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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Danny Mars: Getting to Know the Boston Red Sox's Outfield Prospect

Playing in the Boston Red Sox organization makes it hard for a young player to stand out. After all, their player development system is considered to have few peers. With all the top prospects, first-round draft choices and international signings, there is stiff competition when it comes to achieving recognition. Fortunately, mirroring life itself, hard work is the great equalizer, and because of that outfielder Danny Mars has as good a chance as anybody to earn his way to the major leagues.

The 20-year-old switch-hitter (throws right-handed) decided to attend Chipola College (Junior College) following his graduation from Sarasota High school. He was a star for the Indians, hitting .380 with four home runs, 35 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 48 games in 2014. A line-drove hitter and excellent defender, his production resulted in being a sixth-round draft choice of the Red Sox in 2014.

Mars signed quickly and was shipped off to begin his professional career with the short-season Lowell Spinners. He picked up right where he left off in college, batting .311 with two homers, 17 RBIs and 12 steals in 44 games. He was so impressive that he earned a call-up to Single-A Salem towards the end of the year, where he tapered off at .167 with four steals in 10 games. All in all, it was a tremendous debut for the young outfielder.

Right now, the scouting report on Mars indicates his speed and athleticism are his two biggest attributes. Given how he has started his career, it will be interesting to see how he develops in the coming years. To top it off, he has already stood out with his work ethic, making his eventual ceiling all the more intriguing.

Recently, Mars answered some questions about his career. Read on for more information on this prospect, and make sure to follow him on Twitter if you want to keep up with him during the 2015 season and beyond.

Danny Mars Interview:

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite player growing up without a doubt was Chipper Jones.  I used to love watching him and it amazed me how great of a baseball player he was.  He always looked like the calmest guy on the field, and I modeled my game after him as a kid.  

How did you come to be a switch-hitter?: I actually became a switch hitter because of Chipper Jones.  When I was a kid, I always used to go outside and mimic him in the back yard growing up.  I never took it seriously until high school, but that is really where I learned to do it.

Chipola College has produced a lot of professional ball players. How did you end up there?: I ended up at Chipola after committing from playing baseball at Florida Gulf Coast, and I went to Chipola because I knew about the prestige and the coaching at the school.  I can't thank Chipola enough for the opportunity they gave me.

How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you?: The first time I really knew they were considering me was after a workout I had at Fenway Park about four days before the draft.  I fell in love with the city, and Boston is where I wanted to be.

What are you looking forward to most in a few months when you head to your first spring training?: I'm looking forward to improving my game at the professional level.  I feel like I learn more and more every day I am on the diamond.

What is one part of your game that you hope to improve on the most?: I would really like to improve even more on the mental side of the game.  I feel I am very strong on the mental side, but there is always room for improvement and a big part of success in baseball is from having a good head on your shoulders.

What was the hardest thing you had to adjust to during your first professional season?: The hardest thing was playing every day, and getting used to playing on days with a fatigued body.

Your first professional manager, Joe Oliver, is a seasoned MLB veteran. What was it like playing for him?: Playing for Joe was an unbelievable experience.  He was my manager my first two months in pro ball and he was an awesome guy to play for.  Obviously he has a lot of experience from playing in the big leagues, and he just enjoyed being out at the field every day.  Playing for a guy like that makes being at the field an even better experience.  

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You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Podcast: Will MLB Return to Montreal Via The Tampa Bay Rays?

Recent rumors indicate the Tampa Bay Rays may be a team interested in relocating to Montreal. Will MLB return to the City of Saints? Check out the current edition of the Ramble On podcast with myself and Ron Juckett to hear what we have to say on the matter.

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You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Frank White’s Breakup with the Kansas City Royals: The Baseball Historian’s Notes for the Week of October 26

In less than a week’s time another baseball season will be finished. A new World Series champion will be crowned and major league teams will press forward with hard decisions about how to bring their 2015 plans to fruition. The lull following the Fall Classic is always a withdrawal-inducing time for baseball fans. However, it’s as necessary as the shifting weather seasons to see what new things will grow and take off the next year. The many who have “Pitchers and Catchers Report” as a bonafide holiday on their calendars will squirm and do unthinkable things like clean out their garage and watch college volleyball as the hours tick down until the game is upon us again.

With those somber thoughts in mind, let’s move on to the notes for the week.

*Lou Lucier, who had been the oldest living former Boston Red Sox player, has passed away at the age of 96. A right-handed pitcher, he had brief stints with the team in 1943-44 and also had cups of coffee with the Philadelphia Phillies. In 33 major league games over three seasons, he went 3-5 with a 3.81 ERA and a save. His best professional season came in 1941 with the Canton Terriers in the Middle Atlantic League, as he posted a stellar 23-5 record with a 1.49 ERA in 36 games.

*A lot of great nostalgia has enveloped the Kansas City Royals during this season’s voyage to the World Series. In addition to celebrating this year’s success, there have been many references to players from 1985, the last time they made it to the championship. Unfortunately, the memories are not so sweet for everyone, as Yahoo’s Jeff Passan outlines the fracture between the Royals and their great former second baseman and announcer Frank White. Having spent most of his life employed with the franchise, it’s a shame to see that they currently don’t see eye to eye. Here’s hoping Kansas City’s thrilling postseason run can help with the mending of these fences…

*His major league playing career lasted just 10 years but Ralph Kiner packed enough in that relatively brief time to ultimately earn a Hall of Fame nod in 1975. The slugging outfielder hit 369 home runs and drove in 1,015 runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians between 1946 and 1955—including leading the league in homers the first seven years of his career. He later became a long-time announcer for the New York Mets. Although he passed away earlier this year at the age of 91, he will always be remembered for his contributions to the game. An interview (part 1 and part 2) he did last year with the Hall of Fame lends fantastic insight into his career.

*The Baseball History Daily has ferreted out yet another of baseball’s forgotten figures from a bygone era. Harley “Doc” Parker was a right-handed pitcher who was a nondescript 5-8 with a 5.90 ERA in 18 major league games with the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds between 1893 and 1901. Unfortunately, the game he is best remembered for was a minor league contest in 1894 when he was pitching for the Cedar Rapids Rippers and gave up 38 hits and 39 runs to the Kansas City Blues in a 39-10 loss. To be fair, his team committed 13 errors behind him, but it was a truly atrocious result.

The good news is that Parker’s meltdown makes his final major league game look like a gem by comparison, as he permitted 26 hits and 21 runs in a complete game loss to the Brooklyn Superbas on June 21, 1901—with future Hall-of-Fame outfielder Wee Willie Keeler going a perfect 5-for-5 with one of his 33 career major league home runs.

*Here’s an interesting piece by The New York Time’s Michael Powell about how Barry Bonds has bore the brunt of the baseball PED backlash for much of the past decade but is slowly returning to the game.

Bonds, who was essentially forced into retirement following the 2007 season because nobody would sign him, may still have a future with the game off the field now that he is 50. Commissioner Bud Selig, a nemesis of his, is retiring and the passage of time has eased the ill will directed towards him because of his transgressions. It will be interesting to see how far he is able to travel on this road to redemption.

*Former right-handed pitcher Ed Keegan has passed away at the age of 75. He got into 13 games with the Philadelphia/Kansas City Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies (1959 and 1961-62) and was 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA. He struck out just 11 batters in his major league career, but two of them were Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemente, which gives him major baseball cred for eternity.

*Did slugger Adam Dunn ruin baseball? The Hardball Times’ Neil Weinberg asks that question, citing the slugger as the poster boy for the three true outcomes approach (home run, walk, or strikeout) that has permeated baseball in recent years. In 14 major league seasons, Dunn has slammed 462 home runs while drawing 1,317 walks and whiffing an incredible 2,379 (third all-time) times. With the Royals and San Francisco Giants finding success this year with hitting approaches that value making contact and small-ball tactics, the tide may be shifting to their way of thinking. That being said, as Weinberg concludes, who is to say which approach is better than another in a game that requires so much skill to be successful?

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You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ramble On: Author Jerome Preisler Talks Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees

Prolific author and former columnist for YES Network Jerome Preisler sat down with Ron Juckett and myself and talked about his time covering the New York Yankees. He shared his thoughts about the recently retired Yankees captain Derek Jeter, and gives a fascinating look at slugger Alex Rodriguez.
Check out the podcast HERE.

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You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew