Thursday, September 20, 2012

Franco, special guest of Biscuits in 2011, dies

Brendan Franco, the cancer-stricken boy who visited the Biscuits on July 4, 2011, died Thursday, the Southeast Sun reports.

Franco, diagnosed with terminal liver cancer last spring, was a special guest of the Biscuits last summer. He was part of a police escort that took him to Riverwalk Stadium, was in the dugout to meet the players and threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

The Biscuits made him feel special, too. Manager Billy Gardner and hitting coach Ozzie Timmons kept him on the bench almost until the first pitch. Infielder Cole Figueroa produced a brand new glove for Franco, then 12, to be in style for his ceremonial throw.

I'm not counting this post

This is the first day without a blog item since March 24. That's 180 days and 1,035 posts. Withdrawal, anyone?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cruz chooses California charity

Biscuits pitcher Joe Cruz says his charity of choice is the Wayne C. Clayton foundation. It is located in El Monte, Calif., practically next to Cruz's home of Baldwin Park, and benefits the San Gabriel Valley.

The Rays will donate $2,500 in Cruz's name after Cruz won their Erik Walker community service award.

Cruz wins Tampa Bay community service award

Biscuits pitcher Joe Cruz won Tampa Bay's minor league community service award, named for a player who died in a 2006 canoeing accident.

Cruz, a 24-year-old right-hander whose year was cut short by injury, will be recognized at tonight's Rays game and the team will give $2,500 to the charity of his choice.

The award is named for Erik Walker, who was drafted in 2006, signed and played for short-season Hudson Valley and died Oct. 26, 11 days before his 23rd birthday.

This year's other finalists were: starting pitcher Chris Archer (Durham), reliever Chris Rearick (Charlotte), reliever and former Auburn pitcher Austin Hubbard (Bowling Green), pitcher Jeff Ames (Hudson Valley) and first baseman John Alexander (Princeton).

Each finalist's favorite charity receives a $500 donation.

Previous Walker award winners were: Charlotte's Matt Hall (2011), Charlotte's Stephen Vogt (2010), Princeton's Ryan Wiegand (2009), Montgomery's Matt Spring (2008) and Vero Beach's Patrick Cottrell (2007).

Archer, Glaesmann picked by Rays

Pitcher Chris Archer and outfielder Todd Glaesmann won the Rays' minor league organizational awards for 2012, the Rays announced today.

Archer spent virtually all season with Triple-A Durham with some time, including now, with Tampa Bay. Glaesmann split time between low-Class A Bowling Green and high-Class A Charlotte.

Team MVPs ...
Durham: 1B Leslie Anderson
Montgomery: RHP Alex Colome
Charlotte: SS Derek Dietrich
Bowling Green: OF Drew Vettleson
Hudson Valley: RHP Jeff Ames
Princeton: IF Ben Kline
Dominican: 3B Alexander Simon
Venezuela: OF Jose Paez

Best defensive player: OF Kevin Kiermaier
Best baserunner: SS Hak-Ju Lee
Best relief pitcher: LHP Chris Rearick

Vettleson, Ames are 2012 BCS/RPI champions

Outfielder Drew Vettleson's all-around efforts with the Bowling Green Hot Rods landed him the 2012 BCS/RPI championship.

Vettleson hit .275 with 15 home runs, 69 RBIs and 80 runs scored this season. He also led the organization with 20 outfield assists.

The 21-year-old had a dominating tally in the Biscuit Crumbs Standings/Rays Player Indicator scale.

Vettleson scored 82 points, a 23-point advantage over second place Jake Floethe, a Bowling Green pitcher. Todd Glaesmann, who split time between the Hot Rods and high-Class A Charlotte, was third with 56 points.

Floethe had the most first-place days (nine), though Vettleson was in the rankings for the most days overall (26).

In the Little BCS for short-season teams, Hudson Valley's Jeff Ames had 18 points to beat teammate Sean Bierman and Princeton's Blake Snell by a one-point nose. Hudson Valley pitchers Taylor Guerrieri and Brandon Henderson were another point back.

Ames was 6-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 14 games.

There were 142 days where Biscuit Crumbs had a "Ranking the Rays" full-season feature and 68 for the short-season teams. There were 118 players who drew full-season votes and 73 from the short-season side.

82: Drew Vettleson
59: Jake Floethe
56: Todd Glaesmann
47: Chris Archer, Ryan Carpenter
44: Henry Wrigley
42: Matt Buschmann, Jake Hager, Parker Markel, Ty Morrison

9: Jake Floethe
7: Ryan Carpenter
5: Parker Markel
4: Chris Archer, Matt Buschmann, Alex Colome, Felipe Rivero, Cody Rogers, Albert Suarez
3: Todd Glaesmann, Braulio Lara, Ty Morrison, C.J. Riefenhauser, Enny Romero, Drew Vettleson

26: Drew Vettleson
20: Todd Glaesmann
17: Ryan Brett
15: Jake Hager, Ty Morrison, Stephen Vogt
14: Jake Floethe, Kyeong Kang, Henry Wrigley
13: Matt Buschmann, Jeff Malm

Little BCS ...
18: Jeff Ames
17: Sean Bierman, Blake Snell
16: Taylor Guerrieri, Brandon Henderson
14: Oscar Hernandez, Brandon Martin
13: Jesse Hahn
11: Kevin Brandt, Tommy Coyle, Luke Maile, Justin O'Conner, Eduar Quinonez

5: Sean Bierman
4. Brandon Henderson, Blake Snell
3: Oscar Armenta, Kevin Brandt, Jesse Hahn, Oscar Hernandez, Brandon Martin, Andrew Toles

9: Jeff Ames
8: Taylor Guerrieri, Blake Snell, Tommy Coyle
6: Sean Bierman, Jesse Hahn, Brandon Henderson, Oscar Hernandez, Luke Maile, Brandon Martin, Justin O'Conner

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Price is Rays' Clemente award nominee

Former Biscuit David Price is Tampa Bay's nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente award, which goes to the majors' top humanitarian.

The nomination recognizes Price's charitable foundation, Project One Four, which he started in 2008 that supports youth in Tampa Bay and Tennessee, and contributions to two Boys and Girls Clubs.

Fans can vote on the Clemente Award at

Monday, September 17, 2012

Diamondbacks boast most minor league champs

The Arizona Diamondbacks, who had four minor league teams make the playoffs, also can brag of three league champions, including winners at the top two levels.

Triple-A Reno won the Pacific Coast League and Double-A Mobile the Southern League. Missoula took the title in the Rookie-level Pioneer League.

No other major league organization has more than one champion in a U.S.-based minor league.

Pacific Coast: Reno (Diamondbacks)
International: Pawtucket (Red Sox)
Southern: Mobile (Diamondbacks)
Eastern: Akron (Indians)
Texas: Springfield (Cardinals)
California: Lancaster (Astros)
Carolina: Lynchburg (Braves)
Florida State: Lakeland (Tigers)
Midwest: Wisconsin (Brewers)
South Atlantic: Asheville (Rockies)
New York-Penn: Hudson Valley (Rays)
Northwest: Vancouver (Blue Jays)
Appalachian: Elizabethton (Twins)
Pioneer: Missoula (Diamondbacks)
AZL: Rangers
GCL: Pirates

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Archer, Hahn final-month BCS/RPI winners

Chris Archer, who ended his minor league season with a flourish, also was the final-month BCS/RPI champion.

Archer had a 1.86 ERA, 37 strikeouts and 27 hits allowed in his final seven starts, five of which met "quality" specifications, for Triple-A Durham. He joined the Rays after the Bulls' season.

He scored 20 points on the Biscuit Crumbs Standings/Rays Player Indicator scale, nipping Bowling Green outfielder Drew Vettleson by two points.

In the short-season BCS/RPI, Hudson Valley right-hander Jesse Hahn was the final-month winner. He was 2-0 with a 1.30 ERA in six starts after Aug. 1, giving up just 13 hits with 33 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings.

Hahn scored 10 points and there was a three-way tie for second. Renegades teammates Jeff Ames, Sean Bierman and Richie Shaffer tallied eight points each.

20 points: Chris Archer
18: Drew Vettleson
16: Matt Torra
15: Matt Buschman
14: Matt Nevarez

10: Jesse Hahn
8: Jeff Ames, Sean Bierman, Richie Shaffer
7: Taylor Guerrieri, Brandon Henderson, Andrew Toles

The BCS/RPI is compiled using a point system based on the daily "Ranking the Rays" minor league rankings.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

BayBears first losing outright champ since 1987

The Mobile BayBears are the first losing team to win an outright Southern League championship in 25 years.

The BayBears finished 69-71 this season and the 1987 league champion Birmingham Barons were 68-75. In 2004, the 69-71 Tennessee Smokies were co-champions with Mobile. The final series was canceled due to Hurricane Ivan.

2012: Mobile BayBears (69-71)
2011: Mobile BayBears (84-54)
2010: Jacksonville Suns (81-59)
2009: Jacksonville Suns (82-58)
2008: Mississippi Braves (73-66)
2007: Montgomery Biscuits (81-59)
2006: Montgomery Biscuits (77-62)
2005: Jacksonville Suns (79-61)
2004: Mobile BayBears (73-67)/Tennessee Smokies (69-71)
2003: Carolina Mudcats (80-58)
2002: Birmingham Barons (79-61)
2001: Huntsville Stars (75-63)/Jacksonville Suns (83-56)
2000: West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (80-58)
1999: Orlando Rays (70-68)
1998: Mobile BayBears (86-54)
1997: Greenville Braves (74-66)
1996: Jacksonville Suns (75-63)
1995: Carolina Mudcats (89-55)
1994: Huntsville Stars (81-57)
1993: Birmingham Barons (78-64)
1992: Greenville Braves (100-43)
1991: Orlando Sunrays (77-67)
1990: Memphis Chicks (73-71)
1989: Birmingham Barons (88-55)
1988: Chattanooga Lookouts (81-62)
1987: Birmingham Barons (68-75)
1986: Columbus Astros (70-70)
1985: Huntsville Stars (78-66)
1984: Charlotte O's (75-72)
1983: Birmingham Barons (91-54)
1982: Nashville Sounds (77-67)
1981: Orlando Twins (79-63)
1980: Charlotte O's (72-72)
1979: Nashville Sounds (83-61)
1978: Knoxville Sox (88-56)
1977: Montgomery Rebels (86-51)
1976: Montgomery Rebels (81-56)
1975: Montgomery Rebels (73-61)
1974: Knoxville Sox (72-63)
1973: Montgomery Rebels (80-58)
1972: Montgomery Rebels (78-61)
The 2001 and 2004 championship series were canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Ivan, respectively.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday: BayBears 1, Generals 0; Mobile wins title

Mike Bolsinger gave up three hits over seven innings and the Mobile BayBears won a second straight Southern League championship with Friday's 1-0 win over the Jackson Generals.

Jon Griffin hit a leadoff home run in the third inning.

Rays have instructional game at Trop

The Rays' instructional league games get started Monday and the schedule includes a Sept. 28 game at Tropicana Field. Otherwise, the Rays' home games will be in Port Charlotte.

All times Eastern and p.m., unless noted
17 Orioles, 1
18 Twins, 1
19 intrasquad
20 at Orioles, 12:30
21 at Red Sox, 1
22 Orioles, 10 a.m.
23 off
24 at Twins, 1
25 Twins, 1
26 intrasquad
27 at Red Sox, 1
28 Red Sox, 1 -- at Tropicana Field
29 at Orioles, 10 a.m.
30 off
1 at Red Sox, 1
2 Red Sox, 1
3 intrasquad
4. at Twins, 1
5 Orioles, 10 a.m.

BA: Guerrieri best pitcher, Sandberg manager

Right-hander Taylor Guerrieri, after celebrating a league title with the Hudson Valley Renegades on Thursday, won Baseball America's short-season Class A pitcher of the year award Friday.

Hudson Valley's Jared Sandberg was the short-season Class A manager of the year.

Guerrieri and right-hander Jeff Ames were on the magazine's short-season Class A All-Star list, while Durham right-hander Chris Archer was a Triple-A All-Star.

Left-hander Blake Snell and righty Nick Sawyer made the Rookie-level team. Snell spent all season with Princeton. Sawyer was with the GCL Rays and Princeton before a last-week promotion to low-Class A Bowling Green.

Montgomery-born David Dahl was the Rookie-level player of the year after a Pioneer League MVP performance for the Grand Junction Rockies.

Renegades 12th from Rays to win title

The Hudson Valley Renegades, champions of the New York-Penn League, are the 12th team in the Tampa Bay minor league organization to win a title.

2012: Hudson Valley Renegades
2011: VSL Rays
2009: Durham Bulls, VSL Rays
2007: Montgomery Biscuits, Columbus Catfish
2006: Montgomery Biscuits
2003: Durham Bulls
2002: Durham Bulls
1999: Orlando Rays, Hudson Valley Renegades
1997: St. Petersburg Devil Rays

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday: BayBears 4, Generals 2 (10)

Matt Davidson's two-run home run with none out in the bottom of the 10th gave Mobile a 4-2 win over the Jackson Generals and leaves the BayBears one victory from a second straight Southern League championship.

Matt Mangini led off with a five-pitch walk to bring up Davidson, who fell behind in the count 1-2.

After two straight balls, Davidson fouled off four straight pitches before hitting the game-ending homer.

Game 4 is Friday in Mobile.

Dunn deal: Renegades win league title

Ryan Dunn had two RBIs and scored twice to lead the Hudson Valley Renegades to a New York-Penn League championship with Thursday's 6-3 win over the Tri-City ValleyCats.

Dunn hit a two-run single and scored in a four-run first inning. He was hit by a pitch and scored in a two-run sixth.

Luke Maile doubled, walked and scored twice for Hudson Valley, which used six pitchers. Relievers Brandon Henderson (two innings) and Marcus Jensen (1 2/3) didn't give up a hit.

Leonardo Reginatto singled twice, walked, had an RBI and scored. He hit .389 in six playoff games. Marty Gantt hit an RBI single and scored on a wild pitch in a two-run eighth.

Wahoos' Fellhauer wins SL player of month award

Pensacola's Josh Fellhauer, whose final-month flourish left him just one hit shy of a batting title, won the season's final Southern League player of the month award.

Fellhauer had a .505 on-base percentage and a .372 average after the calendar hit August. With one more hit, he would have passed Montgomery's Omar Luna for the league batting crown.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BayBears tie Southern series with Generals

Matt Mangini had three RBIs, including a two-run home run to cap a five-run fifth inning, to lead the Mobile BayBears in a 7-2 win over the Jackson Generals on Wednesday.

Mobile knotted the best-of-5 Southern League championship series at one game each. The BayBears will host the remainder of the series beginning with Thursday's Game 3.

Alfredo Marte doubled twice and scored twice for Mobile, while David Holmberg gave up two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Renegades force decisive Game 3

Richie Shaffer hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Hudson Valley Renegades a 5-2 win over the Tri-City Valley Cats on Wednesday.

The Renegades forced a decisive Game 3 in the New York-Penn League championship series. Hudson Valley will host the finale at 5:05 p.m. (Central) Thursday.

Tommy Coyle hit a two-run single in the sixth inning to tie it 2-2. Joel Caminero singled twice and scored twice.

Jesse Hahn gave up one earned run over five innings before relievers Jose Molina, Dylan Floro, Alex Moshier and Ryan Garton had a near-perfect four frames. A hit and hit batsman off Moshier in the eighth were the only blemishes.

In the bottom of the eighth, Caminero hit a leadoff single and moved to second on Joey Rickard's bunt. The Valley Cats intentionally walked Coyle to face Shaffer, who was hitting .143 in the playoffs.

Shaffer hit the first pitch over the left-field wall.

League taps Biscuits' promotions as best

The Biscuits have had their promotional schedule named the best in the Southern League. The Pensacola Blue Wahoos won the league's inaugural organization of the year award.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jackson Generals take Game 1 in Southern League

James Paxton's dominant start helped the Jackson Generals beat the Mobile BayBears 8-1 in Game 1 of the Southern League finals Tuesday.

Paxton gave up one run on four hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings. He had a two-hit shutout entering the eighth.

Mike Zunino doubled, tripled, walked, had an RBI and scored three times. Johermyn Chavez hit an eighth-inning grand slam and had five RBIs.

Game 2 of the best-of-5 series is Wednesday at Jackson.

Renegades fall in finals opener

Ryan Dineen scored on a Preston Tucker 10th-inning flyout to lift Tri-City to a 5-4 win over the Hudson Valley Renegades in Tuesday's New York-Penn League championship series opener.

Jordan Harrison tossed 3 1/3 no-hit, no-walk innings for the Renegades, who host Game 2 on Wednesday.

Luke Maile and Leonardo Reginatto homered for Hudson Valley.

Reginatto's solo shot in the ninth inning tied it 4-4. Maile's two-run blast capped a three-run first inning.

Mark Thomas on Rays' instructional league roster

Catcher Mark Thomas is the only one of this year's Biscuits on Tampa Bay's instructional league roster.

Jeff Ames
Sean Bierman
Damion Carroll
Jake Faria
Dylan Floro
Willie Gabay
Nolan Gannon
Ryan Garton
Roberto Gomez
Andres Gonzalez
Taylor Guerrieri
Jesse Hahn
Christopher Kirsch
Braulio Lara
Lenny Linsky
Parker Markel
Felipe Rivero
Jorge Rodriguez
Nick Sawyer
Blake Snell
Jon Weaver

Luke Bailey
Jake DePew
Taylor Hawkins
Oscar Hernandez
Luke Maile
Mark Thomas

John Alexander
Ryan Brett
Tommy Coyle
Spencer Edwards
Tyler Goeddel
Hector Guevara
Jake Hager
Jeff Malm
Brandon Martin
Juniel Querecuto
Richie Shaffer

Kes Carter
Johnny Eierman
James Harris Jr.
Clayton Henning
Bralin Jackson
Andrew Toles
Drew Vettleson

Granden Goetzman

Southern League names executive award winners

Pensacola Blue Wahoos general manager Bruce Baldwin was the Southern League's executive of the year and Jacksonville Suns director of group sales January Squyres won the league's woman of excellence.

The first-year Wahoos led the league in attendance, ending a long reign by the Suns, though the Suns report "marked growth" in group sales in the two years since Squyres took over the department.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gem puts Renegades in finals

Brandon Henderson threw 4 1/3 perfect innings in Hudson Valley's 2-0 win over Brooklyn on Monday, propelling the Renegades to the New York-Penn League finals.

Henderson struck out six. Starter Taylor Guerrieri gave up one hit with five walks and a hit batsman. Ryan Garton recorded the final two outs to finish the one-hitter.

Richie Shaffer tripled home Joey Rickard and scored in the first inning.

The championship series begins Tuesday. Foe TBA.

Davis top announcer in Southern League

Biscuits voice Joe Davis, before heading to ESPN, won the Southern League's broadcaster of the year award.

Davis is the first Biscuits announcer to win the league's award since Jim Tocco in 2006.

Davis just finished his third season with the Biscuits and has been hired by ESPN to broadcast college football, basketball and baseball. Aaron Vargas, his assistant this year, is replacing him with the Biscuits.

Davis, 24, joined the Biscuits after graduating from Wisconsin's Beloit College, where he played football. He's a native Michigander.

Morning reading: Offseason begins

The Biscuits abandoned their clubhouse after Sunday's season-ending loss to Mobile, though the BayBears gleefully celebrated (as they should) advancing to the Southern League championship series.

Kevin Kiermaier reached base three times in his first Double-A start, which he and the Biscuits hope bode well for Opening Day 2013.

VIDEO: BayBears celebrate series win

The Mobile BayBears celebrated their playoff series win over the Biscuits in the usual way, as you can see in this video.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Biscuits announce 2013 schedule

Just after ending their 2012, the Biscuits announced their 2013 schedule.

4-8 Birmingham
10-14 at Jackson
15-19 Mobile
20-24 at Tennessee
25-29 Birmingham
1-5 at Pensacola
7-11 Mississippi
12-16 at Birmingham
17-21 at Huntsville
23-27 Jackson
28-31 at Mississippi
1 at Mississippi
2-6 Pensacola
7-11 Huntsville
13-17 at Jacksonville
19-23 Pensacola
24-28 at Chattanooga
29-30 Tennessee
1-3 Tennessee
4-8 at Mobile
10-14 Pensacola
15-17 All-Star break (game at Jacksonville)
18-22 at Mobile
23-27 Jackson
28-31 at Mississippi
1 at Mississippi
2-6 Chattanooga
8-12 at Tennessee
13-17 at Jackson
18-22 Mississippi
23-27 Jackson
29-31 at Birmingham
1-2 at Birmingham

Sunday: BayBears 11, Biscuits 4; Montgomery eliminated

Chris Owings had three hits and scored twice, Jon Griffin and Yazy Arbelo homered, and the Mobile BayBears pounded the Biscuits 11-4 on Sunday, ending Montgomery's season.

Mobile, the defending Southern League champion, finished the semifinal playoff series in four games. The BayBears will begin the championship series at Jackson on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Montgomery suffered the first Southern League postseason loss in its history. The Rebels were 5-for-5 in a six-year span of the 1970s and the Biscuits were champs in their previous two playoff appearances.

The BayBears, after racking up 17 hits in Saturday's 10-2 win, totaled 14 Sunday. They had a .326 team batting average in the four-game series.

Down 3-1 after three, Mobile tied it in the fourth and took the lead on Griffin's two-run homer in the fifth. Arbelo's two-run blast in the seventh made it 9-4.

Sunday's lineups: Kiermaier in CF, Morrison LF

One Biscuit makes his first Double-A start and another makes his season debut at a new position for Game 4 of the Southern League playoff series with Mobile.

Kevin Kiermaier will bat eighth and play center field. He pinch-ran and scored the winning run Friday and pinch-hit in Saturday's loss.

Ty Morrison, who played center field and only center field during the regular season, moves to left field. In Morrison's 100 games in center, Montgomery was 58-42. The only other player to start more than two games in center was Brad Coon.

It's a 2:05 p.m. start today.

If the Biscuits lose, their season is over. If they win, the teams will play a decisive Game 5 at 7:05 p.m. Monday at Riverwalk.

For in-game updates, see Twitter @AStacyLong.

Ty Morrison lf (left)
Shawn O'Malley ss (switch)
Mikie Mahtook rf
Ryan Garko dh
Derek Dietrich 2b (left)
Omar Luna 3b
Mike Sheridan 1b (left)
Kevin Kiermaier cf (left)
Mark Thomas c
Merrill Kelly rhp

Evan Frey cf (left)
Chris Owings ss
Alfredo Marte rf
Matt Davidson 3b
Jon Griffin 1b
Yazy Arbelo dh (left)
David Nick lf
Mike Freeman 2b (left)
Ed Easley c
Mike Bolsinger rhp

Morning reading: Biscuits on the brink

The Biscuits, after Saturday's 10-2 loss to Mobile, are one loss from becoming the first Montgomery team to be eliminated from the Southern League playoffs.

Also, Biscuits infielder Ryan Garko reports his wife and newborn daughter are doing well.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Saturday: BayBears 10, Biscuits 2

Matt Davidson knocked in four runs, Bradin Hagens threw seven shutout innings in his third Double-A start, and the Mobile BayBears rolled over the Biscuits 10-2 on Saturday.

Mobile took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Southern League semifinal playoff series. The BayBears can clinch the series Sunday at Riverwalk Stadium.

Hagens gave up six hits, issued two walks and faced down just one serious scoring threat by Montgomery. Both of the walks and a Shawn O'Malley single loaded the bases with one out, but Mikie Mahtook hit into an inning-ending double play.

Chris Owings homered and Alfredo Marte doubled and scored in the first inning for Mobile. Davidson, who hit a solo home run in the third, added a three-run double in the sixth to make it 8-0.

The Biscuits broke the shutout when Mahtook doubled in O'Malley with two outs in the eighth inning. In the ninth, Mike Sheridan doubled and scored on a Craig Albernaz groundout.

Mobile showered the Biscuits with 17 hits, the second most surrendered by Montgomery this year. The BayBears had 18 in a 14-inning win at Riverwalk in July.

Saturday's lineups: Garko back in cleanup spot

Ryan Garko is in Montgomery's lineup for the first time since Aug. 25 and for just the fifth time since July 20 for today's third game of the Biscuits-BayBears playoff series.

Garko missed almost a month with an oblique injury before he went home to Arizona for the birth of he and wife Christie's first child.

First pitch today is at 6:35 p.m. and the best-of-5 series is tied 1-1. For in-game updates, check Twitter @AStacyLong.

Ty Morrison cf (left)
Shawn O'Malley ss (switch)
Derek Dietrich 2b (left)
Ryan Garko dh
Mikie Mahtook rf
Omar Luna lf
Mike Sheridan 1b (left)
Robby Price 3b (left)
Mark Thomas c
Jake Thompson rhp

Evan Frey cf (left)
Chris Owings ss
Alfredo Marte rf
Matt Davidson 3b
Jon Griffin 1b
Yazy Arbelo dh
David Nick 2b
Rossmel Perez c (left)
Ollie Linton lf (left)
Bradin Hagens rhp

Garko back; Shuman goes on DL

Infielder Ryan Garko, away the last week for the birth of his first child, has returned to the Biscuits.

He's been taken off the temporary inactive list, and the Biscuits have put relief pitcher Scott Shuman on the disabled list.

Morning reading: A lot of Price, Kiermaier

A confluence of events conspired against my coverage from the Biscuits' 2-1, 11-inning win over Mobile on Friday.

You see, a vast majority of the notebook is written before or during the game, with the "numbers game" section being inserted as the game ends. I write the main story based on game events, which are obviously well after I've done any interviews for the notebook.

Hence, how the lead item in the notebook is about Robby Price, Kevin Kiermaier and their excitement over being with the Biscuits, and the main story is about Robby Price, Kevin Kiermaier and their role in Friday's win.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday: Biscuits 2, BayBears 1 (11)

MOBILE -- Robby Price and Kevin Kiermaier, both in their Double-A debuts, teamed up for the go-ahead run in the Biscuits' 2-1, 11-inning playoff win over the Mobile BayBears on Friday.

Price singled to the right side of the infield and Kiermaier, in as a pinch-runner, scored from second base.

Montgomery tied the best-of-5 series 1-1 with Game 3 to be played Saturday at Riverwalk Stadium.

Omar Luna hit a leadoff home run in the seventh for Montgomery, which was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position -- and 3-for-24 in the series -- before Price's hit.

Left-hander Kyle Lobstein delivered a solid start in a no-decision. He gave up one run on six hits in six innings. Lobstein has had six quality starts this season where he did not win, including five where he gave up one run or less.

The win was critical for Montgomery's chances.

Since the Biscuits started play in 2004, there have been 12 Southern League playoff series in which a team has taken a 2-0 lead. All 12 have won the series; eight via sweep.

B.P. video of Luna, Dietrich, Mahtook

For your viewing pleasure, some pregame batting practice video of Biscuits batting champ Omar Luna, second baseman Derek Dietrich and outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Biscuits back in silver surfer uniforms

The Biscuits are back in their epically dreadful silver uniform tops. Someone on Twitter asked for a photo, so here's two. I'm told that the players, despite how putrid the uniforms look, prefer the "silver surfers" when it's hot because the usual blue tops are overly steamy.

The team bought the silver jerseys after the Southern League made a rule before the 2008 season. When one team wears blue, the other team can't wear blue, too. If you remember, the final game of the 2007 championship series between Huntsville and Montgomery featured two teams clad in blue.

The silver jerseys are worn with gray pants (and you should be able to see the noticeable difference in color).

Friday's lineups: Price makes Biscuits debut

Robby Price will make his Double-A debut today in Game 2 of Montgomery's playoff series with the Mobile BayBears.

Price is batting eight and playing third base. He hit .265 in 110 games at high-Class A Charlotte before a final-weekend 2-for-6 for Triple-A Durham.

The Biscuits do face a season nemesis with a left-handed pitcher in Mobile's David Holmberg. They hit 24 points worse off lefties than righties. The BayBears have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 series.

Ty Morrison cf (left)
Shawn O'Malley ss (switch)
Derek Dietrich 2b (left)
Mikie Mahtook rf
Omar Luna lf
Mike Sheridan 1b (left)
Greg Sexton dh
Robby Price 3b (left)
Mark Thomas c
Kyle Lobstein lhp

Evan Frey cf (left)
Chris Owings ss
Alfredo Marte rf
Matt Davidson 3b
Jon Griffin 1b
David Nick dh
Ed Easley c
Dan Kaczrowski 2b
Ollie Linton lf (left)
David Holmberg lhp

Wahoos OF league's best for final month

Pensacola Blue Wahoos outfielder Josh Fellhauer, who finished one hit shy of the league batting title, was the Southern League's player of the month for August/September.

Fellhauer hit .372 and had a .505 on-base percentage after the calebdar turned to August. Had he collected one more hit (or Montgomery's Omar Luna one less), Fellhauer would have been the batting champ.

Thursday's Rays roundup

Lake County 5, Hot Rods 4 (10)
Lake County wins series, 2-0
Jeff Malm hit a two-run homer, walked and scored twice. Todd Glaesmann doubled, singled and scored twice. Juniel Querecuto doubled, singled, stole and had two RBIs. Andrew Bellatti threw 3 1/3 shutout innings, while Nick Sawyer had two shutout frames.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Thursday: BayBears 5, Biscuits 3

MOBILE -- David Nick and Ollie Linton, the 8-9 hitters in Mobile's lineup, scored two runs each in the BayBears' 5-3 win over the Biscuits on Thursday.

Mobile took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 series. Game 2 is Friday at Mobile.

Nick and Linton each reached base three times and scored in the third and fifth innings. Linton singled home Mobile's first run in a three-run third.

With the BayBears ahead just 3-2 in the fifth, Linton made a spectacular diving play that saved two runs. The Biscuits had runners on first and third when Mike Sheridan hit a line drive down the left-field line. Linton made a diving catch to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Nick hit a leadoff double and Linton walked. Both scored.

The Biscuits scored in the ninth -- Mikie Mahtook singled in Ty Morrison -- and had the potential tying run on base with one out. Omar Luna and Sheridan grounded out.

Montgomery also scored in the third when Shawn O'Malley hit a two-out single and scored on Derek Dietrich's double. In the fifth, Morrison hit a leadoff single and scored on Mahtook's one-out single.

The Biscuits had runners on the corners with one out before a foul popout and Linton's catch.

Thursday's lineups: Game 1 vs. BayBears

The Biscuits and BayBears begin their Southern League playoff series tonight at Mobile's Hank Aaron Stadium. First pitch is 7:05.

6:40 update: The BayBears scratched Matt Mangini (knee). Ollie Linton will play left and bat ninth.

Ty Morrison cf (left)
Shawn O'Malley ss (switch)
Derek Dietrich 2b (left)
Mikie Mahtook rf
Omar Luna lf
Mike Sheridan 1b (left)
Greg Sexton 3b
Kyeong Kang dh (left)
Mark Thomas c
Matt Buschmann rhp

Evan Frey cf (left)
Chris Owings ss
Alfredo Marte rf -- .391, 6 HRs, 16 RBIs, 13 runs in 13 games vs. Biscuits
Matt Davidson 3b
Matt Mangini lf (left)
Jonathan Griffin 1b
Yazy Arbelo dh (left)
Rossmel Perez c (left)
David Nick 2b
Ollie Linton lf (left)
Chase Anderson rhp

Archer won't pitch for Biscuits

Minor League Baseball apparently turned down Tampa Bay's request for Chris Archer to pitch Friday for the Biscuits in the Southern League playoffs.

Archer has been promoted to the Rays and will join them Friday instead, according to reports.

Archer spent all year at Triple-A Durham, except for two major league starts in June. The Rays need him next week and wanted him to continue his normal throwing routine. Since Durham's season ended Monday, they hoped Archer could make a start for Montgomery.

However, such a move at this point requires approval by Minor League Baseball.

With Archer's departure, left-hander Kyle Lobstein is expected to start Friday's Game 2 of the playoff series with Mobile.

Mississippi Braves clubbie extends streak

Mississippi's Destin Smith has continued the longest-running dynasty in the Southern League. He's been named the league's best visiting clubhouse attendant for a fourth consecutive season.

The Southern League named its non-field staff award winners Thursday. Along with Smith, Birmingham's Josh Fallin won trainer of the year and Chattanooga's Joe Fitzgerald groundskeeper of the year.

Fallin has been with the Barons for two seasons and part of the Chicago White Sox organization for 14. Fitzgerald has been Chattanooga's groundskeeper for two years.

Dodgers, Mariners, Rockies have 4 in playoffs

Midnight Thursday update: Missoula is playoff-bound in the Pioneer League, so the Diamondbacks now have four.

The Rays have three minor league teams in the playoffs, but there are three organizations -- and there might be a fourth -- with more.

The Dodgers, Mariners and Rockies each have four affiliates battling for league championships. The Diamondbacks' team in the Pioneer League plays its regular-season finale Thursday night and could give Arizona a fourth.

Only one organization failed to reach the postseason: the Los Angeles Angels.

Three teams have both their Triple-A and Double-A teams going: the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Yankees.

4 playoff teams
Diamondbacks: Triple-A Reno, Double-A Mobile, short-season Yakima, short-season Missoula
Dodgers: Triple-A Albuquerque, Double-A Chattanooga, short-season Ogden, AZL
Mariners: Double-A Jackson, Class A's High Desert, Clinton, short-season Everett
Rockies: Double-A Tulsa, Class A's Modesto, Asheville, short-season Grand Junction

A's: Triple-A Sacramento, low-Class A Burlington, short-season AZL
Astros: Double-A Corpus Christi, high-Class A Lancaster, short-season Tri-City
Blue Jays: Class A's Dunedin, Lansing, short-season Vancouver
Braves: Class A's Lynchburg, Rome, short-season Danville
Cardinals: Double-A Springfield, short-season Johnson City, GCL
Rangers: Double-A Frisco, high-Class A Myrtle Beach, short-season AZL
Rays: Double-A Montgomery, low-Class A Bowling Green, short-season Hudson Valley
Royals: Triple-A Omaha, high-Class A Wilmington, short-season Burlington
White Sox: Triple-A Charlotte, high-Class A Winston-Salem, short-season Great Falls

Cubs: short-season Boise, AZL
Indians: Double-A Akron, low-Class A Lake County
Marlins: Class A's Jupiter, Greensboro
Mets: high-Class A St. Lucie, short-season Brooklyn
Nationals: low-Class A Hagerstorn, short-season Auburn
Padres: Class A's Lake Elsinore, Fort Wayne
Pirates: Triple-A Indianapolis, short-season GCL
Red Sox: Triple-A Pawtucket, short-season GCL
Tigers: high-Class A Lakeland, short-season GCL
Twins: low-Class A Beloit, short-season elizabethton
Yankees: Triple-A Empire State, Double-A Trenton

Brewers: low-Class A Wisconsin
Giants: high-Class A San Jose
Orioles: Double-A Bowie
Phillies: Double-A Reading
Reds: high-Class A Bakersfield


*--The Pioneer League finishes its regular season Thursday night. Billings (Reds) trails Missoula (Diamondbacks) by one game and the two play each other.

Morning reading: Archer in waiting

The Biscuits face Mobile tonight in the playoff opener, but they might have Chris Archer start for them Friday, while manager Billy Gardner wins the same award as his dad did in 1973.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Wednesday's Rays roundup

Lake County 5, Hot Rods 4
Lake County has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 series.
Alejandro Segovia doubled, walked twice, stole, RBI'd and scored. Cameron Seitzer doubled, singled and had three RBIs. Drew Vettleson singled thrice and scored. After Parker Markel took a five-run, 2 2/3-inning bath, Jake Partridge threw 5 1/3 shutout innings on three hits.

Renegades 3, Tri-City 2
Richie Shaffer
doubled, singled, had two RBIs and scored before his sixth-inning ejection. Ian Kendall gave up an unearned run on one hit in three innings. The Renegades start the playoffs Friday.

Archer, Biscuits await word from MiLB

Chris Archer was on the bus when the Biscuits left for Mobile at 4 p.m., though he was unsure of his playoff status.

"I'm supposed to be prepared to pitch Friday, but we haven't heard the official word," Archer said. "We're supposed to fine out soon, maybe by the time we get to Mobile.

"Right now, I'm ready to throw, but I'm not in there. It's not inked yet."

The Rays want Archer, who has spent all season at Triple-A Durham, to continue pitching for a potential major league promotion next week. They need permission from Minor League Baseball to send him to Montgomery.

Archer was 7-9 with a 3.66 ERA and an International League-best 139 strikeouts for the Bulls. He said he would be fully committed to helping the Biscuits win, if allowed.

"As soon as I get here, it's time to be here 100 percent," Archer said. "I'm going to give 100 percent. I'm going to give my all."

Biscuits' Gardner wins manager of the year

Biscuits manager Billy Gardner, in his sixth season with the club, won the Southern League manager of the year award today.

Gardner has a 426-406 record with Montgomery and matched an award his father won 40 years ago. Billy Gardner Sr. was the league's manager of the year in 1973 for the Jacksonville Suns.

With Montgomery's 74-63 record this year, Gardner Jr. is 1,191-1,180 in 18 years as a minor league manager. His 426 wins are the most in Montgomery's professional history.

The Biscuits opened the season with two legitimate prospects: shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and pitcher Alex Colome. Each missed a considerable amount of the season with injuries.

Colome was promoted to Triple-A Durham in late July. Lee, after a season-ending Aug. 11 oblique injury, was hitting just .261.

Montgomery boasted a surprising batting champion with sixth-year pro Omar Luna hitting a career-high .315.

The Biscuits also recovered from early struggles. They were 10-15 after being swept at home in late April by the Birmingham Barons.

Montgomery recovered to win six straight series and 10 of its next 11.

The Biscuits lost a five-game series just three times over the season's final four months. Both were to the Jacksonville Suns, including one with just a week left in the regular season.

Jacksonville won the first four games of a series at Montgomery to take a one-game division lead. The Biscuits won the final game of that series to start a four-game winning streak that clinched a playoff berth.

The Biscuits had the second-best record in the Southern League behind the Jackson Generals' 79-61. The Generals began the year with what was considered the best starting rotation in the minors.

Gardner marks the first time the Biscuits have had a manager of the year. The Rebels had just one Southern League honoree: Eddie Brinkman (1977).

Ranking the Rays ... Renegades end regular season

Today ...
HV (Jesse Hahn? 2-2, 2.77) at Tri-City (Joe Bircher 3-3, 3.20), 5

The winner will have the best record in the New York-Penn League.
(It's Hahn's turn, but Hudson Valley may hold him for a playoff start.)

Dahl, formerly at Trinity, was best in Pioneer League

David Dahl, the former Trinity student who was a first-round draft pick in June, won the Pioneer League's most valuable player.

Dahl hit .373 with 60 runs scored and 55 RBIs in 66 games for the Grand Junction Rockies. With 39 extra-base hits, the outfielder had a .601 slugging percentage. Dahl went 10th overall to Colorado out of Oak Mountain High near Birmingham.

Morning reading: Luna lands Biscuits' MVP award

I'll admit that, two weeks ago, I was scrambling to think of who deserved the Biscuits' most valuable player award.

Omar Luna ended up making it an easy decision with a late-season flourish that landed him the Southern League batting title. Others kicked around, in alphabetical order, were Hak-Ju Lee, Mark Thomas and Kirby Yates.

2012: IF-OF Omar Luna
2011: LHP Matt Moore
2010: RHP Matt Gorgen
2009: CF Desmond Jennings
2008: 3B Chris Nowak
2007: 3B Evan Longoria
2006: RHP Andy Sonnanstine
2005: RF Delmon Young
2004: 2B Fernando Cortez

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Tuesday's Rays "roundup"

Tri-City 9, Renegades 3
Mike Williams
doubled twice, walked and was plunked. Richie Shaffer tripled, singled, RBI'd and scored. Eduar Quinonez gave up five runs on nine hits in four innings. Brandon Henderson's four innings featured one earned run and three unearned.

Retail manager leaving Biscuits

Monte Meyers, the retail manager for the Montgomery Biscuits since their inception, is leaving the team.

Meyers has run the Biscuit Basket since it opened in 2003, a year before the team made its debut. Meyers and his family are relocating to the Tampa Bay area -- heck, they can follow the Rays/former Biscuits up close.

Report: Archer could join Biscuits for playoffs

The Rays may send right-hander Chris Archer, who spent all season at Triple-A Durham, to the Biscuits for the Southern League playoffs so Archer can stay sharp for a potential major league promotion, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

With Jeff Niemann nursing an ailing shoulder and his September availablility questionable and Alex Cobb's rising innings, the Rays want to keep Archer in a throwing routine. Since the Bulls ended their season Monday and the Biscuits are in the playoffs, Archer could return to Montgomery.

Archer finished 7-9 with a 3.66 ERA and an International League-best 139 strikeouts this season. He also made two June starts for Tampa Bay.

The 23-year-old made his final start Sunday (one run in six innings), so he wouldn't throw the opener. Matt Buschmann is scheduled to start Game 1 on Thursday with Kyle Lobstein on Friday and Jake Thompson on Saturday.

Last year, Archer was 8-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 25 starts with the Biscuits and struck out 118 in 134 1/3 innings. He was a midseason Southern League All-Star.

Kline lands on final GCL All-Star team

Infielder Ben Kline, after hitting a robust .347 for the Gulf Coast League Rays, was named to the GCL's end-of-season All-Star team last week.

Kline, now with the Bowling Green Hot Rods for the Midwest League playoffs, had 16 RBIs and scored 14 times in 36 games.

Kline made the GCL team as a first baseman, but he started played all four infield positions and five games in left field. (The breakdown: 1B 9 games, 2B 8 games, 3B 7 games, SS 9 games.) The 23-year-old was a 32nd-round draft pick in June out of Embry-Riddle University, home of the Eagles.

Former Auburn All-American, LSU quarterback signee best in Southern League week

Huntsville Stars first baseman Hunter Morris, who capped his MVP season by feasting on the Biscuits, also won the Southern League's final hitter of the week award.

Chattanooga right-hander Zach Lee, a former LSU quarterback signee, was the final pitcher of the week.

After starting the week with a 1-for-7, solo-home run pair of games against Birmingham, Morris exploded in four games against the Biscuits. The former Auburn All-American was 9-for-16 with three home runs and nine RBIs.

Lee won both of his final-week starts, allowing one run on six hits in a combined 12 innings. Lee, after a midseason promotion from low-Class A Great Lakes, was 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA in his first seven Chattanooga starts.

The 20-year-old shined over his final six starts. He was 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 30 strikeouts in those 36 innings.

Biscuits put Coon on disabled list

The Biscuits, in adding outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and infielder Robby Price, have put outfielder Brad Coon on the disabled list.

Coon hasn't played since Aug. 24. The Biscuits did not list details of his injury.

Generals' Maurer best pitcher in Southern League

Jackson Generals right-hander Brandon Maurer won the Southern League pitcher of the year award.

He was 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA and was 14-of-23 on quality starts. His ERA ranked fifth in the league and the 22-year-old served up just four home runs in 137 2/3 innings.

Maurer, with 11 starts where he gave up one earned run or less, helped the Generals finish 79-61, which was the best record in the league.

With an injury (James Paxton) and promotion (Danny Hultzen to bigger pitching prospects, Maurer was Jackson's best starter over the final three months. From June 1 to the end of the season, he was 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 14 games.

A 23rd-round draft pick in 2008, Maurer is the franchise's first pitcher of the year since 2005 when Ricky Nolasco won for the then-named West Tenn Diamond Jaxx,

Ranking the Rays ... Renegades' pitching plan

Ranking the Rays ...
With Montgomery's rainout Monday, they're finished for the season. I'll tabulate the final BCS/RPI soon.

Today ...
DUR season over
MGM regular season over
BWG regular season over
HV (Eduar Quinonez 7-2, 3.55) at Tri-City (Juan Minaya 1-2, 4.99), 6

Biscuits' semifinal playoff series ...
(best-of-5 vs. Mobile BayBears)
Thursday: at Mobile, 7:05
Friday: at Mobile, 7:05
Saturday: Mobile, 6:35
Sunday: Mobile, 2:05, if necessary
Monday: Mobile, 7:05, if necessary

Hot Rods' quarterfinal playoff series ...
(best-of-3 vs. Lake County Captains)
Wednesday: at Lake County, 6
Thursday: Lake County, 7:05
Friday: Lake County, 7:05, if necessary

Morning reading: It's Buschmann in playoff opener

Right-hander Matt Buschmann is Montgomery's choice to start Thursday's playoff opener at Mobile, while Omar Luna was a little giddy over winning the Southern League batting title.

Since I cover so much more than the Biscuits, enjoy a follow-up on Troy running back Shawn Southward's 204 yards rushing in a win over UAB on Saturday and how a redshirt freshman started (and starred) in his first college game. Plus, two city high school football players, including an Auburn commitment, won state honors for their play last week.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Monday's Rays roundup

Charlotte 5, Bulls 3 (7)
Jimmy Patterson
threw 3 1/3 shutout innings in his Triple-A debut. He gave up two hits, walked none and struck out four. Biscuits-bound Kevin Kiermaier singled, walked, RBI'd and scored.

Hot Rods 5, Fort Wayne 4 (Game 1)
Cameron Seitzer
singled, walked and had two RBIs. Juniel Querecuto doubled, walked and scored twice. Jason Wilson threw three shutout innings.

Fort Wayne 5, Hot Rods 2 (Game 2)
Keith Castillo
singled twice and scored. Drew Vettleson singled and walked.

Renegades 2, Tri-City 1 (11)
Marty Gantt
scored on an 11th-inning passed ball. Tommy Coyle hit a solo homer and singled. Taylor Guerrieri threw five shutout innings (yawn) with two hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. Marcus Jensen tossed 2 2/3 no-hit innings.

Luna wins batting championship

Montgomery has its first batting champion in 86 years.

Biscuits infielder Omar Luna was the top hitter in the Southern League with a .315 average, marking the city's first title since 1926, when John Kloza hit .380 for the Lions to win the Southeastern League crown.

Montgomery's regular-season finale was rained out, but Luna wasn't in the lineup anyway and finished with a .315 average.

Pensacola's Josh Fellhauer was 2-for-4 in his season finale vs. Tennessee and had a .314 average. Mississippi's Todd Cunningham was 0-for-4 in his season finale at Mobile to finish with a .309 average.

With one less hit by Luna or one more hit by Fellhauer, Fellhauer would be the batting champ.

Kiermaier, Price to help Biscuits in playoffs

The Biscuits are adding two players for their postseason roster.

Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and infielder Robby Price, both of whom spent almost all of the year with high-Class A Charlotte before jumping to Triple-A Durham for the final weekend of the season, will join Montgomery for the Southern League playoffs.

Also, catcher David Wendt has joined the team from Charlotte, though he's not on the active roster.

Infielder Ryan Garko, away for his first child's birth, has been put on the temporary inactive list.

Biscuits-Stars rained out

The Biscuits' regular-season finale with the Huntsville Stars has been rained out.

Prognosis not positive for regular-season final

Some chubby rain has started dropping on Riverwalk with water pooling along the warning track and, according to the current radar, a further trail of rain to come.

Luna to keep eye on M-Braves' Cunningham

Montgomery's Omar Luna says he'll keep track of how Mississippi's Todd Cunningham does today as Cunningham tries to chase him down for the Southern League batting championship.

The Biscuits strategically put Luna on the bench today against Huntsville to hopefully preserve his two-point lead in the batting race. Mississippi plays at Mobile.

"Maybe I'll win a batting title," Luna said. "They asked me and I said I was OK with it. We're waiting on that guy."

If Luna (.314893) does not bat, Cunningham can win by going 3-for-3 (.3169), 3-for-4 (.3154) or finishing with four hits in less than nine at-bats. (If Cunningham goes 4-for-8, the two will have an absolute tie at 148-for-470.)

"Winning a batting title is a really big deal," Biscuits manager Billy Gardner said. "It's up to the other guy to really do well to overtake him. I think this is the best way to go and something he wanted to do."

Pensacola's Josh Fellhauer was 2-for-4 today and finished with a .313 average.

Monday's lineups: Batting title hopeful on bench

Biscuits infielder/outfielder Omar Luna will try to win the Southern League batting title from the bench.

Luna isn't in the starting lineup for tonight's regular-season finale with the Huntsville Stars.

He has a league-best .315 average (to be precise: .314893) and entered today with a slim lead over Mississippi's Todd Cunningham (.311688) and Pensacola's Josh Fellhauer (.311377 entering today). At this instant, Fellhauer is 1-for-3 and stands at .311573.

Of course, no Biscuit may take the field today. There have been showers, the tarp is just now being pulled off the field, and the skies are far from blue.

For updates, check Twitter @AStacyLong.

Ty Morrison cf (left)
Shawn O'Malley ss (switch)
Derek Dietrich 2b (left)
Mikie Mahtook rf
Mike Sheridan 1b (left)
Mark Thomas dh
Kyeong Kang lf (left)
Greg Sexton 3b
Craig Albernaz c
Nick Barnese rhp

Lee Haydel cf (left)
Josh Prince 3b
Scooter Gennett dh (left)
Hunter Morris 1b (left)
Brock Kjeldgaard lf
Kentrail rf (left)
T.J. Mittelstaedt 2b (left)
Domnit bolivar ss
Adam Weisenburger c
Jimmy Nelson rhp

Ranking the Rays ... Archer, Liberatore, Geith

For Sunday ...
1. Chris Archer, DUR: 6 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, walk, 5 Ks, 8 GBO
2. Adam Liberatore, DUR: 3 shutout innings, 1 hit, no walks, 3 Ks
3. T.J. Geith, CHA: 3 2/3 no-hit innings, unearned run, 2 walks, 2 Ks
4. Omar Luna, MGM: 2 1b's, 2 RBIs, leads Southern League with .315 average
5. Shawn O'Malley, MGM: 2b, 1b, walk, run

Today ...
DUR (Lance Pendleton 8-6, 4.60) at Charlotte (Matt Zaleski 6-6, 3.77), 1:15
MGM (Nick Barnese 3-1, 5.72) vs. Huntsville (Jimmy Nelson 2-4, 3.91), 5:35
CHA season over
BWG (Felipe Rivero 8-8, 3.18/tba) vs. Fort Wayne (Colin Rea 5-9, 3.91/tba), DH, 11:05 a.m.
HV (Taylor Guerrieri 1-2, 1.15) at Tri-City, 4

Former Auburn All-American wins Southern League MVP

Huntsville Stars first baseman Hunter Morris, a former Auburn All-American, won the Southern League most valuable player award.

Morris, a Huntsville native, leads the league with 28 home runs and 113 RBIs and is fourth with a .303 average entering today's season finale against the Biscuits.

"Throw in the pressure of playing at home, in front of family, frends and relatives, and it's been a special, special year for him," Stars manager Darnell Coles said Sunday. "He went about his business the right way.

"Coming into the year, everyone could see his potential with the bat, but he also put a lot of work in on defense and really improved, which allowed him to relax and be even better offensively."

Morris is the fifth Huntsville Star to win Southern League MVP and the first since 2003. (The Biscuits have had three in their nine years and the Rebels had one: Alan Trammell in 1977.) Other league MVP Stars: Jose Canseco (1985), Terry Steinbach (1986), Ben Grieve (1997) and Corey Hart (2003).

2012: Hunter Morris, Huntsville Stars
2011: Paul Goldschmidt, Mobile BayBears
2010: Dave Sappelt, Carolina Mudcats
2009: Desmond Jennings, Montgomery Biscuits
2008: Gaby Sanchez, Carolina Mudcats
2007: Evan Longoria, Montgomery Biscuits
2006: Joey Votto, Chattanooga Lookouts
2005: Delmon Young, Montgomery Biscuits
2004: Richard Lewis, West Tenn Diamond Jaxx
2003: Corey Hart, Huntsville Stars
2002: Aaron Miles, Birmingham Barons
2001: Josh Phelps, Tennessee Smokies
2000: Joe Crede, Birmingham Barons
1999: Brady Clark, Chattanooga Lookouts
1998: Gabe Kapler, Jacksonville Suns
1997: Ben Grieve, Huntsville Stars
1996: Derrek Lee, Memphis Chicks
1995: Jason Kendall, Carolina Mudcats
1994: Mark Johnson, Carolina Mudcats
1993: Carlos Delgado, Knoxville Smokies
1992: Javy Lopez, Greenville Braves
1991: Ryan Klesko, Greenville Braves
1990: Jeff Conine, Memphis Chicks
1989: Eric Anthony, Columbus Mudcats
1988: Matt Winters, Memphis Chicks
1987: Tom Dodd, Charlotte O's
1986: Terry Steinbach, Huntsville Stars
1985: Jose Canseco, Huntsville Stars
1984: Andres Galarraga, Jacksonville Expos
1983: John Morris, Jacksonville Suns
1982: Brian Dayett, Nashville Sounds
1981: Tim Laudner, Orlando Twins
1980: Steve Balboni, Nashville Sounds
1979: Danny Heep, Columbus Astros; Alan Knicely, Columbus Astros (co-winners)
1978: Eddie Gates, Memphis Chicks
1977: Alan Trammell, Montgomery Rebels
1976: Larry Foster, Knoxville Sox
1975: Mike Squires, Knoxville Sox
1974: Nyles Nyman, Knoxville Sox
1973: Jayson Moxey, Columbus Astros
1972: Mike Reinbach, Asheville Tourists

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Sunday's Rays roundup

Charlotte 2, Bulls 1 (10)
Chris Archer
allowed one run on two hits in six innings with one walk and five strikeouts. Adam Liberatore tossed three shutout innings with just one hit. Leslie Anderson singled twice and scored.

Fort Myers 6, Stone Crabs 3
Theron Geith
gave up an unearned run over 3 2/3 no-hit innings with two walks and took the loss. Cody Rogers hit a two-run triple. Riccio Torrez singled, walked and scored.

Fort Wayne at Hot Rods
Rained out. DH at 11:05 a.m. Monday.

Renegades 12, Aberdeen 9
Luke Maile
and Justin O'Conner had five RBIs each. Richie Shaffer scored four times. Maile hit a first-inning grand slam, singled and scored twice. O'Conner doubled twice. Shaffer tripled, doubled, walked and was plunked. Ryan Dunn singled thrice, walked, stole and scored twice. Jeff Ames improved to 6-1, allowing three runs on three hits in five innings.

Luna has league batting lead entering final day

Omar Luna, with one day left in the regular season, is the Southern League's top hitter, a nose ahead of Mississippi's Todd Cunningham and Pensacola's Josh Fellhauer.

Luna: 148-for-470, .31489
Cunningham: 144-for-461, .31168
Fellhauer: 104-for-334, .31137

Fellhauer plays an early game Monday in the season finale. Pensacola hosts Tennessee at 2 p.m. Cunningham and the Braves play at Mobile at 5:05, while Luna and the Biscuits host Huntsville at 5:35.

Luna has 22 hits in his current 12-game hit streak that has pushed his average up 18 points.

Sunday: Stars 8, Biscuits 2

Hunter Morris tied a season high with four RBIs and took over the Southern League RBI lead in the Huntsville Stars' 8-2 win over the Biscuits on Sunday.

Morris, a former Auburn All-American, has 113 RBIs this season and has a .303 average. He hit his 28th home run in the fifth inning, a three-run blast to put Huntsville ahead and added an RBI single in the eighth.

The Biscuits, who clinched a Southern League playoff berth Saturday, scored in the first and ninth innings.

Omar Luna singled home Ty Morrison in the first and his groundout brought in Shawn O'Malley in the ninth. Luna, who finished 2-for-5, leads the Southern League with a .315 batting average with one game left in the regular season.

Right-hander Jake Thompson (7-12) gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings to tie Tony Peguero for the most losses in Biscuits history. Peguero finished 10-12 in 2006.

Biscuits, BayBears set playoff schedule

The Biscuits and BayBears have finalized the schedule for the Southern League semifinal playoff series.

7:05 p.m. Thursday at Mobile
7:05 p.m. Friday at Mobile
6:35 p.m. Saturday at Montgomery
2:05 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 9) at Montgomery, if necessary
7:05 p.m. Monday (Sept. 10) at Montgomery, if necessary

Sunday's lineups: Albie first six-year Biscuit

Catcher Craig Albernaz makes his season debut with Montgomery and becomes the first six-year Biscuit. Albernaz started the season with Montgomery but was promoted to Triple-A Durham without appearing in a game. He returned to the Biscuits after Mayo Acosta's broken ankle a week ago.

Albernaz's Biscuits service time is limited and this will be just the 104th game where he's appeared as a hitter (there is one was a pitcher). Five-year Biscuits Jason Cromer and Brian Henderson, both pitchers, played in 105 and 198 games, respectively.

Otherwise, Montgomery's lineup is the same as the first three games of the series with the Huntsville Stars.

Ty Morrison cf (left)
Shawn O'Malley ss (switch)
Derek Dietrich 2b (left)
Mikie Mahtook rf
Omar Luna lf
Mike Sheridan 1b (left)
Greg Sexton 3b
Kyeong Kang dh (left)
Craig Albernaz c
Jake Thompson rhp

Lee Haydel cf (left)
Josh Prince 3b
Scooter Gennett dh (left)
Hunter Morris 1b (left)
Brock Kjeldgaard lf
Kentrail Davis rf (left)
T.J. Mittelstaedt 2b (left)
Domnit Bolivar ss
Adam Weisenburger c
Evan Anundsen rhp

Ranking the Rays ... Suero, Sheridan, Torres

For Saturday ...
1. Eliazer Suero, CHA: 7 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 4 walks, 4 Ks, 9 GBO
2. Mike Sheridan, MGM: 3-run HR, 3 1b's, walk, 2 runs
3. Alex Torres, DUR: 5 2/3 shutout innings, 3 hits, walk, 10 Ks
4. Matt Buschmann, MGM: 7 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 5 Ks, 11 GBO
5. Kyeong Kang, MGM: 2-run HR, 1b, 2 walks, 3 RBIs

Today ...
DUR (Chris Archer 7-9, 3.76) at Charlotte (Andre Rienzo debut), 6:15
MGM (Jake Thompson 7-11, 5.48) vs. Huntsville (Evan Anundsen 5-8, 5.02), 2:05
CHA (George Jensen 3-6, 5.74) vs. Fort Myers (Pat Dean 10-8, 4.07), 4:30
BWG (Felipe Rivero 8-8, 3.18) vs. Fort Wayne (Colin Rea 5-9, 3.91), 2:05
HV (Jeff Ames 5-1, 1.67) at Aberdeen (Lex Rutledge 0-2, 6.35), 1:35

Morning reading: Biscuits drain champagne

"We're out of champagne, I guess," Kyeong Kang, after the Biscuits quickly celebrated a playoff berth with Saturday's 11-4 win over the Huntsville Stars.

The Biscuits have tied last year's team record with 53 triples, and Jake Thompson hopes to avoid a dubious mark in his final regular-season start today.

Saturday's Rays roundup

Bulls 2, Charlotte 0
Alex Torres
gave up three hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Ryan Reid, Frank De Los Santos and Dane De La Rosa finished a four-hitter. Brooks Conrad hit a two-run home run in the sixth and walked.

Stone Crabs 4, Fort Myers 1
Eliazer Suero
fired seven innings of one-run, two-hit ball. He walked four and whiffed four. Luke Bailey hit a solo homer and singled. Todd Glaesmann singled twice and walked.

Hot Rods 5, Fort Wayne 3
Jeff Malm
hit an eighth-inning grand slam and walked. Nick Sawyer debuted with two hitless innings, two walks and a win. Andrew Bellatti tossed three shutout innings. Jake Hager hit a solo homer, walked, erred and scored twice.

Renegades 2, Aberdeen 0
Matt Spann
gave up three hits in six innings. Brandon Henderson and Ryan Garton polished off a five-hitter. Ryan Dunn singled twice and walked.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Saturday: Biscuits 11, Stars 4; Biscuits clinch playoff appearance

The Biscuits celebrated their first playoff berth since 2007 after Saturday's 11-4 win over the Huntsville Stars.

Combined with Jacksonville's 3-2, weather-shortened loss at Jackson, Montgomery clinched the Southern League's second-half South Division championship. The Biscuits will begin a best-of-5 semifinal series at Mobile on Thursday.

Matt Buschmann continued his late-season surge, posting his fifth straight quality start and his third straight game with at least seven innings. He gave up two runs on six hits.

Mike Sheridan hit a three-run home run to start Montgomery's scoring in the second inning and reached base five times. He singled and scored in the Biscuits' six-run fifth inning.

Kyeong Kang hit a two-run homer and Derek Dietrich a three-run blast to highlight the six-run outburst. Omar Luna reached base four times and scored three runs.

A football night at Riverwalk Stadium

The Biscuits are going head-to-head with both Auburn and Alabama football tonight. It's safe to say the Biscuits are losing that battle. This was taken after the national anthem and before the first pitch. Looks like a Troy game.

Giants call on former Biscuit Jean Machi

Right-hander Jean Machi, with the Biscuits in 2005-06, has been promoted to the major leagues by the San Francisco Giants.

He's in line to be the 56th former Biscuit to play in the big leagues and fourth this season. He'd be the 19th player from the 2005 team and 12th from 2006.

Machi was 2-1 with 15 saves and a 3.97 ERA in 53 games at Triple-A Fresno this year. The 30-year-old made one appearance for the Biscuits in 2005 and was Montgomery's closer in 2006.

Machi was 6-1 with 16 saves and a 2.64 ERA in 49 games for the 2006 Southern League champions.

Saturday's lineups

The Biscuits have a magic number of 2. They can clinch a second-half division title tonight with a win *and* a loss by the Jacksonville Suns. After tonight, there are two games left in the regular season.

Ty Morrison cf (left)
Shawn O'Malley ss (switch)
Derek Dietrich 2b (left)
Mikie Mahtook rf
Omar Luna lf
Mike Sheridan 1b (left)
Greg Sexton 3b
Kyeong Kang dh (left)
Mark Thomas c
Matt Buschmann rhp

Lee Haydel cf (left)
Josh Prince 3b
Scooter ennett dh (left)
Hunter Morris 1b (left)
Brock Kjeldgaard lf
Kentrail Davis rf (left)
Domnit Bolivar ss
T.J. Mittelstaedt 2b (left)
Adam Weisenburger c
Josh Stinson rhp

Robby Price, Geoff Rowan run with Bulls

Triple-A Durham has added two more players from below the Biscuits in the Tampa Bay organization.

Infielder Robby Price has joined the Bulls from high-Class A Charlotte and catcher Geoff Rowan moved up from short-season Class A Hudson Valley.

The Bulls, after losing four players to major league promotions with the Sept. 1 roster expansion, also had a player designated for assignment: infielder Will Rhymes.

Price hit .265 in 110 games with the Stone Crabs. He was a 13th-round draft pick in 2010 from the Rock Chalk Kansas Jayhawks. Rowan was 2-for-9 in six games for the Renegades, including just one game in August. He was a 39th-round pick this year out of Northwestern.

Ranking the Rays ... Yates, Thomas, Gomes

For Friday ...
1. Kirby Yates, MGM: 2 outs, stranding tying runs, 16th save (1 of 22 inherited runners have scored this year)
2. Mark Thomas, MGM: solo HR, 2b, 1b, 3 RBIs
3. Brandon Gomes, DUR: 2 perfect innings, 4 Ks
4. Kyle Lobstein, MGM: 6 2/3 innings, 3 unearned runs, 7 hits, 3 walks, 5 Ks, 7 GBO
5. Todd Glaesmann, CHA: 2b, 3 1b's, run

Today ...
DUR (Alex Torres 3-7, 7.96) vs. Charlotte (Charlie Shirek 11-4, 3.71), 6:05
MGM (Matt Buschmann 6-8, 3.96) vs. Huntsville (Josh Stinson 11-8, 2.99), 7:05
CHA (Eliazer Suero 4-7, 6.19) at Fort Myers (Miguel Munoz 2-7, 4.90), 6:05
BWG (Jake Partridge 5-1, 2.53) vs. Fort Wayne (Frank Garces 9-6, 2.85), 7:05
HV (Matt Spann 3-5, 3.96) at Aberdeen (Sebastian Vader 1-7, 3.92), 6:05

Morning reading: Biscuits tackle football

Should be an interesting day at Riverwalk Stadium. The Biscuits could clinch a playoff berth and also play before the smallest home regular-season Saturday crowd in team history.

Why, you ask? Well, they're going head-to-head with the state's quasi religion: football. Auburn starts at 6, Alabama at 7 and the Biscuits at 7:05.

Their weakest regular-season Saturday is a 3,915 on Aug. 6, 2011.

Also, the Biscuits have two end-of-season Southern League All-Stars in Omar Luna and Hak-Ju Lee.

I rushed out of Riverwalk right after Friday's game for high school football reasons. Here is the statewide score list, the results of the ranked teams and early-season standings.