Top 100 Baseball Blog

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ray Caldwell Shook Off Being Struck By Lightning to Finish Complete Game Win

Baseball purists still lament how the game has changed for pitchers, with it being increasingly unlikely that hurlers throw complete games. In an age where good pitching is paid for at a premium, it is just no longer a wise financial decision to place pitchers in a position to hurt themselves by having them stretch the limits of their physical capabilities. However, it wasn’t always this way, as evidenced by Ray Caldwell, who was once struck by lightning on the mound during a game, and not only survived but actually stayed in and finished off a complete game victory.

The right-handed Caldwell was a league average (career 100 ERA+) pitcher who had a 12-year major league career with three teams (New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians) from 1910-1921. He compiled a career record of 134-120 with a 3.22 ERA and won over 18 games in a season three times. Despite his modest success, he is perhaps best known for a game on August 24, 1919 against the Philadelphia Athletics where he nearly lost his life, yet somehow turned it into perhaps his best outing of the season.

Earlier in the month, the 31-year-old Caldwell had been released by the Red Sox and was signed weeks later by the Indians, who were battling the Chicago White Sox for the American League pennant. August 24th was actually his first appearance with his new team and he certainly made it memorable.

Pitching in Cleveland, Caldwell clung to a narrow 2-1 edge against the Athletics, entering the ninth inning in his debut on the banks of Lake Erie. Rain had fallen since the middle innings, but play continued to ensure the contest was completed, given how late it was in the season.

With just one out left to go to secure the victory, shortstop Joe Dugan dug in at the plate. As Caldwell went to wind up, a lightning bolt zig-zagged from the sky and struck the pitcher. Harry P. Edwards from the Sporting News described the scene.  “The bolts flashed here and there, causing much excitement,” “There was a blinding flash that seemed to set the diamond on fire and Caldwell was knocked flat from the shock of it.”

It was reported that the strike knocked the mask and hat off Cleveland’s catcher Steve O’Neill and the hat off Philadelphia third-base coach Harry Davis.

It was also reported that Davis, “got a second shock, for Cy Perkins came up to feel Harry’s head and see if he was hurt. The lightning had charged Davis’ hair with electricity and his whole frame tingled when Cy touched him.”

“We all could feel the tingle of the electric shock running through our systems, particularly in our legs,” umpire Billy Evans recounted after the game.

Caldwell laid stretched out on the ground for a few minutes before slowly rising to his feet. Inexplicably, he indicated he was able to finish the game, and with one out remaining it was decided to try and play through before lightning had a chance to strike twice.

Caldwell induced Dugan to hit a game-ending grounder and went to the locker room to face a barrage of questions from a wide-eyed press corps. He explained to the Cleveland Press that “felt just like somebody came up with a board and hit me on top of the head and knocked me down.” He was also found to have burns on his chest. Some suggested that the lightning had struck the metal button on the top of his cap and gone down through his body to his metal spikes.

Caldwell pitched again five days later, but was not able to throw another complete game. He went just 8.2 innings that contest in a loss, but reeled off three complete-game wins in a row after that. He went on to have his only 20-win season the following year, and though he was out of the majors following the 1921 season, he continued pitching in the minors until 1933, when he was 45 (finishing with 293 wins in his professional career).

He passed away in 1967 at the age of 1979. Despite his solid and lengthy career, he will forever be remembered for his big strike in Cleveland, which never even crossed home plate.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Catching Up With Former Boston Red Sox First-Round Pick Rick Asadoorian

Drafted in the first round by the Boston Red Sox in 1999, Worcester, Massachusetts high school outfielder Rick Asadoorian was ecstatic to go to his home team. A multi-tooled right-handed player, his future was bright as he entered his professional career. He was so young and his future lay before him like an unpainted canvas.

Although Asadoorian never made it the major leagues, he did play 12 seasons professionally. He was not only an accomplished outfielder, who in particular excelled in the field, he also became a successful relief pitcher over the latter half of his playing time after it was discovered his powerful outfield arm could dial up a fastball.

He has now moved on to his post-playing career but still remains close to the game he has enjoyed his entire life. Keep reading for Rick’s memories of his career and updates about what he is doing today.

Rick Asadoorian Interview

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: I did not really have a favorite single player. I liked so many players all around the league but nothing compared to any player on the Red Sox. Every player in Boston was so special to me. I remember going to a game and seeing Andre Dawson throwing in between innings in the outfield and was amazed by how the ball came out of his hand. Just a few players I remember were Oil Can Boyd, Dwight Evans, Tim Naehring, Scott Cooper, Jack Clark.  I was always Jack Clark when playing wiffle ball home run derby in my back yard with friends. I loved his simple swing and how he destroyed balls.

Can you describe your draft experience with the Boston Red Sox in 1999- How did you find out you had been selected?: I was on a class trip for our senior week at High Meadows in Connecticut. My cousin loaned me his pager so I would know exactly when I was selected. Cell phones were just starting to really come out so I had to rely on a pager. When the draft started, I think 1 pm, myself and all of my classmates were sitting together around the pool area with all the other schools in attendance. Somewhere around 1:30 the buzzer on the pager went off and it read “Red Sox #17 call home.” I looked over to a friend of mine and told him I was just drafted by the Sox and once they announced it over the loud speaker the whole place cheered. It was pretty damn cool.

What do you remember most about your professional debut?: My pro debut was nothing spectacular, Since I signed late I had to wait until Instructional League to play in games. I think I played right field and didn't do anything at the plate. I think I made a diving catch though. My second game I went 4-for-5 with 3 doubles. Let’s call that one my debut. Hahhaha

In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against? What made them stand out so much?: Without a doubt the most talented player was Josh Hamilton. I remember going to national showcases and he and I were always two of the best outfielders. My best tools were probably my arm and defense. I had so much confidence in my throwing ability I felt as though there was none better. I felt that until I threw next to Josh Hamilton. He was a step above where I was and no matter what I did I could not throw better. He was a special talent.

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: My favorite moment was probably winning the State Championship in high school with all of my friends. We lost two years in a row and finally won our senior year. We had special group and we are all still very close friends.

How did you decide to add pitching to your repertoire so far into your pro career?: It happened randomly. There was an extra inning game where our team (Chattanooga Lookouts) was playing in West Tennessee. The Futures Game was going on the next day so our bullpen had to pick up our starting pitcher Homer Bailey, who was pitching in the Futures Game. The extra innings caused us to use almost everyone and our manager was asking if any position guys could throw. I said I would and went out there for two innings. Topped out at 95 and struck out five out of six. We ended up winning and I opened some eyes and some ideas from the club. I welcomed it and would do it all over again.

If there is anything you could go back and do differently about your baseball career, what would that be?: I would pay closer attention to how successful players go about their business. The mental aspect of the game was my biggest struggle. Talent was never an issue for me but learning how to play every day mentally and approaching the game in a different way could have helped me. Also, I would have surrounded myself with the correct people. I made a huge mistake with my agent choice when my agents split and learned about that business the hard way. I now work with the guy I should have been with because of his dedication and genuine caring about his clients. The person I stayed with was nowhere to be found when I needed him most. Now I vowed I would help educate and provide solid representation for those players going through the process as I have.

How difficult/easy is life as a minor leaguers?: Life as a Minor leaguer is difficult. The hardest part is always being away from home; away from family, friends and loved ones. You miss so much and sacrifice many things because of the life. I was very fortunate to have received a big signing bonus, which definitely helps during the season and mostly in the off season. Preparing for this life was something I did when I was young. I always wanted to play baseball and it was always in front of anything else in my life. That is the way it has to be for anyone to have a chance. Baseball has to trump all. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Minor League Baseball Teams Offering Unique Solar Eclipse Experiences

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida. — While lifelong memories are made at Minor League Baseball stadiums on a daily basis, 10 Minor League Baseball teams will play games scheduled in conjunction with Monday’s solar eclipse, creating a unique experience for fans, including what will be the first eclipse delay in professional baseball history.
The 10 teams playing home games that may be impacted in some manner by the eclipse are the Bowling Green Hot Rods, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Columbia Fireflies, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Greenville Drive, Lansing Lugnuts, Memphis Redbirds, Peoria Chiefs, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The Idaho Falls Chukars are on the “path of totality”, but do not play at home on Monday.

The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes will begin their game at 9:35 a.m. EST on Monday, stopping the game after the first inning to allow fans to experience the first solar eclipse delay in baseball history. The Salem area is the first city in the United States that will go completely dark on the path of totality.

“The total solar eclipse on Monday is a very unique event and while we want our fans, players and coaches to enjoy this rare experience, we also want to remind everyone to take the proper precautions to protect their eyesight,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “Several of our clubs have gone to great lengths to make this a memorable occasion and a lasting memory for those in attendance, but we cannot stress safety enough.”

For information on solar eclipse viewing safety, visit


About Minor League Baseball
Minor League Baseball, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, is the governing body for all professional baseball teams in the United States, Canada, and the Dominican Republic that are affiliated with Major League Baseball® clubs through their farm systems. Fans are coming out in unprecedented numbers to this one-of-a-kind experience that can only be found at Minor League Baseball ballparks. In 2016, Minor League Baseball attracted 41.3 million fans to its ballparks to see the future stars of the sport hone their skills. From the electricity in the stands to the excitement on the field, Minor League Baseball has provided affordable family-friendly entertainment to people of all ages since its founding in 1901. For more information, visit  
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Minor League Baseball’s Big Hitters Battle for Joe Bauman Home Run Award

For Immediate Release                                                                       August 15, 2017 

Minor League Baseball’s Big Hitters Battle for Joe Bauman Home Run Award Pair of Pacific Coast League sluggers leading the pack for annual home run crown 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With three weeks of play remaining in the 2017 Minor League Baseball season, two Pacific Coast League sluggers are leading a group battling for the annual Joe Bauman Home Run Award, presented by Musco Sports Lighting. The top regular season home run hitter in the domestic-based leagues wins the Joe Bauman Award, which is presented at the Baseball Winter Meetings, as well as a check representing $200 for each home run he hits. 

The award, first presented in 2002, is named for Joe Bauman, who set a then-professional record with 72 home runs in 1954 while playing for the Roswell Rockets of the Class-C Longhorn League. 

Nashville designated hitter Renato Nunez leads Minor League Baseball with 31 home runs, while Reno Aces first baseman Christian Walker is one behind with 30. Portland Sea Dogs third baseman Michael Chavis and Lehigh Valley first baseman Rhys Hoskins each have 29 home runs. Hoskins, who was promoted to Philadelphia on Aug. 10, was runner-up for the award in 2016. 

Nunez set a career-high with his 30th homer on Aug. 6, and has launched 54 long balls for the Sounds over the last two seasons. He homered in three consecutive games three times (May 1-3, May 18-20 and Aug. 4-6) in 2017 and homered twice on July 6 at Colorado Springs. Nunez, 23, was signed by Oakland as a free agent on Nov. 20, 2010, and is attempting to be the fifth consecutive player under the age of 24 to win the award, following Dylan Cozens (22) in 2016, A.J. Reed (22) in 2015, KrisBryant (22) in 2014, and Joey Gallo (19) in 2013. 

Walker, 26, has also set a career-high with his 30 homers, eclipsing his 26 homers between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk in 2014. Walker has homered in consecutive games three times in 2017, and has three multi-homer games (April 12, May 18 and Aug. 6). Walker, 26, was originally selected by Baltimore in the fourth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of South Carolina. 

Chavis began the year with Class-A Salem in the Carolina League where he hit 17 homers in 59 games prior to a June 23 promotion to Double-A Portland, where he has gone deep 12 times in 47 games for the Sea Dogs. Chavis, 22, was selected by Boston in the first round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia. 

Classification leaders, provided they are not the overall winner, receive a $500 cash award. Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) outfielder Christin Stewart leads the Double-A level with 25 home runs. Lake County Captains (Indians) first baseman Emmanuel Tapia leads the Class-A level with 25 home runs, while Great Falls Voyagers (White Sox) first baseman Austin Villa leads the Short Season-A and Rookie-level with 13 homers. 

Minor League Baseball will announce the 2017 Joe Bauman Home Run Award winner Sept. 5. The recipient will receive his trophy and monetary award Monday, Dec. 11, at the Baseball Winter Meetings Awards Luncheon in Orlando, Florida. 


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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Steve Stemle's Road to Major League Baseball

For as interesting as it is to see how a baseball player develops during their baseball career, discovering what vocation they steer towards after leaving the diamond can be downright fascinating. Although many former players continue on as scouts and coaches, there are others who spread their wings even wider, like former Kansas City Royals pitcher Steve Stemle.

A native of Indiana, the right-hander was a fifth-round draft selection of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 out of Western Kentucky University. He made an immediate splash in his professional debut, going 3-3 with a 1.83 ERA nine starts for New Jersey in the New York-Penn League.

Although he made steady progress through the minors, it took a little while for him to start posting numbers worthy of a highly-drafted prospect, culminating in his 12-6 mark and 3.88 ERA in 2002 while playing with the Cardinals’ Double and Triple-A affiliates.

In 2004, Stemle was converted to the bullpen where he found success pitching as a set-up man. He was granted free agency that off season and signed with the Royals. His 0.45 ERA in 14 Triple-A games convinced them to give the 28-year-old his first shot at the majors. He pitched three perfect innings in his major league debut against the Texas Rangers, and went on to a 5.06 ERA in six relief appearances, spanning 10.2 innings. Unfortunately, injuries kept him out of action for the second half of the season.

In 2006, Stemle was once again beset by injuries. He made five appearances for the Royals but gave up 15 hits and 10 earned runs in just six innings. Nerve pain proved too difficult to overcome and just like that his playing career was over at 29. Fortunately, he was able to experience the major leagues as a reward for all the hard work and positive results from his career.

Since retiring from the pitching mound, Stemle has remained close to the game but not in the same way as many of his peers. He is a youth coach and has developed the Lokator System, a high-tech electronic (phone app) system and pitching academy that allows young pitchers to have access to top-notch data about their results. As a result, his baseball career is still in full swing, just in a different way than he might have imagined when he was first drafted.

Steve Stemle Interview

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: I would have to say Ozzie Smith because of his defense and creativity all over the diamond.  I am a big fan of innovation and I feel like he recreated the art of playing shortstop.  

Can you describe your draft experience with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998- How did you find out you had been selected?
: I got the call on the house phone on a normal day when my parents were at work.  This was before the internet (man, I feel old) so there was no following along the draft or going anywhere to watch it.  We felt lucky to have ESPN!

What do you remember most about your major league debut?
: My debut outing ended up being my best so it was memorable on the field, but what was more memorable was the phone ringing in the bullpen and my number getting called.  I had pinpoint command in Triple-A before the call up and when I got on the bullpen mound to get loose before that first MLB outing I had the most adrenaline ever flowing.  I couldn't get the ball down at all in the bullpen; everything was shoulder-high on hitters.  My first 10 throws weren't even close but I told them I was ready.  Running into the game knowing I hadn't thrown any strikes in the bullpen had me focused on one thing; hit the catcher's glove and let the rest take care of itself.  I ended up throwing three perfect innings (the way I remember it) and having my best outing.  I still believe it was because I hit the catcher's target that day.

In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against? What made them stand out so much?
: (Derek) Jeter comes to mind right away.  He was such a complete player in every aspect of the game.  So much more goes into greatness than raw numbers even through he had all of those too.  I guess that's what made him so great. He had all the stats, Championships, MVP's, Gold Gloves, etc, but he was equally good in the intangibles category.

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?
: I get a big kick out of watching the kids I coach succeed, even more than something I did as a player.  It's probably a combination of moments when a pitcher I have guided walks off the mound after a successful outing.

You faced
Hank Blalock three times during your MLB career and fanned him all three times. Why do you think you had his number?: I honestly have no idea.  Hank and I played each other in the minors as well, so some of that could have carried over into MLB.  It was just the luck of the draw I guess.

If there is anything you could go back and do differently about your baseball career, what would that be?
: I'm not big on regretting anything; what's the past is over.  I feel like to be a good baseball player you have to let go of yesterday and concentrate on the here and now.  Baseball helped teach me that lesson in everyday life and those are some of the really important things I try to pass along to the kids.

What goes into the decision of retiring from playing?
: My body broke!  There is no decision making process when it's a struggle to live everyday life because of playing injuries.  Nerve pain in the spine is not a joke, and I think I've found a good routine of different activities to keep me up and moving.  Pain everyday from a playing career is a reality for MANY of the players who play minor or major league ball. 

What are you up to since retiring as a player?: I invented a pitching system called the Lokator System.  It started as a pitching target that had numbers for zones in a unique design.  Then I added an iOS app called Lokator Bullpen to teach pitch command, selection, sequencing, and give reports and rankings of individual pitcher's command statistics.  And recently I have finished work with the University of Louisville Computer Science to implement vision algorithms into Lokator's app.  Now pitchers will be able to use mobile phone cameras to record bullpen sessions with the Lokator Target, then get their velocity, trajectory, and location of all pitches stored in an online database.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Minor League Baseball Announces July Players of the Month

For Immediate Release by                                                                       August 7, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball today announced its July Player of the Month Award winners for all leagues. Each winner will receive an award from Minor League Baseball in recognition of the honor. 

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Yankees) outfielder Jake Cave led the International League in average (.390), hits (41), runs scored (25) and total bases (70). He also finished in the top five in homers, RBI, extra-base hits, slugging and on-base percentage. Cave hit safely in 24 of 26 July games and ended the month on a 15-game hitting streak. Cave, 24, was selected by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, Virginia. 

Las Vegas 51s (Mets) first baseman Dominic Smith led the Pacific Coast League in runs (28) and was second in extra-base hits (21), total bases (79), slugging (.725) and OPS (1.162). He was in the top five in RBI (26) and home runs (eight). Smith reached base safely in 24 of his 26 games in July and posted 16 multi-hit games. Smith, 22, was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Juniper Serra High School in Gardena, California. 

Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) outfielder Jeremy Barfield led the Eastern League in home runs (12), RBI (33), runs (26), extra-base hits (17), total bases (78), slugging (.709) and OPS (1.131), while finishing in the top five in hits (37), average (.336) and on-base percentage (.422). Barfield ended the month with a 10-game hitting streak and homered in four straight games (July 23-26). Barfield, 29, was originally selected by Oakland in the eighth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of San Jacinto College. 

Chattanooga Lookouts (Twins) first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez led the Southern League in average (.383), hits (44), extra-base hits (19), runs (28), total bases (75) and on-base percentage (.455), while tying for the league lead in doubles (13). He finished in the top five in homers (six), RBI (22), walks (17), slugging (.652) and OPS (1.107) and recorded 14 multi-hit games. Rodriguez, 27, was originally selected by St. Louis in the 17th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

Arkansas Travelers (Mariners) outfielder Kyle Waldrop batted .374 over 30 Texas League games and led the loop in hits (43), doubles (12) and total bases (61) while finishing in the top five in extra-base hits (14), on-base percentage (.409), slugging (.503) and OPS (.940). Waldrop posted 15 multi-hit games in July and recorded hits in 25 of his 30 games. Waldrop, 25, was originally selected by Cincinnati in the 12th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Riverdale High School in Fort Myers, Florida. 

Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) catcher Austin Allen led the California League in hits (46), homers (10), RBI (32), total bases (85) and slugging (.691), while finishing second in runs (27), extra-base hits (18) and OPS (1.089). Allen recorded 13 multi-hit games, a trio of four-hit games and his 32 RBI were the second-most in professional baseball in July. Allen, 23, was selected by the Padres in the fourth round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of the Florida Institute of Technology. 

Down East Wood Ducks (Rangers) center fielder Matt Lipka led the Carolina League in hits (38), RBI (23), extra-base hits (17) and total bases (67) and finished second in doubles (10), slugging (.593) and OPS (.982). His average (.336) and home runs (five) were good for third in the league. His 67 total bases were 14 more than any other player in the league. Lipka, 25, was originally selected by Atlanta in Compensation Round A of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of McKinney (Texas) High School. 

St. Lucie Mets first baseman Peter Alonso led the Florida State League in hits (39), runs (20), extra-base hits (15), total bases (70), home runs (eight) and RBI (26) while batting .336 over 29 games. Alonso had 13 multi-hit games in July and posted separate hitting streaks of seven and eight games. Alonso, 22, was selected by New York in the second round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Florida. 

Dayton Dragons (Reds) outfielder Jose Siri led the Midwest League in hits (43), home runs (10), slugging (.680), extra-base hits (19) and total bases (85). Siri hit safely in all 28 games in July as part of his Midwest League record 39-game hitting streak and posted 11 multi-hit games. His 85 total bases led the league by 22. Siri, 22, was signed by Cincinnati as a non-drafted free agent out of Sabana Grande de Boya, Dominican Republic, in 2013. 

Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles) left-hander Alex Wells went 3-0 and did not allow a run in five starts in July and led the South Atlantic League in WHIP (0.42) and average against (.124) as he allowed just 13 hits in 31.0 innings without walking a batter. Wells worked 6.0 innings or more in each start and did not allow more than four hits in any of his five outings. He has issued just two walks over his last 12 starts through July. Wells, 20, was signed by Baltimore as a non-drafted free agent out of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. 

Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles) catcher Ben Breazeale led the New York-Penn League in hitting (.390), hits (39), total bases (55), doubles (10), RBI (23) and on-base percentage (.462). He finished second in extra-base hits (12), slugging (.550) and OPS (1.012). Breazeale, 22, was selected in the seventh round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of Wake Forest University. 

Everett AquaSox (Mariners) infielder Eugene Helder led the Northwest League in average (.374), hits (40) and runs (23) while finishing in the top five in total bases (56), triples (four), RBI (22), on-base percentage (.434), slugging (.523) and OPS (958). Helder drew 12 walks while striking out just 11 times. Helder, 21, was signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent out of Oranjestad, Aruba, in 2014. 

Bluefield Blue Jays first baseman Ryan Noda led the Appalachian League in hitting (.444), runs (32), walks (29), on-base percentage (.580), slugging (.689), and OPS (1.269). He finished second in the league in hits (40) and third in extra-base hits (14) and total bases (62). Noda, 21, was selected by Toronto in the 15th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Cincinnati. 

 Ogden Raptors (Dodgers) outfielder Starling Heredia led the Pioneer Baseball League in average (.427), doubles (11), slugging (.732) and OPS (1.221) while finishing second in extra-base hits (16) and total bases (60). His 35 hits and .489 on-base percentage were good for third in the league. Heredia, 18, was signed as a non-drafted free agent by Los Angeles in 2016 out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 

Gulf Coast Blue Jays center fielder Dominic Abbadessa led the Gulf Coast League in average (.417) and hits (35), was second in runs (21), on-base percentage (.457) and OPS (.968). Abbadessa recorded 12 multi-hit games in July and led the Blue Jays to an 18-8 record in the month. Abbadessa, 19, was selected by Toronto in the 23rd round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Huntington Beach (California) High School. 

Arizona League Padres infielder Esteury Ruiz led the Arizona League in hits (32), extra-base hits (17), total bases (58) and triples (five). He was in the top five in slugging (.624), runs (four) and doubles (10). Ruiz, 18, was originally signed by Kansas City as a non-drafted free agent in 2016 out of Azua, Dominican Republic. He was traded to the Padres on July 24, 2017 as part of a six-player trade. 

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Boston Red Sox's Nearly Disastrous Bank-Breaking Offer for 1950s Pitching Star

Despite there never being any sure thing, baseball teams are increasingly willing to go to the ends of the earth and to the bottom of their bank accounts to address deficiencies on their rosters. In particular, pitching is a commodity that has been as hotly contested as any other since nations competed for black pepper and saffron along the Silk Road. The Boston Red Sox once made a major play for the best young pitcher in the game with a shockingly large offer that was even more surprisingly refused. However, just weeks later, it turned out that the rejection was fortunate for the team as the hurler suffered a freak accident that derailed a career that appeared destined to end in enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

In the winter of 1957, the Red Sox knew that time was running out on the career of their legendary outfielder, Ted Williams, who was 38 and could see retirement around the corner. For years the team vacillated between mediocre and good but were never able to take the final leap. This was in part because of the dominance of their rival, the New York Yankees, and the team’s inability to find an ace to lead what was typically a pretty uninspiring pitching staff.

At the same time, left-handed pitcher Herb Score was on top of the world. Just 23, he was coming off his first two seasons in the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians. During that span, he was a combined 36-19 and a 2.68 ERA. He also led the American League in strikeouts both years, including a rookie-record 245 in 1955.

Although it was highly likely that Score was considered untouchable, the Red Sox were owned by Tom Yawkey, who was willing to spend gobs of his vast fortune on players to improve the team. With a nothing ventured, nothing gained mentality, he went for it during spring training of 1957, offering Cleveland general manager Hank Greenberg a cool one million dollars for the southpaw, which shocked the baseball world.

“The offer was made to me today by Tom Yawkey and Joe Cronin, said Greenberg. “It was a valid cash offer but I was forced to turn it down.” He went on to say that while he gave real consideration to accepting the proposal, he ultimate didn’t feel that he could do it because Score “may become the greatest pitcher in the game’s history.” It was believed to be by far the most ever offered for one player at the time, showing just how great Score’s potential was believed to be.

If things had gone as planned, Yawkey’s offer for Score may have been a fair one. Unfortunately, just two months after the blockbuster sale proposal went public, the pitcher suffered one of the worst injuries a player has ever seen on a major league diamond.

Score cruised through his first four starts of 1957, posting a 2.07 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. On May 7th, he faced off against the mighty Yankees, and saw disaster strike in the first inning. After retiring the first batter, shortstop Gil McDougald smashed a liner back through the box that connected squarely with Score’s eye. In addition to injuring the eye, it broke a number of bones in his face. Just like that, Score’s season was over. McDougald reportedly vowed to retire if the pitcher lost his sight. Fortunately, he later regained full vision after a lengthy recovery.

He returned in 1958 but was not the same. He lasted through the 1962 season with Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox but never came close to discovering his former dominance. A series of arms issues, along with reportedly changing his pitching motion to avoid possible comebackers in the future were all believed to have contributed to his downfall. After the injury, he was a combined 19-27 with a 4.20 ERA. Done playing before he was 30, he did persevere to become an acclaimed broadcaster for over 30 years—culminating in his induction in the Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame.

The way Score’s playing career was a tragedy that reverberated through the game and is still remembered widely in baseball circles.  Although they could have never guessed it at the time, the Red Sox dodged a major financial catastrophe when their massive offer for a pitching phenom was rejected  because of how valued he was as a player. 

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Taking Stock Of The Unheralded Portion of the Boston Red Sox's Farm System

With a bevy of recent trades and the call-ups of top prospects Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers this year, the once-mighty farm system of the Boston Red Sox has certainly been depleted from previous levels. However, the system is not entirely bereft of talent. Let’s take a look at some of the young players still seasoning in the minors who are showing the organization that they might have a bright future with the big league club given what they are accomplishing this year.


Outfielder Rusney Castillo: The ship has almost certainly sailed on the Cuban right-handed hitter from being a star. However, it wasn’t that long ago that it seemed he might never contribute again as he was removed from the 40-man roster this past offseason. Instead, the 29-year-old has turned in an All-Star season, hitting .313 with 12 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 76 games. He hardly ever walks (10), but rarely strikes out (45) either. He’s a nice, if exorbitant luxury, to have in the event of an injury in Boston.

Pitcher Jalen Beeks: The 23-year-old left-hander was a 1th-round selection of the team in 2014. He has stealthily rocketed through the system, splitting 2017 between Double-A and Triple-A, combining for a 9-5 record, 2.19 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 111.1 innings. At 5’11” and with a fastball that tops out in the low 90s, he is not the prototypical pitching prospect. However, he just seems to get results. Don’t be surprised to see him called up, in either a starting or relief role, at some point before the end of the year.

Third Baseman Michael Chavis: The former first-round pick looked like a possible bust after three sub-par years to start his professional career. However, he is still just 21 and is putting up a monster season in 2017. In 91 games between High-A and Double-A, he is hitting .310 with 27 home runs and 81 RBIs. Regarded as a strong hitter, he is showing even more power than originally thought, and has dramatically cut down on his strikeouts as he has progressed through the minors. Obviously, he has Devers blocking him at third but if he keeps up hitting the way he has been there will be a spot for him somewhere before long.


Catcher Roldani Baldwin: The right-handed hitter was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 and has come along slowly but seems to be putting it all together in 2017. He has hit a little at all of his stops but is really putting it together this year with Class-A Greenville at the age of 21. Appearing in 75 games, he has hit .295 with 29 doubles, 12 home runs and 54 RBIs. He doesn’t walk much (just 12 times thus far) but that may come with more experience. Originally a third baseman, he is behind the plate full time this year and is acquitting himself decently, having caught 32 percent of attempted base stealers.

Outfielder Tyler Hill: Playing in his first year of full-season ball, the 21-year-old is breaking out in a major way, hitting .267 with six home runs, 50 RBI and 32 stolen bases in 97 games. The 2014 19th-round pick is a right-handed hitter is seen as having a ways to go defensively, but his showing on offense gives reason to believe he is a player to watch.

Pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez: Although he is in his fourth year with the organization, the lefty is still just 20 and just starting to come into his own. He is still being handled with kid gloves, as evidenced by the 72 innings he has been permitted to throw in his 17 starts. However, he has made them most of them, posting a 4.38 ERA and striking out 80 batters. He still walks too many, suggesting a need to work on his command and control, but with a fastball and curve that have the potential of above average offerings, he could develop into one of the next big-time prospects for Boston.

Pitcher Bryan Mata: A totally raw prospect, nevertheless, the right-hander is pitching in Single-A at the age of 18, which is no small feat. He has more than held his own, with a 3.46 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 52 innings. With a frame that resembles a broom, the possibility he could fill out and enhance what is already an intriguing skill set should not be ignored.

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