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August 3, 2007 August 3, 2007

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.

Andy Van Hekken Leaves For Taiwan (Ashmore)

Van Hekken Goes Out With a Bang: Somerset Patriots P Andy Van Hekken made his final start in a Somerset Patriots uniform last night, outdueling Bridgeport’s Matt Beech in a contest featuring two complete games.

Despite putting up much better numbers this year (8-3, 3.30) than he did when he was picked up last year, Van Hekken didn’t even get a nibble from affiliated baseball. Well, maybe. The Boston Red Sox, who have been scouting the Atlantic League for pitching all season long, reportedly have expressed an interest in the former Tiger.

Either way, here’s what Van Hekken had to say after the game…

(This is what I could understand on my recorder, anyway. Few things are more obnoxious in this profession than trying to conduct an interview during fireworks. Makes for real good audio and real smooth conversations. Also, Ryan Dunleavy and myself conducted the interview, it wasn’t just me.)

On if this was his last start…

“Yeah, that’s it, as far as I know. I’ll be taking off tomorrow, things didn’t work out like they did last year.”

On the rumors about the Red Sox expressing an interest…

“I hadn’t heard anything about that. I only heard about Taiwan.”

On going out on a high note…

“It was a great game by both teams, (Matt) Beech pitched very well again. It was good to end it here on a good note, and I was happy to get a win for these guys.”

On getting picked up last year and not this year…

“That’s baseball, it’s tough to figure out why things happen the way they do.”

On why he chose to leave for Taiwan now after numerous offers throughout the season…

“My goal is to get back to affiliated ball, just like everybody on this team. I talked to Brett (Jodie) earlier in the year about that, and it’s their goal also. We figured that with how I was throwing the ball better this year than I was last year, that I’d get picked up by now, considering what happened last year. But for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened. I had some tempting offers from them throughout the year, but I decided to stay here. But there’s only one month left in affiliated ball.”

On why, after he knew he was leaving for Taiwan before the game, he still came out and gave the Patriots one last start…

“I wanted to give these guys one more start. Guys have been going in and out, and things have been hectic. Brett does a good job of getting guys in a hurry. They were nice enough to let me pitch here for the past two years, and they invited me back this year. It’s the least I could do for them…give them another start. I had a great time here, and it’s a great team this year. It was a honor and a pleasure to go out and pitch one more time, and to go out like that. I was happy with the way things turned out.”

On if the door is open for a return in the future…

“I just turned 28, and I still feel like I’m pitching better than last year. I feel like I’m pitching pretty good, considering the past few years. I’m just hoping for a chance to get back on a Triple-A team or somewhere where I can hopefully get a chance to get back to the big leagues. But like I said, there’s only one month left, and I kind of have to take the opportunity right now.”

On if there’s been less opportunites for players to go to affiliated ball considering the mass exodus to Mexico and Taiwan this year…

“It kind of seems like it, it kind of seems like it this year. I don’t know what’s going on with affiliated baseball, it seems like the Triple-A teams don’t have as many older players as they used to. If someone got hurt in the big leagues, they could just go down and get that veteran guy, but now it seems like they’re going with the young guys. It stinks for us older players with a little bit of experience. But hopefully that might change, but that’s just the way it is right now.”

On if he’d received any offers from affiliated teams this year, Double-A or otherwise…

“No, I didn’t get anything this year.”

Wiggins Coming: I briefly spoke to Somerset’s director of player procurement, Brett Jodie, about P Scott Wiggins, who hasn’t pitched since 2004. Wiggins, who pitched in three games for the Blue Jays, will take Van Hekken’s spot on the roster for the time being.

“I’ve seen him pitch, I’ve played with him, and he can be very good,” Jodie said.

“He hasn’t pitched in a while, so we’ll see what happens.”

According to Jodie, Wiggins is expected to join the team on Saturday or Sunday.

Jensen Coming Too?: Speaking of Dunleavy, he recently wrote in his blog that P Justin Jensen can’t be ruled out of the equation this season. Check that out here.

Joe Jiannetti traded to York for Manny Ulloa (Ashmore)

Jiannetti Signed, Then Traded: The rumor was flying around the ballpark, and has finally been confirmed. The Bridgeport Bluefish signed INF/OF Joe Jiannetti, then promptly traded him to the York Revolution for P Manny Ulloa.

Jiannetti was the South Division player I was referring to yesterday, and made his debut for the Revs last night, going 2-for-4.

He hit .227 with three home runs and 19 RBI in 57 games for the Bears before being released late last month.

For Ulloa, this is his third team already this year. He became expendable when Wayne Franklin returned to the Revolution.

After a stint on the Road Warriors, Ulloa made just one appearance for York, starting one game on the road in Somerset. Overall, Ulloa is 3-5 with a 4.71 ERA in 13 starts.

Junge To Korea: According to a team official, Bridgeport Bluefish P Eric Junge left the team to play in Korea. I’ve heard of guys leaving to go to Mexico or Taiwan, but this is a new one…

Lancaster To Get a Boost?: According to a source, the Lancaster Barnstormers may be acquiring a pitcher from the Mexican League shortly. He has prior Atlantic League experience.

Knotts Loses In Return To Affiliated Ball: Former Bears P Gary Knotts allowed four unearned runs over six innings of work in his debut for the Double-A Reading Phillies, losing to Altoona, 5-1.

Curiously, in other Bears news, OF Ruben Mateo has yet to play for Newark.

Simontacchi Struggling: Former Bridgeport P Jason Simontacchi, certainly a site favorite, will be visiting Dr. James Andrews to help determine what the cause is of his recent arm soreness, according to The Washington Post. The long-awaited Simontacchi feature is slated for next Thursday…

Aracena’s Play Deteriorating?: I think it was made pretty obvious that I thought then-Road Warriors and now-Bluefish C Sandy Aracena was the best backstop in the league. Having seen him play for Bridgeport a few times now, I’m not so sure I feel that way anymore.

He seemed fairly immobile behind the plate, and his swing seems to be way off compared to what he was doing with the Road Warriors. The numbers tell the same tale, as he entered the game with just a .185 average during his stint with the Bluefish.

There was a press box debate the other day about who was the best backstop in the league, and Aracena wasn’t in the conversation. Luis Taveras, Travis Anderson and Lance Burkhart were all discussed…however, the consensus was that John Pachot was the best defensive catcher in the league.

Personally, I’d probably give a slight edge to Burkhart right now as he gives you the most power potential and is pretty solid behind the plate. Anderson does a lot for the team, and can play a respectable first base from time to time, which gives Sparky Lyle some options out there with his often-decimated lineup. Taveras is also pretty solid all-around, but I don’t know if he gets the at-bats he needs with another solid catcher behind him, Greg Brown. – Mike Ashmore



1. Jeff - August 3, 2007

Any thoughts on catcher Randy McGarvey of the Riversharks? I think he is having a good around year (.389 with 3 errors).

2. Jeff - August 3, 2007

Any word on the status of L.J. Beirnbaum? I noticed he has been out of the line-up for several games.

3. Jason - August 3, 2007

Regarding the Jiannetti move …

This is just a cute way for BASA to circumvent the Road Warriors rules. They took Ulloa off the Road Warriors and put him on York for a week or two, then sent him to Bridgeport, which artificially signed Joe Jiannetti. Why? Because Bridgeport wasn’t allowed to just pick up Ulloa since the Bluefish already stole Aracena from the Road Warriors.

That’s weak, even by Atlantic League standards.

4. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - August 4, 2007

Re: McGarvey

I’d need to see him play more.

I’ve only seen him six times, and a lot of that was in pinch-hitting duty since he was behind Ben Davis the last time I saw him.

The statistics are undoubtedly there, though…

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