Results tagged ‘ Travis Demeritte ’

Crawdads Alumni Report April 19

Tuesday, April 19

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: ­

Luis Ortiz (’14-’15, P) 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 8 K for High-A High Desert (Texas).

 

BIRTHDAYS:

Jordan Akins (’12-’13, OF) turns 24.

Joe Beimel (’99, P) turns 39.

Zach Duke (’03, P) turns 33.

Julien Tucker (’97, P) turns 43.

 

CRAWDADS ALUM IN THE NEWS:

Jorge Alfaro (’12-’13, C) was named the Eastern League hitter of the week while playing for Reading (AA/ Philadelphia). (.500/.526/.750, 8 G, 18-for-36, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R, 1 BB, 6 K)

Travis Demeritte (’14-’15, 2B) was named the California League hitter of the week while playing for High Desert (High-A/ Texas). .378/.415/1.027, 9 G, 14-for-37, 2 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 11 RBI, 10 R, 2 BB, 14 K, 2 SB.

 

TEXAS RANGERS:

Arkansas 2 Frisco (AA) 5 (Game 1): Lewis Brinson (’13-’14, OF) 1-2, three-run HR (1) in the third, BB, 2 R, SB; Zach Cone (’12, 14, OF) 1-3, 3B, 2 RBI, K; Ryan Cordell (’14, OF) 1-3, R; Kellin Deglan (’11-’12, ’14, C) 0-3, 2 K; Ronald Guzman (’13-’15, 1B) 0-2, BB, R, 2 K; Joe Jackson (’14, C-OF) 0-3, K; Isiah Kiner-Falefa (’14-’15, UT) 0-0, 2 BB, HBP, R; Luis Marte (’13-’14, SS) 0-3; Victor Payano (’11, P) 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, win (1-0); Adam Parks (’15, P) 1/3 IP, 1 K, save (1).

Arkansas 3 Frisco (AA) 0 (Game 2): Preston Beck (’13, 1B) 0-2; Lewis Brinson 0-3, K; Zach Cone 0-1, BB, K; Ryan Cordell 1-3, K; Joe Jackson (’14, C-OF) 0-3; Luis Marte 0-2, 2 K; Luis Mendez 0-3, 2 K; Jose Leclerc (’13, P) 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, loss (0-2); Cody Buckel (’11, ’15, P) 1 IP, 1 K.

High Desert (High-A) 4 Inland Empire 1: Jairo Beras (’14-’15, OF) 1-4, K, CS; Travis Demeritte (’14-’15, 2B) 1-4, 2 K; David Lyon (’13, C) 1-3, two-run HR 2) in the fourth, K; Tripp Martin (’15, 3B-OF) 1-3, two-run HR (3) in the second, K; Josh Morgan (’15, 3B-SS) 1-3, CS;  Jose Trevino (’15, C) 2-4, 2 R; David Perez (’15, P) 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, win (2-0); John Fasola (’15, P) 2 IP, 3 K.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

LA Angels 7 Chicago White Sox 0: Zach Duke (’03, P/ Chicago) 1 IP, 1 K.

Toronto 4 Boston 3: Jose Bautista (’02, OF/ Toronto) 0-3, BB, R.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

New York Mets 5 Philadelphia 2: Neil Walker (’05, C/ NY Mets) 1-4, solo HR (4) in the 8th, K / Odubel Herrera (’11/ 2B/ Philadelphia) 1-3, BB, RBI, SB, 2 K; Jerad Eickhoff (’12, P/ Philadelphia) 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, loss (1-2).

Washington 1 Miami 6: Bryan Morris (’08, P/ Miami) 1 IP, 1 H.

 

MINOR LEAGUES:

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE (AAA):

Norfolk 2 Charlotte (White Sox) 3: Leury Garcia (’09-’10, SS/ Charlotte) 0-2, BB, SB, K; Will Lamb (’11-’12, P/ Charlotte) 1 IP.

Syracuse 0 Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia) 5: Nick Williams (’13, OF/ Lehigh Valley) 0-4, 2 K.

Toledo (Detroit) 2 Indianapolis (Pittsburgh) 4: Dustin Molleken (’07-’08, P/ Toledo) 2 IP, 1 BB, 2 K.

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (AAA):

Memphis 1 Colorado Springs (Milwaukee) 3: Alex Presley (’07, OF/ Colorado Springs) 1-3 RBI.

Nashville 2 Oklahoma City (LA Dodgers) 6: Matt West (’09-’10, 3B/ Oklahoma City) 1.2 IP, 2 K.

Omaha 0 New Orleans (Miami) 3: Cody Ege (’13, P/ New Orleans) 1 IP, 1 K, save (1).

Reno 4 El Paso (San Diego) 14: Carlos Pimentel (’09, P/ El Paso) 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, win (1-1).

Tacoma (Seattle) 11 Albuquerque 6: Joe Wieland (’09-’10, P/ Tacoma) 1.1 IP, 10 H, 10 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, loss (1-1).

 

EASTERN LEAGUE (AA):

Altoona 12 Harrisburg (Washington) 5: Abel De Los Santos (’14, P/ Harrisburg) 2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.

 

TEXAS LEAGUE (AA):

San Antonio (San Diego) 0 Tulsa 2: Fabio Castillo (’09, P/ San Antonio) 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, loss (1-2).

 

FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE (High A):

Tampa (NY Yankees) 4 Charlotte 2: Jake Skole (’11, OF/ Tampa) 1-4, R, K.

 

JUNIOR COLLEGES:

Oakton CC (IL) 8 Waubonsee 2 (Game 1)/ Oakton CC (IL) 7 (22-8, 12-2 Skyway Conference) Waubonsee 2 (Game 2): Michael Scala (’02, OF/ Asst. Coach, OCC). With the win, Oakton claimed the Illinois Skyline Conference title.

 

HIGH SCHOOLS:

Lambert 14 South Forsyth (GA) 5 (12-11, 7-9, 6-6A): Russ Bayer (’03, P/ Head Coach, SFHS)

Sequim 0 North Kitsap (WA) 9 (9-2, 6-0 Olympic): Jared Prince (’10, OF/ Asst. Coach, NKHS)  

St. Stanislaus College Prep (MS) 8 (14-7, 7-3 8-4A) Bay St. Louis: Brad Corley (’06, OF/ Asst. Coach, SSC)

Valley 1 Foothill (NV) 2 (10-12, 5-8 Sunrise): Denny Crine (’95, P/ Asst. Coach, FHS)

Crawdads Alumni Report April 9

Saturday, April 9

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: ­

Travis Demeritte (’14-’15, 2B) had his second two-homer (4) night to open the season and led High Desert (High-A/ Texas) to a 9-5 win over Inland Empire. Demeritte also doubled and knocked in four.

 

BIRTHDAYS:

Dustin Craig (’05-’07, P) turns 34.

Ben Henry (’11, P) turns 27.

Ryan O’Malley (’13, pitching coach) turns 36.

 

TRANSACTIONS:

Robbie Erlin (’10, P) was called up to the San Diego Padres from AAA El Paso.

Johan Yan (’10, P) signed with Cuidad del Carmen (Mexican League).

 

TEXAS RANGERS:

Texas 7 LA Angels 3: Rougned Odor (’12, 2B/ Texas) 1-4, two-run HR (1) in the third, BB, K.

Round Rock (AAA) 4 Iowa (Cubs) 3: Joey Gallo (’13, 3B) 1-3, 2B, BB, R, RBI, K; Nomar Mazara (’13-’14, OF) 2-4, R, RBI, K; Drew Robinson (’12, 3B) 0-2, 2 BB, 2 K; Jimmy Reyes (’11, P) 2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K; Francisco Mendoza (’11, P) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.

Frisco (AA) 6 NW Arkansas 3: Preston Beck (’13, 1B) 0-4, K; Lewis Brinson (’13-’14, OF) 2-5, R, RBI; Ryan Cordell (’14, OF) 2-4, 2B, BB, R, K; Ronald Guzman (’13-’15, 1B) 0-3, BB, R, K; Joe Jackson (’14, C-OF) 2-4, 3B, R, RBI, K; Isiah Kiner-Falefa (’14-’15, UT) 1-4, BB, R, RBI, 2 K; Luis Marte (’13-’14, SS) 0-4, K; Connor Sadzeck (’13, P) 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K, win (1-0); Adam Parks (’15, P) 1 IP, 2 K; Ryan Slack (’13-’14, P) 2/3 IP, 1 K.

Inland Empire 5 High Desert (High-A) 9: Jairo Beras (’14-’15, OF) 2-4, 2B, R, 2 K; Michael De Leon (’14-’15, SS) 0-4, R; Josh Morgan (’15, 3B-SS) 1-4, BB, 2 R; Juremi Profar (’14-’15, 1B) 0-2, BB, HBP; Luke Tendler (’15, OF) 3-4, R, RBI, K; Joe Trevino (’15, C) 1-5; Ariel Jurado (’15, P) 4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Cole Wiper (’14, P) 1 IP, 1 HR, 2 K, win (1-0); Austin Pettibone (’15, P) 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K; John Fasola (’15, P) 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, save (1).

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

Boston 8 Toronto 7: Jose Bautista (’02, OF/ Toronto) 0-4, BB, 2 K.

Cleveland 7 Chicago White Sox 1: Rajai Davis (’02-’03, OF/ Cleveland) 1-4, 3B, BB, R, RBI, 3 K.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

Chicago Cubs 2 Arizona 3: Justin Grimm (’11, P/ Chicago) 1 IP, 2 K.

Philadelphia 2 New York Mets 7: Odubel Herrera (’11/ 2B/ Philadelphia) 1-4, RBI; Jerad Eickhoff (’12, P/ Philadelphia) 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, HB, loss (0-1), 1-2, 2B, R, K / Neil Walker (’05, C/ NY Mets) 2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, K.

Pittsburgh 6 Cincinnati 5: Andrew McCutchen (’06, OF/ Pittsburgh) 0-4, BB, 2 R, K; Jordy Mercer (’08, SS/ Pittsburgh) 2-4, BB, R, K.

San Diego 13 Colorado 6: Robbie Erlin (’10, P/ San Diego) 3.2 IP, 1 H, 2 K, win (1-0), 0-2, K.

 

MINOR LEAGUES:

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE (AAA):

Buffalo (Toronto) 0 Pawtucket (Boston) 2: Ben Rowen (’11, P/ Buffalo) 1 IP. 1 H. 2 BB, 3 K.

Charlotte (White Sox) 8 Durham 6: Leury Garcia (’09-’10, SS/ Charlotte) 0-3, BB, K Will Lamb (’11-’12, P/ Charlotte)

Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia) 1 Syracuse 5 (Game 1): Nick Williams (’13, OF/ Lehigh Valley) 0-3; Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia) 1 Syracuse 2: Nick Williams 0-3.

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (AAA):

Colorado Springs (Milwaukee) 1 Memphis 2: Alex Presley (’07, OF/ Colorado Springs) 0-3, BB, 2 K.

New Orleans (Miami) 5 Omaha 6: Tomas Telis (’11, C/ New Orleans) 3-3, 2B, BB, 2 R, SB; Cody Ege (’13, P/ New Orleans) 0 IP, 2 BB.

Oklahoma City (LA Dodgers) 1 Nashville 2: Matt West (’09-’10, 3B/ Oklahoma City) 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K.

 

MEXICAN LEAGUE (AAA):

Aguascalientes 3 Reynosa 4 (10): Jonathan Albaladejo (’03, P/ Reynosa) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K.

Campeche 1 Veracruz 0: Jose Castillo (’00, SS/ Veracruz) 0-3, HBP.

Saltillo 1 Monterrey 6: Humberto Cota (’99, C/ Monterrey) 0-3, BB, K.

Yucatan 8 Puebla 4: Nyjer Morgan (’04, OF/ Puebla) 0-5, 2 K.

 

EASTERN LEAGUE (AA):

Harrisburg (Washington) 10 Altoona 4: Abel De Los Santos (’14, P/ Harrisburg) 1 IP.

Portland 3 Reading (Philadelphia) 8: Jorge Alfaro (’12-’13, C/ Reading) 4-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI.

 

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA):

Chattanooga (Minnesota) 2 Biloxi 6: Joe Maloney (’13-’14, C-1B/ Chattanooga) 0-4, 3 K.

 

COLLEGES:

Eastern Michigan Valparaiso (IN): Brian Schmack (’96, P/ Head Coach, Valpo)

George Washington 3 (12-19, 3-1 Atlantic 10) Davidson 2: Gregg Ritchie (’98, Hitting Coach/ Head Coach, GWU)

Oklahoma City 8 (29-12, 10-3 Sooner) Bacone 4: Bobby Spain (’08, 3B/ Asst. Coach/ OCU)

Oral Roberts (OK) 4 (17-12, 7-3 Summit) Western Illinois 9: Sean Snedeker (’96-’98, Pitching Coach/ Pitching Coach ORU)

St. Louis 13 Richmond 7 (15-14, 2-5 Atlantic): Tracy Woodson (’99. Manager/ Head Coach/ UR)

 

HIGH SCHOOLS:

El Reno (OK) 7 (12-7) Woodward (Sonic Invitational) 2: Keanon Simon (’08, OF/ Head Coach, ERHS)

Moody 4 Calallen (TX) 6 (15-2, 11-0 30-5A): Jose Luis Lopez (’00, ’02, P/ Asst. Coach, CHS)

Rancho 4 Foothill (NV) 2 (8-9, 3-5 Sunrise): Denny Crine (’95, P/ Asst. Coach, FHS)

Crawdads Alumni Report April 8

Friday, April 8

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: ­

Travis Demeritte (’14-’15, 2B) 3-4, solo HR in the second, two-run HR (2) in the sixth, SF, 3 R.

 

BIRTHDAYS:

Deivi Perez (’99-’00, SS) turns 36.

 

TRANSACTIONS:

Richard Bleier (’09, P) was placed on the disabled list at AAA Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre (NY Yankees).

 

TEXAS RANGERS:

Texas 3 LA Angels 4: Rougned Odor (’12, 2B/ Texas) 0-4; Keone Kela (’13, P/ Texas) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K; Andrew Faulkner (’12-’13, P/ Texas) 1/3 IP, 1 BB.

Round Rock (AAA) 7 Iowa (Cubs) 3: Joey Gallo (’13, 3B) 0-1, 2 BB, SF, R; Nomar Mazara (’13-’14, OF) 1-3, BB, R, RBI; Jurickson Profar (’11, 15, SS) 2-3, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI; Drew Robinson (’12, 3B) 0-4, K; Chad Bell (’10, ’14, P); Jefri Hernandez (’15, P); Nick Martinez (’12, P) 4.2 IP, 7 H,  3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Alex Claudio (’13, P) 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K / CJ Edwards (’13, P/ Iowa) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K.

Frisco (AA) 2 NW Arkansas 0: Lewis Brinson (’13-’14, OF) 2-4, ; Zach Cone (’12, 14, OF) 0-3, SF, 2 K; Ryan Cordell (’14, OF) 1-3, 2B, BB, R, RBI, K; Kellin Deglan (’11-’12, ’14, C) 0-3, 2 K; Ronald Guzman (’13-’15, 1B) 0-3, BB; Isiah Kiner-Falefa (’14-’15, UT) 1-4, K; Luis Marte (’13-’14, SS) 1-3, R; Frank Lopez (’14, P) 6 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K, win (1-0); Jose Valdespina (’13-’14, P) 1 IP, 2 BB.

Inland Empire 5 High Desert (High-A) 10: Jairo Beras (’14-’15, OF); 2-4, 2B, R, RBI; Michael De Leon (’14-’15, SS) 0-4; Tripp Martin (’15, 3B-OF) 1-4, R, RBI, 2 K; Josh Morgan (’15, 3B-SS) 1-5, R; Juremi Profar (’14-’15, 1B) 2-4, 2B, R, RBI; Luke Tendler (’15, OF) 2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Joe Trevino (’15, C) 0-4, K; Yohander Mendez (’14-’15, P) 3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 HR; Luis Ortiz (’14-’15, P) 1 IP, 2 K, win (1-0); David Ledbetter (’14, P) 1 IP; Adam Quintana (’15, P) 1.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB; Shane McCain (’15, P) 1.1 IP, 1 K; Scott Williams (’14-’15, P) 1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

Chicago White Sox 6 Oakland 1: Zach Duke (’03, P/ Chicago) 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

Miami 6 Washington 4: Bryan Morris (’08, P/ Miami) 1.2 IP, 1 HR, 3 BB, 3 K.

Philadelphia 6 Cincinnati 10: Odubel Herrera (’11/ 2B/ Philadelphia) 0-5, 3 K.

 

MINOR LEAGUES:

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE (AAA):

Louisville 2 Toledo (Detroit) 10: Dustin Molleken (’07-’08, P/ Toledo) 1 IP.

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (AAA):

Albuquerque 5 Tacoma (Seattle) 6: Joe Wieland (’09-’10, P/Tacoma) 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER.

Colorado Springs (Milwaukee) 4 Memphis 2: Alex Presley (’07, OF/ Colorado Springs) defensive appearance.

New Orleans (Miami) 6 Omaha 3: Tomas Telis (’11, C/ New Orleans) 1-3, BB, R.

 

MEXICAN LEAGUE (AAA):

Campeche 5 Tabasco 0: Rodolfo Aguirre (’08, P/ Tabasco) 2 IP, 1 BB, 1 K.

Monterrey 8 Aguascalientes 10: Humberto Cota (’99, C/ Monterrey) 1-2, 2 BB, R.

Quintana Roo 13 Puebla 6: Nyjer Morgan (’04, OF/ Puebla) 1-5, R, RBI, K.

Reynosa 10 Saltillo 3: Jonathan Albaladejo (’03, P/ Reynosa) 2/3 IP.

Veracruz 4 Ciudad del Carmen 2: Jose Castillo (’00, SS/ Veracruz) 1-4, RBI, K.

 

EASTERN LEAGUE (AA):

Portland 3 Reading (Philadelphia) 1: Jorge Alfaro (’12-’13, C/ Reading) 1-4, 2 K.

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA):

Birmingham (White Sox) 1 Jacksonville 6: Josh Richmond (’11, OF/ Birmingham) 0-3.

Chattanooga (Minnesota) 0 Biloxi 9: Joe Maloney (’13-’14, C-1B/ Chattanooga) 0-3, HBP, 3 K.

 

TEXAS LEAGUE (AA):

Springfield 3 San Antonio (San Diego) 1: Fabio Castillo (’09, P/ San Antonio) 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, loss (0-1).

 

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE (High A):

Lancaster (Houston) 3 San Jose 4: Akeem Bostick (’14, P/ Lancaster) 3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB.

 

FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE (High A):

Tampa (NY Yankees) 9 Lakeland 2: Jake Skole (’11, OF/ Tampa) 0-5, 2 K.

 

SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE (Low A):

Asheville 3 Greenville (Boston) 4: Anyelo Leclerc (’14, P/ Greenville) 3 IP, 3 K, win (1-0).

 

JUNIOR COLLEGES:

Sacramento City 5 (20-7, 8-4 Nor-Cal Big 8) Cosumnes River 11: Pete Pryor (’96, 1B/ Asst. Coach, SCC)

South Suburban 2 Oakton CC (IL) 3 (15-7): Michael Scala (’02, OF/ Asst. Coach, OCC)

Southeastern CC (IA) 3 Black Hawk-Moline 7 (Game 1) / Southeastern CC (IA) 7 Black Hawk-Moline 1 (20-10) (Game 2): Mark Michael (’05, P/ Asst. Coach, SECC)

 

HIGH SCHOOLS:

El Reno (OK) 1 Heritage Hall 9/ El Reno 7 (11-7) Marlow 4 (Sonic Invitational): Keanon Simon (’08, OF/ Head Coach, ERHS)

Norte Vista 2 Hillcrest (CA) 7 (9-9, 3-2 River View): Scott Vollmer (’94, C/ Head Coach, HHS)

River Bluff (SC) 6 (17-2) Sumter 1: Doug Bearden (’95-’96, IF/ Asst. Coach, RBHS)

Riverview (FL) 1 (8-16) Lakewood Ranch 5: Chuck Antczak (’95-’97, C/ Head Coach, RHS)

South Forsyth (GA) 3 (11-8) Etowah 5: Russ Bayer (’03, P/ Head Coach, SFHS)

A New Season Begins

The 2016 baseball season has arrived in full fury across the land, and I for one could not be more excited. I enjoy covering the other sports and the privilege of seeing some of the best high school competition in the state of North Carolina, not to mention some incredibly talented coaches and players. But I love baseball and count the months until it begins anew.

For me, there’s nothing like fresh green grass upon which the game is played (no turf for me, thank you). The words “Pitchers and Catchers Report” is like Christmas morning to me, in which the umpire’s bellow of “Play Ball”, the pop of a ball to a leather glove, and the crack of the bat are my carols.

 

In most sports, you have a pretty good idea of what teams will be in the hunt for a title run. Not so, in baseball. The beginning of the season gives hope to all who play the game. From Little Leagues to the big leagues, all who play feel in their hearts and minds “this is our year”.

That chant was certainly felt here in Hickory much of the 2015 season as the Crawdads captured the South Atlantic League championship. For me, it was a personal joy to follow the team up close on a daily basis and to see that work rewarded with a league title. It was a cool experience to see the ups-and-downs of the entire season and to have the story evolve the way it did. To be able to interview many of the players and report their experiences – from unbridled, sometimes arrogant confidence to the worry of it all coming to an end at any moment – it was a dream come true for someone that has been a fan from the age of six.

Now, we turn the page and look to 2016. For fans of the major leagues teams, they have a decent idea of who will don the big league uniforms on opening day and hopes on how they will perform.

For us in low-A, it’s wait and see.We don’t know what we will have here in Hickory until the Crawdads take the field. For the most part, these kids have had very little time to work together as a unit, if at all. It’s an oddly mysterious feeling each year to see how April plays out and to get a sense of what the summer will become.

There are certainly questions as to who will come to L. P. Frans Stadium. Will Luis Ortiz return for a third season on the hill in Hickory, or will the Texas Rangers let him have a go at pinball baseball at High Desert? Will Pedro Payano be able to build on a strong final month of the season on the hill?

Will we see wunderkinds Yeson Yrizarri and TiQuan Forbes on the Hickory infield? Does Josh Morgan come back here as a catcher? In light of his 80-game suspension from last season, does Travis Demeritte warrant a third season at second at L.P. Frans, or do the Rangers push him up the ladder with an edict that it’s time for the former first-rounder to put it together?

How many bases will Eric Jenkins steal in a Hickory uniform? Who are the other players from the 2015 team to come back? Suddenly pushed into a new role with the promotion of Spike Owen- formerly announced as the Crawdads manager – to the third base coaches box in Arlington, how will Steve Mintz fare as a stateside manager for the first time?

As the season begins four weeks from the typing of these words, I can’t wait to see the picture take shape as the events begin to be painted on the canvas that is 2016.

Luis Ortiz playoffs

Luis Ortiz from a playoff appearance vs. West Virginia on 9/12/15 (photo courtesy of Tracy Proffitt)

 

 

The Lessons of Baseball at Low-A: Reflections on Travis Demeritte’s Suspension

I have two adult children (plus one who is a middle schooler), including my son, who is currently 20-years-old at college. We can see him pretty much anytime we want to make the hour drive up the mountains to Boone. But my wife and I generally leave him to be who he is and make his own path. It was difficult to drop that first kid off to college; it was no easier for the second.

I can’t help but think about my kids – they will always be my kids – as I meet the players who come to Hickory to play baseball each year. Many of them are 18-20 years old, the approximate age of my son.

When they come here, they have already accomplished a great deal. They were the best of their various hometown high schools, or travel teams, or baseball academies. A few of them were among the best in their state or region. They may have been the best at a showcase event. Then they come to Hickory and the real learning about baseball begins.

You see, playing baseball as an 18-20 year old is more than about the game. Where most kids – especially U.S. kids – have had everything in life done for them, now they’re on their own. Part of learning the game at low-A is the “off the field”. It’s simply learning how to be an adult.  How to get an apartment, how to turn on the electricity, the water, the cable… how to find your way around a new city… (If you’ve never been to Hickory, it’s an adventure to find such things as 15th Street Place NW; trust me on that one.)… if you don’t speak the language, finding teammates that do and leaning on them for support and rides to the ballpark… how to budget your time away from the park – what little off time you do have – how to budget the meager money you make … finding a way to get your car fixed, and the money to do so… How to make a home in a strange city, but then to be ready to pack it all up at a moment’s notice and move to another city. There’s so much you have to pick up and learn, especially off the field.

Often I will ask the younger players what’s the hardest part of adjusting to pro ball. Their answers are almost always about learning to deal with stuff off the field.

When I look at these kids, and then think about my own, I wonder how they do it. How do they grow up in a few short months after living at home? I wonder how much they miss home, just like my kids did. I wonder what goes through their minds when they struggle to find that same groove they had “back in the day” that for many was just a few months earlier.

I imagine they have parents, who wonder like I did:  Are they ok? Are they getting enough to eat? Are they being treated well? Are they happy? When they struggle in a game, or in a stretch of games, do they call home longing for a kind word from a parent after being reamed out by a manager or coach, or after tough run-ins with teammates? Among the struggles of life itself, they’re still there to do one thing: play baseball for 140 games in 152 days. And you’d better be good, or else you’re out of your dream job at an early age.

It’s a man’s game, this baseball is; but at this level, it really is played by boys learning to be men. Some can handle it; some can’t… even the top-round picks. Baseball is a game about failure. At this level, failure is a new experience for the kids who were once the best. Some figure it out quickly and have the drive and self-motivation to work through the rough patches of their profession. The others, who were all-world at home, can’t understand the failure they now wallow in.

I thought about this stuff tonight after finding out about Travis Demeritte’s suspension for the use of a banned substance. Demeritte is from the area (Winder, Ga.) where my grandmother grew up, so we occasionally struck up conversations about the area—me about the past, him about the present. I did a feature column on him last year and spoke in passing a few times this year about how things were going. Demeritte has always been positive in my conversations. He never ducked questions about his strikeouts or his struggles at the plate. He had his ups-and-downs, but more positives than negatives, especially with his defense. Now this. All I could say when I saw the news was, “Damn.”

Here is a kid 20 days older than my son, who apparently felt so much pressure to succeed that he committed “an error in judgment” (the term used in his statement) to take a substance used in horse racing. Ironically, in this race to succeed, he’s likely now further behind than at any point of his pro career and that’s sad.

Having a 20-year-old who’s trying to figure out life, and struggling to do so, I can see him taking a shortcut here and there, hoping no one finds out. I think many of us at that age have had those moments. And I think many of us have learned it never really works out.

Unfortunately, that’s another lesson a 20-year-old learns; it’s just far too late with potentially far bigger consequences for his career.

I wish Travis the best and hope he gets it together… lesson learned.