Author Topic: '56 Blaze:  (Read 785 times)

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Offline benjem

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'56 Blaze:
« on: February 19, 2014, 03:56:52 PM »

The revitalization of the Louisiana Blaze continues this spring, as the much discussed “young pitchers” start to make their presence felt. Last season it was Unethical Chad McCall, and this season it looks like young Babe Glumak is primed for the big leagues. Babe, just 22 years old, went 13-12 at double and triple A ball last season, with roughly a 2.50 ERA. Babe brings a nasty sinker in at about 97 mph, and he’s working on a knuckle curve to keep hitters off balance.

Dale Smokervich also figures to start the season with the Blaze this year. Smokey has battled some injury problems, was 1-2 in seven games at Baton Rouge last year, and then came up to start 23 games with the Blaze last summer, going 7-10 with a 4.57 ERA.Management expects him to be more confident and relaxed with that experience under his belt, and Smokey’s elbow and shoulder are - reportedly - feeling great.

Other young arms that might see the major this year include Babe’s older brother Bucky, who will be starting at Baton Rouge this year, Elvis Cakedy, who was up for a cup of coffee at the tail end of ‘55, Baton Rouge closer Jim Roberts, who got 4 saves and a 1.75 ERA in 20 games last year with the Fire, and this year’s number one draft pick, Reuben Chaix, who is in the starting rotation this season with double A Shreveport.

With Hector Silva’s retirement, catching duties this year will fall primarily to Thomas Valadez, with former number one pick Rambo Jones providing back up and some pop off the bench.

First base is again Masuhiro Yoshida’s, but his terrible batting last year against lefties might mean that Clint Cotton may find some additional playing time this year at first.

Second base is a trouble spot - “Flash” Robinson might see the most time there on the strength of his fielding, but he needs to hit better than his .224 mark of last season, or other options will be explored.

At shortstop we again have the capable if unspectacular Nelson Maldonado, with Rick Henricks backing him up.

Third base belongs to Jesus Rosales. Jesus hit .297 last season, but Blaze fans would like to see him add some power to his repertoire.

The outfield now looks like it will be some combination of White, Lopez, Cruz, Medina, and Molnes. Not an inspiring composition. It had been hoped that right fielder Ty Pharoh would be ready, but he’s struggled in spring ball, and management now feels he needs to start the season at Baton Rouge.

There are not many other options for hitting help at Baton Rouge, unfortunately. Outfielders Franklin Amp and George Mullin show some promise, but neither has seems ready for major league play. There’s some possibilities at double A Shreveport - management would love to see Dusty Thompson pick his game up a notch hit the ball more frequently - but the Blaze management have been focused on pitching for the last few years, and if they’re going to win in 56, it will need to be with pitching.

Offline benjem

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Re: '56 Blaze:
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2014, 12:27:16 PM »

As the 2056 season winds down, we once again perceive that the Blaze - barring a heaven sent miracle - will not be giving us any playoff entertainments. Owner C.Benzal Jemmerson yesterday gave manager Andy Kegler his annual “vote of confidence” yesterday, saying “I have complete faith in Manager Kegler’s ability to run this club. Andy’s the manager today, and he’ll be the manager here as long as he is able and willing.” And, given the progress the club is making, Kegler might be willing for a few more years.

For awhile, even, in mid-season, it looked as though they might just have enough punch to sneak into a wild card spot, but then Yoshida, Rosales, Maldonado, and Pharoh all were laid up for several weeks with a variety of hurts. Losing 3/4ths of your starting infield is not a way to get into the playoffs.

They’re all back in the line-up now, but the damage has been done. With some luck, the team might achieve a .500 record, which would still be a major step forward after the Wilderness Years of five straight 89-or-more loss seasons.

On the sunny side of the street, the young pitchers seem to be taking up the challenge of big league ball. Unethical Chad McCall is one of the great young talents in the league, and if the Blaze ever get some hitting he will be a winner. Babe Glumak has also taken big steps forward this season, and also seems to have a bright future ahead of him. Gene James and Dale Smokervich have been good in the bullpen, and veteran Aaron Ledford and Carlos Ibarra have had strong seasons, though Ledford missed three months with a herniated disc. The late relief has been more problematic, unfortunately, with Bradley and Stewert being tagged with 15 losses this season, and the Blaze have to be wondering if they need reinforcements for the late innings.

Offensively, the Blaze have had fine consistent seasons from Valadez behind the plate, Yoshida, Maldonado, and Rosales, in the infield. But the biggest surprise this year has been Clint Cotton, who has played outfield and first base and contributed 19 home runs, leading the team. Ty Pharoh has made a worthy debut in right field, hitting .265, and he looks like he still has a good deal of upside, and Franklin Amp, called up from Baton Rouge when Pharoh was injured, has staked a surprising claim to center field, hitting a surprising .319 while being named the GEL Rookie of the Month for June. It would be nice to see him consistently patrolling the gardens next season.

With just ten games left and the Blaze four games out, the Blaze have brought up pitchers Bucky Glumak and Elvis Cakedy to give them a taste of big league action, and should bring up catcher Galloway as well. Meanwhile, Blaze scouts are looking at prospects, and probably have hitting as a priority in the upcoming draft, while Andy Kegler is yet trying to muster his boys for the last ditch effort for the playoffs.