April 25, 2008 – 2008 Atlantic League Season Preview April 21, 2008Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
For info from the Blue Crabs-Patriots game, see the bottom of the page…
2008 Atlantic League Preview
by Mike Ashmore
I think I’ve been around long enough to say with some authority that 2007 was not a good year for the Atlantic League.
Sure, that’s an ominous first line in what’s supposed to be a preview of the 2008 season.
But the fact remains that the Atlantic League doesn’t need a repeat of last year.
It has nothing to do with who won the championship, the Newark Bears. In fact, that was actually a good thing for the league.
The Bears have been a perennial doormat ever since I started covering the league in 2003, and were finally able to return to glory and become only the second team in the Atlantic League with multiple championships.
As one of the charter franchises in the league, and one of the more identifiable teams to fans outside of the east coast, Newark doing well isn’t something the league would be upset about.
What the league should be upset about is that the level of play has ever so slightly declined over the past few years, and last year was no exception.
The unthinkable amount of negative publicity the league got from Jose Offerman’s bat-swinging brainfart? Also not a good thing.
Combine those two events, and you could make the case that it was the worst season in the 10-year history of the league.
So will this year be better?
You tell me.
Executive Director Joe Klein (come on, Joe…change that title to “Commissioner” already, it’s easier to write) always tells me that the biggest complaint he gets from the affiliated teams is that the same players show up on league rosters every year.
Well, 122 of the players on the league’s eight rosters this year have no prior AL experience, or slightly more than 60 percent of them.
This looks like the year where the quality of play elevator starts to slowly creep back up. So without further ado, here’s a look at what each team’s got heading into 2008:
2007 Record: 57-69
Manager: Von Hayes
Pitching Coach: Rick Wise
Hitting Coach: Boots Day
Key Additions: Matt LeCroy, Jose Cabrera, Sendy Rleal, Ian Bladergroen, John Nelson
Key Returns: Danny Gonzalez, Lance Burkhart, Jutt Hileman, Zach Parker, Mike Woods
Key Subtractions: Jeremy Todd, Josh Stevens, Derrick Depriest, Quincy Foster
Pitchers: As far as aces go, Zach Parker’s not a bad one to have. As far as the rest of the rotation goes, there seem to be a few question marks.
In the bullpen, their best two pitchers — Jose Cabrera and Sendy Rleal — aren’t even in the country yet. Until they do get there, the pitching could be the biggest question mark on this team.
Catchers: Lance Burkhart is probably the best all-around catcher in the Atlantic League, and has consistently put up the best power numbers out of the top catchers in the league.
Manny Mejia comes over from the Road Warriors and is one of the best backups in the league, and maybe even Matt LeCroy will see some time behind the plate as well.
Infielders: The infield is pretty solid, and has definitely been stabilized with the addition of Danny Gonzalez. John Nelson is a great option in the middle of the infield, and many look for Ian Bladergroen to take advantage of the short porch in right.
Outfielders: Brian Stavisky is the standout of the group, and many feel he’ll be gone within a month. When that does happen, many fans will be wondering why Dominick Ambrosini was let go, but it seems very obvious that new skipper Von Hayes is running a very, very tight ship.
2008 Outlook: The Barnstormers will be better than they were last season, because…let’s face it, how couldn’t they be? But what remains to be seen is how they’ll be able to compete in a division that includes the two teams that competed for the title last season, and another that’s been constructed by someone who’s put together two out of the last five championship winning teams in this league.
I think Von Hayes will quickly emerge as one of the best managers in this league, but avoiding a last place finish will be hard.
2007 Record: 72-54
Manager: Wayne Krenchicki
Pitching Coach: Steve Foucault
Hitting Coach: Ryan Jones
Key Additions: Bobby Hill, Randall Simon, Val Majewski, Cory Aldridge, Benito Baez
Key Returns: Ramon Castro, John Pachot, Keith Reed
Key Subtractions: Bobby Brownlie, Javier Colina, Corey Smith, Victor Rodriguez, Gary Knotts
Pitchers: The Bears success will likely once again depend on their ability to replace the pitchers that are plucked away by affiliated baseball. There is no clear standout candidate for who the first pitcher to be picked up would be — perhaps Will Cunnane would go — but while the team’s pitching appears to be a notch down from where it was at this time last year, they still have a solid group on their hands.
Catchers: John Pachot is without question the best defensive catcher in the league, throwing out an impressive percentage of baserunners last season. Likely to play 120-125 games this season, he’ll have Scott Knazek behind him.
Infielders: Bobby Hill’s return is the story out of this group, and whether he’s able to stay healthy will play a large part in their overall success. Ramon Castro is another key part of the offense, but he’s been unable to join the team due to visa issues.
Randall Simon was able to get into the country, however, and he’ll be the topic of many articles this season for sure.
Outfielders: Cory Aldridge, Val Majewski, Brian Burgamy and Keith Reed make for very talented group of outfielders.
2008 Outlook: For as good as the Bears were last year, the scary thought is that they just might be better this year. However, the scary thought for the Bears comes when they realize that affiliated baseball managed to ignore the best offense in the league last year, a scenario that’s unlikely to repeat itself this year.
2007 Record: 75-51
Manager: Sparky Lyle
Pitching Coach: Brett Jodie
Hitting Coach: Kevin Dattola
Key Additions: Frank Brooks, Vito Chiaravalloti, Jeff Duncan, Bret Prinz, Michael Ryan
Key Returns: Travis Anderson, Brandon Knight, Brandon Larson, Teuris Olivares, Josh Pressley
Key Subtractions: Brian Adams, Danny Garcia, Mike Lockwood, Jeff Nettles
Pitchers: The depth of the starting rotation is such that potential starters Frank Brooks and Scott Wiggins begin the year in the bullpen. Brandon Knight, Andy Van Hekken and Brian Reith anchor the rotation for now, but all three may not last the year…as Knight could get picked up if he puts up the huge strikeout totals that are expected of him, and Van Hekken and Reith could leave the country again.
Bret Prinz will be the reliever to watch, as he was impressive in spring training and was just in the big leagues last season.
Catchers: Offensively, perhaps the best tandem of catchers in the league. Travis Anderson is coming off of his best season in the league to date, and Jason Belcher can flat-out hit.
Infielders: The team is deep at infield, perhaps a little too deep. Some of the reserves are going to have a very difficult time finding playing time behind Josh Pressley, Frank Moore, Teuris Olivares and Brandon Larson.
Larson is my player to watch out of this group. Always one to keep things light, he put up solid numbers last season and was one of the few offensive standouts in the postseason.
Outfielders: Jeff Duncan and Michael Ryan are the stars of the outfield, with Duncan the odds-on favorite to be the first Patriot picked up by an affiliated team.
2008 Outlook: The Patriots will be good again this season, but just how good they are remains to be seen. Are they the team that struggled offensively at times this spring? Or are they the team that you see on paper, capable of scoring 800-850 runs this year?
2007 Record: 58-68
Manager: Chris Hoiles
Pitching Coach: Tippy Martinez
Hitting Coach: Sam Snider
Key Additions: Matt Esquivel, Pete Munro, Aaron Myette, Aaron Rakers, Corey Thurman, Dave Veres
Key Returns: Jason Aspito, Matt Dryer, Wayne Franklin, Luis Taveras
Key Subtractions: Nate Espy, Dave Gil, Joe Jiannetti
Pitchers: Loaded. There are some real solid, experienced pitchers in this group, and if they can keep even some of these guys for a significant part of the year, this team could go real far based on pitching alone. Everything I’ve read about Dave Veres leads me to believe he’s going to be one of the best closers in the league, if not the best.
Catchers: Luis Taveras and Sandy Aracena are two solid, but not spectacular options behind the plate. If either one falters, the other can easily step in and start in this league for an extended period of time.
Infielders: Matt Dryer’s health will play a large part in the overall success of the infield. If he can return to the form that set him apart in 2003, he can put up some monster numbers in 2008.
Outfielders: Matt Esquivel is the one to watch here. If he can stay out of trouble — which shouldn’t be a problem considering I’m told he was only involved in a few isolated incidents — he can make a huge impact for the Revs, along with Jason Aspito.
2008 Outlook: This team will go as far as their pitching takes them. Simple as that. Look for the Revs to make their first trip to the postseason this year.
2007 Record: 60-66
Manager: Tommy John
Pitching Coach: Jeff Scott
Hitting Coach: Glenn Murray
Key Additions: Calvin Pickering, Branden Florence, Tim Drew, T.J. Tucker
Key Returns: Jesse Hoorelbeke, Jay Caligiuri, Bobby Darula
Key Subtractions: Matt Beech, Nick Ortiz, Junior Spivey
Pitchers: Too many question marks here. Will Chad Bentz be ready after sitting out all of last year after being sent home from Camden’s camp? Will Tim Drew’s shoulder hold up? Will Rafael Bergstrom be more than just a good story? The pitching, once again, may be the downfall of this team.
Catchers: The two-headed Brian backstop machine — Munhall and Peterson — might surprise some people this year. Munhall has a decent amount of time at the Triple-A level, and Peterson performed well in Double-A Altoona last year.
Infielders: Jay Caligiuri and Jesse Horrelbele are the only proven commodities of the group, although former Twin Alex Prieto sticks out as a possible surprise. Calvin Pickering will likely DH.
Outfielders: Shaun Boyd, Bobby Darula and Adam Greenberg are the likely starters here. Greenberg’s got a real interesting story — he was hit by a pitch in his only big league at-bat, and never got back.
2008 Outlook: I just don’t think they have the pitching, at least not yet. I’d expect Bridgeport to be right around the .500 mark on the year.
2007 Record: 67-59
Manager: Joe Ferguson
Pitching Coach: Dick Such
Key Additions: Jason Phillips, Josh Rabe, Mike Vento, Ryan Drese, Brian Lawrence
Key Returns: L.J. Biernbaum, Randy McGarvey, Kevin Walker
Key Subtractions: Denny Abreu, Dwight Maness, Matt Demarco, Anthony Ferrari, Greg Powell
Pitchers: There are certainly a lot of options here. Kevin Walker was one of the better pitchers in the league before getting picked up fairly early in the going, and he should be just as good this year.
Camden also made two huge last-minute acquisitions in Ryan Drese and Brian Lawrence.
Catchers: Randy McGarvey put up the best numbers of his career last season, and while he probably won’t be able to repeat that this year out of the sheer difficulty of doing so, he should be able to put up another solid year now that he’s coming in as the team’s starter.
Infielders: The God of the goggles,
Chris Sabo Jason Phillips is the big name here, and it will be very interesting to see what he brings to the table. The others appear to be question marks to some extent.
Outfielders: Mike Vento has hit wherever he’s been, and he may make short work of the Atlantic League as well. Chris Walker should be exciting to watch, as he may have the best speed out of anyone in the league.
2008 Outlook: This will probably be the first team to miss the playoffs. I like how David Keller is staying true to the original purpose of the league — sending players back to affiliated ball — but he lost several talented players in the process who would have added some wins to the total of 75 to 80 they’ll ultimately put up this year.
Long Island Ducks
2007 Record: 72-54
Manager: Dave Lapoint
Hitting Coach: Kevin Baez
Key Additions: Tom Martin, Brent Abernathy, Jason Simontacchi, Jamal Strong
Key Returns: Pete Rose, Jr., Kevin Haverbusch, Carl Everett, Ray Navarrete, Joe Valentine
Key Subtractions: John Halama, Edgardo Alfonzo, Todd Erdos, Jose Offerman
Pitchers: Pitching will probably be the weakest aspect of this team. Randy Leek is slated to be the team’s Opening Day starter, and while he put some very good numbers in this league last year, he isn’t that big name you might have expected to fill the role.
Joe Valentine steps into the closer’s role this year after the departure of Danny Graves. Jason Simontacchi returns to the league after a stint in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals last year, and could very easily get picked up early depending on his role.
Catchers: Jamie Pogue and Robert Sandora make up one of the weaker tandems in the league, at least by comparison. But Pogue is solid behind the plate and knows the pitchers in this league as well as anyone else.
Infielders: Brent Abernathy, Damian Rolls, Donaldo Mendez and Pete Rose, Jr. make up the infield for this team. That’s four big leaguers, and four real solid players. Can’t complain there.
Outfielders: Carl Everett, Kevin Haverbusch and Jamal Strong make up your starting outfield. This team is going to hit, that’s for sure.
2008 Outlook: No offense to anyone on the team, but this was the most disappointing off-season the Ducks have had in my six years of covering the league. And you know what, maybe that’s good. The big name isn’t always the best fit in the Atlantic League depending on the team you have.
This team is solid from top to bottom, and is likely to return to the postseason yet again.
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
2007 Record: Expansion Team
Manager: Butch Hobson
Pitching Coach: Andre Rabouin
Hitting Coach: Andy Etchebarren
Key Additions: Eric Crozier, Derrick Depriest, Chad Ehrnsberger, John Halama, Damian Jackson, Carlos Perez, Curtis Pride, George Sandel
Pitchers: John Halama will likely be the staff ace, but he wasn’t as impressive as I think a lot of people thought he might be last year. Derrick DePriest’s transition to starter is a gigantic question mark as well. With Carlos Perez, Adam Johnson and Joe Gannon, there is certainly no shortage of decent options here.
Catchers: Adam Shorsher and Brandon Ketron. Two proven guys at the indy ball level, but neither has done it in this league.
Infielders: Which George Sandel will show up? The guy who hustles put doesn’t put up mind-boggling numbers, or the guy who hustles and hits out of mind like he did last year with Edmonton. Damian Jackson tries to get the imprint of Johnny Damon’s face out of the back of his head in Waldorf, while Chad Ehrnsberger looks to carry his solid stats over to the highest level of indy ball.
Outfielders: Curtis Pride is probably the biggest name here, and he’s always been able to hit in this league. The question is whether he’s too old to continue to do so.
2008 Outlook: Not good, and the fans seem to agree. Very few people expect this team to finish over .500. Butch Hobson has been able to get a lot out of a little in the past, but there is actually some real talent on this team.
But is there enough? Could be one of the more interesting stories of the year. I could see them losing 90 games, but I can see them winning 80 too. I’d put them at the 60-80 vicinity, myself. To win 80, they’d have to get some career years out of a lot of the guys they have who haven’t reached a level of ball this high. Could it happen? Sure. But the odds are very against it.
2008 SEASON PREDICTIONS
Freedom Division Playoff Teams: Newark Bears, York Revolution
Liberty Division Playoff Teams: Long Island Ducks*
Wild Card: Somerset Patriots*
* – Yes, I am predicting a wild card this year. Yes, that is ridiculous. But I think that the Freedom division will be significantly better than the Liberty division this year — although there is inexplicably no bias in the schedule towards divisional play, therefore rendering the division system useless — and I expect the Ducks to dominate both halves.
Therefore, a wild card spot will be created, and the Patriots will have the best record of the teams not in the playoffs after just missing out in the hotly contested race for a playoff spot in the Freedom division.
2008 Atlantic League Champion: York Revolution
MVP: Jason Aspito, York Revolution
Pitcher of the Year: Brandon Knight, Somerset Patriots
Manager of the Year: Wayne Krenchicki, Newark Bears
Surprise! I’m picking the York Revolution to win it all this year in somewhat of an upset over established favorites Long Island, Newark and Somerset. I think they have the best pitching in the league, and have enough key parts in the lineup to win on a consistent basis.
Atlantic League Preseason Player Power Rankings:
So this should get some people talking. I have decided to rank the players in the Atlantic League, 1 to 203.
Some players will want to buy me a beer. Some will want to kick my butt. Please don’t do either one, especially option two.
So before I have someone come looking for me after a game or corner me in the clubhouse, I want to make it clear that this is solely for the purposes of creating discussion. Someone had to be 1, someone had to be 203.
You see stuff like this ALL THE TIME in the four major leagues, with magazines and publications ranking these guys in the pre-season. If Baseball America cared about the Atlantic League, maybe you’d see them do something like this, since they rank the affiliated prospects.
I doubt #30 calls them to b***h about being put there just as much as I doubt #1 calls to thank them for putting him there. Let’s treat this the same way, shall we?
I will be on the money with some of these guys, and absolutely DEAD WRONG on some of them too. This is very hard to do without seeing a very good percentage of them play before, but I figure this will get people talking on here like never before.
Agree with the rankings? Great. Disagree? Great. But either way, I want your input in the comments as to what you think and what changes you’d make…
By the way, this took hours upon hours upon hours. If you think I’m ever doing this again, you’re nuts…
Note: The player’s overall rank is on the left, followed by rank by position.
Note 2: Camden pitchers Ryan Drese and Brian Lawrence were added late. Also, Mike Flannery was accidentally omitted. The players have been inserted where they would have been in the list, but have asterisks next to the numerical rankings.
Keith Reed may very well be the best all-around player in the Atlantic League. The center fielder has a cannon for an arm, stole 22 bases and hit .286 with 21 home runs and 78 RBI on a championship team last year.
Why is he #1? He’s a 20/20 guy who can hit for average and has the best arm in the league. Has the best usable tools of any player in this league.
Everett did everything possible to get picked up last season, and it didn’t seem to be enough. Hard to believe that someone who hits .312 with 25 home runs and 97 RBI has to come back to the Atlantic League for another year.
You can’t say Castro doesn’t hit, not after a season where he finished third in the AL batting race with a .343 batting average. Things might have been different last year if the Bears lost him for the season as initially feared.
A great and versatile all around player at this level, Navs set a league record for doubles with 42, and also hit 18 home runs as well. Can play anywhere on the field, and shows good hustle.
Getting to know Ray Navarrete: INTERVIEW
Knight had everything working in spring training, and could be a strikeout machine this season. The former New York Yankee is a candidate to get picked up this year.
Parker is the staff ace in Lancaster now that Josh Stevens has retired. Parker pitched very well last season, and won’t last long if that continues in 2008.
Had one hell of a season last year for Dave Lapoint’s Ducks, hitting .342 with 14 home runs and 95 RBI.
It’s amazing what a year can do for a player’s reputation. Sure, McGarvey was always respected by his teammates for his solid work ethic, but due to a lack of playing time, the numbers never matched the effort. In 2007, they did, with McGarvey finishing second to Newark’s Victor Rodriguez in the AL batting race. The South Carolina native enters the season for the first time as Camden’s #1 catcher.
Getting to know Randy McGarvey: INTERVIEW
A late return to the league after a brief stay in the Angels organization, Hoorelbeke was contorversially named the league’s MVP last year. He hit .313 with a league leading 33 home runs and 94 RBI, but the Bluefish did not make the playoffs despite his outstanding year.
Walker is a big leaguer who quickly pitched his way out of the Atlantic League in 2007. Don’t be surprised if it happens again.
The former New York Met appears to be the top position player candidate to get picked up on the Somerset Patriots. Fully recovered from a 2007 concussion after running into a wall in the outfield, Duncan could be in line for a big year…if he stays.
Get to know Jeff Duncan: INTERVIEW
Rleal throws gas, but when that cheddar makes its way to America remains to be seen. Rleal is stuck overseas due to visa problems, and nobody seems to know when the former Orioles reliever will be able to make it.
Van Hekken pitched much better in 2007 than he did in 2006, and endeared himself to team officials by handling his departure to Taiwan about as well as anyone possibly could.
Now that he’s on a team other than the Road Warriors, maybe people will start talking about this guy. Has been one of the better closers in this league for the past two years.
Has infinitely more value as a reliever than as a starter. Is rated as high as he is based on his performance as Lancaster’s closer last year. Could be in for a rough go if he really decides to start this season.
The purge in Camden that sent Denny Abreu, Matt DeMarco and Dwight Maness packing didn’t include Biernbaum. At 28 years old, Biernbaum still has a chance at getting picked up, and another season like last year’s .292/22/82 performance certainly couldn’t hurt.
Prinz was just in the big leagues last year, and is the perfect example of the kind of guy the league wants. He can easily use the league as a springboard to get back to the big leagues, and it might not take very long.
Getting to know Bret Prinz: INTERVIEW
Valentine will be the team’s closer this year, one year after turning down an affiliated deal late in the season. The former Cincinnati Red replaces another Reds reliever, Danny Graves.
Pickering has been on the radar of AL player procurement types and GM’s for years, but the 31-year-old is just now coming here. With 224 career minor league home runs, not to mention 14 in the big leagues, it’s fairly safe to assume that this guy is going to kill the ball.
The former big leaguer is another Barnstormer pitcher who’s stuck overseas, waiting to pitch for Lancaster. Instead, their bullpen is missing their two best pitchers.
One of the better lefty starters in the league, Leek was 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA in 13 appearances for the Ducks last year. He held batters to a .208 batting average, a career best.
Larson made a huge impact on the Somerset Patriots following the departure of Jeff Nettles, and the team didn’t miss a beat. The former Cincinnati Red could have a big season if he can carry the momentum from last year’s playoffs into late April.
Without a doubt, the best defensive catcher in the Atlantic League. Pachot is a little above average offensively, he’ll probably hit between .250 and .265 and get you 5-10 home runs a season.
Perhaps the best all-around catcher in the league. Burkhart has hit 51 home runs over his past three seasons as one of the few remaining players from the inaugural Barnstormers team. Doesn’t consistently hit for a good enough average to crack the top two catcher spots, but has shown a knack for getting extra base hits and is considered one of the leaders in the clubhouse.
Getting to know Lance Burkhart: INTERVIEW
Hileman’s .287/17/82 season last year was a career best. With the Barnstormers improved lineup, they won’t need that kind of production from him, but they sure wouldn’t mind it.
Almonte was outstanding in 2007, going 2-5 with a 2.62 ERA in 44 appearances. The ex-Met was a key member of the championship winning Bears bullpen last year.
Lawrence was in the big leagues just last year, making six starts for the Mets during their stretch run. Prior to that, he’d made 162 appearances from 2001-2005 for the Padres.
Halama wasn’t as good as expected last year with the Ducks, but is still a very good veteran arm who’s going to eat a lot of innings at the top of the rotation.
A big name and a big guy, LeCroy is a pretty well known name amongst the average baseball fan. Expected to either DH or play first base for the Barnstormers, he could attract some interest from affiliated teams if he shows a good stroke early on.
Caligiuri very quietly put together a very nice season for the Bluefish in 2007, hitting .320 with 14 home runs and 78 RBI. Has performed well enough, and is young enough to where getting picked up is hardly out of the question.
As long as women in large sausage suits aren’t anywhere near him, he should be fine. All stupid and obvious jokes aside, the addition of Simon is a big one for the league, as he will likely put up some big power numbers. He’s played in the big leagues for Atlanta, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.
Martin is an MLB vet who signed late in Long Island. Can’t imagine him lasting very long at all.
Simontacchi is one year removed from a lengthy stint as a member of the Washington Nationals starting rotation. Has pitched very well in this league before, and is likely to do it again.
Drese is a big league vet, who pitched in the show as recently as 2006. At times a solid starter at the highest level, he provides some much needed stability at the top end of the rotation.
Trujillo pitched in eleven games for the Bears last year. He did not allow a run. What else do you need to know?
Munro is a former big leaguer who pitched in Taiwan last season. Born in Flushing, New York, he made two starts in the 2004 NLCS for the Astros.
Haverbusch is a very solid player at the Atlantic League level, first for the Pride and now for the Ducks. Does everything pretty well, but doesn’t necessarily have a standout tool.
Getting to know Kevin Haverbusch: INTERVIEW
Aldridge is a beast, with six double digit home run seasons under his belt. The former Atlanta Brave also hit the most majestic blast of the two Bears-Patriots games last weekend, crushing a Bo Donaldson offering very, very deep to right field.
Pressley has lost a noticeable amount of weight, likely thanks to being able to work out again after fighting through a leg injury late last season. But he still has a ton of pop in his bat, and was still putting on his usual BP display this spring.
Getting to know Josh Pressley: INTERVIEW
Hill showed that he’s healthy during spring training, hitting two home runs in games against Somerset and Rutgers-Newark. Whether he can stay healthy throughout the season will be the big question, as this is his first game action since back surgery.
Getting to know Bobby Hill: INTERVIEW
Anderson is coming off of what may be his best season as an Atlantic Leaguer yet, hitting .295 and setting career highs with 10 home runs and 45 RBI. A veteran catcher who can hit and is respected by his pitchers and opponents, seeing Anderson picked up for a team looking to fill a spot at Double-A or possibly even Triple-A would not be out of the question.
Getting to know Travis Anderson: INTERVIEW
Hernandez put up outstanding numbers in the Braves system, but could never make the jump to the big leagues. He owns a 26-12 career minor league record with a 2.50 ERA. The 5′ 9″ righty reliever spent the last four years at Triple-A Richmond.
Myette is another former big leaguer on the Revs staff. Reports say he pitched well in spring, and should be the team’s opening night starter.
Cunnane is a big league guy in his 15th professional season. He briefly pitched for the Bluefish in 2006, where he went 2-0 before getting scooped up by the Cardinals.
Brooks is a former big leaguer, who appeared in a handful of games with the Pittsburgh Pirates a few years back. Should be a solid lefty arm out of Sparky Lyle’s bullpen.
Another former player of Von Hayes’ who is on the Lancaster payroll, Stavisky brings a .866 career OPS to the Barnstormers lineup. A career .306 hitter, he’s unlikely to last very long.
One of the better relievers in the Mets system, Cullen inexplicably finds himself without a job in affiliated ball. A lefty reliever with over 300 pro appearances, he spent all but eight games of his 2007 season in Triple-A.
The first time Veres steps on the mound in the regular season, he’ll be the first player to professionally pitch with a prosthetic hip. It sounds like he still has nasty stuff. Could be one of the best stories this year.
Getting to know Dave Veres: INTERVIEW
The former Minnesota Twins outfielder should be a big part of the Patriots lineup. Someone who seems to genuinely be excited by the idea of playing in the Atlantic League, he said it would take a lot to get him to leave.
Getting to know Michael Ryan: INTERVIEW
Scalamandre has an impressive minor league record of 26-11 that he accumulated in the Cardinals and Braves systems. Has spent parts of the last two years in Triple-A.
A first round pick of the Astros in 1998, Nannini was once a huge prospect in that system. But he never completely panned out, as he didn’t reach the big leagues. Has been in trades involving Derrek Lee and Tom Gordon. Was once traded with Travis Anderson — just not the Travis Anderson that plays in the AL.
Rakers spent the first seven seasons of his career in the Orioles system. He reached the big leagues with them in 2004 and 2005, and also appeared in one game for the Padres just last year.
Get to know Aaron Rakers: INTERVIEW
Thurman is a big leaguer, and figures to be a big part of the Revs pitching staff this season. Definitely a candidate to get picked up.
Get to know Corey Thurman: INTERVIEW
The bespectacled one was in the big leagues just last year with Toronto, and will likely play first base despite having spent the majority of his career behind the plate.
Fields put up excellent numbers in the White Sox system, posting a 21-21 career record and 2.87 ERA. His K/BB ratio was better than 3:1, and he held hitters to a .226 average against.
Could be the X factor of the York staff this year. Will he start? Will he relieve? Will he pitch well doing either?
Once one of the best and brightest prospects in the Baltimore Orioles system, Majewski’s career has been derailed by injuries. Majewski is a big signing for the Bears, both on and off the field.
Get to know Val Majewski: INTERVIEW
Aspito performed very, very well once he joined the Revs, hitting a home run once every five games or so. If he does that this year, he’ll have around 30 bombs. Not bad.
Getting to know Jason Aspito: INTERVIEW
If Belcher had a stronger throwing arm, he’d be consistently included in conversations about who the best catcher in this league is. Belcher had the strongest camp of any Somerset Patriots hitter, and will find a way to keep his bat in the lineup. I expect ranking him as the fifth best catcher will lead to some controversy…
In his fourth straight year of Atlantic League competition, Grezlovski’s best year was his first. In 2005 while with the Surf, the Florida Gator was 5-0 with 21 saves. Has yet to record a save with the Ducks.
The former Cincinnati Red pitched well last season for the Patriots, but left prematurely after accepting a deal in Taiwan. Looked good in spring, but who knows how long he stays this year.
Olson is one of the better relievers in the league, and can be unhittable when he has everything working.
Will likely emerge as one of the most exciting players to watch in the Atlantic League this season. The former Cubs prospect possesses game changing speed.
De Renne hit .302 in 82 games for the Revs last season, and played solid defense as well. One of those guys you rarely notice on the field, but he always does a solid job.
Thompson is an undersized 25-year-old southpaw with time in the Rockies, Royals and Padres systems. A starter, his career high in strikeouts is 157, set in 2004.
T.O. always seems to have a smile on his face, and you probably would too if you had the year he did in 2007. One year after inexplicably spending an entire year on the Road Warriors, he hit .300 with 10 home runs and 56 RBI. May be one of the most underrated players in the entire league.
Songster’s a reliever with real solid numbers. The righty has a career 14-12 record with 2.96 ERA in 225 appearances. Averages just a tick under a strikeout an inning.
Johnson, the second overall pick of the draft just a few years ago, is in his second stint in independent ball. After pitching in the GBL in 2005, Johnson steps up to the highest rung of the indy ladder in 2008.
Get to know Adam Johnson: INTERVIEW
A 32-year-old veteran righty starter, McClaskey is a good arm to have in this league. He knows how to attack veteran hitters, however…he only has four games of Triple-A experience.
Perez is a Major League All-Star, but hasn’t pitched in quite a while. It remains to be seen if he’s the animated, enigmatic pitcher he once was.
Woods played very well for Lancaster last year, nearly hitting .300. He didn’t steal anywhere near as many bases as was expected of him, however. Maybe that’ll change this season.
Bicondoa has very solid independent ball numbers in the Can-Am League, going 26-12 in four seasons with North Shore. Is a former Yankees farmhand.
Tucker is a former Major Leaguer with a lot of big league time with the Nationals. The Expos 1997 first rounder, Tucker pitched in 171 MLB games in 2000 and then from 2002-2005 with Montreal and Washington. Has no stats listed after 2005.
Searles is a New York native who has spent the past four seasons in Double-A in four different organizations. He has a 39-32 career minor league record with a 3.99 ERA.
When Matt Dryer is healthy, he’s capable of much better than what he was able to do in 2007. And that’s not to say he had a bad year…many players would be happy with .255, 17 homers and 69 RBI. Close to 100 percent this year, and he may be able to improve on those tallies.
Ayala was easily the most pleasant surprise on the Patriots roster last year, having a career year for Sparky Lyle. Ayala is back as a starting outfielder, and looks to improve on his standout season.
Sweeney is one of the better pitchers in this league, and is still just 25 years old. He made ten starts for Newark last year before getting picked up.
Perkins is a big Canadian born righty with time in the Blue Jays and Brewers systems. A reliever last season after having started for most of his career, Perkins struggled mightily after missing the 2006 season.
Has seven years experience in the Padres, Mariners and Rangers systems. The California-born righty baffled Patriots hitters in the exhibition game at Newark.
The former Braves farmhand has had a troubled past in their organization, but looks for a fresh start in York.
Once a big prospect for the New York Mets, big things are expected out of Bladergroen following his “trade” to Lancaster this off-season. The big first baseman hit .275 for the Road Warriors last year.
Peeples is an original Barnstormer, entering his fourth season on the team. One of the best pitchers in Brooklyn Cyclones history, Peeples has been a member of three championship teams, including the 2006 Barnstormers title team.
Richardson throws hard, and when he’s on, he’s nasty. But when he isn’t, he gets hit, and he needs to gain consistency this season.
Connolly is a solid lefty starter with time at Triple-A. Has been in the top 10 in ERA in his respective league twice. Has a career minor league ERA of 4.11
Strong nearly put on a Riversharks uniform last year before being signed by the Yankees. But the former Seattle Mariners outfielder has joined the Ducks this season, and could put up some solid numbers.
Ackerman enters his third year with the Barnstormers. Solid, but not spectacular by any means. Has historically had a high K/BB ratio, but improved that last season.
Vento has hit wherever he’s been. Why he’s in the Atlantic League, I don’t know… The former big leaguer is a solid signing by the Riversharks.
Was a lot better than advertised last year. For someone who hadn’t played in America since 2003, the brother of MLB outfielder Willy Taveras did well to hit .250 in a starting role with York last season.
The former Blue Jays hurler did well in his comeback last year, stablizing the starting rotation late in the season. He’ll be in the bullpen to start the year, but could make some spot starts if needed.
Young — not the Diamondbacks outfielder or Padres pitcher — is a Triple-A righty with a winning career record in the minors. A pretty durable ‘pen guy.
Peterson was close to becoming a Somerset Patriot a season ago, but was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates before the start of spring training. Has always hit well at the Double-A level, and will be competing with Brian Munhall for the starting gig.
Nelson has big league time with the St. Louis Cardinals, and won a World Series ring with them in 2006. Has put up big power numbers in Triple-A in the past, but has a rather low RBI total considering all those dingers.
Might end up seeing more time in the outfield than he does in the infield. Put together a real nice season with the Road Warriors last year, and is a former Blue Jays prospect.
Getting to know Vito Chiaravalloti: INTERVIEW
Magrane is a righty starter who has spent parts of the past six seasons in Triple-A. He was fast-tracked by the Devil Rays, pitching at the highest level of the minors in just his third year of pro ball. Spent last year in the Nationals organization.
Levine will turn 40 about a month into the season, but last pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 2005. He’s also pitched in the show for the White Sox, Rangers, Angels, Rays, Royals and Tigers.
Lewis is a southpaw coming out of the bullpen for Camden. Never got out of A-Ball in seven affiliated seasons, and also spent 2003 and 2004 in the Frontier League.
Boyd was picked up by the Phillies out of Bridgeport last year, and looks to have similar success this season. He’s a former first rounder.
Wade has pitched for the past several seasons on Atlantic League teams with animal names. Now, he’s pitching for a team named after a crustacean. Either way, I’ll bet he’s pretty effective.
Munhall has time in Triple-A and is a career .268 hitter in the minor leagues. Has a little pop and occasional speed. Will be interesting to see whether he or Peterson emerges as the starter.
Jacobsen is a solid veteran arm, and is the rare baseball player from South Dakota. He’s 68-60 over the course of his minor league career, with a 3.47 ERA.
Alphabetically, the last guy in the Howe database. Zumwalt is a converted outfielder who spent three years in the field with the Braves before going to the mound in 2002. Spent all of last season in Triple-A, and has a 1-8 record at that level.
Hard to believe the Blue Crabs couldn’t find a spot for this guy. Has spent the past eight years at the Triple-A level, amd has big league time with the Minnesota Twins. Has fairly low strikeout totals throughout his career. Can run on occasion.
Knippschild has only four years of pro ball experience, advancing as high as Double-A for a total of three games in two different seasons. Southpaw reliever.
Burgamy is a former Phillies farmhand who traditionally draws a lot of walks, and therefore has a high on-base percentage. A career .248 minor league hitter.
One of those guys who always seems to be popping up on a league roster. Ulloa pitched for the Bluefish, Revolution and Road Warriors last season, and is a decent option at the back of the rotation in this league.
A first round pick of the A’s in 1997, Dubose is a big lefty with big league time in Baltimore. Spent parts of 2002 through 2006 at Camden Yards, but was never able to stick. Big league walk totals were high.
Cahill is a solid pitcher who ran into a few rough spots last season. But he pitched well after coming back from the Road Warriors, and should see a more prominent role this year.
Getting to know Casey Cahill: INTERVIEW
Minix is a former Phillie minor leaguer who pitched in Taiwan last year. Will be a middle reliever this year.
Hertzler is a solid reliever with five years experience in the Red Sox system. Only 27 years old, the Rhode Island native is a perfect fit for the Bluefish. The righty has impressive Double-A numbers.
This is Aracena’s 11th season of professional baseball, making him one of the more seasoned backstops in the league. Seemed to lose some of the power he showed in 2006, but still hit for a solid average last season while splitting time with three different teams.
Is coming off of a career year with the Edmonton Cracker Cats. One of the real characters in the league. Will be very interesting to see if he can match his stats from last season.
Getting to know George Sandel: INTERVIEW
Gannon’s claim to fame is knuckleballing his way to the second no-hitter in Atlantic League history while with the Newark Bears. Since then, it’s been a rough road.
Leclair had a weird season last year, pitching poorly for the Road Warriors, but putting together a nice year in a Camden uniform. Figured prominently in the weird shenanigans surrounding the last game of the Riversharks season last year.
Getting to know Aric Leclair: INTERVIEW
The former Yankees farmhand filled in adequately in the Bears rotation last year. Managed to win all his decisions despite an ERA over five.
Farnsworth is on his fourth Atlantic League team in four seasons, this time joining the expansion Blue Crabs. The former Detroit Tiger made 34 appearances for York last season.
Peguero can both start and relieve. Advanced to Triple-A for the first time in his career last year, and has a career 45-45 record and 4.12 ERA to match.
Historically an outfielder, Padgett played more games in the infield than in the outfild last year, and is ranked by position as an infielder. The 30-year-old has extensive Triple-A time, and has five seasons with double digit home runs, including a 2004 campaign where he hit 24 and drove in 93.
Kelly spent seven seasons in the Reds organization, posting a winning record. The former fourth round pick will likely be at the back end of the rotation in Somerset, but could start the year as high as #2 or #3.
Guerrero has pitched for the Road Warriors for the past two seasons. The righty reliever had a much better 2006 than he did 2007, going 0-6 with a 4.80 ERA and .328 batting average against in the latter season.
Rice was the 44th overall pick of the 1999 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, and spent all of 2006 in Triple-A with them. Pitched in only eight games last season. A big 6′ 6″ lefty.
A 1996 Olympian, and former big leaguer with three different teams, the 30-year old second sacker makes his first foray into the independent circuit. Does not hit for much power, but hits around .280-.290 in the minors pretty consistently.
Spanos is a corner infielder with nearly a .300 career minor league batting average. Hits around 10 bombs a year.
Sack is a 25-year-old righty starter. Has a 20-22 career minor league record with a 4.82 ERA. Advanced to Double-A for the first time in his career last season.
Greenberg’s a Major Leaguer, but what an interesting stay it was. Up with the Chicago Cubs, he was hit in the head by Valerio De Los Santos by the first big league pitch he ever saw. He hasn’t seen another one since.
Is a real good backup at this level, perhaps the best. Not the greatest defensively, but he has shown that he can consistently hit Atlantic League pitching over the past two seasons with the Road Warriors.
Nichols has 111 career minor league home runs to his credit, but 31 of those came for Lancaster in the California League, known as a launching pad. Hit over .300 with 16 home runs in the Northern League last year, however.
One of the veterans of the league, Gutierrez has hit very well during his last two seasons in the league. Rarely seen without his young son, Gutierrez looks to turn in another solid season in Newark.
Darula’s a solid player, but doesn’t really put up the big numbers you might like. He hit .265 last year, but only hit one home run and drove in 20. Still, he’s a career .313 hitter.
Asahina is a righty starter who can also swing the bat a little bit. Has time in the Marlins and Rockies systems.
Drew is a member of the famous Drew triumvirate, and he became the last of the three to play in independent ball after pitching in the South Coast League last season. If he’s fully recovered from his shoulder surgery, he has the level of experience that can make an impact on a shaky pitching staff.
Get to know Tim Drew: INTERVIEW
The former Major Leaguer comes back to the AL after pitching for the Nashua Pride a few years ago. Has big league time with the Tigers and Cardinals.
Get to know Jason Pearson: INTERVIEW
McCurdy is a former Orioles farmhand with six years of pro experience. The righty reliever pitched very well for Double-A Bowie last year, but wasn’t able to match them during a stint at Triple-A.
The former big leaguer has a great story, but what he can do on the field remains to be seen. One of the more odd stories of last spring was him getting sent home from Camden’s camp for being out of shape.
Hoelscher’s a 28-year-old lefty bullpen guy. Steadily rose through the Royals system despite high ERA’s, making it to Triple-A in his sixth pro season last year.
Willey pitched a few months in the Red Sox system in 2004, retired, then came back in 2006 to pitch in the Can-Am League. The Phillies signed him in 2007, and he went a combined 9-3 for their High-A and Double-A teams.
Mattox has spent one and a half seasons at the Double-A level in the Mets and Royals organizations. Will be the team’s fifth starter.
Only played in a handful of games in the league last year. A third baseman, Lopez has played for the Expos and Blue Jays in the big leagues. Has always hit for solid average at the minor league level.
The former big leaguer got knocked around when he was last in the league with the Surf. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in his second stint.
A career .295 hitter at the minor league level, Ehrnsberger is a versatile infielder hungry for a chance at the highest level of the indy circuit. Has hit for double-digit home runs in each of the past three seasons in the Northern League.
Getting to know Chad Ehrnsberger: INTERVIEW
Ellison has spent his entire seven year career in independent ball, save for a seven game stint in the Mariners organization in 2005. A southpaw reliever, Ellison has held the opposition to a .226 average during his career.
A second baseman, Moore has extensive time in the Marlins and Devil Rays farm systems. He’s a career .276 hitter who showed decent speed earlier in his career.
Ford, a rule 5 pick of the Brewers who spent all of 2003 in the big leagues as a result, did not put up good numbers with the Bluefish or Revolution last season. His ERA was over seven, he had more walks than strikeouts, and batters hit over .300 against him. All things that need to improve dramatically in 2008.
If he played last season, it wasn’t in America. A member of the “Cowboy Up” Red Sox team in 2003, Jackson has also played for the Indians, Reds, Padres, Tigers, Cubs, Royals and Nationals in the big leagues. He’s a career .243 hitter at the MLB level.
Signed out of Camden’s open tryout, Flannery brings a lot of experience to the Riversharks pitching staff. The Philly native struggled over the past two seasons, and had recent surgery to remove bone chips.
A controversial former Angels farmhand who apparently has great stuff that he can’t harness. If he can keep the walk totals down, it could be interesting to see what the reliever does in this league. He’s just 23 years old.
Has not played in nearly five years after retiring after a slow start for the 2003 Somerset Patriots. The former first round pick of the Red Sox could make an impact if he has anything left.
Another big first baseman, Johnston is a .274 career hitter at the minor league level coming off an impressive 46 game stint with Edmonton of the Northern League.
Florence has played in the Atlantic League before, becoming one of only a handful of players to get picked up from the Road Warriors back in 2004. He’s been in the Orioles and Phillies systems ever since.
Rolls is a versatile former big leaguer, who saw the majority of his time spent at third base last year. Won’t hit for much power, but gives you a good at-bat and veteran leadership.
A first baseman, Von Schell hit a career high 24 home runs last year between Single-A and Double-A. Has had some high strikeout totals in the past.
Beck is a relatively inexperienced lefty reliever. He spent the last day of his first pro season in Triple-A, but never got that high after that.
Sparks is a former big leaguer, and also a former Atlantic Leaguer. Has a very, very unconventional delivery that will turn some heads courtesy of former Cy Young Award winner Mike Marshall. Recently appeared on HBO’s Real Sports as a result.
Trent has three years of A-Ball experience with the Cardinals and Rockies. He put up decent numbers, going 6-5 with a 2.71 ERA in 105 games.
Schweitzer has never pitched outside of indy ball, as the lefty reliever has spent seven seasons in the Frontier and Northern Leagues. The lefty has pitched well, and could be an X factor in Southern Maryland
Bergstrom pitched extremely well in the Israel Baseball League, but struggled a bit once coming to Bridgeport late in the season.
This is Pogue’s fifth season in the Atlantic League, and he calls a good game and knows his pitching staffs well. The Canadian-born catcher will hit around .230-.250 and seems to have more pop in his bat than actually translates to his statistics.
Rubio is in his second year of pro ball. Just 23, he debuted with Slippery Rock of the Frontier League last year, going 2-3 with a 4.40 ERA in 25 games.
The former third round Cubs draft pick is a career .275 hitter. Had one big season in 2001, and was never quite able to match it. However, has been a consistent player.
Bear has primarily played first baseman, but can play in the outfield as well. Has shown some decent power in the past, and could be a nice surprise for the Fish.
Shorsher has spent the past four seasons in a handful of various independent leagues, and makes the jump to the Atlantic League like so many of his Edmonton Cracker Cats teammates. Seems like the prototypical mid-level catcher in this league…average hitter with minimal power and below average speed.
Suarez is a relatively inexperienced shortstop who played well at times for the Road Warriors last season. Historically hasn’t hit that well, but put up solid numbers over a full season in the Atlantic League.
Has some pretty limited time at Double-A. Is a career .240 hitter who can play the corner spots. Needs to cut down the strikeout numbers, but will walk a decent amount as well.
Ball steadily climbed through the Diamondbacks organization, and played for Von Hayes in 2003. Briefly reached Triple-A last season, but hit well there.
Played well for Edmonton of the Northern League last season. His average was over .300, and his home run totals have increased every season of his career.
Has two seasons of experience in the Angels system. Will likely see 1-2 games a week backing up John Pachot, getting valuable experience behind a veteran catcher.
Getting to know Scott Knazek: INTERVIEW
Wilkerson is a 31-year-old righty reliever. Has reached Triple-A, but struggled last season.
The second round pick of the Indians in 2002, Osborn put up solid years in 2004 and 2005, but hasn’t been able to match that production since.
A former first round pick of the Atlanta Braves, Lewis is primarily a second baseman who saw some time at third base last season. An average season for him is probably .250, 5 and 40.
David Zajac Pellegrine has limited pro ball experience, pitching for the Angels rookie ball team back in 2006.
Played his way out of the Frontier League in 2006, but has not received much of an opportunity since. Will be interesting to see if his independent ball success continues at the highest rung of the indy circuit.
Maples has played just about everywhere over the past few years, but is generally regarded as a corner infielder. Hit 49 home runs from 2004-06 with the Tigers organization.
Ezi struggled in his first stay with the Revs, but played pretty well once he got regular playing time with the Road Warriors.
A middle infielder, Cates wasn’t able to escape Double-A after nine years in the affiliated minors. Made only five errors in 101 games in the field last year, and has played for Joe Ferguson in the Orioles system.
Not to be confused with Dauber from Coach, Daubert is an indy ball guy who’s been out of affiliated baseball since 2001. Primarily plays second base, went to Rutgers, and can hit for decent average.
His legacy in the Atlantic League may be his involvement in that ridiculous trade for Matt Beech last season. The former Toronto draft choice didn’t pitch particularly well last season, but gets another chance with the Bluefish this year.
Had one good outing in spring that nobody will remember, and one bad one that nobody can forget.
Harris struck out 103 times in 342 at-bats last season, a number he’s got to get a lot lower in 2008.
Stanley is a large human, standing six feet, seven inches tall. He had an outstanding season in 2006 with Washington of the Frontier League, but circulation issues affected his 2007 campaign.
Getting to know Pat Stanley: INTERVIEW
A former Yankees draft pick, Ramistella is a .275 career hitter with 44 home runs over his past three seasons. Has primarily played in the independent leagues.
Started tinkering with a new delivery last season that improved his results. In his third full season as a pitcher after converting from catcher, needs to start putting up some better numbers.
Price is a lefty starter who’s never pitched outside of indy ball. He allowed the most runs and second most hits in the South Coast League last year.
A second baseman, Gandolfo has no pop in his bat, with only four career dingers in over 2,000 career at-bats. He’ll hit for average, and is known for hitting line drives.
Brett Jodie loves this guy, and it’s hard to blame him. Hagen has a solid A-ball season under his belt, and did very well in the Frontier League last season. Has a good consistent swing, and showed a willingness to play anywhere, even catcher, during spring training.
He had the potential to be one of the best stories in the league last year, but the numbers (0-5, 6.72) were incredibly disappointing. Still, he more than doubled his professional game total, and still is capable of turning things around.
The former Yankees farmhand put up puzzling numbers last year, hitting below .200 in Double-A, but over .300 in Triple-A. A second baseman, he will likely be a reserve infielder in Lancaster.
While Mendez has big league time, the shortstop has only a .239 career minor league average. He’ll get you about five home runs a year, and doesn’t really walk a lot, either. Did hit well in this league last year, however.
Gomez is a 29-year-old Dominican righty who pitched pretty well in the South Coast League last year. However, it was his first time pitching in the states since 2001, so what he was up to in those six years is somewhat of a mystery.
One of the league’s true good guys, the undersized Housel had his best season in the Atlantic League with the Road Warriors last year. Will probably fill Pat Boran’s role in Somerset. Had a bit of a rough spring.
Getting to know David Housel: INTERVIEW
Cafiero is a good hitter in this league, and has the potential to hit for good power as well. But with the Ducks star-studded lineup, Cafiero will always have a tough time finding regular playing time to put up numbers.
The Miami native has spent all or part of the last two seasons in Triple-A, and has pretty consistently hit around .260-.270 throughout his career.
Sweeney hit well in the South Coast League last season, but had struggled quite a bit before that. Will have value as a utility man in the Bears lineup.
Getting to know Tim Sweeney: INTERVIEW
Tanaka. Hmmm. The York fans love him, but the numbers just aren’t there.
Turner is an ideal utility guy, as he can play just about everywhere. Production has really tailed off in the past two years, however.
Has limited pro ball experience in the Washington Nationals farm system. Hasn’t shown power at the pro level, but can play a little outfield.
This kid hustles his butt off. During spring training, it can become obvious which players feel like they have a spot, and which guys feel like they need to earn one. Muscato hustled on every play, and left a good impression with team officials. Expected to start the season as the bulpen catcher, but could theoretically be activated at some point.
Has fallen far since once gracing the Washington Nationals 40-man roster. Hasn’t hit consistently at the pro level, but is known as a defensive whiz. If he can stay healthy, could be one of the surprise stories in the league this year.
Has very limited professional experience. Is a career .242 hitter, but does have some speed.
Has played only two pro seasons, both in the independent leagues, but has hit over .300 at each stop. Looked very impressive in spring training, but has yet to compete at this high of a level.
Throws hard, but it isn’t always where he wants it to go. Could be interesting if he puts things together at this level.
Had a brief stint in Triple-A last season. Name is pronounced Hay-da. Has struggled to hit for average at the higher levels.
A second baseman, Cruz is a career .236 hitter and has advanced as high as Double-A. Last played in the Mets farm system.
Was a great player at Division 3 TCNJ, but has very limited pro experience and will have a tough battle to get playing time behind Pachot and Knazek.
The former Orioles farmhand was brought in as an insurance policy for Taveras and Aracena. With such a talented duo ahead of him, it will be tough to get at-bats.
Getting to know Kevin Kotch: INTERVIEW
Cassa has only one year of pro ball under his belt. Just 22 years old, but lefthanded, Cassa could have a tough time against hitters with this level of experience.
Only has one year of experience in the Kansas City Royals system, and that was at rookie ball. Could struggle with such a big jump in the level of play.
Williams was a former Mets farmhand, drafted in 2004. He hasn’t pitched since 2005, and is another Mike Marshall disciple on the Bluefish, which means he’s got a wacky pitching motion.
RANKINGS BY POSITION
1 – Randy McGarvey, Camden Riversharks
2 – John Pachot, Newark Bears
3 – Lance Burkhart, Lancaster Barnstormers
4 – Travis Anderson, Somerset Patriots
5 – Jason Belcher, Somerset Patriots
6 – Luis Taveras, York Revolution
7 – Brian Peterson, Bridgeport Bluefish
8 – Brian Munhall, Bridgeport Bluefish
9 – Sandy Aracena, York Revolution
10 – Manny Mejia, Lancaster Barnstormers
11 – Jamie Pogue, Long Island Ducks
12 – Adam Shorsher, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
13 – Scott Knazek, Newark Bears
14 – Brandon Ketron, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
15 – Robert Sandora, Long Island Ducks
16 – Michael Muscato, Somerset Patriots
17 – Erick San Pedro, Camden Riversharks
18 – Gerard Haran, Newark Bears
19 – Kevin Kotch, York Revolution
1 – Ramon Castro, Newark Bears
2 – Ray Navarette, Long Island Ducks
3 – Pete Rose, Jr., Long Island Ducks
4 – Jesse Hoorelbeke, Bridgeport Bluefish
5 – Calvin Pickering, Bridgeport Bluefish
6 – Brandon Larson, Somerset Patriots
7 – Matt LeCroy, Lancaster Barnstormers
8 – Jay Caligiuri, Bridgeport Bluefish
9 – Randall Simon, Newark Bears
10 – Josh Pressley, Somerset Patriots
11 – Bobby Hill, Newark Bears
12 – Jason Phillips, Camden Riversharks
13 – Keoni De Renne, York Revolution
14 – Teuris Olivares, Somerset Patriots
15 – Mike Woods, Lancaster Barnstormers
16 – Matt Dryer, York Revolution
17 – Ian Bladergroen, Lancaster Barnstormers
18 – John Nelson, Lancaster Barnstormers
19 – Vito Chiaravalloti, Somerset Patriots
20 – Alex Prieto, Bridgeport Bluefish
21 – George Sandel, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
22 – Matt Padgett, York Revolution
23 – Brent Abernathy, Long Island Ducks
24 – Vasili Spanos, Lancaster Barnstormers
25 – Kyle Nichols, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
26 – Luis Lopez, Bridgeport Bluefish
27 – Chad Ehrnsberger, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
28 – Vic Gutierrez, Newark Bears
29 – Frank Moore, Somerset Patriots
30 – Damian Jackson, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
31 – Clint Johnston, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
32 – Damian Rolls, Long Island Ducks
33 – Tyler Von Schell, York Revolution
34 – Ryan Bear, Bridgeport Bluefish
35 – Gabe Suarez, Camden Riversharks
36 – Brett Bonvechio, Camden Riversharks
37 – Pat Osborn, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
38 – Richard Lewis, Camden Riversharks
39 – Chris Maples, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
40 – Gary Cates, Camden Riversharks
41 – Jake Daubert, Bridgeport Bluefish
42 – Rob Gandolfo, Camden Riversharks
43 – Matt Hagen, Somerset Patriots
44 – Juan Francia, Lancaster Barnstormers
45 – Donaldo Mendez, Long Island Ducks
46 – David Housel, Somerset Patriots
47 – Rob Cafiero, Long Island Ducks
48 – Kenny Perez, York Revolution
49 – Tim Sweeney, Newark Bears
50 – Lloyd Turner, Lancaster Barnstormers
51 – Mike Just, Newark Bears
52 – Gera Alvarez, Somerset Patriots
53 – Jose Enrique Cruz, York Revolution
54 – Dennis Donovan, Long Island Ducks
1 – Keith Reed, Newark Bears
2 – Carl Everett, Long Island Ducks
3 – Jeff Duncan, Somerset Patriots
4 – L.J. Biernbaum, Camden Riversharks
5 – Jutt Hileman, Lancaster Barnstormers
6 – Kevin Haverbusch, Long Island Ducks
7 – Cory Aldridge, Newark Bears
8 – Brian Stavisky, Lancaster Barnstormers
9 – Michael Ryan, Somerset Patriots
10 – Val Majewski, Newark Bears
11 – Jason Aspito, York Revolution
12 – Chris Walker, Camden Riversharks
13 – Elliott Ayala, Somerset Patriots
14 – Matt Esquivel, York Revolution
15 – Jamal Strong, Long Island Ducks
16 – Mike Vento, Camden Riversharks
17 – Shaun Boyd, Bridgeport Bluefish
18 – Brian Burgamy, Newark Bears
19 – Adam Greenberg, Bridgeport Bluefish
20 – Bobby Darula, Bridgeport Bluefish
21 – Greg Blosser, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
22 – Branden Florence, Bridgeport Bluefish
23 – Nic Jackson, Camden Riversharks
24 – Jarred Ball, Lancaster Barnstormers
25 – Terrence McClain, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
26 – Travis Ezi, York Revolution
27 – Estee Harris, Long Island Ducks
28 – John Ramistella, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
29 – Kaz Tanaka, York Revolution
30 – Rich Giannotti, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
Note: Ryan Drese and Brian Lawrence were added after this list was initially created. Lawrence would have ranked 13th, and Drese 16th. They were included in the overall list. Additionally, Mike Flannery was accidentally omitted. He would have ranked 82nd among pitchers.
1 – Brandon Knight, Somerset Patriots
2 – Zach Parker, Lancaster Barnstormers
3 – Kevin Walker, Camden Riversharks
4 – Sendy Rleal, Baltimore Orioles
5 – Andy Van Hekken, Somerset Patriots
6 – Benito Baez, Newark Bears
7 – Derrick Depriest, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
8 – Bret Prinz, Somerset Patriots
9 – Joe Valentine, Long Island Ducks
10 – Jose Cabrera, Lancaster Barnstormers
11 – Randy Leek, Long Island Ducks
12 – Edwin Almonte, Newark Bears
13 – John Halama, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
14 – Tom Martin, Long Island Ducks
15 – Jason Simontacchi, Long Island Ducks
16 – J.J. Trujillo, Newark Bears
17 – Pete Munro, York Revolution
18 – Buddy Hernandez, Camden Riversharks
19 – Aaron Myette, York Revolution
20 – Will Cunnane, Newark Bears
21 – Frank Brooks, Somerset Patriots
22 – Ryan Cullen, Lancaster Barnstormers
23 – Dave Veres, York Revolution
24 – Rich Scalamandre, Newark Bears
25 – Mike Nannini, Lancaster Barnstormers
26 – Aaron Rakers, York Revolution
27 – Corey Thurman, York Revolution
28 – Josh Fields, Newark Bears
29 – Wayne Franklin, York Revolution
30 – Ben Grezlovski, Long Island Ducks
31 – Brian Reith, Somerset Patriots
32 – Jason Olson, York Revolution
33 – Sean Thompson, Camden Riversharks
34 – Judd Songster, Lancaster Barnstormers
35 – Adam Johnson, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
36 – Tim McClaskey, Lancaster Barnstormers
37 – Carlos Perez, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
38 – Ryan Bicondoa, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
39 – T.J. Tucker, Bridgeport Bluefish
40 – Jon Searles, Long Island Ducks
41 – Matt Sweeney, Newark Bears
42 – Vince Perkins, Camden Riversharks
43 – Mike Bumstead, Newark Bears
44 – Ross Peeples, Lancaster Barnstormers
45 – Jason Richardson, Somerset Patriots
46 – Mike Connolly, Bridgeport Bluefish
47 – Eric Ackerman, Lancaster Barnstormers
48 – Scott Wiggins, Somerset Patriots
49 – Chris Young, Camden Riversharks
50 – Jim Magrane, Long Island Ducks
51 – Al Levine, Newark Bears
52 – Jeremy Lewis, Camden Riversharks
53 – Travis Wade, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
54 – Landon Jacobsen, York Revolution
55 – Alec Zumwalt, Camden Riversharks
56 – Ryan Knippschild, Long Island Ducks
57 – Manny Ulloa, Long Island Ducks
58 – Eric Dubose, Bridgeport Bluefish
59 – Casey Cahill, Somerset Patriots
60 – Travis Minix, Somerset Patriots
61 – Barry Hertzler, Bridgeport Bluefish
62 – Joe Gannon, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
63 – Aric Leclair, Camden Riversharks
64 – Jose Garcia, Newark Bears
65 – Jeff Farnsworth, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
66 – Tony Peguero, Camden Riversharks
67 – Steve Kelly, Somerset Patriots
68 – Julio Guerrero, Camden Riversharks
69 – Scott Rice, Long Island Ducks
70 – Darren Sack, Camden Riversharks
71 – Jon Asahina, Long Island Ducks
72 – Tim Drew, Bridgeport Bluefish
73 – Jason Pearson, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
74 – Nick McCurdy, York Revolution
75 – Chad Bentz, Bridgeport Bluefish
76 – Nate Hoelscher, Lancaster Barnstormers
77 – Cory Willey, Newark Bears
78 – D.J. Mattox, Somerset Patriots
79 – Dan Reichert, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
80 – Derrick Ellison, Bridgeport Bluefish
81 – Matt Ford, Bridgeport Bluefish
82 – Robert Romero, Camden Riversharks
83 – Brad Beck, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
84 – Jeff Sparks, Bridgeport Bluefish
85 – Matt Trent, York Revolution
86 – Matt Schweitzer, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
87 – Rafael Bergstrom, Bridgeport Bluefish
88 – Chris Rubio, Newark Bears
89 – Wes Wilkerson, Bridgeport Bluefish
90 – David Pellegrine, Newark Bears
91 – Randy Dicken, Bridgeport Bluefish
92 – Bo Donaldson, Somerset Patriots
93 – Pat Stanley, Newark Bears
94 – Chris Eickhorst, Bridgeport Bluefish
95 – Reid Price, York Revolution
96 – Garrett Berger, Bridgeport Bluefish
97 – Ricardo Gomez, Lancaster Barnstormers
98 – Franklin Mendible, Lancaster Barnstormers
99 – Patrick Cassa, Lancaster Barnstormers
100 – Joe Williams, Bridgeport Bluefish
Ducks Add Ambrosini: Lancaster sent the Ducks a gift. Well, Dominick Ambrosini has played for the Ducks before, so perhaps this is a Seinfeld-esque case of re-gifting.
But according to a post in the comments, Ambrosini and C Mike Rose have agreed to terms with the Ducks. Rose has big league time.
Sharks Cut Leclair: In a somewhat surprising move, the Camden Riversharks have released P Aric Leclair.
New Dunleavy Blog: Patriots beat writer Ryan Dunleavy has changed his blog address, so make sure you update your links. The new site is here.
Blue Crabs Make AL Debut: I’ll have quotes from Butch Hobson and Derrick DePriest.
“Opening Day is always special, and it’s always fun. I’m glad to be here and to be back in the Atlantic League, where I spent a number of years. Opening Day, you always have a lot of butterflies, and you want to see what the team you put together looks like. I kind of like what we’ve done. We still have things in the works to do, but we’ll be all right.”
“We competed in spring training. Of course, that’s not the same thing as a full season. Everybody’s going to have to wait and see how we do, because I really don’t know. Seventh, eighth and ninth (inning), our guys are strong. I think if we get to that point with a lead, we have a chance to win the ballgame.”
“It does feel kind of weird (to not be wearing the Pride uniform). I was there for many years, so it does feel very weird. This (league) is the best, it’s good to be back here.”
“Curtis Pride, he had a great spring. He’s a quality ballplayer. Ehrnsberger’s going to hit here.”
“There’s a lot of talent available. I signed a lot of guys early, I wanted to kind of get a team into place and stay within the budget that I needed to stay within. It’s just one of those things where we just need to play some games and see where we are.”
“(Not starting is) the best for the team right now. I made the decision to go to Mexico, nobody else. I think a lot of roster spots filled up. Butch’s integrity as far as Hammons goes…he signed him as the closer and he offered some other jobs to some guys. I hoped to come in here as a starter, but I probably wasn’t ready to do it as of yet. This role right here, obviously, it’s not something that I wanted to do.”
“But I look at it in the light that, number one, it keeps me close to be either a closer or a starter. So if I do need to start, it wouldn’t take that much time to do it. If something happens with Hammons: hopefully he gets picked up or gets signed or goes to a career in Japan or something like that and I could move into that closer’s spot. But if I ever do get back into affiliated ball, and hopefully get to the Majors, the setup role is probably the one I’ll need to pitch in anyway. So hopefully I can get better at that while I’m here.”
“I was (confident my delivery would work starting), and I still am. If it’s a team need, it’s something I’ve been considering the past few years. And I’ve tried not to go that route, just because I have been a successful closer for 10 years with this delivery. I had one start in the pros, and pitched into the ninth, so I know I can go through the lineup a few times, that’s not a problem. I made one start in each of my last three years in college with this delivery, so it really doesn’t bother me.”
“One of the reasons I was hoping to start, was I was hoping the velocity wouldn’t be such an important factor in scout’s decisions. For whatever reason, I didn’t get signed last year, and it’s not likely I’m going to put up better numbers than I did last year. It’s going to be very hard to duplicate that. I had a very good year, and I set did what I set forth to go out and do, but it didn’t happen. Whether it’s age, whether it’s velocity, I don’t know. But I figured starting might change the equation a little bit. But like I said, I’m happy with this team, and I’m happy to be here. I’m loving playing for Butch again. It’s close to home, it’s less than a four hour drive. I miss some of my Lancaster guys, but I’m really happy to be here too.”
“I think we’re going to have a good chance of winning, and we’re going to make you eat some crow on your get over .500 remark.” (Note: He didn’t say this in a mean way or anything, just to be clear.)
“It’s great (being a part of something new). It’s uncharted waters. There’s going to be some bumps in the road, but I think everybody in the front office is doing their best. We’re all going to make some mistakes, but you can see that the desire to win and to treat everybody in a professional manner is there. Everybody’s going to be frustrated at times, there’s always some growing pains. But everybody’s trying hard, and we’re all on the same page.”
“It’s going to be exciting. We’ve essentially got a collection of independent league All-Stars, with what Butch has assembled here. It’s going to be interesting to see how we compete in this league. This league, like you said and everybody else has echoed, is ten times better than it was last year as far as talent level. It’s not even close. At its lowest point last year, it was probably a High-A league, and now it’s a solid Triple-A league, absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind. Any team in this league could compete with any Triple-A team in affiliated baseball and be competitive. Obviously, you can’t say you’d win every time, but there are guys here with all the experience in the world.”
The rotation is Ryan Bicondoa, John Halama, Jeff Farnsworth, Adam Johnson and Dan Reichert. Greg Blosser did not make the team, and Joe Gannon did not come to camp.
SS, George Sandel
RF, Terrence McClain
CF, Curtis Pride
LF, Eric Crozier
DH, Kyle Nichols
2B, Chad Ehrnsberger
1B, Clint Johnston
3B, Pat Osborn
C, Adam Shorsher
P, Ryan Bicondoa
CF, Jeff Duncan
2B, Frank Moore
LF, Michael Ryan
3B, Brandon Larson
DH, Josh Pressley
1B, Vito Chiaravalotti
SS, Teuris Olivares
C, Travis Anderson
RF, Elliott Ayala
P, Brandon Knight
Ryan Bicondoa throws the first pitch in Blue Crabs history
– Sandel had the first hit in franchise history in the 3rd.
– Shorsher desposited an 86 MPH pitch from Knight over the left field fence for the first home run in team history.
– The attendance of 7,338 is a new home opener record for the Patriots.
– Pats lost, 3-1. One game in, and the Blue Crabs are already a winner.
– Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com