The annual “Futures Game” took place this afternoon at the Great America Ballpark in Cincinnati. It is an all-star game for the best young talent in today’s minor leagues, many of whom are expected to be playing in the major leagues very soon.
I listened to the game on XM-radio as I was coming home from playing in a game myself. When I got home I turned on the TV and watched the Nationals Trea Turner hit a double and triple. His speed running the bases is spectacular. He was one of the stars of the game.
Last Spring Turner was playing for N.C. State University. This year he has rocketted up to AAA Syracuse already. Some are expecting him to be the Nats Shortstop by next year. I listened to a commentator today on XM predict that the trade that brought Turner and Joe Ross to the Nats may end up being the best trade Mike Rizzo has EVER pulled off.
Norris (a pitcher) is the Toronto Blue Jays number one prospect. His story is pretty unique! While he has a fastball that can hit 96 miles-per-hour, his living style is a bit unusual for a hot pro athlete who signed for a $2 million signing bonus.
When he heaves the ballpark he heads for his 1978 VW camper-van. He lives in it and cooks his meals over a gas-fired backpackers portable stove. At night he parks it in a Walmart lot next to the dumpsters.
Check out the link below for the whole story:)
Doug Fister is starting tonight; it will be great to see him back on the hill!
But I have been concerned about him since the start of the 2015 season; his fastball has been sitting about 83-84mph, but NO ONE associated with the team has been commenting on that! That is strange and has me worried that his best days may be behind him, or that he has an injury that the team wants to keep quiet about. His “normal” fastball has been 88-90mph throughout his career. A fastball of 83-84 just gives major-league hitters too much time to barrell one up:)
I hope Doug is back to his “old” form and speed.
Today Ross started his second game on the mound since being called up from AA-Harrisburg. He was spectacular, pitching 8 dominant innings against the good-hitting Brewers of Milwaukee. He even set a new Nationals record for rookie pitchers—facing 51 batters before walking anyone! Ross showed amazing poise and self-confidence while pounding the strike-zone. He was still throwing 93-94 mile an hour fastballs in the 8th inning. The Nats may have to figure out a way to keep him after Strass and Fister return to the starting rotation.
Whenever a rookie pitcher throws a no-no it is something very special! A former colleague, neighbor and friend (retired Ambassador Maurice Parker) sent me this a couple of days ago:
“I’ve been watching this kid, Chris Heston, all year and his pitching has been inconsistent. The Giants brought him up from the minors, due to Matt Cain’s ongoing assignment to the DL. He had very big shoes to fill, but is starting to fill them just fine! He pitched a masterful game on Tuesday night. I also have to give Buster Posey a lot of credit for guiding him through it. This is the fourth No/No Buster has caught in the past four years! Buster and Chris Heston really synchronized their actions out there on the field. One incredible aspect of the game was that the Giants were playing the First Place METS in New York. The other three No Hitters that Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum pitched in the past few years were against the pitiful Astros and Padres. Thus, Heston’s no hitter is quite special. Let’s hope he can keep it up!
The local SF Radio announcers who interviewed Heston after the game suggested that he go into the locker room and tell Madison Bumgardner (Mr. World Series MVP) that he would be happy to show him how to throw a no hitter. Well, the kid seemed afraid to do so. Can you imagine what Mad Bum would have done to him????? If Heston can become more consistent, this could turn out to be a very good year.”
Keep your eyes on the Giants. This could be their chance to show us they can win it all in an odd-numbered year:)
Stephen Strassburg no longers fits in the Nats rotation. Tanner Roark does. I wrote about trading him last year; it didn’t happen. When the team acquired Scherzer, that was another good time to unload Strass. When Stephen fails twice to back up plays, something we all learn in High School, that’s another sign. But the clearest signs are what we all see with his body-language and his mechanics when he is on the mound. This year Strass looks the “least comfortable” I have ever seen him.
The easiest move would be to send him to Syracuse, take the pressure off him and see if he can regain some “will to succeed.” Right now he is a lost soul. Honestly, I think trying to trade him could be difficult.
If the Nats are serious about getting to the post-season, this problem needs to be addressed NOW.
Here’s a great story for you jaded baseball buffs!
Jackie Mitchell, pitcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts, a minor league baseball team, struck out baseball legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig during an exhibition game. Born in 1912, Mitchell showed a talent for baseball from a young age. Her next door neighbor, future Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dazzy Vance, taught her how to pitch as a girl, including his special “dr…op ball” pitch.
At 17, Mitchell joined a women’s team, attended baseball school in Atlanta, and was soon offered a contract by the Chattanooga Lookout for the 1931 season — one of the first professional baseball contracts given to a woman. It was during this season that Mitchell became famous for striking out two of the greatest baseball players in history Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, pictured with her below. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, the baseball commissioner voided her contract, declaring the game “too strenuous” for women. Jackie Mitchell continued to play professionally with traveling teams until her retirement from the sport in 1937.
There are two wonderful books for young readers about Mitchell’s fascinating story: “Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen,” a picture book for 4 to 8 (http://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-jackie-the-strike-out-queen) and an early chapter book “The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth” for 6 to 8 (http://www.amightygirl.com/the-girl-who-struck-out-babe-ruth).
When I first heard the Nats had traded for Yunel Escobar I did a little research and was not very impressed with what I found. But after the first two weeks of the season, I can see what a tough out he is in the batter’s box:). He is what we call a “contact hitter, ” or someone who rarely swings and misses. Manager Matt had Yunel batting leadoff for about the first 10 games for exactly that reason. It is possible that watching Escober hit is rubbing off on his team-mates, like Bryce Harper. Thus far Harper is working pitchers for more walks than usual (for him). Last night Escobar pounced on a fastball in the 10th inning and stroked a home-run to win the game!
Over the most recent 8 games the Nats are hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position.
The Nats are close to having Anthony Rendon play in some minor-league games. That means he might be back in the Nats lineup within a coule of weeks.
Most amateur national tournaments have moved to wood bats. And there is a movement back to wood in the DC area where I play. Last year I discovered a local source of excellent bats, Baret Bats. I began to try them out and found that I liked them so much that I took them to the annual Roy Hobbs tournament last November. My article posted Nov. 26, 2014 has photos of me using a Baret Bat. Here is some info:
For the last two years Juan Baret has been perfecting the art of baseball bat making right from his home woodshop. Bat making is the next chapter in Juan’s lifelong passion for the game that has given so much joy in his life. Juan is a military vet and is the founder and bat maker of Baret Bats. This is a boutique style bat company that makes bats the old fashion way on a wood lathe and chisels, using the best available pro stock ash, maple and yellow birch hardwoods.
Baret Bats is a one-man operation that focuses on giving the individual player a truly customized bat, handmade to their specifications and hitting style just the same way the pros get their bats done. As a former amateur baseball player and coach Juan knows firsthand that the quality of wood bats available sold at retail are mass produced with inferior wood, and are not made unique to the individual. A main objective of Baret Bats is to give the same treatment to customers regardless of whether they are in little league or the major leagues.
Many amateur players have used Baret Bats and most are repeat customers who provide valuable feedback in improving the bats. Juan has made bats for two minor league players from the Potomac Nationals, for example.
Juan has mainly used word of mouth to promote Baret Bats, but as the business grows he is looking to include more visits to baseball teams in the DC area and a website. If you would like to know more about Baret Bats or to talk hitting you can contact Juan directly at (808)230-9904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow his Facebook and Instagram pages @ http://www.Instagram.com/BaretBats or http://www.facebook.com/BaretSports.
This funny short article appeared today (December 25th) on MLB.com. Too bad I got it too late to take advantage of Fister’s generosity:). Here is the link.
I will do a profile of Fister in the near future. He was the Nationals most effective starting pitcher over the course of the 2014 season.