Archive | December, 2009

BaseballdeWorld’s Year In Review

The 2009 baseball season was a roller coaster ride for baseball fans around the world. It was the year of storied franchises like Fortitudo Bologna (Italy), DOOR Neptunus (Netherlands) and the Therwil Flyers (Switzerland) returning to prominence.

And then there was the New York Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers boasting the best lineup that money can buy strung together a 100+ win season before disposing of the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, and Philadelphia Phillies to claim an unprecedented 27th World Series crown.

But, those are just a few of the headlines from the past year.

BaseballdeWorld’s Top 25 stories of 2009:

25. DOOR Neptunus Regains Dutch Title: One of the most dominating squads in European baseball history during the 1990s, the Rotterdam-based club erased recent playoffs debacles with its first championship since 2005.

24. Eri Yoshida Breaks Japanese Baseball Glass Ceiling: A tiny, 114-pound female pitcher with a 50 mph sidearm knuckleball became the first woman in Japan to play professional baseball.

23. Fortitudo Bologna Nets Italian League Crown: After dominating the IBL in 2008 before washing out in the playoffs, Bologna rebounded with another stellar season to bag the 2009 title.

22. New IBAF Commissioner: Italian Riccardo Fraccari succeeded American Harvey Schiller at the helm of the world governing body for baseball in a surprise uncontested election.

21. Kia Tigers Remain Perfect: Behind a strong 1-2 pitching tandem of Aquilino Lopez and Rick Guttormson, the Tigers topped SK Wyverns to remain unbeaten in 10 Korean Series appearances.

20. Japanese Pitching Prospect Yusei Kikuchi Stays Home: Despite previous announcements of his desire to play in the U.S., the 18-year-old southpaw was pressured by his prep coach and others to sign a deal with the Seibu Lions.

19. Detroit Tigers Collapse: Jim Leyland and company seemed a shoo-in to stay ahead of Minesota heading into the final weekend of the regular season. However, the Tigers completed one of the biggest collapses in MLB history when they fell to the Twins in a one-game playoff.

18. LSU Tigers Win CWS Title: Equipped with a top-notch pitching corps, the Tigers won both the SEC regular season and tournament titles before rolling to another CWS appearance where skipper Paul Mainieri’s troops outlasted Texas to win their sixth national championship.

17. Australian Baseball League To Debut In 2010: With the financial support from both MLB and the Australian government, a new and improved ABL will begin play next year with hopes of becoming a developmental league for major league-caliber prospects.

16. CPBL Rocked By Another Scandal: The annual match-fixing scandals plaguing Taiwan’s pro league nearly kills the circuit on the baseball-loving island. A muli-million dollar government plan, a new free agency system, and a minimum salary for players are just a few of the new iniatives in 2010 to help bring back the integrity of the game in the so-called renegade Chinese territory.

15. Andy Oliver Silences NCAA: The controversial no-agent rule was challenged by the Oklahoma State pitcher who received a $750,000 out of court settlement before getting drafted by the Detroit Tigers.

14. Yu Darvish Makes Surprise Asian Series Appearance: Japan’s top pitcher comes off the injured list in Game 2 of the Asian Series and beats the Yomiuri Giants despite pitching with a broken finger.

13. Team USA Wins IBAF Baseball World Cup: For the second consecutive tournament, the United States turned back Cuba to win the gold in a spectacular performance that included a 14-game winning streak.

12. IOC Rejects Baseball Again: The anti-American hierarchy of the IOC refused to acknowledge the growth of baseball as a global sport and instead chose a pair of elitist sports – golf and rugby 7 – to join the Olympic program.

11. Manny Ramirez Suspended: Although the moody superstar was caught taking a female hormone drug – not steroids – all trails led MLB officials to believe he had just ended a cycle of performance enhancing drugs.

10. Aroldis Chapman Defection: A southpaw with a “rocket” fastball is guaranteed to become an instant millionaire. But the question remains if the talented gunslinger will become a front-of-the rotation pitcher or a hard-throwing hurler who flames out in a few years.

9. Pat Murphy’s Resignation: One of the top collegiate baseball coaches in America was forced out at Arizona State University after the NCAA charged the Sun Devils with several major rules violations.

8. Stephen Strasburg Media Frenzy: The once overweight San Diego State standout withstood the spotlight and the hoopla and continued his amazing progress with a superb season for the Aztecs. The Washington Nationals took him No. 1 overall and dished out a record-setting contract to bag one of the best pitching prospects of all-time.

7. Dutch National Team Shocks Dominicans: Europe’s best squad took the baseball world by surprise by topping the star-studded Dominican Republic at the 2009 World Baseball Classic. However, it was the Orange and Black second upset of David Ortiz & Co. in the WBC that made the Dutch the best baseball cinderella story since the 1969 Miracle Mets.

6. Roy Halladay Trade: WOW! A pair of Cy Young winners and a truck load of prospects made this three-team trade one for the history books.

5. Derek Jeter Reaches Milestone: The Yankees captain became the all-time hits leader for the storied franchise while silencing his critics with a stellar season at the plate and with the leather.

4. Mark Buehrle Tosses Historic Gem: For only the 18th time in MLB history, a perfect game was tossed by the staff ace of the White Sox. However, it took a dramatic over-the wall catch by teammate DeWayne Wise in the ninth inning to preserve the historic feat.

3. Japanese Wins WBC Gold: Ichiro & Co. bagged their second World Baseball Classic title with a win over South Korea in an All-Asian final at Dodger Stadium.

2. Alex Rodriguez Admits Steroids Use: Baseball’s highest-paid and brightest star admits to taking performance enhancing drugs during the early 90s while a member of the Texas Rangers.

1. New York Yankees Wins World Series: The so-called Evil Empire went on a shopping spree during the winter of 2008 and rolls to their 27th World Series crown in 2009 to christen new Yankee Stadium the Steinbrenner way.

Photo courtesy of Ratti/FIBS

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Aaron Boone To Appear On Sharing Miracles

UNITED STATES – Major League Baseball slugger Aaron Boone will be featured on January’s episode of Sharing Miracles – a 30-minute public affairs television program that tells the compelling and inspirational stories of real patients. Sharing Miracles airs every week on more than 300 television stations nationwide.

A member of one of only three families in history to have three generations play in the major leagues (grandfather Ray, father Bob and brother Bret all played pro baseball), Boone is best known for an eleventh-inning, game-winning home run in the seventh game of the 2003 American League Championship Series. Clinching the series for the New York Yankees over the Boston Red Sox, Boone is said to have extended the “Curse of the Bambino” by one more year.

Discussing Boone’s famed home run on this month’s episode of Sharing Miracles are Red Sox manager Terry Francona and four-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry.

Speaking about his memorable hit – rated the ninth best home run in history by ESPN’s Baseball Tonight – Boone says: “Just to have had a small place in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry is very humbling. I’m reminded of it almost every day by people around the country, no matter what side of the fence they’re on. It was an epic series, an epic game between two titans, and to be a part of it was special.”

However, despite his notoriety for the home run, Boone says the at-bat most meaningful to him is one that almost never happened – his first time at home plate following open-heart surgery.

While in college, Boone was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve, a congenital heart defect that required yearly check-ups, but no treatment. “Throughout my baseball career, I got it checked on every off-season, but it frankly wasn’t a huge part of my life,” he says.

However, that all changed in March 2009, when his cardiologist advised additional tests and a consultation with a surgeon. The decision was sobering, with Boone being told he needed open-heart surgery to correct his defect.

“Because my defect hadn’t been a big part of my life for the last 15 years, the news really hit home. It was a reality check ? here I was preparing for a major league season and my heart was the last thing on my mind,” Boone continues. “When I found out about the surgery, my first concern was not playing baseball again. My priority was to have the surgery and be well.”

After successfully undergoing the procedure, however, he focused on his recovery and rehabilitation and eventually realized that he was strong enough to consider a return to the sport: “I could see my body respond each day, each week, each month. Seeing myself improve really helped push me further and helped me do the necessary things to keep getting better.”

That September – just seven months after being told that he needed open-heart surgery to live – Boone accomplished the unlikely and returned to baseball, playing first base for the Houston Astros in a game against the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field.

In this month’s episode of Sharing Miracles, he explains what his experience taught him: “When it comes to dealing with an illness or a medical condition, you have to persevere. There will be moments when it’s rough and it’s no fun. But the most rewarding thing is to come out of that, to see yourself improve and to see your body return to health. That fight makes you stronger,” Boone says.

Also featured in this month’s episode is Daiichi Sankyo scientist Dr. Michael Stein, who discusses heart disease and the current research being conducted to treat and combat the disease: “This is a very exciting time in heart research and a very exciting time to be helping patients in changing the way that medical care will be delivered in cardiology in the future.” In fact, more than 300 potential new medicines are currently being studied for heart disease and stroke.

Next month’s episode will feature seven-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning, who survived life-threatening kidney disease and a kidney transplant, yet continued to play basketball upon recovering and win a championship.

The new episode debuts January 3. Sharing Miracles airs on 314 television stations across the country.

Source: Sharing Miracles

Photo courtesy of SharingMiracles.com

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CPBL Draft: Elephants Pick Former MVP

TAIWAN – Former Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) Rookie of the Year and MVP Lin En-yu was chosen as the top pick in this year’s CPBL Player Draft by the Brother Elephants. The right-hander played for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan the past three seasons.

A total of 51 players were chosen during the draft with all four league clubs selecting a pitcher in the opening round.

Lin (pictured) throws an array of different pitches and features a fastball that reaches 94 mph. He has been a frequent member of the Chinese Taipei national baseball team since 2003, but has been plagued by injuries and subpar performances during his stint in Japan.

The Sinon Bulls snatched 18-year-old pitching sensation Chang Keng-hao of Nan Ying Vocational High School with the second pick. Chang will attempt to jump directly from high school baseball to the Taiwanese professional baseball ranks.

La New took former ABL hurler Lee Chu-kwan with the third selection while two-time reigning CPBL champion Uni-President Lions grabbed Tsai Ching-hao with its top pick.

2010 CPBL PLAYER DRAFT

Round 1:
1. En-Yu Lin, Elephants
2. Keng-Hao Chang, Bulls
3. Chu-Kuan Lee, Bears
4. Ching-Hao Tsai, Lions

Round 2:
1. Chi-Hao Chang, Elephants
2. Cheng-Lung Lo, Bulls
3. Chun-Chieh Kuo, Bears
4. Chi-Hsiang Lin, Lions

Round 3:
1. Wei-Chien Chen, Elephants
2. Shao-Ying Meng, Bulls
3. Chia-Wei Lin, Bears
4. Yuan-Chin Chu, Lions

Round 4:
1. Fan-Shuo Chen, Elephants
2. Chih-Ming Chuo, Bulls
3. Yu-Chi Hsiao, Bears
4. Chia-Jung He, Lions

Round 5:
1. Chia-Ming Huang, Elephants
2. Hsien-Hsien Yang, Bulls
3. Hsiu-Wei Kuo, Bears
4. Wai-Jen Cheng, Lions

The draft had 10 full rounds followed by the 11th round where the first 3 teams picked players. Rounds 12-19 saw only the Elephants pick up a player in each round. The Lions drafted two siblings of famous players: Yu-Chieh Tseng (Sung-Wei Tseng’s bro) in the 7th round and Kuo-Hua Lo (Kuo-Hui Lo’s bro) in the 9th round.

Source: Taiwan Baseball

Photo courtesy of sportsroadtrips.blogspot.com

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Arizona Winter League Signs Women Ballplayers

UNITED STATES – History will be re-written next month when a pair of female baseball players, American Tiffany Brooks and Japanese Eri Yoshida, will join the Arizona Winter League (AWL). The professional minor league instructional circuit runs for 35 days from Jan. 24 until Feb. 27.

Brooks, a two-time silver medalist in women’s international baseball and a former pro softball player, will become the first female from the United States to compete in the AWL. The Spokane, Washington native will be the second American woman to play professionally on the independent league level.

Yoshida became the darling of the baseball world earlier this year when the smallish 17-year-old right-hander became the first woman to play professionally in Japan. The 5 foot 1 inch, sidearm knuckleballerdebuted for the Kobe Cruise 9 of the Kansai League attracted a record crowd of 12,000 fans.

The duo, who will be roommates during their historic stint in the AWL, are the latest in a prestigious list of talented women ballplayers who have competed against men.

Dr. Alta Weiss pitched for the Vermilion Independents in 1907 while Toni Stone took the mound in the Negro Leagues. Other legendary trailblazers included Jackie Mitchell, who pitched for the Chattanooga Lookouts briefly in 1931, then later with the House of David. Mamie Johnson pitched for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953-1955.

California native Ila Borders (pictured) was the first female pitcher to start a men’s NCAA or NAIA college baseball game, playing for Southern California College from 1994-96 seasons and Whittier College during the 1997 season.

A left-handed control pitcher, Borders won her first two collegiate starts and later signed a pro contract with the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League.

She became one of the first female pitchers to register a win in professional baseball in a 3-1 victory against the Sioux Falls Canaries in 1998. Borders allowed just three hits and fanned two in six shutout innings en route to a streak of 12 scoreless innings.

Both Brooks and Yoshida will be looking to impress both independent and major league scouts in hopes of securing a minor league contract. However, the Japanese hurler has already received an offer to pitch for the Mie Three Arrows of the new independent Japan-Future League which is scheduled to open its inaugural season in April.

Sources: Arizona Winter League, IBAF, Wikipedia, JapanBall.com

Photo courtesy of Josh Meltzer/Duluth-Superior Dukes

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South Australia Remain Atop Claxton Shield

AUSTRALIA – South Australia remained on top of the 2009-2010 Dominos Claxton Shield after capturing the three-game series against the New South Wales Patriots, two games to one, before the Australian circuit closed down for the holidays.

South Australia (11-6) has a one-game lead over both the Perth HEAT (9-6) and the Victoria Aces (8-5), while New South Wales (9-9) and the Queensland Rams 3-14 try to stay in the championship hunt.

Matthew Lawman (Victoria) is batting a league-best .457 and is followed by South Australia’s Michael Collins (.432), Victoria’s Josh Davies (.431) and Scott Wearne (.397), and New South Wales’ Mitchell Dening (.391).

Dening tops the Claxton Shield with 25 hits at the holiday break with Wearne (23) trailing by just a pair of hits. A trio of players – Davies, Trent D’Antonio (New South Wales) and Timothy Kennelly (Victoria) – are knotted for third with 22 hits apiece.

Paul Mildren (pictured) of South Australia leads the league with four wins while Dylan Peacock (Victoria), Casey Jones (Victoria), and Matthew Blackmore (Victoria) have each posted three wins.

The Dominos Claxton Shield will resume action on Jan. 7 with a showdown between South Australia and the Perth HEAT.

Source: Australian Baseball Federation (ABF)

Photo courtesy of Joe Vella/ABF

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Lubbock Christian Tops NAIA Baseball Poll

UNITED STATES – NAIA heavyweight Lubbock Christian sita atop the Collegiate Baseball newspaper’s 2010 NAIA Pre-Season Poll. The West Texas school claimed 52 wins in 60 games last season.

Point Loma Nazarene (45-13) of California came in at second followed by No. 3 Oklahoma City (53-9), No. 4 Southern Poly. State (53-10) of Georgia, and No. 5 Lee College (53-14) of Tennessee.

Rounding out the Top 10 are No. 6 Lewis-Clark State (40-15), No. 7 Embry-Riddle (44-14), No. 8 Campbellsville (39-12), No. 9 Fresno Pacific (39-21) and No. 10 Bellevue (41-12).

NAIA Pre-Season Poll (As of Dec. 21)

1. Lubbock Christian (TX) 52-8
2. Point Loma Nazarene (CA) 45-13
3. Oklahoma City (OK) 53-9
4. Southern Poly. St. (GA) 53-10
5. Lee (TN) 53-14
6. Lewis-Clark St. (ID) 40-15
7. Embry-Riddle (FL) 44-14
8. Campbellsville (KY) 39-12
9. Fresno Pacific (CA) 39-21
10. Bellevue (NE) 41-12
11. Tennessee Wesleyan (TN) 44-15
12. Lindenwood (MO) 45-12
13. British Columbia 38-13
14. William Carey (MS) 36-22
14. Wayland Baptist (TX) 43-15
16. Union (KY) 44-12
17. Azusa Pacific (CA) 36-20
18. LSU-Shreveport (LA) 42-16
19. Cumberland (TN) 33-25
20. Warner (FL) 37-18
21. Madonna (MI) 39-12
22. Malone (OH) 47-16
23. Auburn Montgomery (AL) 37-23
24. Saint Xavier (IL) 41-15
25. Northwood (TX) 36-19

Source: NAIA/Collegiate Baseball newspaper

Photo courtesy of lcudustertoday.com

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St. Thomas Headlines D-III Baseball Poll

UNITED STATES – The reigning D-III champion St. Thomas Tommies have been tabbed as the team to beat in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper NCAA Division III Pre-Season Baseball Poll.

The Minnesota Intercollgiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) powerhouse went 41-13 in 2009 en route to claiming the top prize in D3 baseball.

Wooster (Ohio) comes in at No. 2 followed by No. 3 Eastern Connecticut State, No. 4 Chapman (California), and No. 5 Carthage (Wisconsin).

Other teams in the Top 10 includes No. 6 Kean (New Jersey), No. 7 Salisbury (Maryland), No. 8 Shenandoah (Virginia), No. 9 Trinity (Connecticut), and No. 10 Pomona-Pitzer (California).

NCAA Div. III Pre-Season Poll (As of Dec. 21)

1. St. Thomas (MN) 41-13
2. Wooster (OH) 43-11
3. Eastern Conn. St. 39-8
4. Chapman (CA) 32-17
5. Carthage (WI) 38-9
6. Kean (NJ) 39-11
7. Salisbury (MD) 38-8
8. Shenandoah (VA) 38-10
9.Trinity (CT) 33-7 236
10. Pomona-Pitzer (CA) 37-7
11. Keystone (PA) 40-6
12. Southern Maine 36-9
13. Farmingdale St. (NY) 30-17
14. Heidelberg (OH) 37-9
15. Wisc.-Whitewater 30-19
16. Rensselaer Poly. Inst. (NY) 37-13
17. SUNY Cortland (NY) 31-14
18. George Fox (OR) 36-11
19. Marietta (OH) 32-17
20. Cal. Lutheran (CA) 32-11
21. St. Olaf (MN) 32-14
22. Adrian (MI) 33-11
23. Ithaca (NY) 29-10
24. Wisc.-Stevens Point 31-16
25. Pacific Lutheran (WA) 31-9
26. Saint Joseph’s (ME) 31-13
27. Rose-Hulman (IN) 32-14
28. Anderson (IN) 22-18
29. Franklin (IN) 31-11
30. Johns Hopkins (MD) 28-16

Other Top Teams: Beloit, WI (28-9), Christopher Newport, VA (26-13-2), College of New Jersey (27-18-1), Texas-Tyler (39-12), Nebraska Wesleyan (28-13), St. Scholastica, MN (36-7), Wheaton, MA (30-12), William Paterson, NJ (24-17), Washington & Jefferson, PA (35-14), Franklin & Marshall, PA (24-14-1).

Source: Collegiate Baseball newspaper

Photo courtesy of tommiesports.com

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Eskilstuna Hammers Joins Swedish League

SWEDEN – Eskilstuna Hammers Baseball and Softball Club will replace the Rättvik Butchers in the Swedish League in 2010. Due to a shortage of players, the Butchers relinquished their spot in Sweden’s highest division.

The Hammers finished third behind Goteborg and Gefle this year in the Swedish League relegation round. However, all three teams will join Tranås, Karlskoga, Leksand, Sundbyberg and two-time reigning champion Stockholm in the top division next season.

The Butchers finished in sixth place this past season with a 9-15 record. Middle infielder Adam Sorgi batted a team-high .347 with seven doubles. He also paced Rättvik with 17 runs scored and 18 RBIs.

Nicklas Melin (2-5) posted a team-best 48 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings while Peter Jansson (pictured) logged 74 1/3 innings for a pitching staff that surrendered 161 runs.

Photo courtesy of the Rättvik Butchers

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KBO: Kia Tigers Reload For 2010

SOUTH KOREA – The reigning Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) champion Kia Tigers have re-signed Aquilino Lopez for 433 million won ($375,000) and are in negotiations with Rick Guttormson. The dominating one-two punch combined for 27 wins last season.

The Tigers also increased their offer to slugger Choi Hee-seop (pictured) to 390 million won annually right before Christmas. But the first baseman, who batted .308 with 33 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2009,is seeking a deal worth 500 million won a year.

SK WYVERNS RE-SIGNS IMPORT PITCHERS
SK Wyverns have re-signed both of their import players, Japanese pitcher Ken Kadokura and American hurler Gary Glover, from 2009.
Kadokura inked a one-year deal for $300,000 and a $50,000 signing bonus, while Glover signed for $375,000 and a $75,000 signing bonus.

HANWHA ADDS DOMINICAN HURLERS
The Hanwha Eagles have added a pair of former major leaguers, Jose Capellan and Julio DePaula, from the Dominican Republic.

Capellan, who wore the suits of four MLB teams, posted a 5-7 career record in the big leagues. DePaula played with the Minnesota Twins in 2007.

The Eagles lost closer Brad Thomas, who went 2-5 with a 2.88 ERA and 13 saves this past season, when he signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers.

TWINS REFUSE RAISE FOR STAFF ACE
LG Twins ace Bong Jung-keun’s request for a small raise has met stiff resistance from the league’s worst team. Bong earned 360 million won this past season and asked for a salary of 400 million won in 2010. He went 11-8 with a 3.29 ERA and chewed up 172 1/3 for an awful squad this past season.

LOTTE RETAINS GARCIA, ADDS SADOWSKI
The Lotte Giants will bring back Mexican slugger Karim Garcia for another season and American skipper Jerry Royster has recruited former San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Sadowski for 2010.

Garcia joins Doug Clark of the Seoul Heroes as the only foreign position players to be retained by their respective KBO clubs. Sadowski was recruited by the NPB’s Yokohama BayStars this past season but the Giants declined to sell his contract.

Photo courtesy of True Stories of Korean Baseball

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NPB: Matsunaka Re-Signs With Softbank Hawks

JAPAN – Former Pacific League Triple Crown winner Nobuhiko Matsunaka has re-signed with the Softbank Hawks for 400 million yen plus performance bonuses. He earned 500 million yen this past season.

The 36-year-old designated hitter, who batted .279 with 23 home runs and 80 RBIs in 2009, missed the opening round of the Climax Series due to injury. In October, Matsunaka (pictured) underwent surgeries on both his right knee and left elbow.

Other NPB Signings:

• Hiroki Kokubo, 1B, Softbank Hawks (300 million yen)
• Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, Rakuten Eagles (180 million yen)
• Hideaki Wakui, RHP, Seibu Lions (200 million yen)
• Hiroyuki Nakajima, SS, Seibu Lions (250 million yen)
• Toshiya Sugiuchi, LHP, Softbank Hawks (300 million yen)
• Seiichi Uchikawa, OF, Yokohama BayStars (170 million yen)
• Takeshi Yamasaki, DH, Rakuten Eagles (250 million yen)

Visit JapanBall.com for the latest Japanese baseball news

Photo courtesy of marinerds.blogspot.com

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Taiwan: CPBL Adopts Free Agency System

TAIWAN – The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) recently announced the adoption of a free agency system with minimum salaries for the upcoming 2010 season. The CPBL has been repeatedly rocked by match-fixing allegations during its short history.

Similar to the free agency system in the professional leagues in Japan and South Korea, players in the CPBL will be eligible to become free agents after being in the league for nine years. CPBL President Chao Sho-buo told reporters the period of eligibility could begin retroactively from when Taiwan’s two professional leagues were merged in 2003.

League officials also implemented a new minimum salary of NT$70,000 ($2,167) per month for all players.

GOVERNMENT TO ASSIST BASEBALL

The Taiwanese government also unveiled a NT$2 billion ($62 million) plan to rescue the island’s favorite sport after recent game-fixing scandals nearly destroyed the professional league.

The four-year government plan is aimed at improving payment and pension schemes for professional players while offering tax incentives to corporate sponsors.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan Baseball

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Emporia State Tops D-II Baseball Poll

UNITED STATES — The Emporia State has been tabbed as the pre-season favorite to capture the 2010 Division II baseball championship, according to Collegiate Baseball newspaper’s NCAA Division II pre-season baseball poll.

Emporia State, which finished last season with a 49-14 record, is follwed by No. 2 Florida Southern (41-16), No. 3 U.C. San Diego (41-15), No. 4 Southern Arkansas (52-11) and No. 5 Mesa St. (44-15).

Rounding out the Top 10 are No. 6 S.C. Aiken (42-19), No. 7 Tampa (40-17) and Ashland (42-15), No. 9 West Chester (46-12), and defending champion Lynn (46-16) at No. 10.

NCAA Div. II Pre-Season Poll (As of Dec. 21)

1. Emporia St. 49-14
2. Florida Southern 41-16
3. U.C. San Diego 41-15
4. Southern Arkansas 52-11
5. Mesa St. 44-15
6. S.C. Aiken 42-19
7. Tampa 40-17
7. Ashland 42-15
9. West Chester 46-12
10. Lynn 46-16
11. Central Missouri 44-15
12. Francis Marion 38-15-1
13. Abilene Christian 44-19
14. Wayne St., NE 45-15
15. Indianapolis 43-21
16. Franklin Pierce 37-18
17. Tusculum 36-18
18. Western Oregon 34-13
19. West Alabama 38-16
20. Grand Valley St. 46-16-1
21. Angelo St. 45-20
22. Cal. St. Chico 35-21
23. Delta St. 38-16
24. North Georgia 34-24
25. Kutztown 34-17
26. Valdosta St. 43-21
27. Georgia Coll. & St. 37-19
28. Cameron 42-15
28. Northern Kentucky 41-22
30. Mount Olive 33-18
31. Barry 44-11
32. Colorado St.-Pueblo 41-22
33. Southern Indiana 39-19
34. Cal. St. Los Angeles 32-17
35. Mercyhurst 38-17
36. Dowling 35-18
37. St. Mary’s, TX 36-17
38. Catawba 36-18
38. Slippery Rock 36-15
40. N.C. Pembroke 37-17
40. Dominican 38-14

Also Receiving Votes: New Mexico Highlands (28), Rockhurst, West Florida (24), Texas-Permian Basin (22), Erskine, Belmont Abbey (16), Cal. St. Dominguez Hills (10), Shepherd, Florida Tech. (6), Minnesota St.-Mankato (4), Henderson St., Nova Southeastern, North Alabama, Barton, Columbus St., Armstrong Atlantic, Cal. St. Stanislaus, Bellarmine, Quincy, Wayne St. (MI), St. Joseph’s, S.W. Minnesota, St. Edwards, Shippensburg, Concord, Missouri Southern, California (PA) (1).

Did Not Report: Sonoma St., Adelphi, West Virginia St., Nebraska-Omaha.

Source: NCAA Division II Poll Committee

Photo courtesy of esubulletin.com

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Texas Longhorns Tops Collegiate Baseball Poll

UNITED STATES — The University of Texas is the pre-season favorite to capture the 2010 College World Series, according to Collegiate Baseball newspaper’s NCAA Division I Pre-season baseball poll.

The Longhorns, which finished second at the College World Series last year, are absolutely loaded with superb pitching, including three Louisville Slugger pre-season All-Americans in RHP Taylor Jungmann (11-3, 2.00 ERA, 101 K, 35 BB), RHP Chance Ruffin (10-2, 115 K, 25 BB) and RHP Cole Green (5-3, 3.34 ERA, 85 K, 34 BB, who is expected to be drafted in the first three rounds of next June’s Free Agent Draft).

The staff also includes stalwarts such as RHP Brandon Workman (3-5, 3.48 ERA, 82 K, 28 BB) who also is expected to be drafted in the first three rounds next June and RHP Austin Dicharry (8-2, 2.28 ERA, 59 K, 28 BB).

“We start with pitching, and we go at least eight deep with the staff this year,” said Head Coach Augie Garrido.

“We have five pitchers who threw a substantial number of innings last season, including Cole Green, Chance Ruffin, Brandon Workman, Taylor Jungmann and Austin Dicharry. Plus, we have some very talented newcomers who have been impressive.”

Last year’s pitching staff ranked second in the nation with a team ERA of 2.95 and was No. 1 in hits allowed with 7.52 per nine innings over 67 games. Five position starters return as well, including Louisville Slugger pre-season All-American catcher Cameron Rupp. He is expected to be drafted in the first three rounds of next June’s Free Agent Draft. Last season, he hit .292 with 11 HR, 13 2B, and 46 RBI. But he is even better known by his defensive skills. Rupp almost completely shut down the running game of opponents as he only allowed 27 stolen bases in 39 attempts last season over 63 games with the help of pitchers keeping runners close to bases.

The defense should once again be superb. Last season, Texas ranked eighth in the nation with a fielding percentage of .976.

Garrido said that his offense again will be triggered by the bunt. One year ago, the Longhorns led the nation with 104 sacrifice bunts in 67 games. Where this style of offense especially comes into play is the pressure packed playoffs and the College World Series where defenses rush plays as bunts turn into triples with throws being fired over the first baseman.

It is a style that has allowed Garrido to win five national titles as a head coach (three at Cal. St. Fullerton and two at Texas). Keep in mind that the Longhorns have the potential to hit the ball with power and also feature line drives hitters with good speed on the base paths.

Another big edge Texas has this season is experience. Almost every national champion has College World Series experience from the previous year, and the Longhorns have that important edge.

One other area to mention is a fabulous recruiting class the Longhorns landed last fall orchestrated by Recruiting Coordinator Tommy Harmon. It was ranked 12th in the nation and featured eight superb ball players (seven freshmen and one JC transfer), including six drafted athletes headed by C Jonathan Walsh (18th round pick) and RHP Josh Urban (19th round pick).

For a detailed rundown on the top 40 teams, see the Jan. 8, 2010 edition of Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

The “Collegiate Baseball” Newspaper poll is the oldest college baseball poll. Its birth took place during the 1958 college baseball season.

NCAA Div. I Pre-Season Poll (As of Dec. 21, 2009)

1. Texas (50-16-1)
2. Louisiana St. (56-17)
3. Virginia (49-15-1)
4. Cal. St. Fullerton (47-16)
5. Arizona St. (51-14)
6. Georgia Tech. (38-19-1)
7. Florida St. (45-18)
8. U.C. Irvine (45-15)
9. Florida (42-22)
10. Oregon St. (37-19)
11. Rice (43-18)
12. Miami, Fla. (38-22)
13. North Carolina (48-18)
14. Ohio St. (42-19)
15. Texas Christian (40-18)
16. Clemson (44-22)
17. Coastal Carolina (47-16)
18. East Carolina (46-20)
19. Louisville (47-18)
20. UCLA (27-29)
21. Southern Miss. (40-26)
22. Mississippi (44-20)
23. Arkansas (41-24)
24. San Diego (29-25)
25. Oklahoma (43-20)
26. Stanford (30-25)
27. Wichita St. (30-27)
28. South Carolina (40-23)
29. Texas A&M (37-24)
30. Minnesota (40-19)
31. Georgia (38-24)
32. Vanderbilt (37-27)
33. Fresno St. (32-30)
34. Pepperdine (31-23)
35. South Florida (34-12)
36. Kansas (39-24)
37. Middle Tennessee St. (44-18)
38. Florida Gulf Coast (36-18)
39. Notre Dame (36-23)
40. Dallas Baptist (38-17)

Other Teams Receiving Votes: Cal Poly, Arizona, Oregon, Long Beach St., California, Missouri, Michigan, Nebraska, Baylor, Oklahoma St., Central Florida, Mississippi St., Alabama, Auburn, James Madison, Tulane, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Mexico St., Ball St., Bowling Green St., Hawaii, Houston, Kent St., Missouri St., Creighton, Western Kentucky, N.C. State, Boston College, Illinois, Jacksonville, Washington, Southern Cal., Washington St., Troy, San Diego St., College of Charleston, Georgia Southern, St. John’s, Wagner, New Mexico, Eastern Illinois, Kennesaw St., Florida International, West Virginia, Elon, Texas St., Southeastern Louisiana, Stetson, Oral Roberts, Winthrop, N.C. Wilmington, Georgia St., Dartmouth, Wright St., Bethune-Cookman, Liberty, Dayton, Rhode Island, Southern.

Source: Collegiate Baseball Newspaper

Photo courtesy of Texas Athletics

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Cal Baseball Adds Seven Local Recruits

UNITED STATES – The University of California baseball program has signed seven in-state athletes to national letters of intent – featuring four pitchers (three of which are also position players), a catcher, a shortstop and an outfielder – it was announced by Cal head coach David Esquer.

The incoming class for fall 2010 includes Vince Bruno, a left-handed hitting junior college outfielder from Concord (Los Medanos Junior College); Derek Campbell, a shortstop from Irvine (Mater Dei High School) and Eric Jaffe, a right-handed pitcher/first baseman from Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School.

As a senior at Clayton Valley High School in 2009, Bruno batted .543 with 15 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 37 RBI and 17 stolen bases, earning second-team Collegiate Baseball High School All-America honors. He was selected Cal Hi Sports North Coast Section Player of the Year, Diablo Valley Athletic League MVP, ESPN/Cal Hi Sports first-team all-state and Contra Costa Times first-team All-East Bay, finishing with a .482 career batting average as a prep.

Campbell batted .340 with seven home runs and 21 RBI as a junior at Mater Dei High School in 2009, earning first-team All-Trinity League and second-team all-county honors. He was named Mater Dei’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2009 after being tabbed as his squad’s Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2008.

At the plate, Jaffe batted .471 with eight home runs and 25 RBI during his junior year at Bishop O’Dowd HS. On the mound, the right-hander went 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA, allowing only 11 hits in 33.0 innings with 47 strikeouts. Jaffe was selected a First-team Underclass All-American by Perfect Game USA, was rated the 95th top prospect in the country by Perfect Game Crosschecker and was first-team HAAL All-League as well.

Also signing national letters of intent with the Golden Bears were Andrew Knapp, a switch-hitting catcher from Granite Bay (Granite Bay High School); Louie Lechich, a left-handed pitcher/outfielder from Stockton (St. Mary’s High School); Kyle Porter, a left-handed pitcher from El Dorado Hills (Oak Ridge High School) and Mike Theofanopoulos, a left-handed pitcher/outfielder from Pleasanton (Foothill High School).

At Granite Bay HS, Knapp batted .500 with 10 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 37 RBI, earning 2009 Maxpreps Junior Player of the Year honors. He was also named Sierra Foothill League MVP, Sacramento All-City and Sacramento Area All-Metro. Knapp is the son of Mike Knapp, a standout catcher for the Bears during 1985 and ‘86 seasons.

Left-hander Lechich hit .457 with eight home runs, 27 RBI and 14 stolen bases as a junior at St. Mary’s HS, while also going 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 48.0 innings on the mound. He was a 2009 TCAL MVP and a Cal Hi Sports second-team All-State selection as well.

Porter is a three-year varsity starter at Oak Ridge HS, where as a junior the left-hander went 7-2 with a 2.10 ERA, striking out 75 batters in 56.2 innings. He was named a 2009 Rawlings Preseason All-American and was a 2009 first-team all-league selection.

Left-hander Theofanopoulos was 4-2 with a 3.26 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 34.1 innings as a junior at Foothill HS, earning second-team all-league honors. He is also a two-year high school team captain and helped pitch the Danville Hoots to the Connie Mack World Series this past summer.

“This recruiting class definitely fills our needs at every position,” said Esquer. “This group provides us with an infielder, a catcher and an outfielder, plus pitchers who are also good athletes and can help us as position players. Combining this class with the talented freshmen we have makes me real optimistic about the future of our program.”

CALIFORNIA’S 2009 BASEBALL RECRUITING CLASS:

Vince Bruno, OF, Los Medanos Junior College (Concord, Calif.)
Derek Campbell, SS, Mater Dei HS (Irvine, Calif.)
Eric Jaffe, RHP/1B, Bishop O’Dowd HS (Oakland, Calif.)
Andrew Knapp, C, Granite Bay HS (Granite Bay, Calif.)
Louie Lechich, LHP/OF, St. Mary’s HS (Stockton, Calif.)
Kyle Porter, LHP, Oak Ridge HS (El Dorado Hills, Calif.)
Mike Theofanopoulos, LHP/OF, Foothill HS (Pleasanton, Calif.)

Photo courtesy of calbears.com

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A BaseballdeWorld Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and all over the world
All the children were sleeping, except a boy and a girl.
Both stared out the window as the snow came from above,
thinking of gifts like a new bat or glove.

Baseball and Softball were by far their favorite sports,
Who cares about the Olympics, and Rogge and his cohorts?
From Pakistan to Iraq, and even Switzerland too,
Millions of kids continue to make their dreams come true.

Some dream of playing in the Little League World Series,
While others have their sights set on the New York Yankees.
The game features sweet swings and lots of hard-throwing,
And unlike Golf and Rugby, Baseball is never boring.

Batting gloves, spikes, wristbands and fitted caps,
Baseball gifts are better than line drives in the gaps.
In Asia, Europe, and every region of the world terrain,
Baseball just keeps growing, it really is a global game.

Merry Christmas from BaseballdeWorld.

Posted in College, Europe, Latin, Minors, MLB, News, Tournaments0 Comments

Cuba: Morales, Gourriel Grab Weekly Awards

CUBA – Elephant’s closer Yasiel Morales, perfect in two win opportunities, was named Player of the Week, presented by Víctor Rodríguez Díaz and the Cuban Baseball Federation Site for the period through Sunday.

Morales, struck out seven batters in 7 complete innings. He posted wins in two games, against Camagüey and Las Tunas, and helped the Elephants to stay in fourth place of the Western League.

He limited batters to an opponent batting average to .188 (6-32) while allowing one earned run during the week ending with a 1.29 ERA and five walks.

It is the first weekly honor for Morales.

Followed closely by: Wasp’s right-hander Félix Rivera went 2-0 during the week, victories against Matanzas and Industriales. Had ERA of 0.00 after 4 2/3 innings of work.

In a brilliant campaign, the Roosters’ infielder, Yulieski Gourriel, was named on Monday Player of the Week.Yulieski Gourriel

Gourriel homered six times during the period including a three home run game, against Camagüey on December 17. Also, the 24-year-old hit .611 (11-for-18) last week, and his six homers and 14 RBIs were the highest for any player in a week during the present tournament.

Yulieski had 10 runs scored; slugging of 1.667 and in addition his OPS% was 2.387. Thanks to this phenomenal week Gourriel is now batting .387 with 50 RBIs (leader) and 18 home runs (leader).

Ray Otero can be reached at: elistas@baseballdecuba.com.

Visit BaseballdeCuba for Cuban League news, photos, stats and videos.

Photos courtesy of J. Semana

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Mexico: Mazatlan Prepares For Playoffs

MEXICO – The Mazatlan Venados have overcome a poor start to the second half of the Mexican Pacific League season to move into a tie with Navojoa for fourth place in the LMP standings after spending much time occupying the cellar.

Lorenzo Bundy’s defending champions have been able to rest several of their key players while also bringing in San Diego Padres second baseman Edgar Gonzalez. Gonzalez has hit .275 over his first 14 games for Mazatlan, a marked improvement over Hector Garanzuay, a steady fielder but only a .217 batter this winter.

Meanwhile, the LMP second half title won’t be decided until next week. Hermosillo and Culiacan continue to battle for first place and the eight points that come with it. The Naranjeros are 17-10 while the Tomateros have a 16-10 record.

It might be wise to keep an eye on Obregon, too.
Obregon is two games out of first at 15-12 after winning seven of their previous ten games, and the Yaquis will have a chance to determine their own destiny when they close the regular season with three games in Hermosillo.

ACEVES GETS OKAY FROM YANKS TO PITCH FOR CULIACAN
Pitcher Alfredo Aceves has gotten the go-ahead from the world champion New York Yankees to pitchfor the Culiacan Tomateros this season after first being told no. Aceves, who went 10-1 last summer for the Yankees, had initially asked New York management if he might pitch for Culiacan this winter, but the organization wanted him to remain shut down until spring training opens in Tampa next February.

However, the Tomateros were able to work things out with the Yankees so that Aceves could pitch for the team the rest of the season. Culiacan president Juan Manuel Ley was quoted on the outstanding Puro Beisbol website as saying, “The arrival of Alfredo is due to the good relations that have been cultivated with the Yankees organization.”

Part of the agreement between New York and Culiacan is that Aceves will be a starting pitcher for the Tomateros. He’s already thrown in two simulated games, and is expected to make his Mex Pac season debut against Navojoa in the final series of the regular season.

TUXTLAS WINS VERACRUZ REGULAR SEASON TITLE
The Los Tuxtlas Brujos turned in the best regular season record in the Veracruz Winter League, going 32-6 to finish nine games ahead of the 24-16 Xalapa Chileros in the eight-team overall standings. The Brujos then won their first round playoff series over Minatitlan, 3 games to 1, to advance to the semifinals.

Xalapa outlasted the Soledad Toros, 3-2, in their series to advance to the LIV final four, and the Cordoba Cafeteros slipped by the Santa Rosa Gallos, 3 games to 2. The three first round winners will advance in the postseason, as will the “lucky loser” team who showed best in their first round defeat.

Jorge Luis Delgado of Cosamaloapan won the Veracruzana batting title with a .368 average. Santa Rosa import Jayson Bass led the circuit with seven homers, while teammate Ricardo Vasquez and Tuxtlas’ Omar Bramasco tied for the RBI title with 31 ribbies apiece.

The Brujos’ Guadalupe Perez turned in a 7-0 record to lead all pitchers in wins. Perez’ Tuxtlas mound mate, Daniel Perez, took the ERA title with a 1.51 mark over 41 innings, while Soledad’s Aaron Acosta won the strikeout crown with 38 in 53 frames.

THIS WEEK IN THE MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE

1. HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (17-10)
Hermosillo has won six of their last 10 games to maintain their half-game lead over Culiacan in the second half pennant title chase.

Ex-major leaguer Karim Garcia has hit well since returning from Korea, batting .356 in 11 games, and Luis Alfonso Garcia continues to lead the LMP with 21 homers to go with his 52 RBIs and .268 batting average. Aussie Travis Blackley has pitched very well in his six starts, going 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA.

2. CULIACAN TOMATEROS (16-10)
Culiacan has kept pace with the leaders by winning six of their last 10 games, including an 8-4 record away from home, after a horrendous first half.

Phillies prospect Mike Cervenak is hitting .353 with 10 homers and 45 RBIs, but also has 10 errors at third base. Part-timer Jorge Vazquez is hitting just .250, but has 11 homers in 112 at-bats. Hector Rodriguez has become the top Tomateros starter with a 4-1 record and 2.17 ERA in 10 starts.

3. OBREGON YAQUIS (15-12)
Despite having the Philadelphia Phillies pull prospects Michael Taylor and John Mayberry Jr. back to the USA earlier this year, Obregon has stayed in contention thanks in part to Mexican mainstays Erubiel Durazo, Carlos Valencia and Luis Mendoza.

Durazo is hitting .326 (with an OBP of .492) in 28 games, while Valencia has a .300 average, 14 homers and a league-high 58 RBIs. Mendoza is 7-3 with a 2.64 ERA, leading the LMP with 78 strikeouts.

4. MAZATLAN VENADOS (13-14)
Mazatlan has quietly climbed from eighth place to fourth over the past two weeks, winning nine of 13 games since December 13 (including a three-game sweep of Los Mochis last weekend).

Jon Weber continues to pound LMP pitchers with a .394 average while John Lindsey (.318) and Ruben Rivera have combined for 21 homers and 86 RBIs, but the biggest story continues to be Venados pitcher Pablo Ortega, who is 8-2 and leads the league in both wins and a 2.40 ERA in his standout year.

4. NAVOJOA MAYOS (13-14)
At first blush, it’s hard to see how Navajoa has remained in the first division. They have just one .300 batter in Matt Young, who’s hitting .324 with 7 homers and 20 stolen bases; and their only starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.00 is Tim Gustafson, who is 5-1 with a .293 ERA in 9 starts.

Adan Munoz leads the Mayos with 8 homers and 45 RBIs, but has had little help in the batting order or on the mound. Manager Orlando Sanchez deserves kudos for keeping this team near .500.

6. GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (13-15)
Guasave has struggled for wins all year long, which is what happens when you have a weak batting order trying to help mediocre pitchers. The Algodoneros are a longshot for the playoffs.

Dutch National Team infielder Yurendell de Caster has hit .380 in 20 games while Juan Rodriguez has had some timely hits en route to a .283 average and a team-high 8 homers and 36 RBIs. Francisco Cordova has managed a 6-4 record in 13 starts, but this just hasn’t been Guasave’s year.

7. MEXICALI AGUILAS (11-16)
One of the mysteries of this Mex Pac season is how Mexicali has the league’s best offense with a .304 batting average and serviceable (if undistinguished) pitching, yet is fighting to stay out of last place.

A possible answer is the callback of outfielders Brad Snyder and Matt Camp (hitting .380 and .333, respectively) by the Chicago Cubs in mid-December. Although batters like Jose Amador, Roman Pena and Emmanuel Valdez remain, Mexicali has not recovered. Welcome to winter league ball.

8. LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (10-17)
Along with Guasave, Los Mochis is in danger of having their season slip away. The Caneros are in last place after losing eight of their last ten games.

After slipping below .400 briefly, Sandy Madera has gone on a 9-for-22 tear to bring his league-leading average back up to .407. Madera also has 14 homers. Saul Soto is hitting .310 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs, but the Caneros just don’t have the pitching.

SPONSORS NEEDED FOR BASEBALL MEXICO
With the Mexican Pacific League playoffs and Caribbean Series approaching, Baseball Mexico is gearing up to cover the home stretch of the winter baseball season.

Please consider showing your support and interest in Mexican baseball by helping sponsor the Baseball Mexico program on WRMI with a 30-second commercial for $25 a week. You’ll reach listeners throughout the Americas while showing baseball in Mexico matters to you.

Contact us at BaseballMexico@live.com for details.

Hear BASEBALL MEXICO Sundays at 10:30AM ET on WRMl radio (9955 kHz, www.wrmi.net). For a FREE subscription to BASEBALL MEXICO, send an email to BaseballMexico@live.com or visit the BASEBALL MEXICO blog at www.BaseballMexico.blogspot.com.

Bruce Baskin is Editor/Producer at BASEBALL MEXICO

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2010 European Baseball Championship Schedule

GERMANY – The Confederation of European Baseball (CEB) recently approved the tournament schedule for the 2010 European Championship. The main competition for European national teams will take place from July 23 to August 1 in three German cities (Stuttgart, Heidenheim and Neuenburg).

The Netherlands, who will be the favorites to win the tournament gold, are grouped with the Czech Republic, France, Ukraine, Germany and Belgium.

Italy and Spain are the top bets in the other group and will clash on the opening day of the tourney. Other teams in this group includes Greece, Great Britain, Sweden and Croatia.

Tournament games will be played at Stuttgart Ballpark (cap. 5,000), Heidekoepfe Ballpark (cap. 3,000) in Heidenheim, and the Atomics Baseball Park (cap. 1,000) in Neuenburg.

2010 European Championship Schedule:

JULY 23
Croatia vs Great Britain (Stuttgart)
Sweden vs Greece (Heidenheim)
Italy vs Spain (Stuttgart)
France vs Belgium (Neuenburg)
Czech Republic vs Netherlands (Heidenheim)
Ukraine vs Germany (Stuttgart)

JULY 24
Spain vs Croatia (Stuttgart)
Belgium vs Ukraine (Heidenheim)
Great Britain vs Sweden (Stuttgart)
Netherlands vs France (Neuenburg)
Greece vs Italy (Heidenheim)
Germany vs Czech Republic (Stuttgart)

JULY 25
Great Britain vs Italy (Stuttgart)
Netherlands vs Ukraine (Heidenheim)
Germany vs Belgium (Stuttgart)
France vs Czech Republic (Neuenburg)
Sweden vs Croatia (Heidenheim)
Spain vs Greece (Stuttgart)

JULY 26
Czech Republic vs Belgium (Stuttgart)
Great Britain vs Spain (Heidenheim)
Croatia vs Greece (Stuttgart)
France vs Ukraine (Neuenburg)
Netherlands vs Germany (Heidenheim)
Sweden vs Italy (Stuttgart)

JULY 27
Spain vs Sweden (Stuttgart)
Ukraine vs Czech Republic (Heidenheim)
Belgium vs Netherlands (Stuttgart)
Greece vs Great Britain (Neuenburg)
Italy vs Croatia (Heidenheim)
Germany vs France (Stuttgart)

JULY 28
Group A #6 vs Group B #6 (Stuttgart)
Group A #5 vs Group B #5 (Heidenheim)
Group A #4 vs Group B #4 (Stuttgart)

JULY 29
Group A #1 vs Group B #3 (Stuttgart)
Group A #2 vs Group B #2 (Heidenheim)
Group B #1 vs Group A #3 (Stuttgart)

JULY 30
Group B #3 vs Group A #3 (Stuttgart)
Group B #2 vs Group A #1 (Heidenheim)
Group B #1 vs Group A #2 (Stuttgart)

JULY 31
Group A #2 vs Group B #3 (Stuttgart)
Group A #3 vs Group B #2 (Heidenheim)
Group A #1 vs Group B #1 (Stuttgart)

AUGUST 1
Championship Game (Stuttgart)

Source: Confederation of European Baseball (CEB)

Photo courtesy of International Baseball Fedration (IBAF)

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Great Britain: NBL Adds Three New Teams

GREAT BRITIAN – The National Baseball League (NBL) will have three new teams in 2010. Essex Arrows, Mildenhall Bulldogs and Southampton Mustangs will all be joining the top flight of British Baseball next year.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after the British Baseball Federation (BBF) published details of the substantial growth in teams expected to join the league pyramid in 2010 and 2011.

A press release from the Board of British Baseball said, “This is an exciting prospect for British baseball fans and particularly for the baseball communities in the regions of these three clubs. It will provide the National Baseball League with a new level of verve, buoyancy and competition.”

Essex Arrows

The Essex Arrows were founded in 1983 and they have seen many successful seasons over the years including winning the AA League (1985) and the AAA League (1987, 2001). Their previous spell in the NBL culminated with reaching the Final in 1994 when they lost the series 2-1 against the Hull Mets.

Last season they blew away their AAA League opponents with a 25-0 record in the regular season. In the postseason they finished third, losing to Southampton and the eventual AAA League Champions, Harrogate.

Mildenhall Bulldogs

The Mildenhall Bulldogs are yet another team in the long tradition of teams coming out of RAF Feltwell. Most recent examples include the Cambridge Monarchs, who are remembered by fans of British baseball as the team which devastated the AAA League in the last decade. Their achievements included reaching the AAA postseason in five consecutive seasons (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) and becoming AAA Champions twice (2004, 2006).

Due to the war in Iraq, the Cambridge Monarchs were unable to take part in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, but in 2009 they were back in the British League under the name Mildenhall Bulldogs. Their return was triumphant as they clinched the AA League Championship. The team can count on the large talent pool of American players serving in the UK in the surrounding army bases, which over the years has included players like Glen Goodrich and Bob Runyon, the latter a 12th round (372nd overall) draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002.

Southampton Mustangs

The third team which will be entering the NBL in 2010 is the Southampton Mustangs. Since their first season in 2004, the club has been climbing the British baseball leagues. In 2006 they won promotion with a regular season record of 10-2 in the AA League. The following year they reached the AAA postseason at the first time of asking, losing to the Essex Arrows in the Semi-Final of the National Baseball Championship. In 2009 they once again reached the postseason and just missed out on the AAA League Championship losing to the Harrogate Tigers in the Final.

Unique Opportunity

The British Baseball Federation’s decision to expand the league will not only bring excitement to the NBL in 2010, but the hope is that the three clubs will take advantage of this unique opportunity to continue their growth and development, just as Herts Falcons did in 2009.

The three teams are already on their way to doing so with Essex aiming to add a third team soon and establishing its youth programme in 2010, as well as plans for new dugouts and a grandstand at their field in Waltham Abbey. Mildenhall is also aiming to add another team to the minor leagues and are even considering the option to enter one of their youth teams in the BBF youth league playoffs. The Southampton Mustangs already have two adult league teams as well as a strong university programme, with enormous potential for further growth in its large, but as yet untapped market.

The North

Last season the teams in the North were all grouped together in a 10-team league. Next season the Northern Conference will make its return to the National Baseball League, which is another boost for British baseball.

The 10-team Northern Conference will be split into two groups. The upper group will form the NBL North. It will include four teams: Liverpool Trojans, Manchester A’s, Menwith Hill Patriots and the 2009 AAA Champions, the Harrogate Tigers, who were in devastating form in the AAA National Baseball Championship held at Tiger Field in September.

In the coming months the British Baseball Federation will be announcing more details about the 2010 season including the route to the National Baseball Championships, as British baseball prepares for another thrilling season.

Source: British Baseball Federation

Photo courtesy of baseballsoftballuk.com

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2010 Louisville Slugger Pre-season All-American Teams

UNITED STATES — The 2010 Louisville Slugger Pre-season All-American baseball teams, selected by Collegiate Baseball newspaper, features a who’s who of NCAA Division I baseball players.

The pre-season pick as National Player of The Year is RHP Anthony Ranaudo of Louisiana St. The 6-foot-7, 231-pounder is expected to be a high first round pick in next June’s Free Agent Draft after striking out 159 batters in 124 1/3 innings last season with only 50 walks as he posted a 12-3 record and a 3.04 ERA.

2010 Pre-season All-American Teams:

FIRST TEAM PRE-SEASON ALL-AMERICANS
C Yasmani Grandal, Miami (Fla.) (Great defense, .299, 16 HR, 11 2B, 45 RBI).
1B Cody Hawn, Tennessee (.364, 22 HR, 15 2B, 81 RBI).
2B Danny Muno, Fresno St. (Great defense, .379, 25 2B, 41 RBI, 64 walks, 13 SB).
3B Tony Thompson, Kansas (.389, 21 HR, 27 2B, 82 RBI, won Big 12 triple crown).
SS Christian Colon, Cal. St. Fullerton (Great defense, .357, 16 2B, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 15 SB).
OF Jarrett Parker, Virginia (.355, 16 HR, 20 2B, 65 RBI, 20 SB).
OF Tyler Holt, Florida St. (.401, 23 2B, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 34 SB).
OF Matt Townsend, James Madison (.390, 17 HR, 17 2B, 59 RBI, 17 SB).
DH Kyle Roller, East Carolina (.336, 16 HR, 12 2B, 75 RBI, MVP of Cape Cod League).
UT Bryce Brentz, Middle Tennessee St. (.465, 28 HR, 19 2B 73 RBI/5-3, 4.57 ERA, 63 K).
RHP Anthony Ranaudo, Louisiana St. (12-3, 3.04 ERA, 159 K, 50 BB in 124 1/3 IP).
RHP Deck McGuire, Georgia Tech. (11-2, 3.50 ERA, 118 K, 41 BB, 100 1/3 IP).
LHP Daniel Bibona, U.C. Irvine (12-1, 2.63 ERA, 108 K, 26 BB, 106 IP).
RHP Taylor Jungmann, Texas (11-3, 2.00 ERA, 101 K, 35 BB, 94 2/3 IP).
RHP Chance Ruffin, Texas (10-2, 3.32 ERA, 115 K, 25 BB, 124 2/3 IP).
LHP Josh Spence, Arizona St. (10-1, 2.37 ERA, 125 K, 30 BB, 102 2/3 IP).
Relief Addison Reed, San Diego St. (20 SV, 0.65 ERA, 38 K, 7 BB, 27 2/3 IP).

SECOND TEAM PRE-SEASON ALL-AMERICANS
C Cameron Rupp, Texas
C Micah Gibbs, Louisiana St.
1B Preston Tucker, Florida
1B Troy Channing, St. Mary’s
2B Mike Sodders, New Mexico St.
2B Kolbrin Vitek, Ball St.
3B Joey Bergman, Coll. of Charleston
SS Jedd Gyorko, West Virginia
OF Mike McGee, Florida St.
OF Blake Dean, Louisiana St.
OF Michael Choice, Texas-Arlington
OF Devon Dageford, Louisiana Tech.
UT Danny Hultzen, Virginia
RHP Alex Wimmers, Ohio St.
LHP Cody Wheeler, Coastal Carolina
LHP Chris Sale, Florida Gulf Coast
RHP Daniel Renken, Cal. St. Fullerton
RHP Sam Gaviglio, Oregon St.
LHP Drew Pomeranz, Mississippi
RHP Matt Harvey, North Carolina
Relief Matty Ott, Louisiana St.
Relief Ryan Duke, Oklahoma

THIRD TEAM PRE-SEASON ALL-AMERICANS
C Jim Klocke, Southeast Missouri St.
C Eddie Rohan, Winthrop
C Rafael Neda, New Mexico
1B Paul Hoilman, East Tennessee St.
1B Tony Plagman, Georgia Tech.
1B Austin Wates, Virginia Tech.
1B Andy Wilkins, Arkansas
1B Zach Maxfield, Florida Gulf Coast
2B Kolten Wong, Hawaii
2B Sean Rockey, George Washington
2B Ross Heffley, Western Carolina
2B Wes Hobson, Appalachian St.
3B Anthony Rendon, Rice
3B Jake Smith, Alabama
3B Phil Wunderlich, Louisville
3B Bo Reeder, East Tennessee St.
SS Drew Lee, Morehead St.
SS Stephen Cardullo, Florida St.
OF Gary Brown, Cal. St. Fullerton
OF Kevin Nieto, Manhattan
OF Ryan Enos, Dallas Baptist
LHP Sean Gilmartin, Florida St.
RHP Noe Ramirez, Cal. St. Fullerton
RHP Trevor Bauer, UCLA
RHP Tyler Pill, Cal. St. Fullerton
LHP Kenneth Roberts, Middle Tennessee St.
RHP Sam Dyson, South Carolina
RHP Gerrit Cole, UCLA
Relief Kevin Rhoderick, Oregon St.
Relief Jarad Miller, Valparaiso
Relief Scott Matyas, Minnesota
Relief Eric Pettis, U.C. Irvine
Relief Cole Green, Texas
Relief Nick Ramirez, Cal. St. Fullerton
Relief Michael Schum, Wright St.

Photo courtesy of College Baseball Today

Posted in College0 Comments

Golden Baseball League Adds Expansion Club

UNITED STATES – The Golden Baseball League (GBL) announced recently that they have reached an agreement with Palm Springs Professional Baseball, LLC that grants the rights to operate a professional baseball team in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. This would return professional baseball to the region for the first time since the minor league Palm Spring Suns played in 1997.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement with such an impressive and experienced ownership group,” said GBL Commissioner Kevin Outcalt. “The team could play in either 2010 or 2011 depending on what they work out with the City of Palm Springs regarding the ballpark facility, or potentially in a ballpark elsewhere in the Coachella Valley. This is a big win for all parties as the league expands into a great market with outstanding professional baseball history, the City is able to receive an increased and true market value for their stadium lease, the fans will enjoy exciting professional baseball with well known players and managers as teams from all over western North America come to play, and the local economy is the benefit of $5M or more in annual economic impact as has been documented in other GBL markets.”

Headed up by a trio of baseball industry executives who have owned minor league teams in the New York – Penn League and the Golden Baseball League, the team will host 45 regular season home games, plus playoffs, in a season that will stretch from mid-May to mid-September. Headed on the field by a Major League All-Star Manager (this group in the past have employed Gary Carter, Phil Nevin, and Garry Templeton) the team should feature the typical GBL mix of 5-6 ex major leaguers along with minor league experienced players and a few college graduates at a level of play that is rated at or above AA by experienced minor league baseball operators. Considered the premier independent pro league in western North America and one of the top in the country, the GBL regularly has 20 -30 players purchased by major league baseball and is the annual leader in Top Prospects and All-Independent Pro All-Stars as selected by Baseball America. Major League MVP and All-Stars such as Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Jose Lima, Robert Fick, Scott Spiezio, Junior Spivey, and Felix Jose have all played in the league. Four GBL alumni have already made it to the major leagues.

The Palm Springs team would play in the South Division of the GBL which includes the Tucson Toros, the Orange County Flyers, the Long Beach Armada, the Yuma Scorpions and the Maui ballclubs at this time.

For more information, please contact Palm Springs Professional Baseball c/o Robert Young (310) 820-2988 or rjy24@aol.com.

ABOUT THE GOLDEN BASEBALL LEAGUE
The Golden Baseball League, Presented by Safeway Inc./VONS, is a professional baseball league operating in the western United States and Canada. Golden Baseball League teams include the Calgary Vipers in Calgary, Alberta Canada; the Chico Outlaws in Chico, CA; the Edmonton Capitals in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, the Orange County Flyers in Fullerton; CA, the Long Beach Armada in Long Beach, CA; the St. George Roadrunners in St. George, Utah; the Yuma Scorpions in Yuma; AZ; the Victoria Seals in Victoria, British Columbia Canada; and the Tucson Toros in Tucson, AZ. Over 100 GBL players have been acquired by major league baseball or professional international baseball organizations during the last four years and over 70 former major leaguers have played in the GBL including MLB All-Stars Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Jose Lima, Robert Fick, Junior Spivey, Scott Spiezio and Felix Jose. For general information, please visit our League web site at www.goldenbaseball.com.

Photo courtesy of the Golden Baseball League

Posted in Minors, News0 Comments

Spain: Valencia Astros Add Two Sluggers

SPAIN – The Valencia Astros of the Spanish League have added outfielder Pedro Mendez and first baseman Sandel Cuevas to the roster for the 2010 season. The Astros, managed by Seattle Mariners’ scout Joan Garcia, have won just one game since joining Spain’s highest division in 2008.

Mendez, who departed El Llano a year ago for De Angelis Godo of the Italian Baseball League, batted .108 with three RBIs in limited action in 2009.

Cuevas, a native of the Dominican Republic, played the past two seasons in the United States. The left-handed slugger is expected to be a top run producer for a squad that plated a paltry 2.64 runs a game this past season.

SANT BOI ADDS VETERAN CATCHER FOR 2010

CB Sant Boi continued their roster shake-up with the addition of former Tenerife Marlins catcher Jose Luis Salazar. Earlier this winter, the Spanish League runner-up team signed former Marlins standout Daniel Martinez.

The 35-year-old Salazar collected 18 RBIs and scored 22 runs for the five-time defending Spanish champions this past season while hitting .398 with a .433 on base percentage. He also gunned down 20 of 40 would-be base runners in 2009.

Photo courtesy of saninaziobeisbol.net

Posted in Europe, News1 Comment

Joliet JackHammers Reschedule Player Tryouts

UNITED STATES – The Joliet JackHammers have updated the dates for their upcoming tryouts in California. The first of the two tryouts will be held at San Diego Christian College at noon on January 9, 2010 in San Diego. The second will be held on January 10 at The Masters College in Los Angeles at 10am.

For more information, contact Chad Parker at chad@jackhammerbaseball.com.

The JackHammers kick off their 2010 season on the road against the Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks on May 21st, with their Home Opener on May 28th at 7:10 pm when they will face off against the newest Northern League team, the Lake County Fielders.

To register for either tryout, please download the registration form at www.jackhammerbaseball.com and email it to Kelli Drechsel at kdrechsel@jackhammerbaseball.com or fax it to 815.726.9223. Those with questions can call Kelli at 815.774.2889.

Photo courtesy of Joliet JackHammers

Posted in Minors, News0 Comments

San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals Adds Baseball Games

UNITED STATES – San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals, Inc. has expanded its Baseball, Softball and Sporting games in anticipation of the 2010 Little League and Girls Softball season in San Diego by adding a Speed Pitch game with a real time Radar Gun to track the speed that the ball is thrown as well as a new “Batters Up” batting practice inflatable baseball/softball game.

These two new baseball games are added to the existing five-sided World Sports Game that also includes a batting practice game, as well as a football throw, soccer kick, basketball hoop shot, and a Frisbee or Velcro dart game.

Over the years, San Diego Kids Party Rentals has become a favorite vendor for many Little League Opening Day ceremonies andBatter Up Inflatable Game festivities. Catering to these baseball and softball teams has been an area of personal interest to San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals owner Greg Knight, an avid baseball fan and supporter of youth baseball and softball.

According to Mr. Knight, this expanded line of baseball and sporting game offerings is in response to the demand from repeat clients for new and more comprehensive offerings for this popular sport. He reports that he truly enjoys watching the young players and how much they enjoy playing the games.

ABOUT SAN DIEGO KIDS’ PARTY RENTALS, INC.
San Diego Kids’ Party Rentals offers inflatable jumps, slides, water slides, obstacle courses, carnival games, interactive games, outdoor movie screens, children’s entertainment, and unique kids’ theme parties for children’s birthday parties, holiday gatherings, school events, church functions, and other special occasions in San Diego.

Photos courtesy of sandiegokidspartyrentals.com

Posted in News1 Comment

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