Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Biscuits set game times, finalize promotions

The Biscuits have set their game times for the 2010 season -- your morning tilts, complete with thousands of school children, are April 27, May 5 and May 11 -- and announced their promotions schedule.

You can find a link to the full schedule at the right (though no gametimes), but here are the promotional highlights. All other Monday-Saturday game times are 7:05 p.m. Sunday games are at 2:05, except for a July 4 6:05 and a July 25 5:05. Here are the promotions:

8: fireworks, magnet schedule
9: Myron Noodleman, magnet schedule
10: fireworks, magnet schedule
24: Evan Longoria bobblehead
25: Bark in the Ballpark
27: morning start

5: morning start
7: giveaway TBA
8: Autograph Day, fireworks, Boy Scouts Camporee
11: morning start
13: 80s Night,
The Spicolis postgame concert
14: morning start, appearance by former Braves great Dale Murphy (sorry, I say no Hall of Fame for Murph)
28: fireworks
29: fireworks
30: mascot Big Mo's birthday party

5: circus night, Girl Scout Camporee
10: Jimmy Buffett Night, postgame concert
11: fireworks
12: Military Appreciation Night, fireworks
25: (oh, goodness) Michael Jackson Tribute Night, with Christopher and his King of Pop puppets (can't find a link for that one)
26: Family Faith Night, fireworks

4: fireworks
9: Family Faith Night, postgame concert
10: Autograph Day, fireworks
23: Tampa Bay Rays Night
24: fireworks

6: Country Night, fireworks
20: fireworks
21: Auburn/Alabama Night -- team shows bias again
27: fireworks
28: charities night, jersey auction, fireworks

2. Fan Appreciation Night, fireworks

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Biscuits boosters to have first offseason meeting

The Biscuits Booster Club will gather Monday at Riverwalk Stadium for its first meeting of the offseason. It starts at 7 p.m. in the home clubhouse. The boosters will elect officers for the 2010 season.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book it: Rays will sweep Boston in April 2010

I'm watching FlashForward's series debut on ABC right now. (You may have caught a commercial or two dozen lately.) In it, everyone in the world blacks out and has a vision of what they'll be doing on April 29, 2010.

One of the main characters saw himself, umm, on the throne as he read a newspaper (fine choice). He remembers reading where the Rays rallied from a three-run deficit to finish a sweep of Boston. Also, Kobe Bryant had blown out his knee.

The Rays do play at Fenway in April 2010, but it's April 16-19, so maybe it was an old paper -- or this show is a work of fiction.

April 19, 2010, 1:45 p.m. update: Rays finish sweep of Red Sox

St. James grad top pitcher for Rookie team

St. James graduate Brandon Kloess has been named the pitcher of the year for the Great Falls Voyagers, the Rookie-level Pioneer League affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

Kloess was 2-0 with four saves and a 2.43 ERA for the Voyagers this year, his first in professional baseball. He totaled 72 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings.

The 24-year-old right-hander was also named to the Pioneer League's end-of-season All-Star team. Kloess, who played in college at Florida Atlantic, signed this year as a non-drafted free agent.

Stokes takes break from Mets for child's birth

Former Biscuits pitcher Brian Stokes took a few days off from the New York Mets to be with wife Sarianna for the birth of a baby boy. Brody Alexander made his debut Wednesday afternoon, according to the New York Daily News.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Braves manager to retire after 2010 season

Atlanta's Bobby Cox, the 69-year-old who is now finishing his 26th year as a major-league manager, said today that he'll retire after the 2010 season.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Durham needs 11 to win Triple-A championship

Rashad Eldridge scored on a wild pitch with none out in the 11th to give the Durham Bulls a 5-4 win over the Memphis Redbirds in the Triple-A championship game in Oklahoma City.

Catcher Michel Hernandez doubled to lead off the 11th and Eldridge pinch-ran for him. Eldridge moved to third on a wild pitch and, after an intentional walk, scored on another wild pitch to win it.

Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson threw five shutout innings, while Desmond Jennings was 3-for-5 for the Bulls. Sean Rodriguez homered and Ray Olmedo was 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and an RBI.

Mitch Talbot threw a perfect top of the 11th for the win.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hellickson starts against Memphis' Garcia

Both the Durham Bulls and Memphis Redbirds will start pitchers Tuesday who weren't with them for long this season.

Durham's Jeremy Hellickson was with the Biscuits until the end of July. Jaime Garcia made just four starts after returning from an injury. Garcia, who made 10 major-league appearances for the Cardinals last year, was 2-0 in four starts. He threw 12 shutout innings in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bulls to host viewing party; Montgomery ???

The Durham Bulls organization will host a viewing party to watch their Bulls play the Memphis Redbirds in the nationally televised, one-game Triple-A championship from Oklahoma City. It's at Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom, which sounds like a fine place to eat.

No word on whether Montgomery will have such a viewing party, considering that many of the Bulls were once Montgomery Biscuits. Maybe there is an industrious group out there somewhere that might be interested.

The game starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday and will be shown on ESPN2.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hellickson scheduled to start Tuesday for Bulls

Jeremy Hellickson is the scheduled starter Tuesday when Durham plays in the nationally televised Triple-A championship game.

The Bulls will face either the Memphis Redbirds or Sacramento RiverCats. Memphis has a 2-0 lead entering tonight in the Pacific Coast League championship series.

Wiegand wins Rays community service award

Ryan Wiegand won the Erik Walker Community Champion Award, which recognizes a Tampa Bay minor leaguer for teamwork, sportsmanship and community service.

Erik Walker was a Rays minor-league pitcher who died in October 2006 in a canoeing accident. He had just finished his first professional season.

Wiegand, who was a 25th-round draft pick this year and played for Rookie-level Princeton, receives $2,500 for the charity of his choice. The 22-year-old was a key participant in a reading and nutrition program at two Princeton-area elementary schools. He also helped spread the program to a school in a neighboring county. Wiegand was also one of four Princeton players featured on an anti-tobacco poster.

Wiegand "was easily our most active player in community activities," Princeton general manager Jim Holland said.

Finalists from Tampa Bay's other six affiliates will have $500 donated to the charity of their choice.
Durham: Alex Jamieson
Montgomery: Paul Phillips
Charlotte: Darin Downs
Bowling Green: Anthony Scelfo
Hudson Valley: Chris Murrill
GCL: Lucas Nakandakare

Biscuits catcher Matt Spring won last year's Walker Award and Patrick Cottrell was the 2007 winner.

Jennings, Hellickson take top Tampa Bay honors

Outfielder Desmond Jennings and pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, who spent most of the season with the Biscuits, won Tampa Bay's top minor-league awards this year.

Jennings, the Southern League's most valuable player, was the Rays' player of the year and Hellickson was the pitcher of the year.

Jennings hit a combined .318 between Montgomery and Triple-A Durham with 11 home runs, 62 RBIs and 92 runs scored. He had a .401 on-base percentage and was 52-of-59 on steals. The 22-year-old is from Pinson Valley.

Hellickson was a combined 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 114 innings between Montgomery and Durham. He held hitters to a .178 average and averaged 10.42 strikeouts per nine innings. The 22-year-old missed six weeks with a shoulder strain.

Durham: OF Jon Weber
Montgomery: CF Desmond Jennings
Charlotte: LHP Darin Downs
Bowling Green: LHP Matt Moore
Hudson Valley: RHP Alex Colome
Princeton: OF Cody Rogers
GCL: RHP Wilmer Almonte
Dominican: OF Edward Dorville
Venezuela: IF Hector Guevara

Some stats from the Dominican and Venezuela winners (the others have been previously chronicled here) ...

Dorville hit .304 with 37 RBIs and 44 runs scored. He led the Dominican Summer League with a .549 slugging percentage and paced the team in hits, home runs (nine), triples (six) and runs scored. He's 20 years old.

Guevara, 17, had a .330 average to rank fifth in the Venezuela Summer League with eight homers and 36 RBIs. His .534 slugging percentage was fourth in the league.

Rays change awards, which start trickling out

Those guesses won't count since the Rays have changed how they give the minor-league awards.

All of them aren't out yet, but Darin Downs won Charlotte's most valuable player award, according to a Crabs release.

Charlotte shortstop Shawn O'Malley was the organization's best baserunner, Nevin Ashley the best defensive player and Matt Gorgen the best relief pitcher.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Line drive that hit Downs measured at 103 mph

Here's a better story about Biscuits pitcher Darin Downs, from St. Pete Times columnist John Romano.

Downs will be at the Trop on Friday for the minor-league awards and will be named Charlotte's pitcher of the year.

Durham wins International League championship

John Jaso doubled home Elliot Johnson in the 12th inning to give the Durham Bulls a 3-2 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and an International League championship series sweep.

Calvin Medlock picked up the win with two innings of shutout relief, while starter Jason Cromer had his second quality start of the postseason. He allowed two runs on four hits and four walks in six innings.

The Bulls overcame a 2-0 deficit when Desmond Jennings hit a two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning. It's Durham's third title in eight years.

(Every player mentioned is a former Biscuit.)

Durham will play Tuesday in the one-game Triple-A championship in Oklahoma City. The Bulls will face the Pacific Coast League champion. Memphis has a 2-0 lead over Sacramento in the best-of-5 series, which continues Friday in Sacramento.

Davis pitches shutout in third career start

The Baltimore Orioles outkicked their coverage tonight with Wade Davis, who threw a four-hitter in the Rays' 3-0 win at Camden Yards for his first major-league victory.

Davis walked two, struck out 10 and threw 80 of his 124 pitches (124?!?) for strikes. (His previous season high for pitches was 111, if you're curious.)

Davis, who worked out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the first, retired the last 10 hitters he faced, including striking out the side in the ninth.

Not too shabby for his third career major-league start.

No Kanye West sighting for these awards

The minor-league awards season continues at raysprospects.com, which handed out its Arpy Awards on Monday for Tampa Bay's best affiliate, best season (hitter and pitcher), most surprising and most disappointing players, best 2009 draftee and best under-the-radar season.

Today, the New York Mets officially lauded former Biscuits outfielder Jesus Feliciano as the most valuable player at Triple-A Buffalo. Former Rays draft pick Ike Davis, who chose to go to Arizona State and was the Mets' first-round pick last year, won the organizational player of the year.

The Rays will name their organizational awards in a pregame ceremony Friday.

Downs on road to recovery after being hit by liner

Biscuits pitcher Darin Downs says he's doing well, a month after being hit just above the left ear. He has a weekly CAT scan and sees a neurosurgeon every two weeks. (Full story here.)

Downs spent nine days, including two in ICU, at Birmingham's St. Vincent's Hospital after being hit Aug. 17.

His fiancee, Christy DeFelice, was with him the entire time and, with the outpouring of support Downs received, "was basically my secretary." They're getting married Nov. 14 and going to Jamaica for their honeymoon.

"She was taking all the calls, on her phone, my phone, Facebook," Downs said.

The Rays major leaguers sent a card, the rest of the Biscuits were calling and so were his former teammates with the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs.

"I got so many cards in the hospital and when I got home," Downs said. "They'll be saved somewhere. I'll find a spot for them."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yankees down Crabs for Florida championship

David Adams was 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the Tampa Yankees' 5-2, Florida State League championship-winning victory over the Charlotte Stone Crabs tonight.

Drew Anderson knocked in Charlotte's runs with singles in the sixth and eighth innings. Starter Brian Flores took the loss, allowing one unearned run in three innings. Reliever Tommy Rafferty gave up three runs in two innings. The Yankees led 4-0 after five innings.

Eldridge, Bulls grab 2-0 lead in title series

Rashad Eldridge was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored as the Durham Bulls pulled within one win of an International League championship with a 4-1 victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

The Bulls will try for a three-game sweep Thursday at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Eldridge doubled home Desmond Jennings to tie the game 1-1 in the fourth inning, homered with one out in the sixth to give Durham the lead, and added an RBI double and scored in the eighth.

My Tampa Bay minor-league award guesses

I finally had some time to finish my guesses on who will win Tampa Bay's minor-league organizational awards. The Rays pick an overall pitcher and position player of the year and name a pitcher and position player from each affiliate. The overall winner will not also win a team award.

I had about half done a few days ago, but football tends to get in the way of a lot of things this time of year. The Rays also named winners from their Dominican and Venezuelan teams. I won't venture a guess on those.

Overall: Darin Downs
Durham: Winston Abreu*
Montgomery: Jeremy Hellickson
Charlotte: Jeremy Hall
Bowling Green: Matt Moore
Hudson Valley: Alex Colome
Princeton: Joey Dettrich
GCL: Jacob Partridge

Overall: Desmond Jennings
Durham: Jon Weber
Montgomery: Chris Nowak
Charlotte: Cody Cipriano
Bowling Green: K.D. Kang
Hudson Valley: Tyler Bortnick
Princeton: Ryan Wiegand
GCL: Gerardo Olivares

*--Durham said Abreu was its pitcher of the year last week.

If Hellickson wins the overall (and he may), I'd say Aneury Rodriguez gets the Montgomery award based on how well he was the last few months. I'd say Paul Phillips is close behind, though. Then, Florida State League ERA champ Downs takes Charlotte and pushes out Hall.

As always, feel free to tell me where I'm wrong. Just do it before the Rays announce the winners. (Ah, college football fans. They tell you after the game that they knew you were wrong. Heck, it's easy to do afterward. Tell me before the game.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Newmann, Crabs set up one-game showdown for title

David Newmann didn't allow a hit until the seventh inning and the Charlotte Stone Crabs forced a one-game showdown for the Florida State League championship with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Yankees.

The fifth -- and final -- game of the series will be Wednesday in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Greg Sexton hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning to put the Crabs ahead.

David Adams singled to lead off the seventh against Newmann, who took a two-hit shutout into the ninth. He left with two outs in the ninth, having allowed four hits. Richard De Los Santos got the final out and the save.

In his last nine starts of the year, Newmann was 6-0 with a 1.08 ERA. He had a career-high 10 strikeouts in his previous playoff start.

Hellickson helps Bulls claim Game 1

Jeremy Hellickson took a shutout into the seventh to lead the Durham Bulls in a 4-1 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in Game 1 of the International League championship series.

Hellickson gave up a two-out home run to John Rodriguez in the seventh and left the game. His totals included five hits allowed, one walk and -- departing from recent history -- only six strikeouts. Hellickson had at least nine Ks in five straight starts.

Michel Hernandez hit a two-run single in the sixth to make it 4-0. Henry Mateo scored twice.

Game 2 is Wednesday.

Rays minor leaguer suspended for drugs

Outfielder Waldo Rosario of Tampa Bay's team in the Dominican Summer League has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. His suspension will start next year. Rosario hit .258 with a team-high 16 stolen bases in 47 games this season.

Rays release 2010 schedule, will visit Atlanta

The Rays start the 2010 season with an April 6 home game against the Baltimore Orioles to begin a six-game homestand. The schedule includes a three-game, mid-June, midweek series in Atlanta that does not conflict with a Biscuits home game.

6-8 Baltimore
9-11 N.Y. Yankees
12-14 at Baltimore
16-19 at Boston
20-22 at Chicago White Sox
23-25 Toronto
27-28 Oakland
29-30 Kansas City

1-2 Kansas City
4-6 at Seattle
7-9 at Oakland
10-12 at L.A. Angels
14-16 Seattle
17-18 Cleveland
19-20 at N.Y. Yankees
21-23 at Houston
24-26 Boston
27-30 Chicago White Sox
31 at Toronto

1-2 at Toronto
4-6 at Texas
8-10 Toronto
11-13 Florida
15-17 at Atlanta (Tuesday-Thursday)
18-20 at Florida
22-24 San Diego
25-27 Arizona
29-30 at Boston

1-4 at Minnesota
5-7 Boston
8-11 Cleveland
12-14 All-Star break (game at L.A. Angels)
16-18 at N.Y. Yankees
19-21 at Baltimore
23-25 at Cleveland
26-29 Detroit
30-31 N.Y. Yankees

1 N.Y. Yankees
2-5 Minnesota
6-8 at Toronto
9-11 at Detroit
13-15 Baltimore
16-18 Texas
19-22 at Oakland
23-25 at L.A. Angels
27-29 Boston
30-31 Toronto

1 Toronto
3-5 at Baltimore
6-8 at Boston
10-12 at Toronto
13-15 N.Y. Yankees
17-19 L.A. Angels
20-23 at N.Y. Yankees
24-26 Seattle
27-29 Baltimore
30-Oct. 3 at Kansas City

Crabs fall in Game 3; Yankees one win from title

With the potential tying runs in scoring position, Reid Fronk struck out looking and Emeel Salem grounded out to end the Charlotte Stone Crabs' 3-1 loss to the Tampa Yankees on Monday.

The Yankees moved within one win of the Florida State League championship. The Crabs host Game 4 on Tuesday.

The Crabs didn't score until the ninth when Ryan Royster singled in Matt Sweeney. Starter Alex Cobb took the loss with six innings of one-run ball.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Southern League sets championship series

The Jacksonville Suns and Tennessee Smokies will play this week for the Southern League championship.

The Suns finished off a semifinal sweep of the Birmingham Barons and the Smokies sealed a four-game victory over the Huntsville Stars on Sunday.

Tennessee last won the league championship in 2004 when it shared honors with Huntsville after Hurricane Ivan canceled the championship series. Jacksonville last won in 2005 when it beat the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in four games.

Tuesday: at Jacksonville, 6:05 CDT
Wednesday: at Jacksonville, 6:05
Thursday: travel day
Friday: at Tennessee, 6:15
Saturday: at Tennessee, if necessary, 6:15
Sunday: at Tennessee, if necessary, 4

Birmingham's Jonathan Nelson has been named the Southern League's general manager of the year. Nelson is in his 17th year of professional baseball and fifth leading the Barons.

Alabamian named top Atlanta minor-league pitcher

Huntsville native Craig Kimbrel has been named Atlanta's organizational pitcher of the year, while outfielder Jason Heyward is the Braves' player of the year. Kimbrel was at Wallace State-Hanceville Community College and had signed with Alabama before being drafted last year. Both Kimbrel and Heyward were with the Mississippi Braves this season.

Gadsden native Kyle Cofield won the pitcher's award for Mississippi. Outfielder Matt Young was Mississippi's top position player.

The Braves, who announced the awards Monday, host the winners Friday for a pregame autograph session and ceremony.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Crabs take Game 2; FSL series tied 1-1

Matt Sweeney was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Charlotte Stone Crabs to an 8-2 win over the Tampa Yankees in Game 2 of the Florida State League championship series.

The best-of-5 series is tied 1-1. The Crabs host the rest of the series, starting with Game 3 Monday.

Jeremy Hall allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings for the victory. John Matulia knocked in two runs and Greg Sexton scored twice.

Durham to play for championship

Paul Phillips won in his second career start and Durham advanced to the International League finals with a 5-3 victory at Louisville.

The Bulls host Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday for Game 1 of the finals.

Justin Ruggiano was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Matt Joyce scored twice. Phillips' five-inning workload included two runs on four hits, no walks and six strikeouts.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Crabs fall in championship series opener

Jake McGee gave up two runs in two innings to take the loss in the opening game of the Florida State League championship series. Daniel Brewer had two RBIs to lead the Tampa Yankees to a 5-2 victory over the Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Reliever Jesse Darcy allowed one run in four innings behind McGee. Game 2 is Sunday in Tampa with the rest of the series, starting with Monday's Game 3, hosted by the Crabs.

Bulls lose Game 4; final game Sunday

Rayner Oliveros allowed five runs in one-plus inning and the Louisville Bats beat Durham 10-7 in Game 4 of an International League semifinal playoff series. The decisive Game 5 is Sunday.

Michel Hernandez hit a three-run home run in a four-run second that gave Durham a 4-2 lead. Louisville answered with four runs in the bottom of the second.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cromer, Ruggiano lead Bulls to Game 3 victory

Jason Cromer allowed two runs in six innings and Justin Ruggiano was 3-for-4 in Durham's 4-2 win over Louisville in Game 3 of an International League semifinal playoff series. The Bulls can advance to the championship series with a win Saturday at Louisville.

The Charlotte Stone Crabs were rained out in the first game of the Florida State League championship series. Game 1 will be Saturday at Tampa and Game 2 on Sunday at Tampa. The Crabs host Game 3 and any further games, starting Sunday.

Atlanta farmhand top player in minors

Outfielder Jason Heyward, who faced the Biscuits with the Mississippi Braves, has been named Baseball America's minor-league player of the year.

Newmann, Crabs crawl into championship series

David Newmann totaled a career-high 10 strikeouts and the Charlotte Stone Crabs beat Fort Myers 3-2 tonight in the decisive game of a Florida State League semifinal playoff series.

Charlotte advanced to the championship and will play the Tampa Yankees for the title. Game 1 is Friday at Tampa. Games 3-5 will be in Port Charlotte, starting Sunday.

Newmann gave up four hits, walked one and surrendered a run in the fifth inning. He had a 16-inning shutout streak to end the regular season.

Mike McCormick hit a two-run single in the second inning and Drew Anderson added an unearned run in the fifth to make it 3-0. After the Miracle pulled within one, Richard De Los Santos worked the final 2 1/3 innings to save it. In the eighth, Fort Myers had two on and one out before De Los Santos posted two strikeouts to snuff out the threat.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bats, bats unkind for Durham in Game 2

Chris Valaika knocked in two runs and Todd Frazier scored twice in the Louisville Bats' 5-2 win over the Durham Bulls tonight. The Bats tied the best-of-5 International League semifinal playoff series at one game each.

Desmond Jennings and Rashad Eldridge scored in the first inning for Durham, which had three hits in the first inning and three combined in the final eight.

Mitch Talbot allowed three runs in three-plus innings. The first four Bats reached against Talbot in the fourth. Louisville scored three runs in the fourth to take the lead and added two in the fifth.

Rays' Pena fine after surgery

Rays first baseman Carlos Pena had successful surgery today in St. Petersburg, Fla., on the two broken fingers he suffered Monday. Dr. Doug Carlan also inserted pins into Pena' left index and middle fingers. Pena is expected to be fully recovered well in advance of spring training.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hellickson continues K party in Durham win

Joe Dillon, Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez had two RBIs each in Durham's playoff-opening 8-4 victory over Louisville tonight. Game 2 is Thursday.

Jeremy Hellickson didn't factor in the decision, allowing three hits, three walks and three runs, including two home runs, in 5 2/3 innings. The Bulls took the lead with a five-run sixth.

Hellickson did, however, total 12 strikeouts. He has whiffed 53 in his last five starts, covering 32 2/3 innings.

Crabs stave off elimination, force decisive Game 3

Alex Cobb allowed one run in five innings and the Charlotte Stone Crabs stayed alive in the Florida State League playoffs, beating Fort Myers 7-4 tonight. Game 3 of the best-of-3 semifinal series will be Thursday.

Drew Anderson was 3-for-5, while Ryan Royster scored twice and had an RBI. Royster and Emeel Salem reached base three times each. Six different Crabs knocked in runs.

Niemann serves up Yankee history

Jeffrey Niemann just wormed his way into Yankee history by serving up Derek Jeter's 2,721st career hit. That ties Jeter with Lou Gehrig for the Yanks' team record for hits. Jeter has three hits tonight.

UPDATE: Niemann took a shutout into the eighth and left after giving up a leadoff single. The bullpen ... how to phrase this? ... the bullpen hit Chernobyl levels.

Abreu named Durham's pitcher of the year

The Rays haven't said who wins their annual minor-league awards, but we apparently know one victor.

Right-hander Winston Abreu is Durham's pitcher of the year, according to a Bulls release announcing the team's postseason roster. Abreu was 3-1 with a 1.94 ERA in 37 appearances this year. He allowed just 23 hits in 51 innings, walked 16 and struck out 77.

The Rays annually honor a minor-league hitter and pitcher of the year, plus name a top hitter and pitcher for each of their affiliates. They spread the wealth, so the organizational winners won't double-up and win a team award, too. The Rays bring in the honorees for an on-field ceremony near the end of the season.

Who are your picks?

Stone Crabs fall in playoff opener

Estarlin De Los Santos came within a double of the cycle and knocked in four runs to lead Fort Myers in an 8-7 win over the Charlotte Stone Crabs on Tuesday. The Miracle took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 Florida State League playoff series. Game 2 is Wednesday in Fort Myers.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Final system check

With the Biscuits finished, here's the final system check of the year, though some of the independent leagues still have some schedule to play. The final stats package is scheduled to be in Wednesday's paper.

International League South

(83-61, first place, 2 GA)
RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who was 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA in nine starts, is scheduled to start Wednesday's playoff opener against the Louisville Bats. He ended the season with 15 straight shutout innings.
CF Desmond Jennings hit .325 with 23 runs scored and reached base 56 times in 32 games. He was 15-for-17 on steals.
LHP Jason Cromer finished 7-3 with a 2.25 ERA in 112 innings.
C John Jaso had a .266 average.
RHP Paul Phillips threw five shutout innings in his first Triple-A start Sunday. He had 2.2 shutout innings of relief in his debut last week.
RHP Heath Rollins gave up four earned runs in six innings after his promotion from Montgomery.
LHP Mike Wlodarczyk made his Triple-A debut Monday with two no-hit innings.

Florida State League South

(71-66 overall, in playoffs; 34-35 second half, second place, 3 GB)
RHP Jeremy Hall led the league in victories, finishing 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA. He started Tuesday’s playoff opener against the Fort Myers Miracle.
SS Shawn O’Malley had a .388 on-base percentage and 73 runs scored in 103 games.
LHP David Newmann was 9-6 with a 3.44 ERA.
OF John Matulia had a .278 average in 87 games.
RHP Richard De Los Santos was 2-0 with 10 saves and an 0.79 ERA in 22.2 innings.
LHP Jake McGee had a 6.45 ERA, nine walks and 26 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.
OF Reid Fronk hit .201 with four home runs, 32 RBIs and 88 strikeouts.
OF Ryan Royster hit .229 with five homers, 38 RBIs and 106 strikeouts.

South Atlantic League Southern

(64-74 overall; 30-38 second half, eighth place, 11.5 GB)
LHP Matt Moore was 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA. He gave up 86 hits in 123 innings with 70 walks and a league-best 176 strikeouts.
SS Tim Beckham hit .275 with 63 RBIs and 58 runs scored. He had 43 errors and 116 strikeouts.
RHP Chris Andujar finished 10-4 with a 2.70 ERA and 99 hits allowed in 120 innings.
OF K.D. Kang had a .390 on-base percentage in 89 games.
RHP Nick Barnese was 6-5 with a 2.53 ERA in 15 starts.

New York-Penn League McNamara

(38-37, third place, 8.5 GB)
RHP Alex Colome was 7-4 with a 1.66 ERA in 15 starts. He gave up 46 hits in 76 innings.
RHP Zach Quate, after starting his career with 20 shutout innings, allowed a run and finished with 13 saves and an 0.35 ERA in 26 innings.
LHP Kyle Lobstein finished his season with six shutout innings Saturday and was 3-5 with a 2.58 ERA.
OF Chris Murrill hit .306 with 29 steals in 49 games.
OF D.J. Jones had a .215 average.

Appalachian League East

(36-31, second place, 10.5 GB)
CF Cody Rogers was 2-for-20 in his last six games, putting his final average at .303 with 37 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 52 games.
1B Ryan Wiegand hit .324 with 24 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs. He scored 37 runs in 59 games.
RHP Deivis Mavares finished 5-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 51.1 innings.
RHP Scott Shuman had an 0.82 ERA in 22 innings.

Gulf Coast League South

(19-36, fifth place, 15 GB)
LHP Jacob Partridge had a 1.75 ERA in 36 innings with 13 walks and 39 strikeouts.
RHP Victor Mateo allowed 42 hits and had a 1.98 ERA in 50 innings.
OF Todd Glaesmann was 5-for-18 in five games after signing.

Those who strayed from the Rays

RHP Ruddy Lugo was 13-9 with a 4.07 ERA at Triple-A Toledo (Tigers). He tied for the International League lead in wins. Lugo was 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA in his last nine starts.
OF Jesus Feliciano finished with a .311 average for Triple-A Buffalo (Mets). He led the International League with 154 hits.
1B Rhyne Hughes had a .264 average in 20 games with Triple-A Norfolk (Orioles).
RHP Jean Machi had a 2.12 ERA and was 6-for-6 in save opportunities with Triple-A Indianapolis (Pirates).
IF Gabriel Martinez hit .296 in 72 games at Double-A Chattanooga (Dodgers).
CF Jason Pridie had a .265 average for Triple-A Rochester (Twins).
LHP Chris Seddon, with wins in his last two starts, was 9-8 with a 4.51 ERA for Triple-A Tacoma (Mariners).
RHP Jose Diaz had a 3.63 ERA and 10 saves at Double-A Frisco (Rangers).
RHP Jim Magrane is 14-4 with a 2.83 ERA with independent Somerset. He won the Atlantic League’s pitcher of the month award for August.
RHP Travis Minix has 12 saves and a 1.15 ERA at independent Somerset.
LHP Brian Henderson is 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA for independent Somerset.
OF Jeremy Owens is hitting .244 at independent Southern Maryland.
2B Cesar Suarez has a .271 average in 38 games with independent Lancaster.
OF Erold Andrus finished with a .302 average for independent Florence.
2B Josh Asanovich hit .285 with independent Winnipeg.
OF Joe Gaetti had a .303 average in 25 games at independent Joliet.
OF Sergio Pedroza hit .332 with 22 home runs and 90 RBIs in the independent Golden League. He and the Calgary Vipers are in the league championship series.
C Josh Arhart finished with a .325 average for independent Victoria.

Biscuits play big part in league's final weekly awards

Mobile right-hander Matt Torra won the final Southern League weekly pitcher's award, based partly on his efforts Sunday against the Biscuits. Torra, after a four-hit shutout against Tennessee in his previous start, allowed two runs in sevcn innings to beat Montgomery.

Carolina first baseman Yonder Alonso was the top hitter, with the Biscuits again helping out. He went 11-for-24 with five RBIs and six runs scored. That includes his 5-for-8 efforts in Montgomery's last two home games that included four RBIs and three runs scored.

Rays, Southern League playoffs at a glance

The Biscuits aren't in the playoffs, though Durham's roster is now festooned with recent Biscuits, but the teams above and below Montgomery in the Tampa Bay organization are. High-Class A Charlotte starts a best-of-3 series tonight and Triple-A Durham gets going Wednesday with a best-of-5. (*--My guess as to who starts for the Crabs and Bulls.)

The Southern League postseason begins Thursday and the Birmingham Barons are hosting the Jacksonville Suns. It's not that far of a drive to Hoover.

Wednesday: at Durham, 6:05 p.m. CDT (Jeremy Hellickson)
Thursday: at Durham, 6:05 (Mitch Talbot)
Friday: at Louisville, 6:05 (Jason Cromer)
Saturday: at Louisville, 5:05, if necessary (Rayner Oliveros*)

Sunday: at Louisville, 4:05, if necessary
Winner faces Gwinnett or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, best-of-5 series starts Sept. 15

Today: at Charlotte, 6:05 p.m. CDT (Jeremy Hall)
Wednesday: at Fort Myers, 6:05 (Alex Cobb*)
Thursday: at Fort Myers, 6:05, if necessary (David Newmann*)
Winner faces Tampa or Brevard County, best-of-5 series starts Friday

South Division: Birmingham vs. Jacksonville -- 7:05 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Birmingham, rest at Jacksonville
North Division: Huntsville vs. Tennessee -- 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Huntsville, rest at Tennessee

Championship series schedule to be determined, though South Division will host first two games.

Biscuits nudge out Stars, escape pitching cellar

The Biscuits did avoid one inglorious accomplishment this season and failed to finish last in the Southern League in both hitting and pitching.

Oh, they did take it in hitting with a .238 average, but pitching was another story. Montgomery overtook the Huntsville Stars by a nose -- one earned run.

9. Montgomery 4.2485
10. Huntsville 4.2500

The Biscuits' 65-74 record makes the team 416-418 in its six years. In 22 Double-A seasons, the city is 1575-1467.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Nowak headed back to Durham

Biscuits infielder Chris Nowak will rejoin Durham for the postseason. He's being promoted back to the Bulls, who lost first baseman Chris Richard to the Rays today.

Nowak started the year with Durham and was hitting .228 before an early-July demotion. He had a .311 average with 36 RBIs in 55 games at Montgomery.

Jamieson (finally) finds way onto active roster

Catcher Alex Jamieson, who has been with the Biscuits for the last month, is going on the active roster and will be available for tonight's season finale at Mobile.

Let him play! Let him play!

Jamieson drove to Montgomery from Triple-A Durham on Aug. 6, though he was (and has been) officially on Hudson Valley's roster.

Durham's Richard promoted to Rays; Pena hurt

First baseman Chris Richard was promoted from Triple-A Durham to the Rays after Durham's regular-season finale today. He was last in the majors in 2003 with the Colorado Rockies and signed with the Tampa Bay organization in 2007.

The Rays will have to add Richard to their 40-man roster and, based on what happened today in New York, may have a spot.

Carlos Pena left this afternoon's game at Yankee Stadium and could have a broken hand.

UPDATE: Pena is out for the season with two broken fingers.

Wlodarczyk jumps to Bulls for playoff run

Another Biscuit will try to win a championship with the Durham Bulls. Left-handed pitcher Mike Wlodarczyk has been promoted to the Bulls, who start the International League playoffs Wednesday. Wlodarczyk is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA in 47 appearances this year.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Davis avails himself in Sonnanstine-like debut

Wade Davis didn't get a win in his major-league debut, but it's a fair decision to say it wasn't his fault.

Davis allowed three hits and one run in seven innings against the Detroit Tigers, who scored four times (a Brandon Inge grand slam) in the ninth to beat the Rays 5-3. Davis, who walked one and struck out nine, was christened in the second inning with an Aubrey Huff home run.

That's eerily similar to the final verdict from Andy Sonnanstine's debut at Toronto in June 2007. Sonnanstine stood to win until the Blue Jays tossed up six in the ninth to win 12-11.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Oliveros helps Bulls to division title

Rayner Oliveros picked up his first Triple-A victory and the Durham Bulls clinched the International League's South Division title with a 5-1 home win over Norfolk tonight. Oliveros allowed one run on two hits with eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Durham, which has won eight division titles in 12 years at Triple-A, faces Louisville in the first round of the playoffs.

Hellickson still up to his dastardly tricks

Jeremy Hellickson continued his dastardly treatment of hitters again Friday -- I've been immersed in football, which is why this is so late/early -- in Durham's 4-1 win over Charlotte.

Hellickson threw seven shutout innings and, after allowing a two-out double in the first, retired 16 straight hitters.

After Desmond Jennings' 7-for-7 performance Thursday, are he and Hellickson dueling for a higher spot on the Rays' prospect list?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Nestor Perez to play for Spain

Nestor Perez, a shortstop for the Biscuits in 2004, will be part of Spain's efforts in the International Baseball Foundation's World Cup.

The Spaniards are hosting their first-round "pod" in Barcelona and face South Africa at 7 p.m. Wednesday (noon Central). They battle the Puerto Ricans next Friday at 6 p.m. (11 a.m.) and take on the mighty Cubans at 11 a.m. Sept. 12 (4 a.m.).

There are 22 teams in the tournament and 16 advance to the second round.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Jennings sets record in Durham playoff clincher

Desmond Jennings was 7-for-7 to set a Durham record in the Bulls' 14-3 win at Charlotte tonight. Durham also clinched an International League playoff spot.

Jennings had six singles, a double, three RBIs and four runs scored. The seven hits tied a league record.

Fernando Perez had the previous team record with six in an extra-inning game last July.

Speck of light appears on football horizon

It's always a refreshing sight to see the first break in football's frenzied grip. Athlon's college basketball preview is out.

If you're curious, Brewbaker Tech's K.T. Harrell is the top-rated player in the state. He's 64th nationally.

Former Biscuit named year's top Bison

Former Biscuits outfielder Jesus Feliciano has been named the most valuable player for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

Perez published by Poetry magazine

Former Biscuits outfielder Fernando Perez will be featured in the September issue of Poetry magazine.

Perez has a degree from Columbia in American studies, finished the creative writing program and lists Robert Creeley and John Ashbery among his favorite poets. Poetry, Perez says, is where he goes when he wants "displacement, contrast" from baseball. "The thick wilderness," Perez said, "of, say, late Ashbery can wrangle with the narrowness of competition."

Para Rumbiar by Fernando Perez
I write from Caracas, the murder capital of the world, where I’ve been employed by the Leones to score runs and prevent balls from falling in the outfield.

Smokies' Colvin wins August award

Tennessee Smokies outfielder Tyler Colvin, a two-time player of the week in August, won the Southern League's award for the month, too. Colvin hit .379 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in August.

Eldridge back with Bulls to end year

The Biscuits will finish the season without one of their best players. Outfielder Rashad Eldridge has been promoted back to Triple-A Durham.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wade Davis takes major-league call

Former Biscuits pitcher Wade Davis has been promoted to the Rays and will make his major-league debut Sunday against the Detroit Tigers. My list has him 40th on the major-league Biscuit list.

Sunday will be the second-biggest day of the year for Davis, who is getting married this fall.

His debut will also come one day before his 24th birthday.

Renegade to try real estate during offseason

Hudson Valley pitcher Hunter Hill, a 13th-round draft pick this year, will take real estate classes in the offseason, he tells the Poughkeepsie Journal.

In case of a tie, Durham wins division

With less than a week to go in the season, Durham and Gwinnett are tied for the International League's South Division lead. With Gwinnett's win over Durham on Tuesday, the teams split the season series 11-11.

Since both are all but in the playoffs as either a division champ or wild card, they wouldn't play a tiebreaking game. But the first tiebreaker in that situation is head-to-head.

The second tiebreaker is division record and Durham wins there. So, in case of a tie at the end of the season, they'd officially be co-champs. However, Durham would be the champ for playoff-seeding purposes.

You will be quizzed on this.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesday: Mudcats 6, Biscuits 4

Jeremy Horst took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Tuesday to lead the Carolina Mudcats to a 6-4 win over the Biscuits in Montgomery’s final home game. The Biscuits scored three runs in the ninth and had the potential tying run at the plate with one out.

Former Biscuit Gathright up with Red Sox

Former Biscuits outfielder Joey Gathright, recently traded to the Red Sox organization, has been promoted to the major leagues for Boston's September run.

Frontz won't return this season

Biscuits reliever Neal Frontz has been shut down for the last week of the season after experiencing more elbow pain 12 pitches into a throwing session Monday. Frontz said he will "probably" have an MRI either Wednesday or next week. He's been on the DL for three weeks with a sore elbow.

On-field autographs after tonight's game

What better way to mark the end of the Biscuits' home schedule than having the tarp on the field? A little thundershower just expressed its remorse over the end of another summer.

The rain is down to a sprinkle and the grounds crew appears to be mustering its forces to pull the tarp. The grounds crew already gathered the strength to paint "Thank you fans" in front of each dugout.

rThe Biscuits are scheduled to have an on-field autograph session after tonight's finale with the Carolina Mudcats.

rThe Southern League started its off-the-field awards today. Tennessee's Nick Frangella was named the top trainer, Jacksonville's Ed Attalla the top groundskeeper and Mississippi's Destin Smith the best visiting clubhouse manager.

Here are the lineups for Fan Appreciation Night ...
Rashad Eldridge, cf
Fernando Cortez, dh
Chris Nowak, 3b
Jose Lobaton, c
Cody Cipriano, 2b
Matt Fields, 1b
Cody Strait, rf
Jason Perry, lf
Jason Bowers, ss
Brian Baker, rhp

Kris Negron, ss
Jose Castro, 2b
Sean Henry, rf
Yonder Alonso, 1b
Zack Cozart, dh
Shaun Cumberland, cf
Eric Eymann, 3b
Logan Parker, lf
Jake Long, c
Jeremy Horst, lhp

Second baseman completes Kazmir trade

The Rays have added second baseman Sean Rodriguez from the Angels to complete the Scott Kazmir trade.

Rodriguez will report to Durham and the Rays say they'll announce a corresponding 40-man move later today.

Rodriguez has been with Triple-A Salt Lake for most of the season, but has played in 12 major-league games. He hit .299 in 103 games for Salt Lake with 29 home runs and a career-high 93 RBIs. The 24-year-old also played shortstop and saw time at all three outfield positions.

Shields nominated for Clemente award

Former Biscuits pitcher James Shields has been picked as Tampa Bay's nominee for the Roberto Clemente award.

The award goes to the major leaguer "who combines exceptional performance on the baseball field with devoted work in the community," according to a Rays release.

Fans can vote online starting Wednesday (through Oct. 4) at www.chevy.com/clemente.

3 Crabs lauded by Florida State League

Pitchers Matt Gorgen and Darin Downs and infielder Shawn O'Malley are the Charlotte Stone Crabs' representatives on the Florida State League's end-of-season All-Star list.

Gorgen and Downs were promoted during the season to the Biscuits. Gorgen had an 0.57 ERA in 28 appearances and Downs was 12-4 with a 2.00 ERA for the Crabs. Downs, who has enough innings to qualify, is the likely ERA champion.

O'Malley has a .268 average with 58 walks and 73 runs scored.