Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Montgomery sending two to All-Star Game

Biscuits pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Eduardo Morlan have been picked to play in the Southern League All-Star Game, which is July 13 in Hoover.

Two other Montgomery players would have been named, but they're not available. Center fielder Desmond Jennings is playing in the All-Star Futures Game in St. Louis on July 12. First baseman Rhyne Hughes was promoted to Triple-A Durham on June 9.

Hellickson, who missed six weeks with a shoulder injury, is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in eight starts. In 39 innings, he's allowed 28 hits, walked nine and struck out 48.

Morlan has a 2.68 ERA, a 3-3 record and four saves in 29 relief appearances. He played in the Futures Game last year.

Jennings is hitting .323 with 51 runs scored and 28 stolen bases. Hughes had a .252 average, 15 home runs and 46 RBIs before his promotion. Hughes is still tied for the Southern League lead in homers.

The Birmingham Barons and Jacksonville Suns each had six players picked.

Birmingham -- P John Ely, 2B C.J. Retherford*, P Fernando Hernandez, OF Stefan Gartrell, P Jhonny Nunez, UTL OF David Cook
Jacksonville -- C Brad Davis, P Kasey Olenberger, OF Lorenzo Scott, P Matt Peterson, P Graham Taylor, UTL IF Chris De La Cruz
Mobile -- 1B Sean Coughlin, P Barry Enright, 3B Ricardo Sosa, SS Pedro Ciriaco, OF Cyle Hankerd, DH Chris Rahl
Mississippi -- C J.C. Boscan, P Kyle Cofield, OF Matt Young
Montgomery -- P Jeremy Hellickson, P Eduardo Morlan

The Barons had an additional five who would have gone, but are playing in the Futures Game or have been promoted.

Birmingham -- 1B Brandon Allen (Triple-A), P Lucas harrell (Triple-A), P Brian Omogrosso (Triple-A), C Tyler Flowers* (Futures Game), 3B Dayan Viciedo (Futures Game)
Mobile -- C Orlando Mercado (Triple-A), P Jarrod Parker (Futures Game)
Mississippi -- P Jonny Venters (Triple-A)
Montgomery -- CF Desmond Jennings (Futures Game), 1B Rhyne Hughes (Triple-A)

*--Flowers and Retherford were unanimous picks of votes submitted by the league's field managers, general managers, announcers and beat writers.

Biscuits continue roster shell game with pitchers

The Biscuits continued shifting starting pitchers on and off the roster today, activating Heath Rollins so he can start tonight's game and deactivating Brandon Mann, who started Monday.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Brewers minor leaguer suspended 100 games

Brewers minor-league pitcher Jeremy Jeffress, who started the year with Huntsville before being demoted, has been suspended for 100 games for testing positive for a drug of abuse, Major League Baseball announced today.

The severity of the suspension is because it's his third violation.

Jeffress was with high-Class A Brevard County. The right-hander was fourth on Milwaukee's Baseball America preseason prospect list. He had a 7.57 ERA in eight starts at Huntsville before a mid-May demotion. Jeffress had a 2.18 ERA and 16 hits allowed in six starts at Brevard and appeared close to returning to the Stars.

There is no suspension for a player's first violation for a drug of abuse. Jeffress missed the end of the 2007 season and start of 2008 after his second violation. He tested positive for marijuana.

Sonnanstine to start Thursday for Durham

Pitcher Andy Sonnanstine, freshly demoted from the major leagues, will make his Durham season debut Thursday. That gives him three scheduled starts before the All-Star break.

Sonnanstine is jumping into Jason Cromer's spot in Durham's rotation. Cromer started Friday at Columbus and the Bulls have an off day Wednesday.

Six Stars, Smokies among North Division All-Stars

The Huntsville Stars and Tennessee Smokies have six players each on the North Division team for the July 13 Southern League All-Star Game in Hoover.

Huntsville -- C Jonathan Lucroy, P Casey Baron, 2B Shane Justis, P Donovan Hand, P Robert Hinton, OF Adam Stern
Carolina -- P James Avery, OF Todd Frazier, P Jordan Smith, P Travis Wood*, UTL IF Zack Cozart
Chattanooga -- C Lucas May, 3B Josh Bell, P Matt Sartor, UTL OF Andrew Lambo
Tennessee -- 1B Blake Lalli, P Casey Coleman, SS Darwin Barney, P Jay Jackson, OF James Adduci, P Brian Schlitter
West Tenn -- OF Ezequiel Carrera, DH Marshall Hubbard

Three players were chosen to the team, but won't attend because they've either been promoted to Triple-A or will play in the July 12 Futures Game in St. Louis.

Huntsville -- OF Drew T. Anderson (promoted)
Carolina -- OF Chris Heisey* (Futures Game and promoted)
Chattanooga -- P Scott Elbert (promoted)

*--Unanimous vote of those submitted by league field managers, general managers, announcers and beat writers.

The South Division team, which may include a Biscuit, will be named Tuesday.

Sun, Brave take league awards

Jacksonville Suns outfielder Bryan Petersen and Mississippi Braves pitcher Ryne Reynoso won the Southern League's weekly awards. Peterson, the Suns’ leadoff hitter, reached base 17 times in six games and had five multi-hit games. Reynoso was 2-0 and allowed one earned run in 15 2/3 innings.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday: Biscuits 6, Suns 5

Rashad Eldridge's two-run double in the top of the ninth inning lifted the Biscuits to a 6-5 win over the Jacksonville Suns on Sunday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Montgomery scored three times with two outs. Fernando Cortez singled to bring home Desmond Jennings, who had singled with one out. Matt Fields singled and moved into scoring position on a throwing error. Cortez advanced to third.

Eldridge followed with his two-run double to put the Biscuits ahead.

It's the first time this season -- and seventh time in Biscuits history -- that the they've won after trailing entering the ninth inning. Montgomery was 6-314 when trailing after eight, entering today, according to Minor League Baseball.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sandberg ejected, does dirty deed

Smokies manager Ryne Sandberg, the Hall of Fame player, was ejected in the third inning tonight by home-plate umpire Toby Basner and kicked dirt on Basner during the ensuing argument. Sandberg objected after Basner called the first pitch to Montgomery's Drew Anderson a ball.

Spring at first base for Smokies' series finale

The Biscuits and Smokies will cap their six-game series with the same pitching matchup that started it. Montgomery's Jeremy Hellickson threw four shutout innings Monday in a no-decision. Tennessee's Jay Jackson threw five shutout innings and picked up the win in the Smokies' 2-0 victory.

Catcher Matt Spring has a hot bat and the Biscuits are taking extra steps to make sure he's in the lineup. He's starting at first base tonight. Only twice in his career has Spring played defense as a non-catcher, both in 2007.

With the Biscuits on July 7, he was 1-for-3 with a home run at Mobile as the first baseman. He replaced Chris Nowak in the fourth inning and finished with five putouts and an assist. With low-Class A Columbus on May 13, he was a "defensive" replacement in the 11th inning for third baseman Cesar Suarez and didn't bat nor field a ball.

Lineups ...
Desmond Jennings, cf
Drew Anderson, 2b
Rashad Eldridge, lf
Fernando Cortez, 3b
Cesar Suarez, dh
Matt Spring, 1b -- what?!?
J.T. Hall, rf
Nevin Ashley, c
Jason Bowers, ss
Jeremy Hellickson, rhp

Tony Thomas, 2b
James Adduci, cf
Doug Deeds, rf
Tyler Colvin, lf
Marquez Smith, 3b
Blake Lalli, 1b
Ty Wright, dh
Mark Reed, c
Darwin Barney, ss
Jay Jackson, rhp

5:03: Spring starts taking some grounders at first from pitching coach Neil Allen.
5:05: Pitcher Brian Baker joins in so Spring can practice his throws.
5:10: Spring is finished with his practicing ... at first. He's now putting on his equipment to catch some bullpens.

System check

Stats through Friday. Durham second baseman Elliot Johnson appears close to returning from a broken hand. He's been playing with the Gulf Coast League Rays.

International League South

(41-34, second place, 1 GB)
RHP Wade Davis has allowed 10 hits and two earned runs in his last two starts, covering 13 innings. He has a 2.89 ERA and a .230 average against this year.
1B Rhyne Hughes homered twice Tuesday and has a .323 average in 16 games.
RHP Dale Thayer has 10 saves and a 1.60 ERA.
C John Jaso is hitting .236 with four home runs and 15 RBIs.

Florida State League South

(0-1, tied for fourth, 0.5 GB)
RHP Jesse Darcy threw a seven-inning, five-hit shutout Wednesday with nine flyouts and nine groundouts. He’s 2-6 with a 5.32 ERA.
RHP Matt Gorgen gave up his second and third earned runs of the season Tuesday. They shot his ERA from 0.27 to 0.78 in 34.2 innings.
LHP Darin Downs allowed no earned runs and 10 hits in 5.2 innings to lose Thursday. He walked none and tied a season high with 10 strikeouts. Downs is 7-3 with a 2.23 ERA.

South Atlantic League Southern

(1-1, tied for third, 1 GB)
RHP Nick Barnese won his second straight start Friday, allowing one run and four hits in five innings. He gave up one hit in seven shutout innings in his previous start. In five starts, Barnese has a 1.64 ERA and 16 hits allowed in 22 innings.
C Jake Jefferies is 9-for-19 in his last five games to push his average to .267.

New York-Penn League McNamara

(4-3, second place, 2 GB)
RHP Richard De Los Santos has three saves and one hit allowed in four shutout innings.
CF Chris Murrill is 7-for-15 with three runs scored and three RBIs.
LHP Kyle Lobstein threw four shutout innings Friday.
RHP Alex Colome won with five shutout innings Tuesday.

Appalachian League East

(3-1, second place, 1 GB)
LF Brian Bryles has a .476 on-base percentage and six runs scored.
RHP Jason McEachern allowed three hits in five shutout innings Tuesday.

Gulf Coast League South

(1-2, fourth place, 2 GB)
RHP Eliazer Suero posted five shutout innings Thursday.

Those who strayed from the Rays

IF Wes Bankston is hitting .323 in 65 June at-bats for Triple-A Louisville (Reds).
RHP Brian Stokes has a 3.25 ERA in 27.2 innings with the New York Mets.
C Iker Franco’s .280 average at Quintana Roo of the Mexican League includes 13 home runs and 57 RBIs.
LF Jesus Feliciano is hitting .313 at Triple-A Buffalo (Mets).
RHP Seth McClung is 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers.
OF Shaun Cumberland has a .200 average with Double-A Carolina (Reds).
RHP Dewon Brazelton is 2-3 with a 3.24 ERA with independent Camden.
OF Joey Gomes, traded to independent Edmonton from independent Joliet this month, has a .268 average, two home runs and seven RBIs in 10 games.
2B Josh Asanovich has a .292 average at independent Winnipeg.
OF Amado German is hitting .222 for independent Edinburg.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rays demote Sonnanstine to Durham

Andy Sonnanstine has been demoted to Triple-A Durham so the Rays can activate Scott Kazmir from the disabled list, the St. Pete Times reports. Also, the Rays designated Winston Abreu for assignment to activate Chad Bradford.

Friday: Biscuits 4, Smokies 2

Brian Baker allowed one run over six innings, Matt Spring and Fernando Cortez homered, and the Biscuits downed the Tennessee Smokies 4-2 on Friday.

Montoyo leaves Bulls for son’s heart surgery

Former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo will be away from Triple-A Durham for the next couple of weeks for his infant son’s latest surgery.

Alex Montoyo is scheduled to have open-heart surgery July 2 at the UCLA Medical Center. Charlie managed the Bulls on Friday and is scheduled to fly home to Arizona on Saturday.

Charlie has been picked to coach in the All-Star Futures Game on July 12 in St. Louis. He’ll go only if Alex is doing well.

Alex was born in October 2007 with a heart defect and spent his first five months in hospitals in Tucson, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

McGee marks return, limited to 20 pitches

Pitcher Jake McGee pitched in a Gulf Coast League game today, his first action since Tommy John surgery last summer while he was with the Biscuits.

McGee faced three batters without recording an out. He left the game because he hit his 20-pitch limit, he said.

"I just wasn't feeling right with my mechanics," McGee said. "My body and my arm felt good."

The left-hander said he's supposed to pitch two innings in a start Tuesday and three innings in a start July 6. After that, he'll throw out of the bullpen three times before moving up to high-Class A Charlotte.

Townsend discounts retirement rumor

Former Biscuits pitcher Wade Townsend said reports of his retirement have been greatly exaggerated. He's in Florida at Tampa Bay's extended spring training facility rehabbing from offseason shoulder injury.

"I am obviously not retired and have no idea where it came from," Townsend wrote in a text message.

The former first-round pick said he's scheduled to throw live batting practice in eight days and pitch in a Gulf Coast League game July 21.

"I feel very good," he said.

Papelbon to start for Smokies

The Smokies have swapped starting pitchers for tonight's game at Riverwalk, pulling left-hander Casey Lambert in favor of left-hander Jeremy Papelbon.

They scratched Lambert because of an oblique injury. Papelbon, the younger brother of Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, is 2-3 with a 3.40 ERA in 39 2/3 innings this year. This will be his 19th appearance and fifth start.

There is a third Papelbon brother in baseball. Josh, Jeremy's twin, is a reliever with high-Class A Salem in the Boston organization.

Lineups ...
Desmond Jennings, cf
Brandon Chaves, ss
Fernando Cortez, dh
Matt Fields, 1b
Cesar Suarez, 3b
J.T. Hall, rf
Joe Gaetti, lf
Matt Spring, c
Drew Anderson, 2b
Brian Baker, rhp

James Adduci, cf
Darwin Barney, ss
Doug Deeds, rf
Tyler Colvin, lf
Marquez Smith, 3b
Ty Wright, dh
Tony Thomas, 2b
Russ Canzler, 1b
Welington Castillo, c
Jeremy Papelbon, lhp

Eldridge demoted to Biscuits

Outfielder Rashad Eldridge has been demoted back to the Biscuits from Triple-A Durham.

Pedro Powell has been deactivated. The Biscuits also activated pitcher Brian Baker, who starts tonight, and pulled Heath Rollins off the active roster.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Biscuits' bats ripe for picking

The Biscuits are taking batting practice and, oddly, a large bird, perhaps a vulture, is circling the trees past center field. With how the Biscuits have hit lately, well, you know where we're headed with that one.

Montgomery puts its plump .199 average for the month of June on the line tonight against the Smokies for the fourth game in their six-game series.

Biscuits center fielder Desmond Jennings gets to celebrate being picked to the Futures Game. He's out of the lineup for only the second time in the last month.

Lineups ...
Pedro Powell, cf
Brandon Chaves, ss
Fernando Cortez, dh
Matt Fields, 1b
Cesar Suarez, 3b
J.T. Hall, rf
Joe Gaetti, lf
Matt Spring, c
Drew Anderson, 2b
Aneury Rodriguez, rhp

Jonathan Mota, 2b
James Adduci, cf
Darwin Barney, ss
Doug Deeds, rf
Marquez Smith, 3b
Tyler Colvin, lf
Ty Wright, dh
Blake Lalli, 1b
Welington Castillo, c
Hung-Wen Chen, rhp

Desmond Jennings named to Futures team

Biscuits outfielder Desmond Jennings has been picked to play in the All-Star Futures Game. The game is played at the site of the major-league All-Star Game -- St. Louis this year -- and features many of minors' top prospects.

Jennings and outfielder K.D. Kang will represent the Rays. Durham manager Charlie Montoyo and former Biscuits coach Mako Oliveros will be on the World team's coaching staff.
Jennings ranks among the Southern League leaders in hitting, stolen bases, extra-base hits and runs scored. Kang is currently with Class A Bowling Green and played at Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City.
Because he'll be in the Futures Game, Jennings will miss out on the Southern League All-Star Game. Jennings is from Birmingham and the game is July 13 in Hoover. The Futures Game is July 12.

Jaxx staff takes Carolina's All-Star assignment

The coaching staff of the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx will coach the North Division team in next month's All-Star Game.

Those assignments usually go to the host team and the other division's participant in the previos year's championship series.

The Barons host the game July 13 and their coaches will lead the South team.

Carolina lost to Mississippi in the '08 championship. However, the Mudcats changed affiliations this year, swapping from the Marlins to the Reds.

Switzer taken off Mets' roster; Pridie demoted

The New York Mets have pulled former Biscuits pitcher Jon Switzer from their roster. They've designated Switzer for assignment.

Also, outfielder Jason Pridie has been demoted from the Minnesota Twins to Triple-A Rochester. He moved up last week when Denard Span went on the DL. Span is back, so Pridie goes down.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday: Smokies 6, Biscuits 0

Casey Coleman allowed four runs over six innings to help the Tennessee Smokies beat the Biscuits 6-0 on Wednesday. Coleman and two relievers combined on a five-hitter. Montgomery has scored one run in three games this week against the Smokies. Doug Deeds and Tyler Colvin homered for the Smokies. Colvin finished 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored.

The Biscuits are now hitting .199 for the month of June.

Southern League All-Star vote has been cast

Feel free to remind me how little I know and rate my Southern League All-Star vote, which was submitted today. Only one Biscuit earned my vote to be in Hoover for next month's game.

Today is the third game of the Biscuits-Smokies series.

Lineups ...
Desmond Jennings, cf
Brandon Chaves, ss
Fernando Cortez, 3b
Matt Fields, 1b
Cesar Suarez, dh
J.T. Hall, rf
Joe Gaetti, lf
Nevin Ashley, c
Jason Bowers, 2b
Heath Rollins, rhp

James Adduci, cf
Darwin Barney, ss
Doug Deeds, rf
Blake Lalli, 1b
Marquez Smith, 3b
Tyler Colvin, lf
Ty Wright, dh
Mark Reed, c
Jonathan Mota, 2b
Casey Coleman, rhp

And here's how I voted ...
2 catchers: Jonathan Lucroy, Huntsville; Chris Denove, Carolina
1b: Thomas Hubbard, West Tenn
2b: Shane Justis, Huntsville
3b: Juan Francisco, Carolina
ss: Darwin Barney, Tennessee
4 outfielders: Chris Heisey, Carolina; Todd Frazier, Carolina; Ezequiel Carrera, West Tenn; James Adduci, Tennessee
dh: Taylor Green, Huntsville
utility if: Zack Cozart, Carolina
utility of: Drew T. Anderson, Huntsville

2 starting pitchers: Travis Wood, Carolina; Jay Jackson, Tennessee
reliever: Logan Ondrusek, Carolina
closer: Robert Hinton, Huntsville
2 other pitchers: Scott Elbert, Chattanooga; John Gaub, Tennessee

2 catchers: Tyler Flowers, Birmingham; Orlando Mercado, Mobile
1b: Sean Coghlin, Mobile
2b: C.J. Retherford, Birmingham
3b: Dayan Viciedo, Birmingham
ss: Brandon Hicks, Mississippi
4 outfielders: Desmond Jennings, Montgomery; Stefan Gartrell, Birmingham; David Cook, Birmingham; Matt Young, Mississippi
dh: Lorenzo Scott, Jacksonville
utility if: Brandon Allen, Birmingham
utility of: Cyle Hankerd, Mobile

2 starting pitchers: Lucas Harrell, Birmingham; John Ely, Birmingham
reliever: Fernando Hernandez, Birmingham
closer: Matt Peterson, Jacksonville
2 other pitchers: Clevelan Santeliz, Birmingham; Daniel Schlereth, Mobile

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beckham has three hits in SAL All-Star Game

Bowling Green shortstop Tim Beckham was 3-for-5 in tonight's South Atlantic League All-Star Game. He also scored a run and committed a throwing error in the South Division's 8-7 loss.

Hot Rods pitcher Chris Andujar surrendered three runs on three hits in one inning of work.

The North Division, after the South scored in the top of the ninth to tie it, won it in the bottom of the ninth.

Burnside also with ChiSox in Great Falls

Jeff Davis grad Paul Burnside, drafted this month by the White Sox, has also signed and is with the Great Falls Voyagers.

Bon Voyage: St. James' Kloess signs with ChiSox

St. James graduate Brandon Kloess has signed with the Chicago White Sox and has been assigned to the Rookie-level Great Falls Voyagers. Kloess started the year with the independent Windy City Thunderbolts and had a 1.59 ERA in three games.

Sandberg: Sosa doesn't deserve spot in Hall

Smokies manager Ryne Sandberg told a radio station in Chicago today that Sammy Sosa doesn't deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame after his positive steroid test.

Today is the 25th anniversary of Sandberg's seven-RBI game against the Cardinals that included two home runs off Bruce Sutter.

I just listened to the interview (forgive any typos).
I was around Sammy for about five years before I retired. There wasn't anything going on then. But I did admire the hard work that he put in. He was one of the first guys down at the batting cage, hitting extra. I figured that he was working out hard in the offseason to get bigger. It was just happening throughout the game. Even myself was blinded by what was really happening, maybe starting in the '98 season. I think it's very unfortunate. I think suspicions were there, as there are with some other players. Those players are now put in a category of being tainted players with tainted stats. It's obviously something that was going on in the game. Players participated in it and, as the names have come out, I think they're going to be punished for that.

Should Sosa go in the Hall?
I don't think so. Part of being in the Hall of Fame, they use the word integrity to describe a Hall of Famer in the logo of the Hall of Fame. I think there's going to be quite a few players not to get it. It's been evident with the sports writers who vot ethem in, with what they've done with Mark McGwire getting in the 20 percent range. We have some other players coming up. Palmeiro is coming up soon. It will be up to the sports writers to speak loud and clear about that. I don't see any of those guys getting in.

How about a separate wing in the Hall of Fame?
I don't even think I'd be in favor of that. I think it's sending the wrong message. It's something that's against the law, it's against society, it was cheating in the sport. I don't think the Hall will accept that or go that route. I think it has to be spoken very loud and clear on the stance. Baseball needs to stand, as they have. I'm very satisfied with the testing program they have in place now. If a guy tests positive today under what happens now, like Manny Ramirez, it almost takes an idiot to participate in that. For the society and the up-and-coming players and the youth out there, I don't think the guys should be recognized at all.

Second game comes with All-Star vote looming

My Southern League All-Star vote is due Wednesday, so I'll be finalizing that tonight after the Biscuits and Smokies play the second game of their series at Riverwalk.

The Rays did name their May players of the month during my week away and picked Durham infielder Chris Richard and pitcher Winston Abreu. Abreu is now in the major leagues.

Lineups ...
Desmond Jennings, cf
Brandon Chaves, ss
Fernando Cortez, 3b
Matt Fields, 1b
Cesar Suarez, dh
J.T. Hall, rf
Joe Gaetti, lf
Nevin Ashley, c
Jason Bowers, 2b
Brandon Mann, lhp

Tony Thomas, 2b
James Adduci, cf
Marquez Smith, 3b
Tyler Colvin, dh
Darwin Barney, ss
Doug Deeds, 1b
Jonathan Mota, rf
Russ Canzler, lf
Welington Castillo, c
Marcos Mateo, rhp

Monday, June 22, 2009

Durham sets team record for series attendance

The Durham Bulls, by drawing 8,666 to tonight's game with Pawtucket, set a team record for single-series attendance. They totaled 40,339 for their four games with the PawSox. Tonight's 3-1 win -- with rehabbing Scott Kazmir allowing one run in six innings -- snapped an eight-game losing streak.

Yikes: Hellickson shines in return

Jeremy Hellickson threw four shutout innings in his return from a shoulder injury. He allowed four hits, walked none and struck out six.

Of the four hits, only one was clean. There was a dribbler to start the game and another single that appeared catchable, though right fielder J.T. Hall came up short on. There was a hot shot in the third that hit off second baseman Jason Bowers' glove.

Unofficially, 61 pitches for 44 strikes. He was in control.

UPDATE: The Biscuits' chart had Hellickson at 60 pitches for 44 strikes.

X marked good spot for Sandberg; Allen not so much

Smokies manager Ryne Sandberg reviewed his Hall of Fame career today and examined his performance against Biscuits pitching coaches, present and past.

Sandberg faced both current Biscuits coach Neil Allen and his predecessor, Xavier Hernandez, during his 16 years in the majors.

Against Allen: 2-for-13, three walks, no extra-base hits.
"He had a good overhand fastball and a real good curve. I do remember that, but it was a long time ago. He was competitive and he was tough."

Against Hernandez: 3-for-14, two home runs, Nos. 148 (May 27, 1990) and 209 (May 6, 1992) of Sandberg's career, no hit batsmen.
"I remember hitting a home run or two at the Astrodome off him. He was a pretty good reliever."

Smokies, Sandberg open series at Riverwalk

The TV guys are getting set up for the pregame interview session with Smokies manager Ryne Sandberg, the Hall of Fame player from the Cubs that I wrote about in Sunday's paper.

The Smokies are at Riverwalk all week and Biscuits pitcher Jeremy Hellickson is scheduled to face them twice, tonight and in Saturday's series finale.

UPDATE: Hellickson is scheduled to throw four innings or 60 pitches, whichever comes first.

Lineups ...
Desmond Jennings, cf
Brandon Chaves, ss
Fernando Cortez, dh
Matt Fields, 1b
Cesar Suarez, 3b
J.T. Hall, rf
Nevin Ashley, c
Jason Bowers, 2b
Pedro Powell, lf
Jeremy Hellickson, rhp

Tony Thomas, 2b
James Adduci, cf
Doug Deeds, 1b
Tyler Colvin, rf
Marquez Smith, 3b
Blake Lalli, dh
Russ Canzier, lf
Welington Castollo, c
Darwin Barney, ss
Jay Jackson, rhp

Baker off active roster for Hellickson

The Biscuits deactivated pitcher Brian Baker to make room on the roster for Jeremy Hellickson, who starts tonight.

Barons bowl over league

The Birmingham Barons high-stepped their way to a first-half championship and won both of the Southern League's weekly awards today. Right fielder Stefan Gartrell and right-handed pitcher Daniel Hudson carried the honors.

Gartrell had three home runs, nine RBIs and seven runs scored last week. Hudson made his Double-A debut Saturday and allowed three hits and an unearned run in seven innings.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hellickson back in fold, to start Monday

Jeremy Hellickson, out for the last six weeks with a shoulder injury, will make his return Monday against the Tennessee Smokies.

One of Tampa Bay's top pitching prospects, Hellickson left after two innings May 5. The right-hander has been at the Rays' extended spring training program the last 2 1/2 weeks rehabbing.

Hellickson, who is 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA in six starts this year, will be limited in his return. The Biscuits plan to piggyback Hellickson and Chris Mason in Monday's game.

Week's absence ends

The blog's weeklong absence has ended. Did you enjoy the silence?

Here's some of the major items and minutiae from the last week:
  • Former Biscuit Jason Pridie returned to the major leagues with the Twins after Denard Span went on the disabled list.
  • Rays reliever Chad Bradford ended his rehab stay in Montgomery and moved up to Durham.
  • Shortstop Brandon Chaves returned from the Bulls to the Biscuits after the Rays activated Jason Bartlett from the DL and demoted Reid Brignac to Durham.
  • Two Rays minor leaguers drew 50-game suspensions after positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs. Outfielder Franklin Alcala and pitcher Carlos Orasma were both in the Venezuelan Summer League.
  • Jason Isringhausen, who had a rehab stop with the Biscuits earlier this year, blew out his elbow again and is likely finished for the year. The Rays called up Winston Abreu from Durham to take his spot.
  • The independent Somerset Patriots had news involving three former Biscuits. Travis Minix, their stopper, signed with a Mexican League team. Jason Standridge signed and moved into the starting rotation. Brian Henderson returned from a staph infection.
  • Charlotte pitchers Darin Downs and Matt Gorgen each threw one shutout inning in Saturday's Florida State League All-Star Game. Greg Sexton was 2-for-2 with an RBI and Cody Cipriano finished 1-for-5. Cipriano had a big hand in the South Division's 6-4 loss. His two-out error in the fourth led to the final two runs of the North Division's six-run rally.
  • Pitcher Steve Andrade, released earlier this month by the independent York Revolution, signed with the independent Sioux City Explorers.
  • The Yankees designated former Biscuit Jose Veras for assignment.
  • The Durham Bulls, perhaps flummoxed over the lack of Biscuits news, haven't won. Durham has lost seven straight and 10 of 11 entering today's game with Pawtucket.
  • Stanhope Elmore grad and Auburn slugger Joseph Sanders signed with the Colorado Rockies.
  • Stanhope Elmore grad and Faulkner fireballer Austin Adams signed with the Cleveland Indians.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pumpkin time

I'm out of the office from midnight tonight until at least midnight next Saturday and won't be allowed to post anything or return any e-mails. So, if you see any news and want to share, put it in a comment to this post.

A few things to track over the coming week:
1. Draft signings. Check raysprospects.com. They're off to a good start tracking those. (You can see a new standing link to the right, too.)

2. The Rays should soon name their minor-league players of the month for May.

3. The short-season Class A Hudson Valley Renegades open their season Friday. I've heard the players hit the road today. The roster has yet to get out. I've heard two names, but the people who told me would be easily tracked if I shared just those two. The Rookie-level teams get going June 23.

Jay G. Tate of HABOTN.com fame, our Auburn beat writer, is handling the Biscuits the next two days.

Let's hear your thoughts on this: How many golf balls will I lose over the next week?

I'll pull for USM during College World Series

The College World Series started today and, if you must know, I'm hoping Southern Miss wins. I knew their coach, Corky Palmer, who is retiring, when he was a junior college coach in Mississippi.

It was 15 years ago, but I was a pup reporter and rode with him and his team to the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. (Yes, they drove a bus from Mississippi to Colorado.)

One thing on the trip has been a story I've shared many times. A few former major leaguers have laughed at this, too.

The school's athletic director handled all the off-the-field expenses and arrangements. The AD dispersed the meal money, made the hotel reservations, dealt with the bus company, etc.

In professional baseball, this person is known as a traveling secretary. It's a tough job and those who do it have my every respect -- see this story, which asks if it's the toughest job in sports.

I mentioned to the AD that "you're kind of like the traveling secretary for this trip." Well, this AD thought I was saying their job was like a secretary's.

During the week we were out there, the AD would call the higher-ups at my paper about anything I did that the AD didn't like. The AD also complained to everyone around the team, including Palmer, about anything I did, too. I didn't find out until we got back what I had done to offend the AD, who never asked me about my comparison.

While we were in Grand Junction, my sports editor said I should talk to Corky because they had been complaining about me. We did. (The sports editor didn't tell me why the school may have been offended.)

I asked Corky why he seemed agitated with me and apologized if I had offended him in any way -- but not the AD. He told me not to worry about it. We were eating together at the time and he asked if I wanted a beer. I don't drink, so I turned it down. I laughed when he replied: "You went to college, didn't you?"

Good guy. So is his assistant, Scott Berry. I'll pull for USM this week ... unless I find out that AD is now working for the school, of course.

Bradford back after baby's birth

Rays reliever Chad Bradford has returned to the Biscuits after his wife gave birth to their third child this week. Bradford threw from the bullpen mound before tonight's game, though it's uncertain when he'll make his second appearance with Montgomery.

Red, white and blue Saturday

After creeping out of here early today, the Biscuits and Lookouts are back for the third game of their series. Not surprisingly, no batting practice this afternoon.

Montgomery grounds keepers are paiting red and blue lines in the foul area around home plate and the bunting is out, part of the team's military appreciation night. There's a flyover planned for pregame.

Former Troy star and Enterprise native Adam Godwin gets a second straight start for Chattanooga. He had three hits last night. The Biscuits also picked him off twice.

Lineups ...
Desmond Jennings, cf
Drew Anderson, 2b
Fernando Cortez, ss
Matt Fields, 1b
Cesar Suarez, 3b
J.T. Hall, rf
Joe Gaetti, dh
Matt Spring, c
Pedro Powell, lf
Heath Rollins, rhp

James Tomlin, cf
Joseph Becker, ss
Josh Bell, 3b
JD Closser, c
Andrew Lambo, lf
Eddy Perez, 1b
Tommy Giles, dh
Victor Mercedes, 2b
Adam Godwin, rf
Jesus Castillo, rhp

System check

Stats through Friday, etc.

International League South

(37-24, tied for first)
RHP Wade Davis threw six shutout innings Monday to improve to 6-3 with a 3.18 ERA.
LHP Jason Cromer allowed one run over six innings in a loss Friday. He’s 1-2 with a 1.25 ERA.
RHP Winston Abreu is 3-0 with 10 saves and a 1.41 ERA in 23 appearances. He’s allowed 14 hits in 32 innings, walked 10 and struck out 49.
3B Chris Nowak, who was 3-for-4 with a double, triple and four RBIs Thursday, is hitting .235.
OF Rashad Eldridge has a .326 average in 12 games.

Florida State League South

(31-26, second place, 5.5 GB)
LHP Darin Downs posted his third straight quality start in a win Thursday. He’s 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA, seven walks and 52 strikeouts.
LHP David Newmann threw six shutout innings in a no-decision Wednesday with two hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. He’s 3-3 with a 3.39 ERA.
C Ian Paxton homered twice Friday and is 7-for-13 in four games.
LF John Matulia has a .295 average.
CF Emeel Salem is hitting .212.

South Atlantic League Southern

(31-30, fourth place, 5 GB)
LHP Matt Moore lost Friday, allowing four runs in five innings. It was his first start since throwing seven no-hit innings last weekend. Moore is 3-3 with a 3.68 ERA.
SS Tim Beckham, after going 4-for-4 last Sunday, is 1-for-11 to lower his average to .289.
OF K.D. Kang has a .301 average with 14 runs scored and 15 RBIs in 26 games.
RHP Joseph Cruz threw 5.2 shutout innings Wednesday to improve to 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA.

Those who strayed from the Rays

RHP Jose Diaz has seven saves in eight chances, a 2-0 record and a 4.23 ERA in 24 relief appearances with Double-A Frisco (Rangers).
CF Joey Gathright was 2-for-2 with two walks and two steals Friday at Triple-A Norfolk (Orioles). He’s hitting .291.
LHP Chris Seddon has won his last three starts for Triple-A Tacoma (Mariners), allowing one earned run in 18 innings. He’s 4-3 with a 4.93 ERA.
OF Elijah Dukes has a .253 average in 44 games with the Washington Nationals.
RHP Evan Meek gave up one hit in three shutout innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
RHP Nick DeBarr is 2-0 with an 8.18 ERA in 16 appearances for Triple-A Albuquerque (Dodgers).
SS Johnny Raburn is hitting .193 with Double-A Huntsville (Brewers).
C Robinson Cancel has a .198 average for Triple-A Buffalo (Mets).
RHP Jim Magrane is 6-0 in nine starts with independent Somerset. He has a 2.45 ERA and 51 hits allowed in 62.1 innings.
RHP Derek Feldkamp has a 1.32 ERA and has allowed 10 hits in 13.2 innings for independent Winnipeg.
OF Erold Andrus is hitting .222 for independent Florence.

Tidbits from Friday's 14-inning saga

Of course, read my story first.

There were 498 pitches for 313 strikes. Oddly, the teams equally shared in the throwing (249 pitches each), though the Biscuits had 169 strikes, compared to Chattanooga's 144.

There were 31 runners left on base, including a team record-setting 17 by the Biscuits. It wasn't a Montgomery record. The Rebels left 25 in a 16-inning game against Savannah on June 11, 1979. (I missed memorializing that 30th anniversary.)

Biscuits catcher Nevin Ashley took in all 14 innings, but didn't set a career high. He also caught 14 innings in May 2007 for low-Class A Columbus. He was 1-for-6 in a 3-2 win over Savannah. Tonight, he was 3-for-5 with two walks.

The Lookouts made 60 plate appearances and the Biscuits 61.

It was the longest game in innings in Biscuits history. Six times, they had played 13.
June 27, 2004: at Birmingham, W 2-1
May 5, 2006: Mississippi, L 8-7
July 3, 2007: Birmingham, L 7-6
Sept. 3, 2007: at Jacksonville, W 7-3
June 13, 2008: Mobile, W 1-0
April 13, 2009: West Tenn, L 6-5

There were about 100 people remaining in the stadium at the end.

Yes, the Biscuits ignored a longstanding tradition and didn't sing the 14th-Inning Stretch.

Biscuits win 5-4 ... in 14 ... at 12:53

Nevin Ashley singled home Matt Fields to give the Biscuits a 5-4, 14-inning victory over the Chattanooga Lookouts in a game that started Friday and ended early Saturday.

Ashley hit a bases-loaded single into left field and Fields scored at 12:53 a.m. Saturday.

The Southern League’s curfew wouldn’t have allowed the teams to play another inning. Teams aren’t allowed to begin another inning after 12:50 a.m.

Friday’s game wasn’t helped by the weather. A thunderstorm hit in the eighth inning and caused a 51-minute delay.

Curfew looms as we head to the 14th

They're in the 14th, still tied 4-4. The Southern League has a curfew and no inning can start after 12:50 a.m.

If you're curious, the Biscuits and Lookouts in a "race" with the Salt Lake-Reno game in the Pacific Coast League. Those two are the last games still being played. Salt Lake and Reno are in the 11th, though visiting Salt Lake has taken a 4-2 lead.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rain hits in eighth

Rain delay. Bad timing for the Biscuits, who trail 4-2. They have scored twice and have two runners on with none out.

10:10: The postgame fireworks have been canceled.
10:15: As workers get in position to pull the tarp, a fan jumps from the stands and does a tarp slide. A security officer has signaled his ejection.
10:21: The Lookouts applaud the fan, give him a ball and successfully lobby for the ejection to be overturned.
10:30: Tarp is off the field. Drying agent is being generously applied to the infield.
10:34: Biscuits start to warm up.
10:35: Lookouts join in.
10:37: The restart time has been announced as 10:45.
10:45: And they're off.

Switzer returns to majors with Mets

Former Biscuits pitcher Jon Switzer returned to the major leagues today with the New York Mets. Switzer was at Triple-A Buffalo and the Mets added him to their 40-man roster.

Hellickson makes progress in rehab

Biscuits pitcher Jeremy Hellickson threw two innings earlier this week at extended spring training. The Rays want him up to four innings before he'll return to Montgomery and the starting rotation. He's been out with a shoulder injury.

Two moves this week involving local players. Grady native Wesley Wright returned to the majors when the Astros called him up from Triple-A Round Rock. Andalusia's Tyler Wilson, recently released by the Atlanta Braves, has signed with the independent Pensacola Pelicans.

Former Troy star and Enterprise native Adam Godwin is in the lineup tonight and hitting ninth for Chattanooga.

WSFA is Webcasting the game, so check wsfa.com for that.

Lineups ...
Desmond Jennings, cf
Pedro Powell, lf
Fernando Cortez, 3b
Matt Fields, 1b
Cesar Suarez, dh
Joe Gaetti, rf
Nevin Ashley, c
Drew Anderson, 2b
Jason Bowers, ss
Brandon Mann, lhp

James Tomlin, cf
Justin Sellers, ss
Josh Bell, 3b
Mike Rose, c
Andrew Lambo, lf
Eddy Perez, dh
Russ Mitchell, 1b
Victor Mercedes, 2b
Adam Godwin, rf
James Adkins, lhp

Thursday, June 11, 2009

MLB highlights high-profile picks

Here are the notable draftees pointed out by Major League Baseball.

Michael Belfiore (45th overall, ARI) and Austin Wood (5th round, DET). In a 25-inning NCAA tournament game between Texas and Boston College, Wood tossed 13.0 scoreless innings for Texas while Belfiore hurled 9.2 scoreless frames.

Donavan Tate (3rd overall, SD), son of former NFL running back Lars Tate
Jared Mitchell (23rd overall, CWS), a wide receiver on LSU's football team
Reymond Fuentes (28th overall, BOS), cousin of New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran
Trayce Thompson (2nd round, CWS), son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson
Brett Wallach (3rd round, LA), son of former Major Leaguer Tim Wallach
Virgil Hill (6th round, STL), son of former professional boxer Virgil Hill
Ruben Sierra (6th round, TEX), son of former Major Leaguer Ruben Sierra
Brian Moran (7th round, SEA), nephew of former Major Leaguer B.J. Surhoff
Steven Bumbry (12th round, BAL), son of former Major Leaguer Al Bumbry
Patrick Schuster (13th round, ARI), who threw four consecutive no-hitters earlier this year as a high school senior
Luke Bard (16th round, BOS), brother of Boston Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard
Brett Bukvich (18th round, FLA), brother of Major League pitcher Ryan Bukvich
Luke Murton (19th round, NYY), brother of Colorado Rockies outfielder Matt Murton
Garrett Cannizaro (26th round, LAA), brother of Major League infielder Andy Cannizaro
Zachary Outman (28th round, TOR), brother of Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Josh Outman
Jacob Williams (29th round, ARI), son of former Major Leaguer Matt Williams
Mike Flacco (31st round, BAL), brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
Reggie Williams (32nd round, TEX), son of former Major Leaguer Reggie Williams
Jonathan Fernandez (34th round, TOR), son of former Major Leaguer Tony Fernandez
Michael Yastrzemski (36th round, BOS), son of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski
Gavin McCourt (39th round, BOS), son of Los Angeles Dodgers Owner & Chairman Frank McCourt and CEO Jamie McCourt
Asaad Ali (40th round, LAA), son of boxing great Muhammad Ali
Kyle Hansen (40th round, MIL), brother of Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Craig Hansen
Chris O'Dowd (40th round, OAK), son of Colorado Rockies General Manager Dan O'Dowd
Cade Kreuter (41st round, ARI), son of former Major Leaguer Chad Kreuter
Blake Crosby (42nd round, OAK), brother of Oakland Athletics infielder Bobby Crosby
Tyler Williams (43rd round, CWS), son of Chicago White Sox General Manager Ken Williams
Kyle Arnsberg (45th round, BOS), son of Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg
Harold Baines (45th round), son of former Major Leaguer Harold Baines
Philip Bando (45th round, LAA), nephew of former Major League player and executive Sal Bando
Joseph Jocketty (47th round, CHI), son of Cincinnati Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty
Jake Porcello (48th round, DET), brother of Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello
Evan Sharpley (50th round, SEA), also a quarterback at Notre Dame

Bradford welcomes baby, not with Biscuits

Rays reliever Chad Bradford, who has made one rehab appearance in his week with the Biscuits, is away from the team after wife Jenny gave birth to their third child.

Charles Walker Bradford, all of 5 pounds, 15 ounces, made his debut Tuesday in Mississippi.

Gaby not around for Lookouts series

Former Biscuit Gabriel Martinez, who signed with the Dodgers this year, isn't with the Chattanooga Lookouts for this week's series at Riverwalk Stadium. Martinez broke a hand May 20 when he was hit by a pitch against the Tennessee Smokies.

Tim Corcoran, who recorded the final outs of Montgomery's 2007 Southern League championship, is also with Chattanooga. So is Enterprise native Adam Godwin.

Lineups ...
Desmond Jennings, cf
Pedro Powell, lf
Fernando Cortez, 3b
Matt Fields, 1b
J.T. Hall, rf
Cesar Suarez, dh
Nevin Ashley, c
Drew Anderson, 2b
Jason Bowers, ss
Chris Mason, rhp

James Tomlin, cf
Justin Sellers, ss
Josh Bell, 3b
J.D. Closser, c
Andrew Lambo, lf
Eddy Perez, dh
Russ Mitchell, 1b
Victor Mercedes, 2b
Tommy Giles, rf
Travis Chick, rhp

Stat draft list, Thursday

Here's the Thursday portion of the state draft list. For the first two days, click here.

31st round
924. San Diego, Matt Jackson, rhp, U. South Alabama
942. Minnesota, Cody Martin, 3b, Stephens Co. HS, Toccoa, Ga., Auburn U. signee
945. N.Y. Yankees, Judd Golson, cf, Mountain Brook HS
947. Philadelphia, David Doss, c, U. South Alabama
32nd round
980. Chicago Cubs, Trey McNutt, rhp, Shelton State CC, Haleyville native
33rd round
999. St. Louis, Devin Goodwin, ss, Delta State U., Russellville native, Demopolis HS graduate
35th round
1,069. Tampa Bay, Chris Murrill, of, Nicholls State U., Mobile native, Alabama Southern CC graduate
36th round
1,085. Cleveland, Austin Evans, rhp, U. Alabama
1,092. Minnesota, Jason Zylstra, rhp, Jacksonville State U., Sylacauga native
1,100. Chicago Cubs, Brandon May, 2b, U. Alabama
37th round
1,124. N.Y. Mets, Brandon Sage, lhp, U. South Alabama, Mobile native, Faulkner State CC graduate
39th round
1,183. Chicago White Sox, Paul Burnside, rhp, Auburn U., Montgomery native
43rd round
1,289. Cincinnati, Ricky Bowen, rhp, Mississippi State U., Jasper native
44th round
1,333. Chicago White Sox, Taylor Thompson, rhp, Auburn U., Montgomery native
1,336. Milwaukee, Andrew Morris, rhp, Gulf Coast CC (Fla.), Prattville native
45th round
1,359. St. Louis, Adam Heisler, cf, U. South Alabama, Mobile native, Faulkner State CC
1,369. Tampa Bay, Cole Nelson, lhp, Des Moines Area CC (Iowa), Auburn U. signee
46th round
1,394. N.Y. Mets, Trey Pilkington, rhp, Oxford HS, U. Alabama signee
47th round
1,402. Washington, Darius Rudolph, 2b, Snead State CC, Gadsden native
48th round
1,455. N.Y. Yankees, Patrick White, cf, West Virginia U., Daphne native
50th round
1,492. Washington, Alvin Hines, cf, Pelham HS
1,495. Pittsburgh, Matt Taylor, lhp, Columbus (Ga.) HS, U. Alabama signee

Breakdown of Rays' picks

Unofficially, of course.

3 catchers, 2 first basemen, 1 second baseman, 4 third basemen, 5 shortstops, 9 outfielders
16 right-handed pitchers, 10 left-handed pitchers

22 from high schools, 9 junior colleges, 19 four-year schools

Tampa Bay's picks, Day 3

31st (949th): Aaron Dott, lhp, U. Wisconsin-Whitewater
32nd (979th): Alex Besaw, rhp, Skagit Valley CC (Ore.)
33rd (1,009th): Ryan McCarney, rhp, Cal State Northridge
34th (1,039th): Kyle Spraker, ss, Loyola Marymount U.
35th (1,069th): Chris Murrill, of, Nicholls State U.
36th (1,099th): Jeff Cinadr, rhp, U. Toledo
37th (1,129th): Austin Maddox, c, Eagle’s View Aca., Jacksonville, Fla.
38th (1,159th): Drew Hillman, 3b, Orange Coast College (Calif.)
39th (1,189th): Dan April, lhp, Mercer U.
40th (1,219th): James Pazos, lhp, Highland HS, Gilbert, Ariz.
41st (1,249th): Matt Stabelfeld, lhp, Lewis-Clark State College
42nd (1,279th): Bennett Davis, 3b, Elon U.
43rd (1,309th): Geno Glynn, 3b, Minnesota State U.-Mankato
44th (1,339th): Kalani Brackenridge, ss, Kapolei (Hawaii) HS
45th (1,369th): Cole Nelson, lhp, Des Moines Area CC (Iowa)
46th (1,399th): Aaron Oates, 3b, Skyline HS, Oakland, Calif.
47th (1,429th): Jason Patton, rf, Kent State U.
48th (1,459th): Nate Roberts, rf, Parkland College (Ill.)
49th (1,489th): Vince Spilker, rhp, Raytown (Mo.) HS
50th (1,519th): David Wendt, c, Dowling College (N.Y.)

Rays' 40th-rounder has own Web site

Left-handed pitcher James Pazos of Highland High in Arizona was Tampa Bay's 40th-round draft pick today. Pazos has his own Web site.

Mr. Irrelevant: Alibay Barkley

New York high schooler Alibay Barkley was the final pick of the draft. He's a first baseman from George Washington High in New York and went to the Los Angeles Angels. Barkley was the 1,521st overall player taken.

Yankees latest to make run at Patrick White

West Virginia quarterback Patrick White was a fine baseball player at Daphne High, hence why he went in the fourth round of the 2005 draft coming out of high school.

Well, major-league teams are still hoping he'll pursue baseball. Now come the New York Yankees, who made White their 48th-round pick this year.

The Angels, who picked him coming out of high school, took a run at him two years ago in the 27th round. Last year, Cincinnati took him in the 49th round.

Prattville native grabbed by Brewers

Andrew Morris, a Prattville High alum, went in the 44th round to the Milwaukee Brewers. Morris played at Gulf Coast Community College in Florida this spring and ... wow.

He had a 10-2 record, 2.78 ERA, 65 hits allowed in 94 innings and a .185 average against.

St. James/Auburn's Thompson also goes to ChiSox

Taylor Thompson went in the 44th round to the White Sox. He's a St. James grad now at Auburn. Thompson was 3-3 with a 9.00 ERA in 30 innings this spring.

JD/Auburn's Paul Burnside picked by White Sox

Pitcher Paul Burnside, the Jeff Davis High graduate now at Auburn, was a 39th-round choice of the Chicago White Sox. Burnside was 1-3 with a 7.49 ERA this spring for the Tigers.

Draft comes down stretch; 2nd state prep player picked

In the office to run down the third day of draft action. They're in the 50th (and final) round as I start running through the previous picks.

The state had two players go in the 31st round, which was the first today, including the second high school player taken.

Mountain Brook High center fielder Judd Golson went to the Yankees with the 945th overall pick. South Alabama had two players go in the 31st round: pitcher Matt Jackson to the Padres (924) and catcher David Doss to the Phillies (947).

In the 33rd round, St. Louis drafted shortstop Devin Goodwin from Delta State. Goodwin graduated from Demopolis High and is the son of Doug Goodwin, the former Demopolis football coach who is now at Russellville.

Bartlett rehab will be with Crabs

Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett, on the DL with an ankle injury, will go on a rehab assignment to high-Class A Charlotte this weekend. He's scheduled to DH for the Stone Crabs on Friday and play shortstop Saturday and Sunday.

Mudcats' Heisey tops in league for May

Carolina center fielder Chris Heisey has been named the Southern League's player of the month for May. He hit .404 with 21 runs scored and 17 RBIs in May, helping the Mudcats hit a 20-5 surge since May 15.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Not a good draft sign for state preps

According to baseball-reference.com's draft database, C.C. Watson's 29th-round selection gives the state a historical feat. The Alabama high school ranks haven’t had their top pick go that low in draft history.

Sure, some of that is because of the commitment Watson and Hartselle's Luke Bole both have to Mississippi State, but it was also a down year for state preps.

State draft list, through Wednesday

First round
27. Seattle, Nick Franklin, ss, Lake Brantley HS, Altamonte Springs, Fla., Auburn signee
Supplemental first round
39. Milwaukee, Kentrail Davis, of, U. Tennessee, Mobile native
Third round
81. Washington, Trevor Holder, rhp, U. Georgia, Mountain Brook native
101. Minnesota, Ben Tootle, rhp, Jacksonville State U.

Fourth round
121. Colorado, Kent Matthes, rf, U. Alabama
139. Tampa Bay, Luke Bailey, c, Troup Co. HS, LaGrange, Ga., Auburn U. signee
Fifth round
151. Colorado, Joseph Sanders, 3b, Auburn U., Millbrook native
155. Cleveland, Austin Adams, rhp, Faulkner U., Millbrook native
Sixth round
178. Atlanta, Ryan Woolley, rhp, UAB
Eighth round
238. Atlanta, Kyle Rose, of, Northwest-Shoals CC, Huntsville native

10th round
238. Boston, Brandon Jacobs, lf, Parkview HS, Atlanta, Auburn U. football signee
11th round
324. San Diego, Drew Madrigal, rhp, Mount San Jacinto JC (Calif.), Auburn U. signee
334. Texas, Johnny Gunter, rhp, Chattahoochee Valley CC
12th round
364. Texas, Vin DiFazio, c, U. Alabama

15th round
446. Baltimore, Garrett Bush, rhp, Stanton Prep, Jacksonville, Fla., Auburn U. signee
466. Milwaukee, Del Howell, lhp, U. Alabama, Tuscaloosa native
467. Philadelphia, Austin Hyatt, rhp, U. Alabama
470. Chicago Cubs, Bryan Shields, cf, AUM
19th round
567. San Francisco, Jason Walls, rhp, Troy U., Valley native
589. Tampa Bay, Scott Shuman, rhp, Auburn U.

24th round
712. Washington, Dustin Crane, rhp, Snead State CC, Gaylesville native
26th round
773. Seattle, Chris Sorce, rhp, Troy U.
776. Baltimore, Blake Mechaw, lhp, Shelton State CC, Cullman native
796. Milwaukee, Lex Rutledge, lhp, Tupelo (Miss.) HS, Samford U. signee
28th round
845. Cleveland, Nick Sarianides, rhp, Chattahoochee Valley CC
29th round
874. Texas, C.C. Watson, lhp, Cleburne Co. HS

First state prep star goes in 29th round

Cleburne County High's C.C. Watson will likely go to Mississippi State after falling to the 29th round, where the Rangers took him today. Reportedly, he wants a six-figure signing bonus.

At least he saved the state's high school ranks from embarrassment. He's the first prep player from Alabama picked.

Tampa Bay's draft list, through Wednesday

First round (30th overall pick): LeVon Washington, of, Buchholz HS, Gainesville, Fla.
Second round (78th): Kenny Diekroeger, ss, Menlo School, Atherton, Calif.
Third round (108th): Todd Glaesmann, cf, Midway HS, Waco, Texas
Fourth (139th): Luke Bailey, c, Troup Co. HS, LaGrange, Ga.
Fifth (169th): Jeff Malm, 1b, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
Sixth (199th): Devin Fuller, rhp, Chandler-Gilbert CC
Seventh (229th): Cody Rogers, cf, Panola (Texas) JC
Eighth (259th): Brett Nommensen, cf, Eastern Illinois U.
Ninth (289th): Kevin James, lhp, Whitefish Bay (Wis.) HS
10th (319th): Derek Dennis, ss, Forest Hills Central HS, Grand Rapids, Mich.
11th (349th): Alex Koronis, rhp, U. Tampa
12th (379th): Andrew Bellatti, rhp, Steele Canyon HS, Spring Valley, Calif.
13th (409th): Hunter Hill, rhp, Howard College (Texas)
14th (439th): Zach Quate, rhp, Appalachian State U.
15th (469th): Pierce Johnson, rhp, Faith Chr. Aca., Arvada, Colo.
16th (499th): Tyler Bortnick, 2b, Coastal Carolina U.
17th (529th): Alexander Diaz, rf, Puerto Rico Baseball Aca.
18th (559th): Jacob Partridge, lhp, Rogers HS, Spokane, Wash.
19th (589th): Scott Shuman, rhp, Auburn U.
20th (619th): Dylan Floro, rhp, Buhach Colony HS, Atwater, Calif.
21st (649th): Matt Swilley, rhp, El Camino HS, Oceanside, Calif.
22nd (679th): Jake Sullivan, lhp, U. Arkansas-Little Rock
23rd (709th): Trevor Petersen, rhp, Hallsville (Texas) HS
24th (739th): Andrew Heaney, lhp, Putnam City (Okla.) HS
25th (769th): Ryan Wiegand, 1b, Gonzaga U.
26th (799th): Dan Rhault, ss, U. Rhode Island
27th (829th): Brady Wager, rhp, Globe (Ariz.) HS
28th (879th): Zac Rosscup, lhp, Chemeketa CC (Ore.)
29th (889th): Gabe Cohen, lf, UCLA
30th (919th): Marcus Proctor, rhp, Pinnacle HS, Phoenix

Giants snap up Troy's Walls in 19th round

Troy pitcher Jason Walls was a 19th-round pick of the San Francisco Giants. Walls is from Valley and went to Southern Union Community College.

The Rays also came into the state in the 19th round, taking Auburn pitcher Scott Shuman.

In the 24th round, the Nationals hooked Dustin Crane, a Gaylesville native now at Snead State Community College.

Troy had another pitcher taken in the 26th round, Chris Sorce by the Seattle Mariners. Shelton State Community College's Blake Mechaw, a left-handed pitcher from Cullman, also went in the 26th round to the Orioles.

Chattahoochee Valley had a second player drafted in the 28th round. Right-handed pitcher Nick Sarianides went to the Cleveland Indians.

AUM All-American Shields taken by Cubs

AUM center fielder Bryan Shields was a 15th-round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs.

Shields was a NAIA second-team All-American for the Senators, hitting .461 with seven home runs, and 43 RBIs. He was the Southern States Athletic Conference player of the year. Shields, who is from Panama City, Fla., tied an AUM record with his .461 batting average.

Tide's DiFazio a 12th-rounder by Rangers

Alabama catcher Vin DiFazio went to the Texas Rangers in the 12th round with the 364th overall pick.

Del Howell, a left-handed pitcher at Alabama, was a 15th-round pick of the Brewers. Howell is from Tuscaloosa and played at American Christian.

Tide teammate Austin Hyatt went one pick after Howell to the Phillies.

Stanhope/Faulkner's Adams joins Tribe in fifth round

Faulkner pitcher Austin Adams, another Stanhope Elmore graduate, went to the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round. He was the 155th overall pick.

Last year's 155th pick was a college player who received a $181,000 signing bonus, according to Baseball America. The 151st pick was a prep catcher who fetched $376,000.

A player from UAB went in the sixth round to Atlanta, right-handed pitcher Ryan Woolley. Outfielder Kyle Rose of Northwest-Shoals Community College was the state's first junior college player drafted. The Braves grabbed the Huntsville native in the eighth round.

In the 11th round, the Texas Rangers took pitcher Johnny Gunter of Chattahoochee Valley. He's from Phenix City.

Stanhope/Auburn's Sanders also picked by Rockies

Stanhope Elmore graduate and Auburn infielder Joseph Sanders went with the 151st overall pick to the Colorado Rockies. There were concerns over Sanders after he was hit by a pitch and broke his jaw this season.

Matthes a fourth-rounder to Rockies; Rays take AU signee

Well, that didn't take long.

Kent Matthes, the Alabama outfielder who is a finalist for college baseball's version of the Heisman, was a fourth-round pick of the Colorado Rockies. His 28 home runs this season set a Tide school record and could bode well for him in the thin air of Denver.

Later in the fourth round, the Rays took Luke Bailey, a catcher at Troup High in LaGrange, Ga., who has signed with Auburn.

Here's the start of my Day 2

Time to start looking through and checking out Day 2 of the draft.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Rays take third prep player in third round

The Rays have taken a third high school player. Center fielder Todd Glaesmann of Midway High in Texas.

Twins take JSU's Tootle in third round

Jacksonville State pitcher Ben Tootle went to the Minnesota Twins in the third round and 101st overall pick. He was a top prospect in the Cape Cod League last summer.

Auburn also had a signee picked in the first round. Nick Franklin of Lake Brantley High in Florida went to the Mariners with the 27th overall pick.

Mountain Brook native Trevor Holder, a University of Georgia pitcher, was the Nationals' choice with the first pick of the third round.

Baker's shutout streak halted at 30 innings

Biscuits pitcher Brian Baker pushed his scoreless-inning streak to 30 tonight before the Barons broke through in the sixth. Tyler Flowers, one of the top prospects of the Chicago White Sox, homered to right field on a one-out, 1-1 pitch.

Rays' second-round pick: California prep shortstop

Kenny Diekroeger from Menlo School in Atherton, Calif. He's a Stanford signee.

Coach: Rays' first-round pick a 'fun-loving kid'

Buchholz High coach David Banes called LeVon Washington a "fun-loving kid" who was a terror on the basepaths.

"He's fast. He's real fast," Banes said. "He truly doesn't understand how fast he is. Some of the things he does, you can't teach, like his foot speed and bat speed. He can hit the ball hard and hit it a long way."

Washington had shoulder surgery in September, which limited him early in Buchholz's season. The 17-year-old was just a designated hitter until the first of April when he returned to center field. (He played second base as a sophomore before moving to the outfield.)

Other teams didn't help. They'd regularly throw to first, which forced Washington to dive back into the bag and helped keep Washington's shoulder sore.

"All of them knew who he was and how fast he was and didn't want him to steal," Banes said. "All that diving back made it tough on his shoulder. He wouldn't run (steal) for a while so his shoulder could heal."

Greg Charleston, the president of the Buchholz baseball boosters, said Washington is popular with his classmates. Charleston has one son who was a senior with Washington and another who was a sophomore on the team this year.

"He's been very respectful whenever I've spoken to him and he comes from a good family," Charleston said. "We expect a lot from him."

Banes said Washington was a positive influence at Buchholz.

"He's a fun-loving kid and a good team player," Banes said. "He's fun to be around."

Rays' release lists Washington's stats

Tampa Bay's press release about LeVon Washington includes his numbers as a senior for the Buchholz High Bobcats.

Washington, a left-handed hitter, was 34-for-85 (.400) this season with seven home runs, 14 steals, 19 RBIs and 32 runs scored. Last summer, Washington was named the best running prospect at the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Game in Los Angeles.

Alabamian goes 39th to Brewers

Mobile native Kentrail Davis, currently a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, went to the Milwaukee Brewers with the 39th overall pick. He's the first Alabamian picked.

Washington's dad a former Tuskegee star

Victor Washington, the dad of Rays first-round pick LeVon, was a star football and baseball player at Tuskegee.

"He played in the outfield," said Arnold Houston, Tuskegee's sports information director. "He was tough."

More on LeVon Washington

From the fine folks at the Gainesville Sun, here are 26 things you might not know about LeVon Washington.

Infield or outfield at the next level?: I want to play shortstop in college or the major leagues, but the scouts see me playing center field. I just want to play.
The Sun says former Gainesville high schooler Derrick Robinson "has the fastest 60-yard dash time (6.19) recorded in high school baseball history. Washington is second with 6.21."

UPDATE: Here's an ESPN story about Washington. It mentions that he once stole third without the pitcher ever going into his motion. He also transferred to Gainesville High because of differences with the then-Buchholz coach and played as a junior. He returned as a senior under a different coach.

(Photo courtesy of the Gainesville Sun.)

Rays take Florida prep outfielder

The Rays take second baseman outfielder LeVon Washington from Buchholz High in Gainesville, Fla.

Washington, a University of Florida signee, ranked as the 29th available player in the nation, according to Baseball America. He was the No. 2 player in Florida behind Bobby Borchering, who went 16th to Arizona.

The Rays have experience taking Buchholz players in the early rounds. Andrew Miller was a third-round pick in 2003 by Tampa Bay. He didn't sign, went to the University of North Carolina and is now with the Florida Marlins.

According to BA's report, Washington has been recovering from rotator cuff surgery and "some scouts say his arm is below the 20 at the bottom of the 20-80 scouting scale." He has major speed -- 6.2 seconds in the 60-yard dash -- and profiles more as an outfielder. Despite his arm, he was projected as a possible supplemental first-rounder. The magazine says his offensive potential and arm have been compared to Johnny Damon.

UPDATE: MLB listed Washington as a second baseman, but he's an outfielder.

Projected picks still available for Rays

With two picks left before Tampa Bay, all three of their projected picks are still available: North Carolina high school catcher Wil Myers (Baseball America), Puerto Rico high school outfielder Reymond Fuentes (MLB.com) and Arizona high school catcher Tommy Joseph. (John Sickels).

NEXT PICK: Fuentes goes 28th to the Red Sox.

One of early Rays projections grabbed by Astros

Jiovanni Mier, a high school shortstop from California, was projected to go to the Rays in one of the early mock drafts. He didn't make it that far and went 21st to the Houston Astros.

There have been 13 pitchers taken in the first 21 picks. Most projections had the Rays taking a position player.

Crow hurt his spot by waiting year

Aaron Crow, who just went 12th to the Royals, was the ninth overall pick last year by the Nationals. It won't hurt his finances much. Last year's No. 9 pick got $1.9 milllion to sign.

He obviously didn't sign and spent this spring with independent Fort Worth. He's why the Nationals picked first and 10th. If teams don't sign their first-round pick, they get a similar pick the next. The Yankees have the 29th pick because Gerrit Cole, their pick at 28th last year, didn't sign.

First SEC player goes seventh to Braves

Vanderbilt pitcher Mike Minor went seventh to the Braves. The Commodores had the No. 1 pick in 2007 (David Price, Rays) and the No. 2 last year (Pedro Alvarez, Pirates).

I'll taper off my posting now, but check back for periodic updates. The Rays are scheduled to make their first pick a little after 7.

Wheeler from Georgia goes sixth

Zack Wheeler, the player the Rays decided they didn't need to scout again, went sixth to the San Francisco Giants.

Wheeler went to East Paulding High School in Georgia. He impressed Tampa Bay enough that the Rays were confident he wouldn't be around at 30th. He likely wouldn't have lasted past Atlanta at seventh. The Braves like taking the top local talent. (With Georgia so fruitful, that's a good thing.)

Ackley goes second; time warp at MLB

Dustin Ackley of the University of North Carolina has gone second to the Seattle Mariners, according to the draft tracker at MLB.com. However, the MLB Network broadcast, also available at MLB.com, still has more than a minute left before the Mariners announce the pick.

Or the teams aren't waiting for the time limit. Donavan Tate, a Georgia high school outfielder, goes third to the Padres. Tate has signed with North Carolina with the intent of playing football and baseball.

At No. 4, the Pirates take Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez. ESPN.com reported earlier that the sides had already agreed to terms.

Orioles take California high school pitcher Matt Hobgood fifth. That looks a little high (ranked 40th nationally by Baseball America), but the Orioles should know more about these things than I do.

Wake from Hughes promotion catches Wrigley

Bowling Green outfielder/infielder Henry Wrigley has been promoted to high-Class A Charlotte. That fills the spot vacated by Matt Fields, who was promoted to Montgomery to fill the spot vacated by Rhyne Hughes, now with Triple-A Durham.

Wrigley was hitting .220 with four home runs and 17 RBIs with the Hot Rods.

Nationals take Strasburg first

No surprise, but big bucks. The Nationals take Stephen Strasburg first. The Nats and agent Scott Boras have 2 months, 6 days, 5 hours and 44 minutes to reach a deal before the Aug. 15 midnight deadline.

Barons' Poreda promoted to majors

Getting off the draft topic for a minute ... The Biscuits won't have to worry about Birmingham pitcher Aaron Poreda anymore. Poreda, who was 2-0 in two starts, including six shutout innings Friday, has been promoted to the major leagues. He was 5-4 overall with a 2.38 ERA for the Barons.

Rays, with late pick, took different approach

Because of last year's success, the Rays are picking where they've never picked before in the annual draft -- 30th.

That caused some changes in the way Tampa Bay scouted this spring. The Rays basically cut bait on a few top stars, knowing they wouldn't be available when they pick.

Zack Wheeler, from East Paulding (Ga.) High, was one example, area scout Milt Hill said. (I talked to Hill for the Sunday package on scouts. I wrote about the scouting life, the ones who got away and the holiday feel to draft day.)

Hill (right) had Tampa Bay's crosscheckers and scouting director R.J. Harrison go see Wheeler early in the spring. Hill, who is in charge of Georgia, Alabama and north Florida for the Rays, never returned.

"Basically, R.J. said, 'You don't have to go see him anymore,'" Hill said. "This is the first draft where it's been like that. There have also been years where we've picked No. 1 and we ask if he's the No. 1 player in the draft. If he's not, we don't pick again until 78 or 46, so that guy won't be available then, either."

Orvella released by Bulls

Reliever Chad Orvella was released today by the Durham Bulls. Orvella jumped straight from the Biscuits to Tampa Bay in 2005 and pitched three seasons in the majors. He missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.

The 28-year-old had a 6.12 ERA in 19 appearances this season. He had 24 strikeouts and 36 hits allowed in 32 1/3 innings.

Reliever Jorge Julio, who appeared in 15 games with Milwaukee earlier this year, replaces Orvella. Julio, 30, had a 7.79 ERA with the Brewers and is a ninth-year major leaguer.

Draft approaches

The draft gets underway at 5 p.m. and the Nationals will likely take San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 overall pick. Reports have Strasburg agent Scott Boras looking for $50 million.

The Rays pick 30th and aren't scheduled to pick until 7:11 CDT.

The latest mock drafts have Tampa Bay taking North Carolina high school catcher Wil Myers (Baseball America), Puerto Rico high school outfielder Reymond Fuentes (MLB.com) and/or Arizona high school catcher Tommy Joseph, though mislabeled as California. (John Sickels).

Here's the first round draft order:
1. Washington; 2. Seattle; 3. San Diego; 4. Pittsburgh; 5. Baltimore
6. San Francisco; 7. Atlanta; 8. Cincinnati; 9. Detroit; 10. Washington (for unsigned 2008 No. 9 overall pick, Aaron Crow)
11. Colorado; 12. Kansas City; 13. Oakland; 14. Texas; 15. Cleveland
16. Arizona; 17. Arizona (from Dodgers, Orlando Hudson); 18. Florida; 19. St. Louis; 20. Toronto
21. Houston; 22. Minnesota; 23. Chicago White Sox; 24. L.A. Angels (from Mets, Francisco Rodriguez); 25. L.A. Angels (from Yankees, Mark Teixeira)
26. Milwaukee; 27. Seattle (from Philadelphia, Raul Ibanez); 28. Boston; 29. N.Y. Yankees (for unsigned 2008 No. 28 overall pick, Gerrit Cole); 30. Tampa Bay; 31. Chicago Cubs; 32. Colorado (from Angels, Brian Fuentes)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Hughes moving up to Durham; Fields coming from Crabs

Biscuits first baseman Rhyne Hughes was promoted to Triple-A Durham after tonight's 14-8 loss at Birmingham. Montgomery will be getting first baseman Matt Fields from high-Class A Charlotte.

Hughes, 1-for-4 with a run scored tonight, was the Southern League leader with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs. He had a .252 average. The 25-year-old had set a career high for home runs this season. Two years ago, Hughes was the Florida State League batting champion.

Fields led the Stone Crabs with 11 homers (second in the Florida State League) and 44 RBIs (first). Fields was hitting .255. He hit 19 homers two years ago for low-A Columbus and 18 last season for high-A Vero Beach.

Beckham to play in All-Star Game

Shortstop Tim Beckham is one of two players from the Bowling Green Hot Rods who will play in this month's South Atlantic League All-Star Game.

Beckham and pitcher Chris Andujar were picked Monday to play in the game, which will be June 23 in Charleston, W.Va.

Beckham, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, leads the Rods with a .300 average and 31 RBIs, entering tonight. He'll be the starting shortstop for the Southern Division All-Star team.

Andujar is 6-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 12 games, including five starts. Hitters have a .234 average against him in 44 2/3 innings.

UPDATE: Andujar picked up his seventh win tonight and is tied for the league lead.

Hot Rods' Moore takes SALLY award

Bowling Green's Matt Moore, after throwing seven innings of no-hit ball with a career-high 12 strikeouts Saturday, won the South Atlantic League's weekly pitcher's award today.

Bradford back with Biscuits, but no baby

Rehabbing major-leaguer Chad Bradford has returned to the Biscuits after a trip home to Mississippi to see his pregnant wife. The couple's third child has yet to make his debut, though. However, he could come any day.

Red-hot Mudcats take both league accolades

Carolina shortstop Zack Cozart and left-handed pitcher Travis Wood won both of the Southern League's weekly awards today. Cozart was 10-of-29 with four home runs, including a game-ender Thursday, while Wood threw 15 shutout innings with 17 strikeouts over two starts. The Mudcats have won 19 of their last 23.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bradford away to welcome third child

Rays reliever Chad Bradford, with the Biscuits on a rehab assignment, is away from the team for the birth of his third child.

Bradford and wife Jenny, who live in Raymond, Miss., already have a son, 14-year-old Keller, and daughter, 9-year-old Lanie. The new addition is a boy, Bradford said last week, though he and his wife hadn’t settled on a name.

Bradford was scheduled to make his second appearance for the Biscuits on Saturday at Birmingham. Team spokesman Jon Laaser said Bradford has been away from the team since Friday.

There is no news on the birth.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Hot Rods' Moore hangs zeroes on Asheville

Bowling Green's Matt Moore threw seven no-hit innings and struck out a career-high 12 in the Hot Rods' 10-2 win at Asheville tonight. Moore (3-2) walked two and threw a wild pitch.

Cromer comes up short in matchup with Smoltz

Jason Cromer lost his first start back with Durham tonight when the Bulls fell 2-1 at Pawtucket. Former Braves great John Smoltz outdueled Cromer, allowing one run on one hit over six innings. Smoltz, now with the Red Sox, was making his fourth rehab start after shoulder surgery. Cromer gave up two hits, both home runs.

Niemann, could Rice even compete in the SEC?

LSU polished off Rice today in an NCAA super regional series, once again showing the Southeastern Conference dominance that former Biscuits pitcher Jeff Niemann, a former Rice star, refuses to acknowledge.

It's the second year in a row that LSU, beloved team of former Biscuit Reid Brignac, has shown Rice the NCAA door ... and shoved the Owls under it. The Tigers beat Rice 5-3 today and will go to the College World Series for the 15th time.

(Of course, I ask Niemann about his love for the SEC every year. There are certain places I don't go, however.)

System check

Stats through Friday.

International League South

(35-20, second place, 1 GB)
RHP Wade Davis tied a career high with 13 strikeouts in a loss Wednesday. He allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings. Davis is 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA.
LHP Carlos Hernandez is 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in his last six starts.
LHP James Houser has allowed one earned run in each of his last two starts, winning both. He’s 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA in nine starts.
SS Brandon Chaves has a .400 average and eight walks in 11 games.
RHP Mitch Talbot went on the disabled list with an arm injury Tuesday. He’s 4-4 with a 4.47 ERA this year.
3B Chris Nowak is hitting .230 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.

Florida State League South

(26-24, tied for second, 6.5 GB)
LHP Darin Downs threw six shutout innings in a no-decision Friday. He’s 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA and has a four-start winless streak. Downs has walked five and struck out 43.
2B Cody Cipriano has a .419 on-base percentage, 24 runs scored and 20 RBIs.
LHP David Newmann allowed two hits and an unearned run to win Wednesday. He’s 3-3 with a 3.78 ERA.
RHP Matt Gorgen has an 0.36 ERA and 14 hits allowed in 25 innings.
C Ian Paxton was 3-for-4 with a double in his Charlotte debut Friday.

South Atlantic League Southern

(26-28, tied for fifth, 5 GB)
RHP Nick Barnese allowed one run over five innings in his season debut Friday. He hit three batters, all in the first inning, and struck out seven. Barnese has been out with shoulder tendinitis.
SS Tim Beckham is 3-for-18 in his last five games, dropping his season average to .291. He has three home runs, 30 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

Those who strayed from the Rays

LF Delmon Young has a .231 average with the Minnesota Twins. He has one home run, 14 RBIs and 41 strikeouts in 34 games.
OF Jesus Feliciano has 17 hits in his last 11 games for Triple-A Buffalo (Mets). He’s hitting .302.
1B Gabriel Martinez is on the disabled list at Double-A Chattanooga (Dodgers). He is hitting .298 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs.
RHP Ruddy Lugo is 4-4 with a 3.86 ERA for Triple-A Toledo (Tigers).
1B Wes Bankston has a .222 average at Triple-A Louisville (Reds).
RHP Franklin Nunez has a 6.16 ERA in 11 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs (Rockies).
RHP Jose Veras is 3-1 with a 6.65 ERA in 23 appearances for the New York Yankees.
3B Vince Harrison is hitting .352 with independent Schaumburg.
RHP Travis Minix has 10 saves and an 0.71 ERA at independent Somerset.
OF Sergio Pedroza has a .333 average, 10 RBIs and 15 walks for independent Victoria.
RHP Steve Andrade has a 6.75 ERA in 10 appearances with independent York.

Durham's Mateo nets award from indy league

Durham infielder Henry Mateo, who played 24 games in the independent Atlantic League before joining the Bulls, won the league's player of the month award for April/May. He hit .416 with 25 runs scored before going to Durham. The league announced the award Thursday.