Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Rosario and Sano

Any Twins fan that follows their minor league teams would surely recognise the names of Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano. This season I was lucky enough to be on the same team as these two and witness the unbelievable talent that both of them possess. Miguel signed out of the Dominican Republic for $3.15million and Eddie signed in last years draft in the 4th round out of Puerto Rico. Obviously the Twins invested a lot of money in these two and in their short careers they are producing the goods.

Over the last 10 games we were in a tight playoff race with the Kingsport Mets, and in the last 10 games, Rosario and Sano have flipped the switch and unleashed on the pitchers in the Appalachian League. In those 10 games they have hit a combined .428 average (36 hits in 84 at bats), hit 10 home runs, scored 30 runs and have 33 runs batted in. This kind of production is almost unheard of from a pair of teenagers playing only their 2nd year of professional baseball but they put their team on their back and lead the way for us before the playoffs. To go along with the last 10 games, they have also had very productive seasons, which lead to them being named in the 2011 Appalachian League All-Star Team with Eddie being named the league MVP and Miguel making the team as the utility infielder. They weren't the only Elizabethton Twins to be named as Tim Shibuya was named Pitcher of the Year and Madison Boer named the Reliever of the Year.

I'm not the only one on this team that thinks the way Sano and Rosario have been playing is out of this world, one of our catchers Matt Parker posted this on his Twitter yesterday "I have never witnessed anything like the current offensive production of Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario, absolutely impressive". The things these two guys can do with the bat is amazing, Rosario has some of the fastest hands I've ever seen, and Sano is built like brick wall, and has so much raw power. They do strike out a fair bit, but they also take their fare share of walks, as they get older and begin to recognise pitches earlier, I'm sure their strikeout numbers will drop. All I know is I hope I get to play on the same team as these guys next year, cause I'm sure it will only get better.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Photo of the Day

David Hurlbut and me take pitchers b.p seriously!

The Finish Line

We're heading into September soon, and it the time of year for ball players when the season is winding down and nearly any ache or pain from injuries old or new are making themselves felt right now. I have been pitched nearly 100 innings this year and its taken its toll on my arm as I haven't thrown in 9 days because it feels so tired, those guys like Rosario, Sano and Goodrum that play every single day could definitely be feeling it much worse then I. Its the time of the year when the training room is much busier than normal, after every game players are getting ice to help recover just to be less sore to play tomorrows game, and the weight room that was once crowded at the beginning of the year isn't nearly as popular of a place as it once was in the beginning of the season since they gave us the option of working out for the last few weeks of the season. It is the last leg of the marathon and this is the time of year when the mental side of the game plays an even bigger role in every day.

This is most innings I have thrown in my career since 2009, I only threw 43 innings there, last year at the Major League Baseball Academy and Sydney Winter League I threw a total of 68 innings, and this year I have thrown 99 innings, so its slightly uncharted territory for me having thrown that much. It is a particularly exciting time of the year for us on many reasons. The playoff teams have been set, thoughts of finally returning home and seeing your friends and family are closer to becoming a reality with each passing day. It's the time of the year when things get real goofy in the clubhouse, most guys here have been playing with each other through about 130 games includeing Extended Spring Training, so the hair has been let down, everyone is comfortable with each other and probably going insane from the every day repetitions of the job which makes for a really fun time in the clubhouse and in the dugout every day.

The countdown to the end of the season has begun and there is a lot left to take care of, in the training room, in practice and most importantly in the games, before we reach our finish line.

Chemistry is a big part of any championship team, safe to say we love each other here in Etown

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Photo of the Day

Miguel Sano got a bit too excited eating some cake whilst celebrating that we will be going to the playoffs

Going to the Playoffs

Last night we clinched our spot in the Appalachian League playoffs this season. There are still 3 games to go in the regular season but all the playoff spots have already been filled by the Danville Braves and Bluefield Blue Jays in the East Division and the Johnson City Cardinals and us are the teams that made it from the West Division.

This is how the playoff procedure's work in the Appalachian League:

In the first round of the playoffs, each division leader will face the second place finisher of the opposite division in a best-of-three series. The series will start the day following the conclusion of the regular season at the home of the second place finisher and will conclude with game two and game three, if necessary, at the home of the division winner. The winner of the series will earn the right to play in the Appalachian League Championship Series.
Following the completion of the first round, the two winning teams will square off in a best-of-three playoff that will begin at the home of the easternmost club in even numbered years and the home of the westernmost club in odd numbered years. The Championship Series will conclude with game two and game three, if necessary, at the opponent's park.

Right now Danville and Bluefield have the same record but Danville are in 2nd place, so that means we would have to play Bluefield in the first playoff series and Johnson City would have to play Danville. We have played both these teams in recent weeks and have done quite well against them, so if we play the way we are capable off, we should be able to perform well enough to advance to the Championship Series no matter who we play in the first round of the playoffs.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Video of the Day

This is my new team mate Corey Williams making a spectacular play while he attended college at Vanderbilt University. His knee shattered in two places and still managed to get the out at 1st base.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Quote of the Day

This quote comes from a short conversation Steven and Tim recently had.

Steven : "I feel so lazy, all I do is sit here"

Tim: "That's why we should get up and go get massages"

Steven: "So we can go be lazy somewhere else?"

I actually did laugh out loud at this one, classic Gruver.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The 2011 Elizabethton Twins Pitchers Batting Practice Draft

As you all should know we are having pitchers b.p in Elizabethton in the next week and today we conducted the official draft during team stretch. Matt Summers already chose Tim Atherton as the 1st overall pick, but now I will provide all the readers with the completed draft. Matt Summers and Tim Shibuya were not included in the draft as they are team captains. Their 1st initial in front of each pick represents their choice. Scouting reports for each pitcher will be provided in the next few days.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Photo of the Day

Owling is a new craze that has taken over America, Australia and has now spread to Britain. Owling is the practice of crouching "like an owl" in unusual places. In this case, we used the training room as 3 team mates have joined the owling phenomenon.

From L to R : Matt Bashore, Matt Parker and Rory Rhodes

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Pitchers Batting Practice

If there's anything us pitchers take more seriously then pitching in the game, it may be pitchers batting practice which we call pitchers b.p. Today our pitching coach announced to us that during our last home stand we will be taking part in our own pitchers b.p. Now when we hear that we are going to be taking b.p everyone starts to talk up how good they are at hitting, not me though. The pitching coach asked me if I could swing the bat well and all I said was "I can put on a show hitting off a tee, but apart from that I'm pretty useless". While I said that other pitchers were talking about how they hit in college, and the home runs they hit back in high school so they set the bar high for themselves.

The pitching coach picked two captains to select teams. The captains are Matt Summers and Tim Shibuya. They have 9 days to pick their teams but Matt won the rights to pick 1st overall, and he after conversing with fellow pitchers on who would be a good choice, he went with Tim Atherton. In my opinion it was the obvious choice as Atherton was previously signed in 2008 as a hitter with the Twins and Padres and was hitting not too long ago while he was in Australia. I have also seen him hit some long home runs back in the day.

When I hit back in Australia, I don't too well so I usually try and look like a good hitter. I wear nice batting gloves, an arm sleeve and maybe some wrist bands. I might as well try and look good doing something I do pretty badly. Maybe this time I may take it a little further and wear some eye black and my Oakley sunglasses, possibly wear my hat backwards Ken Griffey Jr style.

Now that Matt has made his 1st pick, Tim Shibuya is now on the clock to make his first selection. All I know is, if there aren't many home runs hit, there will be plenty of laughs to be had.

Photo of the Day

Steve Gruver and Miguel Sano seem a bit tired after a session in the gym

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Photo of the Day

I guess Under Armour have developed the first Leak-Proof Hydration Bottle, or in other words, they gave a water a bottle a fancy name.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Matt Parker - The Fish Whisperer

Yesterday we had another day off, so a few of us decided to get a boat and head down to the lake for what we were hoping would be a long day of cruising around. Instead the sun rarely came out and we were constantly trying to keep warm from the winds, but we witnessed something quite funny. Matt Parker was in the water and then all of a sudden little fish started to crowd around him. We were feeding the fish goldfish, not real goldfish but the snack food goldfish. As we were feeding the fish they were swimming around Matt Parker and if he tried hard enough he probably would of been able to grab them. He was probably surrounded by about 10-12 fish at one point just swimming around him, at one point one of them even nibbled on his feet. As he explained, Matt was "one with the fish".

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Quote of the Day

Our gym is located at the back of the Sycamore Shoals Hospital and they recently fixed up the entrance and took away an old section of the road. Since Steven was driving and it was his first time back at the gym since they redid it, he got a bit lost getting out. Then Tim Atherton came up with this gem of a quote.

"You're lost, you're gonna need the TomTom just to get out of the carpark"

For those of you that don't know, a TomTom is a brand of GPS.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Quote of the Day

This quote comes from Tim Atherton who was clearly feeling the after effects of a tough bus ride through the night from Danville to Elizabethton.

"I feel like I'm sleep walking cause I'm that tired"

Shibuya's Purple Bottle

When you see me around you will probably notice I always have my iPhone in my hand. It actually doesn't make or receive calls but I'm always holding it. You will also see my team mate Tim Shibuya holding something wherever he goes, that is his purple drink bottle. There has only been one time since I have been in Elizabethton that I haven't seen this drink bottle in Tim's hand. On that one occasion we only went for a walk to get lunch from Subway while on a road trip, which was only about 10 minutes away from the hotel, and Tim went into a state of panic that he didn't have his bottle with him. Wherever he goes his bottle is there, you could say it's practically apart of him, like a good friend that he would never leave behind. When I asked why he's always has that bottle with him he gave me a very simple answer, "I hate feeling thirsty".

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


While in the Minor Leagues you are required to find your own place to live, that is unless you are playing in the GCL or AZL Rookie Leagues where your club houses you in a hotel. Now once you get promoted and find your way out of those Rookie Leagues you will have to find somewhere to live and when you get promoted you will almost always have new room mates. 

Since the Twins have been in Elizabethton for a long time, a few families open up their houses to players to live in  and you just pay your host family rent and they will usually cook you meals so you don't have to worry too much about doing grocery shopping. The rent with a host family may be a little more expensive then it would be to live in an apartment or house, but not having to cook and shop makes up for the extra you pay.

In Elizabethton I have moved houses once already. For the first two weeks I was living in a house with AJ Petterson, Steven Gruver and Madison Boer. The house wasn't furnished so we had to rent couches and a tv, and also went out and bought air mattresses to sleep on. Steven slept in the living room, AJ slept out on the porch and Madison and me each had a bedroom to ourselves, but once AJ got injured and had to go home to recover, the rent and utilities for the house would have been too much for Steve, Madison and me to take on so we decided to move. With the help of some friends that work for the Elizabethton Twins, we were able to find a smaller and cheaper place that was fully furnished. Now when I mean smaller, I mean really small. Steven and me share the bedroom and our beds are literally one inch apart, while Madison slept on the couch in the living room. We had already paid in full for the couch and tv at the old house and weren't able to get our money back for that, so instead we traded in the couch and tv, to get a larger tv for equal value. Now we enjoy our movies on a 52inch HDTV.

Throughout the season, players will get promoted. I have lived with 6 people this season, soon to be 7. In Spring Training I was paired with Brad Tippett and then once Extended Spring Training started I was roomed with Jacob Younis. Since I was added to the Elizabethton Twins roster I wasn't able to choose house mates and I was grouped with AJ, Steven and Madison. Madison recently got promoted to our Low A affiliate the Beloit Snappers, and Tim Atheron was promoted from the GCL to Elizabethton, so now Tim will move in with Steven and me and take Madison's place in the living room for the last month of the season. While on the road I am roomed with fellow pitcher Tim Shibuya.

While on the road we get to stay in hotels, and it is a pleasant change to be sleeping in a bed for a few nights, but it's always nice to head back to Elizabethton and sleep in my small house on my air mattress

Monday, 8 August 2011

Photo of the Day

7 foot long subs for 3 people, the normal Minor League players diet

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Run Home

With 23 games left in the season its starting to come down to the business end of the season. After 45 games we are in 2nd place and 6 games behind division leaders the Johnson City Cardinals. To make it to the playoffs in the Appalachian League you need to finish in the top 2 in your division.

We recently played a 3 game series against the Kingsport Mets who are in 3rd place in our division. We lost 2 out of those 3 games which means Kingsport gained a game on us in the standings. The main goal is to make the playoffs but it would be nice to finish in 1st place and have a playoff series at home. When we get back from our road trip we start a 3 games series against the Cardinals which will be a big series for us to catch up to them.

After playing in the playoffs in the Australian Baseball League and not going all the way, you start to get hungry to win a championship. I'm pretty confident that we can put everything together and make a strong run home to the playoffs and ultimately win another championship for Elizabethton.

Photo of the Day

David Hurlbut testing out a 3D TV

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Mental Game

Yogi Berra once said "90% of the game is mental, the other half is physical". Now that may not make any sense, but baseball more then any other game, you have to be mentally strong as well as physically.

I am the first to admit, I may not always be the most positive person on the mound at times. While I was in Florida during Extended Spring training I was pitching quite well and that's because I was full of confidence. In my head I knew I was going to get the batter out even before I threw a pitch, and that confidence helped me with pitch execution and ultimately get the hitters out. Lately my mind set has changed and instead of thinking about getting the hitter out, my mind has been telling me "How far is he going to hit this ball" and that negative thinking has turned what look like into a promising start to the season, into trying to figure my season out.

I spend hours and hours doing my routine and mentally preparing for my outings, visualizing what is going to happen and while I do this, it's only positive thoughts going through my head. I see myself getting hitters out having fun and enjoying myself the way baseball should be. In my last 3 starts my pre game routine hasn't gone to plan and I have allowed that to tell me that I am not going to have a good day and in the end I haven't had a good day.

My last start against the Danville Braves went for 2 2/3 innings, and I allowed 7 runs which is the worst start of my professional career. I don't normally show emotion but when I feel like I have let my team down and let myself down, I had to release some anger when I got into the clubhouse. While I was in the clubhouse gathering myself, the Elizabethton Twins GM was in there and told me something that made sense to me, "Tomorrow is another chance" and then our Strength Trainer told me to remember this feeling and make sure I don't feel like this again, to put all that frustration and energy into my workouts in the next few days. I decided then to let go of that bad outing, learn from it and move on and not let this bad outing ruin my season. I turned up to the gym the next day and had a really good workout, and following that was a good workout on the field which turned into a good week getting ready for my start tonight.

Like I have said so many times, there's always tomorrow, and those 3 words give me strength to get up the next day and work harder so I don't feel the way I did in the clubhouse that night after my outing against the Danville Braves. Being so far away from friends and family, it means a lot that I have such a strong network of people here who are willing to help.

Video of the Day

Sorry I haven't been posting in a while. My apartment hasn't had internet the last week, but I'm back online now and will have plenty to write about.