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March 11, 2008 – Travis Anderson/David Keller Talk March 10, 2008

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This Could Be The Year For Travis: Talking to Somerset Patriots C Travis Anderson, you don’t get the sense that you’re talking to a frustrated player.

Frustrated that he has to come back for a sixth season in the Atlantic League to prove himself again. Frustrated that he’s coming back after putting together the best season he’s had as a Patriot, and possibly in the league.

Because he isn’t any of those things.

Travis Anderson is excited. Excited to have spring training right in his own backyard. Excited to play with his new teammates. Excited for the season to start.

The 28-year-old comes into 2008 with as good of a chance as he’s ever had of getting picked up by an organization, following a year where he hit .295 and set career highs in home runs (10) and RBI (45).

“I’d love to get looked at by an affiliated team, I just don’t want to think about it that much,” Anderson said.

“But if somebody needs a catcher, hopefully I’m their man.”

Anderson looked to the saga of Jeff Nettles for hope…after all, it took Nettles four and a half long seasons in Somerset before finally signing with the Kansas City Royals.

“It was pretty cool seeing Jeff sign,” he said.

“We came in the league around the same time, and Jeff kept getting better. I see myself doing the same.”

The first opportunity Anderson will have to impress teams will be in spring training, which starts April 14th. For the first time, the team will hold their camp at Jack Cust Baseball Academy in Flemington, NJ. Not only does Anderson live in the town, but he also gives lessons at the academy during the off-season, so he certainly won’t have far to go.

“I think it’s going to be a good thing,” said Anderson of the team moving spring training up north.

“You’ve got your own field, and your own batting cages. We get to determine what’s going on, instead of having to share resources with the other teams. I think we’ll actually get more work done this way.”

Anderson also thinks that the move will make an impact in the community as well.

“We’re in touch with our fans a lot,” he said.

“We have the Sunday autograph sessions, where they can come on the field. We have great fans, and we like to build up a good relationship with them. Especially with this team, it’s important to reach out and be a part of the community.”

While all is well off the field, things finally came together for Anderson on it over the course of the second half of last year. The former Braves farmhand’s average was as low as .205 a month into the season, but he went on a tear and hit .331 over the last three months of the season.

But does he feel like it was his best season in the league?

“I think overall, it was,” Anderson said.

“It seemed like I struggled for a year and a half in Somerset, and then the second half last year, something happened. I just started to feel really comfortable and I wasn’t trying to press or anything like that.”

Anderson said it was “really great” that Sparky Lyle, Brett Jodie and Kevin Dattola supported him during his slump, and was happy that the team had confidence in him to turn things around.

For the Patriots as a whole, it’s hard to say that a team that lost in the championship series needs to turn things around, but for an organization that’s won more titles than any other, it might be an accurate assessment.

Anderson’s keeping an eye on player signings just like everyone else, and seems particularly excited by the opportunity to play with a few “new” former Major Leaguers, including Bret Prinz.

“I always love playing with big leaguers, I love picking their brains,” Anderson said.

“That’s where you want to be, so you always want to learn from them.”

In the hopes of one day getting there, Anderson told me he isn’t working on one specific thing to improve, but was looking to make an overall improvement and get in better shape.

“I feel like every year, I try to outwork myself from the year before,” he said.

Anderson’s also working on his defensive skills, trying to become more accurate with his throws. Trying to be as close to the total package as he can be, talks of signing with an affiliated team are legitimate.

But he isn’t letting himself think about what it would be like to get back with an organization for the first time since 2002.

“I’ve seen guys come into this league and say they’re going to hit .320 with six home runs in the first month and get out of here,” he said.

“But this league is too good to go in thinking like that. There have been a lot of players who have been successful in this league, but I’ve also seen it spit a lot of players out. You can’t take this league for granted, it’s no joke.”

Keller Talks About His New Catcher: The team added him to the roster on their official website, and the official announcement about his signing his expected to be made sometime today. But we’ve got the dirt on new Camden Riversharks C Erick San Pedro from Director of Baseball Operations David Keller.

“The big thing with San Pedro is that he’s young,” said Keller of his 24-year-old acquisition.

“He’s a good right-handed compliment to Randy McGarvey, and everything I’ve been told about him is that he’s a great catch and throw guy.”

Sure enough, one report on San Pedro reads that he “boasts an outstanding throwing arm with a quick trigger.”

Fans will instantly look at San Pedro’s .181 career batting average and shudder, but Keller was quick to point out — and accurately so — that his professional at-bats were “few and far between.”

“Sure, there’s room for improvement, but there’s a reason he was the Expos second round pick in 2004,” Keller said.

The former University of Miami catcher struggled with thumb, leg and ankle injuries during his tenure in the Nationals organization, and he was once thought to be the successor to Brian Schneider in Washington.

Instead, he looks to make the most of what could be his last chance in professional baseball.

Worth Noting – San Pedro played with former Patriots INF Jim Burt, at “The U”…San Pedro did an online journal for At The Yard in 2005…Scout.com and Baseball America once listed San Pedro as being the best defensive catcher in the Nats system…He was once on Washington’s 40-man roster…He received a signing bonus of $650,000 from Montreal after being drafted…With a South Atlantic League game on the line, he was once struck out by former Bears P R.J. Swindle.

Pats Re-Sign Knight: (PR) The Three-Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots
have announced the re-signing of right-handed pitcher Brandon Knight.

Knight was 12-5 with a 4.03 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 91.2 innings pitched in 29 games for Somerset during the 2007 season.

Knight was the Atlantic League Pitcher of the Month for September 2007 for his 3-0 record, 1.59 ERA, and 24 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched over three games started for the month. He had a 2.40 ERA and 15 strikeouts in two no-decisions in the 2007 post-season.

Knight has Major League experience with the New York Yankees, where he pitched in seven games during the 2002 season.

Knight also has five seasons of Triple-A experience in the Texas Rangers and Yankees organizations.

Knight spent the 2006 season at the Double-A level for the Pittsburgh Pirates at Altoona, where he had a 2.25 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 64 innings in 51 games pitched.

He has a minor league career ERA of 4.39 with 1,189 strikeouts in 1,301.2 innings over 294 games pitched.

“Brandon was a big part of our success in the second half of the season. Having him and Brian Adams at the top of our rotation helped us make the playoffs. Brandon proved himself to be a very strong pitcher and we look forward to having him back in 2008,” said Patrick McVerry, President/General Manager of the Somerset Patriots Baseball Club.

Camden Signs Two: In addition to signing C Erick San Pedro, who we told you about yesterday, the Riversharks have also agreed to terms with P Tony Peguero. Peguero is a tall, lanky righty with a lot of experience in the Devil Rays organization. He struggled quite a bit in Triple-A Durham last year, but that was after a great season in Double-A the year before.

Davis Struggling With O’s: Ben Davis went into Orioles camp with a legitimate chance at winning the backup catcher job. The number 19 on his back should tell you that the Orioles were going to give him a long look. Another set of numbers, 2-for-15, might have put a big dent in his chances at winning that job. That’s Davis’ total of hits and at-bats so far this spring, and the former Camden catcher looks to be on the outside looking in.

Stanchak’s Take: Davis really doesn’t have a shot to make the Orioles opening day roster this season. The team brought in Guillermo Quiroz specifically this off-season to backup Ramon Hernandez and that’s what they intend to do. Quiroz, a career reserve, is also showing Baltimore he belongs on their bench, hitting .438 this spring.

I can almost garuntee that Davis will start the season in Triple-A and will be their first or second option to get called-up if Hernandez or Quiroz goes down. From what I’ve heard, Davis looks to be in great shape, but just hasn’t produced this Spring. Hopefully after a few more at-bats, he’ll start putting things together.

Also, York Revolution outfielder Tike Redman has been impressing the Orioles’ new coaching staff. He’s been playing great defense and has batted .294 with three RBI, a home run and two runs scored in 17 at-bats. – Scott Stanchak

Updated Signings Chart: Sure, we’ve added the link to the right hand side of the page, but some people don’t want to have to click. So, here’s the latest version of our up-to-the-minute Atlantic League signings chart. An asterisk denotes the player has big league time.

BRIDGEPORT – INF Jay Caligiuri
CAMDEN – OF L.J. Biernbaum, INF Brett Bonvechio, P Aric Leclair, P Jeremy Lewis, C Randy McGarvey, P Robert Romero, C Erick San Pedro, P Judd Songster
LANCASTER – OF Dominick Ambrosini, C Lance Burkhart, P Derek Forbes, OF Jutt Hileman, P Tim McClaskey, P Franklin Mendible, P Mike Nannini, P Ross Peeples, UTIL Lloyd Turner, OF Michael Woods
LONG ISLAND – INF Dennis Donovan, P Ben Grezlovski, OF Estee Harris, OF Kevin Haverbusch, P Randy Leek, INF Ray Navarrete, C Jamie Pogue, INF Pete Rose, Jr.*, P John Searles
NEWARK – INF Ramon Castro*, P Jose Garcia, INF Vic Gutierrez, INF Bobby Hill*
SOMERSET – C Travis Anderson, C Jason Belcher, P Casey Cahill, INF Vito Chiaravalloti, INF David Housel, P David Humen, P Bret Prinz*, OF Michael Ryan*, P Scott Wiggins*
SOUTHERN MARYLAND – INF Ian Bladergroen, P Bradley Beck, INF Chad Ehrnsberger, OF Rich Giannotti, LHP Beau Hintz, P Adam Johnson*, C Brandon Ketron, OF Terrence McClain, 1B/DH Kyle Nichols, P Jason Pearson*, OF John Ramistella, INF George Sandel, P Matt Schweitzer, C Adam Shorsher, P Travis Wade
YORK – OF Jason Aspito, INF Keoni De Renne, INF Matt Dryer, OF Matt Esquivel, OF Travis Ezi, P Wayne Franklin*, C Kevin Kotch, P Aaron Myette*, INF Kenny Perez, P Reid Price, OF Kaz Tanaka, C Luis Taveras, P Corey Thurman*, P Dave Veres* – Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Dave Veres Update: I got a call on my cell this afternoon from new York Revolution pitcher Dave Veres. I was driving so the former big leaguer, who also won our poll earlier this week as to who you’d like to see interviewed on the site, and I are going to talk tomorrow. I’ll hopefully have something for you late Wednesday.

I also contacted the Bluefish to see what’s going on in the news department, since we haven’t seen much. – Scott Stanchak

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Comments»

1. Jeff - March 11, 2008

Any chance we see Bubba Crosby in the Altantic League hopefully with the Ducks. He just got released by the Mariners after failing a physical

2. Kevin - March 11, 2008

The Bluefish are taking their sweet time, aren’t they…

3. Anonymous - March 12, 2008

Hey

Any word on Dwight Maness or Denny Abreu?

Can you find out for me please?

Thank you

4. Mike - March 12, 2008

Anything’s possible — he’d be a nice fit for any team.

I have no idea on the Riversharks guys…I’d assume both are returning, but the team isn’t going to give me any names that aren’t already out there.

5. Anonymous - March 12, 2008

How about the Patriots bringing back Brian Adams and Saul Solveson?

6. IslanderFan77 - March 12, 2008

Will Ryan Radmanovich be coming back to the Atlantic League this year?

7. Mike - March 12, 2008

Adams is headed overseas from what I’ve heard, and I haven’t heard anything about Saul.

I’d like to see him come back, but he hasn’t been as lights out as he was in previous years…he might be a good fit on another team where he can get an opportunity for some spot starts.

Radmanovich is in Taiwan right now, so I couldn’t call him if I wanted to.


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