Results tagged ‘ International League ’

Homestand Recap (8/22-8/25): The Stretch Run, the Young Gun and Some Summer Fun

by Ryan Young

Incredibly, we reached the penultimate homestand of the season last week at McCoy. The PawSox had a busy four days on and off the field. Fortunately, with our “Summer Spree When Kids Are Free” promotion (which continues this week), plenty of fans got to take part in the fun as well.

Heating Up Down the Stretch

This is the first time I have witnessed the stretch-run of  Triple-A season up close and there are many intriguing facets to it. First there’s the race for the postseason. Unfortunately, the imbalance in the International League divisions this year forced the PawSox back to the fringe of the Wild Card race for most of August. (Even though Pawtucket has one of the top-10 records in Triple-A!)

Just look at the divisional standings at the end of August (you’re attention will probably be draw to four teams in the middle, part of a division that will live in infamy):

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 12.52.27 PM.png

There also is the fact that September 1st is when major league rosters expand. Of course, everyone on the Triple-A club hopes to get the call either on the 1st or once the minor league season ends.

Several PawSox have played especially well during this stretch drive. Joe Kelly is heading back to Fenway for good reason. He allowed one run in his 13 relief appearances for Pawtucket. In those 16.0 innings pitched, he totaled 25 strikeouts and two walks.

Meanwhile Robby Scott has been terrific all year (for much of the season as the lone Sox lefty in the bullpen). He has not allowed a run in 12 of his last 14 appearances.

Chandler Shepherd has also been terrific in the bullpen. In fact, he was even entrusted with the Robby Scott-specialty (a spot start) a couple of weeks ago. I spoke with Shepherd about pitching longer outings, veterans in the bullpen, his traded teammates, ping pong in the clubhouse and his recent adventures in Providence.

 

As for starting pitchers, Brian Johnson had a fantastic five-start span before a hiccup in his last outing and Sean O’Sullivan has gotten back on track with his last two starts.

Offensively, Ryan LaMarre, who has maintained his .300 batting average all season, sparked the team over the last week. LaMarre had never homered twice in a professional game before last Wednesday…when he homered twice in two innings!


Much like LaMarre, Bryce Brentz is hoping to patrol the Fenway Park outfield once again this month. Brentz, whose stint in Boston lasted nearly two months, returned to McCoy with four hits and two doubles in three games last week.

I caught up with Bryce to talk about his experiences in the big leagues, including playing at Fenway, playing alongside his good buddy JBJ and what he enjoyed the most. If nothing else, make sure to tune in around the 4-minute mark, where we discussed his first #WinDanceRepeat, which I asked Brock Holt about back in June. (Let’s just say he had to learn it at the last minute.)

 

Even as LaMarre, Brentz, Rusney Castillo have played terrific recently, nobody has gone on quite a power surge like Chris Dominguez did last week. He homered five times in five games. In fact, only two PawSox hitters recorded multi-homer games all season before last Wednesday (including Dominguez the previous week)…then LaMarre and Dominguez both did it in the span of three innings. That’s why baseball is the greatest.

Here’s a brief clip of Dominguez discussing his recent hot streak:

 

Pit Stop to DC

We’ve seen several PawSox players get the call to Boston this season and now that September has arrived, even more guys are heading back up there.

But we’ve also seen many top prospects from the opposition head from McCoy to the big leagues within weeks or in the case of Lucas Giolito, within days. (See Turner, Judge, Sanchez, Berrios, Taillon, Glasnow,

Giolito pitched only one inning against the PawSox last Tuesday to keep him available to pitch over the weekend in Washington. And indeed, he made the start for the Nationals on Sunday.

Not only did he stand out on the mound, but Giolito was probably my most interesting interview subject of the season. Here is the full interview, where we talked about everything from his call to the majors to his admiration of Bob Gibson to his very talented family.

Lucas was optioned back to Syracuse after his start in DC last weekend, so if you come to McCoy for this series, there is a good chance you might get to see baseball’s top pitching prospect in action.

One Busy Afternoon

The final Thursday in August may have been the busiest afternoon of the season for PawSox players.

First, we were nominated by the Rochester Red Wings in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. So, after securing enough buckets to fill with ice and water, the team of front office staff and interns assembled over the railing.

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And then, well…here is a different angle of the festivities for you to enjoy:

 

 

Hardly an hour later, it was time for one of the bigger events of the season. The whole team went out to the field to sign autographs…and lots of fans lined up along the warning track to take advantage of the opportunity. It was a fun scene. Here were all the parings:

Thanks to all the PawSox players for giving so much both on and off the field during the stretch run of the season.

Sadly, we only have five more games to watch them play. But the good news is that they’re all at McCoy! Hope to see you there as we close things out.

The Road Beckons Once Again

by Josh Maurer

The PawSox have had a rough July, no question about it.  Now as August approaches, the team has two long road trips on the horizon beginning with six games in Buffalo and Syracuse starting Friday night.

Over the next two and a half weeks Pawtucket will play 14 of its 18 games away from the friendly confines of McCoy Stadium.  Those road contests will consist of three games at Buffalo, three at Syracuse, four at Scranton and four in Lehigh Valley (including a rescheduled day-night doubleheader on Saturday, August 15th.)

Syracuse Stadium

The PawSox head to NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse on Monday night

Notice one common theme of those series – they will all be played within the North Division.  In fact, following the three-game series against Norfolk this week the PawSox are finished playing any games outside of the division.  So it will be a lot of ‘Cuse, Scranton, Rochester, Buffalo and Allentown for the remaining six weeks of the season.

Here are a few notes to get you ready for the three-game set at Coca-Cola Field in Western New York:

-How about what Henry Owens has done for the past month and a half.  The lefty, who got off to a relatively slow start to the season, has tossed eight quality starts in his last nine outings (since June 14th).  During those nine starts Owens is 1-3 with a 2.64 ERA and has walked just 14 batters in 58 innings pitched while fanning 52.

Owens throwing pitch

Owens has been plagued by a serious lack of run support all season.  Despite his strong work on the mound he has earned just one win over his last 16 starts and the team is only 3-13 in those 16 games.  The southpaw has received just 3.0 runs of offense per start (64 runs in his 21 starts.)

-Speaking of pitching, right-hander Zeke Spruill seems to have found his groove since the Red Sox designated him for assignment earlier this month.  Spruill allowed just one earned run over six innings on Thursday against a good Norfolk lineup.  It was the second-consecutive start that he lasted six frames and permitted just one earned run.

Zeke Spruill pitching

Since being DFA’d on July 3rd, Spruill has made 4 appearances (3 starts) and compiled a 2.00 ERA (18.0 IP, 4 ER).  He may have found a home in the PawSox starting rotation, and the team will need him to continue to pitch well in that role.  John Farrell hinted on Wednesday that both Brian Johnson and Owens may soon be asked to join the big league staff.

-The top teams in the North Division have been impacted significantly by the MLB trade deadline.  On Thursday the Blue Jays traded two of Buffalo’s starting pitchers, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd, to Detroit as part of the David Price deal.  That same afternoon, the Yankees included two of Scranton’s most important players, OF Ramon Flores and closer Jose Ramirez, in a trade that brought Dustin Ackley to New York.

-Just as he did in August and September last season, Garin Cecchini‘s bat has gotten hot as the end of the campaign approaches in 2015.  Entering play on Thursday, Cecchini had seven multi-hit efforts in his last 16 games played and was batting .375 (21-for-56) with seven walks during those contests.

Cecchini on deck

After struggling for the first three months of the season, Cecchini could make a push to earn some time with Boston following the minor league season if his offense continues along its current path for the next few weeks.

-Now that Jackie Bradley, Jr. is back in the Major Leagues, the man who has been most consistently on the field for Pawtucket of late has been Allen Craig.  Craig, who started his 11th-consecutive contest on Thursday afternoon against Norfolk, has now been in the Kevin Boles’ lineup in 29 of the team’s last 31 games.

-On Tuesday night NESN analyst and former PawSox standout Steve “Psycho” Lyons was at McCoy Stadium for a special appearance.  Lyons, who is never afraid to tell it as he sees it, sat down with me for a few minutes to talk about his memories at McCoy and the current state of affairs in Boston.

Steve Lyons playing days

Here is the full conversation, which will also be available this Saturday on PawSox Insider:

Jess Todd will get the start on Friday night in Buffalo against the red-hot Bisons.  The PawSox will be looking for some revenge after being swept in a three-game set at home by Gary Allenson’s team last weekend.  Pregame radio coverage on Friday begins at 6:50pm.

Will and I look forward to talking to you on the radio this weekend!

Josh M

Best Buffalo Wings in the International League

With 72 games on the road in 13 different cities, minor league ballplayers and broadcasters are forced to eat out probably more than we would like. Although a home-cooked meal sounds like heaven to all of us, there are some great eats to be found on the road throughout the International League.

On the current nine-game road trip, I’ve had my first visits to Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse. The latter two locations have between them arguably the two best buffalo wings in the International League – if not all of minor league baseball. Now that I’ve given them the official taste test, here are my results.

2nd Place: The Anchor Bar – Buffalo, NY

This iconic establishment is the original birthplace of buffalo wings and is a must for visitors and locals alike. The story goes that on a late Friday night way back in 1964, the current owner’s mother was preparing a “fourth meal” for some after-hours friends and instead of putting a few pounds of chicken wings in a pot for soup, she decided to toss them in the fryer – the rest is history.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help myself and ended up eating a wing before taking this picture.  They had a great buffalo sauce and were some of the biggest wings I’ve had. For as tasty as the wings were, they were soured by my broadcast partner, Steve Hyder, continually telling me that they were good, but not the best …

1st Place: Change of Pace Sports Bar – Syracuse, NY

I know it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but Hydes was right. Change of Pace served some of the best wings I’ve ever had – and I consider myself a bit of a buffalo wing snob. Steve and I went here last night after the PawSox 4-3 win over Syracuse and were joined by a number of Chiefs’ front office members.

I learned from my previous mistake in Buffalo and took a picture before my first taste. On the left I had original buffalo wings, and on the right I decided to try their new chipotle BBQ citrus wings. Both were tremendous and had a better texture than the wings at the Anchor Bar. They were incredibly moist while staying crisp and, although I maybe liked the buffalo sauce at the Anchor Bar more, these wings overall were better.

For some reason I loved these vintage NFL pennants above the bar. As if the pennants weren’t enough indication that they haven’t re-decorated lately at Change of Pace, here’s the biggest clue:

If you can’t tell, above is framed a picture of Steve holding his six month old daughter Eva, standing next to Big East all-time leading scorer Lawrence Moten. The photo was taken in 1993 and has been in their front window ever since! Steve used to broadcast games for Syracuse University and remains close to many old friends in town.

Today is Game 2 against the Chiefs with Justin Germano making his third start of the season for the PawSox. First pitch from Alliance Bank Stadium is scheduled for 6:00, Steve and I will be on-air (with full stomachs) at 5:45 with the pre-game show.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

PawSox & Red Sox News on National Pancake Day

When I was a senior in college, I purchased the first hot dog sold at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis and sold it for $300 on eBay – seriously. Although my $296.50 profit was impressive, it was nothing compared to the woman currently auctioning off a “rare President George Washington Chicken McNugget.”  Never mind that this delicious delicacy has been in her freezer for three years, what’s important is that it currently has 57 bids and is up to $4,350.  Since I know you’re curious, here is the actual eBay auction page.

Assuming you haven’t stopped reading because you’re suddenly craving McDonalds, we can move on to baseball.

  • Little known fact: Tek was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team (Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

    There haven’t been many captains in major league baseball history other than Jason Varitek.  As you no doubt have heard, the two-time World Series champion will officially announce his retirement on Thursday in Fort Myers.  Although his future role has not been disclosed, word is that he is expected to remain with the organization in some capacity.  “Tek” suited up for the Sox from 1997-2011.  During that time he hit .256 with 193 home runs and 757 RBIs. In the 103 -year history of the Red Sox, only Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons), Ted Williams (19) and Jim Rice (16) had longer playing careers  without suiting up for another team.

  • The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, an International League North Division foe of the PawSox, will play every game on the road this season because of renovations to their home ballpark, PNC Field.  Lackawanna County is in the middle of negotiating the sale of the team and which has cause a bit of a hold-up in the ballpark renovation process.  No sale, no renovation.  The end of the story is that there’s a chance the SWB Yankees could be on the move.
  • Over the Monster did a nice interview today with Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus and asked him his thoughts on PawSox catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
“I’m not sure about the bat; legit pop, but can he make enough contact for it to matter? Once the book gets written on his weaknesses at the plate, major league pitching will be able to manipulate those weaknesses for their own gain. I think you can attack Lavarnway up and in and dare him to generate enough bat speed to beat you. If he does, tip the cap and try another approach. But I’d dare him to hit quality velocity around the letters, especially if you can bust him inside. I don’t think he has the bat speed to handle it.”  Read the rest of the article here.
  • As one fan suggested on Twitter early this morning, how great would a Varitek/Tim Wakefield first pitch be on Opening Day at Fenway Park this year?
  • A total of 87,253 fans registered for the approximately1,000 available tickets in lottery for opening night at the new Marlins Park
  • Thank you to my latest subscriber, dentalguy.  Although that’s a bit of a nerdy name, nerdy is a good thing when you make more money than everyone else.  You can be just as cool as dental guy by typing your email address into the empty box in the top-right corner of this screen and clicking “Subscribe.”  It’s so easy, even a dentist can do it.
  • One thing every dentist loves is sugary maple syrup.  That means every dentist should love today, National Pancake Day.  Eat up!
-AG
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

PawSox Insider: Joey Mac and Ben Crockett dentalguy

Former Canadian IL Club Turns Double-A

Put on your parka and cinch up your Snuggie, baseball is coming back to Ottawa.

From 1993-2007, the PawSox ventured to Canada’s capital each year to play the Ottawa Lynx.  In the club’s 14-year history, they were affiliated with the Montreal Expos (1992-2002), the Baltimore Orioles (2003-06), and finally the Philadelphia Phillies (2007) before closing their doors.

The following year the Ottawa Rapidz  (no, I didn’t misspell that) were formed and had a cup of coffee in the Independent Can-Am League before declaring bankruptcy in September of 2009. Since that time, the cement-clad Ottawa Stadium has been in an indefinite off-season.

(Side note: I actually applied for the play-by-play job with the Rapidz when I was a recent college grad living with my parents in St. Louis.  Fortunately, I didn’t get it.  I can still remember the look on my mother’s face when I told her I applied for a job in Canada.  It wasn’t good.)

Although they won’t re-enter the International League, BallparkDigest.com is reporting that “we should see the move of a Class AA Eastern League team to Ottawa Stadium for the 2013 season.”

The website goes on to say that it’s local Boston-based Beacon Sports that has been negotiating a 10-year lease for the ballpark which would be renovated prior to the start of the season.  According to a press release from the city, “Beacon Sports is proposing to invest approximately $2,000,000 into the facility for player development improvements and would also lease a new scoreboard that is estimated to cost an additional $1,000,000.”

So the obvious question is what major league team will the new Ottawa club be affiliated with? Rumors began when the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Double-A Binghamton Mets will close their doors following this season.  The B-Mets, who have been the Double-A club for New York’s B-Team since 1992, denied the report.

ESPNNewYork.com proposes a true musical chairs approach to the situation: “One in-the-know person speculates the Mets could wind up in New Britain in 2013, with the Twins moving to New Hampshire and the Blue Jays in Ottawa.”

If this were to play out, I’m not sure the fans in New Hampshire would care all that much.  The majority are such big Red Sox fans that when I was broadcasting in Double-A Portland in 2009, the Fisher Cats did a David Ortiz bobblehead giveaway night!  That’d be like if we did a Jose Bautista bobblehead night here at McCoy. Whats more, fans in New Hampshire actually cheered louder for a Sea Dogs’ home run than one from the Fisher Cats.

Good for the city of Ottawa for getting baseball back.  Although there are still lots of things to be figured out, we know that for the Red Sox prospects in Portland, Me., it’s a seven hour, 41 minute bus ride to Ottawa.

-AG

@aarongoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

Red Sox Sign 17-Year-Old Australian Pitcher

Sound the didgeridoo, the Red Sox have inked 17-year-old Australian southpaw, Daniel McGrath.  

The ace pitcher was mulling over the decision to sign a pro contract or travel to the States to play college ball.   The deal was reportedly made official at his Melbourne home in front of substantial gathering of Australian media.

One (unnamed) major league source stated that as many as 15 big league clubs were interested in the 6-foot-3 lefty whose fastball has been clocked at 91 mph.  Fortunately for Boston, “Red Sox Nation” extends to Australia. The Sox happen to be McGrath’s boyhood team which swayed him to turn down more lucrative offers to sign with Boston.

McGrath is believed to have drawn the most interest from major league clubs of any Australian teenager in at least the past 10 years. (foxsports.com.au)

Can you imagine trying to scout a 13-year-old kid?  Well, that’s exactly what Jon Deeble, the Red Sox scouting director for the Pacific region, did when he saw McGrath pitch four years ago. Fittingly, it was Deeble who represented Boston at McGrath’s signing Tuesday.

McGrath is scheduled to visit Fort Myers during Spring Training for roughly a week or so, but will return to Australia where he’ll graduate from high school in December (wonder if he has a hard time getting a date for the prom).

Some die-hard PawSox fans might be familiar with the name Shane Lindsay.  For what it’s worth, the Australia native previously pitched for the Melbourne Aces (like McGrath recently did) and has spent part of the past two seasons pitching in the International League against the PawSox.  First with Columbus (2010) and more recently with Charlotte (2011).

It’ll be some time before we see the Aussie here at McCoy Stadium, but he creates yet another intriguing minor league story for the Red Sox this season.

-AG

 

Mike Tamburro on Joining the IL HOF

Earlier this week the International League announced that PawSox team president Mike Tamburro has been inducted into the IL Hall of Fame.

Tamburro joins Ben Mondor, the late owner of the PawSox, Joe Morgan, the former PawSox manager, Jim Rice, the former PawSox outfielder who is the last player to win the IL Triple Crown (in 1974), and Wade Boggs, the former PawSox third baseman who won the IL batting title in 1981, as members of the Pawtucket Red Sox in the IL Hall of Fame. Mike will be inducted in special ceremonies prior to a PawSox home game at McCoy Stadium this season.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Mike and chat with him about joining the Hall of Fame and how things have changed since he joined the club in 1977.  -AG