Off We Go…

Entry No. 1 here, so we’ve got a couple of things to figure out…first off is the name…

I was thinking of what to call this blog and I figured I go with something “broadcastery” and along the baseball lines.  I went with an ESPN catchphrase — one Keith Olbermann made famous — “It’s Deep and I Don’t Think It’s Playable.”  The title, however, is always up for a little change.  If you’ve got an idea on what to go with — shoot it to Jgodett@Pirates.com.   We’ll take a look at what flows in and go from there.

Next thing up is what we’re going to do here.  Well, a couple of things.  First off — neat stories always tend to pop up while broadcasting for a baseball team.  Sometimes those stories make it on the radio and sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes those stories make it on the radio and you weren’t listening.  So we’ll talk about a lot here.  Anything ranging from Eric Fryer’s time at Ohio State to Quincy Latimore’s +200 bowling average and Brian Leach’s new slider.

So, where to start?  With the second half of the season now in full swing we can begin by taking a look back of the first half of the first season in Marauder’s history…

First Half Highlights

No. 1 – Opening Night

With the April 8th opener anticipated since the fall revealing of the Marauders, Bradenton wasted no time making its mark.  The Marauders drubbed division foe Fort Myers 18-3 to welcome the season in front of 2,396 fans.  The offense exploded for 16 hits and four home runs, both of which are still team records for a single game performance.  The 18 runs are also far and away the most scored this year, besting the 13 Bradenton plated at St. Lucie June 15th.  The debut win was the first of five to begin team history.

No. 2 – Hey Now, You’re an All-Star

The opening night display was no fluke for Bradenton.  The Marauders continued to be one of the best offensive teams in the minor leagues throughout the first half.  When that happens you’re bound to earn some all-star recognition, and Bradenton placed a Florida State League best eight men in the midsummer classic.  Tony Sanchez, Brock Holt, Quincy Latimore, Jeremy Farrell, Jeff Locke, Noah Krol, Nathan Adcock and Bryan Morris all earned midseason honors.  Only Latimore, Locke and Krol appeared in the game, but all made an impact.  Latimore batted leadoff and scored twice.  Locke and Krol each threw a shutout inning.

They said it:  “It’s a huge honor to get selected to play with the best players in this league.  Being in State College last year and getting to be a part of that all-star game my first professional season was huge, and being able to continue that with my success here after skipping West Virginia was huge.” – Brock Holt 

No. 3 – Bryan Morris

His time was short-lived in Bradenton but it was nothing short of fantastic.  In 44.2 innings Morris allowed three earned runs, struck out 40 and walked just seven.  Thusly, he’s number three on our list.

No. 4 – Break Out the Rye Bread and Mustard…

Quincy Latimore established a reputation early in his Marauders career – he drives in runs…sometimes four at a time.  Latimore hit three grand slams in just 37 games and tied an FSL record for most in a season.  The final of Latimore’s three slams was a game sealer at Dunedin May 18th.  It came in the 10th inning of a 2-1 game.  Bradenton knocked off what was then the league’s top dog 6-1 that day.  Latimore’s 55 RBI led the league in the first half and were 4th in all of Class A-Advanced.  Q is led by three batters in the California League – the most hitter friendly of the High-A groups.

They said it:  “I hit my first professional grand slam this year so it’s kind of funny I hit three already.  It’s quite a coincidence.  It really is.” – Quincy Latimore

No. 5 – Brock Holt is Perfect

Brock Holt made June 2nd an historic night against Lakeland when he went 5-5.  The Marauders shortstop was the sixth man to post a five-hit game this season across the FSL.  Most importantly Holt had two RBI and two runs scored in an 8-7 Bradenton win.

Notes Looking Forward

 

No. 1 – Returning to Full Strength

 

As the second half of the season begins the Marauders are without four of their top five offensive threats.  Tony Sanchez, Brock Holt, Jeremy Farrell and Starling Marte all find themselves sidelined with injuries.  Sanchez is out for an extended period after breaking his jaw Tuesday.  Holt is out for the year after suffering a knee injury against Brevard County June 6th.  Farrell is on the DL with a leg injury while Marte recovers from hand surgery.  Coming into the season Baseball America thought highly of all four men, ranking Sanchez 3rd, Marte 6th and Holt 27th among prospects in the Pittsburgh organization.  Farrell has had a breakout season and leads the Marauders with nine homeruns.  The foursome has driven in 111 of the team’s 314 RBI.  Also on the disabled list are Rodolfo Cardona and Hunter Strickland.

They said it:  “We’re struggling right now with the loss of Farrell and Brock – two of the best hitters in the league – and we’re having other guys step up and help the team win.  That’s the making of a great team.” – Tony Sanchez

No. 2 – Who Steps Up?

With all of Bradenton’s injuries, the question is now who will step up to fill the voids?  Quincy Latimore and Calvin Anderson are the easy answers, having been consistent producers throughout the first half.  Greg Picart is another name to keep tabs on.  The veteran has hit over .300 since taking over for Holt in the leadoff spot.

Robbie Grossman is one guy who may take on a heavier burden in the second half.  Grossman entered the year as the 18th ranked prospect in the Pirates system but has hovered around .200 the first three months of the year.  Grossman has a world of potential as a hitter for average and a bit of power and possesses great speed.  The outfielder was the first freshman to start at Texas’ Cy-Fair High School in 36 years under head coach Woody Champagne.

They said it:  “[I’m] just learning every year, learning something new, adjusting your game.  Watching the game you always learn something new.  [I’m] just doing the best I can every night.” – Robbie Grossman

Also keep an eye on outfielder Austin McClune and catcher Eric Fryer.  After struggling for much of June, McClune finished the first half with three critical hits, two RBI and two steals in his last four games.  The first of those hits was a walk-off single against St. Lucie Monday.

With Sanchez out, Fryer stands to gain the most at the catching position.  Bradenton’s primary backup, Fryer has DH’d for much of the season while slamming seven homeruns.

No. 3 – A Second Half Title?

Bradenton held a firm grasp on first place in the FSL South for much of May and early June before succumbing to a blazing hot Charlotte team.  The Stone Crabs finished the first half by winning 18 of their final 20 games.  Even so, the Marauders still had the second best besting average in the FSL and a pitching staff that excelled into the midseason break.  Nathan Adcock is listed among the league’s top 10 ERA’s, Jeff Locke has not walked a batter in three outings, Brian Leach has a 1.50 ERA in June and Noah Krol continues to be one of the best closers across the state.

They said it:  “I think right now I’m there.  If I can stay there for a little longer I can put together a pretty good season.” – Jeff Locke

They said it:  “[Leach]’s keeping the ball in the strike zone and he’s giving himself a chance.  We gave him a slider instead of a curveball and it gives him something else other than a fastball that he can throw for strikes.  He’s turned that around somewhat and we’ve just got to hope he continues to grow.” – Wally Whitehurst

They said it:  “We’re having fun and we’re starting to click more as a team…We could easily have 50 wins in this half and be a lock for the playoffs, but that’s just something we have to learn.  We’re a young group and we’re still learning how to play the game the right way.  We haven’t played nearly as good of baseball as we could have.” – Tony Sanchez

 

Till Next time…

Joel

 

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About Joel Godett
Joel Godett is in his secod year broadcasting Bradenton Marauders baseball. His career has carried him from Syracuse to Buffalo, Roanoke, Cape Cod, Tampa and Bradenton. He is originally from New Jersey and somehow grew up an Atlanta Braves fan.

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