Monday, July 18, 2016

Grape Jelly Series Views and Notes

Did I see you this weekend? I feel like I saw everyone at one point or another. It was a very busy series and I enjoyed getting to see some of my fave folks and got to meet great new ones!

The Biscuits scooped up the Grape Jelly Series by taking the first three games fairly handily before dropping Sundays affair. The Skitz have been heating up and playing well, giving themselves a chance to win nearly every day. Be sure to come out and watch the team as it comes together, and don't leave early!

Taylor Guerrieri pitched seven strong innings and Mike Marjama's four hit night drove the Skitz to victory in the opening contest.

Tommy Coyle added two hits, a double and a triple, earning him two RBI's.

Catcher Mike Marjama
 The Biscuits opened up with both barrels on the Smokies, who were sending in position players to pitch by the end of the night.

Mike Marjama led the charge again, contributing three hits and three runs batted in. Braxton Lee also had three knocks as the team piled up a dozen Biscuit runs, winning 12-0.

SP Chih-Wei Hu
Chih-Wei Hu was the lucky recipient of the offensive outburst, allowing just two hits in his five innings.

Reliable relievers Steve Ascher and Jared Mortensen combined for four scoreless innings to complete the shutout.

Mgr Brady Williams

 Saturday afternoon I had the chance to take batting practice on the field with the Biscuits coaching staff, a brand new perk offered to season ticket holders.

It was very fun, a great experience. I managed a couple would-be base hits to left field and a solid double over the third base bag. It certainly reminded me just how hard it is to use a round bat to hit a round ball squarely.

Manager Brady Williams was my BP pitcher, he made sure to buzz me up and inside! haha

Later in the evening Jake Bauers provided a walkoff home run in the bottom of the tenth inning to send the team to victory and spark massive postgame fireworks.
Jake Bauers blasts a walk-off homer on Saturday Night

The series wraps up with game five on Monday. It is a day game at noon, bring the sunscreen!

Rainbow over Sundays contest
Roster moves have been a theme, lets try to get together on whats happening!
Goetzman, Lee and Gotta chat in the outfield on Sunday

RHP Mark Sappington
Mark Sappington and Adam Kolarek were sent from Durham to bolster the Biscuits bullpen and their own confidence.

Mark Sappington was a key member of last years 2nd Half North Division Champion bullpen and one of the best guys ever in the history of best guys ever. He and Kolarek will both be trying to get back on track after being roughed up in triple-A.

Kean Wong returned Sunday
Kean Wong returned to the lineup Sunday after missing more than a week of games.

Patrick Leonard has been out of the lineup due to a sore back. There is no word yet on when he will return, or if a DL trip will be needed.

Tough news if you were trying to get all the Biscuits combined No-Hitter pitchers to sign a ball...
Steve Ascher was sent back to Port Charlotte. Nice reward for a no-hitter, right? Speculation is that the Rays may transition him into a starter after seeing nice results from him in Montgomery's rotation.

Reliever Jordan Harrison was/is/will be put on the temporary inactive list. He was also one of the four pitchers involved in the July 11th NoNo versus the Jackson Generals. No reason is known beyond the fact that the Rays have a surplus of players at the upper levels of the chain, including Montgomery. There just aren't enough roster spots to go around right now. 

Bullpen Catcher Rapacz
Be sure you know who you are talking to when speaking to someone in catching gear, new bullpen catcher Josh Rapacz looks more than a little like regular backstop Mike Marjama. However the easy-going Rap takes it in stride when someone gets them crossed up, like I did on Saturday!

Having Rap around seems like nothing much to the average fan, but not having a bullpen catcher means a lot to the team. Now the second catcher really gets a day off from catching and the team doesn't have to risk a position player getting injured while trying to warm up a reliever in a game.

Also, Rap is just one injury from gaining a roster spot, as the Rays have learned having an extra catcher around is pretty handy.

Outfielder Justin Williams was promoted from the Stone Crabs. This means another spot on the roster will have to be cleared, be it someone to the DL, promotion, demotion, release, trade or temporary inactive list.

The Rays #2 prospect Brent Honeywell tossed his first game at Riverwalk and had no problems with the Smokies lineup. He featured his impressive heater and offset it with the screwball effectively, mixing in a nice curve and decent changeup.

More than that he seemed poised on the hill and his only hiccup was getting excited on an infield popup, cutting in front of first baseman Jake Bauers to grab the ball for the out.
Jake be like...

Rhp Brent Honeywell
Brent pitched into the 7th inning, striking out six and walking just one and looking poised and in full control all evening.

The bullpen let the Smokies spoil the W, but Brent seemed to enjoy the home cooking at Riverwalk. He signed many autographs, posed for pictures and did everything short of kissing babies for the fans who were raving about his arrival.

Honeywell should strengthen an already strong starting rotation and provide a lift to the Skitz pennant hopes.

Honeywell and Adames

Friday, July 15, 2016

Team Notes vs Smokies

Bauers give Gotta rabbit ears before the game
The nets are coming. Rumors are again going around that next year will bring extended nets to Riverwalk. The feeling is that it will cover the fans behind the dugout, but not the dreaded foul pole to foul pole screen that some parks have installed.

Pokemon go comes to riverwalk on sunday.
If there weren't enough ways to distract fans from flying objects leaving the playing field, we can now add this one to the pile. Hopefully it is a between innings promotion!

Gillaspie, Adames, Wong perpare for a June tilt
Casey Gillaspie was promoted to Durham, the first base position will be handled by Jake Bauers and possibly Patrick Leonard. Casey is all over the Southern League leaderboard and likely deserved to move up.

Jaye Chapman warms on Thursday
Brady Williams may have his new closer in Jaye Chapman, who shut the door for his first Biscuits save on Thursday. Fans noted that Chapman is similar to craig kimbrel's delivery.

The upcoming season ticketholder BP is byob, bring your own bat - a couple aluminum bats will be available, but if you want wood you bring it!

I was told the bham clubhouse is great, the clubbies sometimes not so. The Brummies don't make visiting teams look forward to visiting the park.

You can be sure the guys love the commute to the Barons park, adding about ten hours of bus time to the schedule that week.

Saturdays Star Wars theme night will have a cast of over 20 characters.
A light saber bat signed by the team will be raffled.
I can not divulge any more than that.

Beleaguered closer Brad Schreiber was sent to Port Charlotte to recover from his bout of suck-itis. Schreib just couldn't find a way to miss bat this season, some asked if he was hurt or having issues but he never appeared injured - just hit-able. 
Ascher and Schreiber in the Biscuits bullpen

\m/ IRON MAN \m/
Brent Honeywell's warmup/intro music is Black Sabbath's Iron Man.
I love old Sabbath and always think its cooler to see guys warm up to something heavy, too many players music choice sounds like a boyband. I want opposing teams to think our team is back there chewing on metal shards waiting for a chance to clobber them. Not practicing their pop and lock routine.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Prescription #302: Grape Jelly Series

The Biscuits return home to face the Tn Smokies on Thursty Thirsday, triumphant from their combined No-Hitter but also victims of a series loss in the last five games. The team is having growing pains, in part from adjusting to the bullpen's rotating door to Durham.

But it didn't show at all in game two on Monday when four Biscuit pitchers added their names to Montgomery baseball history.

A pitcher doesn't even have to be on the roster to get into a game for Montgomery this summer, returning reliever Kyle Winkler arrived and had to wear Brad Schreibers uniform when he got into the NoNo in Jackson.

The move to add Winkler wasn't added to the league website until hours after he wore #31 and stepped into Montgomery history. After adding Honeywell and Chapman, the team didn't have a third spare road uniform!

The Skitz won four games and lost six on the roadtrip, but outscored their opponents in the ten games. The rotation has been shuffled and reshuffled, the bullpen has so many new faces, even pitching coach RC Lichtenstein didn't remember who was wearing #28.

Manager Brady Williams mixes and matches to near perfection, giving the Grays every chance to win. Yet often the team has been unable to hold a late lead or deliver a final run, flashing bright hope for fans even when the final result drops to the loss column.


If the Biscuits have a discombobulated roster, the Smokies more closely resemble depleted. Most of the top prospects for the Baby Bears have advanced, though newcomer Ian Happ becomes the top rated prospect on the visiting team. Happ has been tearing up double-A pitching since his arrival.

The Smokies Prospect Rating is 90, boosted by Happ but lowered with injuries to prospect players like Duane Underwood, Brad Conway and Jacob Hanneman who all inhabit the DL.

The Biscuits walked off on the Smokies back in May
Active player prospects include Billy McKinney, Jen-Ho Tseng, Victor Caratini, and Brad Markey. They have other solid players not ranked among the top 30, but several of the players who were on the squad during the Smokies last visit have graduated.

With Montgomery and Tennessee both trying to make up ground on division leader Chattanooga, neither club wants to drop this series. There is a lot to look for in this series!


The Smokies may or may not bring rehabbing MLB pitcher Clayton Richard, be sure to look for him wearing #40. His day to pitch would be in game four or five, though its not known if he will continue his rehab during the Smokies road trip to Montgomery.

Look for smoke rising from under Patrick Leonards cap - dude has been on fire! Hitting .340 over the last ten days its probably safe to say he has gotten back on track.

Look for the Biscuits to put up runs in multiple innings, often in the early innings. Montgomery's powerful offense scores runs, leading the league in Homers and doubles.

Look for Kean Wong, the studly second baseman has been absent from the lineup since coming out of Fridays ballgame.

Look for the Smokies to take quality at bats, waiting deep into counts and not striking out often. The Smokies batters strike out less than any other team in the league!

two of these kids get groundouts
Look for Taylor Guerrieri to get the groundball. Taylor's ability to induce the grounders is a silent rally killer for opposing hitters, inducing a ball on the ground more than three times more often than in the air for a stout 60% ground ball rate on batted balls.

Look for the Biscuits to win games via the long ball. As the weather has warmed, so have Biscuit bats and Smokies pitchers can be prone to giving up home runs.

Look for a base on balls. Everyone knows Casey Gillaspie is the league leader in bases on balls but Willy Adames and Jake Bauers are second and third. Smokies Billy McKinney and Chesny Young round out the top five.

After a mini-slump over the last month or so, look for Casey Gillaspie to get back into form over the next three weeks. BigCaseDawg hits .290 at Riverwalk and the Biscuits will enjoy hosting 15 of the next 20 games at home.

New Biscuit Jaye Chapman is tied for third place in the league in saves and hasn't even earned his first one for Montgomery. Look for Brady to give him the ball in the late innings during this series.

Thursty Thirsday
Hu vs Markey

Honeywell vs Skulina

Star Wars Saturday
Kirsch vs Tseng
also Season ticketholder batting practice, I get to take some swings!

Kids Day Sunday
Chirinos vs Richard? tba

Sunburn Monday Nooner
Guerrieri vs Blackburn? tba
Noon start time? Better bring the sunscreen!
or an umbrella!

The Rays #2 prospect is Brent Honeywell, mentioned often here in the blog already, the hurler joined the rotation in Jackson and will have his home debut likely on Friday night. Ranked just behind Blake Snell, the report is high on his fastball and even more fond of the screwball he tosses. Honeywell throws a curve and changeup to offset his heater in the low-mid 90s, but the fadeaway sneaks to the plate in the 77mph range.

With the arrival of a pitcher who throws a screwball, it allows for creative names for the rare pitch. Not thrown as often in modern baseball in the states, its known as the shuto in Japan where it is thrown as an art form by NPB moundsmen. Yu Darvish sometimes offers the shuto to major league hitters, where it can be a devastating pitch against right handed hitters.

Rube Foster
Christy Mathewson called it a fadeaway, legend has it that he was taught the pitch by negro league great Rube Foster.

When John McGraw was told he couldn't sign Foster due to his race, McGraw hired him to teach Matty the screwball.

Other great screwballers include Warren Spahn, who used the reverse curveball to extend his career after losing his dominant fastball. Carl Hubbel threw the screwjey so often his arm curved outwards. Fernando Valenzeula's corkscrew inspired Fernando-mania, Tug McGraw used the incurve to much effectiveness.

There is a deep latin connection with the screwball, Luis Arroyo, Willie Hernandez and Pedro Martinez all used the screwgie in their great careers.

When Dolf Luqe first threw his fadeaway in front of stunned scouts, they asked where he learned such a great pitch. "Marty teach me" he said "Marty teach me!" His deep accent made it tough to figure out he was really saying "Matty", he had learned the offering when seeing Christy Mathewson playing winter ball!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Prescription #301 A New Biscuit, Why There Isnt A Biscuits Costumed Mascot

When was the last time you gave me something nice?

Thats what Brady Williams must have told the Rays front office after they sent two starting pitchers to take the place of the two relievers recently sent to Durham.

Like Stanek before him, now reliever Winkler has been promoted. If you blinked you missed Kyle Winkler, the reliever was packed off to the D-Bulls.

In ten games Winky had allowed just one run, a feat he quickly accomplished for the Bulls on his very first day there.

In his place the Rays newest acquisition Jaye Chapman is expected on Monday. In a rare move, the transaction regarding Chapman was announced a day early.

With Shuckers
The Rays dealt cash or PTBNL for Chapman, who has a long history in the Southern League. He has spent five seasons in the circuit, sporting a nice 2.89 ERA at the double-A level. He was with the Ms.Braves in 2010-11, spent 2012 with the Tn Smokies and has bounced between double-A Biloxi and triple-A Colorado Spring before being dealt by the Brewers.

This year at Biloxi Chapman had logged 10 saves and one win in 12 games. He had not allowed a run, earned or otherwise, for the Shuckers. However he had been getting shellacked while wearing a  Sky Sox uni in triple-A this year, his 5.73 era for them tells us he will be happy to get back to the Southern League.
gonna fit in just fine

Granden Goetzman was brought off the DL, his injured hamstring deemed healthy. Goetz has been on the shelf since May 23rd, he had seven hits in four rehab games last week before being sent back to Montgomery.

The outfielder was off to a nice start with 13 stolen bases in 37 games and flashing good leather afield.

After coming out of the game on Friday, second baseman Kean Wong has been on the bench. He left Fridays contest after his first at bat, Pat Blair moved over to fill at second and on Saturday it was Coyle at the keystone sack.

I admit I missed the radio broadcasts this weekend, perhaps announcer Chris Adams-Wall has given more info but between Kean's absence from the lineup and the return (again) of Juniel Querecuto, it looks like an injury could be a possibility.

Anyone hear anything on it? Kean has been a mainstay in the Biscuits lineup, covering second base and batting a strong .256 in the first half of the season. Any absence would be noticed, Wong isn't a player the team can easily afford to lose.  

With the addition of Jaye Chapman and return of Goetzman, the Biscuits roster sits at 26. Someone has to go somewhere, be it a DL trip, a promotion, demotion or release. Hopefully we won't lose anyone, the team appears to be coming together at a good time.

Garvin injured, April 23 2014
After being re-assigned to extended spring, then activated and sent to Port Charlotte, Grayson Garvin has been getting into games and the results are good. Three times he has pitched five innings, twice in a starting role. Garvin struck out eight in his first start and has a nice 2.40 era through 15 innings.

It might not be long before we see the former first rounder back in the Montgomery rotation. Grayson last pitched for the Biscuits in 2014 and has worked long and hard to get back on track.


Former Biscuits pitcher Jacob Faria and I talked about this - how come the team doesn't have a person wearing a biscuit costume?

It is a question I hear folks ask a few times a season, when we have a great mascot like Monty Biscuit on the hats and scoreboard but we never have a biscuit walking around. Monty Biscuit, with his butter tongue, is seen all over the stadium, why do we have Big Mo instead of Monty?

Generally speaking, I prefer Monty to Big Mo, but appreciate that Monty doesn't get to walk around the park and scare meet kids.

There are a few reasons I can think of that explain why...

Reason #1
Kinda weird

Reason #2
VERY Weird

 Reason #3
Monty doesn't have legs!
Hands and Feet, no arms or legs!

I recently ran across some early concept drawings of the biscuit who became the face of the Biscuits. It a neat look at what becomes the biscuit we know and love. And we see that if he did have legs, he would also have striped pants!

I would be remiss if I let the opportunity pass without adding the classic tale...