Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mizzou Baseball Recruits

Opel will wait (BND.com)
Edwardsville senior outfielder Dane Opel, a 41st-round draft pick by the Washington National, is still undecided about his baseball future.

Opel, who is playing summer ball for the Midwest Mules, a select team based out of Litchfield, was the 1,222nd overall pick in the 2009 Major League draft. The Nationals will follow him during the summer and may make him an offer in August.

Opel said he's in a win-win situation. If he doesn't sign, he has a baseball scholarship to Missouri. His father, Brad, played football at Missouri.

"It'll be a late decision this summer, that's even if they offer me anything," Opel said. "It's going to take quite a bit to get me away from Mizzou. I really want to go there. It'll be up to the Nationals if they really want me. I've been saying it's a great situation either way, no matter what happens."
Lightning early and some late (PJStar.com)
A couple of lightning-quick strikes over the right-center wall in the second inning were all the West needed to beat the East on Saturday in the 35th annual Illinois Coaches Association East-West Senior All-Star Game at EastSide Centre.
. . .
“I’d never seen Blake Brown play before, and it was exciting to see him there, and face him. He’s intimidating, but I loved the chance to face a D-I guy. That’s why this is such a great game to play in, you get a chance to measure yourself against good players.”

Brown, an outfielder from Normal West, was taken in the 2009 June Draft by Pittsburgh, and is headed on a full ride to the University of Missouri. Razo got him both times he faced him, including a first-inning strikeout.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mizzou Quotes: Best year ever?

Mizzou has record finish in Learfield Directors' Cup (MUTigers.com)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – What’s already been a banner year for Missouri Athletics has been capped by a record-best finish in the final 2008-09 Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, released Monday morning by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).

On the heels of strong showings from multiple programs this year on the national level, Missouri finished 36th in the final Directors’ Cup standings, which began in 1993. It eclipsed by one spot Mizzou’s previous best showing, a 37th-place finish in 2002-03.

Twelve of Mizzou’s 20 sport programs scored points for the school in this year’s competition, and seven of those registered top-25 national finishes, which ties the previous high for top-25 finishes in a season by MU (seven in 2004-05 during a 41st- place final standing). Sports scoring this season for Mizzou included:
Men’s Basketball – 5th
Softball – 7th
Wrestling – 7th
Gymnastics – 13th
Football – 16th
Soccer – 17th
Men’s Indoor Track – 20th
Women’s Swimming – 28th
Men’s Outdoor Track – 30th
Baseball – 33rd
Women’s Outdoor Track – 52nd
Women’s Indoor Track – 60th
The great showing continued the remarkable transformation of Tiger Athletics under the guidance of Director of Athletics Mike Alden Since Alden took over prior to the 1998-99 season, Mizzou’s average annual finish in the NACDA standings has been 47th (that has improved to an average of 42nd over the last seven years). In the first five years of the Directors’ Cup standings, and prior to Alden’s arrival at Mizzou (1993-94 through 1997-98), Mizzou’s average annual finish in the standings was 98th.

Here’s a yearly recap of how Mizzou has fared each year in the NACDA standings:
1993-94 – 50th
1994-95 – 105th
1995-96 – 133rd
1996-97 – 119th
1997-98 – 85th
1998-99 – 70th
1999-2000 – 52nd
2000-01 – 49th
2001-02 – 53rd
2002-03 – 37th
2003-04 – 46th
2004-05 – 41st
2005-06 – 48th
2006-07 – 53rd
2007-08 – 38th
2008-09 – 36th
In relation to the Big 12 Conference, Mizzou’s 36th-place finish was good enough to rate 7th-best in the league. The schools with the four largest operational budgets – Texas (6th), Texas A&M (13th), Oklahoma (29th) and Nebraska (31st) – finished in the top four. Baylor (33rd) and Oklahoma State (35th) just edged out the Tigers for the next rung on the ladder.

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors & Majors

Zagone starting pitcher at SAL All-Star Game (DailyMail.com)

Northern Division left-hander Rick Zagone (05-07) of the Delmarva Shorebirds makes the first pitch in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game at Appalachian Power Park. The league's midseason showdown made its first stop in the capital city in 20 years on Tuesday night. The Northern Division topped the Southern Division 8-7.
Zagone among three promotions to Keys (BaltimoreSun.com)
Left-handed pitcher Rick Zagone, who started yesterday's South Atlantic League All-Star Game for the North Division team, was one of three players promoted to the Single-A Frederick Keys, the team announced today.

Zagone was 4-5 with a 4.66 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) for the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. The 22-year-old pitcher, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB draft, struggled in his four starts with Delmarva in June. He was 0-2 with a 16.50 ERA in 12 innings during that span.
Ryan Lollis (06-09) finished a double shy of hitting for the cycle to help ignite the Volcanoes' best offensive output of the season in an 11-1 win against Boise on Friday night at Volcanoes Stadium. (Statesman Journal)
Lollis went 3 for 5 with a home run, triple and single to go along with three RBIs and three runs scored.

"This year in college, I was a home run away, but I don't know if I have been that close with only a double," Lollis said. "I wish it would have happened, but it didn't."

He staked the Volcanoes (5-2) to an early 3-0 lead with a home run to right field off Hawks starter Robert Hernandez in the second inning.

Luke Anders walked to lead off the inning and moved to second, when Drew Biery reached on an error by third baseman Jordan Petraitis.

Both scored on Lollis' homer.

In the fourth inning, Lollis tripled with one out and scored on a single by Juan Martinez to give Salem-Keizer a 4-0 lead.

He accounted for five of the Volcanoes' 11 runs as he singled and scored in the sixth for a 5-0 lead.

"Lollis woke us up. He was the whole offense the first part of the game," Volcanoes manager Tom Trebelhorn said.

Lollis had an opportunity to complete the feat in the seventh and eighth innings but both at-bats he flew out to Jose Valdez in centerfield. The Volcanoes have never had a player hit for the cycle in team history.
Kinsler homecoming (KOLD.com)

He lit up the fields of CDO high-school in the early 2000's. Now, Ian Kinsler (03) is making moves in the big leagues. It was a bit of a homecoming for the one-time Dorado at Chase Field Tuesday night. In front of over 60 of his closest friend's and family Kinsler finished the night 1-for-5 with 1 RBI as the Rangers would lose 8-2.

Despite the score it was still a special moment for the one-time Tucsonan. Especially for his father Howard, who summed up the night perfectly, " my face hurts! I've been grinning so much!"

Video LINK

Former Tiger Folgia signs with Indians (Columbia Tribune)
This is probably a good opportunity as a junior, so I wanted to give it a shot,” Greg Folgia (07-09) said in a phone interview.

Yesterday he was assigned to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the New York-Penn League. Folgia, who played every position except catcher for the Tigers, is listed as an infielder. Folgia will be playing alongside a pair of former rivals. Kansas outfielder John Allman and Missouri State infielder Ben Carlson are also with the Scrappers.

The Web site indiansprospectinsider.com reported that Folgia signed for $100,000.

■ Folgia played in his first game Wednesday night, starting in right field, according to the
Tribune Chronicle:
The best chance for a big inning for the Scrappers was in the fourth inning. Kyle Bellows led off with a double and came around to score on a single by Jason Smit. A sacrifice bunt by Greg Folgia advanced runners to second and third, but Cox struck out Smith and Vera to end the inning.

The Rangers' 40-man roster and the 2009 trade deadline (BaseballTimeInArlington)
Major league teams are required to pare their major league rosters to 40 players by mid-November each year. Organizations that have more major league talent than they can adequately protect in the off-season can use the month of July to minimize the losses that they will experience in the Rule 5 draft by trading their surplus for soon-to-be free agents or low-level prospects.
. . .
RHP Doug Mathis (05): After going unclaimed when waived earlier this year, Mathis will be able to elect free agency the next time he is taken off the 40-man roster. Mathis might be an interesting trade target for a team with a dearth of near-ready major league pitchers.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mizzou Baseball Quotes: Andre Rodriguez heats up the Bravos Valley

BV Bombers beat East Texas again (BrazosSports.com)

The only thing hotter than the temperature is the Brazos Valley Bomber baseball team.

The third-year Texas College League squad moved to within a half game of the lead with an 8-2 clubbing of the East Texas Pump Jacks on Thursday night at Brazos Valley Bank Ballpark.

The Bombers, who needed an eighth-inning rally to win Wednesday, had a much easier time winning their eighth straight home game, pleasing a festive crowd of 1,107.

The Bombers (10-6) banged out 11 hits, had three pitchers combine on a three-hitter and had another solid defensive effort.
. . .
Brett Parsons extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a pair of hits, but Casey Dykes, Andre Rodriguez and Thomas also each had two hits each.

The Bombers took control with a four-run third. Rodriguez's bases-loaded single cleared the bases when it hopped by left fielder Kevin Hussey. Jesse Payne's popup single over the pitcher's mound scored Rodriguez. Singles by Thomas and Parsons sandwiched around a walk to Luke Anders set the stage for Rodriguez.

Thomas and Rodriguez helped the Bombers score two in the first inning. Thomas tripled and scored on Hale's single. Rodriguez's singled in Hale. Dykes closed out the scoring with a two-run single in the seventh that started with Parsons' double.
. . .
[Also at that link is a photo of MU's Russell LaFleur just missing an infield hit in a bang-bang play
at first]

And check out a video of the game, including shots of Rodriguez in action, at KBTX.com (Bats come alive in Victory over Pumpjacks)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Off Season but On Line

Here's a handy list of online sources for information for the off-season Mizzou Baseball fan:

FirstInning.com: Sign up and create your own personal player tracker. Your personal page will track both daily stats and season stats for your personal list of players, both in the Majors and Minors (but not independent leagues), and you can view your players’ daily, basic season, and expanded season stats at any time on the player page. Players are also sortable by name, level, or any stat you like, so you can see how your players are stacking up across levels. The only drawback: You can't have your personal player tracker info sent to you daily by e-mail. Check HERE for a list of former MU players in professional ball.

Minor League Transactions: Every Tuesday around noon, Baseball America posts an updated list of transactions in the Minor Leagues, so you can see who has been promoted, demoted or released.

Minor League GameDay Audio: MiLB.com provides quick links to dozens of minor league teams' online streaming audio. Tune in and listen to Evan Frey's Mobile BayBears or Nathan Culp's San Antonio Missions.

2010 Schedules: The College Baseball Blog reports on every NCAA team that releases its schedule for the coming season. While you may not care all that much about Centenary's 2010 schedule, you can find out if they're scheduled to play Mizzou next year (they're not). By check the CBB (or by methodically looking up every D-1 website over and over again for months, like I do) you can slowly piece together MU's 2010 schedule.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Year of the Draft continues at Mizzou

From the Kansas City Star:
DeMarre Carroll endured so much to arrive at this moment.

The moment, Thursday night, when, watching on television, Carroll heard NBA commissioner David Stern call his name as the No. 27 overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2009 NBA draft.
. . .
Carroll’s selection continued a draft rush of Mizzou athletes off their recent college seasons.

In the 2009 NFL draft, Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was taken No. 19 in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles. In that same draft, defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was taken No. 32 by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the 2009 Major League Baseball draft, the Royals took former MU pitcher Aaron Crow No. 12 in the first round while another MU pitcher, Kyle Gibson, went No. 22 to Minnesota.

Mizzou Baseball Quotes: Summer Ball & Goofballs

Jonah Schmidt is playing this summer for Wildwood in the Metro Collegiate League in St. Louis. Click HERE for a story about a recent game, including a photo of Jonah successfully stealing second base.

Pump Jacks pound McKinney, 12-1 (Longview News Journal)
Russell LaFleur led the 13-hit Pump Jack output with a big game as a set-up man. A sophomore center fielder from the University of Missouri, LaFleur was 3-for-4 with a double and four runs scored.
. . .
2nd inning: With one out in the bottom of the second, Ben Woodchick walked and Petello followed with a single to left. Woodchick scored on a James Stanfield single to

LaFleur loaded the bases with a walk and Petello came home on a walk by Fontenot. Daniel Gonzalez brought Stanfield home with a bases-loaded walk, then LaFleur scored on a Brett Nicholas sacrifice fly to center.
2009 All-Fitt Team (Baseball America)
SP: Kyle Gibson, Missouri

Mizzou coach Tim Jamieson says that Gibson could run for mayor of Columbia, because everyone feels like they’re best friends with him. Baylor’s Kendal Volz calls him a "goofball." Gibson has a winning personality and winning stuff.

■ Speaking of "goofballs", Gary Wendt and company still want the people of Columbia to see them as potential minor league baseball moguls just waiting to bring their wisdom and expertise back to town: Columbia still waiting on Mavericks' pitch (Columbia Tribune):
The legal problems are a separate issue, Gary Wendt said, and shouldn’t affect the company’s plans in Columbia. Wendt declined to go into detail about his current plans for the Mavericks and wouldn’t discuss the pending lawsuits in Texas.

“There are a couple things that are happening right now,” Wendt said in a telephone interview yesterday. “I can’t give you any information right now that’s of value. … In a couple weeks, there may be something of real substance that’s newsworthy.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Three Mizzou Tigers in one MLB game

Scherzer strikes out seven in victory (MLB.com)
D-backs starter Max Scherzer didn't back down when the Rangers fouled off his pitches. He didn't slow down when his pitch count blew past the century mark.

He just kept pitching and pitching.

The right-hander fed the Texas visitors a steady stream of fastballs, breaking balls and offspeed pitches on his way to his third consecutive victory in the D-backs' 8-2 win against the the American League sluggers at Chase Field on Tuesday night.
. . .

The pivotal moment was the fourth inning. The Rangers had just cut the D-backs' lead to 4-2 with an RBI single by Ian Kinsler in the top of the inning and were making Scherzer work hard. Arizona had the bottom three hitters coming up in its half of the inning. Harrison needed a shutdown inning.

He didn't get it. He got one out then walked Ryan Roberts, the D-backs' No. 8 hitter, on four pitches. Scherzer then bunted Roberts to second and he scored on a single by
Felipe Lopez.

And from MyTeamRivals.com: Doug Mathis was the only Rangers pitcher not to give up a run. He tossed two innings of one-hit ball.

Off-Season Pastimes: Sugar

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." (Rogers Hornsby)

What can the avid college baseball fan do in the off-season to stave off the dreaded baseball-deprivation blues?

Watch a Baseball Movie: Sugar

You may have to do some searching to find a place to watch Sugar, the great baseball movie I saw the other night. It's currently out in theaters, but may only be in art-house or independent venues, like Ragtag Cinema in Columbia, where I watched it the other night.

It's in limited distribution because it's about 70% in Spanish, with subtitles.

Now, I know that the average macho baseball fan just laughed and said to himself, I'm not going to a movie with subtitles. I have to agree, I'm not a fan of subtitles either. But for this movie it is worth it.

The movie is a fictional account of a Dominican ballplayer (nicknamed "Sugar") who plays at a major league baseball academy in the Dominican Republic and finally gets his call-up to the minor leagues in America.

I found the first quarter of the movie interesting because I know that former Tiger Jayce Tingler is currently the manager/director of the Texas Rangers' baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. this movie gave me an idea of what his job must be like.

The awkwardness of the Spanish speaking and English subtitles actually plays into the whole theme of the movie, because it helps the audience to relate the language and culture barriers faced by Sugar as he tries to make it in American baseball.

I really can't do the movie justice by my description, other than to say that if you are a true fan of baseball, you'll enjoy this film. But don't expect a typical Hollywood-style ending. As one reviewer said, you'll think you know how it's going to end, but you don't.

SUGAR: Movie Trailer - Funny bloopers R us

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors

Kyle Mach (06-09) had his first hit as a professional Sunday night, playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions (SF Giants organization). His hit was a bomb to left, a home run. He finished 2-for-5 on the night with 2 RBI. He was the starting third baseman and hit 5th in the order.

Tim Jamieson was the guest on KFRU's The Closers last week and said he is looking forward to attending the MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis, where he expects to see Ian Kinsler (03) as the starting second baseman.

Gary RHP Andy Shipman (03) named Northern League Pitcher of the Week (for the week ending June 21st) (northernleague.com)
Shipman, who has not allowed an earned run since being acquired by the RailCatson June 3rd, completed the week earning a league-high three saves. He also struck out three batters while only walking one in that span. Signed by the RailCats only six days after his release from the Kansas City T-Bones, he earned two of his three saves during the week versus his former team. He had played a key role for the T-Bones during their Championship drive of ’08, earning the victory in game two of the Northern League Championship Series.

Garrett Broshuis (02-04) disusses the ins and outs of autograph ettitquette in "Hey Number 47" (BaseballAmerica.com)
Wrong way: Indiscriminately yelling, asking for bats and gloves

This tells a player that you don't even care what name you get, you're just after a signature. You'd be just as happy with the batboy's signature. And we sure aren't giving our gloves or bats away. We have to use them!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Greg Folgia signs with Indians

Greg Folgia has signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians organization and has been assigned to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, according to MLB.com. He is listed on the Scrappers roster as a pitcher.

Mizzou Baseball Quotes: Wood Bats, Money & Gold

Nick Tepesch and Conner Mach are doing well in the Cape Cod League with the Falmouth Commodores:

The Falmouth Commodores tallied their first home victory of the season Saturday night, beating the Wareham Gatemen by a score of 5-0. Falmouth starter Nick Tepesch (Missouri)—who gave up eight runs in just three plus innings his last time out—bounced back with a brilliant night. Tepesch gave up just two hits over six innings of scoreless ball. One of those two hits was a bunt single by Wareham’s Ryan Pineda (California State Northridge). Tepesch would also have to work around three errors committed by his infield. (http://www.falcommodores.org/)

For just the third time this season, the Commodores struck first offensively. After Scott Lawson (Miami) was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first frame, Josh Adams(Florida) and Murray Watts (Arkansas State) followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases. One out later, Connor Mach (Missouri) delivered with a bloop, two-out, two-R.B.I. single to put Falmouth up early.

Cape Cod League stats

Ryan Clubb and Kelly Fick are doing well with the San Luis Obispo Blues this summer:
• Fick struck out 6 batters and allowed zero earned runs in a Blues win this weekend (story)
• Ryan Clubb pitched 1-1/3 innings in relief on Saturday, with 2 strikeouts and 2 hits.
■ I've received several tips about the summer-ball locations of Mizzou players and have updated our list accordingly: 2009 Summer Ball List

Sam Lind is reportedly transferring to Central Arizona College this fall, along with Brian Carr.

You Make the Call: Voting for 2009 Mizzou MVPs concludes at the end of June. Current vote leaders:
Newcomer of the Year: Conner Mach is edging out Michael Liberto for the lead
Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Gibson has a commanding lead
Player of the Year: Greg Folgia and Kyle Mach are neck-and-neck for the lead
Voting is still going on in the left-hand navigation bar here at SimmonsField.com

■ Would you like to know how Mizzou ranks (nationally and in the Big 12) in total athletics revenue? No you don't. But Barking Carnival has the ugly details for you anyway.

The Golden Spikes is Baseball's Heisman - Without all the Flops (Wall Street Journal)
Top baseball prospects are notoriously prone to flopping as professionals, but winners of the Golden Spikes -- an award given to the best amateur player after the conclusion of the college season -- are actually becoming more reliable than player-of-the-year honorees in other sports.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors

Kyle Mach has signed with the San Francisco Giants organization and is currently in Scottsdale, AZ, playing for the Rookie LEague team, due to crowded rosters in the higher-up Giants affiliates.

Ryan Lollis was 1-for-4 in his first game as a Salem-Keizer Volcano, with 1 RBI and 1 run scored.

Mizzou Baseball Recruits

■ The Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State Team was named this week. Included on the Class 4-A Second Team was MU recruit Eric Garcia of Hendrickson HS in Pflugerville, TX.

■ MU recruit Dane Opel was named to the Louisville Slugger All-America Baseball Team.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors: Lollis ready for opening day

Volcanoes ready for opener tonight (Statesman Journal)

The 2009 Salem-Keizer Volcanoes arrived in town Wednesday night, had a practice Thursday and a non-league game Friday.

Bring on opening day.
. . .
"I'm so excited to play, especially opening day," said outfielder Ryan Lollis, who was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 37th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft out of the University of Missouri.

"You want to start out right and not make any mistakes. Sometimes you try too hard, but you tell yourself to calm down and play the game you've been playing since you were a little guy."

Rick Zagone was transferred to the roster of the rookie-level Bluefield Orioles. according to the Baltimore Sun.

Summer Ball 2009

What follows is the information I've collected on where the Tigers are in summer ball. If anyone has info on the location of other MU players, send me an e-mail (simmonsfield@hotmail.com)

Great link for Summer Ball coverage: CollegeSummerBall.blogspot.com

Cape Cod League

Falmouth Commodores
Nick Tepesch
Conner Mach

Texas Collegiate League
East Texas Pump Jacks
Russell LaFleur
Brett Nicholas (MU recruit)

Coppell Copperheads
Jeff Emens

Brazos Valley Bombers
Andre Rodriguez

Southern California Collegiate Baseball Association

San Luis Obispo Blues (former MU pitching coach Chal Fanning is the Head Coach)
Ryann Clubb
Brian Carr
Kelley Fick

Palm Springs Power
Phil McCormick
Rex Meyr

Jayhawk League

Hays Larks
Ben Turner

MINK League

St. Joe Mustangs
Sam Lind

Sedalia Bombers
Zach Hardoin (MU Recruit, JuCo transfer)
Ryan Allen

Mac-N-Seitz A's
TJ Schieber
Jack Dudenhofer (MU recruit)
Prospect League
Hannibal Cavemen
Garrison McLagan

Northwoods League

Duluth Tigers (Brian Delunas, asst. coach)
Tyler Clark
Scott Sommerfeld (MU recruit)

California Collegiate League
Santa Barbara Foresters
Michael Liberto

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mizzou Baseball Quotes: Many happy returns?

Drafted juniors Folgia, Senne contemplate return to MU (Columbia Tribune)
“I gave up after like the 36th round,” Folgia said in a phone interview yesterday. “I went to Fuddruckers with some of the guys, so I didn’t know when it happened. I got a phone call, ‘By the way, Greg, you were taken in the 40th round.’

“I’m like, ‘I’m eating a cheeseburger right now. I’ll call you later.’ ”
. . .
When the Twins, the team [Aaron Senne] rooted for growing up in Rochester, Minn., drafted him, it made things a little more intriguing. He’d also be favorable to teaming up in the minors with Gibson.

“They definitely know how to make my life and my decisions hard,” Senne said of the Twins, who had previously drafted him out of high school, as well. “I think if it wouldn’t have been the Twins this late, I’d probably be leaning toward coming back to school — almost for sure — already.”

Folgia yesterday said the Indians had made him an offer of $150,000 and that he hopes to have his mind made up in early July.

“Hopefully, I’ll think the same thing two days in a row and be able to make a decision,” said Folgia, who hit .326 while leading the Tigers with 12 home runs and 70 RBI. “Right now, every other day, I’m thinking something different.”

There's more: Read the rest HERE

The Columns blog reviews the 2009 MU Baseball season in part two of A banner year for the Mizzou athletic department:
With on field success the University of Missouri continues to impress, but truly bringing out the meaning of student athlete, the baseball team did its part in the classroom as well. Mizzou placed ten players on the Big 12 academic all-first team, leading the Big 12 in first teamers and second in overall selections. Seniors Kyle Mach and Scooter Hicks lead the way, followed by underclassmen Kyle Gibson, Trevor Coleman, Aaron Senne, Ryan Ampleman, Nick Tepesch, Andrew Thigpen, Kelly Fick, and Phil McCormick.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors & Majors

Nathan's Famous (OurSportsCentral.com)
The Missions got another key performance from lefty Nathan Culp (04-06)who led San Antonio to a 4-0 shutout of Frisco at Wolff Stadium Friday night, running their win streak to four games and bringing them within two games of first-place Midland with 11 games to go in the first half of the Texas League season.

Culp turned in a quietly dominant performance, inducing 13 ground ball outs over 7.0 shutout innings to win his fourth game of the year. He fanned Johnny Whittleman to work out of his only real jam with two runners on in the seventh. The southpaw scattered four hits and a walk for his second shutdown performance against the RoughRiders at home this season. On April 29th, Culp also tossed 7.0 scoreless frames, but did not factor in the decision.

"Another excellent outing," said manager Terry Kennedy of Culp's start. "He commanded all three pitches, both sides of the plate."

After a disappointing May, Culp has started June red hot, moving to 2-0 without an earned run allowed over 14.0 innings in his first two starts, allowing just 11 baserunners over that span.

"It was nice to open up a new month and just turn the page on May," said Culp of his sharp turnaraound. "I've been working hard with Webby (Missions pitching coach Bruce Webber) on my sinker and slider."

"He's made the adjustments to the league," said Kennedy. "He's worked really hard and it's paying off."

This is really strange (MANS Sports)

Lefty pitcher Rick Zagone (06-07) of the Delmarva Shorebirds was having a brilliant season. He was recently named as the starting pitcher for the Northern Division team in the SALLY League all-star game.

I say was having a brilliant year because of what has happened recently to Zagone.

On May 26th, his record was 4-3 and ERA was 1.92.

Tonight, he gave up six runs in just 2 2/3. That is the third start in a row where he didn't pitch over three innings. Over those last three starts he has given up 18ER in 7 2/3 innings. His ERA has gone from 1.92 to 4.40.

He has allowed 29 earned runs on the year, with 18 coming in those last three starts.

It makes you wonder about an injury, but certainly O's officials must be wondering that too. And, if that were even a possibility, he would not have taken the mound tonight in Hagerstown.

But he did, and for the third time in a row, the results were not good. This is suprising since Zagone is considered one of the best O's pitching prospects below Bowie.

MU has ben arming the majors with pitching (Kansas City Star)
Miami is known as Quarterback U. Georgia Tech might be Engineer U. Northwestern could be Movie Star U.

And Missouri, well, the school is making a case for its own designation.

“Yeah, we’re ol’ Pitchers’ U,” says Max Scherzer, who will start for the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at Kauffman Stadium. “You see so many guys go there and get better and turn into really good college pitchers. It’s really a cool thing to have.”
. . .
Big-league scouts see a commonality in each of Mizzou’s studs.

“Their pitching plan is more similar to a professional pitching plan,” says J.J. Picollo, Royals’ scouting and player development director. “I think that’s why they develop. Their plan is more similar to ours.”

Picollo means that MU’s pitchers work off their fastball, know when to mix in off-speed pitches and are not afraid to come inside on batters.

Scherzer, Diamondbacks take down Greinke, Royals (ESPN.com)
Max Scherzer (04-06) held the Royals to two runs on nine hits and three walks, winning for the fourth time in five decisions.

"The turning point was when we started scoring runs off Greinke," Scherzer said. "We took the momentum of the game and we just never let it go. That's a credit to our hitters, grinding it out against one of the best pitchers in the game. I'm not really facing him. I'm facing the Kansas City Royals and the hitters."
Diamondbacks 12, Royals 5: Crowning Achievement (AZ Snakepit)
Scherzer's outing was full of baserunners and tight spots, but he managed to navigate all of the landmines with minimal explosions. After the first, it went something like this:

2nd: First and second, one out, no runs.
3rd: First and second, one out, no runs.
4th: Runner on second, two outs, no runs.
5th: Runner on third, one out, sac fly.
6th: First and second, two outs, no runs.

Twelve men on base in six innings, but still a quality start with just two runs charged to Mad Max. He struck out five and is now 4-1 in his last seven starts, after waiting so long to get his first big league win. He left nursing a slim 4-2 lead, but this time the offense made sure the bullpen couldn't blow an easy victory.

Mizzou Baseball Quotes

MU's drafted seniors face decisions (Columbia Tribune)
Maybe shortstop Michael Liberto won’t be the last Missouri Tiger standing.
. . .
Missouri Coach Tim Jamieson said he had previously spoken to his draft-eligible Tigers about what it would’ve taken for them to go pro.

“It affects our whole ballclub,” Jamieson said Tuesday. “It affects scholarships, not only for these guys, but all the guys we signed in high school and junior college coming in next year. So we have to kind of have a feeling for what they’re going to do or what it’s going to take for them to sign.”
Tepesch eyes spot as Missouri's ace next year (Examiner.com)

Now that the year is over, with Gibson graduated (and drafted), Tepesch is in line to become the Tigers’ ace for the 2010 season. Tepesch thinks he has an opportunity to earn that distinction.

“It’s just going to come down to whoever performs better,” he said. “It’s my goal.”

Tepesch is working toward that goal, playing on a summer league team in Cape Cod, Mass. While there, he’s working on a few things for next year.

“I’m trying to be more consistent and give my team a chance to win and be a better pitcher, in general,” he said. “I have a lot to improve on. I’m just trying to get better.”

■ Cotuit wins a pitchers duel in 10 innings (Falmouth Commodores blog)
The Commodores had a chance to take the lead in the top of the 9th, but some bad
luck slowed the threat.

Falmouth had runners on first and second with one down and Matt Grasso at the plate. The Notre Dame student looped a pitch to shortstop for an easy out. But on the swing, Conner Mach (the runner at second) took an extra step toward third. Mach (Missouri) quickly realized the mistake and tried to race back to second. But on his way back to the base he slipped and fell, and it turned into an easy double play for Cotuit.

The bad luck started long before the 9th inning for Mach.

On the ride to Cotuit, Mach’s equipment bag fell out of the bus when the storage door on the bottom of the bus popped open. Mach played the entire game with someone else’s gear – and that includes cleats.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Max vs. Zach

Scherzer ready for showdown with Greinke (MLB.com)
The D-backs and Royals continue Interleague Play on Wednesday night with a pitching matchup that features a pair of talented right-handers in Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke.

"Two guys who have dominating stuff," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "Which probably means it leads to a high-scoring game the way baseball works."

Scherzer is coming off one of the better starts of his short career. Against the Giants at Chase Field last week he tossed a career-high 7 2/3 innings and 116 pitches in a 2-1 win. Being more efficient with his pitches has been a priority for Scherzer, who has struggled to pitch deep into games.

There's no questioning the talent in Scherzer's right arm, though. He has always had an electric fastball, but he has also gotten better at using his slider and changeup.

Greinke has been one of the league's best pitchers thus far. He was the American League Pitcher of the Month in April.

"Greinke's been as dominant as any pitcher in baseball," Hinch said. "But he's not invincible. His success has been well documented."

Mizzou Baseball Recruits: Signability & Ability

■ According to Pantagraph.com, MU recruit Blake Brown is unlikely to sign a pro contract:

Blake Brown called it a “great honor” to be selected in the 48th round of Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. Still, the Normal West High School standout does not expect that honor to result in signing a contract to join the Pittsburgh organization.

“I’m still pretty sure I’ll go to college, get my education and develop there,” said Brown, a Missouri recruit. “I would never rule it out, but it would have to be a good offer to be worth forgoing college.”
. . .

West coach Chris Hawkins believes Brown would have been drafted several rounds higher if not for his stated intention to enroll at Missouri.

“The Browns were honest with scouts from the start,” Hawkins said. “I’m sure Pittsburgh will still make an offer, but it would have to be an extraordinary offer to forgo his opportunity at Missouri.”
Dane Opel also was drafted well below his value, perhaps for the same reason, according to bnd.com:
"Signability" is the buzzword of the 2009 Major League Draft, and that may help explain why it took 41 rounds before Edwardsville High senior outfielder Dane Opel's name surfaced. The University of Missouri recruit was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 41st round Wednesday with the 1,222nd overall pick.

"I don't' think where a guy's drafted designates his value," said Edwardsville High School baseball coach Tim Funkhouser. "It's more whether he's going to be signable at a particular number. He's got good options at Mizzou, and if it works out between him and the (Nationals), then he'll have two good options there."
. . .
" Mizzou's a great option. Any time you commit to a school that's one of the upper echelon schools ... with the success their program's had in the Big 12, that's a great option," Funkhouser said. "With college baseball the way it is today, more kids are heading towards college unless they're in the upper rounds --or if they get upper-round money."
It's good to be King (Kirksville Daily Express) talks about MU recruit Cody King:
The Missouri recruit finished his career No. 1 in the KHS record books with 24 wins, 283 strikeouts, 12 complete games, four shutouts and 10 saves. His wins tie him for 21st all-time in state history and his 10.5 strikeouts per seven innings place him 10th all-time.
. . .
King finished the season with a 9-2 record and a 3.24 ERA with three complete games and a shutout. He struck out 95 in 54 innings and walked 30.

Jackson said King showed some resiliency this season after getting off to a rough start, giving up eight runs in an inning and a third in the season opener against Hannibal.

“His ERA was less than two after that game,” Jackson said.

King said he learned a lot after that disastrous outing.

“Mainly, I had the feeling that I needed to get ahead of the hitters and I would fare a lot better if I did that,” he said.
. . .
“[King] has to become dedicated to the weight room,” he said. “The successful pitchers have all been dedicated to weights and all of them have added some speed to their pitches. Crow, Gibson, and Scherzer all have fastballs in the mid-90s, and that’s due to work in the weight room.”

King’s fastball has been clocked in the mid-90s.

One of the things that makes King special is his ability to handle pressure.

“[King] was the ace of our staff ever since we brought him up as a freshman,” Jackson said. “He’s never acted any differently because of that. He was one of our few bright spots as a freshman and he has been a workhorse ever since, doing whatever it takes to be successful.

“As good of an athlete as he is, he’s an even better person.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Tip of the Cap 2009: And the winner is . . .

The Jay Bell Award

We present an annual award to a Tiger player for outstanding performance against the evil Jayhawks, in honor of a particularly memorable performance back in 1998 by former Tiger Jay Bell (96-98).

This year's series at Taylor Stadium against the Jayhawks was full of outstanding performances:

Ryan Ampleman's walk-off homerun to win the game on Sunday (hear Tex Little's call of the HR)

Garrison McLagan torched his redshirt in style, getting the start at DH for all 3 games against the Jayhawks. G-Money got a hit in each of the 3 games, going 3-for-12 for a .250 average and contributing a pair of RBI and a run scored.

• The Academy Award for acting goes to Ryan Lollis, who hammed it up after getting hit in the knee by a pitch, only to pull off a double steal with Greg Folgia that resulted in fan-favorite Buck Affenir (Lawrence city jail ID # 49858736) throwing the ball into the outfield.

But the Jay Bell Award has to go to Superman himself, Greg Folgia:

Mizzou takes game one (PowerMizzou.com):

Just call him Superman.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and runners on second and third, a crowd of 1,774 at Taylor Stadium watched a ball smash off the centerfield wall. As the runner neared third, he received the signal to try and complete the inside-the-park home run. With just a few steps to go before reaching home, the exhausted runner sailed through the air with arms spread like Superman. Only this Superman wasn't wearing Jayhawk red and blue. No, this Superman was wearing black and gold and goes by the name of Greg Folgia.

Base Cadet

The annual Base Cadet award goes to the player who earns it by doing the most to make us all chuckle at "interesting" choices or lapses of concentration on the basepaths.

Kyle Mach gets a look due to his team leading stolen base percentage (o-for-4).

But regardless of any other base running adventures during the rest of the season, the other Mach, freshman Conner Mach earned a mention as a Base Cadet for his performance in his first at-bat of the season against Nevada.

Conner pounds a hit off the outfield wall and takes off running. Rounding first base, sure of at least a double, he heads for 2nd base, only to discover it is occupied.

By his brother Kyle. Conner was tagged out.

A Tigerboard poster imagined this conversation:

Kyle: What the h*** are you doing? (smirk on his face)

Conner: I thought you were faster than you really are...

Black & Gold Glove

Ryan Lollis provided several thrills in 2009 with his defense in the outfield, not the least of which was this over-the-fence catch against the Sooners. Roll the video tape: LINK

Most fun to Heckle

Texas Tech's AJ Ramos, aka "Papi Chulo", almost became the first repeat winner of this honor, returning to Simmons Field for another round of spirited heckling, reprising his memorable wipeout in 2007.

Buck Afenir of the Jayhawks was an easy target after he had an altercation with a side mirror on a car last September and then ran from the police, who found him hiding under a bush.

But the best heckling target of the year had to be Sooner star J.T. Wise, who was frequently reminded by the Simmons Field hecklers of his adventures as a high school ballplayer. 'Nuf sed.

Hecklers of the Year

At the SIU-Edwardsville game in mid-March, a pair of young women garnered a lot of attention from the fans, the pressbox, the players (on both teams) and anyone else in the area. They were screaming, yelling, jumping from their seats. I wondered at the time if they had finished off the St. Pattrick's Day green beer from the night before in preparation for the game.

The Missourian's Andrew Dewitt went above and beyond the call of duty as a sportswriter, though, and sought out an interview and photograph with the young ladies, and found the reason for their enthusiasm:

The truth? A broken heart will make you go crazy. The girls ex-boyfriends play for SIU-Edwardsville. I’m disappointed there won’t be a return trip for the Cougars.

A Little Red Whine

Texas Tech tried hard to win the whiners of the year award once again:

"The house of horrors that is Missouri's Taylor Stadium struck the Texas Tech baseball team again." from Tech's bullpen implodes , Lubbock Avalanche Journal.
They've been whining about Taylor Stadium ever since they were no-hit to the tune of 25-0 by Max Scherzer and Mike Cole two years ago.

But the Lubbockites were out-whined by Nebraska Cornhuskers coach Mike Anderson, whose team plummeted to the cellar of the Big 12 this season. On the way, he tried to explain that it really isn't his fault.

Anderson says system led to Husker collapse (Grand Island Independent):

Nebraska baseball coach Mike Anderson attributes his own “honesty and integrity” for a month-long skid that leaves the Huskers on track for their worst season in more than a decade.

“People just look and say, ‘They’re not good this year,” Anderson said. “The reality is, there’s a reason.”

According to Anderson, NU reached this place after his refusal to “oversign” recruits last year when the program was hit hard for a second straight season by the professional draft.. . .

“There’s nobody in the Big 12 who’s endured what we have in the last two years in terms of the draft,” Anderson said. “Nobody. Not even close.”

Anderson, by recruiting more players than he had scholarships available, could have covered himself in case of an exodus to professional baseball. It’s a common practice, he said.

Outstanding performance by an infrequent fan

My friend David Hagemeyer has been to one MU Baseball game each of the last two years, both at my invitation.

In 2008 he was there the night Aaron Crow struggled in the first inning before MU rallied to beat the Longhorns 31-12.

When he came back in 2009 he asked me before the game if he was gong to see as good a game this time around, and I said that was unlikely. I was right. This time the Tigers only scored 18 runs after the Mizzou ace (Gibson this time) struggled early against the Red Raiders, finishing with an 18-7 win.

Coming out party

One of the great joys of following college baseball is watching guys come in as freshmen and seeing them develop through the years, both as players and as people.

I remember coming across a picture of Kyle Gibson when he was just a recruit out in Indiana somewhere. Gibson is probably thankful I lost track of the picture at some point, since it shows him sitting in the dugout hamming it up with his finger up his nose.

My first impression of him as a freshman at Mizzou was that he must have escaped from a Tim Burton movie, all long arms and thin legs and sharp angles. I recall Tex Little referring to him as a "tall drink of water".

Those long limbs stayed long, but they filled out with muscle over his three years at MU, making him the dominant pitcher he was in 2009.

Everyone knew he was going to be great, but he really grabbed the baseball world's attention on the day of his first Big 12 game this season, against the mighty Longhorns.

Missouri's Gibson comes into his own (PowerMizzou.com)

Gibson has made four starts for the Tigers and has struck out 38 and walked eight, while tallying a 0.90 ERA in 30 innings of work. In a 2-0 win over the Longhorns Saturday afternoon, the veteran righty struck out 11 and allowed just six hits in a complete game shutout performance. It was the third complete game of his career.

Color Texas coach Augie Garrido impressed.

"I think his command and overall presence is just outstanding," Garrido said. "He's poised, positive and confident. He dominates the counts and he doesn't get rattled. He's just an excellent pitcher."
. . .
"If you don't have confidence taking the field, you really don't have anything," Gibson said. "I feel like I've got some work to add to the legacy of great pitchers at Missouri. Everyone that has come through here has made a living off attacking pitchers and that's my goal this season. I'm not afraid of anything."

With that, I tip my cap and bid farewell to the 2009 season. Thanks to the team, to the coaches, to the families and to the fans, for your encouragement this season.

Read more of our 2009 Tip of the Cap awards:

Part 1: Success
Part 2: By the Numbers
Part 3: Quotables
Part 4: Johnny Wholeteam
Part 5: And the winner is . . .

And check out our Tip of the Cap awards from years past

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Tip of the Cap 2009: Johnny Wholeteam

Johnny Wholestaff
Without a doubt, the most unique characteristic of the 2009 baseball Tigers is the splash made by the newest member of the pitching staff, dubbed "Johnny Wholestaff" by the coaches, players and fans.

Mr. Wholestaff was cobbled together by Tim "Dr. Frankenstein" Jamieson and his trusty sidekick Tony "Igor" Vitello as a creative answer to the problem all Division I teams have faced since the 56-game season was compressed into 2-3 fewer weeks than before. The new compact season means many weeks playing 5 games in 7 days, necessitating either a really deep core of starters - or a creative alternative.

Johnny W was successful more than not over the year. My numbers differ slightly from Josh Murray's in the official press releases, mostly because of a difference in our definition of which games qualify as pure JW outings.

To my way of thinking, a Wholestaff game meets these criteria:
■ The intent of the coaches going into the game was to use the Johnny Wholestaff approach. If a starter suffers meltdown in the first inning or two and is then hurriedly replaced by a succession of 1-inning pitchers, that is not a Johnny Wholestaff game. Such games happen all the time in all levels of the game. You could call it a Johnny Wholestaff relief effort, because of the 1-inning/1-pitcher approach, but it was not a JW game overall. The 1st game in the Oxford Regional, where Nick Tepesch was intended to not only start but to pitch several innings before being relieved, does not qualify as a Wholestaff game just because he was pulled early and then replaced by a rapid succession of relievers.

■ At least 8 pitchers are used during the game, most of them pitching 1 full inning.
As I count them, the multi-faceted pitcher's numbers are as follows:

11-4. 3.64 ERA, 15 G, 136 IP, 131 H, 66 R, 55 ER, 42 BB, 100 SO, 1.27 WHIP
That's good enough to tie with Gibson for 1st on the team in wins, 3rd in ERA (only Gargano, Clark and Gibson did better), and tied with Gibson and Berger in games started.

And that 1.27 WHIP (walks + hits per innings pitched) was bettered on the team only by Gibson (1.07) and Buehler (1.26).

There are many differing opinions about the merits of the whole Johnny Wholestaff approach, the criticisms falling into a few categories:

■ Some of the critics point out that Jamieson not only followed the 1-inning/1-pitcher approach in intentional JW games, but also fell into that habit when using the bullpen, too often pulling highly effective pitchers after only 1 inning.

■ Some were concerned that players were not being adequately developed as potential starters for next year, when the Tigers will be needing to replace Gibson, Berger and Hicks. Some of the people asking this question were related to what they saw as a JW-exiled pitcher.

■ Some just chalked it up as a desperation move by a team short on pitchers.

■ Others just plain don't like the whole concept, somehow deeming it "crazy".

A few quotes:

■ The Missouri baseball team’s Johnny Wholestaff approach to pitching this season can serve as an audition. It’s a chance for a pitcher or two to show he deserves a chance to do more. (Matt Nestor, Columbia Tribune)

■ "I've never seen anything like it," Texas Tech coach Dan Spencer said. "We didn't get the full effect of it because we couldn't hit their left-hander. But I think coach Jamieson looked at his team and decided he didn't have a third pitcher who can give 'em four to five innings but that they've got a bunch of guys who can give 'em one. It's hard to game plan against so many pitchers. The front part of your lineup gets one pitcher and the back part of the lineup gets somebody else. It's hard to prepare
for." (Big12Sports.com)

■ "I am intrigued about Missouri's possible pitching approach on Saturday against AJ when they will apparently throw 9 pitchers (one each inning). I thought it was crazy when I first heard about it, but evidently they have been pretty darn successful with it. I guess we will see how it goes." (Techsan2007, at RaiderPower.com)

■ “Johnny Wholestaff has been pretty consistent all year.” (Tim Jamieson, April 15th, InsideMizzou.com)

■ “Anybody that does that, obviously they’re struggling with their arms. We just need to take advantage of it. If we bring our bats tomorrow, I think we’ll be OK.” (Aaron Miller, Baylor Bears)

■ "We've got several pitchers who have proved they can be effective for one inning. Some of them have also proved they're not so effective for 2 or 3 innings. But one inning is what we need." (Tim Jamieson, on KFRU's The Closers)

■ "From my perspective there's no way to prepare for it." (Tim Jamieson, Omaha
World Herald

■ “They threw nine different guys; I haven’t seen that done since I coached in junior college, but I think they are 6-1 this year when they do that, and they don’t feel comfortable with one guy out there in their third game, and so it’s pretty effective.” (OSU Coach Frank Anderson, after losing to JW)

■“Some pitches have similar action and stuff, but everybody’s got their own little run or little sinkers and they throw their own pitches. But going from the two quality arms they had throwing yesterday to them throwing lefties, them throwing righties coming from every side, I mean, you don’t see that every day. It’s tough to change." (Tyrone Hambly, Okie State)

■ "It brings us closer together." (Brad Buehler, JW closer)

■ "Johnny Wholestaff made things fun" (bolivartiger, Tigerboard.com)

■ "First of all the is NO coaching involved in the Johnny Wholestaff approach. NONE. Anybody can throw 9 pitcher out there for an inning. . . I really hope Johnny Wholestaff is retired. If this approach is so effective, why don't you see anyone else do this? Baseball has been around a long time, but I bet nobody can name a successful team who has used the Johnny Wholestaff approach in the past. This really is a Little League approach to pitching." (BBFanatic, Tigerboard.com)

Personally, I thought it was great. It was a creative solution to the compressed schedule problems, and - always my ultimate measuring stick - it was fun. I enjoyed seeing the quotes from the players and coaches who were the losers against Johnny Wolestaff, trying to explain it all away.

As the stats above suggest, in many ways the inidivual pitchers actually performed at a higher level as part of Mr. Wholestaff than as individuals.

And it gave us a chance to see a lot of different MU pitchers in a lot of different situations. Never forget: Johnny Wholestaff isn't a real person (in case you were confused by that masterful patchwork photo). JW is made up of a lot of individual contributors, each playing their own unique part in the whole:

Ian Berger was the most frequent starter of JW games, with 6

Tyler Clark led the team by being credited with 3 of Johnny's wins, although the criteria for deciding who was the winning pitcher seemed to change depending on who the official scorer was.

Kelly Fick and Ryan Gargano tied for the ERA lead, at 0.63, with an identical 14-1/3 IP

Ryan Clubb shared with Fick and Gargano the lead in most innings pitched (14-1/3)

■ One of the keys to the success of Johnny Wholestaff was the low number of walks. JW as a whole averaged only 2.8 BB per game, led by that same trio of Clubb, Fick and Gargano, each surrendering only 0.14 BB per inning pitched.

■ Johnny struck out 6-2/3 batters per game, led by Jeff Emens with 14 Ks in 14 IP.

Ryan Clubb was used in the most consistent role in the pitching order, appearing in the 5th inning 8 times in 13 JW appearances.

Brad Buehler was used most consistently in the closer's role, pitching the 9th inning in 7 games.

Phil McCormick was the only JW pitcher left in for more than 2 innings (2-2/3 vs. Baylor).

■ The member of the MU pitching staff used LEAST as a member of Johnny Wholestaff? That one should be obvious: Kyle Gibson, who threw only 1 inning, getting the start in the SLU game. Unfortunately, that 1 inning gave Gibby the distinction of the worst ERA in Johnny Wholestaff games, at 27.00

■ In 5 of the 15 games, at least one pitcher threw longer than the standard 1 inning.

Johnny Wholeteam

The real truth about the 2009 Tigers is that the only thing that could turn a struggling team with embarrassing losses into an amazing team driving hard toward 3rd in the Big 12, was TEAMWORK.

The closest this squad had to a player who could carry the team on his back was Kyle Gibson, who compiled an 11-3 winning record.

It seemed that when the team struggled and flat, everyone did it together. And when they really started going good, it was a whole team effort.

For every game ignited by a Greg Folgia home run (he led the team with 12), there were games sparked by Austin Holt getting plunked, walked, and generally running the basepaths like a maniac.

While Kyle Mach drove the offense over and over again, leading the team in average (.335) and hits (75), his hits helped move guys like Aaron Senne and Michael Liberto (leading the team with 46 and 40 walks, respectively) around the bases.

And then there were all the guys who were willing to do whatever whenever:

Scooter Hicks, the all-purpose pitcher, with 8 starts, 3 saves, and a 5-3 record

Ryan Ampleman, back-up catcher, part-time DH, and then stepping in as the regular starting catcher when Coleman went down

Rex Meyr, trotting out yet again to be the pinch runner.

And, again, all those pitchers who put in their 1-and-done contributions to the Johnny Wholestaff effort

Speaking of contributors to the JW effort, let's not forget the guys who probably worked harder than anyone else to make that work: Trevor Coleman, managing a different style of pitcher inning after inning, game after game; Ryan Ampleman, Andreas Plackis, Ben Turner and even Dan Pietroburgo, the ex-catcher turned team manager, warming up pitcher after pitcher, inning after inning.

Read more of our 2009 Tip of the Cap awards:

Part 1: Success
Part 2: By the Numbers
Part 3: Quotables
Part 4: Johnny Wholeteam
Part 5: And the winner is . . .

And check out our Tip of the Cap awards from years past

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Tip of the Cap 2009: Quotables

Nattering Nabobs of the Press

There were several notable performances by the media covering the Tigers this season. A few examples:

■ The yin and yang of Mizzou websites - InsideMizzou.com and PowerMizzou.com - both entered the season promising to provide coverage of MU Baseball like never before. Both were trying to provide coverage that would pull in a bunch of new subscribers hungry for baseball coverage. I doubt either of them got what they wanted.

With apologies to the new regime at InsideMizzou, who enlisted me at the beginning of the season to try to get some action going in their Baseball Message Board (it didn't work), the ultimate winner in this head-to-head match was PowerMizzou, although they still have a long way to go in covering baseball anywhere near to the extent they do football and basketball. Where's the wall-to-wall coverage of MU Baseball recruiting?

But the difference-maker for Gabe's site turned out to be the hiring of Phil Laposa as their beat writer. Check out Gibson etches his name into Tiger lore for an example.

■ Also on the Internets this season was RockMNation, a general Mizzou sports website that focused more on MU Baseball this season than in the past. Their live threads during postseason games were a welcome addition to the general online clutter. And their general off-the-cuff and irreverent approach to MU Sports makes the Rock a must-read destination.

Matt Nestor of the Columbia Tribune returned for his 53rd year (or something like that) covering Tiger baseball, and did his usual outstanding job. For example, read Keeping it clean - an off-beat look at Kyle Gibson.

■ The media guy that most grabbed my attention this season, though, was Andrew DeWitt of the Columbia Missourian. The Missourian is notoriously up and down in its baseball coverage, because every year there is a new Journalism School student assigned to the MU Baseball beat. Some of those student scribes couldn't really care much less about Mizzou baseball.

But not DeWitt. As he told me before the season began, he used to be one of the rowdy students in Section B, following the baseball Tigers with a passion. This knowledge and interest showed through in his reporting during the season. Some examples:

Tex Little gives Missouri baseball voice:

It’s 3 p.m. Friday afternoon and Tex Little is settling into the cozy broadcast booth at Taylor Stadium. Little has his scorebook in front of him and is wearing his Missouri baseball cap. His laptop hums behind him, and he looks over some statistics while ESPN radio chirps in the background.

Little started as the voice of Tigers baseball in 1987 and has put in 19 years behind the microphone. “I don’t know another place I want to be other than the ballpark,” Little said.
Missouri's Trevor Coleman says he couldn't catch a cold when he was practicing for the first time with the Tigers in the fall of 2006, generally a problem for a catcher. Three years later, Coleman now speaks and catches like a student of the game after being the Tigers' starting catcher since before Big 12 Conference play started that freshman season.

"He gets in trouble when he cuts it off and chokes the grip a bit," Coleman said of freshman pitcher Ryan Clubb's change-up pitch.
Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson sometimes looks like Yosemite Sam with two
pistols pulled while he fires pitcher after pitcher at the opposing team.
Also welcome was his less spit-and-polish efforts at his blog, Stripes and Seams. I know that the J-School requires its student scribes to do these Wordpress blog things, but DeWitt actually made his interesting. I appreciated him digging up the photo at right of Mr. Folgia and his bat. I'm still waiting, however, for the rest of that Lineup Tracker.

Tex Messages

Tex Little has been the "voice of the Tigers' for . . . well, longer than I've been around the Baseball Tigers. And you never know what's going to come out of Tex's mouth. A few quotes from the 2009 season:

"Buehler needs to break off another one of those big ole Uncle Charlies."

"That was more like a game of Hot Potato" ("off-the-air" but "on-the-internet" comment after the sloppy fielding of the 2nd inning against Monmouth)

“I don’t know another place I want to be other than the ballpark.”

Random Quotes from 2009:

• “It they want to save him, they can save him.” (Western Kentucky coach Chris Finwood on Jamieson’s decision to hold back Kyle Gibson)

• "Missouri in general is just a tough place for an away team. The facilities aren't exactly what you want, the playing surface isn't what you would want it to be, but it's
a place where Missouri plays good." (Texas Tech's Brian Cloud, prior to MU's sweep of the Red Raiders)

• "Sounds like Johnny Wholesuck for them today." (The Beef, at RockMNation, regarding Texas' use of multiple pitchers for the Big 12 championship game)

• "I'm pretty sure the last time I threw a pitch like that was Little League." (Phil McCormick, regarding the side-armed pitch he switched to in February and March)

• "It seems to happen at Missouri every year, that there's a couple of guys that just aren't as good as we thought they'd be." (Baseball America, after MU returned to their Top 25)

• "The one thing that was pretty cool was the Mizzou fans sticking up for Superfan and chanting "Clap, clap, clap" at the Jayhawk fans." (bolivartiger on Tigerboard.com)

• ""I put like 8 pieces of gum in my mouth and I didn't want to throw it away so I stuck it behind my ear for an inning, and I pulled some of my hair out when I pulled it off, but I wanted to save it for an inning because I wanted to have the most pieces of gum chewed on the team." (Ryan Lollis on his greatest achievement of the season)

• "He's a freak athlete. It doesn't matter if you put him behind a ping-pong table or out in the outfield. He's going to give it everything he's got." (Trevor Coleman, talking about Greg Folgia)

• "I have been pretty lucky. Over the last six or seven years, I have been pretty fortunate. So Kyle just is continuing the tradition of what Aaron (Crow) did, and Max (Scherzer) did, and (Garrett) Broshuis did before him and Justin Stine. I don't even know how to even answer that because it's what I have come to expect." (Tim Jamieson)

• "This is like sitting and slowly savoring a large French Vanilla cappuccino with a touch of cinnamon, enjoying the experience, and then finding a dead cockroach in the bottom of the cup." (Trripleplay, in the middle of the Arizona road trip)

• "For me, it's about the players, the legacy with the players, the relationship with the players. It's about the players that played here; it's about the players that play here; and it's about the players that will play here. That's why I stay here." (Tim Jamieson, at the First Pitch Celebration before the season)

• "Where's your pants, Luke?" (John Cassis, telling a story about his son)

Read more of our Tip of the Cap awards:

Part 1: Success
Part 2: By the Numbers
Part 3: Quotables
Part 4: Johnny Wholeteam
Part 5: And the winner is . . .

And check out our Tip of the Cap awards from years past

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Tip of the Cap 2009: By the Numbers

131 Strikeouts this season for Kyle Gibson, tying Max Scherzer for single season Ks

304 Strikeouts in Gibson's MU career, good for 2nd all-time at MU (#1 is John Dettmer, 89-92, with 74)

28 Career wins for Gibson, good for a 2nd place tie all-time at MU (tied with Justin Stine, 96-99; #1 is Tom Heckman, 78-81, with 36)

100 Strikeouts by Johnny Wholestaff, second only to Gibson

10 Number of rankings between Baseball America's ridiculous preseason ranking of Mizzou (10th) and the average of the other polls (around 20th)

10 The ranking most often quoted and cited by the press and by mutigers.com throughout the season.

5 Preseason ranking of the Tigers by Big 12 Coaches

3 MU's final ranking in the Big 12

2-7 MU record in the first 9 games of the season

11-2 MU record in the last 13 games of the regular season

1 Extra-inning game in 2009 (11 innings, Baylor 8, MU 7)

7 straight NCAA Regional appearance (1 of 14 teams to reach the last 7 years)
21.8 Average number of appearances by MU pitchers

13.9 Average number of appearances by pitchers on the other 9 Big 12 teams. The closest to MU was KU, with 20.25

00, 11, 22 The sequence arrayed across the basepaths in one game when Rex Meyr pinch ran, followed by Steve Gray leading off 1st, with Tony Vitello in the 1st base coaching box. #44 was nowhere to be seen, ending the numerical continuum.

2 x 2 Big 12 POWs from Mizzou: Kyle Gibson was Pitcher of the Week twice (in a row) and Greg Folgia was Player of the Week twice.

20 RBIs delivered by Greg Folgia during the week of May 4-10, according to Big12Sports.com, a stat which was picked up and repeated by newspapers and websites across the country. In reality, he had 10 RBI to go with a .500 BA, 4 HR, and a 1.250 Slg%.

515 career wins by Tim Jamieson, putting him in 2nd place all time at MU, second only to Gene McArtor (733)

2-in-1 Draft picks in the first round of the MLB Draft. I look forward to the Twins coming to Kansas City for a series in a couple of years. Crow vs. Gibson would be a sight to see.

2,148 Empty Seats

The Tigers' attendance, which reached historic heights in 2008, plummeted in 2009, falling to levels more reminiscent of the years before that 2007 Regional

Total 2009 Attendance 23,848
Average 2009 Attendance 852

Past Years' Regular Season Attendance
2008: Total: 30,687; Average: 1,136
2007: Total: 14,190; Average: 645
2006:Total: 23,906; Average: 885
2005:Total: 16,965; Average: 707

2009 Attendance Breakdown:
2,031 - May 9 Saturday Kansas
1,774 - May 8 Friday Kansas
1,588 - April 4 Saturday Oklahoma
1,506 - April 25 Saturday Texas Tech
1,493 - April 24 Friday Texas Tech
1,147 - March 21 Saturday Texas A&M
1,146 - May 10 Sunday Kansas
1,097 - April 3 Friday Oklahoma
1,090 - March 6 Friday Ball St
1,051 - March 7 Saturday Ball St
1,034 - March 20 Friday Texas A&M
864 - April 26 Sunday Texas Tech
845 - March 22 Sunday Texas A&M
787 - May 17 Sunday Cal St Baksfld
779 - March 7 Saturday Ball St
691 - May 16 Saturday Cal St Baksfld
682 - May 5 Tuesday Missouri St
542 - April 7 Tuesday Minnesota
514 - March 8 Sunday Ball St
497 - April 5 Sunday Oklahoma
445 - April 8 Wednesday Minnesota
414 - April 15 Wednesday Indiana St
407 - March 4 Wednesday W Illinois
371 - April 14 Tuesday Indiana St
324 - March 18 Wednesday SIU-Edw
319 - March 25 Wednesday UIC
306 - March 24 Tuesday UIC
104 - March 10 Tuesday W Illinois

Top 10 All-Time Attendance
6/2/07 Louisville (Regional) 3,630
6/1/07 Kent St (Regional) 3,481
6/3/07 Louisville (Regional)3,457
5/17/08 Nebraska 3,126
5/18/08 Nebraska 2,418
4/25/98 Texas 2,347
4/24/98 Texas 2,372
4/5/08 Okla St 2,205
6/4/07 Louisville-MU (Regional)2,199
5/14/05 Kansas 2,143

Read more of our Tip of the Cap awards:

Part 1: Success
Part 3: Quotables
Part 4: Johnny Wholeteam
Part 5: And the winner is . . .

And check out our Tip of the Cap awards from years past

Thursday, June 11, 2009

2009 MLB Draft summary

The 2009 MLB Amateur Draft is complete. 7 current Tigers and 5 recruits were selected in the draft. It may be weeks before we know how many of those 12 will sign professional contracts and how many will be in Mizou Tiger Black & Gold next season.

Congratulations to all who were drafted.

Aaron Crow: Kansas City Royals, 11th pick in the 1st round

Kyle Gibson: Minnesota Twins, 22nd in the 1st round

Trevor Coleman: Seattle Mariners, 9th round, 263rd pick overall

Kyle Mach: San Francisco Giants, 27th round , 807th pick overall

Aaron Senne: Minnesota Twins, 32nd round, 972nd pick overall

Ryan Lollis: San Francisco Giants, 37th round, 1107th pick overall

Greg Folgia: Cleveland Indians, 40th round, 1205th pick overall

MU Recruits drafted

Eric Anderson: Houston Astros, 28th round. On Monday, he and his family restated their strong commitment to Eric being a Tiger this fall. People close to him confirmed that to me again following his name coming up in the Draft. I would be very surprised if a 28th round pick pulls him away from that commitment.

Ryan Crowley: Chicago Cubs, 36th round, 1093rd pick overall

Dane Opel: Washington Nationals, 41st round, 1222nd pick overall

Scott Sommerfeld: Cleveland Indians, 46th round, 1385th pick overall

Blake Brown: Pittsburgh Pirates, 48th round, 1435th pick overall

A Tip of the Cap 2009

It's time for our annual year-end awards, named in honor of John "Hi" Simmons' signature gesture.

This is Part 1 of 5 that will appear over the coming week.

How do you spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S ?

RockMNation posed a key question this season: What should be the benchmark for success for this Mizzou Baseball team?

The Beef: Based on where they were halfway through the season, yes, an NCAA bid makes the season a success. Based on where we thought we would be? Not entirely, but no one saw the pitching situation being like it is. . . The new benchmark of success, for right now, I think should continue to be making the NCAA’s because if anything has been proven this season, it is that making it year in and year out is rather tough.

rtpgwb: Their poor start isn't enough to lower the bar for success. Making the NCAA Tournament at this point is impressive, but not completely satisfying.

ghtd36: I know that they've battled, and I know that being where they are right now is a coup in relationship to where they were earlier in the year. That matters not. If Mizzou wants to put on its big-boy pants in the athletic world, it's time to have big-boy expectations.

As usual, the rowdies at Tigerboard also shared their opinions (again and again and again):

Ando: MU is on the way UP! The pinnacle programs (TX, LSU, Fresno, etc) have long stockpiled talent, at the expense of the next tier programs. The juggernauts once held 40 on the roster and 15 in walkons. Those kids now head to the next tier. MU is in that next tier. MUs recruiting is a tribute to that shift. We are in for a long string of success. We were irrrelevant not long ago. Keep the faith tiger ballyard fans!!!

SuperTone: This program has got to start setting its sights higher. Making the post season is no longer a "great season" or "good year." These upcoming renovations aren't cheap and they need to be proven worthwhile in short manner. Here is to hoping TJ can get it done in the next year or two.

And Tim Jamieson put it quite simply after the last game:

I’m not satisfied, but you can’t get to a super regional if you don’t make a

As for me, I can only quote myself:

Win, Lose, Draw, just show me a good time and I'll be happy. I’d probably have been an avid and happy fan of the Mets in the early years – they sucked, but they were fun to watch.

I'm sure the coaching staff won't be posting this little soliloquy on the locker room bulletin board to inspire the team - they probably want the guys to care passionately about winning. And I do too: they're more fun to watch if they care about winning.
Here's a tip of my cap to the 2009 Tigers, first of all, for providing an entertaining season. Much of the annual "Tip of the Cap" awards are all about what gave me the most fun and joy out of the baseball season.

And also, a big tip of the cap for the courage to not lay down and die after that disastrous opening road trip.

Leaving the Zou

A tip of the cap to Tigers who will be leaving us as well:

The Seniors:

Kyle Mach: As I've said before, simply the best third baseman I've seen at Mizzou

Scooter Hicks: "Hurricane" Hicks, as Tex like to call him, came to Mizzou by way of New Orleans with a quick brief stop at College Station. Scooter has been willing to do whatever has been asked of him as a Tiger, and never once called it quits on anything.

Ryan Gargano: In February and March, when the Tigers were struggling to get their act together, Gargano cruised along with a nice 1.80 ERA in 10 innings appearances.

Steve Gray: "Sticks" is a guy who I always thought will probably do better in professional ball than in colelge, if given the opportunity, simply because he takes a while to get his offense going during the season. A 56-game season is 2/3 over by the time he comes into his own, but a professional season will barely have gotten out of the starting block when Gray starts hammering the horsehide.

Ryan Lollis: His enthusiasm for the game, his highlight-reel fielding, and the sheer joy of rounding the basepaths set Lolly apart from everyone else. Thanks for the 4th season!

Ian Berger: Every Tiger pitching staff needs a bulldog, and the Whopper has filled that role nicely since he landed at Simmons Field. I'll always remember his determination to keep pace with his more heralded 2008 pitching mate, keeping pace with Aaron Crow for several weeks of lights-out pitching.

Austin Holt: The player who most reminded me of former Tiger Jayce Tingler this year. Anyone who knows me knows the compliments don't get much better than that. A true sparkplug at the plate, on the basepaths, in the field.

And the Juniors who have a big decision to make:

Greg Folgia: Rumor has it that the most emotionally intense player on the team is just as emotionally vested in returning to the Tigers for his senior year. We'' have to see whether the Big Boys dazzle him with so much cash he changes his mind and starts talking to a wood bat in the minor leagues. At the time of this writing, Folgia had passed through the first 30 rounds of the Draft without his name coming up, a good sign the major league organizations expect him to be back at Mizzou, too.

Trevor Coleman: The image I will always have of Trevor will be from that infamous game in the 2007 Regional at Taylor Stadium. They should have let him loose to go after the Lousyville Slugger. The Mariners will be lucky to have him behind the plate.

Aaron Senne: Nobody looks cooler than Senne in his dark shades. And nothing is cooler than watching him throw a frozen rope to nail a foolish baserunner trying to stretch a double into a triple. We'll have to wait and see if Senne rejoins Folgia in the outfield at Taylor Stadium or if he goes to the pros.

Kyle Gibson: When I'm 75 years old I expect to be able to sit in my easy chair with the radio on and listen to former Hall of Fame pitcher Kyle Gibson doing play-by-play and color commentary of a Cards-Cubs game . . . and I'll enjoy hearing his Cubs lose yet again.

If you build it . . .

A tip of the cap to Tim Hickman, Associate Athletic Director, Coach Jamieson and to all the various athletic department staff who have worked hard over the past couple of years to finalize plans and beat the bushes for donations for the upcoming expansion of Taylor Stadium. With work scheduled to begin immediately after the close of the 2009 season, the new amenities are slated to be complete and ready for the opening of the 2010 campaign.

For a look at the architects' drawings of the planned work, click HERE. For a summary of the planned construction, see Taylor Stadium renovations.

Read more of our Tip of the Cap awards:

Part 2: By the Numbers
Part 3: Quotables
Part 4: Johnny Wholeteam
Part 4: And the Winner is . . .

And check out our Tip of the Cap awards from years past