends to attend electronics trade school at DeVry University in Phoenix. Studying by day and working at night in a factory packaging contraceptive pills, Lyle heard the siren's song when the Cincinnati Reds held an open tryout camp. He went with only his glove, dressed in shorts and sandals. Admittedly rusty, Don impressed Dick Howsam, Jr., who signed him the next day to the minimum $500 bonus.  

Meantime, his mother told him Mr. King had been leaving messages trying to reach him. Unbeknown to Lyle, the Dodgers scout was ready to sign him to a contract with an $8,000 bonus. When Lyle finally connected with King one day later, he was already the property of the Reds—and $7,500 poorer. *

Lyle retired after playing seven seasons in the Cincinnati organization, including the last two at their Triple-A affiliate, Indianapolis in 1980. 

King also recalled Wilson, an 18th-round draft pick of the Pirates in 1992, pitching the Carolina Mudcats to the Southern League championship in 1994. Wilson pitched one season for the Pirates before retiring in 1995. 

King played eight minor league seasons, including four in the Cleveland organization which signed him out of Christian Brothers High in 1946, and one season with the hometown Sacramento Solons. 

To read the Spotlight feature on King go here, and the feature on Lyle, go here.

* Lyle stated the bonus was $5,000, but King--whose mind is razor sharp at 86--recalls it was for three-thousand more.


10/7/14

NLDS Game Four - Washington at San Francisco:
Giants Win 3-2 Thriller Over Nats -- Advance to NLCS

Pence_Fence_Catch

Hunter Pence Catch At the Fence

Joe Panik scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning, giving the Giants a 3-2 win over the Nationals and their Mickey Mantle-clone, Bryce Harper, who hit a titanic homer in McCovey Cove in the seventh inning to tie the game.

The Giants advance to the National League Championship Series for the third time in five seasons against their playoff rival, St. Louis Cardinals. Game One is Saturday in St. Louis. 


Pro News

8/26/14

Tellez Promoted to Blue Jays Single-A Lansing

Rowdy Tellez (Elk Grove High) has been promoted from Rookie League to Single-A by the Toronto Blue Jays. Reporting last week to the Lansing Lugnuts, Tellez picked up where he left off in the Appalachian League and is now hitting .412 in 17 at bats with one home run.

In 53 games with Bluefield this season, Tellez overcame a slow start to end up hitting .293 with four home runs and 36 RBI.

Tellez was a a 30th Round Draft selection in 2013, after leading the Elk Grove Thundering Herd--along with fellow draftee Dom Nunez (Colorado, 6th Round, 2013) to the Sac-Joaquin Section Title. This is Rowdy's second year in professional baseball.


8/18/14

Susac To Stick Longer With Giants as Backup Catcher--Sanchez Back On DL

Susac_Giants
Andrew Susac, Giants

With Tim Lincecum on the mound yesterday, Andrew Susac (Jesuit/Oregon State) once again got the start as the Giants catcher. Susac knocked in a run and threw out the Phillies speedy Ben Revere at second base in the first inning.

The latter achievement brought smiles to the Giants dugout, since the last time Susac caught Lincecum in Kansas City he allowed six stolen bases. Apparently Lincecum yesterday employed a slide-step move against the Phillies and improved his time to the plate. This worked to the advantage of Susac, heretofore known as the Roseville Rifle.

Playing in his 10th game since being called up July 26 to replace backup catcher Hector Sanchez, Susac is now hitting .250 with five RBI in his brief time in the majors. More importantly, he's looked solid behind the plate, which is a challenge when filling in as the designated catcher for Lincecum, who can be a catcher's challenge. Actually, more like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Susac's call-up is sure to be extended through late August, as Sanchez sustained another concussion on Saturday in a rehab start with Fresno when he took a foul tip off the mask (the cause of the original injury). Sanchez was placed back on the 15-day disabled list as detailed by Bee reporter Matt Kawahara.

When Susac was in his first pro season with the San Jose Giants he told us in an exclusive interview that he was undaunted by the backlog of catchers in the Giants organization, starting with All-Star Buster Posey. "There's always a place in baseball for good catchers," he related

Wise beyond his years, the kid's now proven that maxim to be true. And it appears he's stickin' for awhile. Perhaps a long time.

~ ~ ~

Carter Named AL Player of the Week

Chris Carter, who hit four homers and batted .321 for the Astros, was named the American League Player of the  Week.

For the week (Aug. 11-17), the former Athletic also had 9 RBI, a .750 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.083. He led the AL in hoers, RBI and total bases (21) for the week.

See story below for more details.

~ ~ ~

The Angels Are Coming! The Angels Are Coming!

Don't look now A's fans, but the Angels of Anaheim have caught up with Oakland and are now tied for first place in the American League West Division.

The Halos haven't seen the Promised Land for a long time. Worse, the green and gold have held a solid lock on the top spot not only in the West but all of baseball for some time this year. Now, they're in a virtual tie with the Mike Trout-led Angels who come to town for a three-game series on Friday. This might go a long way in determing who wins the division.

Likely the second place finisher in the West will claim a Wild Card spot, but should the A's go that route it will be Glum City, as they've played lights out all year.

Pondering the A's-Angels matchup at the "O" this weekend reminds us of a game in 2000 between the two teams. My son and I had just watched Barry Zito pitch for the first time as a River Cat earlier in the week, and drove down to catch his major league debut in Oakland. Zito provided a highlight for the ages.

Through four innings he'd allowed just one run, while the Athletics provided him with a 7-1 lead.

In the fifth inning, Zito walked the first batter, Adam Kennedy. Darin Erstad followed with a single to short center and Kennedy held at second. Zito next walked Benji Gil to load the bases. A's fans began to fidget, wondering if the rookie could get out of the inning without giving up any runs or possibly a grand slam.

Due up was the middle of the Angels' order, starting with the imposing number-three hitter, Mo Vaughn. Zito struck him out looking. Then Tim Salmon fanned. And Garret Anderson met the same fate, as Zito dug down deep to strike out the side with the bases load. The Coliseum was on its feet, cheering the future Cy Young winner, who proved he belonged in the majors during that Saturday, July 22, 2000.

Ironically, the two teams were locked in a virtual tie that day as well, but for second place--five games behind Seattle, which held the top spot until the final weekend, when Oakland won the division by a half game.


8/13/14

Carter On Hot Streak - Leads Astros

Former Oakland Athletic outfielder Chris Carter yesterday hit two home runs, giving him a MLB-leading 15 since early July, as the Houston Astros dumped the Twins 10-4 at Minute Maid Park 

Carter’s five runs batted in were a career best and it was the sixth time this season he had multi-homer games, tying Lance Berkman (2006) for the Astros club record. 

Since July 3, Carter is hitting .325 and leads the Majors with a .756 slugging percentage and a 1.138 OPS, in addition to the home runs.  

Back in June, Houston may have had thoughts of shipper Carter off, just as the Athletics did last February when Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi were traded for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez. 

In his three partial seasons with the Athletics, Carter hit a total of 19 home runs in 106 games. Last year with the Astros he got his first chance at a full season, clubbing a record-high 28 home runs. He led the majors in strikeouts, however, with 212. 

By late June this season Carter’s average had dipped below .200. Beginning in July, he went on a tear and continues to lead the resurgent Astros, who are now heading in the right direction under former Athletic and Sacramento River Cats player Bo Porter. 

 



7/30/14

Pro News

Recent Giants call-up,  Andrew Susac (Jesuit/Oregon State) got his second major league start today behind the plate against the Pirates. He is catching two-time Cy Young Award winnger, Tim Lincecum in a day game at AT&T Park.

Note: Susac got his first major league hit with a bases loaded single to LF in the 3rd inning off Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton to give the Giants a 4-3 lead.

The Giants won the contest 7-5, their first in a six-game homestand, averting their first-ever winless homestand of six games or more.

After the game skipper Bruce Bochy was asked to comment on Susac's RBI-hit that put the team ahead. "I think he's done a nice job behind the plate. Good to see him get a hit. He's got the potential to be a real nice hitter; he's got power. He'll get settled in and get some playing time until we get (backup catcher, Hector) Sanchez back. He did a good job blocking balls. So, he'll get more comfortable. We needed a hit then--bases loaded. He just hit it too hard where we couldn't get two runs."


Pro News

7/29/14

Dubon Named POW NY-Penn League

Happy birthday to Mauricio Dubon (Capital Christian High)who turns 20 today, one day after being named Offensive Player of the Week in the New York-Penn League. Dubon, the righthanded-hitting shortstop went 12-for-27 in seven games, hitting two home runs and knocking in nine runs batted in for Lowell, the Red Sox Single-A team. He had multiple hit-games five times and raised his batting average to .286.

If you haven't read our profile on Dubon and American brother Ben Ritchey when the two were prepping at Capital Christian, go here.


7/26/14

Susac Gets First Call-Up to the Giants 

Andrew Susac (Jesuit/Oregon State) got the call today. 

As in the maiden major league “call-up” by the San Francisco Giants. A catcher for the Giants’ Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, Susac this morning hopped a flight out of El Paso destined for the cool climes of San Francisco.

His call up comes less than a day after backup catcher, Hector Sanchez took a smash to the helmet last night and left the game with a concussion. He is on the 7-day concussion list.

Susac is having a good year in the Pacific Coast League, hitting .268 with 10 home runs and 32 runs batted in.  

Susac was the Giants second round draft selection in 2011. San Francisco’s first rounder that year was Joe Panik, who was called up to the big club since June 21 when he took over the second base job. Panik is now on the bench with a sprained ankle. The team has brought up utilityman Dan Uggla, (who they signed earlier this week) and Tony Abreau.

Susac will not start at catcher tonight. The Giants are playing division rival Los Angeles, which is starting the best lefthander in baseball tonight, Clayton Kershaw. The Giants hold a one-half game lead in the West.

In other news, the Giants acquired righthanded pitcher Jake Peavy from the Boston Red Sox for a pair of minor leaguers. San Francisco needs pitching help in Matt Cain's absence. If the above scenario holds, Susac might be catching Peavy, who is having an off-year. The 33-year old is just 1-9 with a 4.72 earned run average with the Red Sox, who are in fifth place in the American League East, after winning the 2013 World Series.

Stay tuned.

~ ~ ~

Postscript: Susac replaced Posey in the eighth inning and caught two frames. In the ninth he took his first major league at-bat against Giant Killer Clayton Kershaw and grounded out on the first pitch. Kershaw pitched a two-hit shutout, his third at AT&T Park as the Dodgers won in San Francisco for the second time in a row by the score 5-0.


7/2/14

Wainwright Superb As Redbirds Shutout Giants 2-0

Adam Wainwright recaptured his mastery over the Giants in St. Louis’ 2-0 win at AT&T Park. The last time out in St. Louis on May 30, the Giants manhandled the big righthander for seven runs in less than five innings. 

Tonight Wainwright (11-4) allowed the Giants (47-37) just four hits over seven and two-thirds innings. He completely stymied the top of San Francisco’s order, as rookie second baseman Joe Panik was the team’s leading hitter with two singles. 

Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong (5-5) gave manager Bruce Bochy more than a quality start, going seven innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs while lowering his earned run average to 3.86. He fanned eight and walked one.  

In the third inning, Vogelsong allowed a leadoff double to Oscar Taveras, followed by a Mark Ellis single. The Cardinals scored twice in on RBI singles by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holiday. Carpenter (a .520 career hitter against the Giants) would lead all hitters with a 3-for-4 night. That was the game’s only scoring. 

Adam Wainwright cruised through the contest, inducing 14 groundouts during his stint. He lowered his ERA from 2.01 to 1.89 with the sterling performance on the Bay, surpassing the Reds’ Johnny Cueto for the lowest ERA in the Majors. His 11 wins is tied for first in the majors.

In the ninth, Trevor Rosenthal allowed a Hunter Pence infield single (on a reversed play). But the flamethrower retired the next three, including blowing away Michael Morse on a 99 mph heater to secure the Cards 2-0 win and earn his 25th save of the season. 

The Giants were shutout for the seventh time this season, the second time to the Cardinals who improved to 45-40. San Franciso falls to 2-7 on the 10-game homestand, which ends with tomorrow’s day game against the Redbirds. 

The Dodgers lost again tonight to Cleveland 5-4, so the Giants retain a one-half game lead in the National League West.

Softening the loss, Giants fans were treated to a Fourth of July Fireworks celebration over McCovey Cove. 


7/1/14 

 
River Cats Claw a Walkoff Win Over the Grizzlies at Raley Field
 

Giants Brandon Belt Goes 1-for-4 in Rehab Assignment

You never know when you might see something new at the ballyard. Tonight, for instance, at Raley Field.  

Fresno Grizzlies leadoff hitter Gary Brown laced a screaming line drive up the middle. As the ball passed the rubber it took a 90 degree detour when pitcher Josh Lindblom stuck out his right leg, and the ball made a “whapp” sound as it ricocheted off his ankle and into the glove of Grizzlies third baseman, Jose Martinez for an out.  

The training staff examined Lindblom, who limped around the mound. Moments later he was hobbling into the clubhouse just as sidearmer, Tucker Healy, charged to the mound. Healy was allowed an unlimited number of warmup throws as he entered for an injured pitcher and he took advantage. Healy threw to the catcher 31 times before striking out his first batter, Darren Ford.  

Next up was the red-hot hitting Brandon Belt, who’s been zooming through his rehab assignment like it was Little League. Belt struck out, and the River Cats got out of what could have been a dicey situation. He would go 1-for-4 on the evening with a double.

In the second inning, hometown boy Andrew Susac (Jesuit/Oregon State)  deposited a Healy pitch over the 403-foot sign in left-center field for a home run, his seventh of the season. Members of the Susac family contingent, sitting in the luxury seats behind the screen on the first base side, responded by chanting “Left, right, left right” as Andrew circled the bases and chugged toward the dugout. 

For good measure, in the fourth inning the Grizzlies’ catcher knocked a single up the middle for his second hit of the game (he would go 2-for-3). Next batter Travis Ishikawa homered over the right field fence to stake Fresno to a 3-0 lead. The Grizz extended their lead with another run in the fifth. 

But the River Cats clawed back in the sixth inning. An RBI single by Daric Barton—back down from Oakland for the umpteenth time—plated one run for Sacramento. Later with the bases loaded, Belt’s two-base error allowed two River Cats to score. With the bases loaded Alden Carrithers knocked in Jake Elmore with the tying run. 

The game remained tied until the ninth inning, when Grizzlies pitcher Mason Tobin relieved Dan Runzler. After base hits by Shane Peterson and Barton, Elmore knocked in Peterson with the winning run in the River Cats 5-4 victory over Fresno.

Joe Savery (5-0), the sixth Cats' pitcher, hurled two shutout innings for the win. Both Peterson and Elmore had three hits for Sacramento which improved to 49-36.

 


6/22/14

Pro News
Justin Higley (Jesuit / Sacramento State) came up in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and the score tied 6-6 and he cracked a grand slam this afternoon--the inside-the-park variety--leading the Vermont Lake Monsters to a 10-7 victory. The four-base, inside-the-parker was just the second ever hit at the Monsters home park Centennial Field.
 
In five games this week against Connecticut, Higley went 8-for-19 with seven runs, two doubles,a triple, three home runs and 14 RBI (including a three-run homer on Saturday). He leads the New York-Penn League with 15 RBI in just 10 games.
 

6/15/14

Happy Father's Day

Pro Notes
J.D. Davis made his father Greg happy on this Father's Day when the former Elk Grove High star hit a two-run homer for the Tri-City ValleyCats in the seventh inning to tie the game. The V-Cats won the contest 3-2 with a walk-off in the ninth.

In just his third game with the Class-A Short Season affiliate of the Houston Astros, Davis' round-tripper was his first hit as a pro--a double bonus. Although Papa Greg wasn't there to see it, he and the Davis family experienced it live online.

Our Player of the Year and a member of our first All-Capitol Team in 2011, Davis was drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2014 Draft by Houston on June 6. He played three years for Fullerton State.

For more on Davis' draft day experience and his three-yeaer career at Fullerton State, visit the Spotlight feature.

(Click through to read all the features and reporting on locals in the 2014 Draft)


4/17/14 

spotlight

by editor Rick Cabral

Susac Attains PCL—Hoping for Next Big Step

Andrew Susac is this close to his dream.  

From Raley Field, he can drive there in an hour-and-a-half. But he realizes what separates him from playing in the major leagues is more than 90 miles of geography. A whole lot more. 

He’s in town with the Fresno Grizzlies for a four-game series against the River Cats; possibly the earliest in the season the Grizzlies have ever visited Sacramento since the two teams began battling in the Pacific Coast League in 2000. 

Although Susac visited Raley Field many times as a youth—and once played there for the Jesuit Marauders in a high school game—this marks his first time he’s played at the professional level.  

His father Nick Susac, who literally cultivated a baseball playing prodigy because he saw his son’s future in life, is nervous. “Honestly, I’ve never been more nervous,” he admits laughing, because he felt this way when he coached Andrew in Little League, and saw him compete at Jesuit in high school and then at Oregon State.  

 

 Grizzlies_Susac_pregame

Andrew Susac after pre-game warmup
in the bullpen at Raley Field.

As one of the top prospects in the Giants organization, Andrew Susac is closely watched. San Francisco selected him in the second round of the amateur draft in 2011, and because he signed at the deadline (literally with less than an hour to go), he didn’t begin playing professionally until he was assigned in 2012 to Single-A San Jose in the California League. There he hit .244 with 16 doubles, nine homers and 52 runs batted in for a .380 slugging percentage. 

Last year, at Double-A Richmond in the Eastern League, he improved his average (.256) and home runs (12), but dropped in RBI (46) because he played in less than 100 games. 

But Susac is realistic; he knows he has a lot to learn—and prove to the Giants front office. 

“But now that (I’m) getting close, it’s business. You can’t take pitches off. Those guys up there (Giants front office) see everything. They’re tracking you. When you’re playing on that stage (MLB) there’s no room for error. So every game is important,” he says matter of fact. “Getting better has taken more of a back seat to results at this level, I feel like.” 

(Continue to this Spotlight Feature)


4/16/14

by editor Rick Cabral

Fresno's Lively Lives Up to His Name

Fresno Grizzlies pitcher Mitch Lively is happy to be back in town again. He was the closer on Sacramento State’s baseball team when he graduated in 2007. 

Lively 

Mitch Lively, closer, Sacramento State 2007
Photo courtesy of Sacramento State Media Relations




He also played on the Hornets football team, skying majestic punts at Alex Spanos Stadium (he made All Big-Sky Honorable Mention).

His eight saves, four against WAC competiton, ties for fourth in the Hornet single season record book. Lively also made 61 appearances in his three seasons with Sacramento State, a mark that ties for sixth in program history.

 

Lively_Grizzlies_Cabral 

Mitch Lively
Fresno Grizzlies 2014

He was taken by Colorado in the 16th Round of the 2007 Amateur Draft.

In 2014, Lively is in his third year at Fresno, and second season as a starting pitcher (1-0 / 6.59). 

He says the key for him is “throwing my fastball for strikes.” In his last outing, he couldn’t do it to save his life, and resorted to throwing almost entirely sliders. “Makes for a long day.” 

Asked if he’s concerned about going from a prospect to a “suspect,” he shows confidence. “I feel I’m ready (for the majors) and have the stuff. It’s just a matter of getting that consistency.” 

Lively, in fact, feels he’s playing with the House’s money. 

In 2007,his first pro season, he developed arm problems, and the Rockies released him. “I thought I was done.”  

Three months later, he got a call to join the San Angelo Texans, an independent league team. Lively hadn’t picked up a baseball the entire time. He drove down and joined the Texans. Two weeks later, the Giants called. “And I’ve been with them ever since.” 

“I’ve been truly blessed and have stayed healthy so far, knock wood,” he says with a smile that can easily turn to country hardball meanness when he’s on the mound.  

He also pitched in Venezuela two years in the off season. “I experienced a great country and great baseball down there,” he says, “and furthered my knowledge of the game.” 

He took a football with him and for fun showed off his punting skills. “I would kick to those guys and it was pretty funny to watch them try to field it.” 

Asked which moment is more special: a strikeout to end the game or a 45-yard-punt with 4.5 seconds hang time, Lively says, “Gotta go with the strikeout. Anytime you can strike out a guy to end a game, nothin’ beats it.” 


 

4/15/15

Pro News...At Raley Field tonight, the River Cats welcomed Fresno to town for what is the earliest series ever played by the Grizzlies in Sacramento. Normally, they come through in July and August, so notes River Cats radio announcer Johnny Doskow.

Joining Johnny in the booth on a permanent basis this year is Leon Lee. Lee, notes Sacramento baseball historian Mark McDermott, "is so eloquent and so knowledgeable about baseball, that he's a great addition to the broadcast." 

Updated  6/8/16
All contents © Rick Cabral, 2010-2016

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