Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Some Auburn Baseball Tidbits

 

The news post World Series is slow in the baseball world. The Offseason heats up slightly, teams get ready for Winter Meetings, and it basically moves at a snail’s pace until March. Still, there are a couple of news and notes Auburn related on the baseball front:

CLETE THOMAS:

You’re going to hear it hear first. If you play Fantasy baseball (especially if you are in a head to head league) draft Clete Thomas. No, don’t draft him early, but draft him and at least keep him stashed. He showed a lot of his potential last year and should (hopefully) get his first full year in the pros coming up. Personally, I’m going to draft him with the 3rd to last pick.

Here’s an old (July) article about Thomas and his second stint in the bigs with Tigers, showing Clete has a solid mindset:

"I figured out a few things (since his last time up with the Tigers)," the wide-eyed Thomas said with a blank expression. "Figured out how to keep me consistent up here and that I've got to stick to my key points, and that way I'll succeed."

If the Tigers do the right thing and dump Miggy Cabrera then Thomas should see ample playing time in 2010.

Thomas has become a bit of a fan favorite for the Tigers. Even inspring “Clete’s Cult” and Navy Blue T-Shirts (sidenote: WANT) But Detroit fans seem to split on him and his new found status. One blogger compares him snidely to Brandon Inge and tries to bullet point Clete’s popularity:

From what I can gather, here’s why people like Clete:

  • He’s a lefty.
  • He’s young.
  • He’s not paid all that much.
  • He’s got that blue-collar image going, people like that.
  • He has country music playing when he comes up to bat.
  • They think he’s “clutch”.
  • His name is Clete.

That’s all I can piece together.  Some of those points are the same points the Brandon Inge people have been making for years (just replace country music with lousy alternative rock).

To me the bottom line is this. Clete represents something unwritten about Baseball; fans make the superstars, not the stats. If he’s popular then he’s a star, it’s as simple as that. Also, there are worse players to be compared to than Brandon Inge.

Another thing adding to “Clete’s Cult”? Opportune hitting:

…of Clete Thomas' seven homers, five got the Tigers even or got them the lead.

And if you need more proof of “Clete’s Cult”. I give you one messageboard fans take:

"Clete Thomas always has a crazy look on his face. His eyes are just huge. He looks like at any minute he could snap and kill a guy..... or hit a baseball 422 feet"

Going in to 2010 he will competing with Ryan Raburn and Casper Wells for that third OF spot.

OTHER PLAYERS:

  • Former Tiger and Troy Trojan Mike Felix had a case of the brain farts:
    • The Pirates have indefinitely suspended pitcher Mike Felix, their second-round draft pick in 2006, after he was charged with a DUI early Friday morning and benched by short-season State College over the weekend. The Daily Collegian reported yesterday that Felix had a .19 percent blood alcohol level. Felix, a 24-year-old left-hander, has struggled immensely with control as a professional, though his 3.33 ERA in 10 appearances this season has been an upgrade.
  • Chris Bootcheck might be taking his game to Japan Soon:
    • Seems the Yokohama Bay Stars are now looking into Chris Bootcheck to be their closer for the 2010 season (and yet another indication that the team is ready to move forward with Shun Yamgauchi in the rotation next year). Bootcheck is a 30-year-old righty in the Pirates organization.  He has tossed a total 147.1 innings in the Majors over his career and has a 6.54 ERA (1.64 WHIP) to go along with a 3-7 record with 1 save. A Bay Stars rep said, "In another step forward in rebuilding our team, filling our closer position with a foreign player is a big goal of ours."
  • Brett Butts was named on of the Atlanta Braves Top Minor League Relievers:
    • Butts doesn't have overpowering stuff, working with an average fastball, slider, and changeup, but he's an advanced college player who knows how to pitch and, more importantly, how to pitch out of the bullpen. Like Valdez, Gunderson, and Hyde, he'll likely be invited to Atlanta's Major League Spring Training, and though he's apt to spend the majority of the season with AAA Gwinnett, there's a good chance that he could find himself as an option out of Atlanta's bullpen at some point in 2010
  • Levale Speigner is honing his game in Puerto Rico:
    • Major League veteran Levale Speigner struck out three over 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win as the Lobos sent the Leones to their fifth loss in six games.
  • Tug Hulett is now a Red Sox, after toiling with the Royals:
    • Perhaps the most encouraging part of Hulett’s minor league record is his ability to work counts and take walks. With about a 4:5 minor league walk to strikeout ratio, Hulett brings a great approach to the plate, though he has had trouble translating those skills to the majors, striking out 23 times in 67 at-bats. Still, with the limited sample size involved, the verdict is out as to Hulett’s ability at the major league level. Plugged into a utility role in the major leagues, Tugs could develop into a pleasant surprise for the big club. Entering his age-27 season, he still has the chance to turn his AAA successes into major league ones, so there’s reason to be optimistic about the Sox acquisition.

Finally, be sure to catch Hillary Gibbs article on Current Auburn Tiger Austin Hubbard:

"Three or four weeks before [my junior] season started last year, I started pitching better," said Hubbard. "At the team meeting before the season [the coaches] told me I was going to be closing games. That's what I like to be doing. I was more of the closer last year and that was a lot more fun than starting."

Through his trials and tribulations on the field, Hubbard, who throws a two-seam fastball, a cutter and is working on his changeup, has learned valuable lessons that will help him once he graduates and enters the career world.

"Baseball is a game of failure. It makes you mentally stronger," said Hubbard. "It also helps you work through adversity better than others. If you want something, you can do it. I was struggling my first two years here and now I've figured it out. I didn't transfer. I didn't quit on myself."

 

That’s it for now.

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