While it will surely change before the first pitch, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have released a preliminary 2012 Roster.
Monthly Archives: March 2012
“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra
My older son plays baseball as his “full-time” sport. He plays in a fall league and a spring/summer league and does some indoor training over the winter. Several years ago, on a nice early April afternoon, we went out to a local park to get some batting practice. I had a bucket with about 25 baseballs. I threw him 25 pitches and he missed every single one. It was early in the season, but he was suitably upset. I reassured him, picked up the balls and pitched 25 more. Yes, some of them might have been bad pitches, and he fouled one off, but he didn’t hit. By the fiftieth pitch, he was livid. I knew it was probably pointless to continue, but I wanted to teach him a lesson, and I didn’t want him to go home with fifty straight strikes. Plus, I knew he would never hit with his mind so far off. What could I do to get him to refocus?
I told him I’d pitch one more bucket, and that I’d pay him $1 for each ball he hit into fair territory or even hard into foul territory (no drag bunting!). Guess how many he hit?
Yup. All 25. That spring batting practice cost me $25, but now I can always bring that up when his frustration level is impeding his progress and standing in the way of success. Even if it’s not about baseball. Over the years, it’s been worth every penny.
Domonic Brown was drafted by the Phillies in the 20th round of the 2006 draft. A “toolsy” outfielder, he also considered playing college football as a wide receiver, but ultimately signed with the Phillies for $200,000.00.
He progressed through the system quickly, playing in the Gulf Coast League in 2006, Williamsport in 2007, and Lakewood in 2008. By 2009 a .903 OPS had him promoted from Clearwater to Reading. In 2010 a .602 SLG had him promoted to the IronPigs, where he continued to rake. He made his Major League debut, played reasonably well, and was the number one prospect in all of baseball by the end of the season.
But, perhaps, that .210 average in his first 35 MLB games got to him. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as easy as it had once been for him. Perhaps not playing every day had some effect. Maybe he started to hear the whispers: “He holds the bat too high.” “He takes poor routes to the ball in the outfield.” And you know, being the number one prospect isn’t necessarily easy. Just ask Pedro Alvarez or Mike Trout.
He went to the Dominican League at the conclusion of the 2010 season. He hit just .069 in nine games. The Phillies–it has been reported–asked him to come home for fear frustration or injury could impede the progress of their top prospect. They tried to change his batting stance, lower his hands a bit. Spring training 2011 was difficult. All eyes were on the young gun, hoping he’d seize the right field job left open with the departure of Jayson Werth. Brown’s struggles continued, culminating with a broken bone in his right hand on his first spring training hit after many hitless games. He was something like 0-for-9 with two walks, one run, and six strikeouts prior to the one hit which prompted the hamate bone surgery.
“How can you hit and think at the same time?” – Yogi Berra
Following surgery, and a “warm up” with Clearwater, Brown was again here in the Lehigh Valley with our IronPigs. He picked up right where he left off. He went back to his original batting stance and even continued a hitting streak which extended back to the previous summer. When Shane Victorino suffered his annual mid-season injury, the Phillies had no choice but to get their top prospect back to The Show. A .245 average wasn’t horrible following the call up. However, Victorino was getting healthy, and the Phillies were trying to catch the Braves and traded for Hunter Pence to fill the right field spot. With the knowledge of Raul Ibanez’ advancing age, the Phillies asked Brown to go back to the ‘Pigs to work on left field.
Then the wheels came off. Brown’s second tour with the ‘Pigs was not good. He was optioned to the ‘Pigs on July 30. He was in the lineup that night hitting fourth, batting .341 from his previous stint. By August 29, his average had dipped to .265. He started in left field that night and went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. He committed one registered error and misplayed two other balls, was booed, and ultimately pulled from the game. (side note: batting fifth that night for Syracuse was Tug Hulett, playing 1B. Could he fill that Rizzotti spot, now?)
After that horrible evening, Brown’s appearances for the IronPigs last September went like this:
9/4/11 pinch hit BB
9/8/11 DH, 0-for-3, 1K
9/10/11 DH, 0-for-4, 2K
9/13/11 DH, 1-for-4
9/14/11 DH, 0-for-4, 1K
9/15/11 DH 0-for-3, 1BB, 2K
So what happened after he returned from the Phillies? What happened in the Dominican League? What happened there at the beginning of spring training 2011? Was it his stance? The blogosphere went wild. There was conjecture about his vision, his attitude, his skills. It seemed many (and I’m talking about Phillies fans) were happy about his struggles. It’s my opinion that the “90%” of his game was just “off.”
This spring, Brown has been hitting well. And for that reason, we can say that his vision is fine. He hit the ball well in MLB camp, and has been crushing it since being sent to MiLB camp. However, his fielding in left field has been somewhat of an “adventure.” He’s made some bad breaks on the ball, and jammed his hand diving for a catch. His neck hurt after one of the longer Florida bus rides. And now, he has a sore throat.
So, in any case, he’s ours. He’ll be our starting left fielder every day barring injury. We’ll have a front row seat for fielding adventures and batting struggles. Or, if he comes out to prove everyone wrong, our team will be the beneficiaries of his talent at the bat and his arm in left field. But please note: I cannot afford to pay a dollar for each hit. And, Philly might need bats. If he does really well, he won’t be here long.
I implore you, though: Don’t boo him. It won’t help 90% of his game, and besides, this isn’t Philadelphia. If he’s doing something wrong, or not trying hard enough, he has a Hall of Fame manager who can point him in the right direction. I was embarrassed on that August night last year. I really want The Coke to be a place where we support our team—cheer their success and feel their failure. Save your boos for the umpires.
Last night at the 2nd Annual Morning Call My Choice Voice Best Blogs of the Lehigh Valley blog contest, the Noise Nation’s Horn & Bell blog won Best Sports Blog!
This is our second award from the Morning Call in as many years and I want to express my thanks to them for organizing this fine event.
The event, held last night at Allentown’s Symphony Hall, started at 7:00pm and featured the elite of Lehigh Valley blogging.
I also must thank Decal, Dipro and Kram for their efforts in keeping this blog running with all their hard work, research and field trips.
And I must thank you for reading and voting for us! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Many friends to the Noise Nation Blog also won!
The Corner Seat won Best Misfits Blog!
The Matt Metal Blog won Best Music Blog!
Lehigh Valley With Love won Best News Blog!
Save the Kales won Best Food Blog and Best Overall Blog in the Lehigh Valley!
(I did thank Jaime, who writes “Save the Kales”, for her support and noted that it’s actually spelled “Kehl’s”)
Congrats to all winners and to all who came out last night. It was great getting together with our growing blog community and a good fun time.
Overall Blog Voting Results:
Per Matt Gelb (@Magelb) on Twitter:
“Matt Rizzotti was traded to Minnesota for cash considerations.”
Bummer, I like him. Good luck Matt!
Some transactions for today:
The White Sox Released Delwyn Young
The White Sox also received former Phillie prospect Greg Golson from the Royals for cash considerations. Might see him back at CCP this summer.
The Phillies received SS Chin-Lung Hu from the Reds for cash but reports show (Matt Gelb via Twitter) that Hu failed his physical. Adds a big question mark at shortstop for the IronPigs if Galvis starts up with the Phillies. The The Hog Blog noted that the Phillies signed Utility man Joe Thurston and I could imagine he might be our shortstop.
The Dodgers released former IronPig Cedric Bowers.
The Phillies released:
RHP Paul Cusick
RHP Rye Davis
RHP Ian Durham
RHP Juary Gomez
RHP Chase Johnson
LHP Rob Cooper
LHP Fabian Cota
LHP Jack Van Leur
1B Mike Marshall
3B Geancarlo Mendez
OF Luis Unda
A lot of transactions going on this week and expect more next week. Those last minute signings after players are released during spring training!
Source – Baseball America
The big team made another roster move today optioning Erik Kratz (C) to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. I’m sure Erik wanted to back-up the Phils and he’s liable to get that chance again this year. Regardless, we’re glad to have last year’s AAA All-Star “backstop” returning.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA SF Giants) led by IronPigs President Chuck Domino (who also happens to be the Squirrels Chief Executive Manager) are doing just that by patterning their new stadium experience after that of Coca-Cola Park. Mr. Domino certainly has the track-record to pull the whole thing off. Providing of course he can garner the same first-class staff the IronPigs have. It shouldn’t be too difficult – after all – Virginia is For Lovers!
Good luck Chuck and perhaps one day we’ll bring the Noise Nation bus on down to Squirreltown!
Proposed Richmond Flying Squirrels stadium modeled after Pa. ballpark
The stadium that the Richmond Flying Squirrels want to build on North Boulevard has been game-tested in Allentown, Pa., and it appears to be a winner.
The Lehigh Valley Ironpigs have drawn more than 2.5 million fans to Coca-Cola Park since its opening in 2008, setting attendance records for all of Minor League Baseball for the past two seasons.
Allentown, with the fourth-smallest market in Triple-A baseball, hadn’t had a professionally affiliated baseball team for almost 50 years until the Ironpigs came to town the same year that the Richmond Braves played their last game at The Diamond.
“The new stadium and new team have improved our quality-of-life quotient by about 300 percent,” said T. Anthony Ianelli, president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It’s had a phenomenal impact on the community.”
Coca-Cola Park is the model for the unnamed stadium that the Flying Squirrels are pitching to people in the Richmond area through a conceptual rendering of a ballpark where no one loses sight of the game on the field.
“It has the kind of design feel we’re going for — a lot of openness,” said Todd Parnell, chief operating officer for the Squirrels, a San Francisco Giants affiliate in the Double-A Eastern League.
Squirrels Chief Executive Manager Chuck Domino also is the president of the Ironpigs, a Philadelphia Phillies affiliate in the Triple-A International League.
“It’s hard to say the ballpark brings people here,” Domino said. “It’s the experience people have at the ballpark.”
In Allentown, the experience has been positive, said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “You would think you are looking at a high-definition TV,” he said of the view of the game from throughout the park. Pawlowski thinks the stadium would have had a greater economic benefit if it had been in the heart of the city instead of the outskirts — similar to the debate over where to play ball in Richmond. In fact, Allentown is building a $150 million arena complex downtown for the Philadelphia Flyers minor league hockey franchise.
But the mayor is happy with the experience the Ironpigs give fans at Coca-Cola Park, much as fans have warmed to the Squirrels in their first two seasons at The Diamond.
“They’ve done a really good job in giving us a product that is really attractive to families,” Pawlowski said.
While the experience is similar to what the Squirrels plan at the proposed ballpark, the stadiums wouldn’t look exactly the same.
The brick façade of the proposed stadium along North Boulevard has a similar look to Oriole Park at Baltimore’s Camden Yards, which set the standard for new stadiums with an old-time feel when it opened 20 years ago.
“Everybody felt Richmond would be Richmond brick,” Domino said.
Not coincidentally, Populous, the Kansas City, Mo.-based company that is designing the Squirrels’ proposed nest, is a spinoff of HOK Group, which designed the Orioles’ stadium.
The design compresses the two levels of seating at The Diamond into one level of 6,000 seats close to the field and down from the street level instead of up.
Unlike The Diamond, the Squirrels’ stadium would put spectators all the way around the field — along a grass berm where people can pitch their blankets beyond the outfield; in a picnic area in the right-field corner, where a circular bar also would be perched on the outfield wall; and along an open-air concourse where people could buy a hot dog and still see the field.
Together, these features would add about 3,000 seats to the ballpark, while increasing the number of suites from 15 to 20 and doubling the number of concession stands from 25 to 50. The design is meant to be easier for fans, including people with physical disabilities.
The stadium also is designed to be wired — from a scoreboard that would be capable of showing instant replays, videos or live shots around the ballpark, to the television sets that would show the games throughout the concourse.
“The game will never leave you,” Parnell said.
For the players, including those on Virginia Commonwealth University’s baseball squad, the design includes extensive locker room and training facilities beneath the concourse.
The design is based on a $50 million stadium, which is about what Lehigh Valley paid for Coca-Cola Park four years ago with a combination of funding from Lehigh County, the Ironpigs and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“I happen to believe it is worth the investment,” said Ianelli, who said the stadium has brought “a little bit of swagger” to Lehigh Valley.
“I hate to be a typical Chamber of Commerce Pollyanna guy,” he said, “but everything they said they’d deliver they’ve delivered.”
OiNk LY 9 More Days!