May 27, 2008 May 27, 2008Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
Von Hayes Activates Himself: Read it here. Wow. Just wow.
Knight Signs With Mets: Somerset P Brandon Knight has signed with the New York Mets and will be headed to Triple-A New Orleans. He struck out 14 batters in his last start, and led the league with 50 this season.
Angels Sign Walker: The Camden Riversharks have lost OF Chris Walker. Naturally, one of the guys I really wanted to see leaves before I get to…but good for him, he’s headed for Triple-A with the Angels.
Aldridge Has Been There, Done That: I spent about five minutes talking to Newark Bears OF Cory Aldridge during Newark’s most recent homestand.
His .411 batting average leads the Atlantic League, while his four home runs are three off the pace, and his 26 RBI are tied with the now injured Ian Bladergroen for the top spot.
Perhaps most remarkable is his success against lefties: he’s hitting a whopping .488 off of them so far this year.
But for all the things you can ask him, it seems like he’s heard most of it before. His face showed the signs of someone who’d hadn’t been asked these questions for the first time…
You got to the big leagues pretty quickly in 2001, but…
If you never get back, do you…
But while Aldridge is putting up huge numbers in the Atlantic League this season, and possibly drawing the attention of some scouts, he’s been doing so fairly anonymously.
So here’s my chat with the former Atlanta Braves outfielder, followed by the thoughts of manager Wayne Krenchicki on the guy who might just be the best player you don’t know anything about…
AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com: You’ve been pretty successful against lefties this season. Any particular reason for that?
Aldridge: “No, I’m just really trying to stay with some sort of game plan. The biggest thing, I guess, is to really not press to do anything extra special. I’m having a lot of fun. With the lefties, sometimes you’ve just got to discipline yourself to stay within the plan you started with.”
ALB: It seems like you’ve been hot since spring. I saw you hit a ball off of Bo Donaldson that may still be in orbit somewhere…so the stroke really seems like its been there all season. Considering the numbers you’ve put up so far, are you surprised that you’re still here?
Aldridge: “It’s disappointing, obviously. But then again, the way baseball’s gone the past couple years, it’s not surprising. You can look around this league, and there’s so many guys, even on our team, that can go up and make a difference in the big leagues. Now, they’re bringing up guys from A-Ball, and guys that have’t proven themselves and guys who they don’t know what they’re going to do. It’s not surprising at all. Whether it’s me, or Bobby Hill or Keith Reed, or anybody. Keith hit .280 with 21 home runs last year, I think. There’s so many guys. There’s Curtis Pride from Maryland, there’s just so many different guys, you’re just wondering. The game has changed so much, so nothing these days is surprising.”
ALB: You got to the big leagues pretty quickly in 2001, and you haven’t been able to get back up since. It seems like the numbers have been there, but injuries have been too…
Aldridge: “To me, I was 21, I think. It was one of those things where everything I’d set out to accomplish since I was like four kind of came together. But just as quick as it kind of came together, it was taken away through injuries. Even from ’99 on to 2006, I’ve just played with injuries. But just to get a taste of it, to know that you’ve accomplished what you set out to accomplish, it’s fulfilling in your mind. That’s the best part about it. Now, it’s more or less trying to get back and wanting to get that feeling and actually being able to enjoy what I was able to attain.”
ALB: If you don’t get back, do you feel like you’d be satisfied with getting there the one time?
Aldridge: “My whole thing for like the past five or six years was I’ve got to get back, I’ve got to get back. I’d like to coach, and I’ve put some calls in to teams like Atlanta and the Royals, and guys who I know with some teams. I’d love to coach. That’s a big thing for me, maybe stay around the game and make a difference, maybe I could be a front office guy one day. As far as how I’d feel about not getting back, financially I’d love to get back. But in all actuality, the biggest thing is that I accomplished my goals, and I accomplished what probably less than one percent of the world can do at this level. I can say I’m satisfied. I can’t say I have a lot to show for it, but I did it. And that’s the biggest thing, I think.”
ALB: Physically speaking, is this as good as you’ve felt in a while?
Aldridge: “The biggest thing in my career has been being healthy and being able to play day in and day out. I’m older now, and I know how to go about my practicing and how to get myself ready. Honestly, I don’t feel as great at the plate as I want to, I’m constantly tweaking things and stuff like that. But like I told Ryan Jones, our hitting coach, it kind of keeps you fresh. Some things in baseball, as soon as you say you’ve got it, as soon as you think you’re right where you want to be, sure enough here come the o-fers. I just have to work hard, pray and do my thing and let things kind of fall into place and hope they fall into place.”
“I don’t know that you can expect production like that from anybody. We’ve had some top players here offensively, Colina and Herrera, for a number of years. But what he’s doing right now is pretty special. It’s against left-handed pitching, it’s against good pitching, right-handed pitching. He’s hitting everything right now.”
“He’s got a pretty good idea of the strike zone, and he knows what he wants to hit. He’s able to stay back and he has quick hands, so he’s been able to adjust on the left-handed breaking balls by not getting out on his front foot. That’s what I see as far as why he’s so successful against lefties, he’s not being fooled by stuff away on him or fastballs up. He’s not chasing anything.”
Bluefish Cut Three Pitchers: According to Rich Elliott’s Bluefish Blog, Bridgeport has released pitchers Garrett Berger, Carlos Castillo and Chris Eickhorst.
Just as it likely was in bringing back Randy Dicken, it probably wasn’t such a great idea to bring Berger back either. Like Dicken, Berger had a good story behind him, but he also struggled over the course of the entire 2007 season and showed little improvement this year.
He was 0-5 with a 6.72 ERA in 28 games last season, not to mention his 74 walks compared to 42 strikeouts.
This year, he was 0-0 with a 9.69 ERA in seven appearances, and his walks (23) were again substantially higher than his strikeouts (12).
Interesting that he lasted a season and a half in Bridgeport, whereas he might have lasted about 15 minutes in Lancaster.
Castillo is a former big leaguer who wore out his welcome in Newark, and then resurfaced on the Road Warriors last season. He actually pitched pretty well last season (8-9, 3.34), but was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA this year.
He really only had two particularly poor outings, so of the three moves, this one is probably the most surprising.
As for Eickhorst, he’s a former catcher who started his conversion to the mound in the middle of the 2005 season. He literally went from a catcher to pitcher in the course of about two weeks, and he was never able to really have the success he’d hoped.
In parts of four seasons in the Atlantic League on the mound, he went 4-20 with an ERA over five. He started moving to a sidearm delivery with the Road Warriors last season, and brought his arm down even further with Bridgeport this season.
Elliott also writes that P Franklin Perez and INF Wilson Batista will finally be available to the team this week after lengthy delays due to visa issues. – Mike Ashmore