Mr.850's View

I have invited my good friend and colleague Mr.850 to share his insight on Biscuits baseball - a subject of which he knows a thing or two. He wanted to start with a brief summation of the previous season, so here we offer the first installment of such.

Please welcome, Mr.850.

2015 Season in Review

Whats New for 2015

Minor league baseball will implement pace of game clocks at triple-A and Double-A levels. The clocks are working at the start of the 2015 season, but will not be enforced until May 1st. The clocks are to be used to help pick up the pace of the game. The clock would allow pitchers 20 second to start the wind up to pitch, if the pitcher fails to do so the batter will be awarded a ball. The batter too must be ready and in the batters box with at least five seconds left in the clocks or he will be awarded a strike.

The clock will also be used in between innings and on pitching changes during an inning. The clock will allow 2:25 to the windup of a pitch to start an inning, or resume play after a pitching change.

I'm not sure how much the clock sped up the game as I never saw a pitcher get penalized, and most pitchers had time to spare, maybe just with the clock being there made the pitchers a little more ready to keep the game moving. I did hear of one batter being penalized for a strike on a road game, but as far as I know that is the only time someone was penalized during a Biscuits game in 2015.

The Southern league also had a new look to start the 2015 season. The Huntsville stars became the Biloxi Shuckers, eventually. The new stadium in Biloxi was to be ready to start the season, but was not ready until June. This forced the Shuckers to start playing home games in Huntsville and play some "home" games on the road until their new digs were ready for play.

The Southern league divisions had to be reset with the move of Huntsville to Biloxi.

The Northern Division would welcome the Montgomery Biscuits and Biloxi would join the Southern Division. The North Division would now consist of the three TN teams (Jackson Generals, Tn Smokies, and Chatt Lookouts) and the Southern Division would now consist of two Ms. teams (Braves & Shuckers) and two Fla teams, (Suns & Wahoos). The three Alabama teams would be split, Birmingham and Montgomery in the North Division, Mobile in the South Division.

The Lookouts would also sport a new look as they said goodbye to the LA Dodgers as a parent club and welcome the MN Twins as a new face in the Southern league. With the new affiliate change the SL was now with four AL teams and six NL clubs represented.


The last major change for '15 was the AllStar Game being awarded to Montgomery, as Mobile skipped their turn. So Montgomery would host the ASG on June 23rd.

Can you dig it? That's a "yes"!
The start of the 2015 season also brought a few new looks to Riverwalk Stadium and the Montgomery Biscuits.  The Riverwalk playing surface was new, as the field was dug up in the off season to install new drainage under the field.  This would help as the swamp behind the second baseman during 2014 rain delays was making the field unplayable at times.

In addition to the drainage and field the warning track was extended around the right field bull pen mound, with some of the warning track being in play on the right field line. 

The Montgomery Biscuits also had a couple of new looks to start the 2015 season.  Scott Trible would start the season as the Biscuits General Manager, as he was promoted to the position during the 2014 season.

The Biscuits would also wear new jerseys to begin the 2015 season, the jerseys would look the same, but are made of lighter material in hopes that the 'skits would not get as hot under the collar at home.  Hopefully cooler Biscuits at home would translate into more home wins for the Butter and Blue.

Selected as the AA Team of the Year by Minor League Baseball, Sporting News fans voted "Biscuits" as best team name in Minor League Baseball.

Familiar and New Faces for 2015
Field Staff
Brady Williams
Brady Williams returns for his second season as the skipper for the Biscuits.  Brady had a 66-74 finish for 2014.  This will be Brady's seventh season as a manager and a tenth season as coach or manager for the Rays system.  Brady's career record as manager 389-377.

RC Lichtenstein  - Pitching Coach - returns for his fourth season in Montgomery and his eleventh in the Rays system.

Ozzie Timmons - Hitting Coach - returns for his seventh season with Montgomery and tenth year of coaching.  Ozzie the fan favorite has developed a great relationship with the local fans and kids. Timmons played professionally for 16 seasons including several stops in the Major Leagues, Japan and Mexico.

Kris Russell - Trainer - returns to Montgomery for his fourth season, and ninth season with the Rays system.

2015 Biscuits - Meet the Biscuits
Returning Players

Jake DePew
C - Justin O'Conner - Ray's #3 prospect (Baseball America).  Played in 21 games to end 2014 season for Montgomery.  Selected 1st round (31st overall) in 2010 out of high school

C - Jake DePew - Played in 17 games for Montgomery in 2014, 9th round draft choice out of high school in 2010.

IF - Leonardo Reginatto - Played in 17 games for Montgomery in 2014, signed by Rays as a 17yr old out of Brazil in 2009.

IF/1B/3B - Cameron Seitzer - Played full seasons in Montgomery in 2013 and 2014.  Returns for 3rd year.  Drafted by Rays in 11th round 2011 draft from University of Oklahoma.  Great defensive 1st baseman, possibly the best defensive Biscuit first bagger.

Kes Carter
IF/3B - Richie Shaffer - Played 2014 full season in Montgomery, 1st round draft pick 2012 (25th overall) out of Clemson University.  Started 2014 struggling at AA level, but started to heat up in August.  Rated 18th Rays prospect (Baseball America)

OF - Kes Carter - Played in 56 games for Montgomery in 2014.  Drafted 1st round (56 overall) by Rays in 2011 from Western Kentucky University.

SP - Jared Mortensen - Pitched in 12 games for Montgomery in 2014 w/ 10 games started.  Signed as a Free Agent in 2013.

RP - Parker Markel - Pitched for 16 games in Montgomery in 2014.  Drafted by Rays 39th round out of Yavapia College in 2010.

RP - Matt Lollis - Pitched in 49 games for Montgomery in 2014.  Was acquired as part of a seven player trade with the San Diego Padres, brought Matt to Rays system.  Matt was drafted in 15th round of 2009 by Padres from Riverside Community College.

New Faces

IF/2B - Tommy Coyle played in 2014 for Charlotte Stone Crabs.  Was 16th round draft pick from University of North Carolina in 2012.

IF/1B/3B - Patrick Leonard played in 2014 for Charlotte, was 5th round draft pick by Kansas City in 2011 out of high school.  Part of James Shield trade, brought Patrick to Rays system.  Rated Rays 26th best prospect.
Daniel Robertson

IF/SS Daniel Robertson played 2014 for Stockton.  Drafted by Oakland 1st round (34th overall) out of high school in 2012.  Was brought to Rays system as part of Ben Zobrist trade to Oakland in offseason.  Was ranked as Oakland A's top prospect before the trade.

OF - Johnny Field Jr. played 2014 at Bowling Green and Charlotte.  Drafted in the 5th round of 2013 out of the University of Arizona.  Named Rays Minor League Player of the Year for 2014.  Rated as Rays 27th prospect.

OF - Tyler Goeddel played 2014 in Charlotte.  Drafted in the 1st round (41st overall) out of high school in 2011.  17th rated Rays prospect.

OF - Boog Powell played 2014 in Beloit and Stockton.  Was in same trade that brought Daniel Robertson to the Rays system.  Was rated as A's 21st prospect before the trade.  Drafted by A's in 20th round out of Orange Coast College.

SP - Jamie Schultz - Split 2014 between Bowling Green and Charlotte.  Drafted by Rays in 14th round of 2013 draft out of High Point University.

SP - Austin Pruitt - Pitched in Charlotte for 2014 season.  Drafted by Rays in the 9th round out of the University of Houston.

Reinaldo Lopez
SP - Reinaldo Lopez - Pitched the 2014 season for Charlotte.  Signed by Rays in 2008 as a 16 year old out of Venezuela.

SP - Mikey O'Brien - Pitched 2014 at three stops in the Reds' organization.  Made 4 appearances against the Biscuits while at Pensacola.  Rays acquired Mikey in 2015 Minor League Rule 5 draft.

RP - Mark Sappington - Pitched 2014 for Arkansas and Inland of the Angels system.  Was traded to the Rays November of 2014.  Originally drafted in 5th round by Angels out of Rockhurst University.  Entered 2013 as Angels #9 prospect.

RP - Colton Reavis - Pitched at Bowling Green and Charlotte in 2014.  Drafted by the Rays in 30th round of 2013 out of Northwoods University

RP - Jordan Harrison - Pitched at three levels in 2014, Bowling Green, Charlotte and Gulf Coast Rays.  Drafted by Rays in 25th round of 2012 draft out of Louisiana Lafayette University.

RP - Zach Cooper - Pitched for Charlotte and Gulf Coast Rays in 2014, acquired by Rays as a Free Agent in 2014.

Bradin Hagens
RP - Jhan Marinez - Pitched for Toledo and Chattanooga in 2014, acquired as a minor league free agent in 2015.  Jhan has pitched briefly in majors with the Marlins and White Sox.  Originally signed by the Marlins as an 18 year old in 2006.

RP - Bradin Hagens - Pitched in Diamondbacks organization in 2014.  Three stops including the Major Leagues with Arizona, also with Mobile and Reno.  Bradin was drafted by Arizona 6th round of 2009 draft out of Merced college, traded to Rays 04/05/2015.

One new stat that I will use in the review of teams that visit Riverwalk Stadium is the P-RAT (prospect rating).  The P-RAT is a simple rating system using the 2015 Baseball America Prospect Guide as a reference.

The purpose of the P-RAT is to give us a reference to how loaded each team that plays at Riverwalk  is with top prospects.  This should also give us a stick to measure how good each team is that plays at Riverwalk.

The higher the P-RAT for a team, the better the team should be on the field. This could also alert autograph seekers which teams are prospect rich, and the best players to seek out for autographs.

Mr.850's 2015 Season in Review
April 9-13 Chattanooga Lookouts

Opening night of 2015 season brings the Lookouts to town for a five game series with the new Biscuits.  The Lookouts new being fed from the Minn Twins system are loaded with talent, the top three prospects in the Twins organization are on hand.

Buxton, opening day 2015
Byron Buxton rated the Twins top prospect playing centerfield, Miguel Sano rated at number two is playing third base, and Jose Berrios is  number three as a starting pitcher.

Buxton and Sano would probably not be playing at this level if they had not had short seasons in 2014 because of injury.  Buxton is regarded as either #1 or #2 prospoect in all of minor league baseball and Sano is in the top 15.


 Chattanooga Lookouts       224    11 players
    Montgomery Biscuits        108    7 players

In addition to these three studs, the Lookouts have eight other top 30 prospects for the Twins suiting up.  It is hard to believe that we will ever see another team this blessed with top talent will ever be at Riverwalk again.

These Lookouts are like the Hailey's Comet of prospect loaded teams.

The new look Biscuits also have some interesting talent, but it looks like it will take time for team to gel, and it will be tough to start out against a loaded team like the Lookouts.

The Montgomery Biscuits do have top prospects too in Daniel Robertson at SS (#1rated Oakland A's) and #3 Rays prospect catcher Justin O'Conner.

The Biscuits have seven prospects to start the season, but two - Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell, are new to the organization from a trade with the Oakland A's that involved Ben Zobrist.
New Guys D-rob and Booger on the way to the Gump

The game of the series happened to be on opening night, and may have tipped that 2015 would not be an ordinary season for the team.  First, the weather was great - 83deg. at first pitch, the last few opening nights rain was a factor.

Both teams struggled to get going offensively until the Lookouts scored two runs in the 5th inning and then added insurance with one in the 9th on a homer from Miguel Sano.

Going into the bottom of the ninth inning the only bright spot for the 'Skits was that they set a team record, striking out the Lookouts 20 times, but had only managed seven hits and no runs through eight innings.  The Biscuits looked like they would add to their opening night futility, a record of 2-9 on opening looked to become 2-10.  The Lookouts brought in their closer and #7 prospect in Nick Burdi, and things got weird.

Burdi walked Shaffer and Leonard to bring the tying run to the plate with no outs.  Justin O'Conner singled to load the bases with no outs, but strikeouts by Goeddel and Seitzer brought the game down to bases loaded and two outs.  Johnny Field Jr. was walked next to give the Biscuits their first RBI of the season.

Tommy Coyle was walked by Burdi to bring the 'Skits to a 3-2 deficit, and Burdi was replaced by Cole Johnson who gave up a 1-2 count single by Boog Powell for an unreal come from behind 4-3 Biscuits win.  This finish was an omen that this Biscuits team was different than the teams of last seven years.

The rest of the series with the Lookouts would end with the Biscuits losing the next four games.  While the first four starters pitched well for the Biscuits, the bullpen was handing out runs like candy on Halloween.

The Biscuits bullpen was on the hook for 18 of the 30 Lookout runs scored, actually the fifth starter is a relief guy, that would make 24 of 30 runs scored on pitchers that would represent the Montgomery bullpen.

The first four starters (Schultz, Pruitt, Mortensen, and Lopez) would only give up 6 runs, 4 earned in 21 1/3 innings.  Also, the starters struck out 33 Lookouts and only issued 4 walks.

Even without the top pitching prospects the Rays usually start us with, this could be a decent starting staff.  The bullpen could be very problematic though, if we don't get any help from the Rays.

The Biscuit offense scoring only 14 runs in 5 games started off slow but shows signs of improvement if they can start to group their hits together and add some free bases from walks.

The main offense from this series was supplied by Johnny Field Jr., Richie Shaffer, Justin O'Conner and Tommy Coyle.

Player of the Series
Johnny Wholestaff
The first four starters, (Schultz, Pruitt, Mortensen and Lopez) share the award, holding the powerful Lookouts lineup to: 4 ER in 21 1/3 innings with 33SO and only four BB deserves the award.

Notable was weather delayed the last two games of the series, but both games were completed.  The last game on Monday, a Grand Slam School Day was the first GSS day that was kidless as the threat of bad weather cancelled the children, but the game was played and completed after a delay to start. 

     9 Biscuits 4-3
    10 Lookouts 2-6
    11 Lookouts 3-4
    12 Lookouts 0-6
    13 Lookouts 5-11
Biscuits record for April: 1-4 home, 0-0 road
5th place, three games behind
No transactions to report

April 15-19 @Jacksonville Suns

After a day off the Biscuits got on the bus to Jacksonville, Florida to take on the Suns for their first road series of the year. The Suns are an affiliate of the Miami Marlins, and defending Southern League Champions.  The Suns are not as loaded with talent as the Lookouts, and should give the Biscuits a more realistic look how they could fare versus the rest of the Southern League for 2015.

Game 1 versus the Suns would start with a weather delay, making it three games in a row that weather played a roll. The weather was not the only trend that was negative for the Biscuits. The bullpen would continue to hand out runs, losing both games 1 & 2 at Jville. Starting pitchers Schultz and Pruitt both pitched well, only to see the bullpen lose both games by a score of 3-2.

 The next ugly trend, the Biscuits lack of ability to drive in runners in scoring position. During the series with the Suns, the Skits only pushed 8 of the 47 runners in scoring position across the plate. After seven games into the 2015 season the butter and blue were a dismal 1-6 for the worst start in Biscuits history.

The game of the series would be the third game vs the Suns, with another 3-2 final - but this time the good guys would finish on top. Playing in front of the largest crowd of the series on Friday night, the Biscuits jumped out to a 2-0 lead. in the second inning with RBI's from Goeddel and Reginatto. Goeddel hit a solo shot with two outs in the 4th to stretch the lead to 3-0.

The Biscuits held a three run lead through six. The bullpen came in and gave up a pair of runs, shrinking the Skits lead to 3-2. With runners on the corners one out, Jhan Marinez was able to close out the game. The 3-2 win gave the Biscuits many firsts for the season (1st road win, 1st win by a starting pitcher - Mortensen, and 1st save of the year)

Also ending the six game losing streak, the Biscuits were ready to string some wins together.  Jared Mortensen threw six scoreless innings with four strikeouts to help right the ship,  and the bullpen did just enough to close out the Suns in game 3.

Game 4 would see the offense come out of it's shell winning 12-5.  The Biscuits would have 4 home runs from three players (Field 2, Coyle, Robertson). Also, four players with multiple RBI's (Field 4, Goeddel 3, Robertson 3, Coyle 2).

Game 5 Would see Tampa Bay Rays starting lefty Drew Smyly pitch the first 3.2 scoreless innings in a rehab start. Followed by Bradin Hagens strong four innings and Jhan Marinez second save to lift the Biscuits to a 2-0 victory. Offensively an RBI by Robertson and a solo shot by Justin O'Conner were enough to give the Biscuits a three game winning streak as they boarded the bus back to Montgomery for a ten game home-stand with Mobile and Jackson.

Player of the series was pretty clear cut as outfielder Tyler Goeddel was on fire.  Tyler was 8 of 17 with 2 homers, 2 stolen bases, 4 runs, and 6 RBI's.  Goeddel was able to improve his season batting average from .200 to .344 during the series.

April 15  Suns         2-3                                             Biscuits Record for April
         16  Suns         2-3                                                1-4 Home    3-2 Road
         17  Biscuits     3-2                                          4-6 4th place  2.5 games back
         18  Biscuits  12-5                                                   Transactions
         12 Biscuits    2-0                                        April 19 Drew Smyly Rehab start 

last update March 1st 2016

No comments: