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March 6, 2008 – Bret Prinz/George Sandel Talk March 6, 2008

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
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Some breaking player signing news with the Blue Crabs posted below…

Prinz Talks World Series, Yankees, Somerset: If you’re looking for the prototypical pitcher with the roller coaster career, look no further than the Somerset Patriots newest addition, Bret Prinz.

Drafted in the 18th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998, Prinz spent his first two pro seasons as a starting pitcher before heading to the bullpen in 2000. He made the Texas League All-Star team that year, going 9-1 with a 3.56 ERA and 26 saves.

He caught his big break in 2001, when after just five games in Triple-A Tucson, Prinz was called up to the big leagues after Matt Mantei was lost for the season.

The second he walked into that clubhouse, he could tell that year’s Diamondbacks team was going to be something special.

“You knew something good was going to happen with that team just because of all the veteran leadership that we had,” Prinz said.

“There were some unbelievable guys in that clubhouse; Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Mark Grace, Jay Bell, Luis Gonzalez, and so on.”

But while Prinz said that Johnson and Schilling were always willing to talk to him, he said he learned the most from Mantei, who as a fellow bullpen guy took him under his wing for the season.

Prinz and Byung-Hyun Kim shared the closer duties that season, with Prinz collecting nine saves and having the most impressive season of his career, going 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 46 appearances.

But he wasn’t around to see the end of it. Late in the season, Prinz came down with shoulder tendinitis and missed some time. By the time he was ready to return, the team had decided not to put him on the postseason roster.

But Prinz got to stay with the team for the playoffs and World Series, an experience he’ll never forget.

“I can remember the atmosphere of the fans in Phoenix, especially with the white pom-poms for game seven,” he said.

“It was an amazing experience. Even the flyover, I can remember the jet flying in and out of the clouds.”

With a World Series ring on his finger and a standout first season behind him, the roller coaster was at its peak. But everything that goes up must come down, and Prinz’s stock did just that the following season.

Starting the season on the big league roster, Prinz imploded, going 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in 20 games. He’d spend most of that year in Triple-A, and things didn’t get much better the following season.

Prinz again started the 2003 season on the Diamondbacks roster, but lasted a grand total of one inning after suffering a groin injury that kept him out of action for nearly three months.

It was becoming more and more clear that he needed a fresh start. Several teams were interested in acquiring Prinz, who was reportedly hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun near the end of his rehab stint.

Just three days after being activated off the 60-day DL, Prinz was dealt to the New York Yankees in the Raul Mondesi trade. He’d split the rest of that season and the next between Triple-A Columbus and the Bronx, with the righty appearing in 26 games at the big league level in 2004.

Prinz was very candid about his time with the Yankees.

“I enjoyed my time with the Yankees, the fans there really know the game,” he said.

“Yankee fans, they expect you to win every game. That’s where the pressure comes from, you’re supposed to win. If you gave up a base hit, they’d boo you, but if you got out of it, they’d give you a standing ovation.

After spending all of spring training with the Yankees in 2005, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels for Wil Nieves just before Opening Day.

Prinz again made the big league team out of camp, but bad luck again sidetracked his career, as he made only three appearances with the Angels before a shoulder injury cost him four months out of his season.

Arm troubles limited him to only eight appearances all season in Triple-A with the Rockies in 2006, but he finally got things back on track with the White Sox organization last season.

After allowing one run in 15 appearances at Triple-A Charlotte, the White Sox had no choice but to call Prinz up to the big leagues. Unfortunately, he’d last just 3.1 innings in what was his last stint in “the show” to date, and he split the final few months of the year in Triple-A with the Cubs and Pirates organizations.

Just in the big leagues last season, the recently married 30-year-old found himself without a job.

“There’s a lot of guys out there right now who don’t have a job, so I guess it’s not really surprising,” Prinz said.

After talking with a former teammate also in need of some work, they decided to pursue the indy ball route.

“I didn’t know much about independent ball, but I did know that the Atlantic League was the place to go if you had to do it,” Prinz said.

Prinz, who will be joined on the Patriots at the urging of his former teammate, whose signing has yet to be made official, isn’t entirely sure what role he’ll be filling in Somerset this year.

“I might be in the bullpen, or I might start,” he said.

“But I’m preparing myself to be a starter.”

Outside of a one inning rehab appearance five years ago, Prinz hasn’t started a professional game since 1999, but doesn’t think he’d have any problems moving back into the rotation.

“I don’t think it would be that big of an adjustment,” he said.

“The first couple outings would be kind of tough, just with building up arm strength, but that’s really it.”

Prinz, who said he’s feeling pretty good after his previous arm issues, said he’s looking forward to getting back on the mound and helping the Patriots win.

One of the biggest names signed to date, if Prinz can recapture his 2001 form, his roller coaster ride might finally take a turn for the better.

Sandel To Southern Maryland: The ink has dried, and the contract is finally in the Blue Crabs offices. In a story we’ve been tracking ever since the expansion draft, AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com has confirmed that George Sandel, an infielder on the Somerset Patriots during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, will be the starting shortstop for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

“It feels good to be back in the Atlantic League,” said Sandel, who played with Edmonton in the Northern League in 2007.

Sandel said that he was going to return to Edmonton for 2008, but with the team switching leagues to what he said was a slightly less competitive league, he contemplated a return to the Atlantic League.

“The Atlantic League is the best league there is in independent ball,” Sandel said.

“It’s as good as Triple-A. The Northern League…the caliber was almost as good in that league, but the bullpens were kind of depleted.”

After initial discussions with two other Atlantic League teams, Sandel learned that Butch Hobson had returned to the league to manage the expansion Blue Crabs.

“I knew that Butch had tried to trade for me during my first year when I was in Somerset and wasn’t playing everyday when he was with Nashua,” Sandel said.

“I’d heard a lot of good things about Butch, and I’m really looking forward to playing for him.”

Sandel also told me he was looking forward to being a part of a team during their inaugural season, something he said he’s never experienced.

Hobson Talks Blue Crabs: In an effort to reach out to the teams I don’t feel like I’ve done a good job of getting on here enough, I also spoke to Butch Hobson today.

A few things of note: Hobson said that while there are a lot of players out there looking for jobs, that you shouldn’t expect a lot of ex-Major Leaguers on the Blue Crabs roster during their first season. He did say, however, that he has a few contracts still out and that there was one in particular that would be a big signing for them.

I also asked him about the role of Adam Johnson, who I have contacted Blue Crabs officials about speaking to, and Hobson told me that the 2nd overall pick in the 2000 draft will be a starter for the club this season.

“He needs to start, and he’s going to start,” Hobson said.

“He wants to come out and show teams that he’s healthy, and we think starting gives him the best oppportunity to do that.”

Johnson, who missed the entire 2007 season, has taken the independent ball route before, earning second team Independent All-Star Team honors from Baseball America in 2005 after a standout season with San Diego in the Golden League.

According to Hobson, there was no problem convincing the California native to come play in the Atlantic League this time around.

I Think I’m Turning Japanese, I Really Think So: (PR) The signing of fan-favorite outfielder Kazunori Tanaka was officially announced today by York Revolution director of baseball operations Adam Gladstone. Returning catcher Luis Taveras and infielder Kenny Perez have also signed contracts for the 2008 season.

Tanaka batted .251 during his first season in the United States, including .270 after the month of May. The 26-year-old became a national hero in his native Japan, after being drafted first overall out of high school in 2000 by the Yokohama Baystars. Tanaka was called up to the big-leagues at age 19 that year, and has spent parts of five seasons in Japan’s major leagues. The 5’6” left-handed hitter scored 44 runs, stole 18 bases, and finished third on the team with 46 walks last season.

“Kazunori’s speed, hustle, and physical preparation make him a vital part of this club,” commented Gladstone. “He’s someone that the players like to surround themselves with, and just as importantly, the fans have taken a liking to him.”

Taveras played 72 games for the Revolution last season, including 67 as the team’s primary catcher. The Santiago, Dominican Republic native earned an All-Star berth, batting .250 with seven homeruns and 30 RBI for York in 2007. The 32-year-old has spent parts of two seasons at the Triple-A level, and is the older brother of Colorado Rockies outfielder Willy Taveras.

“Luis brings a veteran presence to the catching situation,” said Gladstone. “The fans took to him, and he’s excited to get back to the York area.”

Perez gives the Revolution a second switch-hitting middle-infielder along with Keoni De Renne. A former sixth-round pick of the Boston Red Sox, the Miami native has spent parts of the last three seasons at the Triple-A level with the Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Chicago White Sox organizations. The 26-year-old is a career .266 hitter with 31 homeruns and 68 stolen bases over eight professional seasons.

“Kenny is very excited about the opportunity in York,” remarked Gladstone. “We think he and Keoni will provide a great middle-infield combination.”

Keoni and Kenny in the middle of the infield? Shouldn’t be confusing at all.

Speaking of The Revs: Update your bookmarks, people. Revolution beat writer Jeff Johnson’s got a new blog, and you can find it here. We’ve also updated our links section to the right.

Brownlie Survives First Round of Cuts: The Washington Nationals sent 16 players down to the minor league camp in their first round of cuts. Bobby Brownlie wasn’t one of them.

The former Newark Bears pitcher looks to have a real good shot at sticking somewhere in the Nationals organization, with a spot at Triple-A not out of the question.

Fernando WhatsHisName Sent Down By Dodgers: When he pitched for the Atlantic City Surf back in 2005, he inexplicably was known as Fernando Desgue. Now that he’s back in affiliated baseball, he goes by the name I know him by, Fernando De La Cruz. The erratic former Red Sox farmhand apparently inked a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers this off-season, but was sent down to their minor league camp today.

A Loaded Atlantic League?: Saw this over at Barnstormin’, but Yahoo Sports (lame exclamation point omitted) recently published an article detailing the high profile free agents still out there, and how it seems like more of those types of players are available than they have been in years past.

There’s a quote at the very end of the piece from a baseball executive speculating that the Atlantic League could be loaded in April.

It could be, sure. But I kind of doubt it. Yeah, you might see one or two relatively high profile players out of that group make their way over here, but I guarantee you the majority of those players haven’t put much thought into heading over to the Atlantic League just yet. There’s still a month left in camp, and there are always teams looking for accomplished veterans to fill spots at the last minute.

Why would Kenny Lofton come to the Atlantic League? He doesn’t need to show he’s healthy, and he doesn’t need to show he can still play, because he showed last year he can still get it done. For a guy like that and many others to swallow their pride accept the supposed $3,000 maximum a month just to keep their careers alive, it’s hard to believe in some cases.

For some of the lower-tier supposed big names — Kyle Lohse, Jeff Weaver (helllllooooooo, Camden) and Julio Franco — it’s certainly a possibility. But I think anyone expecting Barry Bonds to come to Long Island, and accordingly…for Pedro Gomez to follow him there, will be disappointed.

Interview Schedule: Hopefully I’ll have some people to add to this list, but we’ve got Casey Cahill slated for Friday and David Housel set up for either the weekend or Monday. Looks like Scott Stanchak’s got something up his sleeve as well. – Mike Ashmore

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Comments»

1. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - March 6, 2008

Talked to another one of the guys that was brought up recently, and he indicated that he’ll be returning next season as well.

Who might that be? Hmmm…

2. Kevin - March 6, 2008

I don’t have anything interesting to add, just wanted to say that I for one appreciate the Blue Crabs news. I think this is the only site that covers the team, as it looks like the Blue Crabs site only updates when something’s completely official, I guess.

Also looked at George Sandel’s stats for last year, he looks like a top-of-the-order guy, any idea where he batted for Edmonton?

3. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - March 6, 2008

Kevin,

George hit leadoff in all 94 games he played in Edmonton last year.

Based on speed, I wouldn’t necessarily classify him as your ideal leadoff guy, at least in the Atlantic League. Probably a good 2 hitter, or somewhere in the 7-8-9 range.

I’ll be very curious to see if Sandel, who credited a lot of his success last year to hitting coach Roger LaChappelle, can translate his newfound power to the Atlantic League, where he struggled to hit home runs over the course of two seasons.

Looking at Edmonton’s stats from last year, I noticed that Adam Shorsher, who the Blue Crabs traded for, also played with Sandel last season.

Also, thanks for the kind words as always. I’ll keep everyone posted on the Adam Johnson request…hopefully that works out, he seems like he has a very interesting story to tell.

4. Kevin - March 6, 2008

Wow, thanks for the great info and quick response!

5. beisbol - March 7, 2008

Hey guys,

I was wondering if you knew which former AL players are in minor league camps with teams? I’m heading down to Florida next week and was hoping Gabe Suarez might be in Pirate City in Bradenton. I don’t know where to even try and get information on things like that, so maybe your information gathering abilities can be put to the test.

Thanks Mike and Scott. Keep up the great work!

6. Mike - March 7, 2008

Directly from the Atlantic League website…

Like Fernando De La Cruz, there may be a handfuil of guys not on this list…

Name Pos – ML Camp – ML club

Bridgeport
Junior Spivey Inf No R/Sox
Bobby Malek OF No LAD
Jesse Hoorelbeke 1B No LAA

Camden
Ben Davis C Yes Orioles
Chris Fussell RHP No LAD
Kane Davis RHP Yes B/Jays
Steven Drew SS Yes D Backs
Jared Weaver RHP Yes LAA
Alberto Castillo LHP No Orioles

Lancaster
Aaron Herr INF Yes Indians
Scott Patterson RHP Yes NYY

Long Island
Jorge Piedra OF Yes Marlins
Edgardo Alfonzo INF Yes Rangers
Reggie Taylor OF Yes Braves
Juan Gonzalez OF Yes Cardinals

Newark
Gary Knotts RHP Yes Phillies
Bob Brownlie RHP Yes Nationals
Cory Smith 3B no LAA
Joe Borowski RHP yes Indians
Javier Colina 2B no W/Sox
Harold Eckert RHP no Astros

Somerset
Robinson Cancel C Yes Mets
Michele Hernandez C Yes Brewers
Jeff Nettles 3B no Royals
Sam Marsonek RHP no Nationals
Jason Anderson RHP no Phillies
Josh Pressley 1B no Marlins
Noah Hall OF no Yankees
Mike Kinkade OF no Seattle

York
Tyke Redman OF Yes Orioles
Franklin Nunez RHP no Brewers

Road Warriors
Gabe Suarez Inf No Pirates
Steven Doetsch OF No Nationals

Nashua
Brendan Donnelly RHP Yes Indians

7. Stevie - March 7, 2008

George Sandel also was voted MVP up in Edmonton He’s a great guy Im really looking forward to watching him play again


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