Category Archives: Baseball
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER)—Before Sunday afternoon’s game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, Seacoast Helicopters was in attendance with one of their helicopters sitting in centerfield, as they gave one lucky fan the opportunity to take off from the ballpark and enjoy a birds-eye view of the Queen City, before landing back on the field and delivering the game balls.
“This is going to be quite the memory for one lucky fan,” said Fisher Cats president and GM Rick Brenner in a press release. “Riding in a helicopter is such a thrilling experience, but landing in the outfield and then delivering the ball to home plate takes it to a new level. We look forward to working with Seacoast Helicopters to create this memorable opportunity.”
It was quite the sight for fans that arrived at the ballpark early on Sunday afternoon for the Fisher Cats game. Most fans expect to see batting practice, athletes playing catch, or coaches hitting their infielders ground balls, not a helicopter stationed in straightaway center-field.
The gates to the ballpark opened at noon, and the Fisher Cats allowed fans onto the field for a half-hour to take pictures with the R66 helicopter and enjoy an on-field sing-a-long with Lil’ Iguana Children’s Safety Foundation.
So how did the lucky fan win this one-of-a-kind experience?
The Fisher Cats hosted an online contest on their Facebook page, and anyone over the age of 18 was free to enter. The random winner was selected on Friday, August 14, amd will depart from the outfield by chopper at approximately 12:40 PM and return at 1:15 PM with the game balls in hand to deliver to today’s umpires at the pre-game plate meeting.
The Fishers host the Erie SeaWolves today and finish off their homestand at 1:35 PM. New Hampshire looks to avoid being swept after falling in the first two games of the series. RHP Asutin Bibens-Dirkx takes the hill for New Hampshire. Be sure to stay tuned to BSU18’s social media outlets for live updates and a game recap.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
Erie wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as they plated their first run in the top of the first inning on a Jason Krizan RBI single that scored leadoff man Wynton Bernard from third base. The SeaWolves tacked on three more runs in the third inning after a sacrifice fly and a 2 RBI single from Dominic Ficociello. Then in the 5th inning, Dean Green hit a loud RBI double to left-field, which gave Erie a 5-0 lead.
New Hampshire finally broke the silence in the bottom of the 6th inning. Christian Lopes led off the inning with a single, before Kevin Nolan reached on an error, and Ryan Schimpf cleared the bases with a three-run homerun over the right-field fence, reducing Erie’s lead to 5-3. However, the Fisher Cats could not capitalize on any further opportunities.
New Hampshire starter Scott Barnes was charged with the loss after tossing three innings, giving up five hits, four runs (all earned), walked two, and struck out four. Josh Turley, his Erie counterpart, was credited with the win. SeaWolves reliever Joe Mantiply was credited with the save.
The Fisher Cats are back in action tomorrow afternoon as they finish off the series and the homestand with a Sunday afternoon matinee against the Erie SeaWolves. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 PM. RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx (4-6, 4.82) is slated to start for New Hampshire. You can follow Patrick Cavanaugh on Twitter for live updates throughout the game.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER, NH)—The New Hampshire Fisher Cats continued their homestand and opened up a three-game series with the Erie SeaWolves on Friday night, falling to the
Western Division rival by a final score of 5-4.
The Fisher Cats got on the board early, plating three big runs in the bottom of the first inning. Roemon Fields walked to leadoff the game, and stole second base before Melky Mesa hit a pop-up that was mishandled by Erie the shortstop, which allowed him to score. Later in the inning, K.C. Hobson hit a 2 RBI infield single that gave New Hampshire a 3-0 edge.
The SeaWolves were able to strike back however. They tacked one run on the scoreboard in the top of fourth inning, after Dominic Ficociello hit a sacrifice fly to left-field and scored Jason Krizan from third base. Then in the sixth inning, JaCoby Jones hit a solo homerun to right field. In the top of the 7th, Erie plated a run on an Alberto Gonzalex RBI double, and Dean Green sealed the deal with a deep two-run homer in the top of the 8th frame, giving Erie a 5-3 lead.
New Hampshire scraped one run across in the bottom of the 8th inning after Ryan Schimpf hit a solo homer, but their efforts fell short and New Hampshire fell by a final score of 5-4.
“We had a chance to win the ballgame,” said Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t come through a couple of times.”
New Hampshire’s ace starting pitcher Casey Lawrence threw well in Friday night’s contest. The righty hurled 7.1 innings, gave up 9 hits, 4 runs (all earned), and walked no Erie hitters. He showcased a dominant fastball in addition to a changeup, slider, and curveball.
“Casey goes out there, throws strikes, and gets them to put the ball in play,” said Meacham. “He kept us close, and in the end they got to him a little bit.”
Lawrence was charged with the loss, while the win was credited to Erie’s reliever Montreal Robertson.
With the loss to open up the weekend, the Fisher Cats drop game one of the three-game series with Erie. The Fishers and SeaWolves are back in action tomorrow night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. New Hampshire left-handed pitcher Scott Barnes (2-3, 3.99) will take the hill. First pitch is slated for 7:05 P.M.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
New Hampshire starter Conner Greene, who is just 20 years old, was the shining star of the weeknight victory that snapped a Fisher Cats four-game losing streak. He was called up from the Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto’s Advanced-A affiliate) just a couple of days ago. He had a dominant fastball that consistently reached the mid-90s throughout the evening. His change-up was a great “second offer” pitch throughout the night that seemed to catch the RubberDucks off guard. The California native lived up to his high expectations, pitching seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits, three walks, and fanning one Akron batter.
“He was outstanding,” said Fisher Cats skipper Bobby Meacham. “He couldn’t make a mistake and still come out a winner, and I thought he was outstanding.”
The Fisher Cats scraped their only run across the plate in the bottom of the 3rd inning, after Jorge Flores hit an RBI single to center-field to score Derrick Chung, who led-off the inning with a double. New Hampshire saw several more opportunities to score throughout the night, but could not capitalize on them, as they left fourteen men on base.
“Both pitchers were going at it, down in the zone, and a lot of fastballs,” said Meacham. “They weren’t trying to trick people, but trying to record outs.”
Greene was credited with the win, while the loss was charged to Akron’s Mike Clevinger. New Hampshire reliever Blake McFarland was credited with the save after a nice makeup outing, which came just one day after a shaky performance in which the Fisher Cats would go on to drop in extra innings.
Although they came out with the victory, the Fisher Cats drop the three-game series 2-1 to the Akron RubberDucks, and now move on to a three-game series with the Erie SeaWolves, which will close out the homestand at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The recently featured Fisher Cat and right-handed ace Casey Lawrence gets the nod for New Hampshire. First pitch is slated for 7:05 P.M.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER)—Casey Lawrence has been fighting his way through the Toronto Blue Jays farm system for the past three years, and he is really making his name known for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season.
Looking back to the beginning of his career, Lawrence was drafted as a free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2010, and began his professional career with the
Auburn Doubledays (Toronto’s low-A affiliate) in the New York-Penn League. He has since spent time with the Lansing Lugnuts (class-A affiliate), Dunedin Blue Jays (high-A affiliate), as well as the Fisher Cats (AA-affiliate), and the Buffalo Bisons (AAA-affiliate) over the past couple of seasons.
Lawrence, 27, can be easily spotted under several categories in the Fisher Cats season record book. In this 2015 season, Lawrence has spent most of his time with the Fisher Cats in the Granite State, but did spend a short time in Triple-A with the Bisons. Currently listed on New Hampshire roster, the righty has pitched in 21 games thus far, hurling 129.1 innings, giving up 162 hits, 26 walks, and fanning 74 batters. He leads the team in wins (11), and has the lowest ERA (4.38) and WHIP (1.45). He is in second place as far as strikeouts go (74), trailing only RHP Taylor Cole who has racked up an outstanding 100 strikeouts this season.
Aside from season records, the Pennsylvania native has found his way into the Fisher Cats franchise record books as well. Lawrence’s last appearance was last Thursday against Richmond. After throwing seven scoreless innings against the Flying Squirrels, he collected his 11th victory of the season, and is just the sixth Fisher Cat to ever achieve that feat, and the first since Ryan Tepera back in 2013. That victory was also his 20th in a Fisher Cats uniform, as he now surpasses Deck McGuire’s prior franchise record for most career wins.
Going deeper into his 2015 numbers, he has a record of 11-10, and 10 of his 21 outings have been considered quality starts.* He tosses an average of 6.2 innings every time he takes the hill, and strikes out approximately five batters per nine innings of work. He has great command on the hill, and throws just four pitches: fastball, curveball, slider, and change-up.
Casey Lawrence is New Hampshire’s probable starter for Friday night’s game, as they will open a three-game series with the Erie SeaWolves at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, NH. First pitch is schedule for 7:05 P.M.
*a quality start is defined as “a statistic for a starting pitcher defined as a game in which the pitcher completes at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs.”
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER, N.H.)—K.C. Hobson has spent the past five seasons trying to make a name for him and find his way to the top of the Toronto Blue Jays system. After splitting
his time between Lansing and Dunedin over the past five seasons, he capped out the 2014 year in the Granite State with the Fisher Cats and is back to start off the 2015 season.
Hobson, 24, is the son of Butch Hobson, a former player and coach in the Boston Red Sox organization and a New England sports icon. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 6th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft, shortly after graduating from Stockdale High School in Bakersfield, California. In his five years with the Blue Jays organization, Hobson has displayed consistent numbers with a batting average that usually hovers between .200 and .250. Although his average may not stick out, Hobson is a strong defensive asset and a reliable glove at first base.
This season, K.C. Hobson is off to a hot start in New Hampshire. After just five games, Hobson carries an average of .389. He hit a homerun in the Fisher Cats’ first two regular season games, and also went yard in an exhibition game with the Southern New Hampshire University Penmen on April 7th, two days before the season began. Aside from his homerun tally, Hobson has 7 hits, 4 RBI, 1 walk, and only 1 strikeout.
— BSU18 Baseball (@BSU18Baseball) April 14, 2015
For live updates from nightly Fisher Cats games and to track K.C. Hobson all season, follow Patrick Cavanaugh on Twitter (@pcava12).
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER, N.H.)—The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are looking like a hot commodity as they finish up their first series of the 2015 season.
The Fisher Cats had a lot of room for improvement after finishing the season in 5th place in the Eastern Division with a record of 66-76 last year. The current roster is a familiar squad, as 21 of the 26 players listed have worn a Fisher Cats uniform before this season. Some of the more popular names include: Jon Berti, Ryan Schimpf, Dustin Antolin, Andy Burns, and New Hampshire native Kevin Nolan.
The Fisher Cats’ season is officially underway now, but there was quite a commotion when an early-April snowstorm covered the field and spectator area with enough snow and ice to force the team to push Opening Night from Thursday to Friday. Although it was an unfortunate happening. Fisher Cats President and General Manager acknowledged the situation by saying, “Despite the best efforts of our grounds crew and operations team today, you just can’t fight Mother Nature,” according to a Fisher Cats press release.
As for performance on the field, the Fisher Cats have looked solid so far. On Opening Night, the Fishers shut out the Rock Cats 6-0 after a stunning performance from K.C. Hobson (homered), Matt Newman (3 hits), and the pitching staff was incredible. The starter, Matt Boyd, struck out nine batters in his 4+ innings of work, and his relievers did a nice job supplementing his performance, as the team of four pitchers fanned a total of seventeen batters.
With a record of 2-0, the Fisher Cats host the New Britain Rock Cats on Sunday afternoon for a series finale doubleheader. RHP Casey Lawrence will get the nod for New Hampshire in game one, while RHP Shane Carle will take the hill for the New Britain. The first contest will start at 1:35, and the second game will follow approximately 30 minutes after the last pitch is thrown.
The Red Sox season is FINALLY over. As the they develop their shopping list I thought I would take a look at each position for 2015. The good news is that the July trades of Jon Lester and John Lackey helped solidify the outfield situation. The bad news is that the Red Sox are severely lacking a #1 and #2 starter (and maybe a #3 depending on Clay Buchholz).
Let’s start by looking at the pitching staff…
Starter #1: TBD. Many fans are expecting the return of Jon Lester but I am not sure that the Red Sox will go beyond 5 years and $125 million dollars so Lester will need to take the “hometown discount” he has mentioned in the past if he is coming back to the Sox. A fallback to Lester could be Cole Hamels who is on a more “reasonable” contract but Hamels will cost the Red Sox 3-4 top prospects.
Starter #2: TBD. James Shields seems like a good fit here. He is battle tested in the AL East and his age would seem to limit the years/total dollars that the Red Sox want to avoid.
Starter #3: Clay Buchholz. Buchholz has been incredibly inconsistent since he started off last year as one of the best pitchers in the AL. He could be a #1 or be out of the rotation by May 1 next year. 2015 is a make or break year for Buchholz.
Starter #4: Joe Kelly. Kelly came over to Boston in the Lackey deal and has been decent. If he is your #4 starter then you are in pretty good shape.
Starter #5: One of the “kids”. This should be a great battle in spring training. Rubby De la Rosa would seem to have the inside track based on his performance this year but Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo and Henry Owens could also been in the mix.
Bullpen: Koji Uehara’s struggles have put his return in question. He is a free agent and it is hard to tell if he is tired from the workload of the past two seasons or if he is becoming less effective because of his age. Other relievers should include Junichi Tazawa, Burke Badenhop (has been effective this year), Craig Breslow and Brandon Workman (long man). Expect some veteran pitchers to be added in the off season, especially a potential closer as insurance.
Catcher: Christian Vazquez would seem to be the starter in 2015. He has handled the pitching staff fairly well and his defense is excellent. Blake Swihart is close but may be a September 2015 call up. I would expect the return of David Ross on a one year deal to help mentor the younger catchers.
First Base: Mike Napoli. He is in the last year of his contract and needs to provide more power than he did this year but he should be a solid part of the lineup in 2015.
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia. There is also an outside shot that the Sox could move Pedroia and his long contract and put Mookie Betts at second. I would be surprised if the PR conscious Red Sox traded one of the most popular players on the team.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts. Hopefully the Sox have stopped moving around Bogaerts and will give him a complete season at shortstop.
Third Base: Big ?. I don’t see Will Middlebrooks bouncing back although his right handed power ability will make the Sox give him one more shot in the spring. Brock Holt is an option here as well but a solid Free Agent may be the most likely scenario.
DH: David Ortiz. Not much to say here. He continues to rake. His career will end soon but he should have an above average season in 2015.
Outfield: There are a lot of candidates. Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig seem like the outfield as of today. Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. will also fight for playing time. The most likely scenario would have the Sox packaging at least one of these players in exchange for a #2 pitcher or a Third baseman.
Overall, the outlook is good for the Sox. The July trades and the signing of Castillo gave the Sox some much needed depth and they have the money to go after top free agent pitchers. General Manager Ben Cherington will have a lot of options and the Red Sox could go from worst to first again if he makes the right decisions.
By Ryan Winn
It doesn’t matter how you slice it, 2014 was a tremendously successful year for the Pawtucket Red Sox. The team made it to their third straight Governors’ Cup Final, and for the second time in those three years they came away with the Cup. It was an epic series filled with excitement, big moments, and players with little Triple-A experience stepping up with big performances.
But even before the team clinched the Cup, the season was still a big time success.
While winning at any level is good to see, minor league wins and losses don’t define the success of a season. It is all about player development and any organization will admit as much. Winning the Governors’ Cup, along with getting players some postseason experience, is icing one cake so long as the goal of player development is accomplished.
Going into the season, the biggest thing I wanted to see was how the team’s young pitchers grew and adjusted. I needed to see that Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, and Rubby De La Rosa were ready to contribute at the big league level. Each in their own way showed that they were ready to be Major League arms.
Ranaudo made the biggest impression by far, winning the I.L. Pitcher of the Year. Ranaudo’s numbers were dominant with Pawtucket, producing several brilliant stretches that Ranaudo himself described as “the best run of his career.” He was able to make adjustments early in the season to his delivery, something he attributes his success to. In limited MLB action he’s had his ups and downs, but has ultimately shown he can be successful.
De La Rosa bounced back from a rough 2013 season, showing why he was a highly regarded prospect. He made an impact with Pawtucket early and spent most of the year in Boston’s rotation. Barnes started off the year injured, but after a rocky start dominated in the finals months of the season. Webster was promoted in July, and though again his MLB numbers aren’t impressive he showed he has graduated from Triple-A.
The bottom line for all four of these young arms is they reestablished their value at a critical point in their careers. Will they all make Boston’s rotation, or roster, next year? That is highly unlikely, as there won’t be enough room for all of them. One would assume the organization goes out and acquires at least one established free agent arm to join Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly, leaving two openings in the rotation. With many the many needs the organization wants to address in the offseason, the value of these young arms with MLB experience becomes huge for trade purposes. The possibilities are endless for how they manage these prospects, but they have certainly lived up to their end in 2014.
The offensive player I was looking forward to seeing coming into this year was Garin Cecchini, and I was happy with the season he put up. The numbers don’t jump out, especially after a hot start with Pawtucket. He struggled in the middle of the season, specifically in June and July where he hit under .200 in each month. However, he was able to fight through it, make adjustments in his swing, and deliver strong numbers the rest of the way. Factor in the fact that he learned the outfield in addition to his normal third base position, and one has to be happy with how he progressed this year. Will Middlebrooks has done nothing to show he deserves the third base job in 2015, so the idea the Cecchini could start there is very possible.
As the season moved forward, more and more of the Sox future passed through McCoy. Henry Owens dazzled in his Triple-A debut, giving the organization a glimpse of what he can do on the mound. He also had some struggles at this level, but that is to be expected. At just 22 years old, he is the number one pitching prospect in the Boston system and will almost certainly start 2015 with the PawSox. As he gets more innings under his belt, expect the dominance to continue and a big league call up to be not far away.
2014 also saw “Mookie Madness” hit Pawtucket, as Mookie Betts tore up the minor leagues on his way to Boston. Betts showed that he can do a little bit of everything on the baseball field, impressing me more than I though he would. Learning the outfield was very easy for him as he transitioned out of second base plus he didn’t let the move impact his offense. A ceiling of dynamic leadoff hitter for Boston in 2015 is not out of reach based on what he has shown.
Three players that will likely start 2015 with Pawtucket after coming up in the final months of the season are Blake Swihart, Deven Marrero, and Edwin Escobar. Each of these players made huge contributions to the team’s championship run and will look to continue their growth after promising years.
As we look back on 2014, the PawSox have a lot to be proud of. They were able to develop the organization’s young pitchers and hitters, promote some of their brightest Double-A talent to McCoy, send major league ready players to Boston, and return the Governors’ Cup to its rightful home.
Brian Johnson, who spent most of this year dominating in Portland, was summoned to make his Triple-A debut when Matt Barnes was called up to Boston on Monday. He faced off against Alex Colome who has spent time in the big leagues this season for the Rays.
Johnson pitched strong, but the PawSox lost 4-3 after letting a late lead slip away. Their series is now tied 1-1.
For the second consecutive game, Pawtucket struck quickly with runs in the first two innings. The team loaded the bases with no outs in the first, though only managed one run on a groundout from Ryan Lavarnway. Ivan DeJesus Jr. started off the second with a triple and Corey Brown launched a two-run home run giving Pawtucket a 3-0 lead.
That would chase the ineffective Colome from the game after an inning and a third, marking the second time in as many games a Durham starter didn’t make it past three innings.
Durham responded with a two run home run in the third inning by Mike Mahtook to make it 3-2, but that would be all the offense until the later innings. Pawtucket had plenty of scoring chances early, though didn’t capitalize nearly enough on them.
“We had a chance to blow it open,” Manager Kevin Boles said. “We missed some opportunities. I liked how we burned through their starter and get opportunities but we just couldn’t push runs across.”
Johnson looked solid in his six innings of work, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out seven. He flashed an impressive curveball, though did not factor in the decision.
“He pitched well,” Boles said. “He settled in with a good pitch mix and he gave us what we needed tonight.”
“I was excited to get out there,” Johnson said of his debut. “I got on the same page as Lavarnway pretty quick. This year has been fun for sure and hopefully we finish on the right note.”
Heath Hembree, who was shaky in last night’s appearance despite recording the save, came out for the ninth but gave up a game tying solo home run to Vince Belnome making the score 3-3. Brown led off the ninth with a double for Pawtucket, but was stranded at third.
Pawtucket again squandered a golden chance to win it in the 10th, loading the bases with two outs for Brown who struck out.
The Bulls would not waste their chance to win in the 11th. With runners on first and second, Mike Fontenot lined an RBI single to right off John Ely, giving the Bulls a 4-3 lead. The PawSox limited the damage, but Pawtucket wouldn’t score in their half and fell by that final.
The Rusney Castillo watch continued, as he went 1-4 with a walk in his second Triple-A game. He had a chance to win the game in the ninth, however popped out weakly with a runner on third and one out. Once the game went into extras, he was removed as the plan was for him to play nine innings. He has shown that he will continue to be an aggressive player and when watching him play it is tough not to see flashes of fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig. Boles said that it is doubtful he plays in game three.
Pawtucket will hope to regain their series lead tomorrow as Henry Owens takes the mound against Matt Andriese.