Results tagged ‘ Jon Miller ’

It’s Draft Day, PawSox Play Home Run Derby, My Brother and POTUS

by Will Flemming (@WillFlemming)

Draft Day

It’s Draft Day in Major League Baseball.  Assuming Kevin Costner doesn’t take over for Ben Cherington tonight (which would mean the Sox will have drafted Mike Trout with the 7th pick, packaged their 10th and 12th round picks to move up and pick Gerrit Cole, and swapped an organizational bullpen arm for Andrew McCutchen), Boston will pick 7th in the first round of the amateur draft.  Baseball is so different from the other major sports in two main regards: first, it is far more difficult to project what impact any of tonight’s selections will have (since the body of work against high-level competition is so much smaller than in football or basketball); second, it will take much longer for tonight’s draftees to make a measurable impact in MLB (on average, three to five years).

The difficulty of projection and longer incubation period does not mean we can’t have some fun considering whom the Sox may take later tonight.  Most of the speculation has centered around three main players: Andrew Benintendi, a centerfielder from Arkansas some describe as “a Jacoby Ellsbury clone with a strong power/speed combination”; Alex Bregman, the LSU shortstop who is a close friend of Blake Swihart’s (who attended Blake’s Boston workout in 2011) and the player most evaluators view as the safest pick in the top 10 with the longest track record of proven success; and Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer.  Here’s Keith Law’s report on Fulmer:

“There are three guys from Vanderbilt who have a chance to go in the top 10 this year: the Walker Buehler, Dansby Swanson and Fulmer. Of those three, Fulmer has the most volatily, possessing the most explosive stuff/tools but the most question marks as well. Fulmer’s arm is lightning-quick, and he uses his natural arm strength to sit 92-94 mph and touch the high 90s. The curveball is a swing-and-miss pitch, a power curve with very hard spin that he buries down in the zone. He also has better command of it than he does his fastball.”

Cherington spoke earlier this week about the nuance involved in the draft and the club’s approach, saying “I think the draft is really difficult. I think one of the hardest things we do is try to project amateur talent and (director of amateur scouting) Mike (Rikard) and his staff have been working hard, really hard, to do that all spring. “So whatever our selection is on Monday night, as Mike said before, is going to be based on what we feel is the best player for the Red Sox, not with any particular vision on when that player might get there.”

A little on Mike Rikard – in his first year as the Red Sox’ director of amateur scouting – from NESN’s draft preview:

“Rikard, who was promoted to Red Sox director of amateur scouting over the offseason when Amiel Sawdaye was promoted to vice president of amateur and international scouting, is entering his first draft in his new position. He, like Cherington, noted Boston’s open-mindedness, saying the Red Sox are “still considering a lot of options” with their first-round selection. “I think this draft class may be a little non-typical, just because there still is some uncertainty in front of us,” Rikard said. “There maybe hasn’t been those guys at the top of the draft that have kind of solidified themselves. So there is some gray area as far as what maybe the teams may do in front of us, but we’re trying to just continue to weigh out all the options and we’ll continue to do so for the next few days.”

No matter what happens tonight, remember this: pay no attention to the immediate grading of drafts.  In my opinion, nothing could be less valuable – we simply DO NOT know what these players will become.  A quick glance back at knee-jerk draft grades uncovered a B- grade for Oakland selecting Addison Russell (who has emerged as a young star for the Cubs), and an A+ for the Mariners after they selected Dustin Ackley with the second pick in 2009 (Ackley is a career .242/.305/.342 player who has faced demotion back to AAA).  Having said all that, one scout reviewing the 2009 draft 3 hours after the completion of the first round certainly nailed on thing:

25. Los Angeles Angels — Mike Trout (OF) from Millville Senior High School (NJ); Trout hit .531 with 18 HR’s this season, and is an extremely good switch hitter that could possibly turn into the best position player of the draft in 5 years. At this pick in the draft, Trout is an absolute steal.

Grade: A+

One other thing to remember: As hard as it is to project and develop young baseball players, you need look no further than yesterday’s box scores to underscore the impact the draft can have on big-league teams.  Gerrit Cole (the first pick in 2011) pitched the Pirates to a series win; Kris Bryant (the Cubs’ top choice in 2013) has set the NL ablaze and was a homer shy of the cycle yesterday; Joe Panik (the Giants’ first choice in 2011) extended his hitting streak to 12; and Matt Wieters (the 5th overall pick in 2007) came back from Tommy John and hit his first homer since May.

Homer Happy 

Even though the PawSox won just two of six on their most recent three-city roadtrip, the ballclub enjoyed a tremendous power surge.  Pawtucket blasted ten homers in the six contests (including two three-homer games).  If you missed any of the homers, here is a mashup of all ten radio calls:

If you include the final two games of the last homestand, the Sox have ripped 13 big flies over an eight-game stretch. Pawtucket leads the International League with 46 homers, but has scored the fourth fewest runs in the circuit (209).  Ten of the Sox’ 44 hits in June have been homers, including four two-run shots, Cecchini’s slam and five solo blasts.

Kevin Boles has to be particularly encouraged by Cecchini, who hadn’t homered (or driven in a run) since April 13th and has now left the yard in consecutive games.

Last week also featured Allen Craig’s first homer of the season, and the continuation of his surge since he was outrighted to Pawtucket.  In the 21 games Craig has played with the PawSox, he has at least one hit in 17 and two hits or more in eight.

I had a chance to sit down for an extended conversation with Allen over the weekend.  You can listen here:

In spite of all the homers, the best play of the week came when the PawSox were in the field.  We’ve grown accustomed to special defense from Jackie Bradley, Jr.  But this play took our breath away:

One last thing: my brother David – the voice of the PawSox from 2001-3 and now a broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants – had a special week.  For the third time in five years, he had the honor of visiting the White House with the World Champion Giants.  I thought Pawtucket fans might enjoy a couple shots from his day.

The voice of the PawSox from 01-3 stands behind Matt Cain in the East Room as the Giants get ready for the President

The voice of the PawSox from 01-03 stands behind Matt Cain in the East Room as the Giants get ready for the President

David and his Hall of Fame partner Jon MIller (courtesy: Jon's Instagram feed)

David and his Hall of Fame partner Jon MIller (courtesy: Jon’s Instagram feed)

The PawSox begin a seven-game homestand tonight at 7:05 with the Charlotte Knights in town.  Josh and I look forard to talking to you then.

Thanks for reading,

Former PawSox Voice Gets Historic Call

PawSox fans are well aware of the talented broadcasters to work the booth at McCoy Stadium over the years. Play-by-play men like Gary Cohen (Mets), Don Orsillo (Red Sox), Andy Freed (Rays), Dave Jageler (Nationals), and Dan Hoard (Cincinnati Bengals) have all used Pawtucket Red Sox baseball as a launching pad into the major leagues.

Sunday night, another former PawSox voice was at the mic for one of the most prized calls a broadcaster can have: a World Series championship.

Dave Flemming spent three years (2001-03) broadcasting for the PawSox before being hired by San Francisco where he has somehow managed to hold his own — and even standout — working alongside Hall of Fame broadcaster Jon Miller.

One would automatically assume that it would have been Miller on the call for the final out Sunday night, just like he was for the Giants’ World Series championship in 2010. However, because of extra innings, it was Flemming calling the play-by-play and this tweet sums up what happened off-air:

Between innings, Flemming asked Miller if he would like to take over and have the historic call. Humbly, Miller declined and gave the rare opportunity to Flemming. Safe to say the former PawSox voice has earned the respect of one of baseball’s greatest of all time. And, as you can tell, he nailed the call.



Jon Miller (left) and Dave Flemming (right) during the Giants’ World Series parade in San Francisco. (Flickr: silent summer)