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)

001 Tourists001 Tourists 6001 Tourists 5001 Tourists Above 5

 

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)

004 Rightfield003 Third Base Rome004 Mr Moon Coaching006 Third Base010 Kennedy009 Flags002 Baseball Field Above Called Out001 Baseball Field Above007 Tourists

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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Analysis: DraftWizard’s MLB Top 10 Mock Draft Picks

Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright (Photo / iconsportswire.com)
Baltimore – The Major League Baseball amateur player draft is among sports’ most difficult to predict with precision. DraftWizard is a software application created by former college baseball player and current IT professional Aidan Cain that attempts to do so by letting its users slot potential draft picks into “player types” and then compare them to historical data for similar types of players drafted since 1965.
DraftWizard defines each player type using an array of attributes such as height, handedness, and position. Each is then assigned a value, and data for previously drafted players is appended to the player type for comparison to prospective draft picks. 
The program next predicts the likelihood of a player making the majors. Each selection in the Top 10 is based on the DraftWizard analysis using player information from the Top 25 draft prospect profiles on MLB.com, as well as team needs for the upcoming draft.

Fieldhouse Journal presents here the top 10 projected picks of  DraftWizard‘s 2017 mock draft with accompanying narrative from Cain. The draft begins on June 12.
#1  Minnesota Twins
Team Needs = Pitcher, Any
Kyle Wright – RHP – Vanderbilt University

Nine other players with Wright’s exact attributes (6-foot-4, 220 lbs., right-handed, collegiate pitcher) made it to the majors when drafted in the first round. This accounts for 75 percent of all players with Wright’s characteristics ever drafted in the first. 

One notable player that shares Wright’s attributes – the Washington Nationals’ Stephen Stasburg.

The top college righty in the class should follow Dansby Swanson as the next Vanderbilt one-one selection.
#2  Cincinnati Reds
Team Needs = Pitcher, First Baseman
Brendan McKay – LHP/1B – Louisville University

Brendan McKay shows promise in two areas needed by the Reds – he projects well as both a pitcher and first baseman. Reds’ first round draftees have a success rate of 66.7 percent when taken out of college as compared to 43.6 percent out of high school. Additionally, collegiate players taken second overall have an 88 percent chance of making it to the Show.

McKay’s player type as a pitcher has a 100 percent rate of producing a major leaguer. When he moves to first base, his likelihood of success declines. Players of his type drafted in the first round include retired first baseman Carlos Pena.
#3  San Diego Padres
Team Needs = Pitcher, Shortstop
Hunter Greene – RHP/SS – Notre Dame (Calif.) HS
Greene is an excellent selection at third overall for the Padres. As a pitcher, this flamethrower has a player type producing major league players at a 25.9 percent clip. 

He has number one overall potential, however no high school righty pitcher has ever been taken one-one. The numbers are arguably more in favor of selecting Greene as a shortstop. Of first rounders with Greene’s attributes as a shortstop, 100 percent became major league players. 

He has the same player type as both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Not only is Greene a perfect fit for the Padres, but he is also a highly projectable pick.

#4  Tampa Bay Rays
Team Needs = Pitcher, Catcher
Alex Faedo – RHP – University of Florida

For quite some time, Faedo was in the hunt to be the first pitcher selected. He’s recently been edged out, now sitting as the number six pitching prospect in this year’s draft class. Faedo’s player type boasts 300 major league players, among them seven first rounders and one first overall selection.
First rounders of Faedo’s characteristics make the majors at a 58.3 percent rate. Righty college pitchers taken at fourth overall are 22 percent more likely to make the majors than high school right-handed arms taken with the same selection.
#5  Atlanta Braves
Team Needs = Outfielder, Any 
Adam Haseley – OF – University of Virginia
Contrary to popular belief, Jeren Kendall may not be the most projectable outfielder this class has to offer. Listed as the number four outfield prospect in the 2017 draft class, Adam Haseley has a player type most similar to Jacoby Ellsbury

The two outfielder-only prospects ahead of him, Kendall and high school prospect Austin Beck, have a player type that has produced only a total of three major leaguers, at a success rate of 10 percent and 2.9 percent respectively. On the other hand, the player type of Haseley has produced 11 major leaguers with those few going in the first round having a success rate of 100 percent.
#6  Oakland Athletics
Team Needs = First Baseman, Outfielder
Royce Lewis – SS/OF – Serra Catholic (Calif.) HS
Lewis is listed as the top high school hitter-only in this year’s draft class. The UC-Irvine commit has a player type which offers the second best success rate for outfielders. As an outfielder, 28.6 percent of players with Lewis’ characteristics that were first round picks ended up making the majors. If outfield does not work out, his player type makes him even better suited as a shortstop.

Statistics show 71.4 percent of shortstops similar to Lewis proved to be major league caliber ballplayers, one of whom was selected first overall. Although the A’s primary need is first base and they may be tempted to take Pavin Smith, it may be too early to take the top first base prospect, whose profile has only ever produced three major league players.
#7  Arizona Diamondbacks
Team Needs = Pitcher, Any
Shane Baz – RHP – Concordia Lutheran (Texas) HS
This high school right-hander proves the second-most promising prep arm. His player type produced an impressive 49 major leaguers at a success rate of 25.9 percent. When the player has been selected in the first round that percentage jumps to 66.7 percent. College rather than high school right-handed pitchers tend to produce slightly better at the number seven overall selection, however, that number is still at a success rate of 66.7 percent. Baz’s player type is comparable to current Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller.
#8  Philadelphia Phillies
Team Needs = Pitcher, Second Baseman
Alex Lange – RHP – Louisiana State University
Lange will seek to follow in the footsteps of former LSU Tiger Aaron Nola, by quickly rising within the ranks of the Phillies’ farm system. This collegiate standout’s player type has produced 37 major leaguers. For players with the same attributes as Lange drafted in the first round, 9 players or 56.3 percent made a major league roster. Interestingly enough, Lange’s player type was the only of the top 25 prospects to have had two first overall selections, both of whom were successful and played at the major league level.
#9  Milwaukee Brewers
Team Needs = Pitcher, Outfielder
Jordan Adell – OF – Ballard (Ky.) HS

Ranked 5th of the outfield prospects, Adell is a quality selection at number nine. Having a player type with the exact attributes of former number one prospect and current Minnesota Twin, Byron Buxton, and three-time gold glove winner Mike Cameron, Adell has lots of upside. As a first round eligible player, his profile has been successful in yielding a major league player 60 percent of the time.
#10 Los Angeles Angels
Team Needs = Pitcher, Any
Tanner Houck – RHP – University of Missouri

Houck is a big-bodied pitcher with lots of sinking action on his fastball. Among the players analyzed, Houck has some of the most balanced characteristics statistically. 

His player type has led to 33 major league players at a 23.1 perecent rate. Twelve total players were selected in the first round and of those seven, or 58.3 percent, went on to play in the bigs including one first overall selection. Since 1990, no right-handed collegiate pitcher taken 10th overall has failed to make the major leagues. Houck is comparable to former All-Star, Mark Prior, by player type and should be a solid selection at 10th overall.

Turn Two: A Pair of UNC Asheville Baseball Articles

The UNC Asheville Bulldogs and skipper
Scott Friedholm (Photo / UNC Athletics)


Asheville, NC – Since the start of the baseball season I’ve been fortunate to write about the Big South’s UNC Asheville Bulldogs baseball team on two occasions.

Most recently, I covered the team for the Asheville Citizen-Times on the occasion of a cancer awareness/fundraising effort at the city’s McCormick Field. It was an inspiring event and for great pictures and video from the evening, as well as the article, click here.

A month earlier, I wrote about the club for the American Sports Network. The article is reproduced here, as ASN is no longer broadcasting. The content is the copyright of ASN.

In Asheville, the Bulldogs arm up for the Big South
February 27, 2017
by Tom Flynn

UNC Asheville plays baseball in the Big South, the same conference that produced last year’s national champion, Coastal Carolina. It was nice final moment in the conference for CCU as beginning with 2017 they moved to the Sun Belt Conference. With the departure of the Chanticleers, the Bulldogs are one of ten teams vying to fill the conspicuous absence at the top of the conference. 

“For Coastal, obviously that was an unbelievable achievement and something we’re proud of with them being a Big South team,” said the Bulldogs’ third-year head coach, Scott Friedholm. It also gives credit to the type of league that the Big South is from a baseball standpoint.”

Before arriving in the western North Carolina mountains, Friedholm spent four years at Chestnut Hill as Boston College’s recruiting coordinator and pitching coach. There, Friedholm had the Eagle’s staff consistently throwing strikes, tallying 352 K’s in 2014. Prior to his time with BC, he spend five years as the pitching coach at Navy. There he helped hone major league talents Mitch Harris and Oliver Drake.

Both pitchers debuted in the majors in 2015, and when Harris broke through to the bigs he became the first Navy grad to do so since 1921. Friedholm now leads the entire squad in Asheville, and his overall approach is clear. “Our emphasis is always first and foremost on pitching and defense. That’s going to give us a chance to win or compete every single time we’re on the field.”

Offensively, the Bulldogs will turn to center fielder, Joe Tietjen. Tietjen made second team All-Big South last year and looks to improve upon that in 2017. He spent the summer of 2016 developing his skills in the New England Collegiate Baseball League as well as with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League, widely regarded as the top college summer circuit in the country. 

“The nine-man lineup that coach comes up with – every guy will be ready. Every single guy was prepared this fall, and they’ve all played summer league ball,” said Tietjen.  


Positionally we were pretty good, with guys like Joe, Kyle Carruthers, and Derek Smith. They’ve bought in and believe in what we’re trying to do here,” said Friedholm. “When you take over a program – and the same was true when I was at Navy – a lot of times the last thing to come around is the pitching.”

Several returning pitchers made significant strides last fall, including 6’8″ redshirt sophomore Ryan Taft, junior Nick Boyles, and junior Jesse Juday. The coach also mentioned his freshmen throwing well this past fall. They include left-hander Greg Gasparro of Pennington, New Jersey.

“Obviously you just don’t know how these younger guys are going to react when we play another team, but you hope that you get the right guys as far as competitors and athletes so that it doesn’t matter when you play, it’s still just a game of baseball.”

Gasparro started the Bulldogs’ opener and was sharp in a losing effort, pitching four scoreless innings before yielding to fellow freshman, Brandon Harris. Harris allowed one hit in two innings of work. The two worked in tandem again on Friday, as the Bulldogs defeated Dayton, 6-2, and moved to 2-3 on the season. Harris earned his first college win in the outing, while Tietjen drove in seven runs in a 12-6 victory. Three of those came on a fourth-inning home run, his first of the season. 

A team premised on defense and pitching must implicitly be able to execute offensively to be successful. The Bulldogs have that covered as well. 


“If we need to bunt, we can bunt. If we need to steal, we can run a little bit,” said the head coach. “I know we’re going to hit. I know we’re going to be able to steal some bases. But when it comes the time, if we had to do a safety [squeeze] or hit and run, or sacrifice bunt, we’re going to be able to do those things.”