Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Getting Closer

Yesterday I went to a Staten Island Yankees game. There aren't too many games left in the season (at least not a whole lot that I'll be able to attend) so I wanted to get some more of the team set done.

First up is ironically a need from my Pulaski Yankees team set. Chad Martin was the Yankees' 30th round pick last year (so this is an upgrade for my 2015 NYY draftees project) and he was the starter for last night's game. Martin throws a fastball that can sit in the low-90's as well as a hard low 80's slider. Chad Martin is currently a starter but he'll probably be sent back to the bullpen for his long term role. He's a super cool dude though.

Next up I got pitching coach Travis Phelps.
Phelps was originally a Tampa Bay Devil Rays farmhand back in the late 90's and early 00's. Phelps made it to the big leagues for parts of three seasons before retiring in 2009. Since then Phelps went on to be a sports agent for a year and even ran a baseball training facility. This year Phelps is making his debut as a pitching coach with the SI Yankees.

I finished the coaching staff portion of the team set thanks to this autograph of Teuris Olivares.
T.O. (as a lot of the players call him) was originally a Yankees farmhand back in the late 90's and early 00's but never got higher than triple-A. T.O. gave other teams (mainly independent ones) a shot for many years before retiring to be a coach. For a few years he was a coach for the Dominican Summer League Yankees (dunno which one) and he's currently the defense coach for the Staten Island Yankees.

One player I was stoked to see on the roster was Billy Fleming who was rehabbing with the Staten Island Yankees. The West Virginia native was signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent back in 2014. Since then he's turned into a solid pickup for the Yankees. Providing a serviceable bat with good defense in the middle infield. He's so good that he was in double-A Trenton this season before succumbing to an injury. Currently he's with the Yankees on a rehab stint.

Here's Chris Godinez.
Godinez was originally a 18th round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers but was cut this past offseason. After which the Yankees (who had been heavily scouting Godinez before the 2015 draft) scooped him up to bolster their infield depth. One thing I've recently found out is that Godinez has quite an arm, and that he could go to the bullpen if the second baseman thing doesn't work out.

Next up is Dalton Blaser.
Blaser was the Yankees' eighth round pick in the 2016 draft. Blaser started the year off blazing hot with a hitting streak and everything. His bat has cooled down immensely since then but he does have some solid contact skills still in him. If I had to guess his struggles recently are more due to fatigue.

One of the key members of this year's squad that's eluded me to this point was Dom Thompson-Williams there.
Dom Thompson-Williams, or DTW as many call him, was the Yankees' fifth round pick in the 2016 draft. The lefty hitting outfielder projects to have plus plus speed with a solid bat. DTW possesses power and tweaking his swing (and allowing for quicker bat speed) should see him making more contact as time goes on.

A couple of Josh Roeders.
Josh Roeder was the Yankees' 21st round pick in 2015. Roeder is armed with a fastball and a pretty good slider. The righty reliever has used both in a pretty mixed but overall positive season. Roeder's role going forward is undetermined but hopefully he can continue to be a good mop up man in the Yankees org.

The Connecticut Tigers were in town so I asked a friend of mine who's also an autograph collector who was waiting to get Tigers autographs to get a Daniel Pinero and Kyle Funkhouser autograph for me (in turn I got some Solaks and a Mikolas for them). While they didn't get Funkhouser they did get Pinero.
Pinero was the Tigers' ninth round pick from the 2016 draft. The Canadian shortstop has had himself quite the August, hitting for contact and being a big reason why the Tigers are still in wild card contention.

Here's Simon De La Rosa.
I actually got Simon De La Rosa here in the stands as he was one of the charters for yesterday's game. I quickly asked for his autograph before the game started and later got him three of his own cards as a thank you present.
De La Rosa has a dominant and very lively fastball in addition to a plus plus curveball and a change up. His change up is a work in progress pitch that could be the difference between his ceiling being that of a late inning reliever to a middle of the rotation starter. Pitch location will also be key with him as he needs to cut down on his walks. However his strikeout rate shows that he has a lot of potential with refined command and control. Sidenote, his ERA (which is above 6) might be due to bad luck (his FIP is around 4 according to Fangraphs).

The last SIY autograph I received was from Padilla who was sitting right next to De La Rosa in the charters section, I bought some cards of his and gave them to him too.
Padilla was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent back in 2013 and immediately came stateside the following year. Although he was sent back down to the DSL in 2015, Padilla was soon back stateside and pitched in Pulaski, earning Appy League Pitcher of the Week Honors in the process. I can't really find out much about what he throws or what his role is going forward, but I have heard some say he's improving in some non-specific way.

The last IP autograph I got in general for this day was courtesy of Mike Hessman.
This was given to me by an autograph collector whom I hadn't met in over a year (though we still remembered each other) they got two of these Pro Debuts signed and gave me this spare one, thanks man!
Mike Hessman is pretty noteworthy as the all time HR leader in minor league baseball with 433 minor league home runs. Hessman was originally a Braves farmhand after being drafted by Atlanta all the way back in 1996. He went on to have one of the longest and prolific minor league careers ever, topped off by spending parts of five seasons in the big leagues. Hessman also played in Japan as a member of the Orix Buffaloes in 2011. Hessman retired following the 2015 season and he's now the hitting coach for the Connecticut Tigers.

After all of these new autographs, I'm now down to only needing nine more cards from the 2016 Staten Island Yankees team set. Of which seven are no longer with the team so realistically I only have two more to chase.

So as for the game itself, it was quite a doozy. I didn't stay for the whole game (again) but it looks as though it was a slugfest.

Let's start by putting this game into perspective. The Staten Island Yankees and Connecticut Tigers are both currently in an important series that'll determine who'll win the New York-Penn League wild card. The Yankees were ahead by 1.5 games coming into this series but a sweep at the hands of the Tigers would've ended their season. On the other side a sweep of the Tigers would've cemented the Yankees as the wild card winners.

The Staten Island Yankees won 10-7 (BOX SCORE). Now they're 2.5 games up on the NYPL wild card with two more crucial games to go. Hopefully they can continue to win and claim that wild card.

Oh yeah, yesterday Hideki Matsui was also in attendance. This is the first Matsui sighting I've had this year (just goes to show how I've been going to games far less this summer).

So yeah, I just love meaningful minor league baseball (although that's kind of an oxymoron when you think about it) and I'm glad the SI Yankees are making things interesting.

Big thanks to all of the players (and my autograph collecting buddies) for putting up with my selfish requests.

And as always thank you the readers for stopping by. Take care :).

2016 IP Auto Count: 70


  1. I love that Matsui helps out!

    I'm going to try and get to one more Black Bears game. They've struggled this year, but I'm still surprised they even won this many games. The team doesn't have much in the way of high end talent. Will Craig has struggled for the most part and the rest of the doesn't have much prospect pedigree.

    1. Matsui caught me by surprise.

      The Black Bears had a relatively nice squad but they sure didn't benefit from their division.

  2. Matsui!

    Congrats on all the autos. They look great! I'm liking this set more and more each time you show it.

    1. Thanks TLC :). I'm sure you'll like the set when you have it in person too ;).