Eric Fryer Movin’ On Up

Eric Fryer just looks beyond his years.  Walk around Pirate City when the Major Leaguers are in town and he just kind of fits in.

“Look!  It’s Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Joel Hanrahan…Eric Fryer?”

To be honest, it took a while for me to get used to the fact that Fryer wasn’t this wily vet down in A-ball coaching others on their way to the Show.  I just always got the feeling he was some kind of Crash Davis.  After all, Fryer is on his third organization (because of trades, not releases), he’s married with a son and he’s, well, balding.  But then you check the vitals.

Last year was only Fryer’s third full professional season, and the first in which he only played one position.  The catcher found a home with Pittsburgh and is only 25, nothing more.  Next month the Ohio native is going to his first Major League Spring Training. 

“I was out taking batting practice and [Pirates Director of Player Development Kyle Stark] just kind of pulled me aside and said ‘Hey you want to come to big league camp?'” Fryer said very matter-of-factly.  “I said sure and he goes, ‘Yeah well we’re going to invite you.'”

Ho Hum.  But then again that’s Eric Fryer.  He just kind of takes everything in stride.  He goes about his business and he gets it done.  He falls under the category of a ‘Lunch pail guy;’ somebody who grabs the pail and just goes to work.

And Fry worked last year.  He hit .300 with the Marauders, heating up late in the year despite coming back from a broken face.  Yes, a broken face.  Fryer took a pitch to the orbital bone while batting against Charlotte in July and missed a month.  When he came back you could still see a little imprint of where the seams hit.  A big league Spring Training call is well deserved.

“Nothing really changes except when I’m going to arrive,” said Fryer.  “The goals are still the same: Go out and just improve every day that I can and get better leading up to the season.  It will be neat to gain a little bit more experience from the older guys, see a little more from [Chris] Snyder, [Ryan] Doumit and [Jason] Jaramillo.  I can see what they do really well and try and take it to my game.”

Fryer is one of 22 Non-Roster Invitees to Pirates camp.  He’s officially listed as an outfielder but says he hasn’t been told he’ll be doing anything other than catching.  Several other Marauders will be with Fryer, including fellow catcher Tony Sanchez, pitchers Jeff Locke, Bryan Morris, Ramon Aguero and Kyle McPherson.

“It’s nice that there are several guys I know from playing with them during the season or having been around them at instructs,” Fryer said.  “So it won’t be as awkward.  I feel like I can belong and they invited me for a reason so it’s just a matter of going out and playing and hopefully the results go in my favor.”

And it’s kind of nice because of the perks you get too.  Fryer said he’s already been ordered some bats, a nice change from the generic Pro Stocks he uses regularly.  He makes out just a bit better financially as well.

“I get a little more meal money up on the major league side so I’m going to take advantage of that and live off it a little bit,” Fryer said.  “Aside from that it’s just a chance to play against top tier competition and I think that’s just what everybody wants the chance to do.”

Pitchers and catchers report to Pirate City the third week of February.


Fryer, Eric - Bat Pose.JPG



Quincy Latimore, M.V.P.?

Today’s the day postseason all-star ballots are due into the league office.  Every team submits three ballots — one from the manager, scorer and sports writer — and each ballot has a spot for a Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, four pitchers, two relievers, two catchers, one position player at each spot, a DH, two utilities, and three managers/coaches.

My choice for league MVP would be Quincy Latimore, except you cannot vote for your own players.  So I voted for Tampa’s Melky Mesa.  It’s a tough call between the two, so I figured we’d break it down.

Here’s the Diagram:

                          MELKY MESA     l       QUINCY LATIMORE

AVG                   .267                            .262

HR                      19                               17

RBI                     74                               91

SB                      31 of 40                      7 of 8

OBP                   .342                            .320

GMS                   116                             123

ERRORS             4                                 7


Now some rankings fro these guys:


1st: 91 RBI (leads by 16)

2nd: 123 GMS; 208 TB; 48 EXBH

3rd: 17 HR; 30 2B; 78 R; 

4th: 28 AB per HR; 477 AB


1st: 19 HR; 22.6 AB per HR, 49 EXBH, 211 TB

2nd: 79 R, .490 SLG

3rd: 9 3B, 74 RBI

4th: 31 SB

(Each player is among the top four in nine offensive categories)

It’s a fairly close call – so you be the judge – leave us a comment on who you think is the MVP and why.

Another note for Quincy.  He will not break the RBI record for the FSL.  That sits at 140 and was set in the 1940’s.  But….Wuincy is the best run producer at Class A-Advanced for the Pirates in recent memory.  The bad news is that all of the below since 2005 have not advanced beyond AA.  Jordy Mercer will likely buck that trend, and the hope would certainly be the same for Latimore.   

2009: Jordy Mercer – 83

2008: Jared Keel – 81

2007: Brad Corley – 89

2006: Mike Carlin – 74

2005: Pat Magness – 92

(WARNING: Continuing beyond this point means you are a stats nerd…which is okay) 

2004: Brad Eldred – 74

2003: Walter Young – 87

2002: Josh Bonifay – 102

2001: B.J. Barns – 57

2000: J.J Davis – 80

1999: Derrick Lankford – 88

1998: Morgan Walker – 68

1997: Aramis Ramirez – 114

1996: Jose Guillen – 94

1995: Reed Secrist – 75 (no not Ryan Seacrest)

So it looks like Quincy Latinmore will most certainly be a post-season All-Star…if not the MVP.  Now let’s go back to the middle of the season.  Remember, Bradenton scored eight mid-season All-Stars.  Can the team do better in the post-season list?

Here’s the list of candidates…let’s start with those I think would be locks…

Quincy Latimore, Diego Moreno*, Aaron Pribanic, Jeff Locke*

**Moreno and Locke may be hurt by time spent in Double-A, but numbers are numbers.  Both have been very solid.  Locke has 86.1 innings under his belt in the league and left as the FSL leader in wins with nine.

And now those that I think have a solid case…

Nathan Adcock

He’s 10-7 with a 3.40 ERA (8th best in the league).  He’s also a midseason All-Star.  The only reason I don’t have him as a lock is that he did struggle a bit in July and may have fallen off some voter radars.

Eric Fryer

 He’ll be hurt by the fact that he missed July.  But let’s be honest.  The guy is hitting well over .400 since returning off the DL at the end of that month.  That’s not a small sample size.  He’s hitting over .400 over a span of 17 games.  The rush has pushed his avergae to .298. He also has eight homers.  He’s got a really good shot.  I marked down Daytona’s Michael Brenly and Dunedin’s Travis d’Arnaud on my ballot.  Fryer has player in more games then the later and 16 less then Brenly.

Calvin Anderson

It’s hard for Calvin.  Rebel Ridling has this spot pretty much locked up.  Daytona’s corner man is hitting .291 with 12HR and 69 RBI.  Calvin has an average in the .260 range with 10HR and 66 RBI.  The numbers aren’t that far off, so we’ll see.

Noah Krol

He was a midseason All-Star and leads the league in saves.  His 31 saves are seven off a league record last set in 1998 by New York Met R.A. Dickey.  He didn’t throw a knuckleball back then.  His high ERA might hurt him (3.34).  Now, that’s not a high ERA, but for a closer it could be considered that way – especially because Charlotte’s Zachary Quate’s is 1.38.  David Carpenter has a 2.36 ERA but is no longer in the league after being traded to Houston.

That adds up to eight All-Stars, but we’ll have to see how the Marauders do in the voting.  One thing that does hurt Bradenton is that All-Star locks Brock Holt, Tony, Sanchez, Jeremy Farrell and Starling Marte are all either on the DL, or spent too much time on the DL.

Your turn.  You decide….

Till next time,



Marauder Mad Libs

Ladies and Gentlemen…Welcome to the first edition of MARAUDER MAD LIBS!  It’s the game where Bradenton’s baseball stars fill in the blanks with the bests of the Florida State League.  Here’s your host…Arthur Wedgewood!!! {Applause}

{Cue theme music…open curtain}

“Thank you….thank you…thank you…stop it…cut it out…you’re all too kind….Welcome again to Marauder Mad Libs.  Let’s meet the contestants…

First…He’s an outfielder from Oklahoma, please welcome Austin McClune!!! {Applause}

Second…He’s a pitcher from Kentucky…Nathan Adcock!!! {Applause}

Please welcome two catchers Eric Fryer and James Skelton!!! {Applause}

And finally a hand for a dynamic duo of outfielders…Robbie Grossman and the ‘Double-Duce’ Quincy Latimore!!! {Applause}

So here’s how the game works…I’ll throw out a topic…you fill in the blank…First on the board {sound effect}…Ah…The best thing about the FSL is _____.

Austin: “Travel, for sure.  The furthest trip is roughly three hours.  In the Sally league we had 10 hour bus rides from Hickory to Lake County.”

Nathan: “Heat.  No I hate the heat.  It’s the travel.  Three hours is the most we travel.  I played in the Midwest League were some trips were seven or 11 hours.”

Eric: “The ballparks.  Most ballparks are pretty good.  The fields are immaculate and most of the time they’re just spring training sites for teams.”

James: “I like the rain, so I would say rainouts.  I wouldn’t call it an extra day off, but sometimes you just need one night off.”

Quincy: “HOT.  No the travel.  I love the three hour max I think.”

Now Quincy, follow up question.  How is it traveling for the commuter games?

Quincy: “That’s fine.  An hour at the most, that’s not bad.  I would love to stay everywhere if we could, but definitely the travel is great coming from the South Atlantic League last year having a nine hour bus ride.  It would seem like you never get there.”

Okay…second topic…{sound effect}…The best name in the FSL is _____.

Austin: “Stonecrabs.  “It’s a little bit different.  A little more original.”

Nathan: “Marauders.  I like it because it’s something new.  It’s something different.”

Eric: “Threshers.  It’s the first name that came to mind.  It’s the most creative right there.”

images.jpg{Sound effect} Oh wow…that sound means it’s time for the “FACT OF THE ROUND” {echoing voice}.  Often mistaken for the Thrashers, the name is indeed Threshers.  The team was renamed and rebranded from the Clearwater Phillies upon the opening of the new Bright House Field in 2004.  Mike Schmidt was the team’s first manager.  A Thresher is a type of shark with a long tail that is sometimes as long as the rest of its body.  The tail is used as a stunning weapon to attack prey.  Quincy, you’re up…

Quincy: “Flying Tigers.  I think that’s pretty funny…or the Brevard County Manatees.  Either one of those.

Robbie: “Lakeland Flying Tigers.  They’ve got pretty sweet hats.”

Alright team…Question number three.  Many of you talked about the travel in the league.  The topic is twofold…The Best Roadtrip in the FSL is _____ or The Best Ballpark in the FSL is_____.

Robbie: “Tampa — playing where the Yankees big league team plays.”

Quincy: “Clearwater.  Great crowd, great field, one of the newest stadiums in the league – that’s why.” 

{Production Note} Quincy also likes Daytona Beach…Altoona Curve player Josh Harrison (a former Cub) highly recommended the atmosphere.

Eric: “McKechnie Field.  The home crowd’s amazing.”

: “Daytona Beach.  The hotel is on the beach.  I like to even out my sun tans.  I’ve told a few guys [about the trip – James played in the FSL in 2008].  They’ve got this putt-putt area down the street.  They draw good crowds.  It’s got to be top three in the league.

Nathan: “Palm Beach or Jupiter is the nicest park.  I like that park a lot.  It’s real nice.  It’s well kept, has a nice playing surface.  Not a lot of fans but it’s still a nice place to play.”

Austin: “Clearwater.  We swept them and it’s a sweet place to play.  There are a lot of fans.”

Alright guys…we’re almost home.  Question for the catchers and the base stealers…The hardest guy to run on is_____.  The second part is…The hardest guy to throw out is_____.”

James: “Melky Mesa (Tampa_.  He just seems like he gets good jumps.”

{Production note} Melky Mesa has one of only six stolen bases against James this year.

Eric: “Anthony Gose (Clearwater).  He steals a lot so he gets a lot of stolen bases.  He gets good jumps and he goes every time.”

Robbie: “A lot of relievers because they’re all quick to the plate.”

Qunicy: “Frank Gailey (Dunedin).  He was…man.  We were talking about at the plate you can’t even get ready to hit he was so quick to the plate.” 

Alright boys we’ve reached the FINAL ROUND {echoing voice}.  The winner gets 3,000 points.  Actually the points matter less than on “Who’s Line is it Anyway.”  So to the winner goes 4,432 points.  Mad Lib is…{drum roll}…The best pitcher or batter you’ve seen in the FSL is _____.

Austin: “Zach Quate (Charlotte).  He’s got a nasty slider.  It starts off at you.  He’s got a fastball at 90+ MPH it just keeps you honest.

Melky Mesa.  He hits the ball to all fields and he hits for power.”

Nathan: “The Corban Joseph (Tampa) kid was a pretty tough out.  He’s just real scrappy.  He fouls a lot of pitches and makes you throw a lot of pitches which I don’t like.

Chris Archer (Daytona).  I thought he was pretty impressive.  Him and the Moore kid from Port Charlotte, especially with how young he is (20) and how he’s doing in the league.”

James: “Jonathon Ortiz (Tampa).  He’s got a nasty changeup.”

Quincy: “Henderson Alvarez (Dunedin).  I faced him in the All-Star Game.  Out of the pitchers I faced he came at me with three pitches.  He threw me his changeup for a strike his slider for a strike and he threw about a 95 MPH fastball up that I chased and I was like ‘wow this dude’s pretty decent.'”

Robbie: “Matt Moore (Charlotte).  He’s a good lefty.  You don’t see too many of those guys that throw hard and throw more than one pitch for a strike.”

Moore.jpgStefan Welch (St. Lucie).  He always has a good approach.  He didn’t try to do too much.  He just did with what he was pitched with.”

Alright everybody!  That concludes today’s game.  Thanks for playing…We’ll see you next time right here on Marauder Mad Libs! {Appluase} {Roll credits}

The Tale of Tim’s Delivery

Whenever the Marauders add a player (and for players on opposing teams) the first thing I do to learn a bit about them is turn to Google.  The goal is to find any article written about them that can lend some insight about who these guys are.  The next thing I do is open up my handy Baseball America Prospect Handbook.  None of this stuff is the Bible…but it’s a good starting point.

So Tim Alderson comes down to the Marauders from Double-A Altoona and to the “Handbook” I went.  One of the intriguing things I found was this:

“He’s still had success because of his deceptive delivery…”

Tim%20Alderson.jpgThe obvious question follows — What is his delivery.  Is he Dontrelle Willis?  Is he Orlando Hernandez?  What does this thing look like?  Well the deception comes from the leg kick…and here it is…

I had a chance to talk with Alderson and got the scoop on his delivery.

“When I’m bringing my leg back down to go to home plate my knee and my lower calf and everything underneath my knee goes parallel to the ground.  It’s very different and I don’t know where I learned it and I feel I’m being as smooth as can be.  I saw it for the first time on film when I was a senior in high school and I had no idea what was going on.  I don’t know idea where it started or how it came about, it’s just something my body does.”

One of the things I head read about Alderson was that he doesn’t think he could bend his body the way he does to pitch if he wasn’t actually throwing a baseball.  It’s something he said to me as well.

“If you told me to do it [while not pitching] I probably couldn’t do it because it comes natural…It’s just a matter of being comfortable.  It gets me in a good position to throw the ball so that’s all that matters.”

The delivery got me thinking about some other guys with interesting hitches in their stride to home.  In no order and I know I’m missing some big ones (Fernandomania and Oil Can Boyd)…but some from the current era…

1 — Ryan Dempster

I’ve always been curious what this silly hand flip thing was that Dempster does.  When a minor league hitter told the pitcher he was tipping his split finger during spring training a few years back he began “fluttering” his glove.  Once in his windup, Dempster shifts his glove back and forth over his pitching hand.  The motion covers his grip and distracts the batter.  Dempster’s joking reaction to the New York Times when asked what he tells people about the motion: “I tell people I do it to fan myself, because I’m a sweater and I get hot out there.”

2 — Hideo Nomo

His delivery coined the name “Tornado” with the way Nomo lifted his arms back over his head, twisted so his back faced the plate and then unfolded himself to fire home.  Just about every kid growing up in the 19990’s tried to imitate Nomo at some point, right?  I did…kind of thought what he did was normal.

3 — Dontrelle Willis

Another guy I imitated once or twice when he first burst on the scene, Willis does something that resembles pitching.  Flailing himself back into his windup with a huge leg kick, Willis caught eyes when he debuted for the Marlins earlier this decade.  The Tigers tried to dim down the action, but it returned.

4 — Orlando Hernandez

I always marveled as a kid that El Duque never kneed himself in the face while going home with a pitch.  A leg kick so high it looked like he could lick his knee, Hernandez was a Yankees sensation before bouncing around baseball.

5 — Tim Lincecum

A hero to me because I too am a 4-foot-6, 117 pound 14 year old (really 5-9, 150 and 23…but you get the idea), Lincecum’s delivery helps him generate nasty velocity for his tiny frame.  Tom Verducci wrote a story for Sports Illustrated that says an average pitcher’s stride to home plate is about as long as 77% to 87% of his height.  Lincecum’s in 129% covering seven and a half feet.


Austin McClune had another OF assist last night.  It was his 15th of the year and he passes Clearwater’s Anthony Gose for the FSL lead…Jeremy Farrell, out since mid-June with a left leg injury, was at batting practice in his warm-ups Saturday…Eric Fryer, out since the July 2nd with facial fractures, took BP for the first time Saturday.  Fryer wore a face guard attached to his batting helmet…Nate Baker made his Marauders debut Saturday throwing a quality start

Catchers, Masks and Your Turn to Get Involved…

A few things here…but first things first…

A good friend of mine is the broadcaster for the Syracuse Chiefs in the International League.  On his blog there are a couple of interesting ideas — the first is IL Man v. Food and the second is Rate that IL Hotel.  Wanted to add something of that nature on here.  Rate that FSL Hotel is out because, well, there aren’t many.  Most trips are day trips.  Man v. Food could work, but I’m not really up for a Chickwurstburgdog (see a few entries back).

So it’s your turn as Marauders fans…we gotta figure out something here for the FSL. 

Some ideas….

·         Marauders Punk’d (would require work, but see Kyle Kendrick)

·         Marauders Idol (anybody got a karaoke machine?)

·         Marauders Got Talent?

·         Top Chef – Marauder’s Edition

·         Dream Job…but I like my job…wouldn’t want somebody to take it

·         Marauders Top Model?

Drops some comments below or email me at and let me know if you have any ideas…

Now down to business…Caught up with Eric Fryer today.  The Marauders catcher was struck in the face by a pitch Thursday at Charlotte. 
Knuckleball.jpgHe’s looking better and he was in good spirits.  The swelling in his face seemed to have gone down a bit too.  If you caught him from the right you’d never know he’d been hit.  He does bare one striking scar, though.  Just below his eye you can still very distinctly see where the seems of the baseball hit.  It kind of gives him an Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz look (right).  For those non-wrestling fans, Abe Schwartz went on to become the more famous Brooklyn Brawler.

Fryer’s immediate future is still uncertain.  He told me he still was going to see another doctor as early as Tuesday.  So best wishes go out to Fryer.

I did joke with Eric on whether or not he would be able to play with a fractured face.  I then told him about Dave Parker with the Pirates from 1978.  Check out the full story from ESPN’s UniWatch.

Here are the Cliff’s Notes:

Parker fractured his jaw in 1978 during a home plate collision.  Parker was on his way to an MVP season and didn’t want to miss any time.  So he and trainer Tony Bartirome devised a plan: Parker would play with a mask.  But what kind of mask?  This type of thing was unprecedented in baseball.  The first idea was supposedly a plastic mask like Rick Hamilton wears for the Detroit Pistons.  Parker didn’t like the feel of it though and how it inhibited his view…so it was out.  What originally got settled on was something straight out of a horror movie (although Friday the 13th was not yet produced).

Jason.jpgThat look was soon ditched.  Parker went to a football facemask and finally shed the headgear in 1979.  The article says that Parker is believed to be the first MLB player to wear a facemask in a game.  Fryer did say he would probably end up with some sort of contraption when he does return to the lineup.  You would imagine Tony Sanchez might do the same (haven’t gotten a chance to pick his brain yet.

On the note of Tony…did bump into him at Pirate City a few days back.  He was drinking his lunch in the dinning hall.  His jaw is indeed wired shut and not just wired shut, but Fort Knox wired shut.

This spring I had the opportunity to call games for the USF Bulls.  The team’s star shortstop Sam Mende broke his jaw March 13 when he was struck in the face by a pitch against Eastern Illinois (oddly enough that’s where Erik Huber went to school).  Mende’s jaw was wired shut by putting just a few brackets on his left side and a few on his right side and then wiring them down.  Tony appeared to have a full rack…something straight out of Ugly Betty.

On the note of Mende by the way — Sam actually played with his jaw wired shut.  He missed only six games.  Had the chance to follow him around when he got his jaw un-wired shut and you can see that video here…It follows Sam to the doctor and to one of his first meals after being able to open up.  It should give you a feel of what Tony may be going through.  We’ll try to get Tony on here in the next few weeks.

Till next time…




The Chickwurstburgdog and other Fort Myers Musings…

Some disturbing news at the food stands last night in Fort Myers.  Just before beginning the game, Miracle broadcaster Alex Margulies and myself make the trip down to the concourse to pick up some dinner.  I got chicken — he got a braut.  Other options were a burger or hot dog.  I was then informed that if all four were desired that was a viable option.  It makes sense that I could have any of the four choices laid out before me.  What didn’t make sense is that you don’t order them seperate of each other.  You order them together. 

It’s called the Chickwurstburgdog.

Burgdog.jpgYes, the Chickwurstburgdog.  I’m assuming alternate spellings include Chicwustbergdog, Chikworstburgdogg or Snoop Doggy Dog.  To the left is my artist’s rendering of the beast…

The yellow stuff is cheese.  Yes, there is cheese between each of the layers.  Braut… cheese.. .chicken.. .cheese… burger… you get the idea.

The idea was created by Miracle AGM Kris Koch.  Why is unkown.  Well, I’m sure there is a reason I just don’t know if I want to know it.  I do know this, however.  The sandwhich has ‘Man v. Food’ written all over it.  Are you out there Adam Richman?

The ‘meal’ got me thinking.  I remembered a couple years ago hearing about the Gateway Grizzlies.  They’re an independent team in the midwest with similar stomach-stuffers.  Here’s a few of the good ones…yes there are multiple.



It’s a SUPERPRETZEL coated in buffalo wing sauce and covered in cheese.  IT comes with a side of Pepto…I hope.

It’s a burger with cheese and bacon on a bun.  Sounds normal.  Until you realize the bun is a doughnut.  It’s a Krispy Kreme, btw.

But my favorite heart stopper is a Cape Cod favorite.  The Y-D Red Sox are a summer collegiate team in the nation’s best summer wood bat league.  They also serve the Sinker Burger and the Hurler Burger.  I’m assuming the second one is named for what happens after you eat. 

The Sinker is just a buger on a doughnut.  You have three choices – plain, powder or cinnamon.  The Hurler is on a jelly doughnut and it comes with cheese…EZ-Cheese.

I’ve had the pleasure of eating the Hurler….and I’ve lived to tell the tale.


On a seperate note…the bus ride from Bradenton to Fort Myers took a little bit of extra time yesterday.  The drive should take about 90 minutes.  The bus left at 3:15 so one would guess the Marauders would have been at Hammond Stadium by 4:45.  Nope – 6:15 is a better guess.

There was a horrible accident on 75 that stopped up traffic for just a couple miles.  A flipped over dump truck kept the team bus stalled in Sarasota for a good hour and 45 mintues.  Quincy Latimore was sitting behind me and woke up from his hour nap to realize we hadn’t really even left yet.  I fell asleep for a good half hour and woke up in Siesta Key.  Pretty awesome.

When the bus arrived the parking attendants were already out.  Eric Fryer joked it was going to cost us $3 to park…then corrected himself and said they should charge us $3 per person…we got in free.

It’s not the worst travel snaffoo.  The Pirate’s Low-A affiliate in West Virginia had its bus break down on the first trip of the year.  It went something like this…

Break Spring Training in Bradenton

Bus to West Virginia

Stay Two Days

Bus to Georgia for the Season Opener

Bus Breaks Down 15 Minutes into the Drive

Mechanic Shows Up 90 Minutes Later

Mechanic Can’t Fix Bus

New Bus Called

Team Arrives in Georgia at 3:45 AM

….now that’s minor league baseball.  It tops my personal best.  Two years ago in the Carolina League the Salem Avalanche bus broke down at the team hotel.  We were at Potomac and had no way to get to the park.  Our opponent called some cabs….when that took too long the front office drove to the hotel to get the team, coaches and yes, radio guys.  That one goes in the book…

Till next time…