Results tagged ‘ Jon Keck ’

Don’t Be Fooled

Yes, the next four games conclude the regular season schedule, but, as the title implores, don’t be fooled. The next four games are, in essence, playoff games until the Royals win three or Danville wins two.

No funny story of witty anecdote today–just the playoff scenarios. If Burlington wins the series (either 3-1 or 4-0), then the Royals head to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. (NOTE: If there is a tie for second place at season’s end, which would be the outcome with a 3-1 Burlington series victory, then the Royals would get into the playoffs based on a tie-breaker, which is head-to-head record).

But if the Braves win or split the set, then the Royals are on the outside looking in and the Braves will go to the postseason for the sixth time in seven seasons.

With that as the backdrop, here are today’s Bullets.

BURLINGTON BULLETS:

  • Unfortunately, I do not have the game-by-game results in Burlington history before 2005, but it is safe to assume, by gandering at the final standings over recent history, that this is the biggest series for Burlington baseball in a long time. Even if the Braves sweep Burlington in this series, it will still be the closest Burlington has been to a playoff berth since 2001, when the Royals finished three back of Bluefield in the Eastern Division. Prior to that, the best finish was the last playoff appearance in 1993–when the Royals finished 44-24 and swept Elizabethton in the championship series.
  • Obviously, this league brings with it a great deal of turnover from year to year, but Burlington is trying to do something that hasn’t been done since 1984–make the playoffs after finishing the previous season in last place. Elizabethton went 28-42 in ’83 before taking the Southern Division and the league crown one year later with a 40-29 mark.
  • Unlike many fans and I, Burlington manager Nelson Liriano paid little attention to the standings prior to today. Now, the Royals know exactly what they need to do. “Probably tonight, before we go out, I will talk to the players. Then, everyone will be on the same page.” Liriano said about the playoff scenarios. “We’ve played well against them [Danville] so far all year, and we just need to continue with the same approach.”
  • From an importance perspective, these are big games, but Liriano is not putting any extra stock in them. “This is the regular season right now,” Liriano said. “If you put too much pressure on you and your team, it can go in a different direction.”
  • After losing eight straight series and sitting five games back of a playoff berth with 16 to go, Burlington has won four straight sets, including one against each of the two teams above the Royals in the standings right now (Pulaski and Danville). Thus, Liriano believes Burlington is playing its best baseball of the season. “I think so. Overall, we’re playing good baseball,” Liriano said. “That’s the key–finishing strong.”
  • I had a great chat with first-year hitting coach Damon Hollins prior to the game about his time with the B-Royals. Hollins has embraced his chance to help younger players try to get to the big leagues like he did. And, as a guy who knows about minor league baseball and its benefits, Hollins says being in a playoff race can be huge for a player now and in the future. “If you are having a down year, and you aren’t going anywhere, you can just show up and just keep going through the motions,” Hollins said. “But you can be struggling and you get out here in this series and you do something to help us get into the playoffs, that can make a year for you and that can carry over into next year and the next year after that.”
  • Burlington catcher Ryan Jenkins has put together a nice pair of games. The 17th-round pick back in June, Jenkins is 5-for-9 with a homer (his third) and three runs batted in. Prior to this two-game stretch, Jenkins had been just 5-for-26 (.192) over his previous eight contests.
  • By the way, Princeton kept its season alive last night with a 9-8 win over the Cardinals in Johnson City. The Rays need to win their final five games (at Elizabethton Saturday-Monday, at Bluefield Tuesday for a doubleheader) and get some help. One loss, and the Rays’ season is over.
  • Both teams did not take batting practice or infield today prior to the game. The Braves finished up a series at Greeneville and made the trek back last night, which is the longest trip within the Appalachian League (234 miles). Burlington also had a long trip back home from Kingsport (214 miles) and had physicals this morning, so the team arrived around 5 this afternoon.
  • Sad news out of Bluefield, W.Va., as Baltimore has ended its affiliation with the Bluefield Orioles. It was the longest relationship in minor league baseball (53 years). Thanks to WVVA sports reporter and a friend of mine, Jon Griffith, for the heads up. Here is the link to the story.
  • Every game of this series will feature an extended pre-game show. Tonight, the “Royals Series Report” gets going at 6:30 with interviews from Robbie Penny, Jon Keck and, as always, skipper Nelson Liriano. Tomorrow’s 6 p.m. first pitch brings with it a 5:30 pre-game start with the “Royals Rewind.” Then, we will take the air at 6:40 p.m. for the “Pre-Game Show brought to you by Best Western” Monday and Tuesday from Danville.

I really hope you enjoy this series. Soak it up, Burlington fans. This is as fun as it gets from a competitive standpoint in the Appalachian League. Shoot us an e-mail during the broadcast at burlingtonroyalsradio@gmail.com. Enjoy all of the coverage!

- Brian

Ten Royals Heading to Instructionals

Five pitchers and five position players from the Burlington Royals will take part in the 2010 Instructional League in Surprise, Ariz., this fall. Here is a look at the ten B-Royals and their stats so far in the Appalachian League (through Sunday’s action).

- Willian Avinazar (RHP/Free Agent, 2008/Valencia, VZ): 4-3 with a 2.79 ERA (second best on the team) in 58 innings.  
- Brian Fletcher (OF/2010 Draft, 18th Round/Fayetteville, GA): .313 average (5-for-16) with 2 HRs and 4 RBIs (currently out for the Appalachian League season after pulling a muscle a few weeks ago).
- Michael Giovenco (RHP/2010 Draft, 14th Round/River Grove, IL): 0-5 with a 6.81 ERA in 38.1 innings (began the season in the rotation but now is in the bullpen).
- Ryan Jenkins (C/2010 Draft, 17th Round/Millbrook, AL): .252 average with 2 HRs and 17 RBIs in 41 games.
- Jon Keck (LHP/2009 Draft, 42nd Round/Lexington, TN): 2-3 with a 4.95 ERA in 36.1 innings (began the season in the bullpen but is now in the rotation)
- Alex Llanos (OF/2008 Draft, 6th Round/Caguas, PR): .242 average with 20 RBIs and 15 SBs (tied for the team lead) in 53 games.
- Luis Piterson (2B/Free Agent, 2009/Cartahena, Colombia): .260 average (second among regulars on the team) with 5 HRs (team leader) and 26 RBIs (team leader) in 52 games.
- Leonel Santiago (RHP/Free Agent, 2007/Santo Domingo, DR): 5-2 with a 1.76 ERA (team lead among starters) in 71.2 innings. (Tied for the team lead with 60 Ks)
- Crawford Simmons (LHP/2009 Draft, 14th Round/Statesboro, GA): 5-2 with a 2.96 ERA in 67 innings. (Tied for the team lead with 60 Ks)
- Ryan Stovall (IF/2009 Draft, 19th Round/Live Oak, FL): .304 average (first among regulars) with 4 HRs (second on the team) and 22 RBIs (second on the team) in 54 games.

The regular blog post is under this one. For stats on every B-Royal, visit http://burlingtonroyals.com.

- Brian

He’s Super Strong

A paragraph of congratulations is in order for Burlington strength and conditioning coach Steve Gamma, who was named the Appalachian League Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. Each of the ten strength coaches in the league vote for the honor. Gamma is in his first season in the Royals organization. He will head to the California University of Pennsylvania for graduate work in exercise science.

Gamma has worked extremely hard to keep the players here in Burlington in great shape, and he is very deserving of the honor. In honor of “Stevie G,” here are today’s Bullets:

BURLINGTON BULLETS:

  • What a difference between 2009 and 2010 in so many ways for the Burlington Royals. Burlington manager Nelson Liriano knew what to expect last year with his team–he wasn’t given a great club. This year, Liriano was told the team was significantly better. And obviously, it has been true. Last night’s 6-3 win at Danville pushed the Royals past their ’09 win plateau of 24. In head-to-head match-ups, Burlington has outplayed the defending champion Danville Braves, a club that took all but one of its 11 games with the Royals. Burlington is 4-2 against the rivals to the north. 
  • Liriano smiled when I mentioned yesterday’s game, one of Burlington’s most complete efforts of the year. “It’s always good winning against the good teams,” Liriano said. “You build more confidence when the players know they can beat any team.”
  • A big reason the Royals beat a good team last night was new B-Royal infielder Michael Liberto’s three-run triple in the third. He got that shot after Danville elected to intentionally walk Luis Piterson. The 5’7″ product has had it happen before, and he uses it as motivation. “People look at me as a short guy who can’t hit it out of the infield,” Liberto said. “I just take it personally and try to do whatever I can to get a hit.”
  • The term “momentum” is thrown around all the time in sports. Liberto, though, is realistic when discussing the possible ramifications of the Royals’ offensive surge last night. “Baseball’s a weird game,” Liberto said. “One game you’ll get 13 hits. The next game you’ll get two. It’s just how it is. Hopefully we just keep this steady approach.”
  • Jon Keck worked into the sixth inning for the first time this season. While he did run into some trouble, he got some help from Michael Giovenco (more on him in a moment) and picked up his second straight win. A few starts ago, Liriano noticed that Keck was working very quickly and told him to slow down a bit in between pitches. “I saw that last night and I reminded him a couple of times,” Liriano said. “That’s big for him. He has talent. He has a good arm, and he showed that.”
  • Now to Giovenco, who has seemed to find a role in the Royals’ bullpen. The righty has been dominant in his last two efforts out of the ‘pen. He has scattered just two hits in five and a third frames, with all but two of those innings coming last night at Danville. “He threw really well,” Liriano said. “He continued to improve after he has become the long reliever. If he continues that way, he will be fine because he has a good arm.”
  • Adrian Martinez (knee) is still waiting for a decision on his health. Liriano said the team will wait until Saturday at the latest to determine his availability for the rest of the season. So, Liberto will remain the team’s shortstop. And should anything happen to Liberto, the back-up shortstop would be Ryan Stovall, who played some there during extended spring training. Stovall has played every infield position except for short during the Appalachian League slate.
  • Still no word on which B-Royals will be heading to Arizona for the Instructional League this fall. That information should reach the team in the next few days according to Liriano. Once I hear about it, I will get it up on the blog.
  • Burlington’s struggles against the Bristol White Sox are continuing to look more and more understandable as the Sox continue to roll. Bristol has won five in a row and ten of its last 15 dating back to the first of the month.
  • Former Royal reliever Ryan Wood debuted with Kansas City’s low-A affiliate, the Burlington Bees, last night. The righty allowed two runs in an inning and a third during the Bees’ 9-2 loss at home to Quad Cities last night.
  • Check out this long but incredible piece on the realities of minor league baseball from Mike Ashmore of the Trenton Thunder (the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate). It takes you inside the less-than-glamorous aspects of minor league baseball, and there are many. Special thanks to fellow broadcaster Adam Amin for the tweet about it.
  • Tomorrow is the club’s final day off in 2010, and the Blog will take a respite as well. Then, it’s a 13-day push for the playoffs. Buckle up, folks. It’s going to be fun to watch Burlington try to get to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Our pre-game coverage of Danville and Burlington begins at 6:45 with the Pre-Game Show brought to you by Best Western. As always, you can e-mail into the broadcast at burlingtonroyalsradio@gmail.com. Enjoy the broadcast!

- Brian

Gladiator + Nellie = Intensity

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is nothing like a bus ride with a baseball team. There are points of hilarity, peace and restlessness all balled into one unique experience. On the way back yesterday, the first of those things overshadowed the rest.

After finishing our first movie, some of the guys were throwing out suggestions for the second one. A few were suggested, but Burlington manager Nelson Liriano had it picked out already: Gladiator.

Nellie was getting pumped for this movie. He offered a few fake evil laughs and said, “This shows you life is tough,” while continuing his laugh a few times. Even though it was one in the morning, Nellie seemed like he was ready for a tripleheader.

Everyone, myself included, got a huge laugh out of it. And the Royals skipper was excited all the way until the bus pulled into Burlington.

Now, I will try to pump you up with the daily version of the Bullets.

BURLINGTON BULLETS:

  • The Royals have a chance to match last year’s win total this evening against Burlington. Last season was a struggle to be sure, and Liriano notices a different feel within the locker room in 2010. “I see this team having better starting pitchers and better defensive players,” Liriano said. “This team has a better mentality and a better approach for the game every day.”
  • Two guys who have provided great defense all season long are second baseman Luis Piterson and center fielder Alex Llanos. Lately, both of them have gotten on a roll offensively. Piterson has hit safely in his last five games (7-for-17) with a home run and three RBIs. “In the last couple of games, he is swinging the bat better,” Liriano said.
  • Llanos has also been hitting just shy of .300 (6-for-21) in his last six games. Last night, the former sixth-round selection had one of his biggest hits of the season–a two-run triple that pushed Burlington ahead 4-1 in the seventh. Llanos has had to switch from the leadoff spot to the sixth spot, which is not an easy thing to do. “Most of the time, it takes a little bit of time to adjust to a different spot in the lineup,” Liriano said. “No matter where you hit, you have to try to do the same thing.”
  • Daniel Hernandez made his first appearance since July 1 last night, and he had a problem finding the zone. He allowed two walks and a single and was removed because he was only slated to pitch one inning and had already thrown close to an inning’s worth of pitches. “I told him after the game, ‘When you are out that long, that will happen’,” Liriano said. Physically, everything felt fine according to Liriano, which is the best (and most important) development.
  • In back of Hernandez, Chas Byrne rolled through the Cardinals in his hometown of Johnson City, Tenn. When asked about Byrne’s effort last night, and really throughout the season (he has a 0.88 ERA in 30.2 innings), Liriano laughed and said, “Good players make good managers.” If Byrne could pitch every night, Liriano would have no equal in the Appalachian League.
  • Jon Keck’s third start was his best, going five strong innings against the league’s best offense last night. He notched his first win and stranded four men in scoring position. “He looked really shaky in the first inning, but he got out of that,” Liriano said. “After that, he had good command and he got out from a couple of tough innings because he threw some quality pitches.”
  • The 2010 All-Star Team ballots have gone out to all ten teams in the Appalachian League. The ballots must be submitted by August 25. The team consists of the following: 1 catcher, 1 first baseman, 1 second baseman, 1 shortstop, 1 third baseman, 1 utility infielder, 4 outfielders, 1 designated hitter, 1 left-handed pitcher, 1 right-handed pitcher and 1 relief pitcher. Also included on the ballet are the pitcher, player and manager of the year. I have a vote, as does Burlington General Manager Steve Brice and Burlington Times-News beat writer Bob Sutton. Voters cannot nominate players from the team that they primarily cover. I will reveal my votes on the blog when I send in my ballot.

Our pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 with the “Royals Series Report,” with the Pre-Game Show brought to you by Best Western at 6:45. Then it is game time at 7 live on burlingtonroyals.com. As always, we are e-mail accessible throughout the broadcast at burlingtonroyalsradio@gmail.com. Enjoy the broadcast!

- Brian

The Impossible Return

UPDATE (7:30 p.m.): Tonight’s game has been postponed due to rain. The full story is available on the Royals’ home page. Tomorrow’s double dip begins at 5 p.m., so our pre-game coverage starts at 4:45.

UPDATE (6:30 p.m.): Still no official word, but it is not looking good. We are not broadcasting yet, and we probably will not this evening. Twitter is struggling this evening as well, so we will keep you updated here.

UPDATE (6:05 p.m.): The rain continues to pour here in Burlington. The tarp is on the field, and there is plenty of rain still coming. There is no end in sight, so my guess is there will not be a game this evening. Stay tuned to our twitter for more information.

______________________________

Is there one thing, event, or moment that captures the essence of your passion, your life, or simply you? Is there one memory that you have that will always linger and will always evoke the purest of emotion? Personally, I can point to one day, above all others, that exemplifies why I am such a big baseball fan. It was nine years ago today at then Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The team I grew up rooting for, the Indians, trailed the 80-30 Seattle Mariners 14-2 through seven innings.

Cleveland scored three in the seventh and four in the eighth to trim the lead to 14-9. I will never forget when my dad, during the top of the ninth, pointed to the scoreboard and said, “It only makes sense. Three in the seventh, four in the eighth and five in the ninth.”

Sure enough, the Indians did score five in the ninth, capped off by an Omar Vizquel three-run triple that sent the most loyal of fans who stuck around into an unparalleled frenzy.

The Indians would go on to win it in 11 innings, 15-14. To this day, it is the greatest game I have ever attended. And yes, I did stay for the entire comeback.

I treat August 5th like an anniversary, and I always relive the comeback on this website. And what makes this especially memorable is the voice of Tom Hamilton, the “Voice of the Indians” and the man I look up to the most in the world of broadcasting. I try to bring a little bit of Hammy into each one of my broadcasts.

So with the P-Mariners in town, I am reminded of that one incredible night. The night that embodies my love for this game.

With that, here are some Bullets on this Thursday.

BURLINGTON BULLETS:

  • About five minutes before I started this blog, the Royals have inked a new pitcher. Jake Ramsey, a 6’2″ righty from Placerville, Calif., has joined the fold. Ramsey is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He made just three appearances for ORU in 2010 and was not selected in the June MLB Draft.
  • Another hurler with only a couple of appearances on the season, Daniel Hernandez, took another important step toward returning. He threw 30 pitches in a batting-practice-like manner to three Royals–Yunior Figueroa, Adrian Martinez and Derek Rodriguez. Everything appeared to go well, and the trio of hitters only put a few balls in play.
  • Hernandez has only made two appearances and one start, so it has been a challenge for him. “In college, they just want to win,” Hernandez said. “Here, there’s a pitch count. [You] can’t throw nine innings. So it’s a lot better here.”
  • Originally, Hernandez was told that Tommy John surgery may be the plan of action, but that plan has changed. The plan is for Hernandez to throw one more batting practice session in a few days and then throw one inning next Wednesday at Johnson City.
  • Burlington southpaw Jon Keck will make his second start of the season this evening, with his pitch count bumped up to around 70, ten more than his maximum during his last outing.
  • Keck will have quite an act to follow after Crawford Simmons worked seven and two-thirds Monday and Leonel Santiago went seven complete Tuesday. In a league that has only seen three complete games this season, those outings are remarkable.
  • Brian Fletcher is officially in the lineup for tonight’s tilt in the clean-up hole. This will be Fletcher’s first game in professional baseball after three great seasons at Auburn in the Southeastern Conference.
  • During the off day yesterday, I had a chance to see Kansas City’s advanced-A affiliate, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, play at gorgeous BB&T Field in Winston-Salem against the Dash. The “Blue Crew” snapped a five-game losing streak, pulling away from the White Sox affiliate 9-5. Make sure to check out all of the great work that Wilmington broadcaster John Sadak does with game notes, recaps and the actual broadcasts on the Blue Rocks site. Sadak was nice enough to invite me up to the booth to listen to a few innings of the action.
  • Kansas City’s Assistant General Manager for Scouting and Player Development J.J. Picollo is in Burlington today and tomorrow to check out the Royals. This is Picollo’s second full season as an assistant GM. He joined the Royals staff four years ago, coming from the Atlanta organization.

The weather in Burlington is very dicey for this evening. One Appy League game (Johnson City at Bristol) has already been postponed. Stay tuned to our twitter page (twitter.com/BRoyalsKC) for updates on the status of tonight’s game between second-place Pulaski and third-place Burlington. Enjoy the broadcast!

- Brian

Burlington’s Deadline Moves

When I was a kid, one of my favorite days was July 31st. My parents would let me stay up past my bedtime and watch all of the trade deadline specials on TV. It was the only day out of the year that the real world felt like a video game, with players swapped all over the place. The minutes leading up to midnight were always entertaining, with late reports and last-minute decisions.

Well this year’s trade deadline has already come and gone (the deadline has since been pushed up from midnight to 4 p.m.). The Kansas City organization has made a move to bolster its farm system after deailng outfielder Scott Podsednik. And Burlington, though not on a deadline, also added a few pieces. Details on that, and other things, in today’s Bullets.

BURLINGTON BULLETS:

  • The Royals have added two players to the mix: outfielder Brian Fletcher and pitcher Ryan Wood. Fletcher was Kansas City’s 18th round selection in last month’s MLB Draft. A teammate of Burlington catcher Ryan Jenkins at Auburn University, Fletcher hit .357 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs for the Tigers this past spring in his junior season. Wood was selected in the 11th round last year and has recently been switched to a pitcher after reaching Wilmington as a hitter. Wood worked four and a third innings (1 ER, 2 H) for the Surprise Royals in the Arizona League before his call to Burlington.
  • Wood arrived in Burlington yesterday and threw a bullpen session during the game. He was officially added to the roster today. We will have his thoughts on the blog sometime during the Bristol series, which comes up Sunday through Tuesday.
  • Fletcher just signed with Kansas City yesterday. He is not in the lineup today, but he is excited to begin his professional career. “It’s a great feeling, and I’m ready to start it,” Fletcher said. “The competition is getting better probably from this point on. You have to understand that it takes a lot of focus each day.”  
  • With the edition of Fletcher, Burlington now has five outfielders and 13 position players. The Royals have had as few as 11 on the club this season.
  • Josh Worrell worked two more innings of scoreless baseball for Wilmington last night against the Kinston Indians to give him three frames of work and a 0.00 ERA. He is expected to rejoin Burlington in the next few days.
  • Jon Keck worked three innings in his first start of the season, allowing just one run. He will remain in the rotation and pitch again Thursday against Pulaski. “For the first time starting a game, I think he did really well,” skipper Nelson Liriano said. “People from the front office see that he has a chance to be a good starting pitcher.”
  • Robert Penny’s scoreless streak ended at 24 innings on an unearned run in last night’s sixth inning. “Not bad, going from a 64 ERA to 0 in July,” Penny said jokingly. “I’ll take that.” For clarity, Penny actually had a 16.87 ERA in the first month of the season. But the month of July, and his nine appearances in it, have bumped his ERA under 2.
  • Ryan Stovall continues to roll offensively. The versatile infielder, who made his third start at second base last night, has an eight-game hitting streak. He has at least one hit in 12 of his last 13 contests. “Every team needs players like him,” Liriano said. “He helps big time. In any level, you always need guys like him.”
  • Another season series comes to an end tonight, and no matter what happens, the Royals will post its second winning set of the season. Burlington will improve to 2-1-1 in season series. Burlington will see Bristol for the first time beginning tomorrow. At that point, the only team that the Royals will not have faced will be Kingsport.
  • It was a great turnout last night for Breast Cancer Awareness Night, with more than 1000 fans at the Stadium. Tonight is another big night, with the Beach Towel giveaway and then the post-game fireworks brought to you by LabCorp. There is rain in the area, but as of right now the plan is to get this game in. Updates to the start time and the broadcast start will be available at our twitter: twitter.com/BRoyalsKC.

If the rain clears out, we will begin our coverage at 6:15 p.m., with the first pitch slated for 6:30. Enjoy the broadcast!

- Brian

The Voice of the Birds is an Early Bird

At this level of minor league baseball, play-by-play broadcasters come from all kinds of backgrounds. People like Elizabethton’s John Stevens and me are young, aspiring broadcasters hoping to make a living out of baseball, or another sport that will have us, for as long as possible. Others, such as Greeneville’s Steve Wilhout and Bluefield’s Buford Early, are doing it for the love of the game and very little recognition.

Both Wilhout and Early, the latter of whom is here in Burlington for the series, love the game of baseball and get a chance to talk about it throughout the season. For Early, who had been a loyal attendee at Bluefield games, it was quite a path to this position. After being a regular at O’s home games, Early helped out the press box staff a few years back when they were in a pinch. That has snowballed into his position now as the “Voice of the Orioles.” He will never call a major league game in his life, but following the Orioles around is more than enough for him.

Here’s hoping that one day I still have the appreciation for baseball that Early does. And here’s hoping that you appreciate a Friday edition of the Bullets.

BURLINGTON BULLETS:

  • It was quite an outing for Burlington starter Leonel Santiago. He retired the first 15 men he faced and lost his perfecto in the sixth inning on an error. Even if Santiago had kept the run going into the seventh or beyond, it would have been difficult for him to have a chance to finish it. He was on a pitch count of 90, and he had thrown 89 pitches when skipper Nelson Liriano removed him after six and two-thirds innings.
  • Liriano said Santiago was upset he had to leave the game because it was a big spot (two outs, men on second and third, 5-1 Burlington lead). “I like that,” Liriano said. “It shows he is competitive. But his pitch count was up.”
  • Who knows how long the perfect game would have gone had the error not happened. The no-hitter ended with a bloop single the very next at bat, but obviously the whole complexion of the at bat changes if there is one out. But the righty stayed focused. “I still had a game going on,” Santiago said through a translator. “You have to win the game.”
  • Santiago’s manager appreciated Santiago’s response to the tough luck in the sixth. “That tells us he doesn’t worry about numbers,” Liriano said. “He just wants to have a good performance, and he did it.”
  • With his outing last night, Santiago is now fifth in the league with a 1.74 ERA. He is sixth in WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) at 0.96.
  • Tonight marks the first time that the starting rotation will change since the start of the season. Jon Keck is set to start in Michael Giovenco’s spot this evening. He will throw somewhere between 50 and 60 pitches.
  • Robert Penny, who was the announced starter for tonight’s game a few days ago before a late switch, will pitch out of the pen tonight.
  • The Eastern Division race is pretty incredible. Through 37 games, two teams are tied for first, and two others (Burlington included) are one game back. This is not the norm in the Appalachian League in recent history. In the past five seasons, the first place team has been a combined 43 games distant from the division’s runner-up. In other words, the division champ has won by an average of almost nine games. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this season will bring that average down.
  • Tonight is Breast Cancer Awareness Night at Burlington Athletic Stadium, with the Royals wearing very nice pink jersey tops. A very limited number of those will be on sale at the Stadium after tonight’s game.
  • Also, tomorrow is the final fireworks night of the season. Burlington and Bluefield get going at 6:30 with the fireworks brought to you by LabCorp following the game. There is also a beach towel giveaway to the first 1000 fans.

Our pre-game coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. for game two of this three-game series. As always, we are e-mail accessible during the broadcast at burlingtonroyalsradio@gmail.com. Enjoy the broadcast!

- Brian

.400 is .400 Wherever You Do It

Jack Maloof, a current hitting coach within the Kansas City minor league system, hit .400 in his first season of minor league baseball in the New-York Penn League. He is currently here in Burlington working with the Royals during the three-game set with Bluefield. This season, Darrell Ceciliani of the Brooklyn Cyclones is giving Maloof’s mark a run, currently hitting .390 through 39 games. Ceciliani spent last season with the Kingsport Mets right here in the Appalachian League. There is a great write-up on both Maloof and Ceciliani HERE.

It was fun chatting with Maloof, who talked baseball with me for about 15 minutes after batting practice. He will head out Sunday and take in some games with the other rookie-advanced club within the organization–Idaho Falls.

I will attempt to hit .400 with the Thursday edition of the Bullets.

BURLINGTON BULLETS:

  • In the last eight days, Burlington has played 86 innings, or almost 11 innings a game. The Royals have played two 14-inning games and a 13-frame tilt since last Wednesday. “We are facing good pitchers and good teams,” skipper Nelson Liriano said. “That’s good when that happens. That means the players compete every pitch and every inning.”
  • Although this is only a 68-game season, there are many players who have been going at this since either extended spring training or the college season. With the heat staying strong and the season just past its midpoint, we have reached what the cool kids call the “dog days of the summer.” Responding to this part of the season is the key. “That’s what separates the good players from the bad players,” infielder Ryan Stovall said. “You just have to grind. And when it comes to that point, you just have to fight through it. And whoever does usually comes out in the end the winner.”
  • As mentioned previously on the blog, the schedule gets difficult once August rolls around. Burlington plays either Pulaski or Danville in 14 of the final 26 games. Before that span begins, the Royals play both last place clubs–Bluefield and Bristol. “We do look ahead a little bit,” Stovall said. “We saw we had this team coming up, and we played pretty good against them last time, and I hope we can do the same.” The Royals are 5-1 against Bluefield this season.
  • Daniel Hernandez is scheduled to throw another bullpen today after everything went well in his first session Monday. The plan is to have him start and throw one inning in a couple of weeks. If he is healthy enough, he will throw in instructional ball this fall.
  • Robert Penny is no longer starting for Burlington tomorrow against Bluefield. It will be Jon Keck per the organization’s request. But Penny will pitch tomorrow out of the bullpen. Either way, it will be the first switch within the rotation this season, which is pretty fortunate seeing as the Royals are halfway through the season.
  • Former Burlington Royal Josh Worrell made his debut with the Wilmington Blue Rocks Tuesday night and went a scoreless inning, scattering two hits.
  • Speaking of former Royals, Drew Robertson, now with the Burlington Bees, is hitting .179 with three runs batted in up in the Midwest League.
  • Big props to all of the kids who attended the game yesterday morning/afternoon. The cheering was almost constant, and many of them stuck it out for all 14 innings. Who says baseball doesn’t connect with the young people?

Hear from former Burlington Indian and current Bluefield skipper Einar Diaz during the “Royals Series Report,” which begins at 6:30 p.m. on burlingtonroyals.com. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. Enjoy the broadcast!

- Brian

Baseball, Fireworks, and (Lots and Lots of) Hot Dogs

Let me preface this by saying that I am not in tremendous shape. I am not Mr. Fitness by any stretch of the imagination. But, no matter what your size, if you want to feel like Mr. or Ms. Fitness, work out in the early afternoon on the Fourth of July and do it while watching the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. I hate running, but today was the easiest run I have had in a long time because of the contest being on at Gold’s Gym while I was doing it.

But that hot dog contest is one of many wonderful traditions on this great holiday. If you know of anyone who has fought for our country’s freedom, take time out of your day today and say thank you to them.

And one more thing–don’t eat 54 hot dogs like Joey Chestnut, the Nathan’s winner for the fourth year in a row, did earlier this afternoon. That’s just ridiculous.

Here are some not-so-ridiculous numbers and notes on a special Independence Day edition of the Bullets.

BURLINGTON BULLETS:

  • Two offensive showings, then a dominant pitching effort to sweep the Orioles at Bowen Field. Winning in different ways is the sign of a good team, says skipper Nelson Liriano. “That’s why we feel really good right now,” Liriano said. “Every day different guys bring good stuff to the table. Last night it was the pitching, and the night before was the hitting.”
  • Chicks dig the long ball, so it is difficult to zero in on other topics when the Burlington offense is rolling, but don’t forget about the pitching staff–and, more specifically, the bullpen. The pen hasn’t given up a run over the last 11 innings, and during the last six games, the arms have surrendered just two earned tallies.
  • Jon Keck went two innings last night and steered his way out of trouble in the seventh before rocking the O’s in the eighth. “We have a good [bullpen],” Keck said. “We have a lot of college guys in there. A lot of guys who throw hard…We’ve been pretty lucky in getting out of innings and not letting them score.”
  • How about another awesome outing by Leonel Santiago yesterday. Liriano was certainly pleased. “We feel happy with the way he has been playing lately,” he said.
  • Elizabethton skipper Ray Smith is in his 17th year with the Twins. He coached the Twins from 1987-94 and took over again in 2002. He is tops on the all-time wins list in Appalachian League history with 673 victories, 230 wins ahead of the pack. I’ll have some stuff from him tomorrow here in the Bullets.
  • The Royals are wearing a special Fourth of July-themed hat. It is all white, with the Burlington “B” on the front in red, white, and blue. It is the same style as Major League Baseball teams have used over the last few days.

We take the air with the “Royals Rewind” at 6 p.m., with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. Enjoy the broadcast (hopefully, with no issues) and your Fourth of July holiday!

- Brian

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