Former UNCA Bulldog Leads Cardinals

MLB: SEP 26 Cubs at Cardinals
Former UNCA Bulldog Mike Shildt (left) now leads St. Louis. (photo – Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (July 19, 2018) – Mike Shildt, a former middle infielder for the UNC Asheville Bulldogs from 1987-1990, was named the St. Louis Cardinals interim manager last week.

He took quick advantage of the opportunity, winning his first game as the Cardinals’ skipper on July 15 before the team headed into the All-Star break. The manager will go for his second win tonight as the Cardinals head to Wrigley Field to face the rival Cubs at 6:05 p.m. Central.

Shildt coached for the Bulldogs in 1992-1993 and has been in the Cardinals’ organization since 2004. He is the first manager at the major league level without professional baseball playing experience since Dave Trembley led the Baltimore Orioles from 2007-2010.

Photos: A Visit to Evansville’s Bosse Field

 

 

A League of their Own
Tom Hanks and Geena Davis starring in the 1992 film, “A League of Their Own” (photo – copyright Sony Home Entertainment)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (June 24, 2018) – Two of the three oldest baseball parks still in use professionally today are well-known – Boston’s Fenway Park (1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914). Less famous but far more evocative of its distant past is Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, the third oldest active park in the nation. Bosse is home to the Evansville Otters of the 12-team independent Frontier League.

Bosse Field

Bosse opened on June 17, 1915, as the new home of the Evansville River Rats of the Central League, a class “B” minor league circuit based primarily in Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio. Within a decade, it also served a short stint as an NFL venue when it hosted the Evansville Crimson Giants, who played there for the 1921 and 1922 seasons before folding.

Evansville Crimson Giants
The Evansville Crimson Giants c. 1922 (photo – public domain)

Years later, Bosse had a prominent role in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own” as the home of the Racine Belles of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The interior of the park still has signage dating to the film, and adorning its exterior is a painting of actress Geena Davis, who starred in the movie and notably quipped afterward, “I’d rather play the baseball player than the girlfriend of the baseball player.”

The Otters have called Bosse home since they began play in 1995. They most recently won the Frontier League title in 2016. Josh Allen, a member of that team and the league’s MVP the same year, recently signed a contract with the New York Mets organization and was assigned to their AA-affiliate in Binghamton. The Frontier League, as with all independent baseball leagues, is unaffiliated with MLB but regularly sells the contracts of players to major league organizations. Allen originally made the Otters when he attended an open tryout for the team. (photos – Tom Flynn)

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Photos: Greenville’s Fenway South

GWINN DAVIS / GREENVILLE DRIVE

GREENVILLE, S.C. (June 12, 2018) – The Greenville Drive have a Green Monster in left field at their home park that’s modeled after its more famous namesake at Fenway Park. The wall at Fluor Field is 7′ shorter than its 37′ counterpart in Boston but is similar by design, as the Drive are the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

The park opened on April 6, 2006, to serve as the home to the Drive, who played the 2005 season at Greenville’s Municipal Stadium after relocating to the city from Columbia, South Carolina. Fluor’s outfield dimensions mimic the asymmetrical confines of Fenway, and included in its structure are bricks salvaged from local mills, adding to the similarity of the two parks despite the 94-year difference in opening dates.

Upon arrival in the city, the franchise was dubbed the Greenville Bombers but changed to the Drive coinciding with the move to their new park in 2006. 

Greenville plays in the Southern Division of the  South Atlantic League (SAL) along with the Asheville Tourists. As of June 12, the Drive were 21-41 and are 4-3 against the Tourists in head-to-head competition. They host the Rome Braves (38-25) tonight at 7:05 p.m. (photos – Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

GWINN DAVIS / GREENVILLE DRIVEGWINN DAVIS / GREENVILLE DRIVE

 

Asheville Sweeps Lexington on Saturday

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (June 9, 2018) – The broom jutting out from the Asheville press box on Saturday night summarized the day’s results as the Tourists swept the Lexington Legends in a South Atlantic League (SAL) doubleheader. 

In the first game, lefty Lucas Gilbreath earned the win as the Tourists downed the Legends, 7-1. Gilbreath is now 4-3 on the year. Second baseman Bret Boswell went 3-for-4 with a double, home run, and RBI while batting lead off for Asheville. 

In the nightcap, the Tourists earned a 5-3 victory as Braxton Lorenzini picked up his second win in relief this season. The right hander out of California’s West Hills College was perfect, allowing no hits and fanning three in two innings of work.

Chad Spanberger, last week’s SAL player of the week, had two RBIs and hit a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning. It was Spanberger’s 15th long ball of the season, best on Asheville this season. He is second overall in the league.

Robert Tyler earned the save, his third of the season, and hit 98 on the radar gun late in the evening against Lexington (32-29).

The two teams close out the condensed five-game series on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. at McCormick Field. With Saturday’s doubleheader sweep, the Tourists have taken three straight from Lexington, and three of the first four games in the series. (photos – Tom Flynn)

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Paladins’ Anderson Named Freshman All-American

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Ben Anderson earned All-American recognition in 2018. (photo / Furman Athletics)

GREENVILLE, S.C. (June 9, 2018)  – On Wednesday, Ben Anderson, the Furman Paladins’ standout center fielder, was named to the 2018 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American Team. Anderson earlier earned first team All-Southern Conference honors. 

The center fielder hails from LaGrange, Ga. and started all 52 games for Furman in 2018. He led the team with a .361 batting average and also was tops on the squad with 39 RBIs. Anderson led the team in hits, triples, total bases, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and multi-hit games.

002 Anderson

In the field, he handled 133 of 135 chances for a .985 fielding percentage. Anderson is the first Paladin freshman to earn first team All-SoCon honors since 1979.

Photos: Tourists Outlast Rome, 11-6

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (June 5, 2018)  The Asheville Tourists put up eight runs in the second inning tonight en route to an 11-6 win over the Rome Braves in a South Atlantic League matchup at McCormick Field.

Asheville starter Nick Kennedy benefited from the offensive outburst and earned his first win of the year. Kennedy is up from the Short-Season A Boise Hawks this season and was drafted by the Tourists’ parent, the Colorado Rockies, in the fifth round in 2017 out of the University of Texas. 

The lefthander struck out eight Braves in six complete innings of work, while allowing nine hits and five runs. At the plate, Tourists’ righfielder Sean Bouchard went 3-for-5 with four RBIs to pace the home team.

The two teams face each other in the second game of a three-game set on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. (photos / copyright Tom Flynn)

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UNCA Sends 16 to Summer Leagues

001 ASheville

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (June 1, 2018) – The UNC Asheville baseball program announced on Wednesday that 16 players, spread across six leagues, have been assigned to summer college teams. Head coach Scott Friedholm (left) just completed his fourth season leading the Bulldogs after successful stints on the staffs at Boston College and the Naval Academy. Each spring his team hosts the Vs. Cancer game at McCormick Field as players shave their heads to help fund cancer research.

In baseball, UNCA competes in the Big South Conference.

The players, by league, include:

Cape Cod League: Greg Gasparro

Coastal Plain League: Andrew Friedholm, Jake Catalano, Danny Wilson, Joe Gruszka, Blake Brown

Southern Collegiate Baseball League: Jake Madole, Ben Nichols

New England Collegiate Baseball League: Carmine Pago, Brandon Lankford, Tripp Barfield

Valley Baseball League: Kole Harris, Anthony Cuozzi, Tyler Serricchio

North Carolina American Legion: Trey Jernigan

(photo courtesy UNCA Baseball)

 

Photos: Louisburg College Baseball

LOUISBURG, N.C. – Earlier this spring, the Louisburg College Hurricanes hosted USC Union at their home park, Frazier Field. Louisburg is the oldest junior college in the nation and was founded in 1787. Its baseball program is one of the top NJCAA programs in the state.

The Hurricanes went on to post a 31-22 record on the season before bowing out in the Region X playoffs.

004 Leftfield007 Conversion at Third003 Batters Box001 Team Huddle002 Louisburg Opposing Manager005 Pitchers Conference

Furman Star Now Hurls for Tourists

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Asheville hurler Will Gaddis (Photo / Carol Spagnuolo for the Asheville Citizen-Times)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 26, 2018) – Will Gaddis was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the third round in 2017, the highest a Furman baseball player has ever been selected. He’s now pitching at McCormick Field for the Asheville Tourists. I was able to catch up with the former Paladins’ ace recently for an article that ran in the Greenville News and the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Analysis: 2017 MLB Draft Top 10 Recap

Royce Lewis was the first overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft (Photo / Nick Wosika/iconsportswire.com)
ELKRIDGE, Md. – After presenting a DraftWizard mock 2017 MLB Draft Top 10, we’re following up with a recap from the program’s developer, Aidan Cain. DraftWizard was intended to determine the likelihood of a player moving up the pro ranks, not to predict drafts, but we took the opportunity to learn more about the top players through the unique lense of the program. With that, here is Cain’s follow-up analysis. – TF

The MLB Amateur Player Draft concluded with some interesting picks throughout the top 10, and with the signing deadline now past, we’ll take a look at the results.


Many variables are considered within a draft room before any given pick – from raw skills and statistics to intangibles reported by local scouts. The DraftWizard application attempted to emulate the draft room while focusing on three variables – player profiles, historical data, and perceived team needs. DraftWizard selections compared well with those of Major League Baseball, predicting correctly that six of the ten players that made the top 10 would land there.

DraftWizard Top 10 
1) Kyle Wright – RHP
2) Brendan McKay – LHP/1B
3) Hunter Greene – RHP/SS
4) Alex Faedo – RHP
5) Adam Haseley – OF
6) Royce Lewis – SS/OF
7) Shane Baz – RHP 
8) Alex Lange – RHP
9) Jordan Adell – OF 
10) Tanner Houck – RHP

MLB Top 10
1) Royce Lewis – SS/OF
2) Hunter Greene – RHP/SS
3) Mackenzie Gore – LHP
4) Brendan McKay – LHP/1B
5) Kyle Wright – RHP
6) Austin Beck – OF
7) Pavin Smith – 1B
8) Adam Haseley- OF
9) Keston Hiura – 2B 
10) Jordan Adell – OF

*on both lists
   
Among the 25 candidates considered by DraftWizard, three were absolute locks to be selected within the top 10 – Hunter Greene (2 – MLB), Brendan McKay (4), and Kyle Wright (5).

More interesting selections that DraftWizard had pegged as top 10, included Royce Lewis (1), Adam Haseley (8) and Jordan Adell (10)


Lewis, taken as the one-one pick in 2017 was the top prep hitter-only in the draft. It looks like Minnesota selected him, expecting to sign him for under slot value and have more money to spend later in the draft. He signed for $6.6 Mn, compared to the $7.7 Mn pick value and the excess cash was then used to sign Blayne Enlow in the third round for $2 Mn (his slot value was $755,500). Contracting strategy here is similar to what the Phillies did last year when they selected Mickey Moniak first overall and is a variable that DraftWizard doesn’t attempt to incorporate.

Speaking of Philadelphia, the Phillies took Adam Haseley eighth overall, as the second outfielder in the draft. According to DraftWizard, the former Virginia Cavalier is the most likely outfielder to make the major leagues. Given he was MLB.com’s fourth-rated outfield prospect it seems that the Philadelphia front office found value in Haseley in sync with the DraftWizard analysis.

The last match, and arguably the most surprising, was outfielder Jordan Adell. He was the lowest-ranked position player that DraftWizard deemed a top 10 pick. Taken as the tenth selection, Adell was only rated 21st on MLB.com’s top draft prospect list. DraftWizard’s automation found his profile to be far more likely to succeed than even the sixth overall pick, outfielder Austin Beck.

Ultimately, DraftWizard was not built to predict mock drafts and anticipate which team will select which player. It is instead designed to determine players who, based on historical data, are most likely to climb the professional ladder to the majors.

Its optimal use would be assisting MLB front offices with draft selections by providing raw data to support a decision when selecting between one player or another. The effectiveness of the application can only be judged by future player successes in advancing through Major League systems. 

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