October 2008

Last Week of October

     Hey fans. We are into the last week of October and our half-way point in the season. The level of baseball is up and down. There are a lot of stand-out performances, but the complete game seems to be lacking. Overall the whole league seems to be hitting the ball very well, whereas the pitching and defense are taking a backseat. The condition of the fields and some tired arms could be to blame. As a pitcher myself I have had some trouble keeping the ball down, and hitters of this caliber are taking advantage of these mistakes, which leads me to my next topic, the importance of pitching inside.

     As with any level and especially with better hitters pitching inside can make or break pitchers outings and careers. A lot of pitchers are afraid to pitch inside because they might hit the batter, giving him a free base, or they are more confident thowing the ball as far away from the hitters eyes as possible. Yet when a pitcher constantly throws the ball to the far end of the plate the hitter picks up on this and alters his approach by diving onto that side of the plate. By doing this he over-compensates to the pitch, taking away its effectiveness. Now there are two ways to pitch inside to batters, one is pitching in for effect and the other is pitching in for a strike. Pitching in for effect prevents that hitter from diving onto the outer edge of the plate. Now the hitter knows that the pitcher will pitch inside, therefore keeping him honest to both sides of the plate. Pitching in for effect is not meant to be a strike, just a purpose pitch so the hitter is aware of the pitchers capabilities. Pitching in for a strike is pretty straight forward. When throwing strikes inside the pitcher shows he is not afraid to throw the ball anywhere he wants, regardless of whether it hits the batter or not, resulting in a well-rounded pitcher.

     I mention pitching inside because it looks like the hitters, in general, are too comfortable and therefore are diving to the outer edge of the plate. Pitching inside is paramount in this league and higher levels because if you don’t it gives the hitter an advantage. Knowing hitters, I know they will take advantage of any edge they can get.

     Till next week fans…

Guest Blogger: Jared Hughes

hughes_jared2.jpg

Hey everyone!  I’m Jared Hughes and I’m really stoked to have the opportunity to have an entry in the blog. I greatly appreciate everyone who decides to read it.

I’d like to start off with a few interesting facts about myself to help you get to know me better.  My name is Jared Hughes but I also go by any one of the following aliases: Bull, Ostrich, Spaghetti, Gumby, Huggies, Billy.  I grew up in Southern California and I pitched for the Long Beach State Dirtbags in 2005 and 2006.  In 2006 I was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and ever since I have been grinding my way through the minor leagues en route to Pittsburgh.  I played this past season with the Lynchburg Hillcats  and the Altoona Curve and now I have been given the tremendous opportunity to play ball out here in Scottsdale, AZ for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

As an old mentor of mine would say…

“Glad to be here!”
-Ken Ravizza

The level of play in the fall league has been top notch so far.  The competition seems to always capitalize on mistakes.  The most successful players have been nearly flawless in executing their game plans.  I had a coach in little league (Coach Bob) who once told me:

“There are two types of errors: mental errors and physical errors.  A mental error is when you are lazy, you aren’t prepared, or you aren’t focused.  A physical error is when you gave it your all and just couldn’t make the play.”

Every player makes ‘physical errors’, they are part of the game.  Baseball is a game of failure, no player never faulters.  However, ‘mental errors’ are avoidable, and I’ve quickly learned that in higher levels of baseball, ‘mental errors’…put simply…cause big problems.

So the plan for the next month in Arizona is to stay focused, have fun, and work hard.  If I can stay focused and steer clear of those ‘mental errors’ I will give my team a good chance to win when I’m on the mound.  Hopefully with that good chance to win I can help the team turn things around and we can make a run at the Arizona Fall League championship.

Thanks for reading,

Jared Hughes

Pirates Baseball

     Hey fans.  Week two of the AFL has picked up for the Scottsdale Scopions improving our record to 5-8 and sitting just three games from first place.  We just finished up our game tonight and unfortunately we can up with the short end of the stick losing 10-6.  We are still showing promise and our hitters average and runs per game are among the best in the league. 

     This is a short week for most of the players in the AFL, giving us a day off for the Rising Stars game this Friday.  The Rising Stars game is basically an all-star game for the AFL, but more importantly its the players who are potentally closest to the Major Leagues.  Representing the Pirates is Shelby Ford.  Ford has increased his average to .343 from last week and continues to play a solid second base.  I had the opportunity to play with Shelby this year and he is very hard-nosed.  Meaning he hustles every time he steps on the field and you can always expect full effort.    

      That’s it for this week, and I hope the fans stay tuned in.  If there are any questions along with the comments then I would be happy to answer them.  I would also like to thank everyone that has commented.   

First Week in the AFL

Hey Pirate fans.  Jeff Sues here for the weekly update.  Well its been a week of playing games for the Scottsdale Scorpions and its been a little rocky.  We have a lot of talent on this team and I think once we start firing on all cylinders we’ll turn it aroiund.  There is a high level of baseball in Arizona with pitchers throwing in the upper-90’s and hitters launching balls.  Its extremely impressive to see the best of the minor league players all one one field, and it looks like an all-star game with players wearing their minor leage affiliate jerseys. 

    After the first few days of extreme heat in Arizona its cooled down quite a bit and become rather pleasant.  The stands are filled with, sometimes up to 40 scouts, at each game, yet the attendance overall is about 100 to 300 people per game.  Its a very laid back atmosphere with lots of free time and a loose clubhouse.  Players realize that it’s a great opportunity to play in Arizona and are taking advantage of it by having fun and being competitive.

     There are a few Pirate minor leaguers that have started off pretty hot.  Steve Lerud is hitting .571 in his first two games, and Shelby Ford is hitting .304.  Pitchers Derek Hankins and myself are posting a 0.00 ERA in our first two games.

     So fans that’s the update for now and I’ll post again next week.  If there are any comments or questions don’t hesitate to post. 

    

     

Guest Blogger: Steve Lerud

Thumbnail image for Lerud.jpg

Hey everyone! Steve Lerud here from sunny Arizona.  I’m down here for these eight weeks representing the Pittsburgh Pirates playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions.  Our team is made up of players from the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Houston Astros, and San Francisco Giants.  I’m very excited to get this opportunity and look forward for what it has in store for all of us.  This is my first “blog” ever so bear with me…

I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada and still reside there in the off-season.  I don’t get to spend a whole lot of time there anymore but I’ll always consider it home.  I always loved baseball growing up and was a huge Matt Williams fan which in turn made me a San Francisco Giants fan.  Coming out of high school I was fortunate enough to get drafted in the 3rd round of the 2003 draft by Pittsburgh. Since then I’ve had my share of stints on the DL and personal issues that I couldn’t control.  I strongly believe that all of the adversity I’ve faced so far has made me a better player and person.  I finally made it through a full season with no set-backs and finished up in AA Altoona, PA. Enough about me now let’s get back to the Fall League.

We’ve been here for two weeks now and just finished up our first week of games.  The first few days our clubhouse was very quiet and all of the different teams hung around eachother.  Now that games have started everyone is getting to know eachother better which makes things much more laid back. The level of competition is definitely a step up from what a lot of us are used to.  Some of the best young players in the minor leagues are out here and it makes for some very fun games.  Every player on the field has the ability to change the game in some way.  The speed of the game picks up at every level and the Fall League is definitely no exception.  In my opinion, being around all this talent everyday makes everyone on the field better.  Our team has a lot of guys who have been in the big leagues and it’s really interesting to listen to what they have to say about what it takes to stick there.  We struggled a little in our first few games this week going 1-4.  We’re looking forward to turning things around this next week as we continue to gel as a team.  I want to thank MLB.com for asking me to share my experiences so far here in Arizona.  I hope it gave everyone a little more insight into the AFL. Thanks for reading…

All my best,

Steve Lerud

 

 

 

AFL Pittsburgh Pirates

Hello fans, Jeff Sues here from Arizona representing the Pittsburgh Pirates in the AFL along with seven other Minor League players from the Pirates. A little background about myself: I was drafted in 2005 in the fifth round. Unfortunately, I was unable to pitch right away due to a lingering arm injury that was diagnosed as a torn labrum during my first Spring Training in 2006. I had surgery, then finally made my debut in low A Hickory in the summer of ’07.  I was able to make eight starts for Hickory and I had a hard time adjusting to my first professional experience posting,  a 3-1 record with a 7.18 ERA.  I went into the offseason ready to prepare myself for ’08 Spring Training determined to play to my potential.  I accomplished my goals, starting out in Lynchburgh (high-A) and after posting a 2.11 ERA, then got promoted to Altoona (Double-A) and threw 43 innings, striking out 55 and posting a 3.77 ERA. After the season I was named the PPirates’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Receiving that award made me feel that all my hard work was not going unnoticed, It is a great honor and I am very thankful to be nominated from a group of exceptional athletes. Enough about me, I now travel back to the present.  Tonight is the first game starting the AFL, and everyone here is very excited.  I am playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions with the rest of the Pirates Minor Leaguers along with players from the Giants, Red Sox, Angels, and Astros.  Just from being at practice the last few days, I can see all talent on our team, watching batting practice is like watching home run derby. It’s impressive. Almost all the pitchers have live arms and plus stuff. Being around baseball this year and watching a few big leaguers come through Double-A I can see that there are many players that are on the brink of The Show. It will be an exciting seven weeks, and I will post a blog at least once a week to keep everyone in the loop.