OK Osprey faithful – a good number of our alumni will be opening their seasons today, and yet there are a handful whom will be waiting to start their seasons – let’s hope a good number of those who are waiting are back in Missoula.
It may be Opening Day in the minor leagues for the full-season leagues, but the Osprey are still in countdown mode – 76 days until the home opener, 74 days until the season opener, and an estimated 72 days before the first batting practice home run finds the Clark Fork.
– One former Osprey who would be a “new face, new place” candidate is Lyle Overbay (1999 Osprey), who is off to a solid start for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In six games, he’s hitting .304 with a home run and four RBIs. Here’s also a sit-down chat Overbay had at the start of Spring Training about joining the Pirates.
– We mentioned Miguel Montero’s start in our last post – he homered again in the D-backs win on Wednesday at Wrigley Field over the Chicago Cubs – but we also should mention the start by Gerardo Parra (2006) as well. Parra had a three-hit day on Wednesday, and his average climbed to .333 with the effort. Parra has made the start in all five of Arizona’s games so far this season.
– Daniel Schlereth not only made his first Opening-Day roster, earning a place on the Detroit Tigers’ 25-man roster, but made an appearance in the opener as well. He pitched an inning for the Detroit Tigers, allowing a hit, on March 31 at Yankee Stadium. So far, that is the lone appearance for Schlereth, who will likely be used as a left-handed specialist this season by the Tigers.
– Today marks Opening Day for the minors, as all of the full-season leagues will begin play today – or tonight – throughout the land. Along with the 49 former Osprey who are on rosters with teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization, there are others who are in the minors with other teams. The list, and a little bit of info on each:
Evan Scribner (’07), Tucson (AAA-San Diego)- Ben Catley’s pick to be the next former Osprey to make his Major League debut. The right-handed reliever has developed into quite the find for the Padres, who traded Tony Clark in 2008 for Scribner, straight-up, before the trade deadline. Scribs’ best pitch is a slider which has a lot of bite. If he gets guys out at Tucson, he’ll get the call soon enough.
Ryan Robowski (’09), Lakeland (A Advanced-Detroit)- Robo is a lefty who looks a bit like Scribner in his delivery, and was the pitcher on the mound who closed out the Northern Division Playoff with Great Falls in 2009. He will stay in the bullpen with the Tigers’ organization.
Scott Allen (’09), Tampa (A Advanced-NY Yankees)- Allen is young, has electric stuff and has some potential to be a solid starter. He’ll get to play in the same league as Robo (Florida State League), and in fact, they will open the season by facing each other.
Kevin Eichhorn (’08-’10), West Michigan (A-Detroit)- Eike will get to be a starter for the Whitecaps, where he will be pitching in the Midwest League. The potential for a start against South Bend looms … he’ll be in the starting rotation.
Greg Smith (’05), Colorado Springs (AAA-Colorado)- The left-hander is looking to work his way back to the Major Leagues. Smith had a so-so spring, so we shall see what pitching at altitude (Colorado Springs is actually nearly 1,000 feet higher in elevation than Denver) treats him.
Wilkin Castillo (2004), Gwinnett (AAA-Atlanta)- Castillo is looking to have a solid spring and be waiting for a chance to be back in the Major Leagues.
JD Closser (1999), Albuquerque (AAA-LA Dodgers)- Closser is also looking for another chance to be with the Major League club, as he continues his career. He is in his third season with the Dodgers organization.
Jerry Gil (2000), Louisville (AAA-Cincinnati)- Gil is trying to do a Sergio Santos, but one better – if he would make it back to the Major Leagues as a pitcher, he would be the first and only Osprey to do so as a position player and as a pitcher.
Steven Jackson (2004), Chattanooga (AA-LA Dodgers)- Jackson was signed as a free agent by the Dodgers and assigned to Chattanooga to pitch out of the Lookouts’ bullpen. Jackson spent parts of two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and made his MLB debut in 2009.
Reynaldo Navarro (2007-08), Wilmington (A Adv.-Kansas City)- Navarro was a shortstop here, but is being turned into a second baseman by the Royals’ organization. Navarro has had some experience playing the other middle infield position, and according to scouts, his arm seems a better fit on the right side of the infield.
– TRIVIA ANSWER: Tuesday’s question dealt with the best opponents batting average allowed by an Osprey pitcher (minimum 65 innings pitched). The trick is the qualifier – in the Osprey Official Record Book (coming as a PDF file to a computer near you sometime in May!), the record-holder is based on at least 10 innings pitched – which would be Jose Valverde (.075 in 2000). But under the qualifier of the question, the answer would be Jordan Norberto, who holds the mark of .216, set in 2006 … Eichhorn, at one point in the 2010 season, had a shot of breaking the mark, but a start at Casper changed all of that.
Today’s question – How many former Osprey are currently playing in the Mexican League? A hint: You have seen video of at least one of them in this very blog. Answer coming on Monday …
Word has it that the rims have been loosened, finally, at Reliant Stadium. For anyone who listened to the radio broadcast of the men’s college basketball title game on Monday, former Georgetown head coach John Thompson referred often to the “tight rims” as shots for both teams were going in and out of the cylinders. Let’s hope the Osprey pitchers don’t run into tight strike zones this season.
The funny thing uttered this morning – if any starting Major League pitcher could hold their opponents to the success rate at the plate of Butler’s made field goals from the title game (which, in baseball terms, would be .188), they’ll likely win the Cy Young.
Which begs the question – do you know which Osprey pitcher, with at least 65 innings pitched, holds the record for lowest opponents’ batting average for a single season? We will post the answer on Thursday.
– Carlos Gonzalez (2003 Osprey) did something in 2010 that no other former Missoula Osprey has been able to do since the organization took flight in 1999 … be in the Top 3 in a Major League MVP vote. And you would think that, now, with a lengthy contract and job security, a player could have a tendency to allow that success to carry him for a bit.
But CarGo is not one of those guys – especially when you set a goal like putting up a 40 HR/40 steal season. If he does pull off the 40/40 trick, he would be the first player ever from Venezuela to achieve the single-season milestone.
– More CarGo – partially because a miniature version could be coming soon to an Ogren Park Allegiance Field near you – how about this catch?
– Speaking of former Osprey playing at elevation … until a blister ended his night early, former Osprey pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (1999-2000) looked good in his first start of the 2011 season.
– Another former Osprey off to a good start is Miguel Montero. Miggy (2002-03 Osprey) has gone 6-for-12 with a home run and two RBIs in the first three games. Montero also had an extra-base hit taken away from him by … CarGo. It was Montero whom Gonzalez robbed in the 7th with that diving catch on Saturday.
– More Miggy – he apparently had what Arizona Republic reporter Nick Piecoro called an “interaction” with outfielder Chris Young following the Saturday loss at Coors Field. It also sounds like D-backs manager Kirk Gibson likes the fight his team is showing.
– Gerardo Parra (2006) also had his own incident on Saturday night, with of all people, Jorge De La Rosa. Piecoro has pieces of the story, but there’s a missing piece floating somewhere, and the origins may only be known to the two people involved.
Coming Thursday – Extended Spring Training stuff, those amazing Pirates, and the fulfillment of the trivia quotent for the week.
There are a few days that we here at the Missoula Osprey office look forward to which take place before our season begins. One of those – or, actually, more like three of those days – would be around the First-Year Player Draft.
Another one of those days is shortly after, when the D-backs announce who will be coming to Missoula, and the following days when we relay those announcements.
The third time begins … now.
This is the time that Major League teams announce their 25-man Opening Day rosters, and the minor-league teams also inform all of us who is headed where this season.
Unless you know one of the minor-leaguers, or keep tabs of them through social media means, the announcement of the rosters are the first indication of the progress they are making through the spring, unless they end up playing in a game or 10 with the parent club during the spring.
But, on occasion, we do get some inside information that we can pass along … with that in mind, as promised in the comments section of a prior post, we at Bird Droppings have found these nuggets:
– Derek Eitel has long suspected that he would start the season in South Bend, but the 2010 former Osprey will begin the season in the SilverHawks bullpen. Patrick Schuster (2009-10) will also open the season in South Bend.
– Robby Rowland, also a member of the 2010 Osprey, will not be on a full-season roster to start the minor-league season. Instead, Rowland will stay in extended spring training.
There’s other items of suspicion, like that 2009 Osprey alum Bobby Borchering will start at Class A Advanced Visalia. The Arizona Republic penned a very interesting story on Borchering’s youth. We have to admit, we’re all a little jealous of his backyard field …
– Adam Eaton (2010) informed his friends on Facebook on Tuesday night that he will start the 2010 season in the Visalia outfield. Not a surprise, with Eaton making the most of his looks in games he appeared in with the D-backs in Cactus League action.
– Former Osprey catcher Wilkin Castillo (2004) will start the season in Georgia, just not the destination we were hoping for.
– It looks like former Osprey reliever Daniel Schlereth (2008) will be standing on the line at Yankee Stadium with his Detroit Tiger teammates on Thursday. The official announcement is expected to happen today, but it’s pretty apparent he’ll be in the bullpen for the Tigers this season, barring injury. Which, if you have followed the Tigers at all, seems to go with their bullpen.
– Back to the D-backs, as it is now apparent that the final spot on the 25-man roster is in the Mibullpen, with former Osprey pitcher Esmerling Vazquez (2004), who has put together a solid spring, in contention for the spot. Especially with former Osprey left-hander Jordan Norberto now at Triple-A.
This means the following former Osprey (pending official announcements) will likely be on Major League Opening Day Rosters:
– Miguel Montero, Arizona
– Gerardo Parra, Arizona
– Lyle Overbay, Pittsburgh
– Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
– Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado
– Jose Valverde, Detroit
– Daniel Schlereth, Detroit
– Sergio Santos, Chicago White Sox
– Tony Pena, Chicago White Sox
– Emilio Bonifacio, Florida
– Scott Hairston, NY Mets
Tomorrow, more roster news, and some updates on former Osprey who managed to get in some looks with the parent club in the last few days of Spring Training, as well as one former Osprey who will be back behind the plate soon enough – albeit in Michigan.
T-minus 90 days to the home opener, 88 days until the 2011 Pioneer Baseball League season opens in Helena, and a matter of hours before a double-digit seed (or two) goes dancing from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight. Which means that either your bracket gets a much-needed shot in the arm, or it ends up headed to the shredder.
– From the sounds of things, Geoff Blum’s sore right knee could either be ready for Opening Day or for the operating table. The utility man’s absence from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup card has allowed former Osprey shortstop Chris Owings (2009) to gain some valuable experience in Major League camp. His defense has been solid, but the bat – he went 0-for-4 in Wednesday’s Cactus League game against Texas – has been slow to come around. Owings is only 2-for-25 in 14 spring games, with a single, double and four runs scored.
– Sometimes, it pays to be the elder statesmen. In fact, as Lyle Overbay (1999) begins his first season with the Pirates, it’s his experience which will be a key ingredient, as well as his bat and his glove, to Pittsburgh’s success this season.
– Back to the D-backs, where it looks like there could be as many as four positions left to be earned on the pitching staff. One of those – left-handed reliever – will come down to either veteran Mike Hampton or former Osprey Jordan Norberto (2006). Norberto’s big spring has some thinking he may earn a spot, but it was his winter that started the eye-opening process for people around baseball.
– Catcher Miguel Montero (2002-03) is preparing for a season where he will be the No. 1 guy behind the plate for the D-backs, but he is striving for some big things this season.
– Last but not least, while the Major League teams will be breaking camp soon, their minor-league counterparts will be spending a few more days playing games before they break camp. In fact, the Class A schedule will go through April 1. Class A South Bend will not play at home for a while still – Coveleski Stadium is going through a facelift, including the installation of a turf field. Their annual scrimmage with Notre Dame, for example, will be played on ND’s campus – a mere five-minute drive from the park. And that’s on a bad traffic day. They will open with a pair of road series before returning home to start their first homestand of 2011.
Usually, we kick off the blog entry for the day with some sort of tie-in for the day, but we came across a serious piece of news for today’s entry, so out of respect for that, we just get to the info.
– Former Osprey pitcher Tony Barnette (2006) is hoping to get his second season with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows underway soon. However, with Japan still reeling from the devistating earthquake and tsunami that hit earlier this month, the process to return to normalcy has been a long one. Barnette talks about the questions and shares his thoughts in his latest blog entry on Davis Sports Deli.
– Scott Hairston, who played for Missoula in 2001, entered New York Mets camp as a non-roster invitee, and without a contract. He’s leaving camp in a week or so, at the very least, under contract and on the 40-man roster. Hairston has hit .425 in Grapefruit League play, with nine runs scored, two home runs and seven RBIs.
– Former Osprey catcher John Hester (2006) has been outrighted to Triple-A Reno by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hester spent a good portion of the 2010 season between Reno and the D-backs, and served as Miguel Montero’s backup for much of the season.
– Here’s more on former Osprey outfielder Gerardo Parra’s impressive spring. It’s always been a prevailing thought that Parra, who has hit at every level he has played, would eventually hit at the Major League level as well.
Made us think of Parra’s first Major League at-bat, which was a home run, and this is as close as we could get to getting video of it. Doesn’t do the pitch location justice – which Reds’ pitcher Johnny Cueto had headed into the dirt of the left-handed batter’s box.
– Miguel Montero’s also beginning to feel it at the plate. The influence in having veteran Henry Blanco as a backup should help Montero (2002-03 Osprey) as he continues to grow into the role of being the D-backs No. 1 backstop.
One other quick item … we’re getting feedback in a few mediums right now on the blog, however, we want to encourage everyone to comment in here as well. Let us know you’re enjoying Bird Droppings, or what we need to do differently. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Also, Season Ticket Holders – don’t forget, the deadline to pay off your season tickets in full and receive a free popcorn and pop for each ticket purchased is March 31! If you have any questions, please contact the Missoula Osprey office at (406) 543-3300.