The Stockton Ports, the High-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics took home the 2011 California League North Division championship with a series win over the Modesto Nuts. Check out this video of the post game celebration. 46 year old manager Webster Garrison, who was a career 0-9 with a walk in his five game major league career with the A’s back in 1996, shows his young ball club that he still has some dance moves left over from his playing days. Following the show by Garrison, the team continues the party pounding out a rhythm beat on stools, buckets, laundry baskets, and anything else they can find. It’s pretty cool. The Ports went on to lose to the Lake Elsinore Storm in California League finals.
The folks at InsideTheRockies.com have put up a phenomenal piece chronicling Tyler Matzek‘s return to Low-A Asheville following nearly a month long return to California to work with his youth pitching coach Lon Fullmer, and return to the hybrid version of the Dr. Mike Marshall pitching style that he had grown up with. See below for the differences in Matzek’s delivery between high school in 2009 and now as a pro in 2011. The pitching techniques taught by Dr. Marshall, the 1974 National League Cy Young Award Winner and a Ph.D. in Kinesiology, are all but blackballed by major and minor league pitching coaches. Among the drills that are part of the program is pitching with 20 pound wrist weights and using an iron ball (see video below). The Inside the Rockies article goes in-depth with Fullmer who describes returning Matzek to the style of pitching he grew up with. The drastic action of sending Matzek home came about after the lefty got off to a 0-5 start with an ERA of 10.71, and 61 walks in 42 combined innings between High-A Modesto and Low-A Asheville. It will be interesting to see what kind of a difference the change in approach makes for Matzek, who was the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Again the Inside the Rockies piece is a must read.
Matzek set to start for Asheville on Wednesday — InsideTheRockies.com
UPDATE: Matzek went 4IP, 0ER, 2H, 5BB, 6K in his return to Asheville on Wednesday.
UPDATE #2: Matzek went 5IP, 2ER, 4H, 3BB, 8K, WIN in his second start back.
Tyler Matzek throwing for Capistrano Valley High School in 2009:
Tyler Matzek throwing for High-A Modesto on April 30th:
Mike Marshall wrist weight & iron ball pitching drills:
Mike Marshall breaks down his pitching motion:
Since being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the second round of the 2009 draft out of El Toro High School in California, all Nolan Arenado has done is hit. The 20 year old is a career .307 and is currently blistering the California League to a tune of a .310 average with 24 Doubles, 1 Triple, 11 Home Runs, and 74 RBI’s as a member of the Modesto Nuts. Among the most impressive stats from Arenado’s career thus far is that he’s struck out in just 108 of his 924 career at-bats, a rate of just over 11 percent. Equally as impressive is that over 37 percent of his hits go for extra bases. Arenado played in the 2011 Futures Game and did what he does best, hitting a double off Royals pitching prospect Kelvin Herrera. We hope you enjoy our Q&A with Nolan Arenado.
TPA: What was it like being around all of the best prospects in baseball at the Futures Game?
Nolan Arenado: It was a blast. It felt so good being around players you hear and read about, and some of them I know personally, like my high school classmate Austin Romine of the Yankees.
TPA: What were some of the things you will take with you from the Futures Game experience?
Nolan Arenado: We were treated so well. All of the attention on us was nice. Playing for such a big crowd was awesome and Chase Field is a great ballpark. It was an honor representing the Rockies. You never know if an opportunity like this will come up again, so I just tried to enjoy every minute.
TPA: After a slow start to the season offensively in 2011, you’ve been one of the hottest bats in the minors over the last month or so. What adjustments did you make to help lead to your recent success?
Nolan Arenado: I did start out slow but I didn’t panic. I made some small tweaks to my swing. I have since tried to stay consistent with what I’m doing at the plate.
TPA: What type of approach and swing thought do you take with you to the plate?
Nolan Arenado: I want to drive the ball. I look for a fastball to hit. I try to do what the situation dictates, and not try to do too much.
TPA: You did a bunch of Perfect Game events when you were in high school, describe that experience, and how seeing the some of the best prep pitching in the country at the time helped prepare you for pro ball?
Nolan Arenado: Perfect Game was a good experience. The more I did them, the more confidence I got. You definitely improve when you play against better competition.
TPA: What’s been your biggest challenge thus far in your pro career?
Nolan Arenado: It is a long season. So, staying consistent in my hitting is a challenge at times.
TPA: Being from Southern California what has it been like getting to play some of your road games this year in cities close to home?
Nolan Arenado: That’s one of the best parts. I’ve been lucky to have my family and friends come out and watch me play. Their support means a lot.
TPA: What has been your best memory so far as a pro?
Nolan Arenado: I am going to have to say the Futures Game so far. I had extended family come out as well, and it was great seeing them. On the field, meeting and talking to pro players was unforgettable. Also, another highlight was working out with Tulo this past winter.
Check out the clips below to see some of what Arenado experienced while at the Futures Games
Arenado’s Double In The Game
Arenado’s Fan Fest Interview with MLB.com
Another Futures Game Interview With MLB.com