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National Pastime Archive: August 2008


  • KILL - Prospect Q&A - George Kontos, Yankees

    George Kontos has long impressed scouts with his live arm and good stuff and shown flashes of brilliance, but command issues have prevented him from achieving consistency in his results and reaching his full potential. 2008 was an important year for Kontos - who entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect in the Yankees organization - and the 23-year-old righty has responded with an impressive campaign with the double-A Trenton Thunder. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 31 2008

  • Future O's stars shining in Bowie

    It's been a while since Baltimore Orioles fans had much to cheer about. Their beloved O's not only haven't made the playoffs since 1997 - four years before Cal Ripken retired - but have also failed to so much as post a winning record during that stretch. Needless to say, the O's won't be invited to the postseason party this fall, and meaningless September games aren't that much fun even in a beautiful park like Camden Yards. But don't despair, Orioles fans: there's hope - chicken soup for your soul, if you will - just a half-hour drive south of Baltimore. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 29 2008

  • KILL - Future O's stars shining in Bowie

    It's been a while since Baltimore Orioles fans had much to cheer about. Their beloved O's not only haven't made the playoffs since 1997 - four years before Cal Ripken retired - but have also failed to so much as post a winning record during that stretch. Needless to say, the O's won't be invited to the postseason party this fall, and meaningless September games aren't that much fun even in a beautiful park like Camden Yards. But don't despair, Orioles fans: there's hope - chicken soup for your soul, if you will - just a half-hour drive south of Baltimore. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 29 2008

  • Amateur Hour - Olympics wrap-up

    Team USA left for Beijing with hopes of reclaiming the gold in what may well have been the last Olympic baseball competition ever and made a good showing, but had to settle for the bronze after falling to Cuba. Surprisingly, however, it wasn't the Cubans who took home the gold. National Pastime's Tom Stad recaps baseball's Olympic swan song and gives an unsolicited plug to his favorite new college baseball website in this week's Amateur Hour. Published August 29 2008

  • Prospect Q&A - Bobby Parnell, Mets

    Taking the lead from A's general manager Billy Beane - he of "Moneyball" fame - and statistics guru/Red Sox advisor Bill James, major league front offices have gone stat-happy over the past decade or so in evaluating both major league talent and amateur players. However, if there were ever a single player that exemplified the continued need for good, old-fashioned scouting work in identifying potential big league talent, it's Mets pitching prospect Bobby Parnell. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 28 2008

  • KILL - Prospect Q&A - George Kontos, Yankees

    George Kontos has long impressed scouts with his live arm and good stuff and shown flashes of brilliance, but command issues have prevented him from achieving consistency in his results and reaching his full potential. 2008 was an important year for Kontos - who entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 17 prospect in the Yankees organization - and the 23-year-old righty has responded with an impressive campaign with the double-A Trenton Thunder. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 27 2008

  • KILL - Prospect Q&A - Austin Jackson, Yankees

    In high school, Austin Jackson was one of the top high school basketball players in the country and ultimately signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Georgia Tech. But he also showed tremendous potential on the baseball diamond, prompting the Yankees to select him in the eighth round of the 2005 draft and offer him a deal that included an $800,000 bonus. It looks like Jackson made the right choice, as the 6' 1", 180-pound outfielder is now considered the Yankees' top prospect and one of the best in all of baseball. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 27 2008

  • Cooperstown Bound? - Jim Rice

    2009 will mark former Red Sox outfielder Jim Rice's 15th and final year on the Hall of Fame ballot and if he were to come up short once again his only chance for induction would rest with the Veterans Committee. Since 1995 - his first year of eligibility - Rice has received as little as 29.4 percent of the vote (1999) and as much as 72.2 percent (2008). With an unchanged resume and such a large disparity in voting percentage, it's clear that Rice's case for induction is one of the more interesting and complex to be examined thus far by National Pastime. By Nick Leco. Published August 27 2008

  • KILL - Cooperstown Bound? - Jim Rice

    2009 will mark former Red Sox outfielder Jim Rice's 15th and final year on the Hall of Fame ballot and if he were to come up short once again his only chance for induction would rest with the Veterans Committee. Since 1995 - his first year of eligibility - Rice has received as low as 29.4 percent of the vote (1999) and as high as 72.2 percent (2008). With an unchanged resume and such a large disparity in voting percentage, it's clear that Rice's case for induction is one of the more interesting and complex to be examined thus far by National Pastime. By Nick Leco. Published August 26 2008

  • My Five - What if ... ?

    Thus far in my columns I have kept the analysis on the diamond, but today I'm dusting off my imagination cap from kindergarten and stepping outside the box. We all know the cliche about excuses and posteriors, but when you're just a bystander in the whole mess it's good fun to second-guess. What follows will be less of a ranking in the traditional My Five sense than simply a collection of hypotheticals I found interesting. By Sean Raposa. Published August 26 2008

  • KILL - My Five - What if ... ?

    Thus far in my columns I have kept the analysis on the diamond, but today I'm dusting off my imagination cap from kindergarten and stepping outside the box. We all know the cliche - excuses are like rumps, we all have one and they all stink - but when you're just a bystander in the whole mess it's good fun to second-guess. What follows will be less of a ranking in the traditional My Five sense than simply a collection of hypotheticals I found interesting. By Sean Raposa. Published August 25 2008

  • Prospect Q&A - Jason Castro, Astros

    As a left-handed hitting catcher with already solid and still-improving skills behind the plate, Stanford's Jason Castro was a no-brainer for the Astros at the No. 10 spot in this year's draft. And while many of this year's top picks dragged out their contract negotiations right up until the Aug. 16 signing deadline, Castro quickly agreed to a deal that included a $2.07 million signing bonus and began his journey to the big leagues with the short-season Class A Tri-City ValleyCats. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 25 2008

  • KILL - Prospect Q&A - Jason Castro, Astros

    As a left-handed hitting catcher with already solid and still-improving skills behind the plate, Stanford's Jason Castro was a no-brainer for the Astros at the No. 10 spot in this year's draft. And while many of this year's top picks dragged out their contract negotiations right up until the Aug. 16 signing deadline, Castro quickly agreed to a deal that included a $2.07 million signing bonus and began his journey to the big leagues with the short-season Class A Tri-City ValleyCats. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 22 2008

  • Amateur Hour - NY's loss UCLA's gain

    UCLA scored a major coup this past week when right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole - the 28th pick in June's MLB draft - turned down a multimillion dollar bonus from the Yankees to play for the Bruins. Meanwhile, the Harwich Mariners captured their first Cape Cod Baseball League title in 21 years and Team USA advanced to the semifinal round in Beijing with a little help from the squad's lone collegian, San Diego State righty Stephen Strasburg. By Tom Stad. Published August 22 2008

  • KILL - Amateur Hour - Yanks' loss is UCLA's gain

    UCLA scored a major coup this past week when right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole - the 28th pick in June's MLB draft - turned down a multimillion dollar bonus from the Yankees to play for the Bruins. Meanwhile, the Harwich Mariners captured their first Cape Cod Baseball League title in 21 years and Team USA advanced to the semifinal round in Beijing with a little help from the squad's lone collegian, San Diego State righty Stephen Strasburg. By Tom Stad. Published August 21 2008

  • Prospect Q&A - David Hernandez, Baltimore Orioles

    David Hernandez has shown an uncanny ability to strike hitters out as a pro, but his high K totals didn't translate to the kind of success on the mound that he or the Orioles hoped for in his first two-plus seasons. The 23-year-old righty has found his groove in 2008, however, leading the double-A Eastern League with 156 strikeouts and ranking fourth with a 2.58 ERA as a member of the stacked Bowie Baysox starting rotation. By Jay LeBlanc. Published August 21 2008

  • Cooperstown Bound? - Mike Mussina

    The debate over whether Mike Mussina is Hall of Fame material has really started to heat up of late. Many people had written the "Moose" off entering 2008, but he's rebounded with a solid showing this season and re-emerged as the Yankees' ace. Mussina's renaissance and his climbing career win total have some making his case for Cooperstown, while his detractors insist that no starting pitcher without a Cy Young Award, 20-win season or World Series ring belongs in the Hall. By Nick Leco. Published August 20 2008

  • My Five - Spoilers

    Last Tuesday, I tabbed the Phillies as my No. 1 contender in this space, then endured watching them get swept by the surging Dodgers, get beaten by the lowly Padres and have their reigning N.L. MVP proclaim his own fans "front-runners" days after I had praised his past leadership. I'm not waffling on them yet, but let's just say they failed to back me up and this week, I'm exploring other angles. Today we dip outside my contenders in search of the top spoilers - teams that could nose baseball's front-runners out of the money. By Sean Raposa. Published August 19 2008

  • KILL - Cooperstown Bound? - Mike Mussina

    The debate over whether Mike Mussina is Hall of Fame material has really started to heat up of late. Many people had written the "Moose" off entering 2008, but he's rebounded with a solid showing this season and re-emerged as the Yankees' ace. Mussina's renaissance and his climbing career win total have some making his case for Cooperstown, while his detractors insist that no starting pitcher without a Cy Young Award, 20-win season or World Series ring belongs in the Hall. By Nick Leco. Published August 18 2008

  • KILL - My Five - Spoilers

    Last Tuesday, I tabbed the Phillies as my No. 1 contender in this space, then endured watching them get swept by the surging Dodgers, get beaten by the lowly Padres and have their reigning N.L. MVP proclaim his own fans "front-runners" days after I had praised his past leadership. I'm not waffling on them yet, but let's just say they failed to back me up and this week, I'm exploring other angles. Today we dip outside my contenders in search of the top spoilers - teams that could nose baseball's front-runners out of the money. By Sean Raposa. Published August 18 2008