Glenn Sides, Account Executive
1. What is your first baseball memory?
My step-dad playing wiffle ball with me when I was around 4
2. If you were stuck on a deserted island, who would you want on the island with you?
3. If you could pick a super-power, what would it be? What would your name be?
Flying, Big Dog
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
5. If you had one million dollars, what are the first three things you would do with it?
Put it in the bank
6. If you could trade places with one fictional character, who would it be?
7. If you didn’t work in sports, what would you want to do?
8. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
9. If you could take a road trip with any three people, who would it be?
My wife, Mila Kunis & Kate Upton
10. If you could try out any job for a day, what would it be?
Commissioner of The NBA
11. Who was your favorite singer/band of the 90’s?
12. What was the last song to play on your iPod/phone?
The Fugees-Killing Me Softly With His Song
13. If you were a professional athlete, what sport would you play?
Minor League baseball is unique in that the season only stretches from April to the beginning of September. Since a baseball player’s job only occurs for about five months of the year, they have seven months of free time to fill. So what do the players of the 2013 Ports team do during their off-season? We sat down and asked them to find out how they spend their “free time.”
LHP Shaeffer Hall:
“I usually take a couple weeks off to relax and spend time with my family and close friends that are still back in Kansas City. In the past, I’ve taken some college courses but
since I have my degree, I like to find a part-time job. Last off-season I had the opportunity to substitute teach in the Lee’s Summit School District, K-12. I had some awesome experiences doing that. I haven’t decided what my plans are going to be for this off-season quite yet. I’ll definitely be staying busy working and getting prepared for the next season.”
Outfielder Bobby Crocker:
“In the off-season I do a lot of surfing and fishing. I also train with Joey Wolfe. He is the owner of Paradigm Sport and he plays a large role in preparing me for the season.”
RHP Seth Frankoff:
“In the off-season I work. I teach baseball lessons and workout. I try to golf and fish as much as I can.”
Catcher Bruce Maxwell:
“In the off-season I usually move back home and train little kids.”
Outfielder Dusty Robinson:
“This off-season I plan on getting a job and staying in baseball, like doing lessons and that type of thing.”
During this off-season, two Ports players will be tying the knot with their fiancés; T.J. Walz and Wade Kirkland. Five members of the 2013 Ports team will be heading to Arizona this off-season to play ball in the Arizona Fall League; Max Muncy, Addison Russell, Seth Frankoff, Ryan Dull and Omar Duran.
One mindset. One goal. Hit the ball, win the game. The 2013 Ports roster has been loaded with power hitters that have accomplished just that over the past 140-game season.
The Ports have
been impressive at the plate this season. The Ports tied the California League record for the most home runs in one game with 11 homers and even more impressive Stockton held the record for most home runs in all of Minor and Major League baseball for a short period of time. As a whole, Ports hitters have made noticeable adjustments over the progression of the season. “I would say that we’ve improved on mental approaches, what we’re looking for up at the plate and what kind of damage we’re looking to do. We’ve been really inconsistent all year, that’s just the kind of offense we are. We strikeout a lot but we’re going to hit a lot of home runs” said hitting coach Haas Pratt. As the season wraps up, we took the time to talk with Pratt about the improvements Ports hitter made this season.
Infielder max Muncy (Promoted to AA-Midland 7/14):
“Max had an unbelievable first half and season with us and he’s continuing it with Midland. Obviously, his numbers show for himself. He had a lot of home runs and was hitting .300 most of the time he was here. His biggest thing was not getting too pull happy. We have the real short porch in right center field. He was trying to pull the ball that way and sometimes had struggled a little bit. Teams started pitching him away and he made a good adjustment to go the other way. That’s his approach. I mean if he stays within himself, within his approach, not try to pull everything into left field, then he’s going to be fine and do what he did here.”
Outfielder Myrio Richard:
“Myrio has done great so far. He started off a little slow in the beginning of the year and turned it on late. He has a little issue with timing and rushing himself up at the plate but he’s done a good job making adjustments and really having success at the plate. He’s done a great job with me and he works hard. He’s always in the cage.”
Infielder B.A. Vollmuth:
“B.A. has unbelievable power. The thing is he gets really excited at the plate and when he gets a pitch he knows he can hit out, he tries to jump out and go get it. What eventually happens is he pushes his point of contact too far out in front of him so he just doesn’t let the ball travel enough up at the plate. He’s hit a ton of home runs. I think in the last two months he’s hit almost 10 or 11, maybe more than that. It’s a little bit of a slow starter. I had him early last year down in Burlington. Same type of deal started out a little slow. Once he relaxes and falls into himself the sky is the limit for that guy.”
Infielder Antonio Lamas:
“I would definitely say he has an aggressive approach. This is the first time he’s played in the states so everything we do and the way we play the game or go about it is probably a little different than the way he’s used to it. He’s definitely more aggressive at the plate. He has some takes where everybody’s like ‘what’s he doing’, but he’s automatic and that’s part of his approach and his plan up there. He does go out of the zone a little more than I’d like to see but when he barrels it up, he’s got just as much power as anybody for a little guy. He’s got the ability to hit the ball on a consistent basis if he can control. He gets over aggressive basically.”
Infielder Addison Russell:
“The sky is the limit. I mean you guys watch his tools every day. It’s unreal. Slow start is what a lot of us were expecting from the youngest kid in the league but he really came into himself and matured well. I think the reason he was struggling early is that he was just putting too much pressure on himself to succeed and now he’s just letting his natural ability take over, it’s unbelievable. The kid’s just got a big, big ceiling in this game. Addison was hot before he went to the Futures Game. He started out the season hitting I think a hundred something, under 200. He was .260 by the time he went to the Futures Game. He just really relished the experience and it was a cool experience and kind of what’s to come for him but I think with his level mindset, which he has, it helps him tremendously and he just kept rolling right through with what his approach is right now.”
Infielder Wade Kirkland:
“Wade is probably one of the most hard-nosed players on the team. He works hard. Every single day he gives you a 110 percent. He has a little bit of an issue with going out of the zone. He is just a little too aggressive but is doing a much better job this season as a whole. I had him last year and he was out of the zone quite a bit and got himself out. This year he’s made a great adjustment and if he keeps improving with that, it’s going to do nothing but better him because the way he plays defense and the way he gives 110 percent every day.”
Catcher Phil Pohl:
“Pohl’s another extremely hard worker. He works every day trying to get extra swings. He’s a big pull guy. He wants to pull everything, but it ends up in him yanking it and hitting some things foul that he could have stayed fair with and not utilizing the opposite field. I would say the last month or so we really focused in on using right field to right center and it’s really improved his at bats and his approach in the games.”
Infielder Tony Thompson:
“Thompson is another big power guy. He gets a little long with his swings at times which a lot of power guys tend to do. He really focuses on staying in control with his body and down in his legs and he’s done a great job so far. I mean, this whole year there’s been a little glimpse here and there that I’ve seen of Tony of last year when I had him or two years ago but overall it’s a more consistent approach and much better at bat and when he runs into one it’s not going to really hold him to any part.”
Outfielder Dusty Robinson:
“We’ve consistently worked all year on his mechanics. He’s a guy that kind of falls away from the plate which gives him trouble on the outer half of the plate. A lot of pitchers see that and try to expose him and our biggest thing all year is trying to get his body and approach over the plate instead of falling back away from it. He’s done a good job on his own. We’ve made tons of mechanical adjustments and he’s been great at making those adjustments. He’s tried every single one of them this year. He’s another guy who had a ton of home runs last year, not as many this year. Definitely think it could be possible in this last month if he turns it on again.”
Outfielder Bobby Crocker:
“We’ve definitely made an improvement on his timing. He was stuck on his back side a little bit which will cause him to be a little firing at times. Overall his timing has been great. In the beginning he was trying a few different stances and a few different loads. It’s kind of been up and down for him but we got him focused on a consistent one right now and I think he’s being comfortable and having success with it. He still swings a lot of balls down and out of the zone but he’s doing a much better job controlling the strike zone at bat instead of swinging at three and getting himself out. He might swing at one, step out, revamp, get under control and then have a plus approach the rest of that game.”
Outfielder Rashun Dixon:
“Our whole lineup is stacked with power but he’s got tremendous power. The thing with Dixon that we want to do is get him consistently barreling baseballs. If his barrel runs into a baseball it’s going to be a home run. His biggest thing is he’s inconsistent firing his barrel. With Dixon it kind of runs into everything, timing firing his hands, if one thing falls apart with Dixon he seems to have a little bit more trouble staying in the zone or feeling a little bit more comfortable at the plate but he’s done a great job all the years I’ve seen him. He’s a hard worker. He’s a great kid. Once things start clicking for him, he’s going to have a long career.”
Catcher Bruce Maxwell:
“He came up a little later so we’re just trying to get him to be a little more aggressive on the first pitch. He gets a lot of first pitches that he can drive and he just takes it. So that’s more of a mindset that we’ve worked on with him and he really likes to go opposite field. Being a left-handed hitter he likes to use the right side of the field. I’m trying to get him to fire his hands a little bit more on the right side cause he’s big, he’s strong, he can hit the ball a long way to right field and I’m just trying to get him to recognize pitches a little earlier and not drift and stay back in his legs and be more aggressive on his first pitch.”
The boys of Banner Island Ballpark have had power at the plate during the 2013 season. After smashing home run records out of the park, Ports hitters look to continue to improve as they enter the off-season. As the season comes to a close this year’s Ports team will be remembered for their success at the plate.
Minor League baseball serves to develop and prepare players for the Major Leagues. As the class levels progress, the competition becomes more challenging. As players progress through the farm system, they have one goal, one dream in mind; to get called up to the Majors. For four former Ports players, that dream came true during the 2013 season.
Left-hand Pitcher Ian Krol:
Ian Krol was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the seventh round of the 2009 June Draft. The 22-year-old Naperville, Illinois native began his professional career with the Arizona A’s in the instructional league. He was promoted to Short Season-A Vancouver before the end of the season. Krol spent the majority of the 2010 season with Low-A Kane County. He was promoted to Stockton before the end of the season. After spending the 2011 season with the AZL A’s, he returned to Stockton in 2012. He went 1-7 with a 5.21 ERA and 79 strikeouts in Stockton. During his stint with the Ports, Krol was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen. The change worked well for him and he was promoted to Double-A Midland.
During the 2012 off-season the Athletics were part of a three-team trade involving the Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners. The Nationals traded Mike Morse to the Mariners while the Mariners traded John Jaso to Oakland. The Athletics then sent A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and a player to be named later to the Nationals. In March 2013, it was announced that Ian Krol was the player to be named later. Krol started the 2013 season with Double-A Harrisburg in the Nationals farm system. He was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse. On June 5th, 2013 Krol made his Major League debut vs. the New York Mets. In his first outing he pitched one inning, striking out three batters and giving up one hit. He did not allow any runs.
Infielder Grant Green:
When the 2009 June draft came around, the Oakland Athletics had one pick in the first round. With that pick, they selected Grant Green out of the University of Southern California. Green signed August 17, 2009 and was sent to High-A Stockton to begin his professional career. He spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Ports. In 2010, he had a .318 batting average with 20 HR and 87 RBI. During that season, Grant was selected to play in the 2010 Futures Game. He was also named the CAL League player of the week 8/23/10 and a CAL League Post Season All-Star on 8/27/11. He spent the 2011 season with Double-A Midland and was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento in the 2012 season.
He began the 2013 season in Sacramento. On July 8th, 2013 Green made his MLB debut at second base vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates. Green went 0-3 in the game but the Athletics came out with a 2-1 win over the Pirates. Three weeks after being called up to Oakland, Green was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for third baseman Alberto Callaspo. Green was sent to Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels farm system but on August 6th, he made his debut as an Angel vs. the Texas Rangers. In his first game with LAA, he went 2-4.
Catcher Max Stassi:
Stassi was a fan favorite at Banner Island Ballpark when he played for the Ports in 2011 and 2012. Max Stassi was drafted by the Athletics in the fourth round of the 2009 June Draft. He signed August 17, 2009 and was sent to the Arizona Athletics to begin his career. He ended the season with the Short Season-A Vancouver Canadians. In 2010, Stassi played for Kane County, the former Low-A Oakland Athletics affiliate. In 2011, he played for the High-A Stockton Ports. He was injured in early May 2011 and was out the rest of the season. He returned to Stockton for the 2012 season where he had a .268 batting average with 15 HR and 45 RBI. On 7/23/12 he was named the CAL League Player of the Week.
Following the 2012 season, the Oakland Athletics traded Max Stassi, Brad Peacock and Chris Carter to the Houston Astros for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez. Entering the 2013 season, Stassi was still recovering from an injury sustained late in the 2012 season. He joined the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks of the Astros farm system in May 2013. On August 20, four years and three days from the day he signed his professional contract, Stassi made his Major League debut with the Houston Astros vs.the Texas Rangers. Stassi went 2-3 in his first MLB game. Unfortunately in his second MLB game, injury once again stuck Stassi. In the August 21 game vs. Texas, Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers threw a 96 mph fastball that struck Stassi in the face. Stassi was removed from the game and rushed to hospital. Luckily, no critical injuries occurred but he was placed on the DL with a concussion.
Outfielder Michael Choice:
Entering the 2013 season, Michael Choice was named the second best Oakland Athletics prospect by Baseball America. Choice was the Oakland Athletics first-round draft selection in 2010. He spent his first professional season with the Arizona A’s and the Short Season-A Vancouver Canadians. In 2011, Choice played for High-A Stockton. While with the Ports, he had a .285 batting average with 30 HR and 82 RBI. 2011 was a standout season for Choice. On 7/11/11 he was named the CAL League Player of the Week. Three weeks later on 7/31/11, he was named Topps CAL League Player of the Month. He was also awarded CAL League Post Season All-star on 8/31/11 and the Baseball America High Class-A All-Star on 9/16/11. He attained five other awards during the 2011 off-season. In 2012, Choice played for Double-A Midland and was selected to play in the 2012 Futures game.
Entering the 2013 season, Choice was assigned the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. We interviewed Choice before the Ports vs. River Cats exhibition game April 2, 2013. When asked about his return to California, Choice stated, “Coming back to Northern California is definitely where you want to be because obviously it’s where Oakland is. The main goal is to get up there.” For Choice, that goal was accomplished. On September 2, Michael Choice made his Major League debut vs. the Texas Rangers. In his first Major League game, Choice went 0-2 and walked once. In his second Major League game, he went 1-3.
A former Ports player has been called up to the Major Leagues each season since 1972. Since 1986, there have been at least two players on the Ports roster each season that have made it to the big leagues. In total, 271 former Ports have played in the Majors.
The Stockton Ports fell short of qualifying for the playoffs in 2013, but some of the players and moments from this past season won’t be forgotten.
Much of the buzz coming into the season was surrounding shortstop Addison Russell, the top overall prospect in the A’s organization. After getting off to a slow start, Russell hit .305 in the second half, including a .333 average in June and a .344 average in July. What fans should remember about Russell’s time in Stockton, which ended with a .275 batting average for the season, is that he put up the numbers he did and made the extraordinary defensive strides he did as a 19 year-old in his first full professional season out of high school.
Stockton’s most impressive bat in the first half was Max Muncy, who was the Ports lone offensive All-Star. Muncy led the league in home runs (21) at the time of his promotion to Midland,
and posted a .285 average with 76 RBI in 93 games.
Drew Granier was Stockton’s lone All-Star on the pitching side as he was not only selected to the All-Star Game, but was the starting pitcher for the California League. Granier went 6-3 with a 3.25 ERA over 14 starts prior to his promotion at the All-Star break. Granier left as the league-leader in strikeouts (97) and allowed just 71 hits over 83 innings pitched.
The most memorable moment involving a Ports pitcher, however, came from Tanner Peters on August 9th at Banner Island Ballpark. Facing the Modesto Nuts, Peters retired the first 25 batters he faced as he took a perfect game one out deep into the ninth inning.
Peters struck out four batters in a row and was in a 2-2 count with Jared Simon before Simon hit a clean double off the left field wall. Peters left the game to a standing ovation, a moment those who were at the ballpark that night won’t soon forget.
Outside of the perfect game bid, Peters proved to be the Ports’ workhorse in 2013, making 28 starts and tossing 165.2 innings, going 12-8 with a 4.07 ERA.
Stockton’s bullpen featured many live arms and posted a 3.80 ERA on the season. Seth Frankoff improved dramatically as the season went on and would be selected to the Arizona Fall League by season’s end. Frankoff allowed just two earned runs in 16.1 innings pitched in the month of July.
The Ports bullpen got an infusion of fresh arms after the All-Star break, namely Ryan Dull and Tucker Healy. Dull made 15 appearances before being promoted to Midland, posting a 1.59 ERA with 31 strikeouts and three walks in 22.2 innings pitched. Healy posted a 1.86 ERA and had 31 strikeouts and five walks in 19.1 innings pitched before being shut down for the final three weeks of the season.
Among the many memorable games during the course of the season, one might stand out as both the most memorable and most unique. On May 21st, the Ports hosted the Lake Elsinore Storm in a game that went 17 innings and lasted five hours, 44 minutes. Outside of the length of the game, the game was unique in that Stockton tied it twice in extra innings, scoring two runs in the bottom of the 13th and a run in the bottom of the 16th on a leadoff home run by Phil Pohl. Also, Wade Kirkland, Stockton’s utility infielder, pitched the final two innings in the DH spot in the lineup. Kirkland’s first at-bat came with one on and one out in the bottom of the 17th and he hit a two-run homer off Lake Elsinore’s John Hussey to give the Ports a dramatic 11-9 victory. Kirkland not only hit the game winning home run, but was also the winning pitcher.
No matter where the team finishes in the standings, the players, the games played and the memories made always leave a lasting impression. The Ports would like to thank everyone who came through the gates at Banner Island Ballpark in 2013, and look forward to Opening Day 2014, only seven short months away.
The mound. Where the magic of baseball begins. As a pitcher winds up to toss his first pitch, those last few moments before the ball leaves his hand determine the outcome of the game.
Whether the outcome is a fastball that gets past the hitter for strike three or a curveball that falls outside the zone for a walk, those critical moments are where the game begins. For this year’s Ports team, those moments led to some highs and lows throughout the season. As a pitching staff, the Ports have learned to come together and work as a unit.”There are a lot of things that go into the pitching staff as a whole. How they get along, how they communicate and how they work together. Starters have their own world. Bullpen guys have their own world but the pitching staff is a close-nit family” said pitching coach Jimmy Escalante. With trying to find the balance between the mental and physical aspects of the game, being plagued by injury and the constantly changing roster, Ports pitchers have endured just about everything over the past few months. As the season comes to an end, we took the time to talk with Ports pitching coach Jimmy Escalante to reflect on each individual pitchers progress throughout the 2013 season.
RHP Blake Hassebrock (Promoted to AA-Midland 7/20):
“He made huge progress. What we were looking for him to do is to feel comfortable first of all because we were trying to make some moves with him like bend his front knee, get over his front side and that took a while for him to break down the mechanics and it looks like he was able to do that. It was a big transition from being a starter to the bullpen. It’s a different mentality once you’re in there but it seemed like he felt comfortable with it and made some strides. He was able to locate his fastballs, which was his downfall as a starter but it was a smooth transition. At first for him to accept that he was a bullpen guy was the hardest thing for him I think. You know all he did since he’s been here was start but all along I think they had the idea of him becoming a bullpen guy.”
RHP Seth Frankoff:
“I’d say Frankoff has been the most improved this season. I had him before in Burlington. First of all his mentality, you know he’s got a bit more of a warrior mentality out there. He believes in himself but I think we believed in him more than he believed in himself in his career and right now he just has everything going for him. The cutter, the sinker and we’ve really worked on developing his curveball which raises the eye level of the hitter and he wasn’t doing that he was just staying in the bottom half of the zone. It doesn’t matter what type of pitches you’re throwing down there, hitters just have to go one spot but for him to be able to work that curveball and open up the zone has really made a difference in his season.”
RHP Tanner Peters:
“I think what happened to him is that he’s had problems crossing his body. He goes and crosses his body he strides over. We did one big adjustment to him and what that was was to move his towards the third base side. What happens there is he now has to force himself to open himself up which clears his hips up and clears his legs to come through. He is now not missing to the arm side as much and was able to locate his pitches a bit more. He was just named the best change-up in the league. I don’t know by who and a lot of it has to do with him being able to move to the other side of the mound and being able to locate that thing down. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff so he has to live a the bottom of the zone and he’s just more of a location type pitcher. He outwits the other team, he works back and forth and he’s able to throw his curveball for strikes.”
RHP Drew Granier (Promoted to AA-Midland 6/23):
“I was happy for him to be moving up but I thought that he still had some work to do here. He had a lot of walks per outing and he still could clean up his slider a bit which it seems like they’re doing that in Double-A and trying to work on his delivery. I think what’s best for him is his work ethic and his side work. He got a lot better as the season went on. “
RHP Raul Alcantara:
“He really works hard out there. I’ve had him in the past. I think what’s happened to him is that he matured as a ball player and pitcher. He’s been able to really develop a change up. His breaking pitches have come a long way and I think he’s starting to learn how to pitch. You know pitching to contact, trying to get ground balls in throwing less pitches instead of looking for the strikeout. The Latin players really like to strikeout and as they come here and grow as pitchers they start to learn you can get an out with one pitch and I think that what’s taking him to the next level.”
RHP Josh Bowman:
“Bowman came down from Double-AA and had some mechanical problems. He got a little mental early thinking about his mechanics more than
just going out there. You know first of all you have to go out there and have fun and compete again. He was thinking too much about his pitches and he’s come a long way himself. He’s gone through some back problems, it stiffens up on him quite a bit but he getting back to being able to pitch to contact. He’s a sinker ball pitcher and he has to be able to throw pitches to get swings on and guy were just laying off his pitches because they were starting off the zone. Being a sinker ball pitcher you have got to throw it in the zone and have that late action. His fastball was starting to move out of the zone a little bit early and were able to stick it in there to where his fastball would stay on the zone a little bit longer and have that late action to it.”
RHP T.J. Walz:
“He’s been off and on all year. He’s been able to come in out of the bullpen and give us some big innings. It seems like lately he’s been able to find a rhythm He’s not a guy I work with too much because he’s little too mental. If I talk to him about mechanics it’ll take him to a completely other side so I just let him go out there and feel for his pitches.
RHP Tucker Healy:
“Healy has been outstanding since he’s come up. These kids have shown us more than we expected out of them. Coming out from Beloit, pounding the zone and just being warriors on the mound. He came here and he wasn’t scared of anything. He wasn’t intimidated at all and you don’t see that very often when you get guys that are moving up that quick In their careers. He came here like he’s been here this whole season and went out there and showed us that he can pitch.”
RHP Ryan Dull (Promoted to AA-Midland 7/30):
“Ryan Dull, we call him mighty mouse. He’s a little quiet kid and you look at him and think he’s a bat boy but he goes out there and throws ghost balls. He sits around 92 or 93 which is on the common side of pitches but it just seems like the ball comes out of his body. He locates he pounds, He’s very aggressive going after hitters.”
LHP Trey Barham:
“I had Barham back in Kane County. He’s not an overpowering left-handed pitcher but he’s very crafty. He can locate, he has a good sinker, he works both sides of the plate, he works back and forth and elevates the eyes and he just has that knack for pitching. He knows how to pitch and he knows how to get ground balls. He doesn’t try to overpower guys and he knows what his weapons are.”
RHP Jonathan Joseph:
“There’s a mental side of this game and he didn’t have it coming into this season. He lacked self confidence coming into the season and you could see it as soon as he threw a ball and something negative happened in his result and he let it affect him. I thought his stuff was good and we made some adjustments with his curveball but I think what we added to his arsenal was a changeup we went to a new almost split finger fastball changeup and he wasn’t just a fastball curveball pitcher now and a showme changeup, he actually pitching with his changeup
now and getting ground balls.
LHP Shaeffer Hall:
“Hall has been huge for us. He came in as a starter, signed from the Yankees and was actually a big recommendation from Gil Patterson who we had here last year as a pitching coordinator. He told us that Hall was just a glorified Jake Brown, a guy who can locate throw a good changeup, low breaking pitch but his competitiveness is something for the rest of the team to learn off of. Obviously he’s been in Triple-A before and pitched at a higher level and he’s just been huge for us. He doesn’t ask questions like why he’s going in the bullpen or why he’s starting a certain day and he’s been able to make adjustments and that is very hard as you’ve might have seen with other pitchers we’ve put into the bullpen. He’s been a warrior for us and I really appreciate all of his hard work.”
RHP David Mota:
“What’s really not helping him right now is not having the ability to have enough innings. He pitches with his muscles and not his mind. He tries to overthrow pitches and try to throw a 97mph fastball by guys and its not quite a location pitch and if his slider isn’t working that day his split is an average pitch. I just see him making adjustments in the last few outings and attacking the zone and not being afraid. He’s been working hard.”
RHP James Simmons:
“We’re trying to make all kind of adjustments with him. At the moment were trying to give him a knuckleball. There’s been a lot of adjustments with him. He’s been with the organization for a while. He wanted to be a starter along with the organization so we brought him down here so we could give him some innings and work on his pitches. He’s been good for the guys. He’s a great teammate. You never really see him down and he competes like no other guy out here.”
RHP Michael Ynoa:
“I’ve seen him for years now and this is the first season I’ve been able to see him completely pitch more than an inning or two. The kid has a bright future. He’s only 20 years old, sits in the mid-90’s, his curveball is really developed and he has an above average changeup. I think as he continues to pitch and get experience out there on the mound, he is going to live up to his hype.”
LHP Omar Duran:
“Duran has outstanding big league stuff. If he is on that day he is absolutely unhittable. He’s the kind of guy you just let him go out there and pitch. The only thing you tell him is what the opposing team does. You don’t want to overload him with information. He’s by far one of our go-to guys.”
With the Ports in the last few weeks of the season, it’s easy to say that the pitching staff has made incredible improvements over the past few months. As the lights begin to dim in Banner Island Ballpark as another baseball season comes to a close, the future of Ports pitchers only gets brighter and brighter.
August 9th will be a day that will live in Ports fans hearts forever. Hall-of-famer Orlando Cepeda visited the ballpark and met with fans on the concourse before the game. Cepeda may have brought some luck to the ballpark as the game would turn out to be one to remember. In the first game of a three-game series vs. Modesto, right-hander Tanner Peters was two outs shy of a perfect game. After giving up a double to Modest Nuts outfielder Jared Simon, Peters was relieved by right-hander Seth Frankoff and left the mound to a standing ovation at Banner Island Ballpark.
The beginning of the game served to be uneventful. No-hits were delivered by either team in the first inning. The first hit of the night went to Ports infielder Tony Thompson who singled to left field in the second inning. It wasn’t until the fourth that the first run of the night was scored. Tony Thompson singled up the middle scoring shortstop Addison Russell. As the game entered the fifth, whispers of Peters throwing a perfect game could be heard throughout the ballpark. With two outs, Modesto infielder Harold Riggins stepped up to the plate to attempt to silence the whispers. Unfortunately for him, Peters struck him out and retired his 15th consecutive batter of the game.
The sixth inning Peters added to his successful outing delivering a groundout and two more strikeouts. As the game entered the seventh, fans began to question “can he really do it? Can he throw a perfect game?” After retiring his 21st batter, the possibility of a perfect game seemed more and more likely to happen.
Modesto Nuts catcher Ryan Casteel was the first at the plate in the eighth. Peters struck him out. Nuts infielder Taylor Featherston came up to bat next. Peters struck him out as well. With two out, Nuts infielder Harold Riggins came up for his third at-bat of the night. Peters, for the third time in the game struck out Riggins to conclude the inning and extend his bid for a perfect game.
As Peters came to the mound for the ninth inning, fans cheered and clapped to show their support for the 23-year-old pitcher. Modesto’s designated hitter Will Swanner was first at bat. Peters delivered his 14th strikeout of the game, a career-high for the right-hander. With one out, Nuts outfielder Jared Simon stepped up to the plate. In a disappointing twist for Ports fans, Simon doubled to left field to silence Peters bid for a perfect game. Right-hander Seth Frankoff relieved Peters and retired the last two batters of the game. Peters left the mound to a standing ovation from the Banner Island crowd.
Peters threw 103 pitches over a career-high 8.1 innings. He struck out 14 batters and retired 25 consecutive batters. The game lasted exactly 2 hours, the shortest game of the season here at Banner Island Ballpark. The Athletics 2011 16th round draft pick is now 11-5 with a 3.84 ERA, 132 K, 24 BB, 143.0 IP in 24 games.
This season the Stockton Ports have partnered with Silicon Valley startup Tapgift Network, Inc. to introduce a new gifting and fan engagement mobile application that they feel could change the way teams think about marketing to their fans. Docking With The Ports sat down with Tapgift co-founder Jeff Cooper to talk about the app and learn more about the concept behind it.
Tell us about Tapgift. How did you get started?
A couple of years ago my buddy (co-founder Mack Cage) and I were at a Raiders game and our friend who lives in Arizona – who also happens to be a huge Raiders fan – was texting us like crazy during the game. He was so jealous he couldn’t be there in person. He was living vicariously through our experience in a virtual way. We thought it would be pretty cool if our buddy in Arizona could send us a beer in Oakland while we were at the game. Not one of those virtual beers or badges that were popular at the time, but an actual beer we could redeem in real time – just like if he had been there with us.
What prompted to you to move forward on this idea?
Believe it or not, Justin Bieber.
Really? Please explain.
A few days after the Raiders game I was poking around the iTunes store looking at the top ten apps. At that time seven of the top ten paid apps were Justin Bieber related, and all of them were ridiculous. Dress Justin like a Samurai, stuff like that. Suddenly our crazy idea didn’t seem so crazy after all.
So you must have a background in app development.
No, none at all. Mack was working in finance and I was working as a graphic designer. We did some research and couldn’t believe there was nothing like this already out there or in development. Mack brought in two colleagues from his past (David Kalman and Jay Singonahalli) and the Tapgift team was born.
How did you come up with the name Tapgift?
Our initial focus was on gifting via the mobile app. Since you tap a screen instead of click a mouse, we settled on Tapgift. We also like that it’s easy to spell and easy to remember.
You mentioned that gifting was your initial focus. How has the Tapgift evolved from that original idea?
Gifting is still the heart and soul of Tapgift. When a friend shares a gift with another friend, it is more personal than a Facebook wall post or a text message; it is two people sharing an experience. When you can share that experience in context of what you are doing at that moment –watching the Ports at Banner Island Ballpark – it really is something unique. But during our research and development stage we came to understand that teams could really benefit from the convergence of smartphones, mobile commerce and social networking technologies. Teams spend countless dollars luring fans to their events, then they drop them off at the gates and leave them to fend for themselves. With Tapgift, teams can continue this relationship with their guests at the time they are most connected with their brand – while they’re sitting in their seats. Teams can use our platform to keep their fans engaged throughout the game by offering deals, rewarding fans with check-in prizes and offering unique experiences in real time right through the Tapgift mobile app.
How have Ports fans embraced Tapgift?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Through the first half of the season we’ve had over 1,500 Ports fans download our app and use our system. We get a lot of comments like “why didn’t I think of that?”
Have you discovered any surprising results?
A couple of stories stand out. One young fan called his mom at home and had her download the app and buy him some nachos because he was out of money and hungry. But my personal favorite is from a user in Arizona who sent his Dad – a Ports season ticket holder - several beers as a Father’s day gift since he couldn’t be there in person. That is so much better than sending him a tie!
Have there been any issues getting Tapgift up and running at Banner Island Ballpark?
We’ve been very fortunate to have a great partner in the Stockton Ports. They were the first team to take a chance on this new concept and have been a real key to our early success. They really get what we’re trying to do and have supported us every step of the way. Things have gone incredibly smoothly from a technical and logistical standpoint.
Where else is Tapgift available?
Currently we are exclusive to the Stockton Ports. We are in talks with a handful of other teams and venues to bring Tapgift to a wider audience. We hope to be available in 4-5 other venues by the time this baseball season ends.
Where can fans get the app?
Tapgift is available as a free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Just search for Tapgift on your smartphone’s store app, login via Facebook (required) and you’re good to go. We’ll even send you a welcome gift you can redeem at the park just for trying it out.
Where can people learn more about Tapgift?
You can visit our webpage at www.tapgift.com. You may also like our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/Tapgift to keep up to date on all of the daily deals and promotions the Ports are offering through Tapgift. You can also follow us on Twitter: @tapgift
Catcher Bruce Maxwell seems to be fitting in well with the team with the most home runs in the California League, as he hit his first home run on the 4th of July.
The A’s 15th best prospect attended Birmingham Southern College, where he guided the team to their first ever Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III Central Regional. He led his division his junior year with a .471 batting average, the seventh best in a SCAC single season. Maxwell also led the league in home runs (15), doubles (25), runs scored (56), total bases (142), slugging percentage (.928), on-base percentage (.619) and walks (59). He was fourth in runs batted in (48) and second in hits (72).
These achievements led Maxwell to be drafted as the second pick in the second round, 62nd overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2012 draft. He became one of the highest picks in Birmingham Southern College’s program history, something surprising to the catcher.
“I actually didn’t know about it until almost my first season was done in pro-ball, my coach told me about it,” Maxwell said. “It was definitely a shock, I mean for me I was projected a lot later and never really got enough credit from publications and USA Baseball and everything. I think I basically shocked the draft for the most part. But it was a good feeling. Definitely a good feeling.”
He entered the 2013 season with the Beloit Snappers where he had a .286 batting average and hit 2 home runs and drove in 28 RBI. He was also selected as the starting catcher for the Western Division in the Midwest League All-Star Game.
The Alabama native was promoted to the Ports roster the end of June and feels like he’s adjusting well to high-A ball. “The pitching up here is a little better, but it’s a little more consistent around the strike zone. It’s not as bad,” Maxwell said. “I know a lot of guys on my team from spring training from previous levels, so we gel together really well.
He definitely appreciates having packed crowds nightly to come to Banner Island Ballpark to watch his team play. “It’s different definitely playing in front of fans. Back in Beloit, we don’t really have a solid fan base or anybody on our side of the division out there. It’s fun.”
Joining the team mid-season, Maxwell is hoping to contribute characteristics that have brought him where he is now. “I think I can contribute a lot of hard work. I can contribute another left handed bat in the lineup. I know Muncy is doing real well here and getting a lot of power numbers up. I feel like I can contribute to the seven/eight spot as a catcher and just bring around a little more team camaraderie and fit in perfectly with all these guys and continue to win baseball games.”
For the rest of the season Maxwell’s approach is simple, demonstrate his ability to play the game. “Basically, just try to maintain consistency. A lot of people question my catching ability. I come a long way and I want to keep progressing through that.
For outfielder Dusty Robinson family is an important part of his game. Every step of the way he always keeps in mind the advice his father gave him, to leave it all on the field. The support his family provides him with is something Robinson can never take for granted. “They’re always there for me”.
Even though he plays close to his hometown, his first season with the A’s organization did not allow him to be so close to his family. Dusty played for the short season class-A affiliate the Vermont Lake Monsters and the Rookie Arizona League Athletics. The California native was excited to play for the Ports, allowing his family the opportunity to watch him play.
“I was stoked – it’s nice to be close to home. My family gets to come to a lot of games and watch me play. The first day I was here, my dad drove up [from Bakersfield] and was in Modesto to watch me,” Robinson said.
During most of the season when he is not able to see his parents, he makes sure to call them, not letting distance hinder their relationship. “Every night I talk to them,” the only child said. “I talk to my mom mainly on week days because my dad goes to sleep really early.”
However, Robinson looks forward to the time the team travels down to his home town, Bakersfield, to play the Blaze. His friends and family don’t miss their chance at seeing their hometown hero.
“I know the last year the first time we went there, one of my dad’s best friends bought about 200 tickets,” said Robinson. “I was just getting texts and calls saying they were going to come watch me play.”
Robinson loves seeing everyone of his supporters attend the games. The faces he’s missed motivate him to do well in the game.
His family also holds a BBQ when the team has a homestand against Blaze demonstrating their support for the whole team. “I know my family likes to help out and the guys are very appreciative of it,” the outfielder said. Robinson knows just how lucky he is to have people who support him in any way they can and by people mentioning it to him. “I can’t get enough things said to me about my family.”