June 2011

Notes from the Nest …

– The Osprey managed to have another first take place on Monday – and we salute Osprey Executive Vice President Matt Ellis for providing this sweet bit of information: Robby Rowland became the first Osprey pitcher to ever start back-to-back games. Rowland was the last starter to throw for the Osprey in 2010, since the final game of the season was rained out. It happened on the same mound he pitched on last night – in Helena, against the Brewers.

– It will be interesting to see how much manager Hector De La Cruz switches the lineup around for tonight’s game. Especially if the Osprey get the debuts done first – which means that the Osprey could have Matt Jensen and Bryan Henry in the lineup tonight – those are the two position players who have not made their professional debuts at the moment.

– Ticket sales have been very brisk for Opening Night. There are still a handful of club box and reserved seats available, but those will be going fast both today and tomorrow. Head to the MSO Hub Box Office at 140 N. Higgins to get your seats today!

Lineups for Opening Day

We’re in Helena tonight for the start of the 2011 Missoula Osprey Baseball season, taking on the defending champion Brewers. Here’s tonight’s starting lineups:

Missoula
Josh Parr SS
Justin Bianco CF
Ryan Court 3B
Jon Griffin 1B
Eric Groff DH
Ty Linton LF
Roidany Aguila C
Fidel Pena 2B
Chris Ellison RF

Robby Rowland – starting pitcher (RHP)

Helena
Robbie Garvey CF
Yadiel Rivera SS
Max Walla RF
Joey Paciorek C
Parker Brebert 1B
Kyle Dhanani 3B
Kenny Allison DH
John Dishon LF
Gant Elmore 2B

Eric Arnett – starting pitcher (RHP) 

Tonight’s pre-game interview will be with D-backs’ General Manager Kevin Towers, whom we had the chance to talk to at the 2011 Hot Stove Banquet and Auction in January. Head to http://www.missoulaosprey.com, and in the today’s game box, click on Gameday Audio to get to the link.

It’s been a while …

by Ben Catley

Yeah, I know, it has been a few days since there has been a blog post. All of my energies have gone toward getting ready for what is truly my Opening Day – which is Media Day. Which was a day earlier than I had planned it to be. So … yeah … I have been a little distracted.

There has been a lot going on … the record book is done enough, the player bios are set, and we have a team in town … baseball is almost here. I want to say that I am expecting to use the “off on a 360-foot trot” phrase often this season, but I will wait on that.

I am also expecting that we may have more news about the 2011 Osprey. Any day now.

When it comes to the roster, this is a time of ebb-and-flow. What the roster looks like today may not be the same thing tomorrow. Especially since (1) the Osprey only have 28 players and (2) can have up to 35 on a roster. That means there are two active slots still open, so there will be some additional Osprey joining the nest shortly.

As I will tend to do during the season … I will shed some light on certain things, make some notes and share some thoughts on certain things. So ….

1. The rotation is set. For now. Robby Rowland, as we called back in March, is the Opening Day starter. Enrique Burgos will go in Game 2 of the series at Helena on Tuesday. The Opening Night starter at Ogren Park Allegiance Field will be right-hander Jesse Darrah, while fellow Golden State Athletic Conference pitcher, left-handed pitcher Taylor Siemens, gets the ball on Thursday. Friday’s starter for the opener of a three-game set at Great Falls will be tall right-hander Dexter Price, followed by Rowland and Burgos. Which, by the way, makes Burgos your starter on the first Fireworks Night of the season, July 1.

2. If you like home runs, or at least hard-hit balls to the gap, today’s BP showed a couple of things. Or should I say, a lot of things. We will see how that translates to live pitching, but it was revealing today in the rain.

3. Westley Moss may become a potent .300 hitter here. With his speed, he has a chance to do some special stuff. He doesn’t have a lot of pop, but he reminds me a bit of Ollie Linton, who was good enough to make the Southern League All-Star game. Guess I am going to have to work on my stolen base calls, eh?

4. Eric Groff, Ty Linton, Enrique Burgos, Robby Rowland, Fidel Pena … five guys who are a LOT more relaxed and confident this season. Of this bunch, Linton has made the biggest 180-degree turn from a wound-up top to one who has been spinning so much, the tip isn’t as sharp as it used to be. Which, in my experience with tops, is a good thing. But you see in their eyes they are all ready to make a big step forward. Of the Extended guys, these five may be the best placements that the D-backs make, in my opinion. Which means a great thing for Osprey Nation!

In the words of fictitious manager Lou Brown … “My kind of team Charlie … my kind of team!”

I do have one concern, though. While we should be strong defensively – Josh Parr may be the most solid shortstop we have seen defensively here, at least since I have been here – the infield needs work. We did not see the outfield, thanks to the rain that was present throughout the practice, so that will be interesting.

However, that’s where having manager Hector De La Cruz will be a huge asset. Having Hector as the manager here is like having a roving infield instructor that loves the Pioneer League so much, he doesn’t leave. Or having your own infield specialist on staff at all times. Hector just has a way of being able to see your weaknesses, the knack to be able to teach you how to fix them, and turn them into strengths instead.

For proof – watch Eric Groff play second base, which, I feel, is the infield position of major depth, both offensively and defensively. He moves so much more smoothly at second base (remember, he had played third base in high school and college, and was a convert to second base during the 2010 season), it looks natural. And, it also looks like he is catching up to the speed of the game.

And I give Hector De La Cruz a lot of the credit for helping make Groff into a second baseman. He worked Groff hard, putting in a lot of extra work, and combine the work and the will … well, it’s showing now. Because, of course, you have to have the “Want-to”, and it’s apparent that Groff – who ended the season at Triple-A Reno in 2010 – had the want-to.

OK – enough ramblings for now. Tomorrow is a new day, and the final workout before the season opens in Helena on Monday.

My kind of team …

by Ben Catley

Osprey Executive Vice President Matt Ellis has a very solid theory to success in the Pioneer League … experience pays off up the middle. The more of it you have at shortstop, second base, in center field and behind the plate, the better off you will be as a team, and will give you the best chance to compete.

It’s beginning to look a lot like his theory will be given a stiff test this season.

Among the 17 players who have been announced to the Osprey roster (the full details as to the other seven will be coming later today in a story on MissoulaOsprey.com), all of them have either spent at least one season playing professionally, or have played collegiately, or both.

The key position, of course, is shortstop. And with collegiate shortstops Joshua Parr and Stephen Cardullo on the roster, it’s looking like the Osprey will be strong at that position.

Eventually, a number of collegiate shortstops move to second base – and that may be in Cardullo’s future as well – but the prospects of what lies ahead for the Osprey is downright exciting.

More on this later, but for now … on to the rest of the blog …

– Big night for former Osprey catcher Miguel Montero (2002-03), who drove in four runs last night in the D-backs’ big win over Florida.

– Here’s a video of something that it cool to see … a hit to a former Osprey, and a throw to a former Osprey to tag out a former Osprey.

– Speaking of the D-backs … two interesting notes. One is that the top two picks from the 2011 MLB Draft, pitchers Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley, will be in Phoenix this week. The other may spark some debate, as D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall would consider a move to the American League if asked. Since the story was posted last night on the D-backs’ website, there have been about 50 comments – most of them are not in favor of a move.

– Former Osprey pitcher Jose Valverde (2000) picked up the win last night for the Tigers in an extra-inning decision over Tampa Bay. Here’s a video interview done with Valverde a couple of weeks ago. He has quite the personality.

– We get the feeling that CarGo is locked in now … especially with his move to the leadoff spot.

Goldy Watch: Paul Goldschmidt (2009) went 2-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in Mobile’s 2-1 loss at Birmingham. The two hits raised Goldy’s batting average to .348.

– Roster Move: The D-backs have sent 1B Ramon Castillo from South Bend to Triple-A Reno.

On to the Minor League Update:

Triple-A Reno: The Aces hung on for a 15-9 win over Tucson on Monday. Josh Ellis (2007) was touched up a bit in his outing, allowing two runs in 1 2/3 innings pitched, but also singled and scored a run. Jordan Norberto (2006) picked up the win in relief, pitching two scoreless innings while striking out a pair of batters. Also at the plate, first baseman Kyle Greene (2008) was 1-for-4 with a double, a walk and a pair of runs scored.

Double-A Mobile: In the 2-1 loss on Monday, Ollie Linton (2008) went 1-for-3 with a walk. Jake Elmore (2008) and Taylor Harbin (2007) went a combined 0-for-9.

Class A Advanced Visalia: The Rawhide surrendered a five-run bottom of the 7th inning and dropped an 8-3 decision at Modesto on Monday. Rossmel Perez (2008) doubled and drove in a run, while David Nick (2009), Chirs Owings (2009) and Bobby Borchering (2009) each had a hit in the setback. Diogenes Rosario (2009) fared well in his start, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched, and came away with a no-decision. Of those five runs, four were unearned. Taylor Sinclair (2008) gave up the final unearned run on two hits.

Class A South Bend: The Silver Hawks enjoyed a day off on Monday.

DSL D-backs: The Baby Backs beat the DSL Twins, 1-0. Alan Santiago (2009) went 1-for-3 at the plate to raise his batting average to .269.

Today’s Action and Osprey Probables:
AAA Reno (38-27) vs. Tucson
AA Mobile (36-29) has the day off … Montgomery will be in for a five-game series beginning Wednesday.
A Adv. Visalia (28-35) at Modesto – Eric Smith (2009) will hit the bump tonight for the Rawhide.
A South Bend (31-32) at Lansing
DSL D-backs (5-7) at DSL Padres

Experienced Osprey ready to roll

The Missoula Osprey have just announced part of their 2011 roster … which features many players who were part of the 2010 Osprey, and one who was with the Osprey during the 2009 season.

Details are in the press release, which you can read here.

More information will be coming over the next couple of days.

The names released today are:

P: Robby Rowland (2010), Enrique Burgos (2009), Victor Lara (2010)
C: Roidany Aguila (2009-10), Fidel Pena (2010)
IF: Eric Groff (2010), Stephen Cardullo (2010), Tom Belza (played in Yakima in 2010)
OF: Westley Moss (played in Yakima in 2010), Ty Linton (2010)

Any day now, we will know …

The Missoula Osprey open in a week. They open at home in nine days. Get your tickets now!!

– Be on the lookout for the announcement of the 2011 Osprey roster. Don’t know which days as of yet, but it will be coming soon …

– Esmerling Vasquez (2004) gets back to being able to pitch in a game tonight, after serving a two-game suspension for the beanball incident involving the Washington Nationals earlier this month.

– Somehow, someway, Daniel Schlereth (2008) keeps on finding a way to stay on the Detroit Tigers’ 25-man roster.

– Gerardo Parra is involved in the Gold Glove talk. Funny how no one has talked more about his defensive ability until this season, but he has worked as hard on his defense as he has his hitting.

Goldy Watch: Paul Goldschmidt, recently named Topps Player of the Month for May, had a double and a walk in three official trips to the plate in a 6-0 loss at Birmingham on Sunday. He’s hitting .343 with 21 home runs and 59 RBIs.

Minor League Update:

– Triple-A Reno: The Aces fell to Colorado Springs, 7-6, and wasted a solid pitching effort by left-hander Tom Layne (2007), who allowed just two runs on three hits and a pair of walks while striking out three batters. We still get the feeling that, in a pinch, Layne may see time in Arizona before the end of the season, especially if it’s a stop-gap measure – meaning if he can come up and fill in for a couple of weeks.

– Double-A Mobile: The BayBears are not having a good series in Birmingham. Mobile fell a game-and-a-half behind the Barons after a 6-0 loss on Sunday. Jake Elmore (2008) ended up with a base hit, walk and stolen base, while Taylor Harbin (2007) added a single.

– Class A Advanced Visalia: The Rawhide managed to get a single and a RBI from Chris Owings (2009) and Adam Eaton (2010), but could not muster any more offense in a 6-2 loss at Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday. Bobby Borchering (2009) and David Nick (2009) added base hits for Visalia. Christian Beltre (2007) was touched up a bit in his relief appearance, allowing two runs in two innings of work, while Victor Capellan (2009) did not allow a run in his two-inning stint.

– Class A South Bend: The Silver Hawks did not give starter Patrick Schuster (2009-10) any run support, and it resulted in a 5-1 loss at Peoria on Sunday. Schuster allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings of work in the setback.  He allowed four hits and struck out five. Ender Inciarte and Roberto Rodriguez each had a base hit, accounting for two of the five South Bend safeties on the afternoon.

– DSL D-backs: The “Baby Backs” were off on Sunday, coming off a 7-2 win over the DSL Reds on Saturday. Alan Santiago (2009) went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks in the win, and is hitting .261 with three doubles and three RBIs so far this summer.

Today’s Games (and Osprey probables):
AAA Reno (37-27) vs. Tucson
AA Mobile (36-28) at Birmingham
A Adv. Visalia (28-34) at Modesto – the Diogenes Rosario (2009) starting pitcher experiment continues against the Nuts tonight …
A South Bend (31-32) has Monday off … they start a three-game series at Lansing on Tuesday.
DSL D-backs (4-7) at DSL Twins

The latest “Clock is ticking” edition

by Ben Catley

I guess it’s now official … the timer has been set on Juan Miranda.

The current Arizona Diamondbacks’ first baseman can officially take a good hard look at what lies ahead after this was published by Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic on his blog. Because it is only a matter of time.

And with all due respect to the red-hot Willy Mo Pena, Paul Goldschmidt is more of the future at first base for the D-backs than anyone else in the system. That includes Brandon Allen, “The Mayor” (which is why he’s back playing the outfield again), and the Bobby Borchering/Matt Davidson 1B/3B/DH platoon.

There are a number of blogs that are all abuzz about it this morning, including the AZ SnakePit and even fantasy sports blogs, which suggest that if you didn’t pick up Goldy in your keeper league … oh well …

Make sure you read all of the Shoewizard Fan Post, because he brings up an interesting point about OPS and the Southern League. It leads to just how dominant Goldy has been this season.

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I was incredibly happy to hear about and then post/write about Bryan Shaw making it to Arizona. Piecoro had some reflections about Shaw back in his draft year, and Shaw himself managed to reflect on his debut, which went well.

The Bryan Shaw I remember has some semi-electric stuff, different than what you would see from a back-end bullpen guy – he throws a cut fastball, slider and curveball. And, apparently, with the season he has posted (4-1, 8 saves, 2.37 ERA at both Mobile and Reno), things have come together for him.

Now, it’s a matter as to whether or not he has the stuff to stay around for a while in the Major Leagues.

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News Flash – the D-backs may have drafted another Paul Goldschmidt.

You’ve seen this info before, but when I was going through and doing research on the D-backs’ draft picks, I read about this guy, and adjectives like “Hammered”, “Crushed” and “Destroyed” were used to describe his home runs.

I speak of one Jonathan Griffin, one of the choices that signed late last week.

The 21st round choice has some similar numbers to Goldy coming out of college …

– Hit .343 with 19 doubles, two triples, 19 home runs and 58 RBIs, and posted a 1.055 OPS in 2011.
– Hit 37 home runs for Manatee CC (now known as State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota)
– Was a 2009 Suncoast All-Conference First-Team pick, hitting .340 with 22 homers and 74 RBIs
– He is 6-6, 245. And plays first base.
– He doubled his draft position from high school (which isn’t all too rare in the late rounds), moving from 45th out of high school to 41st after his first season at Manatee, to where the D-backs picked him up – in the 21st round.

Now time will tell as to how his numbers at Central Florida will translate, but remember – he hit 56 home runs in three years of college ball. Makes me wonder. We’ll have to keep an eye out for the future, especially to see where he will get placed.

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Ticket sales for the home opener are very brisk at the moment. There are some good seats still available, but they are going quickly.

Believe it or not, I think Missoula is going through what baseball fans everywhere experience in the spring that have full-season clubs … baseball is here, let’s get out of the house and have some fun! And, naturally, Opening Night represents that new glimmer of hope, so to speak.

You can buy your tickets now at the MSO Hub Box Office, at 140 N. Higgins; by phone at (406) 543-3300, or online at http://www.MissoulaOsprey.com.

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One last thing … want to give a shout-out to all of those who have volunteered to help the neighborhoods and area that have been hit hard by the recent flooding not only in the Missoula area, but throughout the state. There have been many areas hit hard by the rising waters, and it has been good to see people who have jumped in by the hundreds to give a helping hand. Kudos also go to the area businesses which have provided food and beverages to the volunteers, and a big Thank You to the folks with the American Red Cross, who are on call to help those in need.

Shaw heads to “The Show”

Bryan Shaw, a reliever with the Osprey in 2008, has been called up by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Shaw was one of three pitchers to combine on the last Osprey no-hitter, which happened on June 30, 2008 at Helena.

More details will be available soon on MissoulaOsprey.com.

D-backs sign 23 picks

The Arizona Diamondbacks have announced the signing of 23 of their 52 picks from the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Thursday. That’s a staggering number of picks that signed 24 hours after the completion of the draft. More signings are expected tomorrow and Saturday.

Here is the list:

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS’ 2011 SIGNED DRAFT PICKS

Round   Player/Pos./School
4              Evan Marshall/RHP/Kansas State
8              Jesse Darrah/RHP/Fresno Pacific
9              John Leonard/INF/Connellsville Area Senior HS, Connellsville, Penn.
12            Joshua Parr/INF/Illinois
13            John Pedrotty/LHP/Holy Cross
18            Taylor Siemens/LHP/California Baptist
19            Danny Pulfer/INF/Oregon
21            Jonathan Griffin/INF/Central Florida
22            Garrett Weber/INF/Fresno State
23            Ryan Court/INF/Illinois State
26            Austin Platt/RHP/No School (IMG Baseball Academy)
28            Matt Sample/RHP/Rogers State
30            Dexter Price/RHP/South Carolina-Beaufort
31             Matt Jensen/INF/Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo
35           Ross Gerdeman/RHP/Bowling Green
36           Bryan Henry/C/Keystone College
37            Elroy Urbina/LHP/Incarnate Word
38            Kerry Jenkins/OF/San Jose State
39            Chris Ellison/OF/Oklahoma
40           Seth Simmons/RHP/East Carolina
43            Alex Capaul/RHP/Hawai’i
44           Derek Luciano/INF/Central Florida
48           Raymond Hernandez/RHP/Cal State Fullerton

Pair of former Osprey to California-Carolina All-Star Game

A pair of former Osprey will be playing against each other on June 21 in the California-Carolina League All-Star Game, to take place in Modesto, Calif. Both have been named starters in the game.

Former Osprey outfielder Adam Eaton (2010) is one of two Visalia Rawhide players (pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who will start for the Cal League, is the other) to earn a spot on the squad.

Another former Osprey will be playing for the visiting Carolina League All-Stars. Former Osprey shortstop Rey Navarro (2007) has shortened his name – he used to go by Reynaldo – and changed positions, from shortstop to second base. Now in the Kansas City Royals’ organization, Navarro will represent the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the mid-summer classic.

More details will be released in a story later on MissoulaOsprey.com.

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