Thursday, June 30, 2016

Skitz over BayBears, Wood Out, Ascher to Start

Tonight I went to the park and learned much, as well as watching an excellent Biscuits win. Jake Bauers hit a three run circuit clout and threw out a foolish baserunner who dared challenge the arm of the young right fielder.
Jake Bauers showing off the gun in RF on Wednesday
The runner tagging up from third knew he had to bust it down the line, but Jake still made sure the ball was there waiting for him at the end of the line.
catcher Mike Marjama with time to read a book before applying the tag

Starting pitcher Taylor Guerrieri tossed an excellent seven frames.

Reliever Kyle Bird threw one good inning and one bad third of another, before being lifted for Kyle Winkler who nailed down his fourth save.

SP Hunter Wood
I learned why the pitching rotation is full of TBD's - starter Hunter Wood left his no-hit bid after being struck by a comebacker.

Now Wood has been diagnosed with a broken hand, he is out for the season and already has gone back to Florida for Rays staff to evaluate.


Kyle Bird
So what pitcher will be starting in place of the injured Hunter Wood?

 I asked Brady Williams, he refused to name his secret weapon starter, however he did offer a clue by signifying a lefthander would be the choice to start.

After seeing the lefty Kyle Bird in game one, there are just two other port-siders on the roster: Harrison and Ascher. Considering the recent long relief work Steve Ascher has been doing, he seems the likely candidate.

Of course, this leaves Jared Mortensen available to follow up, as well as Ryne Stanek, both right handed pitchers were idle in the first game.

Skitz skipper Williams would love to get about three innings from each, but should be happy with getting to the late innings on just three arms.

Steve Ascher lhp
Reliever Steve is a great guy and has been getting stretched out lately, picking up more work.

He last pitched on the 24th, getting four and a third IP in his twenty-second appearance. Ascher has been throwing strikes and missing bats pretty often, making him a great candidate to make the spot start for the injured Wood.

In his spare time, Steve is rumored to be starting a rescue mission for wild horses.

Using all the bullets in the bullpen is a short term answer to what could become a long term problem.

A pitcher will have to come from somewhere to round out the rotation or to take the place of a bullpen arm forced into the rotation.

Perhaps a Brent Honeywell promotion is coming soon, the screwballing StoneCrab recently came off the DL and tossed a good five innings.

Other Stone Crab alternatives could include starter Greg Harris, with 14 starts he has garnered a nice 3.25 era.
Or reliever Mike Franco, who has been doing a nice job eating quality innings in Port Charlotte.

 Look for a large band on Sunday for the pre-Independence Day game, about 100 strong!

Look for Brady Williams to rely on his starters to go deep into games after tossing the bullpen into the fire on Thursday.

Look for managers on both teams to pressure umpires and argue bad calls, a few questionable plays had both teams rolling their eyes and fans wondering "what just happened?"

Look for the BayBears pitchers socks, the striped hose are cool but probably not team issues.

Be sure to look for me in the Owners Box on Saturday, but not at all on Sunday. I do sometimes miss a game!


Gotta love it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Biscuits Hosting BayBears

Today the Biscuits begin the first homestand of the second half, welcoming the Mobile Baybears for to Montgomery for the first time this season.

It is also the first series the Biscuits have played in more than a year without starting pitcher Jacob Faria, who was promoted to Durham. Faria simply had nothing left to prove at the double-A level, pitching with consistence peppered with excellence in nearly every appearance.

This young man impressed me every time he took the hill as well as every time we had a conversation, and I am sure he will have a great time in Durham and all points beyond.  Congrats Jacob!

Taking his turn in the rotation is Yonny Chirinos, sent up from the StoneCrabs.

A couple weeks ago I asked about Chirinos, throwing the ball well it seemed like just a matter of time before he appeared in the Montgomery uniform. Chirinos performed well in his first Biscuits start and should settle in well as Montgomery makes a strong second half push for a pennant.

The rotation is in a weird way, with only Guerrieri and Hu announced as starters for the series vs the Mobile Shippers. We will probably see Kirsch, Wood and Chirinos deployed, though its a mystery as to the order they will appear.

In the previous series, it was Wood, Guerrieri, Hu, Kirsch and Chirinos. However the Skitz website says Taylor G in game one, TBD in game two, Hu in the third contest and a pair of TBD's for the final games of the set.

Wood flirted with a no hitter in his last start, though the Biscuits twitter account did the team no favors by jinxing it with mentions of the event before it was finished.
Adding Yonny Chirinos to the roster keeps Ryne Stanek in the bullpen, tossing 95mph gas and pulling down old-school three inning saves like a boss.

While I wrote that it may affect his prospect status, it hasn't kept Ryne from getting invited to the Futures Game to pitch for Team USA.


Its low. Very low. A meager 52.

Among the prospects on the roster, Yoan Lopez ranks #6 and leads the team in terms of pre-recognized potential. #10 is RHP Taylor Clark, #17 is Matt Koch, also a right handed pitcher. Second baseman Jamie Westbrook is ranked #22, pitcher Jaimie Sherfy is #30 and rounds out the ranked talent on the team.

Running late this week, I will post the What To Look For and more notes after tonights game. There have been so many changes, I need to research more before I finish the analysis.

Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

First Half Wrap Lite


Fortunately for the Biscuits, a new season begins in June as the second half offers a chance to prove themselves after dropping to third place in the final days of the first half.

Disappointed at missing the first half title, fans have tried to find the flaws that led to the teams failures. Most of the flaws aren't ones that can be fixed, though there are a couple main factors that I can see.

First, there is no predicting the Jackson Generals winning 46 and losing only 27. Even if every questionable call in every Biscuits game went Montgomery's way, there probably ain't enough of them to add up to 12 games.

Second, going short handed in the bullpen really hurts, turning wins into losses, breaking fans hearts and ruining relievers stats for the season is the result of having to over-expose the remaining pitchers.

Third, the Biscuits were unable to maintain a .500 win loss percentage against teams in their own division, or against teams on the road. To contend, a team pretty much has to do one or the other, preferably both.

The first half saw Montgomery lead the league in Home Runs, but fell to third behind Jackson and Chattanooga as the North Division paced the league in scoring.

The Biscuits sent Parker Markel and Adam Kolarek to Durham's bullpen squad, Markel finally getting the promotion after two opening days in Montgomery.

Johnny Field, Juniel Querecuto and Jake Hager all went North to try to hit the bull and win steak. Querecuto was sent back to Montgomery shortly, but has already been recalled to the Bulls after Mahtook's injury left a roster spot open.

Biscuit fans welcomed back relief pitchers Jordan Harrison and Kyle Winkler, as well as new guys Kyle Bird and starter Hunter Wood.

New hitter additions are Pat Blair and Cade Gotta, Patrick Leonard returned from Durham to play third base and regain his power stroke.

Last one out is Jacob Faria, sent to Durham after his AllStar appearance.
This likely sends Ryne Stanek back into the starting rotation, leaving a pretty large hole in the bullpen.

The Skitz head to Biloxi to start the second half and get lucky to face them at the right time. Shuckers top arm Josh Hader has been promoted, as well as a few other roster changes, leaving the Biloxi Brewers in a state of flux that could offer the Biscuits an opportunity. 

Back in January I predicted the Biscuits roster, I thought that since we are at the half-way mark I would put up the list again and see how I did!

1b Mike Marjama - wrong position but check
2b Kean Wong - check!
3b Patrick Leonard - check!
SS Willy Adames - check!
C Justin O'Conner
RF Jake Bauers - check!
CF  Braxton Lee - check!
LF Granden Goetzman - check!

2b Tommy Coyle - check!
Of Marty Gantt - here as roving coach, check!
C Armando Araiza - check!
2b/ss/mi Andrew Velazquez
UT Pat Blair - check!

SP Brent Honeywell
SP Chris Kirsch - check!
SP Buddy Borden - check!
SP Chih-Wei "Robin" Hu  - check!
SP Taylor Guerrieri - check!

RP Ryne Stanek - check!
RP Jeff Ames - check!
RP Josh Kimborowicz
RP Issac Gil
RP Steve Ascher - check!
RP Kyle McKenzie

other possibles:
RP Kyle Bird - check!
RP Brian Miller
SS Jake Hager - check!
3b Jace Conrad

well, looks like out of the 28 names I put up, 19 players and one as a coach, not too shabby for a New Years Day prediction!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Last of the First Half, What to Look For vs Lookouts

Today the Biscuits face off against the Chattanooga Lookouts in the final homestand of the first half of the season.

THE 26th MAN
The Skitz got Juniel Querecuto back, though there is some confusion about how.

During the game the other night radio voice Chris Adams-Wall said that Granden Goetzman had been added to the Disabled List, but no listing on the league transactions page and no change in the Goetzman MiLB page suggests the league isnt aware of the move.

Perhaps since the Biscuits were made to go a man short for so long, they are now letting it slide that the team has 26 active guys.


The Noogas are a tough foe for Montgomery, both teams share the same number of wins in the first half. Due to a rainout along the way, the Biscuits have one more loss than Chattanooga and this series should determine second place in the division.

However even if the Skitz win the series, it could result in a dead heat, with 3 wins and a Biscuits series victory Montgomery and Chattanooga would finish the half with identical win loss records of 35-35.

The Lookouts are a shell of last years Championship team in terms of prospects, but the talent they do have is on the field more often than not.

Prospects on their roster include  SP Kohl Stewart (ranked 7th), the injured reliever Nick Burdi, reliever Jake Reed (ranked #15), shortstop Engelb Vielma (ranked #16), lefty reliever Mason Melotakis (ranked #19), catcher Stuart Turner (ranked #22), outfielder Travis Harrison (ranked #23) and outfielder Daniel Palka (ranked #28).

Their Prospect Rating of 90 seems low, but with a fair portion of that talent being in the bullpen its easy for Lookouts skipper Doug Mintkiewicz to get them all onto the field during a game, more than once a series.


The Lookouts have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past few weeks, look for a scrappy team that refuses to give up.

Look for Montgomery to rely on starting pitching and extra base hits to keep the team in games.

Look for former Biscuit Leonardo Reginatto, now with the Noogas, to enjoy his return to Montgomery.

Look for a tight, highly contested series. Both teams are statistically similar in many categories, such as tied atop the league in stolen bases. Side by side in Runs, Hits, RBI, OPS and many others, these two teams match up very closely.

Look for Montgomery to play WallBall, the Biscuits lead the league in doubles and Home Runs.

The Biscuits pitchers have been racking up strikeouts, look for Montgomery to extend their league lead in punchouts at the Lookouts expense.

On the flip side, Biscuit tossers allow the most free passes in the league, nearly 100 more than the stingy Nooga hurlers. Look for the Biscuit pitchers to put themselves in tough spots by missing the strike zone too often.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Rebuilding Biscuits

As the Biscuits bus left for Pensacola on Friday morning, the theme of the trip was Thrift Store Fashion. It was a theme embraced by the guys as they went all out to bring home the Best Dressed Title and avoid the Worst Dressed, though some were hoping to win both.

A fitting theme for a team that has been showing some wear, in need of a good cleaning up and perhaps a new patch or two.

While the Jackson Generals sewed up the first half title, Montgomery was slipping into third place in the division and wearing used clothing. After dropping the home series against Biloxi, the Biscuits were pretty well discombobulated and changes were in the works.


Assessing the Biscuits struggles in the first half doesn't take a star chart or slide rule, the bullpen needed help and it showed. A pair of good arms had graduated, Parker Markel and Adam Kolarek were sent to Durham at the start of May, leaving the Skits with two empty chairs in the bullpen.

Kyle Bird listens to pitching coach RC Lichtenstein
Kyle Bird landed a week later as the first reinforcement, proving his worth in the first month by playing in ten games and losing none of them.

 As a lefty, Bird is tough on right handed hitters and has kept his walks very low. Bird is prone to pitch in traffic, he will usually allow a hit but he knows how to limit the damage. He has been particularly effective at Riverwalk.

Next in is Jordan Harrison. If the name sounds familiar, you get a cookie. Jordan was a Biscuit last April, tossing in six games and losing one.

After his bad start in Montgomery last year, Jordan went back to Port Charlotte, then down to Bowling Green and back to Port Charlotte, the lefty is now earning a second shot of double-A. For the Stone Crabs this year, hitters knocked Harry to a .309 clip but as a Biscuit Jordan has kept them to just .107 average.

Starting Pitcher Hunter Wood
Then came Hunter Wood.

Fans wondered when we talked about Wood and his stats, he is a starting pitcher and we had a full staff of starters.

The Skitz had two six games series in a row, an oddity which gave Brady Williams the luxury of a six man rotation. But eventually the change was made, Ryne Stanek was seen sitting in the bullpen.

Wood earned his promotion with fine numbers and hard work, and responded by allowing just two earned runs and winning his first three starts.

Ryne Stanek was blissed about being sent to the bullpen.
Well, it RHYMES with blissed.

Not sure how many times a team has sent its strikeout leader to pitch in relief, but that is exactly what the Biscuits have done with Stanek.

Truth be told, I do agree its best for the team, though it does hurt Stanek and his prospect status. However a good fastball in the strikezone is just what the Dr. ordered for the Biscuits bullpen, and Ryne Stanek brings it.

This team needed a bridge - someone who could get the ball from the starter to closer, pitch multiple innings and strike out hitters. Stanek relieving gets him into the game more than once a series and lets Brady match up the other relievers. Simply put, this makes the Biscuits bullpen a whole lot better.

In order to clear a roster spot, Brett Marshall was released.

 I asked "how does a guy not on the roster lose the game?"
Buddy Borden was also given walking papers, though Borden's roster move wasn't posted on the league website until hours after his replacement, Kyle Winkler had taken the loss for the Biscuits in his first game with the team.

If you remember Winkler, you get another cookie! He was pitching for us last year too, in May and June. Winkler bounced around and was pitching great in indie ball, catching the eye of the Rays who brought him back.

The assessment was the same for both outgoing pitchers, Borden and Marshall seemed to be good guys but couldn't quite find a way to miss bats.

The New Rotation order could shuffle after the AllStar Break
motivational post in Biscuits dugout

The new look bullpen:
Lefties Asher, Bird, Harrison
Righties - Mortensen, Winkler
The Bridge - Stanek
Closers - Ames, Schrieber

Johnny Field
When infielder Juniel Querecuto was sent up, Pat Blair arrived quickly to replace him.

Also promoted are fan faves Johnny Field and Jake Hager.

I felt all these players were deserving of their callup to triple-A, they simply played their way out of the Southern League.

When Johnny Field was sent to Durham, in his place returned 3b/1b/OF Patrick Leonard.

Leonard takes over third base duty and gets a few games in the outfield, he should play regularly as he regains his swing.

Cade Gotta was promoted from the Stone Crabs, and went right into the lineup, helping fill in for the injured-but-not-DL'ed Granden Goetzman.

Goetzman has been out with what is thought to be a strained hamstring since the series in Bham a few weeks ago.

Cade Gotta is fun to watch, with as much energy as a five gallon pot of coffee, he puts max effort into every swing and throw.

Presumably Cade puts max effort into tying his shoes and parking the car too, batting well over .300 he should keep doing whatever it is he is doing.

This guy is the Hunter Pence of Biscuitville, and could be the spark plug the team needs.

The New Look Biscuits Lineup
looking at the numbers, once goetzman is healthy the projected lineup looks pretty good for the second half...
wong 2b
goetzman cf
bauers rf
adames ss
leonard 3b
gillaspie 1b
marjama c
gotta lf
dh depew/lee/coyle/blair

for Jean Machi, former Biscuit. details.

Could the Biscuits get their bullpen catcher back?

Armando Ariaza was returned to the Rays from the Mexican league team he had been loaned to, the Tigres de Quintana Roo. He was sent to Port Charlotte.

Mayo Acosta was sent from Durham to Hudson Valley.

The Biscuits have been utilizing Tommy Coyle, Pat Blair and other non-catchers to warm pitchers in the bullpen. The other alternative is using the backup catcher, the guy who is supposed to be getting a rest from catching, to warm relievers.

With the Rays shuffling backstops, no word on Justin O'Conner yet.

The Biscuits baseball cards are out, and I am pretty happy with them!

Not all, but most are ones I submitted, its great to see how they were used and it turned out great.

Pitcher Kirsch told me it was the best looking card he ever had, which pretty much made it all worthwhile.

No complaints here, grab a pack and see for yourself!

I went down and congratulated RC on sending more pitchers to the bigs, I told him I thought Snell and Schultz were getting called up. He and the Rays pitching coordinator were stunned, and raced to their cellphones. I must have misread a report and felt foolish when it turned out to be false.
"Maybe I'm wrong," I told RC, "or the Amazing Kreskin!"

Wait, Snell starts Thursday?