Archive | January, 2010

Mainz Athletics Sign Japanese Shortstop

GERMANY – After Nils Hartkopf returned to the Solingen Alligators and Raef Hobbs Brown joined the Saarlouis Hornets for the 2010 season, the Mainz Athletics were looking for a shortstop for the upcoming season.

The 2007 German champion filled the vacant position with Daisuke Ikenaga from Japan.

Ikenaga, 29, played for the Athletics in 2006, where he had a batting average of .233 and a fielding average of .946.

After 2006 he played in the Golden League in the United States for one season and went on to play in Australia. Most recently he played in an independent league in Japan.

“We are happy to have Daisuke back in Mainz,” said sports director and assistant coach Ulli Wermuth. “He is a great Shortstop with an outstanding work ethic, that our young player can learn a lot from. Daisuke also pitched when he played in Australia where he did not walk anybody in 10.2 Innings, which gives us hope that he will be able to support our young pitching staff around veteran Manuel Möller.”

Two more additions, Julius Spann and Christian Decher from the farm team of the Athletics, will complete the roster.

Decher was a member of the German junior national team last year and the winning pitcher of the final of the German junior championship. The 19-year-old is currently injured with a broken hand, but will be back for the start of the season.

The 20-year-old Spann is a pitcher/outfielder that mainly played high school baseball in Philadelphia last season.

The well-structured farm system of the Athletics has paid off with 12 of the 17 players on the roster making their way into the Bundesliga through the farm teams.

2010 MAINZ ATHLETICS ROSTER:

CATCHERS:
Kevin Kotowski, Shu Sasaki (Japan) and Andreas Lastinger.

INFIELDERS:
Max Boldt, Martin Kipphan, Daisuke Ikenaga (Japan), Tim Stahlmann, Janni Stöcklin and Nici Weichert.

OUTFIELDERS:
Kevin Kotowski, Mike Larson (Canada), Enzo Muschik, Hendrick Schewe and Julius Spann

PITCHERS:
Max Boldt, Christian Decher, Max Doll, Daisuke Ikenaga (Japan), Daniel Klein, Manuel Möller, Enzo Muschik, Julius Spann, Tim Stahlmann and Janni Stöcklin.

COACHING STAFF
Cae Santos, Head Coach, United States
Ulli Wermuth, Assistant Coach, Germany
Janucz Radicke, Assistant Coach, Germany
Ulrich Marth, Physio, Germany

Photo by Mark Mauno

Source: Mainz Athletics

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Southern All-Stars Win Sydney Women’s Tournament

AUSTRALIA – The Southern All-Stars have won the inaugural Sydney Women’s Invitational Tournament at Blacktown Olympic Park in Sydney, 10–5, against the Central Coast Marlins.

Day 5 saw the final 4 games of the competition played, with all eight (8) teams looking for a victory on the final day.

Proceedings began with the 7 vS 8 game between Baulkham Hills and Newcastle. Baulkham Hills jumped out to an early lead with 14 runs in the 1st inning to take the driver’s seat and take 7th place in the process.

Two other local Sydney teams contested the fifth vs sixth playoff, the Greenway Giants against the Cronulla Sharks. Both team put out a great performance with nothing separating the sides until the final inning of the game where the Greenway side produced the winning to take the 5-4 victory.

FINAL STANDINGS:

1. Southern All-Stars
2. Marlins
3. Knights
4. Baseball for All (USA/Canada)
5. Greenway
6. Cronulla
7. Baulkham Hills
8. Newcastle

The “Baseball for All” side from USA and Canada had their final outing in the Sydney Women’s Invitational on Day 5 against the Knights in the third vs fourth playoff. The “Baseball for All” side has played some fantastic baseball over the tournament but was not able to make inroads into the Marlins defence in this particular game.

The Knights were too strong for the young “Baseball for All” side taking the game 12-2 and finished the tournament in third place. The youthful “Baseball for All” side competed well in all their games and deserved a 4th place finish in the tournament.

So the last two teams standing were the undefeated Marlins who worked hard throughout the tournament and were well deserving of a finals berth. A team mixed with experience and youth who matched up against the experience side of the Southern All Stars from Victoria who had a host of Australian players within the side.

The Southern All Star played a solid brand of baseball scoring runs in every inning of the game except the last. The standout for the Southern All Stars was Amy McCann who hit a solo home run from her 3 hits in the game. Taylor McKay also produced 3 hits from her 4 at bats.

The Marlins weren’t able to quite get into their groove, but rallied in the 4th and 5th innings produced two (2) runs in back to back innings to bring the deficit back to five. The Marlins weren’t able to get any closer in the final innings while the All Stars added an extra run in the 6th to put the icing on the cake.

The Southern All Stars took the game 10–5 and with that win became the inaugural Sydney Women’s Invitational champions.

See complete results, photos and information at: www.starsports.baseball.com.au

Photo by Joe Vella/NSW Baseball

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KBO Teams Ink 14 Foreign Pitchers

SOUTH KOREA – The eight teams in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) have signed 14 pitchers and just two position players to complete the 16 roster spots for foreign players.

Former major leaguer Karim Garcia will be donning the Lotte Giants uniform for a third consecutive season. The Mexican slugger joins Heroes outfielder Doug Clark as the only non-pitcher imports in South Korea’s professional league this upcoming season.

The reigning KBO champion KIA Tigers failed to re-sign American Rick Guttormson and will pair former big league pitcher Aquilino Lopez (pictured) with former Texas Rangers’ hurler Ricardo Rodriguez.

Below are the foreign imports for the 2010 season:

DOOSAN BEARS – LHP Les Walrond and RHP Kelvin Jiminez.
HANWHA EAGLES – RHP Jose Capellan and RHP Julio DePaula.
KIA TIGERS – RHP Aquilino Lopez and RHP Ricardo Rodriguez.
LG TWINS – RHP Edgar Gonzalez and RHP Shinya Okamoto.
LOTTE GIANTS – RHP Ryan Sadowski and OF Karim Garcia.
SAMSUNG LIONS – RHP Brandon Knight and RHP Francisco Cruceta.
SEOUL HEROES – RHP Adrian Burnside and OF Doug Clark.
SK WYVERNS – RHP Ken Kadokura and RHP Gary Glover.

Photo courtesy of True Stories of Korean Baseball

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Traverse City Beach Bums Add Two Prospects

UNITED STATES – The Traverse City Beach Bums have announced the additions of veteran third basemen Bobby Spain and rookie right-handed pitcher Justin Deme to their 2010 roster.

Spain, who will be 25 in May, was drafted in the 19th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007 following an All-American season at shortstop for Oklahoma City University. The 6’4″ 205-pound left-handed hitting infielder made the full-time move to 3rd base as a professional, and hit.286 with 47 doubles, 10 home runs, and 107 RBI in three seasons as a Pirate farmhand. His best season came in 2008 with the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League, when he hit.312 with 22 doubles, five home runs, and 43 RBI.

Deme, a right-handed pitcher from Grass Valley, California, last pitched in 2006 for Sacramento State University. The 6’3″ 210-pound righty was recommended by former Beach Bums’ catcher and current Texas Rangers’ minor leaguer Robbie Alcombrack.

“Robbie gave us a call this off-season and said we needed to give Deme a look,” said Wuerfel. “He has been working out with Robbie and clocked as high as 93 mph. He has the type of undiscovered talent that makes the Frontier League popular, and we are going to give him a shot to make our squad in the spring.”

The Traverse City Beach Bums are entering their fifth season of play in 2010, with the home opener scheduled for Friday, May 28th versus the Oakland County Cruisers. The Beach Bums will play 54 of their 96 games at home in 2010. Season tickets are now on sale — please phone 231-943-0100.

Photo courtesy of www.traversecitybeachbums.com

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Gonzalez, Tamayo Earn Cuban League Weekly Awards

CUBA – Elephants ace Norberto González and Granma’s Ramón Tamayo were named on Monday the Players of the Week presented by Víctor Díaz Daquinta and the Cuban Baseball Federation for the period ending January 24.

González, who won one of his two starts last week,  allowed two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings with two walks and 11 strikeouts. His ERA was 1.57 and his only win was against Metropolitanos on Sunday afternoon.

For the veteran left-handed pitcher this was his first weekly honor.

Followed closely by:

Three reliever pitchers had two wins during the period. Tigers’ starter Vladimir García had 11 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings and ERA of 2.25. Granma’s Ramiro Ferral (2-0-1.59 in 5 2/3 of work), Industriales’ Frank Montieh (2-1-2.35 in 7 2/3) and Pinar del Rio’s Raudel Lazo (2-1-4.50 in 6 innings).

Tamayo went 10-for-22 (.455) with five home runs, 10 RBIs, 25 Total of Bases, a .500 OBP and Slugging of 1.136 over Granma’ six games from January 19-24. His OPS during the period was 1.636.
This was the second weekly honor for the second basemen.

Followed closely by:

Three other batters had relevant numbers during the period. Sancti Spíritus’ catcher Eriel Sánchez compiled a .300 (9-30) batting average with 11 RBIs while Irait Chirino of Industriales had a .750 (12-9) batting average, OBP of .789, 13 total bases, 1.083 Slugging, and 1.872 OPS.

Pavel Quesada of Cienfuegos had Slugging of 1.500 (the highest last week), 2.132 OPS, 21 total bases with a trio doubles, a triple and three homers.

Photo courtesy of playersofelbeisbolcubano.wordpress.com

Visit BaseballdeCuba for news, stats, and videos from the Cuban National Series.

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Wagner College To Retire Andrew Bailey’s Number

UNITED STATES – On the heels of 2006 Graduate Andrew Bailey’s Rookie of the Year campaign with the Oakland A’s, Wagner College Athletic Director Walt Hameline and head baseball coach Joe Litterio have announced that the school will retire Bailey’s number. Bailey, who played for the Green & White from 2003-2006, will have his Seahawk number 17 retired at halftime of the men’s basketball game against Quinnipiac on Thursday, January 28 at 7:00 pm.

All youth baseball and softball teams that pre-register for the game will have the opportunity to have their picture taken with Bailey before the game and will be admitted to the game free of charge. To register your team, please contact Mike Miller at mike.miller@wagner.edu or at (718) 420-4008.

Last year, the hard-throwing right-hander, who was also the only rookie selected to the All-Star game, saved an Oakland rookie-record 26 saves (in 30 chances) with a 6-3 record, a 1.84 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) and 91 strikeouts against 24 walks in 83 1/3 innings over 68 appearances.

Bailey will be the fourth Seahawk to have his number retired joining Joe Doyle (Baseball), Alonzo Patterson (Football) and Terrance Bailey (Men’s Basketball)

Photo – Coach Joe Litterio and Andrew Bailey (Dave Saffran)

Source: Wagner College Athletics

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Therwil Flyers Sign Former Mariners Prospect

SWITZERLAND – The reigning Swiss League champion Therwil Flyers have signed former Seattle Mariners minor league catcher John “JB” Tucker for the 2010 season. The Bradenton, Florida resident reportedly declined offers from both Germany and Austria to join Switzerland’s largest baseball and softball club.

Tucker, who will celebrate his 28th birthday next month, played for both Mississippi State University (MSU) and Wake Forest at the NCAA Division I level. He joined the Mariners’ organization as an undrafted free agent after finishing his collegiate career with a .298 batting average with 20 home runs and 119 RBIs.

A prep standout for the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Falcons, Tucker played three seasons of affiliated minor league baseball before getting released in 2007 and joining the independent league circuit.

The right-handed slugger spent one season in the Can-Am League before signing with the Grand Prairie Air Hogs of the American Association in 2008. In his maiden campaign with the North Texas franchise, Tucker batted .295 with 11 home runs and a team-high 24 doubles.

The Flyers, which set a Swiss record of five consecutive championships from 1991-1995, dethroned the Bern Cardinals last year

SWISS LEAGUE PAST CHAMPIONS:
2009 – Therwil Flyers
2008 – Bern Cardinals
2007 – Bern Cardinals
2006 – Bern Cardinals
2005 – Bern Cardinals
2004 – Zurich Challengers
2003 – Therwil Flyers
2002 – Zurich Challengers
2001 – Bern Cardinals
2000 – Zurich Challengers
1999 – Zurich Challengers
1998 – Zurich Challengers
1997 – Zurich Barracudas
1996 – Zurich Barracudas
1995 – Therwil Flyers
1994 – Therwil Flyers
1993 – Therwil Flyers
1992 – Therwil Flyers
1991 – Therwil Flyers
1990 – Zurich Challengers

Photo courtesy of Therwil Flyers BSC

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Knights Stay Perfect At Sydney Women’s Tournament

AUSTRALIA – Not even the blistering Sydney summer heat could hamper the 2010 Sydney Women’s Invitational Tournament at Blacktown Olympic Park on the second day of competition.

Day 2 action on Saturday saw three (3) games played with a three (3) teams playing their opening game of the tournament.

Greenway Giants and the Marlins opened up proceedings at midday on Day 2. An exciting start to the game with nine (9) runs scored in the 1st inning (Marlins – 5 and Greenway – 4).

The Marlins continued their momentum throughout the game registering runs in each of the 5 innings played.

Greenway was held to their 1st innings score unable to penetrate the Marlins defence with the Marlins taking the game 18 runs to 4.

Newcastle and the Knights played off in the second game of Day 2. The two teams were welcomed to the diamond in hot and humid conditions. Both teams toughed it out with the Knights getting an early jump scoring eleven (11) runs in the opening inning to make the task for Newcastle that much harder.

The Knights dominated the game invoking the run differential rule after the 4th innings taking the game 31 – 1. The win sees the Knights two wins from two starts putting them in a good position with three games to play in the next two days.

In the Saturday night game the Baseball for All team from USA/Canada played the Cronulla Sharks. The heat that had been experienced throughout the day had died off thanks to the southerly that swept over Sydney bringing the temperature down a few notches.

The Baseball for All team was awarded the win as Cronulla committed a technical breach which saw them lose the game.

Day 3 sees a total of seven (7) games being played including double headers for a few teams. The Home Run Derby will also be run with two players from each team participating.

Teams are beginning to sort themselves out with Day 3 and Day 4 being the crucial days before we reach Day 5 where the champion will be crowned.

Stay up to date with the results, photos and information by visiting the website www.starsports.baseball.com.au

Photo by Joe Vella/NSW Baseball

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San Diego Toreros Tabbed To Win WCC Title

UNITED STATES – San Diego was picked as the favorite to win this year’s WCC regular season title in the 2010 preseason baseball poll, as voted on by the head coaches in the conference.

The Toreros received six first place votes for a total of 48 points and are ranked 24th in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll. Pepperdine was picked second with 38 points and is also receiving national recognition, ranked 34th in the Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll.

San Francisco totaled 33 points for third, while 2009 WCC Champion Gonzaga got one first place vote for 29 points to finish fourth, just edging out 2009 runner-up Loyola Marymount, which received 28 points for fifth. Rounding out this year’s preseason poll are Santa Clara, which received the last first place vote with 20 points, Saint Mary’s with 17 points, and Portland with 11 points.

2010 WCC Baseball Preseason Poll
1. San Diego
2. Pepperdine
3. San Francisco
4. Gonzaga
5. Loyola Marymount
6. Santa Clara
7. Saint Mary’s
8. Portland

• San Diego is coming off a fifth place finish last year and return a number of key players, including 2009 WCC Player of the Year James Meador (SR, OF), and 2009 All-WCC first team members Zach Walters (JR, 3B) and AJ Griffin (SR, RHP), who also made the preseason all-conference team. In addition, Head Coach Rich Hill, who is the league’s all-time leader in WCC victories (246), will bring back Kevin Muno (JR, OF) and Kyle Blair (JR, RHP), who were both named to the preseason all-conference team. In all, San Diego, which led the league in batting average (.319), brings back eight starting position players and four pitchers.

• Pepperdine, under Head Coach Steve Rodriguez, finished tied for third last year and led the league in strikeouts (477), opposing batting average (.240), and were tied for the lead in saves (12) and earned runs allowed (237). The Waves’ returners will be highlighted by Matt Bywater (JR, LHP), a 2009 All-WCC first team selection, and Cole Cook (SO, RHP) and Brian Humphries (SO, OF), who were both named to last year’s all-freshman team. Cook was also named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American last year.

• San Francisco tied for third last year and will be led by 12th year Head Coach Nino Giarratano, who was named an assistant coach for the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. The Dons return 23 letterwinners, including 2009 All-WCC first team members Derek Poppert (SR, SS) and Doug Murray (SR, RHP), who led the league in wins going 9-0. In addition, junior infielder Stephen Yarrow was named to the preseason all-conference team.

• Gonzaga, fresh off its first ever regular season and WCC Championship Series title, is led by 2009 WCC Coach of the Year, Mark Machtolf. The Zags will field a young team as they return three position starters and three pitchers, highlighted by Drew Heid (SR, OF), who was the 2009 Alaska Summer League MVP, and Cody Martin (JR, RHP), who tied for second in the league with six saves.

• Loyola Marymount, which finished second last year under first year Head Coach Jason Gill, returns four position starters and three pitchers, led by 2009 All-WCC first team selection Jonathan Johnson (JR, 2B) and all-freshman team members Ryan Hawthorne (SO, OF) and Shon Roe (SO, INF).

• Santa Clara, under Head Coach Mark O’Brien, returns five starting position players and eight pitchers, led by 2009 All-WCC first team members Geoff Klein (SR, C), who tied for the league lead in batting average (.379), and Nate Garcia (SR, RHP), who led the league in strikeouts (96), as well as Tommy Medica, who was named ot the preseason all-conference team.

• Saint Mary’s, led by Head Coach Jedd Soto, will be led by the 2009 WCC Freshman of the Year, Troy Channing, who became just the third player in WCC history to win the Triple Crown and was a second-team All-American.

• Portland returns eight starting position players and two starting pitchers under Head Coach Chris Sperry. Highlighting the returnees are 2009 All-Freshman team selection Kris Kauppila (SO, SS), and Zach Varce (JR, RHP), who tied for the league lead in saves with nine.

Preseason All-Conference Teams (Position Players)

– Troy Channing, SMC
– Drew Heid, GON
– Riley Henricks, POR
– Brian Humphries, PEP
– Kris Kauppila, POR
– Geoff Klein, SCU
– James Meador, USD
– Tommy Medica, SCU
– Kevin Muno, USD
– Zach Walters, USD
– Stephen Yarrow, USF

Preseason All-Conference Teams (Pitchers)

– Kyle Blair, USD
– Matt Bywater, PEP
– Cole Cook, PEP
– AJ Griffin, USD
– Doug Murray, USF

Photo courtesy of University of San Diego Athletics

Source: West Coast Conference

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Sydney 2010 Women’s Baseball Tournament

AUSTRALIA – Tahnee Lovering banged home four runs and the Knights used an eight-run fourth inning to trounce “Baseball for All” , 13-6, in the opening game of the Sydney 2010 Invitational Women’s Baseball Tournament Friday at the Blacktown Olympic Park Baseball complex.

The eight team tournament has a selection of teams from Sydney’s A Grade Women’s Competition, a combined girl’s team from USA and Canada, “Baseball for All” and a combined interstate team with predominantly Victorians in the Southern All Stars team.

The Knights (1-0) drew first blood in the first off “Baseball for All” starter Shayla Shahsavar. Leadoff hitter Janna Loudoun singled sharply to left field, swiped second before advancing another base on a wild pitch. The centerfielder raced home on an RBI groundout by Lovering for a 1-0 lead.

Shahsavar opened the second frame with two quick outs before a defensive miscue by shortstop Hannah Martensen led to a trio of unearned runs highlighted by a two-run base hit off the bat of Lovering.

“Baseball for All” cut the lead to 4-1 with a score in the bottom of the second. Designated hitter Allison Boden reached on a base hit to open the frame and jogged home on a two-out RBI single by Kelly O’Donoghue.

The Knights added a lone run in the third before erupting for eight runs the following inning to seal the outcome.

GREENWAY GIANTS POUND BAULKHAM HILLS
Laura Neads tallied three hits and drove in four runs to lead the Greenway Giants past Baulkham Hills 11-5 last Friday night at the Sydney 2010 Invitational Women’s Baseball Tournament.

The Giants (1-0) broke open a tied contest in the third thanks to three hits and a pair of fielding blunders. Neads doubled home Meaghan Nixon to cap a three-run frame and put the Giants on top, 4-1.

A run-scoring triple by Renae Straumeitis highlighted a three-run fifth as Greenway built a 7-1 cushion. However, Baulkham Hills plated four runs on just one hit in the bottom of the same frame to cut the lead to 7-5.

But the Giants answered back with four runs in the final frame to earn the impressive win.

All the results and photos from the Sydney Women’s Invitational Tournament can be viewed at
http://www.starsports.baseball.com.au/

Photo by Joe Vella/NSW Baseball

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Indy News: Miners Re-Sign Brett Scarpetta

UNITED STATES – The Southern Illinois Miners have announced that right-handed pitcher Brett Scarpetta will return for his third season. Scarpetta is 16-7 with a 3.84 ERA in two seasons with Southern Illinois.

Scarpetta ranks second on the three-year-old team’s all-time list behind Ryan Bird in wins (16), innings pitched (183) and starts (31). After missing spring training and the first three weeks of the 2009 season for personal reasons, the righty posted a 7-4 record with a 3.86 ERA in 95.2 innings of work and finished the season on a four-game winning streak.

In each of his first two seasons, Scarpetta has had one of the best ERAs in the Frontier League. His 3.81 tied him for 13th best in the league in 2008, and last year his 3.86 ERA was 12th best in the league.

Scarpetta originally signed with Southern Illinois in mid-June of 2008 following his college career at Bellevue (Neb.) University. As a rookie, he put together a nine-game winning streak, the second longest such streak in team history. He is 8-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 17 starts at Rent One Park. Despite his experience, he will not turn 24 until May 16.

The Miners open the season on May 20 at home against River City. For a complete schedule and the latest news on the Miners and events at Rent One Park, visit www.southernillinoisminers.com.

WILD THINGS SIGN FORMER D-II ALL-AMERICAN
The Washington Wild Things, presented by Washington Financial, has signed Outfielder Matt Cotellese.

The West Chester University graduate joined the Wild Things’ organization for a brief stint in 2009. He had a run and a hit in one game last season.

During his four seasons, he led WCU to two NCAA Division II World Series and a 163-65 record. He was a first-team All-American as both a junior and senior. He holds 14 WCU program records and five Conference PSAC records.

As a senior, Cotellese had a.427 batting average with 97 hits, 25 doubles, 11 home runs and 71 RBI.

Cotellese owns the records at WCU for career runs (202), at bats (814), hits (304), RBI (200), doubles, 72), and total bases (472).

The Wild Things open their ninth season May 21st at CONSOL Energy Park when they host Oakland County Cruisers. Season ticket packages are available at the box office.

BEACH BUMS SIGN FORMER NEW YOTK METS FARMHAND
The Traverse City Beach Bums have announced the addition of infielder Matt Gaski to their 2010 roster.

Gaski, who played last season in the New York Mets organization, was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 34th round after his senior season at UNC Greensboro. In 2009, Gaski split time between the class-A Brooklyn Cyclones of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit.291 with a.371 on-base percentage, and the Savannah Sand Gnats of the South Atlantic League, where he finished the season on fire, hitting.389 with a.421 on-base percentage. For his pro career, Gaski is a.276 hitter with a.376 on-base percentage in 65 games, racking up 32 walks with only 31 strikeouts. A talented defensive player, Gaski can play 3rd base, shortstop and 2nd base.

Gaski, 23, began his college career at the University of Florida in 2005, where he was teammates with former Beach Bums Brandon McCarthur and David Hurst. After playing his freshman and sophomore years for the Gators, Gaski transferred to play for his father, Mike, who has been the head coach for the UNC Greensboro baseball team for the past 20 years. Gaski hit.309 in his final two years of college baseball, scoring 115 runs with 23 doubles and six home runs while drawing a staggering 80 walks against just 61 strikeouts.

The Traverse City Beach Bums are entering their fifth season of play in 2010, with the home opener scheduled for Friday, May 28th versus the Oakland County Cruisers. The Beach Bums will play 54 of their 96 games at home in 2010. Season tickets are now on sale — please phone 231-943-0100.

Photo courtesy of Southern Illinois Miners

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Mexico City Acquire Slugger Japhet Amador

MEXICO – The Mexico City Diablos Rojos have traded four players to the Minatitlan Petroleros for first baseman Japhet Amador, who played for Guasave this winter after sharing the Mexican League’s Rookie of the Year award with pitcher Juan Pablo Oramas last summer. The 23-year-old Amador, who began 2009 with Veracruz, hit .306 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs last year.

In return, the Petroleros landed a pair of major league veteran pitchers and two infielders from the Diablos:

• Francisco Cordova – Was 4-2 for Quintana Roo last year…spent five seasons with Pittsburgh between 1996 and 2000 with a 42-47 record.

• Ricardo Rincon – Posted a 1-1 record for the Diablos in 2009…played 11 seasons with five MLB teams with a 21-24 career mark as a reliever.

• Rolando Acosta – Shortstop hit .327 in 59 games for Mexico City last season.

• Efren Espinoza – Third baseman was a .316 hitter for Oaxaca in 2009 before coming to the Diablos from the Guerreros.

TUXTLAS WINS VERACRUZ WINTER LEAGUE PENNANT
The Las Tuxtlas Brujos won their second consecutive Veracruz Winter League title by finishing their league championship series against the Xalapa Chileros with a 5-3 win on January 15, one year to the day after clinching the 2008-09 pennant.

Tuxtlas, who swept their way to first place in the regular season, got a homer from Fernando Alejos in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie. Major league veteran Kit Pellow then singled and later came around to score an insurance run for Tuxtlas.

The Brujos lost the first two games of the set at home to the Chileros, but then roared back to win all three games on the road in Xalapa before returning home to end the series.

FORMER LIGA STAR PANCHO GARCIA DIES AT 67
Francisco “Pancho” Garcia, who played for three different Mexican League champions and hit .271 with 114 homers for his 15-year Liga career, died January 12 in Obregon at age 67.

Garcia, the father of ex-major leaguer Karim Garcia, won titles with the Mexico City Tigres in 1965, Jalisco in 1967 and Cordoba in 1972. He led the LMB with 185 hits and 44 doubles for Union Laguna in 1970, and his career totals of 63 triples and 206 stolen bases are among the best in Mexican League history.

Garcia had one of the biggest hits in Mexican baseball history, blasting a game-ending grand slam homer off knuckleballer Eddie Fisher in a come-from-behind 7-5 Tigres win over the Chicago White Sox on March 15 in front of 25,000 screaming fans in Mexico City.

Garcia, who was born on July 27, 1942 in Michoacan, was buried last week in Sonora. Son Karim, who is playing for Hermosillo in the Mexican Pacific League finals, was able to go ahead with his wedding last week before rejoining his teammates in Mazatlan Friday.

SPONSORS NEEDED FOR BASEBALL MEXICO

With the Mexican Pacific League playoff finals underway and the Caribbean Series just days away, Baseball Mexico is covering the home stretch of the winter baseball season.

Businesses can show their support for Mexican baseball by sponsoring the BBM radio program on WRMI with a 30-second commercial for $25 a week. Reach listeners throughout the Americas on shortwave radio’s only English-language program dedicated to baseball in Mexico. Without sponsorship money, Baseball Mexico’s radio coverage will cease following the Caribbean Series.
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 of BASEBALL MEXICO

Photo courtesy of www.lostuxtlasdiario.com

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Dodgers To Play CPBL All-Stars In Taiwan

TAIWAN – The Los Angeles Dodgers will battle a squad of Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) All-Stars in a two-game series this coming spring called the MLB Taiwan Games. The pair of contests will be the first Major League exhibition games in Taiwan since 1993.

The Dodgers, who became the only Big League team to play on the baseball-loving island 17 years ago, will open the series against the CPBL All-Stars on March 13 at Taipei City’s Tienmu Baseball Stadium. The two teams will meet again the following day at Chengcing Lake Baseball Stadium in Kaohsiung County.

“The MLB has received so much from the people of Taiwan, and this [pair of exhibition games] will be our chance to say thank you,” said Jim Small, vice president of MLB Asia during the press conference.

The Dodgers’ contingent will be led by multi-titled manager Joe Torre and two of Taiwan’s native sons, left-handed reliever Kuo Hong-chih and infielder Hu Chin-lung. The remaining roster for the visiting squad will be announced at the end of February.

The reigning National League West champion will arrive in Taiwan on March 11 and will conduct a variety of events for local fans during their visit.

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Orix Buffaloes Rebuff Tuffy Rhodes

JAPAN – Former Major Leaguer Tuffy Rhodes, the most feared foreign hitter in Japanese baseball history, will not be re-signed by the Orix Buffaloes. The Pacific League club released the veteran slugger this past offseason.

The 41-year-old Rhodes, who was the first player to tie the Japanese single-season home run record of 55, will be forced to retire if no other Japanese club offers him a contract.

Rhodes has batted .286 in 1,674 contests in Japan while setting the record by a foreign player with 464 home runs, 1,792 hits and 1,269 RBIs.

TAGUCHI RETURNING TO ORIX IN 2010
Former Orix Buffaloes outfielder So Taguchi, who has spent the past eight seasons in the major leagues, will return to the Pacific League club this season after inking a one-year deal.

The 40-year-old Taguchi, who played for the Buffaloes for 10 seasons before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002, batted .279 with 19 home runs and 163 RBIs in 672 major league games.

Taguchi won a World Series ring with both the Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, and played a key role on the Orix team that won the 1996 Japan Series championship.

Photo courtesy of marinerds.blogspot.com

Visit JapanBall.com for the latest Japanese baseball news.

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James Madison Tops CAA Coaches Poll

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Tampa Bay Rays Sign Czech Southpaw

CZECH REPUBLIC – The Tampa Bay Rays have signed Czech national junior team pitcher Stepan Havlicek to a minor league contract. The 16-year-old left-hander attends the Sport Grammar School (Brno) and becomes the fourth European prospect to sign with the American League East club.

Havlicek (pictured, sliding) was a member of the Czech national teams that captured the gold at the 2004 European Juveniles Championship and the 2007 European Cadets Championship. He will travel to the United States in March for spring training, and is expected to train in Australia this summer.

2009 CZECH LEAGUE ANNOUNCES TOP AWARDS

The Czech Baseball Association announced recently the top five players from the 2009 season. The awards will be presented at the annual Czech League All-Star Game on May 8 in Brno.

Czech powerhouse AVG Draci Brno claimed three of the five awards. Veteran slugger Pavel Budsky was named Best Hitter while teammates Petr Minarik and Daniel Wayne Ough earned Best Pitcher and Playoffs MVP, respectively.

Other award winners included Marek Cervenka (Talent of the Year) of Kotlarka/Tempo Titans and Technika Brno’s power hitter Martin Stritecky (Home Run King).

CZECH LEAGUE INDIVIDUAL AWARDS:

Best Hitter: Pavel Budsky, AVG Draci Brno
Best Pitcher: Petr Minarik, AVG Draci Brno
Talent of the Year: Marek Cervenka, Kotlarka/Tempo Titans
Home Run King: Martin Stritecky, Technika Brno
Playoffs MVP: Daniel Wayne Ough, AVG Draci Brno

Photo courtesy of kotlarka.rajce.idnes.cz

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Free Agent Profile: RHP Richard Folmer

UNITED STATES – Former Kansas City Royals minor league pitcher Richard Folmer, who was the 2007 Pitcher of the Year for the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, is seeking to join a European club for the upcoming 2010 season.

The 23-year-old right-hander was a 25th round selection of the Royals and posted a 1-2 record with a 4.14 ERA and eight saves for the Idaho Falls Chukars. The 6-foot-3 relief pitcher, who recently became a free agent, registered 49 strikeouts with just 19 walks in 37 minor league innings.

The Houston, Texas native touches the low-90 mph on the radar gun and was the only relief pitcher to be named All-Conference during his final collegiate season. In four years, Folmer went 9-10 with 21 saves. His best season was his senior year in 2009 when he recorded 12 saves with a 3.27 ERA while limiting opposing hitters to a paltry .162 batting average.

Please contact this free agent at: rich.folmer@hotmail.com

Photo courtesy of Richard Folmer

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Travis Flores Wins 2010 Power Showcase Crown

UNITED STATES – Arizona State signee Travis Flores edged Orangewood Christian slugger Dante Bichette Jr. on Jan. 10 to win the 2010 International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Flores (pictured), who attends Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, Arizona, smashed eight home runs in the final round to win the title at the fourth annual Power Showcase event. The senior third baseman hit a total of 17 long balls including a 471′ shot.

Bichette, whose father was one of the top power hitters in the major leagues in the 1990s, finished the championship round with seven long balls. Overall, the Florida native led all participants with 20 home runs.

The sweet-swinging junior also took home awards for Most Home Runs in a Single Round (13), Most Consecutive Home Runs (4), Most Home Runs with a Wood bat (4), and the IMG Underclassman Award for Most Overall Home Runs (20).

Tustin High School junior Travis Harrison, using an aluminum graphite bat, set a new International Record with a 504′ blast – the longest home run ever hit at Tropicana Field. The California native also earned the Babe Ruth Award for his mammoth homer.

Other players earning Wood Bat Awards, sponsored by the BamBoo Bat Company, were North Carolina’s Chase McDonald (Longest HR/420′) and Justin Copeland of Texas who cracked three consecutive homers with the lumber.

Since the inception of the event, founded by Brian Domenico, nearly 50 players who have competed at the Power Showcase Home Run Derby have been drafted by Major League Baseball clubs. This year’s sponsors included Bamboo Bats, Cutters Batting Gloves, Stalker Radar Gun and JUGS Pitching Machines.

Photos courtesy of Power Showcase

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Chasing Dreams: Cuban Baseball Defectors – Part 2

(This is part two of a three-part series on the history of Cuban baseball defectors.)

TODAY: Escaping The Island

CUBA – The almost five decades old United States boycott against Cuba has forced ambitious baseball players from the tiny island nation to make an agonizing decision. To become eligible to play in the Major Leagues, Cuban players must escape from their homeland, leaving family and friends behind.

The practice of “defecting” for the majority of Cuban ballplayers is a result of their love for the the sport. However, while many are seeking multi-million dollar contracts, some leave their native soil just to continue a love affair with the game.

BOATS AND RAFTS

Current Los Angeles Angels first baseman Kendry Morales, who arrived in Miami in the summer of 2004 on a boat, did not grow up dreaming of the riches of the Major Leagues. But after Cuban officials wrongfully suspected the Industriales slugger of planning to defect in 2003, he was sent home from a tournament in Panama and banned from the game.

Determined to play baseball again, Morales admits he failed 12 times to escape, usually due to the rough seas. He was also caught twice resulting in a mandatory 72 hours in jail each time.

“I never thought of playing (in the major leagues), but once I had that problem there, I tried to get here,” says Morales, who batted .306 with 34 home runs and 108 RBIs this past season. “It wasn’t even in my mind before. I had my life pretty much made in Cuba.”

Although dangerous, numerous Cuban players headlined by Orlando Hernandez and current Atlanta Braves infielder Yunel Escobar, have chosen the same route as Morales to pursue their dreams.

Nicknamed “El Duque” – Hernandez defected in a boat in December of 1997 and posted 29 wins the following two years with the New York Yankees. Escobar left Cuba by boat in 2004 and batted .270 for the Braves in 2009.

SMUGGLING AND DECEPTION

In the summer of 1999, former Habana standout Juan Carlos Diaz escaped the island in a bizarre and controversial way. With the assistance of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Diaz left Cuba by having a Dominican women pose as his wife.

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIONS

When Aroldis Chapman walked out of a Rotterdam hotel and hopped into a waiting car last summer at an international tournament in the Netherlands, the hard-throwing lefty chose the most common path for Cuban baseball defectors.

Since 1993, eight Cuban Junior National Team players have defected at an international competition. Yet, despite their youth and inexperience, most have parlayed their defections into a professional baseball career.

Alberto Castillo and Michael Tejera both left the junior national squad in 1993. Castillo defected in Canada after the Junior Baseball Championships and went on to play with the Baltimore Orioles. Tejera defected at the Miami International Airport and played in both the Marlins (1999-2004) and Rangers (2004-05) organizations.

A trio of players left the Cuban youth team at the 2008 IBAF World Junior AAA in Edmonton, Canada. While pitcher Raydel Sánchez enrolled at Miami Dade College, infielder Jose Iglesias and pitcher Noel Arguelles both signed multi-million contracts with the Red Sox and Royals, respectively.

However, top stars from the Cuban National Team have also struck paydirt in the Major Leagues.

Former Villa Clara ace Rolando Arrojo defected prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. He signed a $7 million contract with the then-called Tampa Bay Devil Rays and was named to the 1998 American League All-Star team.

Three years later another Cuban hurler, Danys Baez, defected at the 1999 Pan Am Games. The much-travelled pitcher has suited up for the Indians, Devil Rays, Braves, Dodgers and Orioles.

But Until Chapman, no Cuban pitcher made as big of a splash as Jose Contreras. The Pinar del Rio right-hander abandoned the Big Red Machine on Oct. 1 at the 2002 Americas Cup in Mexico. He inked a lucrative four-year, $32 million deal with the New York Yankees after 10 sterling seasons in the Cuban League.

Tomorrow: Successes And Failures

Photo courtesy of havanajournal.com

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

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IBL: Telemarket Rimini Inks Cuban Southpaw

ITALY – The Telemarket Rimini Pirates of the Italian Baseball League (IBL) has signed outfielder Laidel Chapelli and pitcher Enorbel Marquez-Ramirez for the 2010 season. Rimini tied Fortitudo Bologna for the 2009 IBL regular season title with a 30-12 record.

Chapelli, 38, batted .283 with 27 RBIs last year for Cariparma Parma. The versatile Cuban, who played shortstop and also took the mound in 2008, is expected to be used as an outfielder and designated hitter for the Pirates.

The 35-year-old Marquez-Ramirez (pictured) also hails from Cuba and departs the German League after six hugely sucessful campaigns. The left-hander, who tossed a rare perfect game against the Bonn Capitals in 2008, posted a 42-6 record with a 1.22 ERA in 51 games for the Solingen Alligators.

BOLOGNA EYEING BACK-TO-BACK TITLES
Reigning IBL champion Fortitudo Bologna has added former Reggio Emilia standouts Liviston Santaniello and Mattia Reginato, as well as De Angelis Godo utility player Daniele Malengo, for the 2010 season.

The club is also awaiting a decision by first baseman Jairo Ramos, who is considering playing in Italy or his native Venezuela.

Bologna welcomes back the nucleus of its 2009 championship squad in Fabio Betto, Fabio Milano, Stefano Landuzzi, Yulman Ribeiro, Luca Breveglieri, Francesco Alaimo, Riccardo Fornasari, Joseph Mazzuca, Juan Angrisano, Juan Carlos Infante, Eddy Garabito and Jesus Matos.

American slugger Richard Austin has signed with a U.S. independent league team while long-time veteran Claudio Liverziani has been suspended. Other notable players not returning includes Giovanni Pantaleoni (San Marino), Matteo D’Angelo and Daniele Frignani.

Photo courtesy of the Solingen Alligators

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Dayton Flyers Tabbed To Win Atlantic 10 Crown

UNITED STATES – After winning a program-record 38 games and capturing its first-ever regular season crown a year ago, Dayton has been selected to win the 2010 Atlantic 10 baseball title in voting conducted by the league’s head coaches.

Four-time champion Charlotte has been picked second, while defending league champ Xavier is third.

UD slugged a program-best 77 home runs and led the conference in batting (.332) last season en route to amassing 21 victories in league action, the second-highest total in A-10 history. The Flyers are led by senior infielder Zach Jacob, who ranked among the top 10 in the league in hits (79 – 2nd), runs (56 – 2nd) and total bases (129 – 8th), and sophomore lefthander Cameron Hobson. The 2009 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year posted a mark of 7-1 with a 3.43 earned run average and 83 strikeouts in 78.2 innings pitched.

Charlotte boasts an overall record of 160-70 (.695) over the past four seasons – good for ninth nationally – and welcomes back a pair of second-team All-Conference selections in designated hitter Ryan Rivers (league-high 18 home runs) and righthander Joe Yermal (8-3, 3.01 ERA). Xavier claimed the program’s first-ever A-10 Championship a year ago, while Rhode Island’s seven consecutive championship appearances is the longest active streak in the Atlantic 10.

URI is picked fourth, followed by Richmond, Saint Louis, Massachusetts, Temple, Fordham, George Washington, Saint Joseph’s, St. Bonaventure, La Salle and Duquesne.

The six-team, double-elimination A-10 Championship will be held May 26-29 at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J.

2010 Predicted Order of Finish:

1. Dayton (38-19/21-6)
2. Charlotte (33-22/16-11)
3. Xavier (39-21/18-9)
4. Rhode Island (37-20-1/19-6)
5. Richmond (22-25/11-16)
6. Saint Louis (30-25/12-13)
7. Massachusetts (27-26/16-11)
8. Temple (17-33/11-15)
9. Fordham (22-32/16-11)
10. George Washington (22-33/11-15)
11. Saint Joseph’s (16-30-1/9-17)
12. St. Bonaventure (24-25/9-17)
13. La Salle (19-30/8-18)
14. Duquesne (14-41/7-19)

(2009 overall/A-10 record in parentheses)

Photo courtesy of Dayton Athletics/Leon Chuck

Source: Atlantic 10 Conference

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CEB Sets 2010 European Cup Qualifier Groups

GERMANY – The Confederation of European Baseball (CEB) recently announced the groups for the 2010 European Cup Qualifiers to be contested from June 14-19 in four European nations.

• EUROPEAN CUP QUALIFIER: BELARUS

Reigning Ukraine champion KNTU Elizavetgrad will be the favorite at the qualifying event in Brest, Belarus. Dinamo Bucharest of Romania and Lithuania’s Kaunas Lituanica, which both won an EC Qualifier in 2008, could also contend for the tournament title.

TEAMS:
Brest Zubrs, Belarus*
Dinamo Bucharest, Romania
Kaunas Lituanica, Lithuania
KNTU Elizavetgrad, Ukraine
TJ STU Angels Trnava, Slovakia
Tranås, Sweden**

• EUROPEAN CUP QUALIFIER: BELGIUM

A trio of squads led by Swedish national champion Stockholm will battle for supremacy at the EC Qualifier in Antwerp, Belgium. The host Port of Antwerp Greys and the Ostrava Arrows of the Czech Republic will also arrive at the tourney as title contenders.

TEAMS:
Arrows Ostrava, Czech Republic
A.S. Spartakos Glyfadas, Greece
BK Vojvode, Serbia
Port of Antwerp Greys, Belgium*
Schwaz Tigers, Austria
Stockholm BSK, Sweden

• EUROPEAN CUP QUALIFIER: CROATIA

The Slovenian champion BK Kranjski Lisjaki will join host Olimpija Karlovac and Austria’s top team, SUPERFUND Wanderers, as the front-runners at the EC Qualifier in Karlovac, Croatia.

TEAMS:
BK Kranjski Lisjaki, Slovenia
Buffaloes Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
Espoo Expos, Finland
Olimpija Karlovac, Croatia*
Superfund Wanderers, Austria
Szentendre Sleepwalkers, Hungary

• EUROPEAN CUP QUALIFIER: GERMANY

A pair of former A-Pool heavyweights, MGPU-SYOS #42 of Russia and the Solingen Alligators, will be the top bets at the EC Qualifier in Solingen, Germany.

TEAMS:
Academica de Coimbra, Portugal
Demony Miejska Górka, Poland
MGPU-SYOS #42, Russia
Oslo Pretenders, Norway
Solingen Alligators, Germany*
Therwil Flyers, Switzerland (pictured)

The winner of each competition will have the opportunity to play for a 2011 European Cup berth in a playoffs to be held this coming fall.

* Tournament Host
** Unconfirmed Participation

Photo courtesy of Therwil Flyers

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Chasing Dreams: Cuban Baseball Defectors – Part 1

(This is Part One of a three-part series on the history of Cuban baseball defectors.)

CUBA – The pursuit of fame and fortune in the Major Leagues resulted in a record number of Cuban baseball players defecting in 2009. And, while hard-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman has garnered most of the attention, the newest addition to the Cincinnati Reds may not be the the best prospect to escape the baseball-crazed island nation this past year.

According to the Cuban baseball website, CubanBall.com, nearly 200 players have defected since 1980. Although just a small number of would-be big leaguers have struck paydirt, the majority of defectors have enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their baseball skills.

Prior to Jose Contreras four-year, $32 million contract with the New York Yankees after defecting from the Americas Cup in Mexico in 2002, former Villa Clara pitcher Rolando Arrojo was the standard bearer with a $7 million deal from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. However, the price tag for top Cuban prospects have skyrocketed in recent years.

Dayan Vicideo, a “talented but raw” power-hitting third baseman, left Cuba in May of 2008. The teenager ignited a bidding war which the Chicago White Sox won with a whopping $11 million contract.

• Click here for complete list of Cuban Baseball Defectors

The Boston Red Sox dished out $8.2 million to sign shortstop Jose Iglesias, who along with pitcher Noel Arguelles defected last summer from the Cuban Junior National Team at the IBAF World Junior AAA Championship in Edmonton, Canada. The Kansas City Royals recently inked Arguelles to a $7 million, five-year contract with performance bonuses.

Chapman (pictured), who has hit triple digits on the radar gun, hauled in a reported $30 million deal despite his struggles in the Cuban League. Yet, a more polished Cuban hurler who defected at last year  has failed to garner the hype that helped Chapman break the bank.

Yuniesky Maya, 27, debuted in the Cuban League in 2003-2004 with Pinar del Río. He led the league with a 1.61 ERA the following season while going 5-2 with seven saves. Maya was also the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game that year.

The 5-foot-11 right-hander, who utilizes a low-90s fastball with aJorge Padron curveball, changeup and slider, posted a 6-3 record with a 1.40 ERA and 13 saves in 2006-2007. He followed that season with a 6-8 mark with a 3.30 ERA and eight saves.

While Maya finished his last season in Cuba with a 2.75 ERA in 96 innings – and has been used as a closer in the past – his agent Bart Hernandez recently told ESPN that “Due to his arsenal of pitches, Maya projects as a starting pitcher. It would be a shame to put him in the bullpen. He’s in the prime of his career. It’s not like he’s a young kid needing development.”

The White Sox and Mets are the favorites to sign Maya, according to a recent report on Globedia.com.

2009 DEFECTIONS:
1. Leslie Anderson, First Baseman, Camagüey
2. Yaniel Cabezas, Catcher, La Habana
3. Joan Chaviano, Catcher, Isla de la Juventud
4. Adeinis Echavarría, Infielder Santiago de Cuba
5. Ricardo Estévez Pozo, Pitcher, Camagüey
6. Luis Yadiel Fonseca, Outfielder, Isla de la Juventud
7. Adalberto Ibarra, Infielder, Camagüey
8. Reinier León, Outfielder, Pinar del Río
9. Juan Carlos Linares, Outfielder, La Habana
10. Yuniesky Maya, Pitcher, Pinar del Rio
11. Yadil Mujica, Infielder, Matanzas
12. Ronnier Mustelier, Infielder, Santiago de Cuba
13. Yoannis Negrín, Pitcher, Matanzas
14. Jorge Padrón, Outfielder, Pinar del Río
15. Reinier Roibal, Pitcher, Santiago de Cuba
16. Reinier Roll, Pitcher, Industriales
17. Jose Julio Ruiz, Infielder, Santiago de Cuba
18. Israel Soto, Pitcher, Isla de la Juventud
19. Deynis Suarez, Pitcher, Industriales
20. Maikel Torres, Pitcher, Metropolitanos
21. Juan Yasser, Pitcher, Villa Clara

Despite the eye-popping contracts, few Cuban players have arrived in the U.S. prepared for the rigors of a Major League season. Although Contreras and Orlando Hernandez both enjoyed early succss on the mound, few position players have emulated the pitching duo.

One exception was Alexei Ramirez, who defected to the DominicanJose J. Ruiz Republic in the fall of 2007. The former Pinar del Rio infielder signed for $4.5 million and made the team out of spring training. Still, there are more than a few recent defectors who appear talented and seasoned enough to contribute at the big league level in a short time span.

Former Santiago de Cuba infielder Jose J. Ruiz led the Cuban League in hits (126) and stolen bases (32) two years ago. That same season, Camagüey first baseman/outfielder Leslie Anderson ranked among the league leaders with 19 home runs and 186 total bases in just 330 at-bats.

Infielder Adalberto Ibarra hit .363 during the 2007-2008 campaign with 25 doubles, while outfielder Jorge Padron (117) and shortstop Yadil Mujica (115) ranked among the leaders in hits.  Another slugger from the Cuban coastal town of Santiago, third baseman Ronnie Mustelier, drove in 70 runs that same year.

Besides Chapman and Maya, another interesting hurler could be Yoannis Negrin. The Matanzas staff ace won 11 games two seasons ago and tossed five complete games while logging 125 2/3 innings.

Tomorrow: Escaping The Island

Photos courtesy of BaseballdeCuba.com

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

Posted in Latin, MLB, News1 Comment

Scam Artists Targeting Free Agent Players

It is a good bet that the majority, if not all, of the free agent ballplayers spotlighted at BaseballdeWorld have become the target of one or more con artists. Fortunately, the guys who have alerted me to these scammers were not impressed with promises of contracts and hefty salaries.

Preying on the dreams of aspiring baseball players also resulted in a group of Dominicans getting ripped off recently. In an elaborate scam, players attended a training camp to prepare for a tryout in the Netherlands and an unidentified European (alleged team owner) visited the players. However, when it was time to go to Europe, the players cash and passports disappeared along with the organizer and team owner.

There are numerous “warning signs” for aspiring free agents to check for when reading emails allegedly from prospective employers. Some of the most obvious ones are listed below:

• Club Website
It is probably safe to assume that if a club does not have a few bucks to start a website, they cannot afford the services of a foreign player. Any claims that the club website is undergoing maintenance or will be operational on a certain date is purely fabrication.

• Processing Fee
Besides a monthly salary, air transportation, and housing – European clubs also take care of the visa costs for their foreign players. However, it is up to the free agents to secure their American passports from their local Passport Office. If you are asked to pay a processing fee – you are dealing with a con artist.

• Passport Scan
Although clubs will need your personal information, this information could also be faxed or mailed. Thus far, every scam attempt has asked free agents to send a scanned copy of the information page of their passport.

• Club History
Besides a club website, prospective employers will also give potential players and/or coaches a brief history about the club and its teams. How did the club teams fare in 2009? What are the expectations the club has for their new employee? Thus far, all the scam emails were allegedly sent by newly established clubs or teams with no name.

• URGENTCY
Similar to infomercials – with their limited time offers – con artists want and need to close the deal (take your money) quickly. Emails with the words “hurry, immediately, and soon” should be ignored and deleted.

Finally, the best tip to free agent ballplayers is to do your research and NEVER send money in hopes of getting a job.

Photo courtesy of Trevor Caughey

Marvin Moore is a former European coach and Managing Editor at BaseballdeWorld.

Posted in Europe, News0 Comments

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