March 2010

The latest buzz

After the Marlins acquired left-hander Nate Robertson from the Detroit Tigers yesterday afternoon, there were surely some dominoes waiting to fall. They did, indeed, fall today with Rick VandenHurk and Tim Wood being optioned to New Orleans. VandenHurk and Wood each had successful stints with the Zephyrs last year, and Vandy will return to the rotation with Wood taking up a spot in the back end of the bullpen.

The Z’s break camp on Saturday, so we’ll soon know the 24 guys who will be starting the season in New Orleans. The Marlins’ outfield situation is murky at best, with lingering injuries to Cody Ross and Brett Carroll. At least one will start the season on the DL, and possibly both, which would greatly boost the chances of someone like Jai Miller, Scott Cousins or Bryan Petersen making the Opening Day roster.

Just a reminder that the Zephyrs will be at the Hornets game against the Washington Wizards tonight, so come out to The Hive to see Boux join Hugo in entertaining the crowd. We’ll have pictures and a recap of the night on the website tomorrow!

Jonesing

The Z’s added another arm to their bullpen on Tuesday when the Marlins optioned left-hander Hunter Jones to New Orleans. Jones was acquired in the offseason from the Boston Red Sox in the Jeremy Hermida trade, and had been having an impressive spring, pitching 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Here’s what Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez had to say about Jones:

“‘He was impressive,’ Gonzalez said. ‘He was very interesting, and I told
him that. He just has to go down and pitch and get that breaking ball
maybe a little sharper. And with us having the two lefties here — [Dan]
Meyer and [Renyel] Pinto — it buys him a little time.'”

One guy who won’t be joining Jones in the Zephyrs’ bullpen is veteran right-hander Mike MacDougal, who was released by the Marlins. As it stands, the Z’s pitching staff includes starters Sean West, Ryan Tucker and Cristhian Martinez, and relievers Taylor Tankersley, Jay Buente, Brett Sinkbeil and Hunter Jones.

Rosters and schedules

The Marlins optioned a few more players to New Orleans early Friday, including one familiar face in outfielder Jai Miller, who finished tied for second on last year’s Zephyrs club with a .289 batting average in 102 games.

Also joining the Z’s are pitchers Taylor Tankersley and Cristhian Martinez and outfielder Scott Cousins.

Tankersley missed all of last season with an elbow injury, but saw success with the Marlins in 2006 and 2007, combining to go 8-2 with a 3.46 ERA in 116 games. He’ll be a lefty in the Zephyrs bullpen, which also includes Brett Sinkbeil and Jay Buente so far.

Martinez was the Marlins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, going 9-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 17 games with Double-A Jacksonville, and made 15 relief appearances with the Marlins. Although he made all four of his spring outings out of the bullpen (one save, 5.06 ERA), he is expected to join Sean West and Ryan Tucker in the Z’s rotation.

Cousins is coming off a solid season with Jacksonville, leading the Southern League with 11 triples and ranking third with 54 extra-base hits, and figures to start alongside Miller in the Z’s outfield. Cousins is ranked as the ninth-best prospect in the Marlins system by Baseball America, and was tabbed as the organization’s “Best Defensive Outfielder.”

Down in Jupiter, the Marlins face the St. Louis Cardinals today in a game televised live on MLB Network. Meanwhile, the Z’s saw their first spring action as a unit yesterday, dropping a 6-5 game to Memphis. Some of the game’s participants who saw action with the Zephyrs last season include Ryan Klosterman, who led off and played shortstop, third baseman Lee Mitchell, catcher Neil Wilson, and pitchers Jarrett Santos, Brad Stone, Chris Mobley and Matt DeSalvo. The Z’s head to St. Lucie today to face the Mets’ Triple-A squad.

And finally, back here at home, most of the staff will be out of the office blanketing the town with pocket schedules. They come folded this year, so look for this when you’re out shopping or at a restaurant:

Thumbnail image for DSCN0098.jpgGo get ‘em, Kevin!

DSCN0099.jpg

Head West, young man

The Zephyrs had a second member of their starting rotation finalized
today when the Marlins optioned left-hander Sean West to New Orleans.
West is another lanky pitcher in the Florida system, listed as
6-feet-8. According to Baseball America, he was the Marlins’ top-rated
pitching prospect entering last season, then went on to win eight games
at the Major League level, in addition to seven more with Double-A
Jacksonville. West is heralded for a fastball that touches 96 mph, and
two different sliders. He’ll join Ryan Tucker in the Z’s rotation.

Reliever Jose Ceda was also sent to minor league camp, as he was
optioned to Jacksonville. Ceda, who checks in at close to 300 pounds,
was a prized arm in an offseason trade two years ago from the Chicago
Cubs, but missed the entire season due to injury. He could pitch in New
Orleans at some point as he works himself back to full strength.

This afternoon in Jupiter, Mike Stanton continued his torried spring by
homering off Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano. It was Stanton’s third home
run of the spring, and he’s now hitting .333. Chris Volstad gave up
four runs in 2.1 innings, bringing his spring ERA to 9.82. The
prevailing thought is that Volstad is a front-runner for one of the two
available rotation spots, but with Rick VandenHurk, Clay Hensley and
Hayden Penn all pitching well, Volstad’s margin for error is shrinking.

Turning heads

The first news regarding the 2010 Zephyrs has come out of spring training, as the Marlins have optioned right-handed pitcher Ryan Tucker to New Orleans. Tucker missed almost the entire 2009 season with the Z’s due to injury, so this will be his first real look at Triple-A.

It was revealed earlier this week that Tucker deals with Raynaud’s Syndrome, a condition that impairs blood flow to his extremities. As a result, in chilly weather, Tucker has trouble getting a good grip on the baseball because his hands cannot warm up. For his sake, let’s hope the weather continues to warm up as we approach Opening Day.

The biggest news out of Marlins camp has been the play of top prospect Mike Stanton, who is making a push for a roster spot. The Marlins aren’t overflowing with depth in the outfield, and nagging injuries to Cameron Maybin and Cody Ross might have opened the door for the 20-year-old phenom. Other outfield possibilities include Brett Carroll, who has four hits in 14 at-bats, all of them for extra bases (two doubles, two homers) and Jai Miller, who is 3-for-15.

Andrew Miller, one of the half-dozen candidates for the starting rotation, gets his first start today as the Fish travel to the west coast of Florida to face the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota.

A sneak peek

As mentioned here last week, you’ll be noticing our 2010 promotional items around town soon. Already, you can view our TV commerical
on our website or on the Zephyrs Facebook page. We also wanted to give
you a preview of what our pocket schedules and billboards will look
like:

coghlan_cover.jpg
It should come as no surprise that National League Rookie of the Year
Chris Coghlan graces the front cover. Here’s one of the variations of
the billboards that will be popping up around town:

Zephyrs-Billboard.jpg

Keep an eye out the latter half of next week!

New website!

You might have noticed a new look to our website today – this is the
result of months of planning and preparation from the folks at Major
League Baseball Advanced Media (and a bit of work on our end, too) to
bring our site, and others in the MLBAM network, not only a fresh look,
but more options to keep you as informed as ever on your favorite team.

Feel free to let us know how you like the new site, what you’d like to see added, etc.

Down in Jupiter, Sunday was a rough day for a pair of left-handers who
are battling for a spot in the Marlins’ starting rotation. Sean West
and Andrew Miller had their struggles against the Cardinals, as did
reliever Mike MacDougal, one of many free agent signed to minor league
contracts who are looking to earn a job in Florida’s bullpen. On the
bright side, catcher Brett Hayes collected three hits, and Brett
Carroll hit a home run – guess it was a good day to be a Brett (and
it’s nice not to include “Favre” for a change).

Ryan Tucker looks to bounce back from a shaky first spring outing by
taking the ball in a split-squad game against the Mets today.

Extra extra

Two days, two extra-inning wins for the Marlins in Grapefruit League action.

On Friday, it was outfielder Mike Stanton who came up with the big hit, a two-run homer in the 10th inning to give Florida a win over the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. Cameron Maybin had led off the inning with a double. Stanton, universally recognized as one of the two or three best prospects in baseball, is likely ticketed for Double-A Jacksonville to start the year.

On Saturday, Hector Luna delivered the game-winning hit in the 10th inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. Luna hit .357 for Albuquerque last season, and would find himself in a Zephyrs uniform if he doesn’t make the big club. Jai Miller had two hits and a stolen base. Clay Hensley, who finished last season pitching as well as anybody on the New Orleans staff, tossed three scoreless innings and recorded four strikeouts. Brett Sinkbeil came on and surrendered three runs in the sixth inning.

Logan Morrison is 1-for-8 so far in his battle for the first base job with Gaby Sanchez, who is 1-for-4.

The Marlins and Cardinals meet again on Sunday, with Sean West getting the start for Florida. Andrew Miller is also scheduled to pitch two innings.

Grab a Grapefruit

Today is the Grapefruit League opener for the Florida Marlins, as they
take on the Washington Nationals at 12:05 CT from Roger Dean Stadium in
Jupiter, Fla.

Anibal Sanchez will get the starting assignment for the Fish, and will
be followed by Rick VandenHurk, who was perhaps the Zephyrs’ most
consistent starting pitcher in 2009. Also scheduled to see action is
Taylor Tankersley (rebounding from a season lost to injury), Seth
McClung (newly signed to a minor league free agent deal after two
seasons with Milwaukee), Scott Strickland (the PCL leader in saves for
Albuquerque last year) and Dan Meyer.

Yesterday, the Marlins jumped all over the University of Miami
Hurricanes 19-3. Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Chris
Coghlan led off with a walk, moved to second on an infield single by
Cameron Maybin, and reigning league batting champion Hanley Ramirez
brought them in with a three-run homer. The Marlins never looked back.
Ryan Tucker was touched for two runs in 1.2 innings, while Jay Buente
struck out two in a perfect seventh inning.

What to watch

Cox Sports Television and the Zephyrs released the 2010 television schedule
today. In our eighth year of broadcasting Zephyrs baseball on CST, the
Z’s will have eight games televised this season, starting with the
season opener against Round Rock on April 8th. Of course, we hope you
make it out to Zephyr Field instead!

You can also check out the Zephyrs’ parent club, the Florida Marlins,
in three spring training games televised on MLB Network this month:

Tuesday, March 16th @ Atlanta
Wednesday, March 17th vs. Atlanta
Friday, March 19th vs. St. Louis

All games start at noon central time.

The Fish started their spring training schedule today with a game
against the University of Miami. Ricky Nolasco and Ryan Tucker, who
both had short stints with the Z’s last year, were scheduled to work
two innings apiece.

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