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March 25, 2008 – Frank Boulton/Dave LaPoint Talk March 25, 2008

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
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Four More Blue Crabs: AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com has learned that the Blue Crabs have agreed to terms with OF Curtis Pride, P Matt Hammons, 1B Clint Johnston and SS Alex Prieto.

It’s way too early to call anyone, but I hope to have some quotes later today about these moves…

This comes on the heels of Jason Guarente’s story yesterday, in which he revealed that P Derrick DePriest is joining Southern Maryland.

Pride, 39, is entering his 23rd season of professional baseball. This will be his fourth stint in the Atlantic League, as he previously played for manager Butch Hobson in Nashua in 1999, 2003 and 2004. He has extensive big league time, playing in 421 MLB games with Montreal, Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, the Angels and the Yankees.

One of the best stories in baseball, Pride has been deaf from birth, and is an inspiration to many young athletes. He was the recipient of the 1996 Tony Conigliaro Award, given to the Major League Baseball player who best overcomes adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage.

Hammons has also been in the Atlantic League before, posting mixed results as a starter in 2004, as well as making a brief appearance in 2005. The righty will turn 31 about a week before spring training gets underway, and has primarily pitched in relief since wearing a Pride uniform. Last season, he pitched in the Mexican League.

I’ll have to confirm this with Hobson, but Hammons appears to be going into camp as the team’s closer.

Johnston is a 30-year-old first baseman who was originally drafted in the first round as a pitcher by the Pirates in 1998. After not playing at all in 2006, Johnston played for Fargo-Moorhead and — of course — Edmonton of the Northern League last year. Has a career .789 OPS, and draws a lot of walks compared to his strikeouts.

Prieto is a 31-year-old middle infielder who will likely play second base for the Blue Crabs. He appeared in 24 games for the Minnesota Twins during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. With three championship rings on his fingers, Prieto brings valuable experience to Southern Maryland. He was last in the Red Sox organization, spending last year at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Additionally, we’ve learned about another player with big league time who may join the team, but that’s too early to talk about just yet…

Ducks Ink Four: The Long Island Ducks added four more players to the pond today. The signings include former major leaguers Damian Rolls and Dolando Mendez. Rolls played for the Ducks last season, while Mendez spent time with the Newark Bears.

The team also signed former Bears infielder Pete Maestrales and newcomer, pitcher Jon Asahina. Ashina has experience in the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies organizations. – Scott Stanchak

Interview Schedule
: We’ve got former Minnesota Twins and current Somerset Patriots OF Michael Ryan lined up for tomorrow. He sounds like a guy who’s really looking forward to getting an opportunity to play in the Atlantic League. Make sure you check that out tomorrow.

Boulton On Bonds: Just got off the phone with both Long Island Ducks owner and Atlantic League CEO Frank Boulton and Ducks manager Dave LaPoint.

So, is Barry Bonds coming to the Atlantic League this year?

“There’s really nothing to talk about with Bonds,” Boulton said.

“The Ducks or the league haven’t had any discussions with his agent, but I have asked Joe Klein to reach out to his agent.”

How realistic of a chance do Ducks fans have of seeing Bonds at Citibank Park?

“I’d be very, very surprised if Barry Bonds had interest in our league, but stranger things have happened.” Boulton said.

“But would this league give him an opportunity? Yes.”

Perhaps the most intriguing quote was from LaPoint, when I asked him about whether the Ducks would have any interest in signing Bonds if the situation were to arise.

“I played with Barry Bonds in Pittsburgh,” said LaPoint, pointing out the obvious and yet somehow overlooked connection with the slugger.

“Why wouldn’t we want to have someone like Barry Bonds?”

LaPoint went on to say that he felt like Bonds would get challenged by Atlantic League pitchers, and guessed that his walk totals wouldn’t be nearly what they were. After initially taking the other position, I’d have to agree…

As it was pointed out to me, if an Atlantic League pitcher gives up a bomb to Barry, it was more or less supposed to happen. But if an Atlantic League pitcher strikes Bonds out, that says quite a bit about him and his stuff.

Fans, let’s be honest here. It seems like there’s really nothing here. Not yet. And furthermore, there isn’t anything going on with Sammy Sosa or Mike Piazza or any of the other superstars out there. Not yet, anyway. But again…stranger things have happened.

Still hoping to hear back from Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris, but I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one, kids…

Dave LaPoint made eight starts for the Pirates in 1988. How did Bonds do in those starts?

8/17/88 vs. ATL: 0-for-0, defensive replacement (LF) in 9th inning
8/23/88 vs. CIN: 0-for-3, BB, K. Hit leadoff
8/29/88 @ CIN: 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB
9/5/88 vs. NY: 1-for-5, R
9/10/88 vs. PHI: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, BB, SB
9/15/88 @ MON: DNP
9/20/88 @ATL: 0-for-3, R, BB
9/26/88 vs. STL: 0-for-1. Pinch hitter.

Return To Sendy: The Lancaster Barnstormers have announced that they’ve signed former Baltimore Orioles P Sendy Rleal. Press release to follow…

The Lancaster Barnstormers are turning to a former Major League reliever to continue their tradition of dominant closers. The Barnstormers signed former Baltimore Orioles right-hander Sendy Rleal to a 2008 contract, Barnstormers vice president of baseball operations Keith Lupton announced today.

Rleal (pronounced Ray-AHL), 27, spent the bulk of the 2006 season with the Orioles, finishing with a 1-1 record and 4.44 ERA in 42 appearances, all in relief. He worked 46 2/3 innings for the Birds.

Even more impressive are Rleal’s minor league numbers. The native of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic was 32-26 with 32 saves and a 3.56 ERA in the Orioles minor league system. Over three tours of duty with AA Eastern League Bowie (’04-’05-’07), he went 13-7 with 20 saves and a tidy 2.60 ERA. In 163 innings of work with the Baysox, he walked only 49 while fanning 170. Sixteen of his saves came in 2005 when he posted a 2.04 ERA and struck out 75 batters in 70.1 innings pitched.

“Sendy had an outstanding minor league career in the Orioles organization,” Lupton said. “He was called up to Baltimore in ’06 and did a good job for them. He’s a young pitcher with great potential. That’s why we’re looking to him to be our closer.”

Rleal is heir to a position previously held by Barnstormers closers Scott Patterson, Charlie Weatherby and Derrick DePriest. Patterson currently owns a 0.00 ERA in spring training as a reliever for the New York Yankees.

Rleal’s signing brings the total number of players under contract with the 2008 Barnstormers to 16. The club will head to Lakeland, Florida for spring training on April 14.

Spivey Splits: The Boston Red Sox organization has released former Bridgeport INF Junior Spivey. At least publicly, Bridgeport’s roster this season seems to have the most question marks. Spivey’s potential return is just another one.

Nunez Cut By Brewers: The Milwaukee Brewers have released former York Revolution P Franklin Nunez. Nunez was picked up by Milwaukee last season — oddly enough — with about three weeks left to go in the AL season. The former Devil Rays reliever appeared in just two games at Triple-A Nashville.

Patriots Fan Fest Set For April 5th: (PR) The Three-Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots have announced that Patriots Fan Fest will take place at Commerce Bank Ballpark on Saturday, April 5th from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

Patriots Fan Fest is a free admission event and includes a chance for fans to meet and get autographs from Patriots manager Sparky Lyle, as well as players Travis Anderson, Casey Cahill, and David Housel.

The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free Patriots t-shirt courtesy of the Ford Motor Company.

Young fans will be able to participate in carnival games and activities, as well as be entertained by clowns, face painters, and Sparkee and Slider. Kids will be able to sign up and be interviewed to be the Somerset Patriots Kids CEO this summer, courtesy of Cosmopolitan Staffing Services.

Throughout Patriots Fan Fest, the team will provide exclusive ticket discounts for everyone in attendance. The event is also the first time that Season Ticket Holders will be able to pick up their tickets for the 2008 All-Star Season. Anyone in attendance that does not have a ticket package for the 2008 season will be able to “Pick Their Seat” to have for different plans ranging from 70 games to 12 games.

Fans will also be able to enjoy an 1880’s style vintage baseball game down on the field, played without any gloves.

“Fan Fest is always a special time for us because it means the season is upon us. It’s a great way to officially kick off the season and get our fans geared up for baseball. We look forward to opening the gates and welcoming our fans for the first time in 2008,” said Patrick McVerry, President and General Manager of the Somerset Patriots Baseball Club.

Goldeyes Ink Metheny: Former Camden INF Brent Metheny has agreed to terms with the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Metheny’s stay with the Riversharks was rather forgettable, as he hit just .133 during his brief tenure.

Signings Chart: You can always find this on the right-hand side of the page, but here’s another look at our up-to-date chart of all the players signed in the Atlantic League so far. An asterisk is placed next to players with Major League experience.

BRIDGEPORT – P Rafael Bergstrom, OF Shaun Boyd, INF Jay Caligiuri, INF Jake Daubert, P Tim Drew*, INF Adam Morrissey, P Eddy Ramos, P Wes Wilkerson

CAMDEN – OF L.J. Biernbaum, INF Brett Bonvechio, INF Rob Gandolfo, P Aric Leclair, P Jeremy Lewis, C Randy McGarvey, P Tony Peguero, P Robert Romero, C Erick San Pedro, P Judd Songster

LANCASTER – P Eric Ackerman, OF Dominick Ambrosini, C Lance Burkhart, P Derek Forbes, P Ricardo Gomez, INF Danny Gonzalez, OF Jutt Hileman, P Tim McClaskey, C Manny Mejia, P Franklin Mendible, P Mike Nannini, P Zack Parker, P Ross Peeples, UTIL Lloyd Turner, OF Michael Woods

LONG ISLAND – INF Dennis Donovan, OF Carl Everett*, 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, P Joe Valentine*

NEWARK – P Michael Bumstead, INF Ramon Castro*, P Jose Garcia, INF Vic Gutierrez, INF Bobby Hill*, C Scott Knazek, OF Ruben Mateo*, C John Pachot, P David Pellegrine, OF Keith Reed*, P Patrick Stanley, INF Tim Sweeney

SOMERSET – C Travis Anderson, UTIL Elliott Ayala, C Jason Belcher, P Casey Cahill, INF Vito Chiaravalloti, INF David Housel, P David Humen, P Steve Kelly, P Brandon Knight*, P Bret Prinz*, P Jason Richardson, OF Michael Ryan*, P Scott Wiggins*

SOUTHERN MARYLAND – INF Ian Bladergroen, P Bradley Beck, P Ryan Bicondoa, INF Eric Crozier*, P Derrick DePriest, INF Chad Ehrnsberger, OF Rich Giannotti, P Matt Hammons, P Beau Hintz, P Adam Johnson*, INF Clint Johnston, C Brandon Ketron, OF Terrence McClain, 1B/DH Kyle Nichols, P Jason Pearson*, OF Curtis Pride*, INF Alex Prieto*, OF John Ramistella, INF George Sandel, P Matt Schweitzer, C Adam Shorsher, P Travis Wade

YORK – C Sandy Aracena, OF Jason Aspito, INF Keoni De Renne, INF Matt Dryer, OF Matt Esquivel, OF Travis Ezi, P Wayne Franklin*, C Kevin Kotch, P Pete Munro*, P Aaron Myette*, INF Kenny Perez, P Reid Price, OF Kaz Tanaka, C Luis Taveras, P Corey Thurman*, P Dave Veres*

Baseball America Release Lists: Baseball America has updated their minor league transactions, and it gave me an idea.

I tried unsuccessfully to get my hands on a copy of the six year free agent list this off-season, so this is the next best thing. One team executive told me I’d be crazy to try to guess who’s coming to the league this year…and while he’s right, I love doing this sort of stuff.

You can find the list of released players on the BA website, and if you see someone who jumps out at you, please discuss it in the comments…but here’s my look at some potential prime candidates for the Atlantic League from the most recent batch of player cuts.

Luke Hagerty (released by the White Sox)

Hagerty is a former Cubs first round pick who has already appeared in the independent circuit with Rockford of the Frontier League. In his last 20 innings, he’s allowed a whopping 45 earned runs…but he’s a 27-year-old, six foot, seven inch tall lefty. He’s never fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in 2003, but this league is loaded with guys who’ve had TJ surgery, and perhaps more importantly, first round picks ALWAYS get a load of opportunities.

At one point, he could hit the mid 90’s on the radar gun. Seems like he’d be an ideal guy for a team like Camden or Newark to bring in to see if he can compete for the last spot on the pitching staff. Low risk, very high reward here.

Matt Campbell (released by the Royals)

Another former first round pick. Again, guys like Campbell can get an opportunity in this league based on that fact alone. He also has a semi-obvious Atlantic League connection, in that he attended Brett Jodie’s alma mater, South Carolina. I’m not saying he knows the guy, but he just might know of him.

After undergoing shoulder surgery in 2005, Campbell missed the entire 2006 season and made just 16 appearances in 2007.

Chad Hermansen (released by the Angels)

He’s just 30 years old, but it feels like the guy has been around forever. The 10th overall pick of the 1995 draft, the outfielder has played for parts of six seasons in the bigs. He also has prior indy ball experience, having played for Sioux Falls of the American Association in 2006.

He split last year between the Marlins and Mets organizations, and might be able to provide a team in this league with a power option from the right side.

Brad Halsey (released by Oakland)

A prime candidate for a team like the Long Island Ducks. He’s kind of like an Ed Yarnall, where hardcore Yankees fans might remember his brief stay with the team. Even some casual fans might know his name as being one of several sent to Arizona by the Yankees in exchange for Randy Johnson.

I would imagine that Halsey would be a hot commodity in this league. He’s just 27 years old, and has a solid chance to get back with an organization. However, he appeared in just two games after being shut down for surgery to repair a torn labrum, and there’s no word on just what his status is for 2008. Furthermore, he may have pissed off some big league execs by referring to the A’s as a “mom and pop organization” after a squabble over the injury.

I did see a report that Halsey was working out on his own in Texas, so he may be ready to go.

Matt LeCroy (released by Oakland)

LeCroy is another guy who fits what seems to be the qualifications to be on this list. He’s a former first round pick, and also has fairly extensive big league time. He’s been in the big leagues the past eight seasons primarily with the Twins, but also with the Nationals.

He’s a guy whose value spikes exponentially if he were to come in strictly as a catcher. Few people remember that Kelly Stinnett was signed on to join the Ducks last season, but he was signed in spring training. Catching is just such a valuable commodity in affiliated baseball, and I find it hard to believe that this guy would last long at all.

Dennis Dove (released by St. Louis)

He made his big league debut for the Cards last year after nearly five seasons in the minors. He can hit 96 on the gun, and could start or come out of the pen. What’s not to like?

That’s sort of the problem. Despite a shaky big league spring training this year, you’d have to think a team has room for someone with that kind of cheese…even if it’s at the Double-A level.

Dove may still be bothered by a shoulder injury he suffered last year, so that could have played a role in this particular move.

Ian Church (released by St. Louis)

Baseball America named him their Independent Leagues Player of the Year in 2006 after a rather puzzling numbers spike. 301 at-bats in 2005 brought a .269 average with five home runs and 37 RBI. 379 at-bats a year later had him hitting .317 with 31 home runs and 78 RBI.

Don’t know how I feel about that one.

An undersized outfielder, it seems unlikely he’d show up…but you never know.

Rich Scalamandre (released by the Braves)

Another one of those guys who would make sense for the Ducks. He’s a Brooklyn native, and put up decent numbers in the Braves and Cardinals organizations: 26-11 with a 3.85 ERA over six seasons out of the bullpen.

With parts of two seasons spent at the Triple-A level, Scalamandre has the level of experience under his belt that would make you comfortable sending him out on the mound sight unseen.

Morgan Clendenin (released by the Orioles)

He’s a catcher. That’s all you need to know. The numbers certainly don’t jump out at you: .236 average, 20 HR, 101 RBI in 720 career at-bats. But he does have a decent amount of time at Double-A, and has briefly reached Triple-A.

I’d imagine there are better options behind the plate, but he’s certainly worthy of being considered one of them…

Barry Hertzler (released by Boston)

An 11th round pick of the Red Sox in 2003, it was his 2006 season that really put him on the map. In 25 appearances with Double-A Portland, all but one of them coming in relief, Hertzler allowed just three earned runs.

He got the first of two extended looks at Triple-A Pawtucket as a result, and possesses a sinker-split-curve repertoire. I’ve seen the guy pitch in person a few times, and he can hit the low 90’s if I remember correctly…that was two years ago though, so I’m not sure what he’s like now.

A team looking for a solid bullpen option couldn’t do much better than this guy…

Chris Spurling (released by Milwaukee)

OK, it’s pretty unlikely this guy sets foot in the Atlantic League, but if he does slip through the cracks, it could happen.

He pitched in 49 big league games for the Brewers just last year, and also has time in the show with Detroit. He’d be a solid option for a Triple-A team, no less one in the Atlantic League.

Landon Jacobsen (released by the Twins)

He’ll turn 29 about a week into the season, and has eight years of professional experience. A right-handed starter, Jacobsen spent last year with the Phillies organization after seven with the Pirates, and made 12 starts in Triple-A.

His walk totals have been pretty high compared to his strikeouts over the past few seasons, but he’s a solid veteran arm, and those are always in short supply.

Ryan Cullen (released by the Mets)

Cullen has played with Jay Caligiuri in the Mets organization, so the link here would be that he could be a good option for the Bluefish.

A 28-year-old lefty, Cullen was 2-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 40 games last season in Triple-A New Orleans, and always seemed to be oh-so-close to getting that taste of the big leagues.

Cullen’s another one of those guys I’ve had the opportunity to see pitch, and he’s a solid, but unspectacular bullpen guy. Left-handed pitching can be impossible to find, however…so don’t rule this guy out.

Micah Schilling (released by Mets)

When I covered a few games in Brooklyn last year, Schilling always stood out to me. Not for his play on the field, but for his age and status as a former first round pick. It seemed incredibly odd that a guy drafted in the first round by the Indians in 2002 was still in short-season A-Ball in 2007.

A second baseman, he’s put up decent numbers during his various minor league stops, but I’m not real confident that my first round pick criteria really applies to him.

– Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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Comments»

1. Anonymous - March 25, 2008

Awesome stuff. Great reading.

2. Anonymous - March 25, 2008

Any ideas what other pitchers the Patriots may sign?

3. Mike - March 25, 2008

I know of two returning faces and one new big leaguer. Can’t say anything yet because the contracts aren’t in, and also because these guys still could get signed by an organization.

The big leaguer is a lefty, but that’s about as much as I should really say…

4. Anonymous - March 25, 2008

Brad Halsey would be an interesting addition to the AL. As a Yankee prospect he looked like a can’t miss in Columbus in 2004 but seemed to lose his way in Arizona. Still think the guy has upside plus he is a lefty.

5. Anonymous - March 25, 2008

4 more Duck signings: according to their website, Damian Rolls( returning after a thumb injury), Donaldo Mendez and Pete Maestrales (both with Atlantic League experience) and new to the league, P, Jon Asahina.

6. Kevin - March 25, 2008

Wow, good to see Curtis Pride coming to my Blue Crabs, I remember hearing his story a while back and became a fan of his. Also good to see Hobson making the most of his connections. Judging by how everybody seems to want to play for Butch, he’s gotta be a darn fine manager.

And then a Blue Crabs teaser? Waiting with bated breath…

7. LIpaperlantern - March 25, 2008

here is the minor league free agent list Mike

http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=644

8. Anonymous - March 25, 2008

thats from 07

9. LIpaperlantern - March 25, 2008

Those were players that filed for 6 year free agency after this past season (07). I dont believe there is a more current list than that. Sorry Mike I thought that is what you meant by this offseason…

10. John - March 26, 2008

Any word on any interest in Dewey. I’d like to find out where he’ll end up. Those will be the only Sharks games I attend.

11. Anonymous - March 26, 2008

If Bonds were to join the AL, I guess he’d need to take a drug test before playing, just like all the other players…ha.


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