Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies (National League)
Great American Ballpark-Cincinnati, OH: We’re used to taking my dad to a ballgame for his birthday up in Michigan, but since we’re down here now, we decided to invite him down here for a game (or two, or three). We’re also used to some crummy weather up there, so a little cold and rain certainly didn’t keep us from the ballpark down here. This was his first game in Cincy, also, so it was a special day. Lucky for us the usher we met was also a Tiger fan, so he took good care of us. He was nice enough to take a photo of us together, as well as get my dad a certificate for his birthday and first Reds game.
There wasn’t much of a crowd, but we enjoyed our seats in the front row of the upper level. There was a little rain, but we donned our ponchos and kept dry. There wasn’t much of a crowd, so we could pretty much sit where we wanted. After a few innings on the upper level, we moved below to enjoy the rest of the game from there.
Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (National League)
Great American Ballpark-Cincinnati, OH: What a day for fans of Pete Rose! And what a weekend, for that matter. We were lucky enough to be in attendance when the Reds retired Pete Rose’s #14 on Sunday. It was a hot day, but worth to be in the presence of some of the greatest players in history, including Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Barry Larkin. His induction into the Reds Hall of Fame, and his jersey retirement were a long time coming, so the crowd was pretty hot for Pete, also. Rose gave a great speech, and was very humble, and thankful to his teammates, manager Sparky Anderson, and especially to the fans. Here is the video I took of his speech:
Here are some more photos of the ceremony. The Hit King looks calm and cool as always, even in the 95 degree heat! I like the one where he’s about to give Bench a good bro-hug!
After the ceremony, the game got underway. It was a good one for Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani. He pitched eight scoreless innings, while scattering only five hits, and struck out five. DeSclafani even knocked in a run to help his own cause! Closer Tony Cingrani came into the game to close the door, and ensure Cincinnati’s first shut-out of the season.
The Reds were led offensively by Jose Peraza, who went 2-4 with a run scored and a stolen base. Catcher Tucker Barnhart pitched in as well, going 2-3 with a walk and an RBI double. Jay Bruce also added a solo home run in the win. FINAL: Reds 3, Padres 0.
Despite the heat, it was a fun day at Great American Ballpark. I’m glad I was there to witness Charlie Hustle’s jersey retirement, and a rare Reds win. I was only able to score tix for the upper level to this game, but made sure my buddy and I were in the first row, so I was able to get some decent photos. On my way home, I went up and down the dial, but just couldn’t find WKRP on the radio…
Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals (National League)
Great American Ballpark-Cincinnati, OH: I have a new best friend, and it’s name is Seat Geek. It’s nice to live in an area where you don’t have to make plans too far out, as there are many places to catch a ballgame, and some days you have choices. When I woke up early Sunday morning, I checked out my app, and found fourth row tickets to the Cincinnati Reds game for only $9 each. I know the Reds aren’t exactly having the best season, but this was still a good deal in my mind, since it’s a ballpark we’ve never been to before. It was a day game, so God forgive me, we missed church, and drove just over an hour to Newport, KY. Now, Newport is a nice little town right on the Ohio River right across from Cincy, and after lunch were able to take a boat shuttle across the river to the game. It was pretty awesome, and only $5 a person. It’s better than paying and dealing with a parking garage, anyway.
A quick video:
The Great American Ballpark is a beautiful stadium, and it has a great baseball atmosphere. We were able to poke around a bit before the game, as there is lots to see once inside. Brian liked the play area, and especially the little fan ball field that he was able to play on.
We made it to our seats, and I was more than happy with our view! These are the kind of seats I’m used to at the Minor League venues. The boys were pretty much in ‘awe’, as this is the biggest stadium that they have ever been to.
Brian has a new best friend, too, and his name is Eugenio Suarez. When he was in the Detroit system, we saw him play as a member of the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps, and Brian just happened to be wearing a ‘Caps shirt. Suarez noticed it (I’m guessing, really, don’t know for sure, but..) he looked at Brian and threw him a game ball. Not bad, kid, a ball at your first MLB game!
Oh, yeah, and all this time, there was a ballgame going on, too. The Reds actually jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the 2nd inning. Pitcher Jon Moscot couldn’t hold the lead for his team, however, as the Nationals got all over him in the fourth inning scoring five, then the Nats scored five more over the next two innings. Moscot got the hook, but Daniel Wright didn’t do much better, giving up three runs in 1.1 innings and he ended up taking the loss.
The Reds really made a comeback, however, scoring three runs in the seventh and one in the ninth to cut the lead to one. Tyler Holt lead the way offensively, going 3-5 with two RBI’s. Jay Bruce chipping in, going 1-3 with two RBI’s and two runs scored, while Brandon Phillips added three hits and an RBI. FINAL: Reds 9, Nationals 10.
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
I’ve really enjoyed watching the Detroit Tigers’ pre-season games so far during Spring Training. I especially like seeing the former West Michigan Whitecaps players wearing the ‘D’, and hanging with the big boys in major league camp. Nick Castellanos is hitting the ball very well, and proving so far he’ll fit nicely into the hot corner at Comerica. It’s fun to watch Casey Crosby on the mound, trying to get back to that form that made him a top prospect, and the likes of Hernan Perez, Eugenio Suarez, and Devon Travis patrolling the infield. There is always that one player, however, that really stands out, and this season that guy seems to be outfielder Steven Moya. The 22-year-old started out on a tear this spring, going 2-4 with a double, a triple, and four RBI’s against Florida Southern College in the Tigers’ exhibition game. He recently followed that up with another impressive performance against the St. Louis Cardinals, being a home run away from hitting for the cycle, and knocking in another four RBI’s. So far in Grapefruit League play, he’s batting .412, with two doubles, a triple, and five RBI’s (stats against FSC don’t count). Moya was added to the Tigers 40-man roster in December, but despite his play, few think he’ll make the Tigers’ roster out of spring training.
“I like what I see, but he’s young,” manager Brad Ausmus told Chris Iott of MLive.com. “He’s inexperienced, really. He’s had some freak injuries that he missed some time with. I definitely like him. He still needs some time in the oven. He’s swung the bat well from day one. He really hasn’t let up at all offensively.”
Moya played for the Whitecaps during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In 2011 he struggled a bit, hitting .204, with 10 doubles, and 39 RBI’s. He improved drastically in 2012, hitting .288, with 14 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, and 47 RBI’s in only 59 games before being injured. He also played in the 2012 Midwest League All-Star Game, going 1-2 with two runs scored, and three RBI’s on a bases-loaded triple. We should have a good chance to see Moya play this season if he stays in the minors, as we’ll be making stops in both Toledo and Erie form some games this June. All the best to him the rest of the spring, and for the 2014 season.
UPDATE: Moya has been optioned to Double-A Erie SeaWolves. The Tigers also cut five other players on Friday, bring the number of players in major league camp to 40. Moya’s final big league camp numbers are a .333 average, with five doubles, and one triple in 21 at-bats.
“You can make an argument he was the MVP of camp. The problem is that he was in A-ball and he really just needs to play. He needs experience,” Ausmus stated to MLive.com. “We certainly have a high ceiling for him. But asking a guys with 90 games in A-ball to go to the big leagues is an enormous jump. So, the best thing for Steven Moya is to play.”
Photo courtesy of MLive.com/Grand Rapids Press
The West Michigan Whitecaps are celebrating their 20th season, and along with that allowed the fans to vote for their all-time favorite players. There have been more than 600 optomistic young men that have taken the field for the Whitecaps, with 102 of them breaking into the big leagues. The players were voted for by position in an on-line ballot, and here are the 14 that made the cut.
Manager-Tom Brookens (2007)
Catcher-Brandon Inge (1999)
First Base-Robert Fick (1997)
Second Base-Scott Sizemore (2007)
Shortstop-Brent Dlugach (2005)
Third Base-Nick Castellanos (2011)
Outfield-Matt Joyce (2006), Cameron Maybin (2006), Avisail Garcia (2009-10)
Designated Hitter-Eric Munson (1999)
Relief Pitcher-Francisco Cordero (1997), Ed Clelland (2005, 2007)
You can read the full story HERE on the Whitecaps website. Of all the winners, only Castellanos and Clelland have not played in the Major Leagues. The results are not that surprising, though, knowing the popularity of some of these guys in West Michigan. One of the few positions I voted different was Eugenio Suarez (2012) at shortstop.
Promo photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps
The West Michigan Whitecaps are competing in their 20th season in the Midwest League. To celebrate this event, the team is having the fans vote on the best players they’ve seen in each position for the last two decades. Even three managers are up for the vote, in Bruce Fields, Matt Walbeck, and Tom Brookens. All three won the Midwest League Championship in West Michigan. Catchers such as Brandon Inge, current Tiger Alex Avila, and Miami Marlin Rob Brantley are all up for the best behind the plate. At first base, I think that Robert Fick has the inside edge. He was voted into the first Whitecaps Hall of Fame, and has the honor of hitting the last home run in Tiger Stadium. That’s just my vote, though. Second base is my favorite position, so I’ve followed the players there pretty closely. It will be tough for me to choose only one of my favorites such as Scott Sizemore, Justin Henry, and Brandon Douglas. At short stop, in my opinion, the vote might come down to current Tiger Ramon Santiago, or last’s years MiLB Gold Glove winner Eugenio Suarez, which is a tough call. At the hot corner, top prospect Nick Castellanos may be the favorite despite being moved to the outfield last season with Lakeland and Erie. He may get a push from guys like Wade Gaynor and Wilkin Ramirez, though. Fans are allowed three choices for outfielders, and there are plenty. While players like Matt Joyce, Cameron Maybin, Cody Ross, and Brent Clevlen have all seen action at the MLB level, Gorkys Hernandez had a great season in West Michigan in 2007. He was also named the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year that year. Fans are also allowed to vote for three pitchers. Players like Andy Van Hekken, Casey Crosby, Duane Below, and Joel Zumaya all found success on the hill in West Michigan. Rounding out the relief pitchers, fans can vote for two, including Michael Torrealba and Anthony Claggett. This is another great way the Whitecaps are celebrating so much success the last 20 years. VOTE NOW!
Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps
Being a non-roster invitee to major league spring training, is like being in high school, and getting a birthday party invite from the prettiest girl in school. For six former members of the West Michigan Whitecaps, being invited to the Detroit Tigers camp must seem pretty sweet. The Tigers have 17 non-roster invites in all.
Of all the invitees, utility man Don Kelly has the most experience at the big league level. He recently re-signed with the Tigers, after being told after the World Series that there would not be room for him on this years roster. Kelly played for the Whitecaps back in 2002, batting .286. He had 21 doubles and 59 RBI’s, plus an impressive .728 OBS. Kelly only hit .186 at the major league level last season, but due to his versatility and experience he may have a chance to crack the roster. An obstacle in his way, though, is that the Tigers are looking for a right-handed hitter to platoon with Dirks in left field, and Kelly is a lefty.
Top prospect Nick Castellanos (pictured above with Lily) will be at the Tigers camp, also. He did his time in West Michigan in 2011, when he was just 19 years old. After a slow start, he really had a solid season, hitting .312, with seven home runs and 76 RBI’s. He patrolled third base at Fifth Third Ballpark, but was moved to the outfield last season, after Miguel Cabrera took over the hot corner in Detroit. Castellanos made 23 errors at third for the ‘Caps, and ended the year with a .917 fielding percentage. With his defense not being his strongest asset, the move could be good for him, but he just needs time to develop those skills, so I doubt that he’ll be making an appearance at Comerica this season. Be patient, though, his time will come. Castellanos was the Tigers Minor League Players of the Year in 2011, also.
Two of the three catcher invited to camp played for the Whitecaps, too. James McCann was the Tigers’ second round pick in 2011 after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Arkansas. He played nine games for the Whitecaps in 2011 also, hitting only .059, with two singles and one double. He only made one error, though, and threw out 4 runners out of 19 attempting to steal. Curt Casali was also drafted by the Tigers in 2011, after playing his college ball at Vanderbilt University. He played parts of two seasons in West Michigan, 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he played 25 games hitting .227, with two home runs and 14 RBI’s. He only made one error behind the plate, and threw out seven base runners. In 2012, his average increased to .288, with 12 doubles, eight home runs, and 25 RBI’s. He only allowed on passed ball, and threw out 20 potential base stealers. In my opinion, the Tigers are still a little weak at catcher, so if either of these guys has their bat catch fire, they have an outside chance of making the roster.
Kenny Faulk pitched for the Whitecaps back in 2010. His record was 5-4 with an impressive 2.16 ERA. He made 12 saves, giving up no home runs, and striking out 78. His ERA inflated last season at the Double-A level, so he’ll need to bring that down a bit before getting consideration. I’d have to gauge his fast ball, and see his secondary pitches before making an informed opinion on his chances to make the team, though. I look forward to seeing him in spring training, and hope he can earn a spot.
Another weakness in Detroit is at the short stop position. Last season, though, the Whitecaps’ Eugenio Suarez won the Golden Glove as the best short stop in the minor leagues. He played 119 games at short, and 15 at second base, so he does have versatility at middle infield. He had a .971 fielding percentage, with 257 put-outs and 349 assists at short. He had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at second. At the plate, Suarez hit a very respectable .288, with 34 doubles, had 64 RBI’s, and stole 21 bases. Keep in mind, these are all in 2012 at the Single-A level. He’ll still need a few more seasons to develop, but the Tigers I’m sure are very happy with the way he’s progressing, and I’m confident he’ll be scooping ’em up at Comerica in no time. Just not this year.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball