May 2011

There’s no lottery in baseball …

So we’re drawing close – 34 days before the home opener, 32 days before the season gets underway, and 20 days before the MLB First-Year Player Draft.

– Bobby Borchering (2009) had a big day at the plate to support Major League pitcher Zach Duke – who was in Visalia on a rehab assignment – in a rout of Rancho Cucamonga. More on this one in the Minor League recap below.

– While Miguel Montero (2002-03) has been solid most of the season at the plate for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Gerardo Parra continues to get better. Both had a huge hand in a win on Tuesday for the D-backs. Parra drove in a pair of runs in the victory, but it was Montero’s RBI double that snapped a 1-1 tie in a 6-1 win.

– Speaking of Parra (2006), with the two hits he collected in the D-backs’ 5-4, 11-inning win over Atlanta on Wednesday, he’s now hitting .264 (which is below his .275 career BA) with a pair of home runs and 10 RBIs. While some may yearn for more on the power side, Parra’s defense makes up for it, as he has turned into a very good outfielder. Of course, when we can, we provide video evidence.

Reading this blog entry could make one feel bad for former Osprey Carlos Gonzalez (2003) and Jorge De La Rosa (1999-2000). De La Rosa ended up getting locked into a pitcher’s duel with Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels last night, but the Phillies ended up with the win. It was by far the best pitching performance not only of the season for the lefty, but in his career against the Phillies.

– If you’ve been wondering about Greg Smith (2005), and can’t find him on the Colorado Springs SkySox roster – there is a reason. The Rockies released Smith after Spring Training, and he ended up signing with the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the American Association. In two starts, the lefty, who was the 2005 Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year, is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA, including a complete-game shutout in his latest outing.

Minor League Recap:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces had an off-day on Wednesday, as they prepared for a road trip that begins in Albuquereue and continues to Round Rock.

– Double-A Mobile: Deuces were running wild for Paul Goldschmidt (2009) on Wednesday, with two singles, two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored in a 4-for-6 game as Mobile routed Carolina, 16-6. Ollie Linton (2008) singled, walked and scored three times, while Kyle Greene (2008) doubled, drove in a run and also scored thrice.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: In the 10-2 win over Ranch Cucamonga, Adam Eaton (2010) had a huge day – hitting a home run, triple, two singles, scored three times and drove in a pair of runs. Eaton’s now second in the Cal League in hitting (.395) and leads in on-base percentage (.500). Derek Eitel (2010), who was scheduled to make the start before the D-backs decided to place Duke there for the rehab assignment, pitched two innings and allowed a run on four hits, with two strikeouts. Taylor Sinclair (2008) and Yonata Ortega (2007) each pitched an inning of scoreless relief. David Nick (2009) added two hits and two runs scored, while Keon Broxton (2009) chipped in with a hit and a run.

– Class A South Bend: The SilverHawks fell to Lansing, 5-3, on Wednesday. It was a good day for former Osprey pitchers – Jeff Shields (2010) had an effective start, with five innings pitched and three runs allowed, followed by two shutout innings of work by Daniel Taylor (2010), and Keith Cantwell (2009) added a shutout inning as well. At the plate, though, the lone former Osprey to get a hit was Roberto Rodriguez (2010), who came into the game after Bobby Stone was apparently injured during his first at-bat. No word on what the injury was, or how long, or if, it will keep him out of action.

Today’s Games (and Osprey probables):
AAA Reno (25-15) at Albuquerque.
AA Mobile (23-15) at Tennessee.
A Adv. Visalia (19-21) at Rancho Cucamonga – Trevor Harden (2008) will get the start for the Rawhide.
A South Bend (17-23) vs. Lansing – Patrick Schuster (2009-10) gets the call for the Hawks tonight.

Will it be you??

Today’s countdown numbers are – 35, 33 and  43:
– 35 days before the Osprey home opener
– 33 days before the Osprey open the season at Helena
– 43 fans before Ollie ties the single-game attendance record on Facebook … and the 4,077th fan gets some cool stuff. What, you ask?? The 4,077th person to become Ollie’s friend on Facebook will win an Osprey prize package including four tickets to the second game of the season on June 23, free popcorn and soda at the game and four Osprey caps. Tell your friends!

-Emilio Bonifacio (2003) hit a line drive off of Washington right-handed reliever Todd Coffey, this after Coffey dashed into the game on Sunday. Bonifacio reached safely on the play, and Coffey did not suffer any major injury to his pitching elbow, near where the ball made impact. He’s also making an impact at the plate, hitting .288 in 35 games with five doubles, two triples, a home run, six RBIs and two stolen bases, while playing a number of different positions this season.

– Bryan Augenstein (2007) continues to recover from a severe groin injury suffered last month in a game at Arizona. The St. Louis Cardinals have moved Auggie to the 60-day DL, and it also appears as if the right-hander will head to Triple-A Memphis to pitch once he is ready.

– Guess the “Santos rules” have been put on the shelf in Chicago. Here’s the highlights from his fifth save in five tries, and now with his scoreless streak sitting at 19 innings, you can call him “closer”. Santos is, however, still a work in progress. The righty is still just in his third season of pitching in  professional baseball, after the 2002 former Osprey made the move from the infield. By the way – make it 6-for-6 in saves, 20 scoreless frames and 16 scoreless appearances.

– He may be back – CarGo (2003) had another big hit to help the Colorado Rockies go back into first place in the NL West. Then again, reading this blog entry could make one feel bad for both Gonzalez and Jorge De La Rosa (1999-2000).

– Another former Osprey infielder on a similar path to Santos is former infielder-turned-pitcher Jerry Gil (2000). Gil is coming off of a solid outing for the Triple-A Louisville, and has an 0-3 mark with three saves and a 3.45 ERA in 14 games this season for Cincinnati’s top affiliate. Pitching 15 2/3 innings, Gil has allowed 16 hits and eight walks – which translates to a 1.54 WHIP, which for a closer can cause fans and coaches to be a little nervous in the ninth inning – but also has fanned 16 batters. Gil shares the closer duties, and it will be interesting to see what develops with him in the next season or two, especially now that he is apparently recovered from Tommy John surgery.

– Of course, the 2011 MLB First-Year Player draft is drawing near, and while there have been plenty of talk about who the Arizona D-backs will take with the Nos. 3 and 7 picks, there’s also the possibility that at least one Montana player will be taken in the draft. High on that potential list is a Missoula native, Ben Roberts, who was showcasing his skills at a pre-draft camp on Monday.

Minor League Recap:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces took down the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday, 11-5. Tom Layne (2007) allowed two hits and a walk but did not allow a run in two innings of relief.

– Double-A Mobile: Charles Brewer (5 IP) and Bryan Henry (3 IP) combined for eight shutout innings as the BayBears beat Carolina, 5-0, on Tuesday. Brewer (2009) scattered four hits and a walk, while striking out a season-high seven batters, while Henry (2007) allowed just a hit and a walk while collecting a strikeout. Brewer also went 1-for-2 at the plate and scored a run. Taylor Harbin (2007) had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and drove in a run, while Jake Elmore (2008) added a hit and a run scored. Paul Goldschmidt (2009) added a sacrifice fly.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: Another tough outing for Eric Smith (2009), as he suffered the loss in a 4-1 decision to Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday. Smith allowed all four runs (three earned) on eight hits and five walks, and struck out five while lowering his ERA to 10.10. Diogenes Rosario and Adam Worthington, teammates with Smith on the 2009 Osprey, threw three innings of one-hit relief behind him. Unfortunately, the Rawhide offense could not get going as they were held to four hits. David Nick (2009) and Rossmel Perez (2008) each had a base hit for Visalia.

– Class A South Bend: The SilverHawks felt right at home, and used a six-run second, plus the solid pitching of David Holmberg (2010) to take down a 7-2 win over Lansing on Tuesday. Holmberg went seven innings and did not allow an earned run while striking out three batters. Jeremy Erben (2010) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to wrap up the win. Raywilly Gomez (2009) and Raul Navarro (2010) each had two hits, Ender Inciarte (2009) added a hit and a RBI, while Matt Helm added a single to the Hawks’ attack at the plate.

Today’s Games (and Osprey probables):
AAA Reno (25-15) has an off-day on today before beginning a four-game series at Albuquerque on Thursday.
AA Mobile (22-15) vs. Carolina – Game begins early … Gotta love the 11:35 a.m. (10:35 a.m. MT) start time.
A Adv. Visalia (18-21) at Rancho Cucamonga – Derek Eitel (2010) will get the call tonight for the Rawhide.
A South Bend (17-22) vs. Lansing – Jeff Shields (2010) got the start for the Hawks, with the game already underway. Lansing is up, 2-0, entering the top of the fourth inning.

Tremble …

We begin with a question … who has a better walk-to-strikeout ratio, Adam Eaton or Paul Goldschmidt? The answer is coming real quick, but before we spill the beans … 36 days before the home opener, 34 days before the season opener, and just a few days before more baseball hits the Ogren Park Allegiance Field turf again, with the Missoula Mavericks’ Memorial Day Tournament.

– With the scuttlebut about Goldy getting a strong look to move up the D-backs’ Organization Ladder, another player who has also hit his way into consideration of a promotion is Adam Eaton (2010), who is putting up a different kind of eye-popping numbers for Class A Advanced Visalia. Power numbers get a little out of whack in the Cal League, but Eaton will not be confused for Goldschmidt anytime soon.

Instead, Eaton is putting up on-base numbers (.488 through Sunday) close to what he did a season ago in Missoula, when he racked up a pair of team records with a .385 batting average and a .500 on-base percentage. Entering Monday’s action, Eaton’s .379 mark is 5th-best in the Cal League, while he is also in the Top 10 in the league in on-base (second) and stolen bases (13, which is 7th in the league). While he won’t be a power hitter (eight doubles, one triple, two home runs), the one small red flag is his strikeout total – he has 22, compared to 18 walks in 103 at-bats.

And to answer the question – Goldschmidt has more walks than strikeouts (30 to 26), thus the better BB-to-K ratio.

– One surprise – no DL for Blake Cooper (2010), at least for the moment. Apparently, he suffered no immediate ill-effects from the liner he took off of his forehead on Sunday while pitching for South Bend at Bowling Green. However, the D-backs will keep an eye on Cooper, as symptoms could arrive later. A similar episode (with a concrete wall, not a line drive) took place in Charles Brewer’s case before he went on the DL, several days following the initial trauma. And with the off-day for South Bend on Monday, the D-backs may make a move today instead.

-Scott Hairston (2001) has been relegated to spot-starting and pinch-hitting duty for the New York Mets since the return of two outfielders from the disabled list. So far, in 29 games, Hairston has just 45 at-bats, and is hitting .200 with a home run and five runs batted in.

– JD Closser (1999), who holds a rare Osprey mark, is putting together a decent season for Triple-A Albuquerque. The former Missoula backstop, who is also playing some first base for the Isotopes, is hitting .295 with two home runs (including one last night) and 15 RBIs. Oh, Closser’s mark – he is one of two former Osprey to have at least four hit streaks of seven games or more. The other player, Bobby Stone, needed three seasons to do it, while Closser collected all four of his in the 1999 season.

Minor League Update:

-Triple-A Reno:The Aces lost to the Iowa Cubs, 9-6, on Monday. Jordan Norberto (2006) pitched to one batter, allowed a hit, and was replaced. Unfortunately, it may involve an injury.

– Double-A Mobile: While Wes Roemer was taking a no-hit bid into the eighth inning (this begs a trivia question, see tomorrow’s post), the BayBears offense was mainly quiet – until the home half of the eighth, when Mobile erupted for five runs to take a 6-1 win over Carolina on Monday. A pair of 2008 Osprey played a role – Jake Elmore doubled home a run to cap off the rally, while Bryan Shaw picked up the last four outs to get the win on the mound. Fellow 2008 alumnus Ollie Linton singled, stole a base and scored a run, while Goldschmidt drew a pair of walks.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: Mike Belfiore (2009) gave up five first-inning runs (six total in four-plus innings) as the Rawhide took a 7-1 loss to Inland Empire on Monday. Adam Eaton (2010) had two hits and drove in Chris Owings (2009) in the seventh inning for the lone Rawhide run. Keon Broxton (2009) added a hit, while Christian Beltre (2007) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief behind Belfiore.

– Class A South Bend: Had an off-day on Monday following a 3-5 road trip.

Today’s games (and Osprey probables):
AAA Reno (24-15) vs. Iowa
AA Mobile (21-15) vs. Carolina – Charles Brewer (2009) will make the start for the BayBears.
A Adv. Visalia (18-20) at Inland Empire – Eric Smith (2009) gets the ball tonight for the Rawhide.
A South Bend (16-22) vs. Lansing – David Holmberg (2010) gets the start for the Hawks.

Close to a month away …

We’re down to 37 days before rthe Osprey home opener, 35 days before the season opener, and no more time before the Paul Goldschmidt-to-Arizona rumors start swirling … again.

– Yup, it’s true, the rumor mill has moved into second gear (have to be an ESPN Insider to read the whole thing, but the first two paragraphs say a lot) with the possibilities of Goldy heading to the Major Leagues. When you look at his numbers – .336 batting average, .468 on-base, .720 slugging, 1.1188 OPS, with six doubles, 14 home runs and 38 RBIs, with three stolen bases and more walks (30) than strikeouts (26) – they are definitely eye-popping, and you can see why there’s some talk about moving the Texas State product, and 2009 member of the Missoula Osprey, up the ladder. And with the speculation that current D-back first sacker Juan Miranda could be headed to the DL, it has just turned up the tempo of the machine. He’s had quite a baseball career, as it turns out, and while he’ll be in a Major League uniform if he keeps up his professional production, the earliest it could happen, you get the feeling, is September.

(One inkling, courtesy of Osprey radio voice Ben Catley – Wily Mo Pena gets a call-up if Miranda gets hurt (he has tore the cover off the ball in Reno), one of the vets with Double-A Mobile moves to Triple-A Reno, and Adam Eaton gets called up to Double-A. His On-base percentage is somewhere near his record-setting .500 with the Osprey last season, and to see if he could achieve that in the pitching-favored Southern League may be too tempting to pass up.)

– Gotta love the bloggers – here’s a take on this past weekend’s D-backs/Dodgers dust-up from the True Blue LA folk. Note the descriptive way they describe Goldy.

– Here’s more from the weekend in the minors – well, Friday and Saturday, anyway – and Nick Piecoro poses an interesting thought on Adam Eaton (2010).

– One thing about Pedro Ciriaco (2005) that no one denies – he’s a more-than-solid defender. This video highlight provides more proof.

– Blake Cooper (2010) had a scoreless streak of over eight innings for Class A South Bend entering Sunday’s action, but was touched up – and also had a scare on the mound.

– We had to share this, especially with the Yankees-Red Sox just playing this weekend. It’s a funny video with Boston slugger David Ortiz. Who wouldn’t want to hug Big Papi?

Minor-League Update time:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces lost a 14-11 slugfest to the Iowa Cubs on Sunday. Both former Osprey in the Aces’ bullpen, Daniel Stange and Jordan Norberto (both from 2006) had tough outings in the loss.

– Double-A Mobile: The BayBears lost a 7-3 decision to Carolina on Sunday. Jarrod Parker (2007) battled through five innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk, with three strikeouts, and took the loss. Ollie Linton (2008) had two hits, while Kyle Greene (2008) singled, doubled, and drove in a run. Goldy went 1-for-5 with a run scored and three strikeouts. Jake Elmore (2008) also had a base hit and a RBI for Mobile, while Clay Zavada (2006) pitched another inning of scoreless relief, lowering his ERA to 1.35.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: Chris Owings (2009) had another big game, with four hits, including two triples and a home run, and three RBIs as the Rawhide took it to Inland Empire, 17-2. This game became a rout late, with Visalia scoring 10 of their runs in their final three at-bats. Everyone who played had at least one base hit, with Adam Eaton (2010) singling, scoring twice and driving in a run, while Bobby Borchering (2009) and Keon Broxton (2009) each had two hits. Yonata Ortega (2007) pitched around a pair of ninth-inning walks to finish off the win.

– Class A South Bend: Matt Helm (2009-10) singled and doubled, but his efforts were not enough for the SilverHawks to get any offense going in what turned into an 10-3 loss to Bowling Green on Sunday. The end of the 8-game, 6-day road trip netted just five hits for South Bend, and the usually-stingy Hawks bullpen surrendered runs – namely from former Osprey Eury De La Rosa (2009) and Cooper, both whom had scoreless streaks snapped in the loss. Raul Navarro (2010) added an RBI single. JR Bradley (2010) suffered the loss on the hill for the Hawks, allowing six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Today’s games (and Osprey probables):
AAA Reno (24-14) vs. Iowa
AA Mobile (20-15) vs. Carolina
A Adv. Visalia (18-19) at Inland Empire. No starters have been posted for tonight.
A South Bend (16-19) has an off-day on Monday. They will start a home series with Lansing on Tuesday. David Holmberg (2010) will get the start for the Hawks on Tuesday.

Watch out for that ladder and black cat …

T-minus 40 days before the home opener, 38 days before the season opener, and less than a few hours before the final weekend that exists until mid-September. At least for most folks who work in short-season baseball … and, oh, by the way … it’s Friday the 13th.

– On the transaction front – former Osprey pitcher Enrique Burgos (2009) has been promoted to Class A South Bend from Extended Spring Training. Burgos takes the place of starting pitcher Tyler Green, who was placed on the disabled list on Thursday.

– The ever-improving Esmerling Vasquez (2004) has played his part in solidifying one of the achilles’ heels of the D-backs last season, it’s bullpen. That group has put together a solid first few weeks of the 2011 season.

– Evan Scribner (2007) has been pretty  good for the San Diego Padres since his call-up last month. In four outings – including one against the D-Backs – “The Scribbler” (it comes from his Wikipedia page …) has a 1.13 ERA and seven strikeouts and two walks in eight innings of work. His hometown paper provides a bit of an update, and here’s more on his move to longer outings out of the bullpen.

– From the video archive … since we have people come and searching for info on Extended Spring Training guys, we share this with you. It’s a feature video of right-handed pitcher Robby Rowland in his high school days – playing basketball. Yeah, he was okay on the court …

More draft notes from Nick Piecoro. Looks like the D-backs are going to have plenty of options with two of the first seven picks in next month’s draft.

– Sergio Santos (2002) continues to be a puzzle Major League hitters are struggling to solve. The former Osprey shortstop-turned-reliever continues to be in the closer’s mix for the Chicago White Sox.

Minor League Update:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces registered an 11-3 decision over Omaha on Thursday. Former Osprey bullpen mates Daniel Stange and Jordan Norberto (both 2006) combined for three innings of hitless relief.

– Double-A Mobile: The BayBears were held in check by Jacksonville in a 4-1 setback on Thusday. Charles Brewer (2009) allowed all four runs in his second start back from a concussion, while Bryan Henry (2007) pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Mobile had just two hits, one of which was picked up by Taylor Harbin (2007).

– Class A Advanced Visalia: Eric Smith (2009) struggled once again – allowing 10 runs in four-plus innings – as the Rawhide lost to Bakersfield, 11-4. The bullpen was solid, allowing just a run in 5 2/3 innings – Adam Worthington (2009), Christian Beltre (2007), Taylor Sinclair (2008) and Yonata Ortega (2007) getting it done. David Nick (2009) had three hits, including two doubles, and two runs batted in, while Bobby Borchering (2009) added three hits, and Adam Eaton (2010) added a pair of safeties and a RBI, raising his batting average to .370 in the process.

– Class A South Bend: The SilverHawks succumbed to a big inning once again and lost “Eike vs. Former Osprey II”. Kevin Eichhorn (2008-10) scattered six hits and allowed just two runs – one earned – with a walk and two strikeouts as West Michigan posted a 5-3 win. Roberto Rodriguez (2010) singled and doubled, while Bobby Stone (2008-10) was the only other former Osprey to collect a hit in the game. Ender Inciarte walked twice and stole a base, but was also picked off by Eichhorn. Eury De La Rosa (2009) pitched three innings of scoreless baseball in relief of Jeff Shields (2010), who took the loss.

Today’s games (and Osprey probables):
AAA Reno (22-13) vs. Omaha – Tom Layne (2007) gets the start for the Aces.
AA Mobile (19-13) at Jacksonville
A Adv. Visalia (17-17) vs. Bakersfield – Derek Eitel (2010) gets the ball tonight for the Rawhide on Ghostbusters Night.
A South Bend (15-19) at Bowling Green – No starter announced for this one, could be Burgos.

(MSO Hub)bin’ it …

T-minus 41 days until the home opener, 39 days before the season opens and 23 days before Osprey individual game tickets will go on sale at the new ticket office location, inside the MSO Hub at the corner of Higgins and Main.

– The Osprey moving into a new location and partnering up with two tourism groups in their new location has created quite a buzzHere’s more on the story.

– Here’s one blogger’s thoughts on Emilio Bonifacio’s contributions to the Florida Marlins’ success this season.

– Chris Owings, a member of the 2009 Osprey, had a huge night in Visalia’s win over Bakersfield. We’ll hit on more on this game in the Minor League Update below.

– Former Osprey reliever Jose Valverde reached a milestone on Sunday while closing out a game for the Detroit Tigers, earning his 200th save. What’s even more intriguing – the payback that Valverde will be apparently getting in the clubhouse (and if we were chatting online right now, we’d end this with a LOL).

– Speaking of laughing – Ollie Osprey makes us do that from time to time. But what we have learned is no laughing matter – unless you think winning a prize pack is so cool it makes you giggle with glee. If you’re not friends with Ollie on Facebook (yes, the bird has his own Facebook page … how does he type with those talons, anyway?), head here and add Ollie as a friend. 

As if he doesn’t have enough friends, Ollie is looking to break the “attendance record” of 4,076 fans through his Facebook page. The person that does it will win a cool prize pack. Become friends with Ollie for more details.

– Gerardo Parra (2006) has been a hitter at every level he has played, but what doesn’t get talked about enough, according to Nick Piecoro, is his defense.

– Defense is also something that former Osprey catcher Miguel Montero is looking to improve on … he leads all of the Majors with seven errors.

Minor League Update:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces tried to rally, but could not overcome some middle-inning success by the Omaha Storm Chasers in a 6-5 loss on Wednesday.

– Double-A Mobile: A six-run eighth inning doomed the BayBears in an 8-3 setback on Wednesday. Paul Goldschmidt had just the home run in four trips, while Ollie Linton (2008) and Taylor Harbin (2007) each collected a base hit and a run scored.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: Other than Owings’ huge night (see link above), David Nick (2009) and Adam Eaton (2010) each had three hits, while Bobby Borchering (2009) and Rossmel Perez (2008) each had a pair. Eaton, who also drove in three runs, bumped up his batting average to .364 with the effort. Mike Belfiore (2009) struggled, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and four walks, but the offensive support was enough for him to get six innings of work in and pick up the victory. Victor Capellan (2009) continued his strong season, posting a scoreless ninth inning. The win also puts the Rawhide over the .500 mark for the first time this season. 

– Class A South Bend: The Hawks picked up a nice 6-1 win at West Michigan on Wednesday. David Holmberg (2010) allowed just a run on five hits over six innings of work to pick up his second win of the season, while Blake Cooper (2010) added two innings of scoreless relief. At the plate, Ender Inciarte (2009, two runs scored), Matt Helm (2009-10, run, RBI) and Raywilly Gomez (2009)  collected two hits each to help the offense. Gomez raised his team-leading average to .326 with the effort, as he has hit in six straight games.

Today’s Games (and Osprey probables):
AAA Reno (21-13) vs. Omaha
AA Mobile (19-12) at Jacksonville – Charles Brewer (2009) will make the start for the BayBears.
A Adv. Visalia (17-16) vs. Bakersfield – Eric Smith (2009) gets the call for the Rawhide.
A South Bend (15-18) at West Michigan – It’s a battle of former Osprey – Jeff Shields (2010) gets the start for the Hawks, while Kevin Eichhorn (2008-10) goes for the Whitecaps.

New home for the main perch

Hmm, let’s see – 42 days (or six weeks) before the home opener … 40 days before the season opener … and about 24 hours before Osprey radio voice Ben Catley begins his version of Spring Training.

– It’s official, the Osprey will be “nesting” in a new location. The offices are moving into downtown Missoula, in the newly-formed MSO Hub on the corner of Main and Higgins.

– The first item is a big deal – the only thing that could trump Goldy’s minor-league-tying 13th home run, hit in the first inning of today’s game for Mobile at Jacksonville.

– While South Bend is checking in with West Michigan – they’re playing now (as of 9 a.m.) in the third of a four-game series – we checked in on former Osprey Kevin Eichhorn (2008-10 Osprey), who was trying to right things in Grand Rapids. While Eichhorn is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA, he has struck out 36 in 30 innings pitched, and his WHIP is at a respectible 1.27. However, he has also allowed three home runs – a problem he started running into with the Osprey last season. We’ll keep you up to date on his progress.

– Speaking of in-game updates … Hawks lead Whitecaps in today’s action, 3-0, entering the top of the fourth inning. Ender Inicarte is part of the story – he has two hits in two trips, with a run scored. Inciarte has his average back up to .463 (through the 2nd inning), as he continues his torrid start. Here’s a great story on Inciarte, who is playing this season with a heavy heart after losing his father to a heart attack during Spring Training.

– The other former Osprey involved in that D-backs’ trade with the Detroit Tigers that sent Eichhorn away was left-hander Ryan Robowski (2009), who has been solid for the Lakeland Flying Tigers in the Florida State League. In 14 2/3 innings, ‘Robo’ has allowed as many walks as he has collected strikeouts (seven), but has just surrendered one earned run for a 0.61 ERA, plus has two saves to his credit.

– Gerardo Parra is starting to become a regular in D-backs’ manager Kirk Gibson’s lineup, thanks in part to some extra work on the old No. 2.

Minor League Update:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces managed to take care of business on Tuesday, beating Omaha, 5-1. That run was allowed by Daniel Stange (2006) in the eighth, on a solo home run. Stange scattered two other hits and struck out two batters in the outing, which raised his ERA to 3.93.

– Double-A Mobile: The BayBears used a solid outing from Jarrod Parker (2007), a scoreless four innings from its bullpen (including 2006 alum Clay Zavada, who allowed just a walk and struck out two in two innings of work), and plenty of offense in securing a 10-1 win over Jacksonville on Tuesday. Ollie Linton (2008) had two hits and a RBI, Jake Elmore (2008) singled home a run, while Taylor Harbin (2007), who scored twice, and Paul Goldschmidt (2009) each chipped in with a base hit.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: Adam Eaton (2010) singled, tripled, and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning as the Rawhide reached the .500 mark with a 2-1 win over Bakersfield. Keon Broxton (2009) also had two hits, while Bobby Borchering (2009) had a single for Visalia. Borchering’s platoon-mate, of sorts, Matt Davidson, drove in both runs with a solo home run and the ninth-inning single. The winning run came off of Clayton Shunick, who has seen comebacks before by Osprey, as a former pitcher for the Billings Mustangs.

– Class A South Bend: The SilverHawks split a doubleheader with West Michigan on Tuesday. JR Bradley (2010) used two double play balls to help scatter eight hits and allow just one run in six innings of work while picking up his first win of the season in a 6-1 lidlifter triumph. Bobby Stone (2008-10) finally hit his first home run of the season, as the Hawks won their fifth in a row. Matt Helm (2009-10) had two hits and a RBI, while Ender Inciarte (2009) continued his surge at the plate with three hits and two runs scored. In the nightcap, the offense went quiet behind Daniel Taylor (2010) as the Hawks lost, 5-0. Raywilly Gomez (2009) singled and doubled, while Ramon Castillo (2009) added a double for all of the Hawks’ hits in the contest.

Today’s games (and former Osprey who are starting …):
AAA Reno (21-12) vs. Omaha
AA Mobile (19-11) playing at Jacksonville.
A Adv. Visalia (16-16) vs. Bakersfield – Mike Belfiore (2009) gets the ball tonight for the Rawhide.
A South Bend (14-18) playing at West Michigan … David Holmberg (2010) made the start today for the Hawks, and has allowed just one hit through 3 innings.

Terriffic Tuesday

T-minus 43 days until the home opener, 41 days before the season opener, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 days before the second half of the Pioneer League season begins …

More pre-draft stuff off the fingertips of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, especially since we’re less than a month away from it …

– More details (thanks to Nick!) on the Charles Brewer-meets-Carolina-dugout incident. The 2009 Osprey alumnus apparently took quite a shot to the cranium, and it sheds light as to why the new 7-day concussion DL is in place.

– Very interesting debates are now happening around Paul Goldschmidt (2009), which should not surprise anyone, about when to bring him up to the Major Leagues. The AZ SnakePit bloggers take a shot at the debate, among other things D-backs related.

– Looks like the leadership that Lyle Overbay (1999) is helping bring the Pittsburgh Pirates is paying off – they’re in some rare territory this late in the season after a 3-run 8th last night – buoyed by an Overbay run-scoring double. Apparently, Lyle is also making comparisons between Pirate right-hander Charlie Morton and another guy Overbay knows all too well.

Here’s a lesson in why you should not wonder why a player doesn’t “wear one for the team” all that often, or, a better way to put it with an Osprey spin to it, here’s video of a blogger who may have been secretely wondering what it’s like to be Adam Eaton.

Minor League Update:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces split a doubleheader on Monday with Salt Lake City, winning the first game, 3-2, while losing the nightcap late, 6-5. Jordan Norberto (2006) allowed just a walk and collected a strikeout in his inning of work in Game 2.

– Double-A Mobile: Taylor Harbin (2007) had a three-hit day, including a two-run home run, and scored the game-winning run on a fielder’s choice by Jake Elmore (2008) to help the BayBears beat Jacksonville, 6-5. Goldschmidt hit his 12th home run of the season, a three-run shot in the first inning, while Ollie Linton (2008) had a hit and a run scored. Bryan Shaw (2008) allowed a hit in the ninth, but shut down the Suns and earned his seventh save of the season.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: Had Monday off …

– Class A South Bend: The SilverHawks finished off a three-game sweep of Fort Wayne with a 7-2 win at home on Monday. Bradin Hagens (2009) walked four, but allowed just two hits in six innings of work, and just one earned run in earning his second win of the season. Eury De La Rosa (2009)  shut the door over the final 1 1/3 innings. Raywilly Gomez (2009) had a single and double, while Matt Helm (2009-10) collected a hit and a RBI in the win.

Today’s games (and Osprey probables):
AAA Reno (20-12) vs. Omaha
AA Mobile (18-12) at Jacksonville – Jarrod Parker (2007) gets the ball for the BayBears.
A Adv. Visalia (15-16) vs. Bakersfield – starters TBA
A South Bend (13-17) at West Michigan, DH – JR Bradley (2010) will start Game 1 while Daniel Taylor (2010) will make the start for the Hawks in Game 2.

The grass is greener …

The grass at Ogren Park Allegiance Field is on schedule – the crew has the field looking like it’s ready to go for the season, and we’re only nearing mid-May. There’s 44 days before the home opener, 42 days (also known as six weeks) before the season opener, and a little over a month before we know who’s packing their bags for Missoula …

Today’s post will focus on former Osprey in the minors. We’ll get back to the mix of your Osprey Major and minor league nuggets tomorrow …

– Four pieces of minor-league roster news to pass along – outfielder Adam Eaton was activated from the 7-day DL over the weekend, and reilef pitcher Sammy De Los Santos was called up to Triple-A Reno from Extended Spring Training to help fill in as the Aces had a scheduled doubleheader with Salt Lake City. De Los Santos did not pitch, and was reassigned to Extended Spring (and to Yakima’s roster, for now) following the games. In addition, right-handed pitcher Josh Ellis (2007) was placed on the DL by the Mobile BayBears, and with the movement that took place in the organization, right-handed pitcher Keith Cantwell (2009) got the call to head to South Bend to join their bullpen.

– Paul Goldschmidt hit his 12th homer of the season this morning – gotta love the “Businessman’s Special” games in the minors – as Mobile was playing at Jacksonville. Entering the fifth inning, all five of the BayBears’ runs have come off of home runs by former Osprey. Goldie hit a three-run shot in the first, while Taylor Harbin hit a two-run tater in the fourth.

Back to Goldie – who is currently (up to the minute!) hitting .350, with 12 homers and 32 RBIs. The homers tie him with Willy Mo Pena of the Reno Aces for the minor-league lead, while he is also now tied with Pena for the D-backs’ organization lead in RBIs. He entered Monday’s action leading all of Double-A in on-base (.492) and slugging percentage (.742).

Minor League Update – quick former Osprey review:
– Triple-A Reno (19-11): There were seven former Osprey on the Aces roster to start the season, but most of them have been moved for various reasons, including up (Esmerling Vasquez), out (John Hester, to Baltimore), and down (Clay Zavada and Josh Ellis to Double-A Mobile). Three pitchers remain – LHP Tom Layne (2007), who is now 3-1 with a 6.41 ERA, down from somewhere around 9 early in April; LHP Jordan Norberto (2006), who is 2-1 with a save and a 4.40 ERA, and while he has 17 Ks in 14 1/3 innings pitched, he also has 11 walks; and RHP Daniel Stange (2006), who while he’s also having an issue with walks (10, to go with 14 Ks in 17 innings pitched), has also overcome a slow start, to the tune of a 2-0 mark and a 3.71 ERA.

– Double-A Mobile (17-11): Other than Goldie (3 HR in 4 games since we changed back to Goldie. Not that we take credit for anything like that …), there have been other BayBears whom have had strong starts to the 2011 season. On the pitching front, right-handers Jarrod Parker (2-2, 7.43) and Bryan Henry (2007) (3-1, 6.31) have had their struggles, while Charles Brewer (2009), provided he can keep from hitting the roof of the dugout with his head, will be a solid anchor in the BayBears’ rotation, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.21 ERA in his three starts, including a complete game. The relief corps is buoyed by the returning Clay Zavada (0-0, 2.16), who, like Parker, is coming off of Tommy John surgery (and on a faster time table), and Bryan Shaw (2008) on the back end, who has been stellar during the first month-plus (2-0, 6 saves, 1.15 ERA). At the plate, while both Taylor Harbin (2007, .309) and Jake Elmore (2008, .309) have cooled off, both entered today’s “Businessman’s Special” with Jacksonville over .300. So is Ollie Linton, whom after his first-inning single today, raised his average to .340.

– Class A Advanced Visalia (15-16):  The Rawhide were cooled off a bit by Modesto, but have risen back to near .500 after a slow start. The pitching is slowly starting to come around, but the surprises continue to be a pair of non-drafted free agents – Taylor Sinclair (2008), who has moved into the bullpen and done well (2-0, 1 sv., 2.16 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and Victor Capellan (2009) who has been a solid finisher for the Rawhide (four GF’s, second on club, with a 2.60 ERA and 22 Ks in 17 1/3 innings pitched). At the plate, the prospect meter level has raised on catcher Rossmel Perez (2008), who is regarded as a player who has the defensive tools and game-calling ability to play in the Major Leagues, but who does not possess a lot of power. However, when you hit .359 and can put together a respectible .880 OPS, it opens eyes.

Class A South Bend (12-17): The Silver Hawks are starting to figure it out … it also helps that Fort Wayne, who was one of the best teams in all of the minors last season, is in the opposite end of the spectrum this season, and the Hawks have their number, of sorts. The Hawks have won 5 of 9 against the Caps, and take away the first three games, all losses, South Bend has won five of the last six against Fort Wayne. Since joining the Hawks, Ender Inciarte (2009) has hit .467 in eight games, while Raywilly Gomez (2009) continues to be steady at the plate, hitting .289 while catching most of the 22 games he has played this season. One of the more impressive preformers has been Bradin Hagens (2009), who is making the transition from reliever to starter, and after a slow start, has settled down. In five starts, Hagens (who is scheduled to pitch tonight in South Bend against Fort Wayne) is 1-1 with a 3.91 ERA, and has only allowed six earned runs in his last four starts (2.89 ERA).

Three blocks left

When we looked at the countdown sheet on the front door of the Osprey Team Store – which says 47 days until Opening Day, which means the home opener, of course – it made us remember that the season opens up in 45 days – three 15-day blocks to go before the O’s play in Helena. Time is growing short!

Take note of the draft notes from Nick Piecoro on this entry. The D-backs have the 3rd and 7th picks in next month’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, so keeping an eye on some of these guys will help as we draw closer to the draft.

– Ah, the AZ SnakePit getting the minor-league update out there. We usually don’t link to it, but we figured it would be better to see the assessment of some of the former Osprey from the views of others.

Paul Goldschmidt was pitched to last night – and had two hits, including his 10th home run of the season. That was the good news – the bad news was that he also struck out twice in the 7-6 loss to Tennessee. That said, Goldie’s numbers – .337 BA, .487 on-base, .730 slugging (which makes for a 1.218 OPS), five doubles, 10 HR, 25 RBIs, three steals and 27 walks with 17 strikeouts in 26 games.

Minor-League Update, Osprey Style:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces lost to Las Vegas, 5-3. No former Osprey played in the game.

– Double-A Mobile: In addition to Goldie’s night mentioned above, Ollie Linton (2008) went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI, while Kyle Greene (2008) walked in his BayBear debut, as a pinch-hitter.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: The Rawhide found their way back to the .500 mark with a 6-5 win over San Jose. Christian Beltre (2007) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to get the win, while Yonata Ortega (2007) cruised through the ninth to claim his fourth save of the season. Visalia – now 5-1 since Jason Hardtke was ejected from a game last week – won it on a “Neon” Keon Broxton (2009) eighth-inning home run. Mike Belfiore (2009) allowed three unearned runs on seven hits and three walks, while fanning seven batters in five innings. Broxton and Chris Owings (2009) had two hits each for the Rawhide.

– Class A South Bend: The SilverHawks lost at Dayton, 4-2, on Thursday. JR Bradley (2010) pitched into the sixth inning, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks, but had nearly no support from his offense. Eury De La Rosa (2009) pitched a scoreless ninth – the Hawks’ bullpen has allowed just two earned runs in their last 32 2/3 innings of work. Ender Inciarte (2009) had two hits for the Hawks, while Bobby Stone (2008-10) added a single. By the way – former Billings Mustang Billy Hamilton is still terrorizing pitchers and catchers on the basepaths – he stole his 21st base last night (in 25 tries), which is amazing to do in 25 games with an OBP of only .302.

Today’s Schedule (and Osprey probables)
AAA Reno (16-11) at Salt Lake City … they’ll play five games in four days, weather-permitting.
AA Mobile (16-10) vs. Tennessee – Charles Brewer (2009) makes his first start since coming off of the DL for the BayBears tonight.
A Adv. Visalia (14-14) at Modesto. Eric Smith (2009) will get the start tonight for the Rawhide.
A South Bend (9-17) at Dayton – David Holmberg (2010) will get the start tonight for the Hawks.

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