April 2014

A (non) Typical Day

Well yesterday had a little bit of everything, but most importantly two Chiefs wins to start this series and roadtrip. Alex Reyes got the win in game one as the Chiefs won 11-6. The nightcap was delayed by rain but the Chiefs won in extras 6-3. Here are today’s Game Notes as the Chiefs go for three straight wins in Beloit. As you’ll see in the game notes, Jimmy Reed starts here tomorrow and Silfredo Garcia in game one at Cedar Rapids Friday. After that the rotation is up in the air due to the rainouts.

Today is the final game of April and the Chiefs at 15-8 have a chance for the 3rd best April in team history with a win. Also Ronald Castillo has 18 RBI with one game left. Here is how he stacks up among Chiefs RBI leaders in April since 2000:

26 – Travis Hanson 2003
21 – Greg Rohan – 2011
20 – Rebel Ridling – 2009
19 – Gabe Johnson – 2002
18 – Jacob Wilson – 2013  & Ronald Castillo 2014
17 – Mason Katz – 2014
16 – Ryan Harvey – 2005
16 – Greg Rohan – 2010

People ask me often what I enjoy most about my job. #1 is obviously the Play by Play and the games themselves. Being on the air and broadcasting is my passion and what I enjoy the most. But #2 is that no two days are the same. This isn’t a typical 9-5 job or a desk job and I like that you never know what will happen. Here’s a run down of yesterday to show just now non-typical it is:

9:00 am – An early text from the office got me moving to answer emails and work on a few items for the MWL Prospects Card set. I also finished gamed notes and worked on a blog entry over coffee.
11:30 am – After posting the blog it was off to walk across the parking lot to Wendy’s for lunch and enough time to check my fantasy baseball teams
12:30 pm – Bus to the stadium, unpacking in the press box and talking with a couple people back in the office. Then down to get the Chiefs lineup, go over stats and talk with Manager Joe Kruzel.
2:00 pm – With the rain coming down BP was cancelled so I watched some of the BP in the cages and then sat in the clubhouse talking with some players and staff.
2:30 pm – Back to the press box to get ready for the game writing in lineups and stats and talking with the Beloit guys.
4:00 pm – First pitch for game one.
6:30 pm – Chiefs win game one 11-6. Pretty clear we won’t start game two on time but given a 7pm start time so a quick run to the concession stand for dinner and get quotes from Joe Kruzel on game 1.
7:00 pm – Still no word on a start time but tarp is on the field so I finish the game 1 recap, email it to Peoria media, post on the website and social media while also making a graphic for Player of the Game. Post game 2 lineup and enter stats/lineup into scorebook while eating.
8:06 pm – Game two finally starts. Chiefs in 6-3 in extra innings.
10:45 pm – Write game 2 recap and make Player of the Game graphic. Pack up. Head to clubhouse for quote from Joe.
11:15 pm – Finish game article on bus, post to website and email to Peoria media while posting to social media.
11:30 pm – Bus back to hotel. Attempt stop at Applebee’s but restaurant is closed. So is Wendy’s so we go back to hotel
11:45 pm – Full on search for food leads to Taco Bell inside the Pilot truck stop as the only thing open.
Midnight – Eat. Walk back to hotel. Make sure everything posted to website and social media. RT some links from Peoria media
12:45 am – Read a couple chapters in my spy novel and go to bed around 1:15.

In case you missed it this morning, here’s a blog update by Chris on former Chiefs in MiLB. Tarp is on the field today so the bus to the park was pushed back to 4pm. I’ll have a lineup on twitter after we get there. Broadcast pre-game starts at 6:10 with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30.

Former Chiefs Tearing Up the Minors

This week, we will take a look at some former Chiefs who are still playing in the minor leagues, but making a push to not stay where they are for too much longer.

RHP Zach Petrick began the year with Double-A Springfield, going 2-0 with a 0.48 ERA in three starts. As a result of his domination, he was promoted to Triple-A Memphis, making his first start with the Redbirds on April 21. He took a no decision, but allowed only three runs in six innings. He was the losing pitcher in his next start, but the Cardinals 17th-ranked prospect is one step away from the majors.

RHP Kurt Heyer has been with Springfield all season and after a very rough season debut, he has allowed one run in each of his four other starts. He went seven innings twice and six innings two more times, earning two wins. He currently sports a 2.93 ERA, which is skewed high from the six runs in 4 2/3 innings game he pitched on Opening Day.

RHP Joe Donofrio has a 1.69 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings over 10 games for Springfield. He also picked up his first save of the season on April 27.

There are three players for Advanced-A Palm Beach who are shining. LHP Kyle Helisek is 0-1 but owns a 1.59 ERA. He gave up three runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings in his loss and only three earned runs total in his three no decisions. SS Alex Mejia leads the team with a .310 batting average and 2B Jacob Wilson has a team-best 19 RBI to go with a .292 average.

Many former Chiefs still in the Cubs organization are thriving in 2014. Triple-A Iowa has gotten to first place in the standings mainly due to their pitching. LHP Eric Jokisch is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA and has three quality starts in five games. RHP Marcus Hatley has allowed one run on three hits in 10 innings, spanning nine games. He has 17 strikeouts and two walks as opponents are batting just .091. RHP Alberto Cabrera is 2-0 in seven games out of the bullpen. He has given up just two runs on eight hits in 12 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts. Offensively, 2B Arismendy Alcantara is second on the team with a .299 average while playing in all 23 games. The Cubs sixth-ranked prospect also leads the team with 26 hits, 15 RBI, four triples, seven stolen bases, and 47 total bases.

Pitching has also helped Double-A Tennessee, especially the bullpen. RHP PJ Francescon is 2-1 in seven games out of the bullpen with a 1.35 ERA, while LHP Hunter Cervenka owns a 2-0 record and 1.59 ERA in eight relief outings. The hitting stars include C Rafael Lopez, who is tied for the team-lead with a .298 average and 1B Dustin Geiger who is tied with Cubs number-two prospect Kris Bryant for the team-lead with five homeruns.

At the Single-A level, OF Bijan Rademacher owns a .375 average for Advanced-A Daytona and SS Marco Hernandez is second at .320. RHP Zach Cates has a 1.46 ERA in six relief appearances. At Kane County, OF Yasiel Balaguert has a .320 average and team-best 18 RBI.

Other players outside of those two organizations who are doing well through the season’s first month include Blake Lalli, who is being converted to full-time catching duties for the Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate Reno. He’s batting .280 through his first 18 games this season.

LHP Jeff Beliveau hasn’t allowed a run over 12 1/3 innings this year, which includes two perfect innings with the Rays in early April. With Triple-A Durham he has allowed three hits and struck out 19.

RHP Josh Kinney has allowed one earned run in 10 innings with Indianapolis, the Triple-A affiliate of Pittsburgh.

1B Justin Bour is with Miami’s Triple-A affiliate New Orleans and is batting .352 with eight doubles and only seven strikeouts in 88 at bats. He also has a .412 OBP and .545 slugging percentage.

Double Header Game Notes & Lineup

The tarp just came off the field (2:15 pm) and players on both teams are throwing and running in the outfield.Nate's Stat Line That’s a great sign that we will at least get started today in our scheduled 4pm double header. Here again are today’s Game Notes with pages on Alex Reyes and Nick Petree. In case you missed this morning’s post, check it out for links to articles on Petree and Carson Kelly plus interviews and highlights from the last homestand.

As you can see to the right I’m still downing the Mountain Dew but need to get another Dozer Dog on our next homestand!

This Beloit team is off to an 8-14 start and they are not prospect-loaded as they were last year. CF BJ Boyd is Baseball America’s #20 prospect but he is the only position player ranked. Tonight’s game 2 starter Dylan Covey is ranked #8 and tomorrow’s starting pitcher Ronald Herrera is #14. Their fourth prospect is starter Kyle Finnegan at #16 but we are not expected to see Finnegan this series. The only top 3 draft pick on the roster is third baseman BA Vollmuth who was a 2011 3rd round pick. Vollmuth was in Burlington in 2012 and has hit for power in the minors but not average.

Both teams kept the same lineup from last night to game one today. The Chiefs have:

McElroy CF
Herrera SS
Kelly C
Castillo DH
Peoples-Walls LF
Bosco RF
Valera 2B
Stone 1B
Schulze 3B
Alex Reyes RHP

The way the Chiefs have played double headers so far this season, expect Steve Bean to catch game two and both Mason Katz and Matthew Young to be in the lineup somewhere with Nick Petree on the hill. The Chiefs are 3-1 in DH games this season with both DH’s coming on the road.

The broadcast starts at 3:45 on the MiLB Inside the Park App powered by Boomaphone, on the Chiefs network through Tune-in Radio or on our website and Apps. We will have interviews between games and as always follow @PeoChiefsGame on Twitter for in-game updates if you can’t listen!

Links, Highlights & Interviews

It’s Two-for-Tuesday as the Chiefs play a double header at Beloit today at 4pm. Here are the Double Header Game Notes with Alex Reyes starting game one and Nick Petree starting game two. Petree needs one shutout inning to pass Justin Pope for the Chiefs longest shutout streak to start a season since 2000. Sean Gallagher holds the Chiefs record for 40 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run in 2005 though Gallagher gave up seven unearned runs during his streak.

As you get ready for our double header today, check out this article on Nick Petree from the Tuesday Peoria Journal Star by beat writer Dave Eminian. Also Carson Kelly was profiled by Dan Makarewicz in the Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus this week.

We sure had a busy homestand and both my interns Chris Shuker and Dylan Corbet did some great work. Chris did a handful of interviews for the radio pre-game shows and I want to make sure they get some play so here is his work from the week:

Chris Perry Interview from Tuesday:

Chris Thomas Interview from Thursday:

Jimmy Reed Interview from Saturday:

Michael Schulze Interview from Sunday:

Manager Joe Kruzel from Monday with Nathan

As our producer Dylan is in charge of editing audio and highlights. He has created a new broadcast opening which was going to debut Monday and will now air for the first time Tuesday. He edited all these highlights from the homestand and here are the top 5 plays of the 5-1 homestand:

Steve Bean’s single puts the Chiefs on top 3-2 Saturday:

Katz 3-run HR for a 3-2 lead Friday:

Bean’s FC breaks a 0-0 tie in the 7th inning Wednesday:

Petree sets a new career high for strikeouts with his 8th on Tuesday in a 4-1 win:

Jake Stone’s 2-run double in the 8th puts the Chiefs on top Monday:

We were able to get the on-field Ameren Illinois Chiefs Countdown pre-game show Interviews cut this week as well, great work by Matt and Brian from ScheffTech Productions

Kenny Peoples-Walls

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Matthew Young

Arturo Reyes

Blake McKnight

Chiefs Game Notes and Lineup

Well we made it to Beloit to start a 4-game series and 7-game roadtrip. The Chiefs, who are 8-3 at home, will play 14 of the next 17 games on the road with another trip to Clinton and Cedar Rapids Iowa May 8-14. The bad news for today is that the tarp is currently on the field: photo (5)

Assuming we do play here are the Game Notes and the Lineup:

McElroy CF
Herrera SS

Kelly C
Castillo DH
Peoples-Walls LF
Bosco RF
Valera 2B
Stone 1B
Schulze 3B
Alex Reyes RHP

The rest of the rotation for this series will be: Nick Petree, Arturo Reyes and Jimmy Reed against Beloit.

A win tonight gives the Chiefs 14 in April, tying the 2014 team with the 2010 team for the third most since 2000. The 2002 MWL Champions went 18-6 in April and the 2003 squad went 16-9 after starting 7-0 and 10-1. All-time the 1989 team also went 18-6 in April while the 1997 team went 15-8. With three games left in April the Chiefs have the chance for the 3rd best opening month in team history by winning three to get to 16-8.

The Chiefs did make their first roster move of the season today as RHP Jhonny Polanco was added with RHP Joe Scanio landing on the DL. Assuming we don’t get rained out, look for a post-game blog post and as always follow on twitter @PeoChiefsGame listen live on the Tune-In App, the Boomaphone MiLB Inside the Park App or on the Chiefs Website.

Behind Enemy Lines with QC Beat Writer Plus Game Notes

Today I want to try something different as we get ready for the series against Quad Cities. During the off-season I freelance in both radio and print for high school sports (Football, volleyball, basketball, etc) and this past winter I wrote for the Dispatch-Argus out of Rock Island in the Quad Cities. It just so happens that Dan Makarewicz who got me working with the good people at the Dispatch-Argus is also the River Bandits beat writer. So I thought it would be fun to pick his brain about the River Bandits before this three-game series starts. I’ve seen this done in college sports quite a bit where bloggers will ask bloggers from the other team questions before their teams play and thought it could work here. My questions are in bold and Dan’s answers follow.

1.  Through the first two homestands what jumps out at you about this River Bandits team?
“This is a team with a lot of potential. I would not say it has as much talent as the club did at this point last year, but there are some intriguing prospects. RHP Andrew Thurman has the look of a potential ace and position players such as James Ramsay, Brett Phillips and Tanner Mathis show promise. This is more of a veteran roster that had success in Greeneville and Tri-City. Should be some good times ahead.”
2. Obviously the talent from last year was extreme with two #1 picks and numerous other prospects and the Bandits proved the talent was there winning the MWL title. As a beat writer with the 2013 season and all the story lines, what were a couple of your favorites ?
I’d say my stories on prospect/3rd baseman Rio Ruiz and then on the two #1 picks Mark Appel and Carlos Correa.
3.  The prospects in 2014 seem to be mostly pitching, who has stood out to you so far this season?
“Pitching can be rough early in the season, but Thurman has been impressive his last three outings. His last start, he had eight strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. In his last 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed one run with 18 strikeouts. Kent Emanuel (Friday’s starter in Peoria) also has been solid, crafting a 3.00 ERA and a WHIP below 1.”
4.  Manager Omar Lopez appears to have a lot of fun and also a good relationship with the media. From your perspective what is his style and how does his personality come through with his players?
“Great, great guy. In my opinion, he is what you want with a manager. He never gets too high or too low. His demeanor remains the same after a win or loss. Such a pleasure covering him. The players seem to respond well. Omar is demanding, but only because he has high expectations. Obviously, it worked well last year. The vibe inside the clubhouse is the players respecting him and enjoying him as their manager.”
5.  Quad Cities, and the Astros, exclusively use the piggyback/tandem system. Can you explain to the fans what this means and how it sets up the River Bandits for a typical series?
“A start gets five innings or 75 pitches (whatever comes first). The second pitcher gets 60 pitches or four innings. If the start does not work five innings, a reliever will take the hill. The second pitcher will not come in before the sixth. The numbers, at least for now, are strict. There are four tandems. If you start on one day, your next appearance will be as a reliever.”
6.  What impact have the Astros had on QC (where I assume it is mostly Cubs and Cardinals fans) in their first season plus as an affiliate with the River Bandits?
“A big one. The negative is the Astros not having a huge following here. However, the Bandits made history last year with Appel and Correa playing here. The prospects Houston has sent here have been outstanding. If there is anything as a perfect fit, the Astros are that right now.”
7.  Quad Cities native Thomas Lindaeur gets to join the hometown team this week and while he won’t have played a home game before coming to Peoria what kind of buzz is there around the QC for a local kid to play for the Bandits?
“Big buzz. The one thing that makes the Quad-Cities, particularly on the Illinois side, so special is how it supports local products. We saw that with Chasson Randle’s run in the NCAA Tournament (With Stanford). There is a lot of buzz surrounding Lindauer’s arrival. He had a great career at Moline, plus helped the Post 246 team make the 2010 American Legion World Series. People are excited he has reached the Bandits.” Editor’s Note: Lindauer had a 2HR, 5 RBI game on Tuesday at Clinton and is 6-for-14 (.429) to start his MWL career
8. Finally what is your favorite Modern Woodmen Park concessions item that Chiefs fans who make the drive up for the two June series should enjoy?
“I always enjoy the Walking Taco, which you can get along the third-base line. It’s made with Happy Joe’s chips, which are delicious.”

Big thanks to Dan for taking the time to join our blog today. He also is working on an article on Chiefs catcher Carson Kelly for the Dispatch-Argus and when it posts I will link it on social media and the blog.

After last night’s rain out, the sun is out bright today and it is nice and warm as we get ready to host the Bandits. Here are today’s Game Notes and lineup:

photo (3)

Sights & Sounds from DARE Day

The Chiefs won 2-0 yesterday, our annual DARE Day game. The DARE Day game always brings thousands of 5th graders from Central Illinois who have completed the DARE Program to the Chiefs game as a reward. Dave Eminian, our great beat writer from the Peoria Journal Star had some of the DARE kids ask questions to the Chiefs players and staff and incorporated the answers into his game story. The Journal Star also put together a photo gallery by Fred Zwicky

Our CBS affiliate WMBD – 31 has highlights of the first Chiefs run plus a Blake McKnight strikeout.

Here are the Chiefs in-house highlights

And a Dennis Sievers slideshow of photos from the day

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Pujols cranks out two in Angels win, joins 500 club

Angels first baseman, and former Chiefs third baseman, Albert Pujols came into Tuesday’s game against the Nationals just two homers shy of the illustrious 500 club. Fans in the ballpark weren’t expecting the feat to be accomplished that night, as no player has had a multi-homerun game in order to reach 500; there is a first time for everything.

Pujols bombed a three-run shot off Nationals starting pitcher Taylor Jordan in the first inning and then cranked out number 500 off Jordan again in the fifth inning, a two-run shot.

Pujols became the first player in MLB history to hit number 499 and 500 in the same game. He is also the 26th player to reach 500 homeruns. Pujols, who recently turned 34, is the third youngest player to reach 500, behind Alex Rodriguez and Jimmie Foxx who were both 32.

After two “down” years with the Angels, following 11 incredible seasons with the Cardinals, this is exactly the start the fans, and the ballclub, wanted to see from Pujols for the 2014 season. Pujols currently leads the MLB with eight homeruns and is tied for second in RBI with 19.

Pujols played 109 games with the Chiefs in his first season with the Cardinals organization back in 2000. He batted .324 with 17 homeruns and 84 RBI. Pujols’ season with the Chiefs was his longest stint with a minor league ball club before being moved up to the Cardinals in 2001.

Pujols enjoyed a fabulous career with the St. Louis Cardinals, which included two World Series rings, three NL MVP honors, one batting title, nine All-Star appearances, and 455 homeruns.

Here are highlights of Pujols’ milestone homeruns from the very first to the illustrious number 500:

MiLB teams with 500 HR Hitters

Albert Pujols hit his 500th career MLB home run tonight making him the 2nd ex-Chiefs player ever to get to the 500 HR mark in the Majors. I was curious how that stacked up among all other MiLB teams so here are where the other 25 members of the 500 HR Club played Minor League Baseball.

# HR Player A-Ball High A DoubleA Triple A
1 762 Barry Bonds None Prince William& None Hawaii
2 755 Hank Aaron Eau Claire Jacksonville* None None
3 714 Babe Ruth None None None None
4 660 Willie Mays None None Trenton Minneapolis
5 654 Alex Rodriguez Wisconsin None Jacksonville Tacoma/Calgary
6 630 Ken Griffey Jr Bellingham (Rk) San Bernadino Vermont None
7 612 Jim Thome Burlington (Rk) Kinston Canton Col Springs/Charlotte (NC)
8 609 Sammy Sosa Gastonia Charlotte (FL) Tulsa OK City/Vancouver
9 586 Frank Robinson Ogden (Rk) Columbia Tulsa None
10 583 Mark McGwire None Modesto Huntsville Tacoma
11 573 Harmon Killebrew None Charlotte (NC)$ Chattanooga Indianapolis
12 569 Rafael Palmeiro Peoria None Pittsfield Iowa
13 563 Reggie Jackson Lewiston Modesto Birmingham None
14 555 Manny Ramirez Burlington (Rk) Kinston Canton Charlotte (NC)
15 548 Mike Schmidt None None Reading Eugene
16 536 Mickey Mantle None None None None
17 534 Jimmie Foxx None None None None
18 521 Willie McCovey Sandersville Danville Dallas Phoenix
19 521 Frank Thomas GCL White Sox Sarasota Birmingham None
20 521 Ted Williams None None None None
21 512 Ernie Banks None None None None
22 512 Eddie Mathews None None None None
23 511 Mel Ott None None None None
24 509 Gary Sheffield Helena Stockton El Paso Denver
25 504 Eddie Murray# Asheville Miami Charlotte (NC) Rochester
26 498 Albert Pujols Peoria Potomac None Memphis

*Jacksonville was D League – Not the Suns
&Prince Williams became Potomac in 1999
$Charlotte (NC) Hornets, NOT Knights
#Murray also played Rookie Ball in Bluefield

HRs Affiliate: Players
1671 Charlotte: Ramirez, Thome & Murray
1262 Potomac/Prince Williams: Bonds, Pujols
1237 Tacoma: Arod & McGwire
1195 Tulsa: Sosa & F. Robinson
1167 Canton/Akron & Kinston: Thome & Ramirez
1146 Modesto: McGwire & Jackson
1084 Birmingham: Jackson & Thomas
1069 Peoria: Palmeiro & Pujols

Check out some photos of Pujols and Palmeiro in a Peoria uniform.

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About Last Night

First the game – The Chiefs beat Cedar Rapids last night 5-3. Here is the game recap from the Chiefs website plus the story from the Peoria Journal Star’s Dave Eminian with a few notes from the game but a lot on the Monday ring ceremony.

Lot to like from Monday’s game.

  • Alex Reyes threw strikes and pitched to contact, limiting the walks he had issued in his first two starts. He also displayed the sick curveball that scouts love.
  • Chris Perry cruised through 3 2/3 innings allowing just a solo homer and also did his job backing up third to get a crucial out on an overthrow in the fifth inning. Sometimes it really is the little things that lead to a win. If he isn’t backing up third there, Vavra likely scores for a 3-1 Cedar Rapids lead and the #3 hitter is coming to the plate. Instead, getting the out at third kept the Chiefs deficit at one run and the play ended the inning.
  • Clutch hits all night long from Kenny Peoples-Walls, Mason Katz and Jake Stone.
  • The Chiefs scored twice with 2 outs in the 6th inning to take a 3-2 lead.
  • Great approaches at the plate by Steve Bean (3 walks) and Carson Kelly (3b, 1b, robbed by the 1st baseman of a RBI).
  • A clean 1-2-3 inning by Joe Scanio for his first save since 2012.
  • Chiefs sure looked more comfortable at home than they did last weekend in Fort Wayne. Hopefully a good sign for this homestand.

Highlights from Monday’s win from the Chiefs YouTube Page:

WMBD 31 had highlights of Reyes and a piece on the Chiefs coaches receiving their NL Championship rings with soundbites from Jason Simontacchi and Joe Kruzel plus a bonus on Patrick Cramer!

WEEK 25 also did a story on the ring ceremony as well and in case you missed it over the weekend here’s a great piece from Lee Hall of WEEK on Chiefs manager Joe Kruzel