Tag:San Francisco Giants
Posted on: July 18, 2008 9:57 am

Team USA update, Cape Cod League news and more...

As the dog days of summer set in, the national baseball scene is still as busy as ever. USA Baseball's collegiate national team beat Cuba 4-1 in the championship game of Haarlem Baseball Week in The Netherlands Sunday afternoon. The Cuban squad was nearly identical to the one that won the gold in the 2004 Olympics and the silver at the 2006 World Baseball Classic. It will also represent Cuba at the Beijing Olympics next month. Sunday's victory marked the first time a U.S. collegiate national team had beaten a Cuban Olympic team in a tournament title game. They've beaten Cuba twice on their way to a perfect 14-0 record this summer.

In both wins over Cuba in Haarlem, Vanderbilt lefthander Mike Minor started and got the win, and Baylor righty Kendal Volz got the save. USA pitching held Cuba to just an unearned run on 10 hits while striking out 16 in 18 innings in the two wins.

Team USA reached the finals after beating Chinese Taipei 5-2 in the semifinals on Saturday night. San Diego State righty Stephen Strasburg picked up the win in that one, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out 11 over seven strong innings. Miami shortstop Ryan Jackson led the offense, going 2-for-3 with two RBI.

In other Olympic news, USA Baseball announced 23 of the 24 members of its 2008 U.S. Olympic Baseball Team on Wednesday. The squad will compete in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games from Aug. 8 to 24. The 24th and final member of the Olympic Team will be named before the July 22 cut-off date.

The 23-member roster includes San Diego State's Strasburg. The rising junior had a 23-strikeout performance against Utah on April 11. Strasburg was the only collegian selected for the team, which will be managed by former Mets and Orioles skipper Davey Johnson. 14 of the team's players are currently playing in triple-A, seven in double-A, and one in Class A. Johnson managed the USA team to a gold medal last November at the 2007 IBAF Baseball World Cup in Taiwan.

The U.S. last competed in the baseball competition in the Olympic Games in 2000. Tommy Lasorda managed the team in Sydney and guided a squad featuring Ben Sheets and Roy Oswalt to the gold medal over Cuba. Historically though, the U.S. has not fared as well as you would think. Since baseball was recognized as an official medal sport in 1992, the U.S. has finished fourth in 1992, third in 1996, brought home gold in 2000, and failed to qualify in 2004.


Checking in back down on Cape Cod, we recently learned of some sad news. Late Sunday night a pitcher with the Brewster Whitecaps sustained serious injuries after he was pinned beneath a truck that police say was driven by a teammate.

Both 20-year old pitchers involved have ties with teams in the College World Series. B.J. Dail, who was injured, was suspended from the North Carolina squad in February for a violation of team rules. Ryan Woolley, who has been charged in the incident, pitches for Georgia but did not make the 25-man roster for the CWS.

Dail was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in critical condition late Sunday with injuries to his legs and head, though his condition has since been upgraded to serious. In Orleans District Court yesterday morning, Woolley pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence of alcohol resulting in serious bodily injury, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and minor in possession of alcohol. Police say Woolley failed field sobriety tests, and that alcohol breath tests he took at the scene and again at the Brewster Police Station registered twice the legal limit. An 18-pack of beer was also found in his black 2000 Ford Ranger pickup truck. Woolley, of Montclair, Va., was released from the Barnstable County Correctional Facility yesterday after posting $500 bail.

Police say Dail and Woolley spent Sunday evening drinking beer at the home of another player's host family. Woolley told police he decided to stay overnight at the residence, and went outside to move his truck from the driveway to the street. As soon as he reached the street and was moving forward, Dail ran out in front of his truck and jumped on the hood, he told officers. When Woolley hit the brakes, Dail fell off and somehow became pinned under the left front tire, according to police reports.

Woolley is a sophomore righthander who appeared in three games for Georgia this season, giving up five runs and five hits in 1 2/3 innings. Dail is a sophomore righthander from Raleigh, N.C., and was drafted in the 32nd round in 2006 by the Baltimore Orioles.


Sorry to keep things on a somber note, but remember that early March morning in 2007 when we woke up to the horrifying news that a baseball team bus had crashed? There is new information in the crash that killed seven people, including five Bluffton University baseball players. A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board says confusing highway signs and poor safety features led to the crash. The report says the bus driver thought he was in an H.O.V. lane, when he drove up an exit ramp instead. That caused the bus to turn over on its side. Nothing earth shattering here, but I just thought people would like to know.


On a more positive note, Florida State catcher Buster Posey is going to need a pretty big moving truck when he moves into the new house he will undoubtedly buy when he finally signs a professional contract. The fifth overall pick in this year's amateur draft by the San Francisco Giants added yet another award to put on his ever-expanding resume on Wednesday, winning USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award. Posey received the award at a ceremony in the Sports Museum of America in New York, beating out fellow finalists Georgia's Gordon Beckham, Missouri's Aaron Crow, San Diego's Brian Matusz and Arizona State's Brett Wallace. Posey swept every major player of the year award in 2008.

Posey becomes just the second catcher to win the Golden Spikes in the award's 31-year history, joining the 1994 recipient, Georgia Tech's Jason Varitek. Posey led the nation in batting average (.472), on-base percentage (.572) and slugging (.908) and led Florida State with six saves without giving up an earned run. He helped the Seminoles get to the College World Series for the first time since 2000 and 19th time in school history.


Another great story comes out of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League on Long Island. The league has seen its share of major leaguers come through, as Craig Biggio, John Valentin, Doug Davis and current Kansas City Royals shortstop Mike Aviles all logged some innings in eastern New York. Last week, Hampton Whalers right-hander Phil Klein threw just 71 pitches while setting down all 21 batters he faced in an 8-0 victory. The Youngstown State freshman became the first Whaler in history to throw a perfect game. It's the first such feat in the modern era of the ACBL, which dates back to 1977. Klein appeared in just nine games for the 23-33 Penguins last season. 

Posted on: July 6, 2008 1:11 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2008 1:45 pm

The Latest College Baseball News

I stopped blogging here for a while because I was covering the NCAA postseason baseball tournament right through the CWS. Now I'm writing a weekly piece on college baseball for a metro newspaper so I figured I might as well post it here..... 

Think back to your senior year in high school. Exams are just finishing up and you're almost ready to move on to that next step of your life. As you walk in the door after finishing one of the last tests of your high school career, the phone rings. It's Bill Gates, and he wants to give you a five-year, $8 million contract to come work for him at the Microsoft home office in Redmond, Wash. What do you do? Do you turn Bill down to spend four more years in a classroom and risk not getting a better offer four years down the line, or do you pack up your futon and head to the Great Northwest?

That was the decision facing nine high schoolers taken in the first round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft, not to mention the scores of college underclassmen who were selected. However, the students are the ones who are dictating the price tag nowadays, and consequently the word "signability" has gained significant meaning. When preparing for the draft these days, major league front offices have to worry about more than just the talent of the player; they must factor in whether or not the prospect is willing to make the decision to turn pro and choose not to remain in school for at least one more year, or whether he'll want more money than the boss wants to spend. Make the wrong decision, and someone probably loses their job. It's one of the factors that led to Player of the Year Buster Posey slipping to the Giants with the fifth pick. Tampa Bay was concerned about whether they willing to meet the Florida State catcher's contract demands, so they passed on him with the first overall pick.

The first overall pick just went to promThe kid who ended up being the first overall pick was Tim Beckham, a shortstop from Griffin High School in Georgia. The Rays figured Griffin would not cost as much as Posey, and would fill a need as well. Tampa Bay went with the youngster, who was willing to pass on his commitment to USC for the pros, instead of the more major league-ready Posey. Griffin recently inked a deal that included a $6.15 million signing bonus and is playing for the Rays' Rookie Level Appalachian League affiliate in Princeton, W.Va., where he's off to a bit of a slow start. So far, Beckham is hitting .231 in seven games, though he has proven advanced for his age by fanning just four times in 26 at bats.

The moral of the story is that the baseball draft is more of a crapshoot than that of just about any other major sport. Being in possession of the top pick can be a precarious position for a team to find itself in. However, it doesn't make it any easier to have any of the other 30 picks. Some teams are always going to have issues with the first player they select in the draft. Number one is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Let's take a look at some other notable first-round selections:

One player who is yet to sign, and may just return to South Carolina for his senior season, is the No. 11 pick in the draft, Justin Smoak. The first baseman was selected by the A's out of high school but he wanted more money than Oakland was willing to offer so he headed for Columbia to showcase his talents in the SEC. Three years later, the Rangers own his rights. They have until August 15 to sign him or he can return for his senior season, meaning Texas would be awarded a compensatory first round pick in the 2009 draft. Smoak is expected to be offered between $1.5 and $2 million. It's anyone's guess as to whether he'll accept it or try to improve his game for a year and move into the top 10 in 2009.

The Blue Jays got the first commitment out of a top pick when first baseman David Cooper, the No. 17 pick out of Cal, inked a deal that included a $1.5 million signing bonus. He was immediately assigned to the Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League, where he will make $1,100 per month. From there, he'll be headed to Advanced Class A Dunedin before the summer is over if he plays well enough.

Padres first-rounder Allen Dykstra may sport the name, but he's not related to former Phillies roughneck Lenny Dykstra. Lenny's son, Cutter Dykstra, however, was taken in the second round by the Brewers and is already playing for the team's Rookie Level affiliate in Helena, Mont. Will his father manage his money as part of his fledgling investment firm for athletes? And will Dad charge a commission?

Weeks could be patrolling the left side of Oakland's infield very soon.Another major-league family connection involved the No. 12 pick of the draft. Miami second baseman Jemile Weeks, little brother of Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks, was drafted in the eighth round by the Brewers out of high school but decided to go the college route. The move seems to have paid off for Jemile as the A's are most likely going to offer the former Hurricanes star a $2 million signing bonus after selecting him following his junior season.

Pittsburgh may have some trouble signing the second overall pick, Pedro Alvarez. The Vanderbilt third baseman is represented by sports super agent Scott Boras who has the reputation of being, well, a wolf in a hen house. Major League Baseball makes recommendations on what a draft pick's signing bonus should be in a method called "slotting." Boras is notorious for ignoring those recommendations, choosing to pretend they don't exist and getting his clients considerably more guaranteed money. It's another factor that usually goes into a team's draft strategy. Curiously, the small-market Pirates chose to ignore the Boras factor and took the top-rated player on the board in Alvarez. Whether they will pony up the cash and meet Boras' asking price is yet to be seen, but to lose out on this prospect would certainly sting for a franchise that hasn't seen a World Series in thirty years.

Posey could be the most intriguing pick of them all. The FSU catcher is the one whose picture is next to "signability" in the dictionary. Posey's agent Casey Close is said to be asking for nearly double what top pick Beckham got. The Giants, on the other hand, are working from the figure last year's No. 5 pick, Matt Wieters, got from Baltimore - $6 million. Both Posey and San Francisco are reportedly eager to get something done, so they figure to meet somewhere in the middle before August 15. If they somehow fail to come to terms, Posey will return to Tallahassee, try to take care of some unfinished business and probably set every NCAA offensive record known to man.

We'll continue to track big league teams' progress as they attempt to sign their first round picks as the clock ticks down to the deadline, and updates will come as they become available. For now, here are a few more items of note:

Not even three weeks have passed since Fresno State finished their improbable run to the national championship, yet 17 Division I schools are already going to have new head coaches for one reason or another. Three SEC teams are among that group, as Auburn, Kentucky and Mississippi State all will have a different face on the bench come 2009. Ironically, John Cohen leaves the Wildcats and crosses over conference lines to take over in Starkville for the retired Ron Polk, who won nearly 1,400 games in his career. Polk led eight Bulldogs squads to Omaha in his lengthy career, but only one in the past 10 years. 

Posey won the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher last week. The FSU backstop bested Stanford's Jason Castro and Coastal Carolina's Dock Doyle. Posey finished the season as the national leader in six offensive categories - batting average, hits, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage - to lead the nation's top offense.

Mendonca and Fresno St are national champsCWS hero Tommy Mendonca, fresh off a national title with Fresno State, has been added to the USA Baseball National Team. The rising junior third baseman had no time to rest as he met the team last weekend in North Carolina, where the Americans hosted a six-game series against Chinese Taipei. Mendonca was 2-for-7 with a pair of runs scored in the two games he started at the hot corner.

Georgia, which lost the championship series to Fresno State, gave head coach David Perno both a raise and a five-year contract as a reward for leading the Bulldogs to the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship and a runner-up finish in the College World Series. Georgia athletic director Damon Evans announced the five-year, $2.25 million deal Wednesday. The Athens native and former Bulldog third baseman will earn $450,000 per season over the next five years - a raise of about $150,000 per year. Perno is one of only 12 coaches to lead three teams to the College World Series in their first seven seasons as a head coach.

The 2008 NCAA Freshman All-American Team was announced on Monday:

Catcher - Micah Gibbs, Louisiana State
First Base - Hunter Morris, Auburn
Second Base - Josh Adams, Florida
Third Base - Scott Woodward, Coastal Carolina
Shortstop - Rick Hague, Rice
Outfield - Kentrail Davis, Tennessee
Outfield - Ryan Lockwood, South Florida
Outfield - Brian Fletcher, Auburn
Designated Hitter - Kyle Parker, Clemson
Utility - Brett Eibner, Arkansas
Starting Pitcher - Chris Hernandez, Miami
Starting Pitcher - Seth Maness, East Carolina
Starting Pitcher - Shane Davis, Canisius
Starting Pitcher - Chance Ruffin, Texas
Relief Pitcher - Chase Dempsay, Houston

The left-handed Hernandez was named Freshman of the Year after posting an 11-0 record with a 2.72 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 112 2/3 innings. Hernandez was drafted in Round 14 of the 2007 draft but opted to play for his hometown Hurricanes instead of signing.

The 2008 Cape Cod League is underway on the Massachusetts peninsula. Hundreds of college players who weren't among the top choices in the draft have made the trip out to eastern Massachusetts to showcase their talents to major league scouts. We'll update the happenings on the Cape next week.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com