Monday, September 1, 2014

Marauders-Miracle playoff preview

The Bradenton Marauders are back in the Florida State League playoffs for the first time in 2011 and host the Fort Myers Miracle in Game 1 of the South Division Championship Series 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Here is some  info on the the best-of-3 series. The winners meets the North Division champ - either Daytona or Dunedin - for the league championship beginning Saturday.

Records: Fort Myers 82-57; Bradenton 78-61.
Head to head: The Miracle won the season series 13-5 and went 8-1 at home. The teams played all their first-half meetings in Fort Myers and their second-half games in Bradenton.
Projected Game 1 starters: Brett Lee (Fort Myers) 10-5, 2.45 ERA vs. Tyler Glasnow (Bradenton) 12-5, 1.74 ERA.
Players to watch for Fort Myers:  
- Adam Brett Walker II paced the league in home runs (24) and RBIs (94) and stole the show at the All-Star Game at McKechnie by winning the home run derby and MVP award. He struggled against the Marauders, however, hitting .152 in 66 at-bats while striking out 22 times.
- Brett Lee has a 2.71 ERA in 266 innings and has lost just nine times in 60 professional games, including 42 starts. The Marauders hit .366 against him this season with Adam Frazier (5-for-9), Max Moroff (5-for-6) and Jose Osuna (5-for-8) doing the most damage. 
- Stuart Turner hit .249 this season but slugged .481 against Bradenton and went 6-for-10 with five RBIs during an Aug.25-27 series at McKechnie Field. He made just three errors in 92 games while throwing 32 percent of runners trying to steal this season.
Players to watch for Bradenton:
- Jose Osuna gave Bradenton a huge jolt during the second half and wound up leading the league in slugging (.458) while finishing fourth in batting (.296). Osuna hit .500 over the last 10 games of the year to help the Marauders pass Palm Beach. Four of his 10 home runs came against the Miracle.
- Tyler Glasnow rolled to the league's pitcher of the year award while striking out 157 in 124 1/3 innings. He went 5-0 in August. Glasnow lost both of his starts against Fort Myers despite allowing three hits in seven innings, though he walked eight. Glasnow has not seen the Miracle since May.
- Jacob Stallings may be the Marauder with the hottest bat, a bit of a surprise considering he is a career .230 hitter. But he hit .429 with 16 RBIs in August and .278 after the All-Star break. A catcher, Stallings greatest asset is his defense, and he threw out 32 percent of runners trying to steal and committed four errors in 68 games. Thanks to Stallings and fellow catcher Jin-De Jhnag, the Marauders caught 63 runners trying to steal, tops in the league.

BRADENTON'S KEYS TO THE SERIES
- Win Game 1: The Marauders couldn't have dreamed a better scenario than giving the ball to Glasnow in Game 1 at McKechnie Field, where he went 7-1 with 0.85 ERA in 11 starts. It's a great opportunity Bradenton can't pass up, especially since winning two games in two days in Fort Myers may be a lot to ask considering the Marauders won one game there in nine tries during the season.
- Three outs an inning: Bradenton's defense had its moment and some lapses, too, as the Marauders placed sixth in the 12-team league in fielding (.975). The Miracle scored a league-high 712 runs this season, so giving them extra outs is not a good idea. Pitching is Bradenton's strength, but a porous defense could make things hard on the Marauders hurlers, especially against an offense as prolific as Fort Myers.'
- Jump ahead early: One thing the Marauders lack is power - they hit 50 home runs this season, second-lowest in the league to Jupiter's 49 - which makes it hard to play from behind. Bradenton's bullpen was one of the league's best, which is why the Marauders lost just five games when leading after seven innings. Bradenton's best course of action is to get a lead early and get the ball to their relievers.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Best Marauders staff ever?

 The Bradenton Marauders don't hit for a ton of power or average and they make their share of errors.
 
Tyler Glasnow has a 1.53 ERA in 19 starts.
So why did the Pirates' high Single-A affiliate wake up this morning sitting atop the Florida State League's South Division with a league-leading 30 second-half wins?
Jason Creasy has issued 15 walks in 124 2/3 innings.
 Arms. Plenty of them. Bradenton has seen its share of strong pitchers during its short history, which began in 2010. Future big-leaguers such as Jeff Locke, Bryan Morris and Gerrit Cole have toed the McKechnie Field rubber while donning Marauders colors, as did Jameson Taillon, ranked the Pirates' top pitching prospect this season before he underwent Tommy John surgery. No staffs, however, have matched the quality and depth of this group, which entered Monday with an ERA of 3.22 - third-best in the Florida State League. Why?
Chad Kuhl's 12 wins are a single-season franchise record.
1. Tyler Glasnow - Now the Pirates' top-ranked pitching prospect, Glasnow has been as good as advertised, pitching to a 1.53 ERA in 100 innings while posting a 9-5 record after missing about a month with a sore back. He's been lights out in 10 starts at McKechnie Field, going 6-1 with a 0.96 ERA, and was named Florida State League Pitcher of the Week after striking out 11 Jupiter Hammerheads in six innings last Thursday. Will Glasnow stick around to aid Bradenton's playoff push or will he get a promotion to Double-A Altoona prior to season's end?

2. The rest of the staff - Glasnow may be the well-known stud, currently ranked the Pirates' top prospect by MLB.com, but the guys behind him have been good, too. Chad Kuhl's 12 wins are the most in a season for a Marauders pitcher and his 131 1/3 innings are tops in the league; Jason Creasy is 6-8, but the owner of a 3.83 ERA who has walked just 15 in 124 2/3 innings; John Kuchno, who tossed five no-hit innings during Bradenton's home-opener, is second in the league in innings (129 1/3) and has a 3.34 ERA; and don't forget All-Star Orlando Castro, 6-4 in 15 starts with a 3.24 ERA before Altoona beckoned.

3. The bullpen - Unlike the majors, minor league baseball isn't all about results - it is about development. Managers rarely play to match-ups and late-inning bullpen roles aren't set in stone. But whomever manager Tom Prince has sent out to help sew up Marauders victories has worked - Bradenton is 47-2 when leading after innings and 29-1 at home when leading after seven innings. Josh Smith has been one of the most reliable, pacing the team in holds (6) while recording six saves and a 1.80 ERA in 30 appearances. Bryton Trepagnier struggled during the All-Star game, but his nine saves lead the team, and Jhondaniel Medina has a 0.87 ERA and a 3-0 record in 30 games.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Potential Marauders' All-Stars

The Florida State League All-Star Game will be played at McKechnie Field in a little over two weeks. And since the FSL doesn't publish a running total of all-star votes, we can only speculate which Marauders will get to represent the South Division in front of their hometown fans.
So let the speculation begin. Here is a list of Marauders who may have a chance to play in the game, scheduled for Saturday, June 14.

Josh Bell, RF: Bell, pictured above, has performed well despite having to anchor a lineup ranked near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories. Bell is hitting .303 following today's 3-0 win over the Tampa Yankees with 29 RBIs and 11 doubles, and though he has hit just four home runs, his three triples have helped him to a .462 slugging percentage, good for ninth in the league. A switch hitter, Bell has found success against lefties (.288) and righties (.312). Plus, it wouldn't hurt the All-Star game to have the host team's best player on one of the rosters.

Orlando Castro, P: Forget the modest record (3-2) and look at what the lefty has done for Bradenton this season, beginning with the 2.91 ERA in 55 2/3 innings. He has walked just seven while striking out 41, and opposing batters are hitting .229 off of him. He's really been impressive at hitter-friendly McKechnie Field, where Castro is 2-1 with 2.80 ERA in six starts. Opponents are hitting .190 against him in Bradenton.

Jonathan Schwind, OF: He has only logged 106 at-bats in 31 games, making Schwind ineligible for the batting race. Too bad, because his .330 clip would have him right near the pack. His late start will also deter some voters, too, even though Schwind is slugging .453 and has an on-base percentage (.395) hovering around .400. Schwind is hitting .375 over his last 10 games, so he is getting hot at the right time. Consequently, he could be a selected as an alternate if an All-Star gets promoted to Double-A prior to the game.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Opening night

That cursive yellow B can only mean one thing:
The Marauders are back in Bradenton.
The high Single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates opens its fifth season in a half four against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, aka the Baby Rays, after the teams split their first two games at Charlotte Sports Park.
A little twist this season: The Marauders will be on the visiting side of the field (third-base side) and will be utilizing the visiting teams' bullpen and dugout. Construction of the home clubhouse, perhaps? We'll see.
Here are the lineups:

STONE CRABS
Andrew Toles, cf
Tyler Goeddel, 3b
Leonardo Reginatto, ss
Kes Carter, rf
Justin O'Connor, c
Hector Guevara, 2b
Marty Gantt, lf
Josh Sale, dh
Jonathan Quinonez, 1b
Jeffrey Ames, p

MARAUDERS
Jeff Roy, cf
Jonathan Schwind, lf
Adam Frazier, ss
Josh Bell, rf
Jose Osuna, dh
Max Moroff, 2b
Jordan Steranka, 1b
Jacob Stallings, c
D.J. Crumlluch, 3b
John Kuchno, p

Monday, December 2, 2013

Players use Twitter to mourn the loss of Evan Chambers

Evan Chambers appeared in 395 games in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization, 186 of those as a Bradenton Marauder in 2011 and '12.
That was enough time for him to make a positive impact on his teammates.
Chambers, 24, died in his sleep over the weekend, and current and former members of the Pirates' organization took to Twitter to express their grief.
"RIP Evan Chambers," wrote Pirates prospect Austin Meadows. "Great guy, God bless his family and friends."
"Completely heartbroken," added Brock Holt, a former Pirates farmhand who was dealt to the Boston Red Sox last year. "Evan Chambers was as good as they come. Can't believe you're gone. Love you brother, always."
Tony Sanchez, the Pirates' first-round pick in 2009 who made his pro debut last year, wrote that news of Chambers' passing "makes me sick", and former Pirate/current Baltimore Oriole prospect Aaron Baker lamented the loss of his former roommate.
"I love you man," Baker tweeted, "and I will miss ya..."
Neal Huntington, the Pirates' general manager, issued a statement on behalf of the team.
“All of us at the Pittsburgh Pirates are shocked and saddened by Evan’s sudden passing in his sleep this past weekend," Huntington wrote. "Beyond being just a talented ballplayer, Evan was a great teammate and a quiet leader who went about his craft as a professional every day.  Off the field, Evan loved making a difference in the community, and often dedicated a lot of his time working with children in the communities in which he played.  Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to his family for this unimaginable loss.  He was far too young.  He will be missed.”
Chambers graduated from Lakeland High School and was drafted by the Pirates out of Hillsborough Community College in 2009.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

McKechnie Field's renovations considered the year's best

McKechnie Field's $10 million overhaul was named as the Best Ballpark Renovation (over $1 million) for 2013 by Ballpark Digest.
"There is so much history at McKechnie Field," Kevin Reichard, the publisher of Ballpark Digest, said in a statement. "But historically, it's not been one of the most inviting venues in the Grapefruit League. The renovations really added to the fan comfort - and the fans responded by coming out in droves."
The upgrades included a 360-degree, 19,000-square foot boardwalk featuring a tiki bar, concession stand, party deck and bleachers.
An additional 2,000 seats and new flip-up chairs were installed, along with an old-time scoreboard, and a new fan plaza with palm trees and more concessions stands was built along the concourse.
A record 93,433 fans flocked to McKechnie last spring to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have called Bradenton their spring home since 1969. And the Bradenton Marauders, the Pirates' Single-A affiliate who have been playing Florida State League games at McKechnie since 2010, also set an attendance record by drawing 109,845 in 62 openings during the summer.
“The renovations kept the best parts of McKechnie Field – the intimate atmosphere – while adding more comfort and accessibility,” Reichard said. “It a great day when a historic venue like McKechnie Field can get a substantial upgrade and still retain its unique nature. That’s the very nature of a successful ballpark renovation.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

Marauders release 2014 schedule

The Bradenton Marauders released the schedule for the 2014 season, which marks the franchise's fifth anniversary serving as the high Single-A affiliate for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Marauders open the season 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3 at Charlotte Sports Park against the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Their home-opener is 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5 at McKechnie Field, also against the Stone Crabs, the high-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Marauders host the Florida State League All-Star Game 7:05 p.m. Saturday, June 14. It is the first time the game will be played at McKechnie Field.
All non-Sunday home games will be played 6:30 p.m.  Sunday home games begin 1 p.m. in April and May and 5 p.m. in June, July and August.