Senators Roll Call: 7/23

Photo courtesy Jenny Kane / PennLive

Photo courtesy Jenny Kane / PennLive

• Throwing out of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, Oliver Perez (’11) is in the midst of what might be a career year (azcentral [Piecoro])

• Caleb Clay (’13) tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout a little over a year after he did the same at Metro Bank Park (MiLB [Maun])

• This Saturday will mark the last game for Jim Ed Warden (’08) with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs as he’s moving back to his hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee for his family (SoMdNews [Cogle])

• For the Texas League Home Run Derby, Rick Ankiel (’11-’12) served as the honorary captain of the North Team and knocked out six dingers of his own (MiLB)

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Senators Roll Call: 7/17

Photo courtesy McClelland Miscellanea

Photo courtesy McClelland Miscellanea

• The trade to the Oakland A’s and their relaxed environment helped Derek Norris (’11) mature as a ballplayer (WaPo [Kilgore])

• Another player in Oakland organization is speedster Billy Burns (’13) who has stolen 44 bases and even slugged a home run this season (MiLB [Traub])

• After a missed season due to labrum surgery, Cory VanAllen (’08-’12) is thriving for his hometown Sugar Land Skeeters (Sugar Land Sun [Marrion])

Jerad Head {’13) is facing new challenges as a coach with the GCL Nationals (Topeka Capitol-Journal [Haskin])

Collin Balester (’06-’07) is serving as a mentor in the Appalachian League as he works through a rehab assignment (Bristol Herald Courier [Hayes])

• In his first season as the hitting coach of the rookie-level Boise Hawks, Jesus Feliciano (’05-’06) isn’t just offering hitting instruction (KBOI2.com [Levin])

• Still clinging to his shot at a major league career, Joe Testa (’12) is a setup and late-inning reliever for the independent Sioux Falls Canaries (Tri-Town News [Witkowski])

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Mid-Season Awards

The All-Star break is a good chance to relive the first half of the season that was.

Photo courtesy Grant Paulsen

Photo courtesy Grant Paulsen

Most Valuable Player: Michael Taylor
Taylor has elevated his game to levels we haven’t seen on City Island in a long time. His at-bats are don’t miss viewing and he is the rare five-tool player that has lived up to the hype. I expect Taylor to get a September call-up to help the Nationals on the stretch run.

The Best Free Agent Pick-Up: TIE – Paolo Espino/Quincy Latimore
I couldn’t make up my mind between these two players who were both signed by the Nationals’ organization in mid-April. Espino has been a much-needed steadying influence from both the rotation and bullpen. Getting regular at-bats during Drew Vettleson’s injury, Latimore is having arguably his best offensive season.

The Appalachian Trail Award: Chris Michalak
Those of us on press row are pretty sure that Michalak, the Senators’ pitching coach, has unofficially already made a record number of coaching visits to the mound this season. One can only imagine the miles he’s logged with each and every trip from the dugout to the mound.

Comeback of the Year: Brian Jeroloman
It’s been a long road back for Jeroloman. But to see him healthy and performing on a nightly basis is one of the joys of the 2014 season.

The Hotter Than Africa Award: Matt Skole
As the temperatures have warmed up, so has the Senators’ corner infielder. After missing all but two games last season, it took Skole a while to get going in 2014. But the Georgia Tech product has been finding his groove at the plate and improving every day (as this chart illustrates). 
skole

The Loyal Customer Discount: The starting rotation
Hospitals throughout Central PA have been able to financially stay afloat with just the business the Senators’ starters have given them this year. Felipe Rivero, Matt Purke, Rob Gilliam, Omar Poveda, and Sammy Solis have all spent considerable time on the disabled list. Harrisburg has already used 17 starting pitchers this season, which is two more than they used all of last season.

The Frank Abagnale Catch Me If You Can Award: Jason Martinson
The Sens’ shortstop is 9th in the Eastern League with 19 stolen bases, but even more impressive is he has yet to get caught this season. Only Martinson and Portland’s Sean Coyle have remained perfect on the basepaths while swiping double-digit bases (and Coyle is six behind Martinson).

The Literally Out of Left Field Award: Destin Hood
After two disappointing seasons on City Island, one of the last players expected to make an impact this year was Hood. But the outfielder carried over a strong spring training to the regular season where he displayed better pitch recognition and approach at the plate that has made a world of difference. After just a month in Harrisburg, Hood was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse where he has continued to thrive, batting .301/.341/.489 through 58 games.

The Monet Impressionist Award : Kevin Keyes
The Texas slugger has impressed with more than just his eye-popping power. Sure, he leads all Nationals’ minor leaguers in home runs and RBIs, but Keyes has displayed a great approach with both runners in scoring position and with two strikes. Also, he has played a much better outfield than most give him credit for.

The Stat of the Year: 393 games
The Senators have gone a franchise history-most 393 games since hitting their last grand slam (Stephen King on September 1, 2011). To put that in context, they have batted 311 times since then with the bases loaded without a grand salami. During that same time, the Senators have hit a home run once every 52 plate appearances…except for even one when all the bases are occupied.

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Senators’ Greatest Seasons: Cliff Floyd

During their 25th Anniversary Season in 2011, the Senators selected their All-Time team. If you’ve ever wondered about the pictures hanging up on the first base concourse, that would be their choices for the all-time Senators. Along with those selections, The Patriot-News also polled local baseball “experts” (I was involved hence the quotes) on which former players were the best in franchise history.

However, I’ve often wondered about the best seasons ever compiled by Harrisburg players. So, over the next couple of weeks I am going to go through position by position and select my choices for the greatest seasons as a Senator. (Note: For terms of this exercise, I only considered the position a player played most frequently)

Catcher: Michael Barrett (1999)

Onto first base…

cliff floyd
Cliff Floyd – 1993
.329 AVG
.417 OBP
.600 SLG
17 2B, 4 3B, 26 HR
82 R, 101 RBI, 31 SB

Floyd bested Manny Ramirez, Butch Husky, and teammate Rondell White for Eastern League MVP as he led the league in home runs and RBIs despite spending August at Triple-A Ottawa and September with the Expos. Floyd also finished in the top five in four other offensive categories.

The Best of the Rest:
Brad Fullmer (1997) .311/.372/.549, 24 2B, 2 3B, 19 HR, 60 R, 62 RBI, 6 SB
Tyler Moore (2011) .270/.314/.532, 35 2B, 4 3B, 31 HR, 70 R, 90 RBI, 2 SB
Josh Whitesell (2007) .284/.425/.512, 23 2B, 1 3B, 21 HR, 78 R, 74 RBI, 6 SB
Randy Wilstead (1994) .294/.414/.487, 27 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 71 R, 64 RBI, 3 SB

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Three Senators Named to 2014 Eastern League All-Star Team

Photo courtesy Mark Pynes / PennLive

Photo courtesy Mark Pynes / PennLive

Congratulations to Cutter Dykstra, Neil Holland (pictured), and Michael Taylor who were named to the Western Division squad for the Eastern League All-Star Game to be held on July 16th at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona. For position players Dykstra and Taylor the selection marks the first time they’ve garnered the mid-season honor in their careers. Reliever Holland was previously selected to the 2010 New York-Penn League All-Star Game as a member of the Vermont Lake Monsters.

Each division’s roster consists of 24 players with a minimum of three players from each team. Fans selected at least one position player and one pitcher from each team through online and stadium balloting. In Harrisburg’s case, that honor was bestowed upon Taylor and Holland. The remaining selections were made through voting by league media, managers and officials.

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Rain Delay Dance-Off

Featuring Adrian Sanchez, Kevin Keyes, and Richmond’s Kyle Crick

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Senators’ Greatest Seasons: Michael Barrett

During their 25th Anniversary Season in 2011, the Senators selected their All-Time team. If you’ve ever wondered about the pictures hanging up on the first base concourse, that would be their choices for the all-time Senators. Along with those selections, The Patriot-News also polled local baseball “experts” (I was involved hence the quotes) on which former players were the best in franchise history.

However, I’ve often wondered about the best seasons ever compiled by Harrisburg players. So, over the next couple of weeks I am going to go through position by position and select my choices for the greatest seasons as a Senator. (Note: For terms of this exercise, I only considered the position a player played most frequently)

First, we’ll start behind the plate…

barrett
Michael Barrett – 1998
.320 AVG
.358 OBP
.525 SLG
32 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR
78 R, 87 RBI, 7 SB

The former first-round pick had a monster season that saw him finish in the top ten of the Eastern League in six offensive categories. Barrett was named the Montreal Expos Minor League Player of the Year as he helped lead the Senators to the championship.

The Best of the Rest:
Rob Natal (1991) .256/.359/.438, 16 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 47 R, 53 RBI, 1 SB
Derek Norris (2011) .210/.367/.446, 17 2B, 1 3B, 20 HR, 75 R, 46 RBI, 13 SB
Tom Prince (1987) .307/.401/.430, 23 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 41 R, 54 RBI, 6 SB
Brian Schneider (1999) .264/.318/.435, 19 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 48 R, 66 RBI, 2 SB

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