Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Voices of the Lansing Lugnuts, 1996-Present

Blue Jays spring training action began yesterday in a game against Pittsburgh. Kevin Pillar homered early and Mitch Nay brought the Jays within a run late with an RBI single, but the Blue Jays left the bases loaded in an 8-7 loss. No worries, back at it today!

The Voices of the Lansing Lugnuts

I'd like to simply put this on the record, honoring my predecessors in the Lugnuts' radio booth.
Mike Vande Woude, 1996-1997. Mike would later go on to become the first broadcaster of the Dayton Dragons as well as the voice of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He can still be found broadcasting Dayton games in a pinch-hitting role from time to time.
Jeff Walker, 1998-1999. Jeff left for Triple-A Sacramento in 2000 before becoming the general manager of the Boise Hawks.
Scott Moore, 2000-2002. Scott is the longtime voice of Michigan State University hockey and an original member of the Spartan Sports Network. During the winter, it's easy to find his voice delivering the latest Spartan action from the ice.
Jim Tocco, 2003. Jim came to Lansing from Charleston (WV), called a no-hitter and an unassisted triple, won a Midwest League Championship and received a ring, and then moved to serve as the voice of Montgomery from 2004-2008. (I interned under him with the Biscuits in 2006-2007.) He now lives in Atlanta, working in graphic design.
Seth Van Hoven, 2004-2005. Seth has worked diligently for the Lugnuts for years, predating and postdating his broadcast position with press box responsibilities. He currently works for the American Red Cross by day and handles the official scoring for the Lugs at night.
Brad Tillery, 2006-2008. Brad now lives in Austin, Texas, where he remains as awesome as ever, cheering on his Auburn Tigers.
Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, 2009-present. Me! Joining the Lugnuts six years ago, I've become known for my Baseball Thesaurus and my throwback re-creation broadcasts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

15 ex-Lugnuts who could make the Majors in 2015

Reading Material:From the Hardball Times, Jack Moore writes about "Baseball Writers, Big Business and Big Sports." He has his head and thoughts in the right place, but there's a lot going on with the piece.
* Blue Jays From Away takes an educated guess about the Lansing Lugnuts' 2015 position players. There's no Anthony Alford or D.J. Davis in his projected Lugs outfield, which I mildly disagree with. I expect we'll get one of the two.
* And, lastly, reported a story (in which I was extensively interviewed) on the origin and appeal of the Lansing Lugnuts name.
So... Lansing looks like this
Photo attribute: Me, a few minutes ago.
On the bright side, welcome back, Grapefruit League baseball! The Blue Jays play their first exhibition game of 2015 against the Pirates at 1:07 p.m. The starting lineup:
shi lineup
Courtesy: @ShiDavidi
There are a number of former Lugnuts on that lineup card: starting outfielders Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey, starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez, reserves Anthony Alford, Ryan Goins, A.J. Jimenez, Mitch Nay, Sean Ochinko, and Dwight Smith, and relief pitcher Miguel Castro. Pillar, Pompey, Sanchez, and Goins have all made the Majors already. The others have yet to debut in the Bigs.
Who will be the next Lugs to reach the Majors?
Let's discuss.
Carlos Perez, 2011-2012 Lugnuts catcher
Did you know? 103 former Lugnuts have made the Majors since the club's 1996 inception, six last year.
Likeliest Suspects
1.  Noah Syndergaard, class of '11-'12. He's the New York Mets' #1 prospect, one of the top pitching talents in the sport. Noah won't start the season in the Bigs, but he'll be in the Mets' rotation sometime mid-season.
2.  Carlos Perez, class of '11-'12. The Los Angeles Angels delightedly traded Hank Conger for him in the offseason and plan to slate Carlos as their #2 catcher on Opening Day. By the way: there have been 19 Carlos Perezes in pro baseball history.
3.  Justin Nicolino, class of '11-'12. Comprised the "Lansing 3" with Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez in 2012 and now rates as the Miami Marlins' #3 prospect. Like Noah Syndergaard, likely to arrive around June or July.
4.  David Rollins, class of '12. Selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Seattle Mariners in December. If he sticks in Spring Training, he'll be on the M's Opening Day roster. With Rollins, Syndergaard, Sanchez, Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani (a MLBer last year in Miami), the 2012 Lugnuts starting rotation might retrospectively have featured five Major League starters. Nice.
5.  Ryan Tepera, class of '10. Tep has patiently worked his way up the ladder, spending all of last season in Triple-A Buffalo. He's now a member of the Blue Jays' 40-man roster, which allows Toronto to call him up at any time.
6.  A.J. Jimenez, class of '09-'10. Also on the Blue Jays' 40-man. Injuries have hampered the catcher's career, but he waits in the wings if Toronto needs a reserve backstop. If he stays healthy, he'll be looking at a second-string Major League role for the next 5-10 years or so.
Hey, They Could Make it
7.  Jon Berti '12. The Blue Jays need second basemen, a need so deep that they traded for Devon Travis and are converting Dwight Smith, Jr. to the position. Jon plays above-average defense, hits line drives, and run the bases with speed and intelligence. He'll start the season in Triple-A and could well earn his way forward.
8.  Andy Burns '12. Andy has a ton of tools and plays a range of infield positions. He'll be challenged in Triple-A, but like Berti is a perfect candidate to come up to the Bigs in a utility infield role.
9. and 10.  Jack Murphy '10-'11 / Sean Ochinko '10. Both are catchers, both are in Major League camp, both have Triple-A experience... heck, why not? A catcher always has a shot at an MLB call-up. Stay healthy and earn trust from pitchers, that's the key for any catcher.
11.  Marcus Walden '11-'12. He reached the MLB 40-man last year and was called up, but never served time in a game. He's now in the Cincinnati Reds' organization and likely ticketed for Triple-A. A solid performance and a Major League need punches his ticket.
12.  Tyler Ybarra '12.  Tyler is big, left-handed and throws hard. He was traded to the Rockies in the offseason, which bodes well for his future that Colorado asked specifically for him. It's not too much of a stretch to see him pop into the Rox bullpen sometime during the year.
Hey, Why Not?
13.  Dwight Smith, Jr., '13. Transitioning to second base, possessing average to above-average skills in all areas, Dwight gets his first taste of Double-A this year. September call-up potential?
14. and 15.  Roberto Osuna '13 / Miguel Castro '14. Two 20-year-olds with big time arms, both of them already invited to Major League camp. The Blue Jays are high on the young right-handers. If they prosper, Osuna in Double-A and Castro in A-Advanced, one or both could catch some helium.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The 2015 Lugnuts Visual Schedule

Links:* The Lugnuts' Job Fair was held on Saturday! Here's WILX's Joy Wang, on the scene.
* Indiana Pacers broadcaster Mark Boyle will be broadcasting Cape Cod Baseball this summer.
* The National Post's John Lott profiles outfielder (and likely 2015 Lugnut) Anthony Alford.
* And Blue Jays From Away takes an educated guess at the Lugnuts' 2015 pitching corps.
Baseball is back! In a way... the Toronto Blue Jays' first intrasquad game is today at 11 a.m., followed by their first exhibition game tomorrow. (Also, the Phillies have already lost.) The Blue Jays' Spring Training roster, split in half:
I'll be paying close attention to the following players:
  • P Aaron Sanchez, 2011-2012 Lug, potential starter/back-end reliever
  • P Daniel Norris, 2013 Lug, Blue Jays' #1 prospect
  • OF Kevin Pillar, 2012 Lug, 2012 Midwest League MVP, potential starting outfielder
  • OF Dalton Pompey, 2012-2013 Lug, potential starting center fielder
  • OF Anthony Alford, 2014 Lug, likely starting in Single-A
  • P Miguel Castro, 2014 Lug, likely starting in A-Advanced
  • 3B Mitch Nay, 2014 Lug, likely starting in A-Advanced
  • P Roberto Osuna, 2013 Lug, likely starting in Double-A
  • OF Dwight Smith, Jr., 2013 Lug,  likely starting in Double-A

The 2015 Lugnuts Visual Schedule

2015 Visual Schedule
Click to enlarge
Guide -- BEL: Beloit; BG: Bowling Green; BUR: Burlington; CLI: Clinton; CR: Cedar Rapids; DAY: Dayton; FW: Fort Wayne; GL: Great Lakes; KC: Kane County; LC: Lake County; PEO: Peoria; QC: Quad Cities; SB: South Bend; WIS: Wisconsin; WM: West Michigan.
I put this together to see a different perspective of the schedule -- you never know if something jumps out at you. In this case, certain things certainly do:
  1. 12 games against the Fort Wayne TinCaps in the first two months. If either the Lugnuts or the TinCaps is dominant in the first half, the other team is buried.
  2. Eight games against South Bend in the month of May... heck, eight games in the span of 11 days, from May 11-21! We'll be well acquainted by the time things are done.
  3. I'm used to not seeing a team for months at a time, like playing Lake County six times in April, avoiding them in May and June, and getting back together for seven meetings in July. It's much more unusual to have a Bowling Green situation, where we see the Hot Rods for exactly one series in each of the first five months. (Three road trips to Bowling Green, Kentucky -- that's a long drive. Worse, though, is the drive back from Cedar Rapids in mid-June, take my word for it.)
  4. June features nine different opponents.
  5. July is chock-full of Great Lakes Loons and Lake County Captains games: fully half of the 28 contests are against Lake-based opposition. That said, there are five home series in July, each one against a different MWL Eastern division foe.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Syndergaard, Graveman, and the top Lugnuts prospects who are elsewhere

With regards to "the dress," here's XKCD:
Source: XKCD
Yesterday's post was about the Toronto Blue Jays' Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America (a list that included 18 former Lansing Lugnuts).
Today, we'll focus on those former Lugnuts who are top prospects in other organization:
RHP Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets' #1 prospect: 8-5, 2.60 ERA with 122 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings for the Lugs in 2012, dealt with Travis d'Arnaud for R.A. Dickey in the offseason, and now on the cusp of the Majors after spending all of last year in Triple-A. He won't begin the season in New York, but he'll get there sooner rather than later. Reading material: "Mets' Noah Syndergaard looks to build on disappointing season."
LHP Justin Nicolino, Miami Marlins' #3 prospect: 10-4, 2.46 ERA with the Lugnuts as part of that terrific 2012 rotation, traded to Miami in the offseason as part of the Jays' massive deal for Mark Buerhle, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and others. Last year, he was named the Double-A Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher. Projected by BA's Juan Rodriguez to start the season in Triple-A with a likely 2015 MLB debut. Reading material: "Marlins prospect Nicolino excelling in spite of modest strikeout numbers."
RHP Kendall Graveman, Oakland Athletics' #7 prospect: Cinderella story, went from Lansing on Opening Day 2014 to the Major Leagues by September; traded in the offseason for All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson. At the least, he's a starter for the Nashville Sounds on Opening Day this year, with a ticket to the Majors not far away from his grasp. At the most, he's an Athletic in April. Reading material (including the key, correct description of Kendall as a "Southern gentleman"): "A's newcomer Kendall Graveman has team intrigued."
LHP Sean Nolin, Oakland Athletics' #8 prospect: After joining the Blue Jays' organization out of shape, worked hard to improve his conditioning and stuff, earning a (disastrous, unfortunately) Major League start in 2013. Traded with Graveman to the A's and much better suited for pitcher-friendly Oakland rather than hitter-friendly Toronto. Reading material: "Sean Nolin eager to help new team after surgery."
C Carlos Perez, Los Angeles Angels' #25 prospect: Played for Lansing in 2011 and 2012, whereupon he was traded to Houston in midseason; traded from the Astros to the Angels in November 2014 and now has the chance to be L.A.'s #2 catcher on Opening Day. No pertinent reading material yet.
Others, unranked but not forgotten: SS Gustavo Pierre, traded to the Philadelphia Phillies; LHP David Rollins, Rule 5 draftee of the Seattle Mariners; LHP Tyler Ybarra, traded to the Colorado Rockies.

Categorizing Baseball America's Top 30 Jays Prospects

Worth reading:
* The Toronto Blue Jays, who have been hamstrung by injury troubles in the past, just saw another key player suffer a significant ailment - outfielder Michael Saunders was done in by a sprinkler and is expected to be out till July at least. Brendan Kennedy offers a list of possible candidates to replace Saunders, including 2012 Lugnut Kevin Pillar.
* The Frisco RoughRiders have a new Teddy Roosevelt-ian image, and it's Minor League Baseball at its MiLBiest.
This arrived in the mail today:
What, they didn't think Daniel Norris was a worthy cover model?
The BA Prospect Handbook is a bible during the season, ranking and profiling every prospect that we'll see. My copy, pictured above, just arrived in the mail. Let's break down the Blue Jays' Top 30 rankings, numbered by Clint Longenecker and divided into categories of my choosing.
Major League Impacts This Season
1. Daniel Norris, LHP
2. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
4. Dalton Pompey, CF
6. Devon Travis, 2B/OF
23. A.J. Jimenez, C
Commentary: Norris, Sanchez and Pompey all made their MLB debuts this year. Sanchez is the likeliest to open the season on the Opening Day roster (whether in the rotation or the bullpen), followed by Pompey (starting in center field). Barring unforeseen events, Norris opens the season in the Buffalo starting rotation and gets a call-up to Toronto in May or June. Travis was acquired from Detroit for Anthony Gose in the offseason. He too likely starts in Buffalo before receiving a midseason promotion. Catcher Jimenez, who beat me with ease in ping pong in 2010, has long been on the verge of the Bigs before getting felled by a slew of injuries. Surely 2015 will at last see him in Toronto.
Keep an eye on: Unranked second baseman Jon Berti, who probably makes his MLB debut this year. He's a sensational defender with a way about getting on base and making things happen. Also, his brother used to work in the Lugnuts' box office.
A Year or Two Away... Or Less?
7. Roberto Osuna, RHP
9. Miguel Castro, RHP
14. Dwight Smith, Jr., OF
24. Andy Burns, 3B
29. Matt Boyd, LHP
Commentary: Andy Burns is the closest from this group, playing 133 games in Double-A New Hampshire last year. That tickets him for Triple-A Buffalo this year; a successful campaign earns him a promotion upward, where he'll provide pop, speed and defense at whatever position the Jays need him. The consistently productive Smith moves up to the New Hampshire outfield. If he keeps on keeping on, he'll be a Big Leaguer by 2016. Boyd dominated Dunedin last year but ran into a wall in Double-A; this year challenges him to break through that wall. (Keep an eye out for his rotation mate Taylor Cole, a big-time strikeout artist in 2014.) 20-year-olds Castro and Osuna have brilliant amounts of talent, but their experience is wanting. ETA for both is likely 2016.
Keep an eye on: Unranked infielder Christian Lopes, who batted .371 in the Australian Baseball League. The 22-year-old will likely be tested in Double-A New Hampshire.
Lansing Dropped Their Stock
15. Dawel Lugo, SS
16. Mitch Nay, 3B
17. Chase De Jong (not DeJong), RHP
21. D.J. Davis, OF
22. Alberto Tirado, RHP
25. Tom Robson, RHP
Commentary: Davis was #3 last year, Nay was #4, Tirado was #8, Lugo was #9, De Jong was #11 and Robson was #16. Additionally, #25 prospect Matt Dean fell out of the Top 30 this year entirely. What happened? Well, injury (Robson); discovering flaws that needed to be ironed out (Davis, Nay, De Jong, Dean); and playing against better/older players in a tough league (Davis, Lugo and Tirado). Combine that with a tremendously deep farm system, and down they fell in the rankings. Davis, Tirado and Robson likely return to Lansing, while Lugo, Nay and De Jong likely move to Dunedin. On the bright side, the talent remains as bright as ever for this group. Going about their business under the radar could well lead to another startling Daniel Norris-esque breakthrough for one or more.
Keep an eye on: Outfielder Derrick Loveless. He has speed, plate discipline and power, and his confidence is increasing by the year. Perhaps starting pitcher Jeremy Gabryszwski, too, who wouldn't surprise me if he increased his velocity while continuing to coax grounder after grounder.
Providing Lower-Level Intrigue
5. Max Pentecost, C
8. Richard Urena, SS
10. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP
11. Matt Smoral, LHP
12. Ryan Borucki, LHP
13. Jairo Labourt, LHP
18. Anthony Alford, OF
19. Lane Thomas, 3B/OF
20. Dan Jansen, C
26. Jesus Tinoco, RHP
28. Nick Wells, LHP
30. Rowdy Tellez, 1B
Commentary: It's likeliest that this list is the longest each year, with a probability of 3-5 guys distancing themselves, 3-5 guys remaining stagnant, and the rest falling off entirely. These are the high draft picks and the touted international signees, each with terrific talent but a lack of games for us to draw any true conclusions from. (Jairo Labourt stopped by Lansing briefly at the start of last season before getting reassigned to Vancouver.) Heck, who knows? Anthony Alford might be a superstar outfielder, Dan Jansen might be an impact catcher, Jesus Tinoco might be a future ace. It's all up in the air -- and it's glorious to dream about. As the Jays' top pick last year, Max Pentecost has the spotlight shining brightest upon him. I'm hoping we see at least nine of these prospects in Lansing in 2015.
Keep an eye on: Unranked 19-year-old lefty Evan Smith, a 4th-round draft pick who stands 6'5. He'll probably spend the season with Vancouver.
3. Jeff Hoffman, RHP
Commentary: Recovering from Tommy John surgery, blessed with great ability, projected to return to action around July. He's a huge question mark with a sky-high ceiling. Works for me.
Really Young
27. Juan Meza, RHP
Commentary: Signed for $1.6 million, 17 years of age (birthday - 2/4/98). He's a long way away, but heck, we might as well learn his name sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What do you want from a spring training article?

Reading Material:
Andrew Stoeten's storylines of Blue Jays spring training, Vol. 1, from AA through L.
* John Lott takes a closer look at Miguel Castro, who impressed last year.
* Alexis Brudnicki profiles former Lugnut Christian Lopes, who had a terrific winter.
On this same subject, I asked Alexis Brudnicki, who covers Canadian baseball players like no one's business and also happens to be my good friend, the following question:
What are the most helpful stories or angles that a media member can report on from Spring Training?
From Spring Training, most often fans, insiders, media members, and even some of the players themselves are looking to get caught up. The most important stories often revolve around what people have missed out on over the last several months. More important than which player got married, or who got a selfie stick for Christmas, or how many deer Chad Jenkins managed to take down during his hunting expeditions over the course of the winter should be storylines revolving around players traded to the organization, injury updates, what holes are being filled, where there are still voids, what the team is doing to address them, and other similar housekeeping issues.
Once those issues are hanging out on the clothesline to air out - because more often than not they won't be completely resolved until much later than the updates are first reported - introductions to new players are at the forefront. Everyone wants to know who the new faces are, how they can help, and what makes them likeable. Why should the organization rally around them? Obviously every player is at spring training for a reason - they've done something along the way to impress someone, or perhaps several someones - so what is the reason.
My personal interest in this category lies more with the 'fringe' players. I know that there will be no shortage of stories on Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin and Michael Saunders, but I want to know more about guys like Chris Colabello and Liam Hendricks, and of course other Canadian players like Andrew Albers and Jeff Francis. Often times the focus is on the players who are projected to be on the Opening Day roster, but how often are those players the ones who stay with the squad over all 162 games? I want to know more about the guys who might not start in Toronto, but will be up there at some point. It's never too early to get a beat on them. And chances are that at least one of those guys considered to be on the outside looking in will have a fantastic spring and earn a surprising spot on the roster that heads to Yankee Stadium to open the season.
My response:
I agree about focusing attention on the role/fringe players and giving fans a reason to care. Once the exhibition games start, I love having guys to look forward to. A fine piece on Chris Colabello, relating his story and telling what he has to accomplish in Spring Training in order to make the team, helps me to appreciate his March at-bats with more insight and significance. I want to know about who has a chance to make the team and why; what are they like and why are they in camp? Position competitions don’t get old for me. Figure out which spots are up for grabs and which spots are locked down, and let’s go from there – but keep me updated if a spot that seemed to be locked down suddenly looks iffy, or presents an opening to an aspiring player.
Lastly, give me the joy of spring. It’s bitterly cold where I am. The more I hear about how much fun everyone is having, the more it brings me warmth and anticipation for the coming spring.
And now, let me ask you: What is it that you're looking for to learn from spring training stories?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2014 Lugnuts pitchers, looking ahead

Worth reading:
* My most recent column for Ballpark Digest: "Managers are the faces of MiLB"* This Twitter conversation between reporter Molly Knight and pitcher Brandon McCarthy, simultaneously interviewing each other.
Lugnuts vs MSU_36w
Tom Robson. He wasn't healthy last year. When he is, watch out.
Yesterday I worked through the 2014 Lugnuts position players, all 21 of them, with their likely 2015 destinations. Today, let's go through the 27 Lugs pitchers from last season.
Brad Allen: bulldog right-hander resigned by the Blue Jays in the offseason and a terrific teammate for any ballclub, move him up to Dunedin (and hopefully New Hampshire down the road)
Adonys Cardona: required rehab after broken elbow last year, could be back in Lansing when healthy
Miguel Castro: young phenom with helium invited to Blue Jays spring training, ready to soar up the system, should cautiously start in Dunedin with potential to end the season in Double-A... or beyond.
Jimmy Cordero: fireballer should be in the Dunedin bullpen
Shane Dawson: last two seasons abbreviated by injury; chance he'll be in Lansing again, but ready for Dunedin
Chase De Jong: Dunedin Blue Jays starting pitcher
Yeyfry Del Rosario: could very well be a part of the Lugnuts' bullpen after making nine appearances in Lansing last year
Matt Dermody: Dunedin bound
Roberto Espinosa: I believe he has been traded to a Mexican League team, but I'm not finding corroboration
Jeremy Gabryszwski: Dunedin Blue Jays starting pitcher
Alonzo Gonzalez: Dunedin Blue Jays relief pitcher and sleeper prospect
Francisco Gracesqui: Dunedin Blue Jays relief pitcher and sleeper prospect
Kendall Graveman: Oakland Athletics! Perhaps Triple-A to start off, but the Majors shouldn't be too far away. What a story!
Adaric Kelly: released by the Blue Jays in the offseason; superb person from a great family whom I wish nothing but the best
Phil Kish: reliable with the Lugnuts and lights out with Vancouver last year, moving up to Dunedin this year
Jairo Labourt: big southpaw prospect only lasted six games with Lansing at the start of last year, but regained his form in Vancouver; Lugnuts starting pitcher in 2015
Jason Leblebijian: 
Yes, the beloved position player made two appearances on the mound; Hopefully Dunedin won't require any more mop-up spots from him this year.
Joe Lovecchio: 
released by the Blue Jays in the offseason; another fascinating guy and a terrific musician whom I wish only the best
Griffin Murphy: All-Star Lugnuts closer was promoted to Dunedin last year and could well return there, but I'm hoping that he'll be in New Hampshire sooner rather than later.
Brent Powers: I am uncertain if the Blue Jays picked up his option; another top-notch human being. This is a continuing theme with the Jays' organization.
Scott Silverstein: Dunedin Blue Jays relief pitcher
Starlyn Suriel: Lansing Lugnuts starting pitcher? He's young, he's inexperienced, and he's entirely under the radar -- very much a sleeper prospect.
Alberto Tirado: like Jairo Labourt, began last season with Lugnuts, was transferred to Vancouver, should be back with Lansing this season. I'm hoping for great things.
Frank Viola III: I'll never forget you, you idiosyncratic knuckleballer. Vaya con Dios.
Chase Wellbrock: The only 2014 draft pick to make it to the Lugnuts roster, could well return to the Lugs' bullpen this Spring.
Nonroster invitees to Blue Jays spring training this year include Lugnuts alumni Anthony Alford, Miguel Castro, Mitch Nay, Sean Ochinko, and this man, who could well be the next big Blue Jays sensation:

Monday, February 23, 2015

2014 Lugnuts hitters, looking ahead

day 1
Courtesy: @BlueJays
The one and only Jason Leblebijian
Going through the 2014 Lansing Lugnuts position players with 2015 forecasts/guesses:
Anthony Alford: impressed in five games with the Lugnuts before heading to the SEC to play college football; decided to play baseball full-time and spent the winter in Australia; would not be surprising to see a return to Lansing this season.
Justin Atkinson: utility infielder has transitioned to catcher, could very well return to Lansing
Seth Conner: catcher/nicest human alive, could well return to Lansing
L.B. Dantzler: likely bound for Dunedin with potential promotion to New Hampshire
D.J. Davis: top prospect struggled with the Lugnuts, could well return to Lansing
Matt Dean: on his way to Dunedin to start (and slug) at first base
Chaz Frank: hustle outfielder could land in either Lansing or Dunedin
David Harris: potential breakthrough player with speed and surprising power, Lansing or Dunedin
Daniel Klein: likely bound to catch in Dunedin
Jason Leblebijian: by the end of last year, he was the heart of the Lugnuts; send him to Dunedin
Derrick Loveless: Dunedin's starting corner outfielder, hopefully continuing last year's breakout showing
Dawel Lugo: Dunedin's starting shortstop, with huge offensive potential if he keeps maturing
Mitch Nay: Dunedin's starting third baseman, and ready to crush it
Santiago Nessy: traded to Kansas City, and likely a starting role with the A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks
Ian Parmley: outfielder in Dunedin
Carlos Ramirez: converted to pitching, could well see action on Lansing mound
Mike Reeves: catcher in Dunedin/New Hampshire
Jorge Saez: catcher in Double-A New Hampshire... and potential 2016/2017 Major Leaguer? It couldn't happen to a better guy.
Chris Schaeffer: outstanding organizational guy, should have whatever role he wants with Blue Jays; New Hampshire catcher?
Rowdy Tellez: Lugnuts starting first baseman / power hitter
Dickie Joe Thon: starter in Dunedin
I present to you this box score, in which future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan collected zero hits and still scored five runs.

Friday, February 20, 2015

2015, here we come

Construction is continuing.  The rebuild of Cooley Law School Stadium is persevering through the cold. The 2015 season will see enormous changes within the ballpark. With the addition of The Outfield development in 2016, things should be terrific.
Credit: Ben Owen, Lansing Lugnuts
Credit: Ben Owen, Lansing Lugnuts
I'm back! I work seasonally for the Lansing Lugnuts; yesterday was my first day officially back in the office. This will be my seventh year as voice of the team --- and there will be plenty to discuss on Around the Nest. Baseball Essentials' Brian Crawford interviewed me about the position and other matters.
I'll have a new #2 voice at my side, with Trey Wilson jumping up deservingly to Double-A as the new #2 voice of the Altoona Curve. (I'm sure my new broadcast assistant will be Fine.)
Interested in working for the Lugnuts? The Lugs' Job Fair will be held at the Lansing Center from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, February 28th. Click here for more information.
Job Fair 480x270
The temperature in Lansing is 5° (and feeling much colder), but Blue Jays pitchers and catchers are 3 days away from reporting to spring training.
Courtesy of the Blue Jays' official Twitter feed:
Courtesy of @BlueJays
Major League Baseball is committed to speeding up the game. To wit, they've introduced a list of pace of game directives. Bring on the pitch clock!
Time Remaining
40 Seconds
PA announces batter and begins to play walk-up music
30 Seconds
Pitcher throws final warm-up pitch
25 Seconds
Batter's walk-up music ends
20 Seconds-5 Seconds
Batter enters the batter's box
20 Seconds-0 Seconds
Pitcher begins motion to deliver pitch
Minor League Baseball tried the same thing several years ago, which led to this game-ending result, ranked #1 on Chris Mehring's list of dramatic finishes.
Count me in favor of the change, but don't judge it too soon. Give it the chance to get off the ground and let players and managers get accustomed to it.