Notable Players Available In The Rule 5 Draft
The Rule 5 draft is fascinating because of its timing and its format. Positioned right in the middle of the baseball offseason, it gives everyone a chance to scour rosters […]
Baseball America's Daily Dish
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Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
CHARLESTON, W.Va.--Ben Zobrist is having another solid season in the Astros’ system. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound shortstop, drafted last season in the sixth round out of Dallas Baptist, is hitting .294 with 14 steals and 12 doubles in the shadow of teammate Hunter Pence in Lexington. Still, Zobrist is getting noticed by club officials.
"Ben is doing everything we've asked of him," farm director Ricky Bennett said. "The biggest thing for him is just gaining more experience."
We sat with Zobrist to find out how that process is going, what the team in Lexington is like and how baseball has possibly made him a better person.
On handling the grind of his first full season: "Physically, I don’t feel too good right now. I’ve had a few nagging things. Nothing I can’t play through, but I’ve never had to deal with injuries before. Other than that, I think I’m a lot more relaxed out there because I know I’m playing 150 games. One at-bat won’t make or break me."
On growing up in central Illinois between Cardinals and Cubs country: "Everyone in my immediate family is a Cardinal fan, but there are Zobrists who are Cubs fans. They really wanted me to get drafted by the Cubs just so they could give me a hard time. I don’t really consider myself a big fan, though. When I go to games, I’d rather study what the players are doing on the field."
On being drafted: "I was pretty sure I’d be drafted; I just didn’t know where. I was ecstatic to be taken in the sixth round, because I knew I’d have a little priority with the organization. I knew the Astros must’ve thought I was a good player. I haven’t played anywhere else, but I think the Astros are a class act. From what guys in other organizations have told me, the Astros are top notch."
On mingling with big league players during his first spring training: "I guess I’ve never been that star struck by professional athletes. In person, you see they’re just like everyone else. You realize they’re your peers, they’re just playing at a higher level."
On learning patience through baseball: "I used to be more overly intense about baseball. But playing every day and playing professionally takes endurance and patience. You have to think long-term, work hard every day and let it happen. Maybe God has used baseball to chip away at my impatient side."
• Tuesday, the International League suspended Triple-A Richmond outfielder Esix Snead indefinitely, a day after he sparked a brawl by jumping Syracuse righthander David Bush from behind after he drew a walk. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Snead hit Bush from behind with his batting helmet, knocked him down and began pummeling him with punches. Bush, who received five stitches in the incident, is considering pressing charges against Snead, who contends he did not strike him with his helmet. "If you watch the tape, I dropped the helmet," Snead told the Times-Dispatch. "I didn't use the helmet. I don't need a helmet. It felt like a helmet. It wasn't a helmet. It was my fist." Bush's recollection was slightly different, however. ''I had my back turned and didn't know he was coming,'' Bush told the Syracuse Post-Standard. ''I saw my second baseman start running toward the mound and thought, 'why is he running toward me?' At the very last second, I turned my head in time to see the helmet in his right hand. He hit me in the side of the head. I never saw it coming.'' Three players were ejected from the game, and the International League said any disciplinary action against other players involved in the brawl will be determined after a league review of the incident, which should come in the next few days.
• It wasn't nearly the magnitude of the situation in Richmond, but tempers again flared between Double-A Jacksonville and Carolina in Zebulon, N.C. last night. Mudcats lefthander Scott Olsen, after giving up a three-run homer to Suns center fielder Todd Donovan, buzzed right fielder Jon Weber's head at 96 mph on his next pitch. Both benches emptied and both players were subsequently ejected. It was Olsen's worst outing of the season--he allowed seven earned runs on seven hits in just 3 2/3 innings. While Olsen's velocity was present, he appeared to be over-throwing, occasionally falling off the rubber to the third-base side, causing him to get around his slider. Incidentally, Weber was killing Mudcats pitching over the last six games, going 13-for-24.
• One of the biggest questions in the IL these days is what happened to Brandon McCarthy? The White Sox righthander has uncharacteristically lost his last five starts and is now 3-7, 5.48 at Triple-A Charlotte. The strikeout numbers are still there, but McCarthy is getting hit around the yard--giving up 25 runs on 36 hits during his losing streak. In 64 innings, McCarthy has an 81-18 strikeout-walk ratio.
• This just in: Felix Hernandez is really good. The Mariners top prospect threw six scoreless innings last night while fanning seven Portland Beavers to raise his record to 8-4. His 2.32 ERA is the lowest ERA in the PCL. Not bad for a 19-year-old. We aren't fantasy gurus, but if you are in a keeper league and he hasn't yet been picked up, do so now or forever hold your peace.
• One month ago today, Corey Hart was hitting .197. After going 2-for-2 with two walks last night, Hart now has that average up to .283. The Brewers outfielder is hitting .388 since his average reached its nadir on May 15.
• With a victory last night, Lexington could have essentially locked up the first-half title in the SAL Northern division. With Prospect Hot Sheet leader Troy Patton and his 31-innings scoreless streak on the hill, the Legends had to feel pretty confident. His counterpart for Hagerstown was righthander Gaby Hernandez in what was, on paper, one of the better pitching matchups in the SAL this season. The pitchers’ duel never materialized as the Suns’ Grant Psomas hit a solo homer in the second inning to end Patton’s streak, and suddenly Patton looked vulnerable. He gave up two more in fourth and three in the fifth in what was by far his worst outing of the season, as his ERA went rose from 0.98 to 1.57. Hernandez struck out seven over 6 1/3 as Hagerstown won 8-2 to cut the Legends lead to one game with four to play.
• In his first start in the SAL this season, Taylor Tankersley represented himself well for Greensboro. The 2004 first-round pick out of Alabama struck out six over six innings while allowing no runs or walks. The lefthander got the victory as the Grasshoppers defeated Savannah 6-4.
• Angels shortstop Brandon Wood is on another hot streak. The 2003 first-round pick went 3-for-4 with a double and his 21st home run last night, accounting for high Class A Rancho Cucamonga’s only run in a 10-1 loss to Modesto. Wood is 16-for-36 (.444) in his last nine games with four home runs, and is batting .318/.367/.667 on the season in 258 at-bats.
• Mets righthander Yusmeiro Petit made his first start in three weeks last night, coming back from minor elbow tenderness and returning from his native Venezuela for personal reasons. Although he is still under a strict pitch count, Petit was effective over 2 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six.