Monday, June 29, 2015

A Fresh Start, Diamond Move, Varona Stats



Brady Williams about to burst a vessel
To say the series vs the Lookouts has been fun to watch would be a total understatement.

Manager Brady Williams thrown out? Twice! Both resulting in come from behind victories!

Joey Rickard homerun? Two! One of them Hit The Train!

Lots of runs? There have been 59 combined runs so far!

Funky uniforms? And how!

Small ball? Squeeze plays have worked and Cam Seitzer bunts for a hit!


And don't leave early, this Biscuits team saves the best for last by putting up late runs no matter what the score. Some of the biggest rallies have come after the 7th inning stretch.

And the best part, now that we are past the first half and the All Star break the focus is where it should be - the game on the field. The Biscuits have outplayed the first half champion Lookouts in this series and after the recent changes are a new team with fresh hopes.
Johnny Field tags out a would-be base stealer on Sunday


ROSTER MOVE

Scott Diamond was sent from Durham, where the Bulls have 28 players active, 13 former Biscuits. Port Charlotte has 25 guys active, as do the Biscuits, so there isn't much wiggle room.

Maybe Diamond is another Buschmann, using an opt-out clause or refusing the assignment in order to become a free agent. If so, we may just be awaiting the word of his departure. Diamond, who last pitched in the majors in 2013, hasn't pitched as low as double-A since 2010 with the Mississippi Braves.
7w-3L for the DBulls in 15 starts, the Canadian lefty has allowed too many hits and not gotten enough strikeouts, though he walks less than one hitter a game.


COMING UP
A day off to end the month of June, then its a quick trip on the Biscuits bus as the Montgomery team heads to Tennessee for an odd three-game series against, who else, the Smokies. Half of the next six series are against the Cubs affiliate, including back-to-back home series in the second half of July.

This three game road trip is a result of the league rule involving the 4th of July - teams in the Southern league have home games on either the 3rd or 4th of the month.

The team returns on Saturday to give home fans a look at the Southern Division champion Biloxi team and an Independence Day fireworks show.





Dayron Varona has nine doubles since joining the Rays, good for fourth in the organization this month. Hitting just .219 for the Biscuits so far, Varona is the posterchild for "Small Sample Size", but he is handling lefthanders well at .286.


Friday, June 26, 2015

You May Already Be A Winner..., Powell Promoted



If you answered yesterdays blog with "Boog Powell to Durham" and "Colton Reavis to the DL" and "Jesse Winkler traded to the Angels" and "Jared Mortensen to Team Canada for the Pan Am Games" you may consider yourself the Amazing Kreskin and should get on the first flight to Las Vegas.


While Boog was making his exit, other players were making their Biscuits debut.


RF Varona
Dayron Varona, the Cuban import made his first Riverwalk start in right field.

1b J.Bauers
First base saw newcomer Jake Bauers, wearing #24 in his first Biscuits game.

Bauers is the first Biscuit born after the strike of 1994, a turning point in baseball history. 



SP Stanek
Also, starting pitcher Ryne Stanek was making just his second home start since joining the Montgomery rotation. He has made five Biscuits starts, including Thursday, but three have been on the road.


SKITZ OPEN SECOND HALF WITH BARNBURNER
The Biscuits broke out the bats for game one against Chattanooga, scoring a dozen times on 14 hits to boost Stanek to the win.

The New-Look Skitz have speed and defense on their side, a nice starting rotation and a bullpen on the mend. This is a fun team to watch, even utilizing the squeeze play to success when the run was needed.

The rotation shows a TBA, but we can expect Jacob Faria to make his first start in place of Mortensen, who heads to Team Canada for 15 days. Jared says he expects to be back following the Pan Am Games, but the AllStar Canadian could easily make the jump to Durham with his 5-3 record and 3.12 ERA.


THIS WEEK AT THE PARK
Friday is family faith night, a popular church group outing.
Saturday is "Back to the Future" night, it will be the first time the Biscuits have worn themed jerseys. The tops will be auctioned for charity.
Sunday is kids day and Monday night is getaway day as the Biscuits head out on the road for the first away games of the second half.

Boog Powell - promoted to Durham Bulls

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Second Half A New Beginning, What to Look For



The Biscuits will take the field Thursday as a different team.

Not only are there roster changes, we welcome Jacob Faria and Jake Bauers, but we also see the new Biscuit who made his debut on the road - Dayron Varona.

Add to that the return of Braden Hagens, Leonardo Reginatto and Kyle Winkler from their trip to Durham.


RESTOCKING FEE
The recent flush of players puts the Montgomery roster at a whopping 28 guys! Somebody will have to go somewhere before gametime on Thirsty Thursday, but its anyone guess who and where.

It could be a promotion, or demotion, a trip to the DL or an outright release. A trade is possible, but probably not likely - any trade the first place Rays make likely would not be one that helped us.


SPIN THE WHEEL

If I had to choose a pitcher for a move, I think it might be a promotion for Reavis, Stowell or Markel. Even Lollis and Sappington have been throwing the ball well, which could be enough to get a look at a higher level.


Powell to Seitzer, 4-3 PO
Since neither Hagens or Winkler impressed at triple-A, perhaps another hurler gets the chance. Stowell and Reavis get alot of strikeouts, Reavis and Hagens have been getting alot of hitters to swing and miss, so any of those guys could win a chance to pitch in Durham.

A position player could be in line for a promotion, possibly one of the Biscuits All-Stars - Field, Powell or Goedell. Even steady fielding Cam Seitzer could be due a trip to triple-A.

Also its possible that a player could be demoted, perhaps an infielder like Hector Guevara could be sent back down. 
2013 Hector Guevara, 1st Biscuits at bat, HBP in the head


GOING UP?
Durham has 13 pitchers on the roster, plus a few DL guys and rehabber Matt Moore.

The Bulls list four OF guys, a pair of catchers and a full compliment of infielders. There isn't much room at triple-A, barring an roster move.



GOING DOWN?
Port Charlotte, however, has a little room in the pitching staff with just 11 men active. Could Colton Reavis' terrible ERA get him sent down?

Tim Beckham is rehabbing with the StoneCrabs, once he moves on the Crabs will have only four infielders, and two are third basemen. Could Patrick Leonards slow start have earned him a demotion?

It will be interesting to see which players move where. It can be an indicator as to what stats or benchmarks the parent club is looking at for player movement.




JOHNNY FIELD JR
The next up in our two-part look at impact players, Field was second in the home run derby on Tuesday. When I asked him what his strategy for the derby was the answer was "Swing hard!"

And swing hard he does, indeed. Johnny makes some good contact, but he does strike out. Currently third in the futile stat on the Biscuits team. 

When he does make contact, good things happen. He is a little more likely to hit the ball on the ground, but his groundball-flyball ratio is just 68-52. Toss in 51 line drives and just say he makes good contact.


The heat map tells the story, Johnny likes to pull the ball to the left side. He leads the team in wOBA, a fine all round stat that tells us he is the most valuable Biscuit in terms of scoring runs.

Also tops in OPS for the Skitz, Johnny sees second base just about as much as anyone on the Montgomery roster has this year.

Lefties have no advantage over Johnny Field, Nine times he has take a free pass from a lefthander, only eight times has he singled against portside pitching. Batting over .330 vs southpaws in 36 at bats this year, Fields flashes his power with three homers and a pair of doubles.

JFJr has ownage on DJ Baxendale of Chattanooga - with six hits in nine plate appearances, three doubles and a home run.

Johnny Baseball is just 8for11 in stolen bases, but he looks to have much better speed than that stat shows. His defense has been stellar with his range benefiting from his speed perhaps more than the basepaths.  

BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK RIVERWALK

On May 26th, Johnny struck out FIVE times in a single game! Tough day at the office!

However, other than the 5K game, Field has only two other games with more than two punchouts. (it was a road game, not riverwalk, but it sounded better than Bad Day at Generals Park!)




HIGH FIVE, BISCUITS!
A "good job" should be given to the Biscuits, who hosted a very classy All Star gala. I think everyone was impressed with the fine work, a great crowd came out to support the Biscuits and Riverwalk stadium. Everyone was treated to a fine time, I expect to put together a better post about it - once I work on the bazillion pics I took!


WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The second half starts the same as the first half, with high hopes and a homestand vs the Chattanooga Lookouts. Its a tough team to face, but the Biscuits know themselves much better now.
Adam Brett Walker II

Although without Buxton, the Twins affiliate is still well stocked with talent, including Home Run Derby winner Adam Brett Walker. Walker leads the league in round trippers and strikeouts. Look for Walker to continue to swing for the fences and likely connect some and whiff more.

Look for third baseman Miguel Sano to continue his good defensive play. He is much slicker than one would think of a guy as big as he is.

Look for a better Biscuits bullpen than in the first half, the recent changes offer much protection for late leads.

Look for solid starting pitching from the home team. The Snell-Schultz-Mortensen rotation is about as good as any in the league.
Biscuits All-Star starting rotation, Snell Schultz Mortensen

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

All Star Social

It was very social with the All Stars.
The heat was brutal, some guys were in the sun on the streets, some guys were in the corner of the Alley where the humidity was thick enough to chew.

I have edited some of the photos I took, but it was a tough photo moment even for the pros. The heat was rough and everyone did the best they could to find a cool spot.


Coaches were announced first for the North Division, the home team. All Star coaches Timmons and Lichtenstein seen here.

The visiting team is skippered by Marlon Brando  Dave Berg of Jacksonville.


The announcements weren't as long as they could have been, but the guys tended to group together instead of lining. The Biscuits All Stars were among the first to be brought out.
Snell, Schmidt and Mortensen



Biloxi guys like Nick Ramirez were among the early introductions for the South, the Shuckers having plenty of All Stars after earning a first half crown.



Smokies PJ Francescon and Corey Black with Snell, Schultz and Mortensen


Shuckers enjoying The Alley


The North squad was all smiles.
North Division All Stars



The South division had a loose vibe among them.
South Division All Stars


I was able to bestow a few brews on some of the players, three Pensacola guys were set up in the middle of the road with the sun beating down on them.  "We are in last place, we deserve it" was how their location was explained.

Rivalry or no, I offered and they accepted. Later when I went back by they thanked me and said it was delicious. "Miller High Life," I told them, "proving anything tastes good when you sit in the sun!"



Of course the Biscuits mascots were on hand, both two and four-legged varieties!