Wednesday, the Bulls unveiled plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Durham Bulls Athletic Park this season. An interactive feature for fans for the preseason is the All-DBAP team, which will be decided by fan voting. Below is all you need to know about the voting process.
We can probably call it for Charlie Montoyo for Manager.
But lots of great competition in other categories for the Triple-A Tampa Bay Rays affiliate, who saw their ballpark go through massive renovations prior to the 2014 season (and going into it). SP Matt Moore came to mind, but he made just 9 starts for the team before making his major league debut. How about new manager Jared Sandberg? He made his Bulls debut at 22 and played his first full season with them the following year. In terms of recent years, Pitcher Mike Montgomery threw a no-hitter, the first of his career. And in 2013, top Rays prospect Jake Odorizzi went 9-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 22 starts. Can a case be made for Evan Longoria? The third baseman played in 31 games for Durham in 2007, but he barely looked back after that. Part of this fan-voting contest will be popularity or who people recall from most recent seasons, but that's part of the fun. The performance is important. But so are the memories associated with the player. Look for a new category on their Facebook page every Monday starting February 2nd.
1. Dirt: Why Exclusivity and Access are Key
2. Cutting Your Teeth in the Minor League Media -
3. Growing Through Blogging (how I got noticed in a big old boys club)
4. "I'm not like you people": Dealing with "Prospects", "Non-Prospects", Coaches, and Managers
5. Developing Contacts, Sources and Trust
6. Scouts are Scouts, We Aren't
7. What Can You Offer? Why Should They Read? Developing a Niche in a Competitive Industry
8. Stories from the Field
The e-book coming in February.
My e-book 'Farm Life: Covering Minor League Baseball in the Digital Age' will be released in February, with release date to be announced soon. I revealed the cover art last week and here's a few of the chapter titles, with a glance at...
Dirt: Why Having Exclusivity and Access is Key
Coming through the door cocky and competitive is the absolute wrong approach. It is no approach at all. You will learn nothing about the craft or business, and you will not develop relationships with colleagues and contacts, all of which are essential to your success. Digital media has opened so many doors. Learn to take advantage of that in a way that will benefit you.
Growing Through Blogging (how I got noticed in a big old boy’s club)
Why did anyone pay attention to something with a cheeky, scrappy sounding title that rhymed? Why did baseball fans have reason to read a blog that referred to women’s fashion? Why did anyone take what I was doing seriously?
Baseball fans likely weren’t running to read something that didn’t make claims in the title like ‘Baseball Insider’ and ‘The #1 Source for…” Those claims are easy and not often questioned. But that doesn’t matter. The work speaks for itself. And, eventually, that’s why the work I was doing garnered respect, and opened more professional doors. I made it count every time. I built the idea, brick by brick, until I formed something solid.
Stories from the Field
The most important experience of my career was covering Trenton Thunder manager Tony Franklin and my time in the Eastern League. The Double-A Yankees stadium became my home and the place where pivotal moments of growth took place. Sitting in his office day after day, I grew into a more professional reporter, sharpening my instincts and becoming more self-assured. All fear and anxiety came to the surface, as did my true sense of myself and what mattered most. When I stopped choosing fear, my life and career changed. A few things happened to turn the tide.
Matt Silverman did not simply wake up one morning after sliding into his new role as president of Rays baseball operations and decide to ship out nearly half the team he inherited. • It only looked that way. • The massive offseason makeover that Silverman has orchestrated — making seven trades that sent nine key players packing and cutting a 10th — is the product of a process to restock a sagging farm system, reduce what had been a franchise-high payroll (though only by about $10 million, to around $70 million) and increase the flexibility of the roster, all while hanging on to enough talent to return the team to contention. • "It's a little bit of a threading of the needle," Silverman said. "We're working within our constraints to field a team that we believe can compete, while at the same time keeping an eye on the needed talent in our system to maintain confidence in our long-term competitiveness." • The plan — yes, despite what some critics suggest, they do have one — was employed, and perhaps accelerated, after Silverman replaced Andrew Friedman in mid October, then saw manager Joe Maddon leave.
Stephen Souza is the Rays prospect to watch this Spring Training. Via trades, the Rays acquired the OF from the Nationals, and a few others that are on this reconfigured list. 2014 2nd round pick Brent Honeywell ranks 10th. Mikie Mahtook ranked 6th in BA's 2015 Top 10 Rays prospects list, dropping 8th here. The Rays needed some high-end prospects to add to a system lacking solid upper-level talent, and this off-season was a strong effort in that regard.
In the midst of an excellent 2014 season, the New York Yankees traded catcher/first baseman Peter O'Brien. He'd been making huge progress with Double-A Trenton, putting up power and contact numbers. He made a solid jump into the Arizona Diamondbacks system, continuing his excellent pace in the Arizona Fall League. He finished 2014 hitting .271/.316/.594 between three levels, and begins 2015 ranked 8th in the Diamondbacks system by Baseball America. He's the only catcher in the top 10, with pitching and the rest of the infield dominating the list. O'Brien is a natural leader that showed quick hands and solid athleticism in his first professional season in the New York Penn League. He looked physically stronger and more polished in Double-A. At the pace he's going, he projects to develop more power and hit maybe 30+ home runs a year. But he came to catching late. He added the position in his senior year of high school. He can play third as well. Catching hasn't come naturally, so that could hold him back from playing regularly in the big leagues. He's commented in different interviews, including for this blog, about his confidence in his growth, and his need to improve throwing.
You've got your Biscuits, Rubberducks and MuckDogs. They're just three of the contenders in Sporting News contest for 'Best MiLB Team Name.'
Throughout the years, MiLB teams have looked to fans for the final decision on a new team name, as well as a name that reflected something important or historical in the area. But there's also teams that decide to directly connect themselves to the big club they're affiliated with (Binghamton Mets).
There's no data that I'm aware of proving which way connects with fans more or if that matters at all. But when teams make it as fun as calling themselves the Chihuahuas, well, you can see the argument for doing something different. Now with this contest, originality and creativity are receiving honors.
Vote now in the link provided in the tweet.
Rich Gedman’s Red Sox/Massachusetts roots run deeper than probably any coach, manager, or player on any of the team’s rosters, and throughout the organization.
Sure, there’s fans that have lived their whole lives for the team, but Gedman is uniquely tied to the area and in having actual impact on the team’s future.
Last week, the Red Sox announced that Gedman would return to the organization, this time as Triple-A Pawtuckett’s hitting coach. He spent 2014 managing the Double-A Portland SeaDogs. This marks another stop in his Red Sox minor league ladder, beginning his career as a coach in the system four years ago. He was also a well-known, long-tenured former player for the team from 1980-1990, though his career ended with stints for the Astros and Cardinals.
Gedman’s ties go much further. A Worcester, Massachusetts native, he managed the Can-Am League Worcester Torandoes from 2005-2010; though not affiliated with the Red Sox, the independent league team made good use of the local ties. You’d find as many in attendance wearing Red Sox jerseys as you would Tornadoes gear. Even then, he was still connected to the team he’d spent most of his career with.
As the off-season began, Gedman, 55, was one of the candidates in the running for Boston’s vacant hitting coach job. That job eventually went to Chilli Davis, who’d spent three years with the Oakland Athletics, helping guide the team to the AL third best in runs scored. Perhaps that big league experience won the job in the end.
Gedman is a quiet force, with the kind of baseball intelligence, experience, and patience, balanced with discipline, that big league teams value so highly for their young players. His wisdom can’t be overstated. As for impact, Sean Coyle, drafted in 2010 in the third round by the Red Sox, had this to say about Gedman last season:
"The way he talks about preparing every day, taking care of your swing, and he gets to know every hitter. He wants to work on what you want to. He puts in the work and the guys respect everything he has to say."
Covering Gedman for this blog, and as a freelancer for the Worcester Telegram, goes back to 2008, when he managed the Tornadoes. Before a game in Worcester, he said something plaintive and powerful.
“I tell these guys that at this level, good isn’t good enough.”
The difficulties of reaching or returning to affiliated baseball isn’t lost on any of the players in Independent League baseball. But Gedman knew how to continuously reach down into the heart of the matter and apply the right amount of pressure and empathy. Not every manager at that level knows how to strike that balance. Not every manager cares that much. He never quite seemed like he belonged there, with that caliber of coaching strength. Once he made it back to the Red Sox organization, it was unsurprising.
Now he’s advanced. He’s not quite in the big leagues, but is seemingly primed to receive a shot in the next few years. Davis is positioned to take over an offense that fell from leading the majors in several categories, and went to the World Series, but suffered in runs scored (634) OPS (.684) in 2014. Gedman will work with more experienced hitters, some with big league experience. A new challenge, but one that, based on his experiences, is one he will take on with the same qualities that have earned him such respect from the Red Sox so far.
Oh, by the way. About those roots? His son Matthew Gedman was drafted by the Red Sox in 2012, and has talked about the tremendous influence of his father.
Gedman’s continuation in the organization seems inevitable. So too does a big league shot.
Today's 'Flashback Friday' focuses on music. 2014 Rays 3rd round pick Brock Burke and Yankees Brett Gerritese, who pitched the bulk of 2014 in the Florida State League, were asked what their favorite pre-game music was last year.
Here's what they said:
Pre-game Music: Before starts and on the bus and stuff like that I'm pretty much listening to reggae anywhere from Rebelution to Bob Marley. (Ed. Note: Important to relax on the mound, right?)
Pre-game Music: Henderson-All I Got and Childish Gambino You See Me
Bonus Question: Funniest, Most Challenging and Favorite Moment of 2014:
The funniest moment was high school rookies first shower time. The toughest moment was the first start of the season because of all the nerves of the first professional start. The best moment was the final game of the season because it was my best start of the season and it was nice to finish off the season on a good note.
MLB announced its attendance numbers on Monday, after the final weekend of the season drew 1,648,624 fans to ballparks across the country. It was the second-highest weekend attendance of the season, and the largest final weekend of a season since 2008, when 1,683,763 fans attended games. The final weekend featured not only postseason positioning, but also the farewells for legends Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko, plus Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter for Washington.
"During the last week, all of us who love the game witnessed a wonderful culmination to the 2014 regular season with thrilling postseason races down to the final day, an emotional farewell to an icon of this generation and a milestone in our nation's capital," Commissioner Bud Selig said.
"Once again, I'd like to thank our great fans for their continued enthusiasm and support over the last decade and beyond. I join our fans in looking forward to another magnificent postseason and all the best of our national pastime."
As long as MiLB makes money, and MLB sees the returns are THIS GOOD, the players on the field in the bus leagues won't see a change in pay or treatment. They're viewed as seasonal workers that help communities thrive, give people a reason to come to a MiLB game and serve as examples of what's possible. Until it isn't. Players know the deal and they know what they're up against. But now more than ever, we're seeing just how much they really are up against. And record-setting attendance means business will go on as usual.
Certain players make their mark before playing a day of professional sports. Those elite prospects, or the ones that suddenly surged with an outstanding final college or high school season, that have fans and media talking. When the talent and the numbers are the center of the discussion, that's one thing. But personality, legal and behavioral issues change that discussion entirely.
Jameis Winston is under that umbrella. After being accused of rape, whatever talent he showed in both football and baseball became secondary in his story. It was announced earlier this week that the Florida State Attorney will not pursue charges. On Wednesday, a federal lawsuit was filed by the accuser against Florida State University.
Also on Wednesday, Winston ended all debate about his baseball vs. football future when he declared for the 2015 NFL Draft. The two-sport, two-way athlete is no longer a baseball question. And no longer a baseball problem. Because, had he pursued baseball and been drafted, same as in the NFL, he'd be both.
But was Winston ever a true baseball prospect?
In 2011, prospect writer Keith Law tweeted this in response to the question about the FSU QB:
"First round baseball talent if he indicates he'd sign."
In April of 2014, Law was asked again about him. This time, he wasn't sold on him. In response to the question "What kind of prospect is Winston?"
"He's not. Still."
Also in 2014, Baseball America's JJ Cooper pointed out the challenges Winston faced, but also the "potential" he had to be a first rounder. He also shared a BA report from the previous year. Overall, scouts were more convinced of his future in football.
With his decision announcement, that's all laid to rest.
We spent an enormous amount of time talking about him, not just because of his variety of athletic abilities, but because of very serious allegations. What would MLB have done with him? And, now in the NFL, amid so much controversy about domestic and sexual violence, how will they approach this?
Young players receive messages not by talk or pink bats and gear, but by real actions and example. MLB has a long history of brushing violence against women aside, while fighting the good fight for breast cancer awareness, as well as doing things for military families and ALs. Domestic and sexual assault hasn't been a major area of concern. And consequences, well, there weren't any really. They're now working on a MLB Domestic Violence Policy. And the NFL, of course, stands on the front line of that, in part as a reaction to save themselves in the Ray Rice domestic abuse fallout.
Winston wasn't just a possible baseball prospect, but a focal point for debate about violence against women, and how athletes are treated. It's fair to say that the allegations changed some people's desire to see him drafted, and that for others it changed nothing. Jump on Twitter and see the kinds of thoughts people have on women and athletes and violence.
Ultimately, Winston's may be out of the baseball discussion, but hopefully his story opened up more debate, and more concern, about the conduct of young players and what responsibility we expect of them.