#MarlinsMonday – February 1, 2016

Marlins Monday

The new Spring Training hats for the Miami Marlins. Photo Courtesy: Miami Marlins.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

The calendar has turned from January to February, another sign that our national pastime is getting closer and closer to being here.

There wasn’t much roster movement for the Miami Marlins over the past week, although the club continues to be pursuing more pitching, and there will be some minor league signings over the next few weeks to get ready for Spring Training.

Speaking of Spring Training, the Marlins have tweaked their schedule for the first full-squad workout. While pitchers and catchers still will report on Feb. 19, the Marlins will now work out as a full squad for the first time on Feb. 23.

That’s the only change for the Marlins, who will play their first exhibition game at Roger Dean Stadium against the University of Miami on March 1.

On Friday, MLB.com released its annual list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball, however the Marlins were one of only two organizations not to have a player make the list. There are former Southern Leaguers throughout the list, including No. 1 Corey Seager (Chattanooga Lookouts 2014), No. 2 Byron Buxton (Chattanooga Lookouts 2015), No. 6 Orlando Arcia (Biloxi Shuckers 2015), and No. 14 Blake Snell (Montgomery Biscuits 2015).

 

Former Suns announcer Joe Block has been named the new radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Photo Courtesy: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Also it was an exciting weekend for a former Jacksonville Suns broadcaster. Joe Block, who was the “Voice of the Suns” from 2003-06 was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates as their new play-by-play broadcaster.

Block spent the past four seasons on the Milwaukee Brewers broadcast team, working alongside the funniest man in baseball, and broadcasting Hall of Famer Bob Uecker.

Joe has been a great help to me through the years working in Jacksonville, and I along with the rest of the organization are very happy for his good news.

Also speaking of baseball getting closer to starting, I happened to be at my alma mater the University of Tennessee on Friday, and caught a glimpse of their first official practice for the 2016 season.

Just another great sign that we are getting closer to baseball!

Here are today’s #MarlinsMonday links, here’s to a good start to February!

TribLive.com: Pirates hire Block as new play-by-play man
Marlins.com: View from 3,000 feat: Countdown for Ichiro
Marlins.com: Marlins prospect Kolek working on offspeed stuff
Marlins.com: First-round pick Naylor not just a slugger
Sun Sentinel: Marlins’ new spring training cap revealed
Miami Herald: Miami Marlins hope bringing in and lowering fences brings ‘positive change’
Fish Stripes: Marlins to find right move timing for Fernandez
Fish Stripes: What the Dickerson trade means for Marcell Ozuna
MLB.com: Top 100 Prospects Rankings | MLB.com
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Holy Cow! Watch ‘The Story of Harry Caray’ on MLB Network Presents
Fox Sports: Kershaw, Dodgers players attend City Council vote on Vin Scully Ave.
MLB.com: Feb Five: Handful at crossroads of careers
The New York Times: Honoring Piazza? Paying Cespedes? Meet the Suddenly Generous Mets
The Washington Post: Nats players may have forgiven Jonathan Papelbon, but have the fans?

#FishFriday – January 22, 2016

#FishFriday

Dee Gordon at his contract extension press conference with President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill and Marlins President David Samson. Photo Courtesy: Miami Marlins.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

The Miami Marlins had a busy week as the roster gets closer to being ready for Spring Training.

One of the biggest offseason priorities for Miami was locking down second baseman Dee Gordon to a new contract, and now the 2015 National League batting champion will continue to wear Marlins colors.

Gordon signed a five-year, $50 million dollar deal with the Marlins, and his new contract was introduced at Marlins Park at a press conference on Monday.

The Marlins also welcomed the press back to the ballpark on Tuesday, after signing a five-year contract with left-handed starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. In four years with the Baltimore Orioles, the 30-year-old is 46-32 with a 3.72 ERA, plus went 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 31 starts last season.

Chen helps bolster the Marlins rotation, which should include ace Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler, Jarred Cosart, and then there will be healthy competition for the fifth starter role in Spring Training.

 

It’s also a sad week in the Marlins organization, as one of the best writers in the history of the club has passed away.

Sun Sentinel Marlins beat reporter Juan C. Rodriguez passed away on Monday at the age of 42 after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

His Sun Sentinel colleague Dave Hyde wrote a beautiful tribute to him here.

Juan always cared about what was going on in the Marlins farm system, and kept a close eye on the Jacksonville Suns over the past few years. I helped him get in contact with some Suns players for his stories and we always had a good dialogue about how the Suns were doing.

He will be dearly missed, and thoughts and prayers with his family, friends, and coworkers during this time.

Earlier this week I got to spend some time in Jacksonville in between announcing a JU game on Monday and Alabama’s game at Florida last night. The front office has really taken shape as the countdown is on for Opening Day 2016 (officially 76 days away!).

I also got to sit in on the promotions meeting Wednesday afternoon, and I can promise the fans that a lot of exciting changes are coming to the Baseball Grounds!

Also don’t forget that you can have Southpaw help make your Valentine’s Day extra memorable this year:

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Here are today’s #FishFriday links, have a great weekend!

Marlins.com: Marlins introduce left-hander Chen
Marlins.com: Marlins make 5-year deal with Dee official
MLB.com: Justice: Miami’s fate tied to slugger, ace
Miami Herald: Greg Cote: Trusting Marlins isn’t easy, but smart offseason and sense of direction create hope
Miami Herald: Marlins avoid salary arbitration with Jose Fernandez, sign all eight eligible players
Sun Sentinel: Marlins Park fences being moved, lowered; will still favor pitchers
Fish Stripes: Marlins Pitch F/X Scouting Report: Wei-Yin Chen
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Hot Stove Digest: The Nationals are back in on Yoenis Cespedes
Fox Sports: Big issues that must be addressed before pitchers and catchers report
Bleacher Report: The Road to MLB: Hard and Long for Players, Harder and Longer for Broadcasters
The New York Times: Reds’ Hall of Fame Will Induct Pete Rose

#MarlinsMonday – January 11, 2016

Marlins Monday

Suns manager David Berg. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

Last Friday the Miami Marlins announced the Jacksonville Suns field staff for the 2016 season, with years of Double-A experience highlighting manager David Berg’s staff.

The 2016 Suns Field Staff:

Manager: David Berg
Hitting Coach: Rich Arena
Pitching Coach: Storm Davis
Coach: John Pachot
Trainer: Cesar Roman
Strength & Conditioning: Robert Reichert
Video Assistant: Keanan Lamb

Berg expressed his excitement for the upcoming season on his Twitter account @DavidBergie.

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The Suns also had a busy weekend at the Baseball Grounds, hosting a Food and Beverage job fair on Saturday that will bring many new employees to help Suns fans each night.

In addition to the Suns, the Marlins announced the staffs for each minor league team on Friday, and some former Suns coaches will be in new spots for 2016. After guiding a talented Suns pitching staff in 2015, Derek Botelho will be the pitching coach for Triple-A New Orleans this year. He replaces John Duffy in that role in New Orleans, and Duffy is now the rehab pitching coordinator for the Marlins. Duffy was Suns pitching coach from 2010-14, winning a pair of Southern League titles.

Former Suns player and hitting coach Kevin Randel is back in Greensboro for his second year as Grasshoppers manager, and will be joined by hitting coach Rigoberto Silverio, who served as an extra coach for the Suns in April 2015.

Most discussion for the major league Marlins surrounds Marcel Ozuna, and whether or not he will be in the Miami outfield this summer. The latest reports say that the Marlins are listening to offers on the 2013 Sun, but there is a chance he will remain a Marlin this season.

Here are today’s #MarlinsMonday links, enjoy watching the College Football National Championship Game tonight (maybe root for my other employer the Crimson Tide!).

News 4 JAX: Harold Craw has big plans as GM of Suns
Jacksonville Business Journal: How Ken Babby is taking the Jacksonville Suns into a new phase
The Florida Times-Union: David Berg returns as Jacksonville Suns manager
Marlins.com: Marlins announce player development moves
Marlins.com: Does Ozuna hold key to controllable starter?
Marlins.com: Inbox: Can Marlins lock up Gordon long term?
Fish Stripes: Miami Marlins rumors: Interested in Chen, Sierra
Palm Beach Post: Nationals hire ex-Marlins manager, GM Jennings to help Rizzo
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Hot Stove Digest: NL team making push to acquire R.A. Dickey
ESPN:Olney: Mets boast baseball’s best rotation, but who’s No. 2?
Fox Sports: Marlins don’t want to go to bat with Dee Gordon on this one
The New York Times:With Two Homers, Emotions Go Deep for Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza

 

Suns Announce 2016 Field Staff

Breaking News

David Berg returns to manage the Suns in 2016. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Suns, the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, announced on Friday that David Berg will return to Jacksonville to serve as the club’s manager for the 2016 season. Rejoining Berg from his 2015 field staff will be hitting coach Rich Arena, coach John Pachot, and athletic trainer Cesar Roman. New to the staff in 2016 are pitching coach and Jacksonville native Storm Davis, strength and conditioning coach Robert Reichert, and video assistant Keanan Lamb.

In Berg’s first season as Jacksonville manager in 2015, five Suns received call-ups to the major league Miami Marlins, and seven players were named 2015 Southern League Midseason All-Stars.

“I’m excited to head back to Jacksonville,” Berg said.  “Our staff is excited to work with the Suns new owner Mr. Babby along with his front office to see the fan experience continue to improve at the Baseball Grounds. Suns fans are very passionate and knowledgeable about the game, and I’m excited for this all to come together in a few months.”

Berg is in his seventh season in the Marlins organization. Prior to 2015 in Jacksonville he spent two of the previous three seasons as manager for the Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers. In 2014, Greensboro finished the year with an 87-53 record, tied for first in the division and earned a playoff berth. He spent the 2013 season as the Marlins minor league infield coordinator after leading Greensboro to the South Atlantic League Championship series in 2012. Berg began managing in the Marlins system for the Jamestown Jammers in 2010. As a player, Berg was selected by the Marlins out of the University of Miami in the 38th round of the 1993 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut for the Marlins on April 2, 1998 and he became the lowest-ever draft pick by the franchise to reach the Major Leagues. Berg hit a career best .313 average for the Marlins in 1998. Following the 2001 season, Berg signed with Toronto where he played for three seasons.

Davis, a graduate of University Christian High School and a Jacksonville resident in the offseason, is in his first season in the Marlins organization after spending the previous four years as a pitching coach in the Chicago Cubs organization. He spent the past two years in the Southern League as the pitching coach for the Tennessee Smokies, and was the High-A Daytona Cubs pitching coach in 2013. Davis was also the pitching coach for the Single-A Hickory Crawdads from 2011-12. Davis has also coached in Jacksonville before, serving two stints as the head baseball coach at The Bolles School from 1997-2001 and 2008-09. Davis pitched in the Major Leagues for 13 seasons from 1982-94, and was a member of three World Series clubs, including the Baltimore Orioles (1983) and Oakland Athletics (1989). In total he posted a 113-96 record and 4.02 ERA over 442 games (239 starts) in the Major Leagues.

Arena enters his fourth season working with the Suns and his fifth overall with the Marlins organization. After serving as the Suns third base coach and working with Suns hitters in 2013 and 2014, Arena took over the hitting coach role for 2015. Arena has coached notable Miami Marlins such as Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, J.T. Realmuto, and Derek Dietrich during his time in Jacksonville. Arena spent the 2012 season as the hitting coach for the Jamestown Jammers. Before getting back into affiliated coaching, Arena worked at Team One Management from 2010-11 and coached as his alma mater, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic High School, from 2007-09. He spent the previous 10 years as a scout and coach in the New York Yankees minor league system.

Pachot (pronounced pah-showt), who played in Jacksonville during the Suns’ 2001 Southern League championship season, returns to Jacksonville for his second season as Suns coach. Pachot played 19 years professionally from 1993 to 2011 at all levels of the minor leagues and for several independent leagues as well. In 46 games with the Suns in 2001, he hit .243 with four home runs and 22 RBI.

Roman is in his 10th year overall as a trainer in the Marlins organization and this will be his third season in Jacksonville. Before the Marlins, he worked in the Texas Rangers organization (2003-06). He served as an athletic trainer in the World Baseball Classic for Team Puerto Rico in 2009 and 2013 and for Team Panama in 2006.

Reichert joins the Suns after spending the past three seasons as the strength and conditioning coach for the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Marlins organization. Reichert has been in the Marlins organization since 2012, and has also assisted players with Triple-A New Orleans and the rookie level Gulf Coast League Marlins. Reichert graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science.

Lamb is in his first season in the Marlins organization. He spent last season as a minor league video assistant in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Lamb is a 2014 graduate of the University of Oregon.

ABOUT THE SUNS: A new era of affordable family fun will dawn on the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Opening Day, April 7, 2016, with the Jacksonville Suns under new ownership. The Suns have already unveiled a new lineup of ticket packages for the upcoming season, and you can get part of the action by calling the Suns at (904) 358-2846 or visiting www.jaxsuns.com.

#FishFriday – December 11, 2015

#FishFriday

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

The 2015 Baseball Winter Meetings have concluded in Nashville, Tennessee, and unlike last season, the Miami Marlins had a rather uneventful stay in the Music City.

The Marlins made headlines for listening more than dealing over the past week, with nearly 20 clubs expressing interest in Marlins ace and former Sun Jose Fernandez. Fernandez remains a Marlin despite all the speculation, although the front office will likely still hear interest in the ace throughout the offseason.

The Marlins were active during the Rule 5 draft yesterday, and Miami also claimed left-handed pitcher Mike Strong off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. The Suns saw Strong last year with Biloxi, where he was 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 38 relief appearances with the Shuckers.

It will be different not seeing Viosergy Rosa, Zack Cox, and Chipper Smith in either a Suns or Marlins organization season uniform next year. Those three, along with Alex Burgos, were claimed by other clubs yesterday during the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft.

Here are today’s #FishFriday headlines, enjoy the weekend everyone!

Suns Baseball Network: Suns on Move in Rule 5 Draft
Marlins.com: As Jose rumors subside, Marlins set for quiet exit
Marlins.com: Rule 5 Draft busy at Minor League levels
Miami Herald: After whiffing at Winter Meetings, Marlins hope to find ‘bargains’ before spring training
Miami Herald: Linda Robertson: Barry Bonds gets second chance in Miami
Sun Sentinel: Mattingly aims to energize baseball in Miami
Fish Stripes: Marlins add depth through Rule 5 draft
Fish Stripes: Price for Ozuna, Fernandez remains high
Ballpark Digest: Allen new Tennessee Smokies president
Ballpark Digest: MLB netting recommendations unveiled
MiLB.com: Goeddel, Cave lead Rule 5 Draft selections
MiLB.com: Wrapping up the Winter Meetings ‘whirlwind’
ESPN: Stark: Winter meetings winners and losers
Fox Sports: Braves took major step forward by trading Shelby Miller
The New York Times: For Yankees and Mets, Key Word Is Caution

 

Suns on the Move in Rule 5 Draft

Breaking News

Former Suns first baseman Viosergy Rosa was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the Triple-A Phase of today’s Rule 5 Draft. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft saw several notable former Jacksonville Suns on the move from the Miami Marlins to new organizations.

2015 Suns Zack Cox, Chipper Smith, Viosergy Rosa, and Alex Burgos will all play for new organizations in 2016.

Most attention goes to the major league phase of the Rule-5 draft, where players selected must remain on the active major league roster for a minimum of 90 days the next season, or be returned to their previous organization. However that is not the case in the Triple-A or Double-A phase of the Rule 5 draft, where there is a lot of movement that impacts the Southern League.

Not every minor league player can be picked, but players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played in pro ball for five years.

Zack Cox with the Suns in 2015. Photo Courtesy: Jay Metz

With the eighteenth pick of the Triple-A phase of the draft, the Washington Nationals selected third baseman Zack Cox from the Marlins. Cox had played in a Suns uniform from 2012-13, plus spent most of 2015 in Jacksonville.

Cox is coming off of the best season of his Marlins organization career. Cox had the rare distinction of being a 2015 Southern League Postseason and Midseason All-Star, after hitting .321 with four homers and 27 RBI in 103 games played for the Suns in 2015 before being transferred to Triple-A New Orleans on August 19. Cox, originally selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2010 draft out of Arkansas, was acquired by the Marlins in a trade with the Cardinals in 2012.

Chipper Smith with the Suns in 2015. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover.

The second round of the Triple-A phase saw more movement for former Suns. The Baltimore Orioles selected left-handed pitcher Chipper Smith, who had pitched the last two seasons in Jacksonville.

Smith made his Suns debut in May 2014, and in 14 starts that season went 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA in 65 innings on the mound. Smith started the 2015 season with Jacksonville, yet also had a stint with High-A Jupiter midway through the year. Smith returned to the Suns to close the year, and overall went 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 appearances and 16 starts.

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Also in the second round, the Oakland Athletics selected first baseman Viosergy Rosa from the Marlins.

Rosa first came to Jacksonville just in time for the 2014 playoff push. In the final 20 games of that season, he hit .292 with two homers and 17 RBI to help during Jacksonville’s 10-game winning streak to close the season and earn a playoff berth. In the playoffs Rosa hit four homers in along with a .379 average and 14 RBI in seven postseason games. His home run hitting was instrumental in the Suns’ sweep of the Chattanooga Lookouts in the finals, and Rosa was named the 2014 Southern League Championship Series Most Valuable Player.

Rosa entered the 2015 season as the Baseball America No. 23 Marlins prospect. He finished the season hitting .217 with 10 homers and 59 RBI. Rosa got off to a slow start at the plate, hitting .190 with two homers and 27 RBI in the first half, but in the second half those numbers improved to a .245 average, eight homers, and 32 RBI, playing in 61 games both halves.

Additionally left-handed relief pitcher Alex Burgos was selected from by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the Triple-A phase. Burgos pitched in 10 games and made one start, going 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in 29 and two-thirds innings pitched.

Along with seeing Cox picked by the Nationals in the first round of the Triple-A phase, the Marlins also saw the Braves select right-handed pitcher Enderson Franco, and the Dodgers select RHP Felipe Gonzalez.

In round two, the Marlins lost right-handed pitcher D.J. Johnson to the Los Angeles Angels.

The Marlins gained right-handed pitcher Patrick Johnson from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the Triple-A Phase. Johnson reached the High-A level in the Rockies organizaiton in 2013, and spent last season in independent baseball with Sioux City, where he was 15-1 with a 2.08 ERA in the American Association.

In the second round, the Marlins selected catcher Maxx Tissenbaum from the Tampa Bay Rays. Tissenbaum spent last season at High-A Charlotte, where in 73 games he .257 with one home run and 33 RBI. Tissenbaum was originally selected by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round of the 2012 draft from Stony Brook University.

The Marlins also selected right-handed pitcher Juan Caballero from the St. Louis Cardinals. Caballero hasn’t pitched above rookie level with the Cardinals, spending last season in Johnson City in the Appalachian League.

Other notable Southern Leaguers on the move today include former Montgomery Biscuits outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who was the first pick of the major league phase by the Philadelphia Phillies. Former Jackson Generals outfielder Jabari Blash was selected from the Mariners by the Athletics, and former Biscuits outfielder Joey Rickard was selected by the Orioles from the Rays.

A full list of today’s Rule 5 draft results can be found here.

#FishFriday – November 20, 2015

#FishFriday

The Marlins announced updates to the 2016 schedule this week, with exhibitions against the Yankees in Miami and regular season games against the Pirates in Puerto Rico.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

It’s been a busy week of news for the Jacksonville Suns parent club Miami Marlins, with major announcements for the 2016 Marlins club, along with speculation about next year’s roster.

The Marlins spring training schedule has been released, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Jupiter, Florida on Febr. 19, full-squad workouts on Feb. 22, and then an exhibition match-up with the University of Miami on March 1 at Roger Dean Stadium.

Before the exhibition portion of the schedule comes to an end, the Marlins will be in Miami from April 1-2 to face the New York Yankees at Marlins Park.

The Marlins will also venture to Puerto Rico from May 30-31 to face the Pittsburgh Pirates at Hiram Bithorn Stadium as part of Roberto Clemente Day, which MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced would be May 31.

There has been rampant speculation about whether Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who pitched for the Suns last June as part of his rehab assignment, will be in Miami next season. MLB.com reporter Joe Frisaro believes Fernandez will be in a Marlins uniform for next year and years to come, and there are no plans to trade him at this time. Fernandez is under club control until 2018.

In Jacksonville preparations continue for the 2016 season of Suns baseball, and creative services manager Brian DeLettre put together a list of all 60 former Suns that saw time in the majors in 2015.

Also congratulations to our neighbors the Jacksonville Jaguars, who defeated the Tennessee Titans 19-13 last night on NFL Network. Personally I loved the gold jerseys, and would like to see them beyond this color rush game!

As for yours truly, I’m once again in the Yellow Hammer state, where I’ll be on the call on the SEC Network+ on the WatchESPN app as the Alabama Crimson Tide host the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns in men’s basketball at 8/7 central p.m. tonight. We’d love some viewers from Jacksonville!

Here are your #FishFriday links, have a great weekend everyone!

Marlins.com: Marlins to host Bucs in PR to celebrate Clemente
Marlins.com: Expanded safety nets, in-market streaming coming in ’16
Marlins.com: Hechavarria could land a deal like Crawford’s
Miami Herald: Loss of his mother to domestic violence spurred Dee Gordon to comfort others
Miami Herald: Sports Buzz: Marlins address Jose Fernandez trade report
Sun Sentinel: Miami Marlins 2016 Spring Training schedule [PDF]
Fish Stripes: 2016 Miami Marlins Offseason Plan: Strengths
Ballpark Digest: Texas League unveils new logo for 2016
Birmingham Barons:White Sox & Barons Extend PDC
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Nationals MVP Bryce Harper to the haters: “I enjoy getting booed”
Yahoo! Big League Stew: MLB announces tweaks to 2016 opening day schedule
The New York Times: Danger at the Ballpark, and in a Baseball Ticket’s Fine Print
SportsonEarth:The best active non-MVPs

#FishFriday – November 6, 2015

#FishFriday

Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill along with new Marlins manager Don Mattingly and President David Samson. Photo Courtesy: Miami Marlins.

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

After the 2015 baseball season came to an end in the early morning hours of Monday, the first week of the true offseason has brought a lot of news for both the Jacksonville Suns and their parent club the Miami Marlins.

Monday was an exciting day at the Baseball Grounds, where the Suns announced the 2016 schedule and new more affordable ticket prices. Now bleacher/berm seats are only $5, reserved seats $9, and dugout box seats $18.

You can watch the entire press conference with Suns owner Ken Babby and general manager Harold Craw here:

 

Meanwhile in Miami, the Marlins also held a press conference on Monday to announce that Don Mattingly is the new manager.

Mattingly comes to Miami after managing the Los Angeles Dodgers to five straight winning seasons and three straight division titles. Mattingly was a legendary player with the New York Yankees, winning the 1985 American League Most Valuable Player Award, and he racked up 2,153 hits during his 14 major league seasons.

Mattingly talked about his new role with the Marlins on MLB Network’s Hot Stove with Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian on Wednesday:

 

While professional baseball games have come to an end (congratulations to the Kansas City Royals on their World Series title), games continue in the Arizona Fall League, where former Suns are performing well against the game’s top prospects.

2015 Suns shortstop J.T. Riddle is hitting .318 through his first six games in the AFL, and earlier this week he visited with MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo:

 

Also, huge congratulations to our sister organization the Akron RubberDucks on winning the very prestigious Larry MacPhail Award!

Here are today’s #FishFriday links, hope everyone has a great weekend!

The Florida Times Union: New Jacksonville Suns owner promises lower ticket prices, major revamps to operations
The Florida Times Union: Suns announce lower ticket prices, $5 general admission for 2016 season
MiLB.com: Suns GM on MiLB Diversity Symposium Panel
Marlins.com: 5 issues facing Marlins after hiring Mattingly
Marlins.com: Watch Marlins prospect Dean in Saturday’s Fall Stars Game
Marlins.com: Marlins likely to go trade route for rotation help
Miami Herald: Greg Cote: Don Mattingly seems like good hire for Miami Marlins, but the Loria Lens colors everything they do
Sun Sentinel:Marlins will shop for bargains in free-agent sweepstakes
Yahoo! Big League Stew: The Rays and Mariners swapped six players in first trade of the offseason
Yahoo! Big League Stew: Here’s what Petco Park looks like as a nine-hole golf course
ESPN: MLB Future Power Rankings: What could go wrong with the Cubs?
Sports on Earth: 2015 MLB Tortured Fan Base Rankings

 

Jason Patterson’s Eye On The Southern League – 2015 Season Review

Eye On The Southern League

EyeonSL

One Final “Look”…

      CHATTANOOGA LOOKOUTS – 2015 SOUTHERN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSlookoutlogo

       #NoogaStrong – Chattanooga is in fact strong, both on and off the field!

The 2015 campaign will likely be remembered as the year Biloxi joined the Southern League by occupying the much anticipated and long-awaited MGM Park. In the end, however, it was one of Minor League Baseball’s most historic and recognizable franchises responsible for writing the season’s final chapter. The Chattanooga Lookouts emerged once again as Southern League Champions in their first year as a Twins affiliate under the direction of former big leaguer Doug Mientkiewicz.

It was marked by a Championship Series which turned everything fans knew about these clubs on its head in dramatic fashion. Billed as a battle between easily the league’s best hitting (Chattanooga) and fiercest pitching (Biloxi) squads over the long haul of the full season, the series provided a complete role reversal. Ironically Biloxi would outhit the the sluggers from Chattanooga only to see the Lookouts use stellar pitching and a Game Five shutout en route to claiming victory. Isn’t that the lure of this great game of baseball, you just never know.

Congratulations are in order for both clubs after embracing and overcoming very different, yet palpable challenges all season long. While the road warriors came up one win short of a title, they provided a narrative that will be re-visited for generations to come. Chattanooga’s high expectations and continual roster turnover was ultimately handled with a clubhouse chemistry that bonded together those who remained, and in reality an entire city, on the journey to the Lookouts first Championship since 1988.

The Lookouts-Shuckers series was the perfect finish to a memorable year. When the dust settled, Chattanooga and Biloxi had entertained baseball fans right down to the last possible day requiring the maximum of five games to settle the Southern League crown.

Lookouts-Champs

A “Look” Back At The Series…

2015 Southern League Championship Series
Chattanooga WINS series 3 Games To 2

Game 1:    Biloxi 7 Chattanooga 2      MGM Park      Biloxi leads 1-0
Game 2:    Chattanooga 6 Biloxi 1      MGM Park      Series tied 1-1
Game 3:    Biloxi 2 Chattanooga 0      AT&T Field      Biloxi leads 2-1
Game 4:    Chattanooga 4 Biloxi 2      AT&T Field      Series tied 2-2
Game 5:    Chattanooga 4 Biloxi 0      AT&T FIeld      Lookouts Win!!!

Series MVP: Chattanooga Pitcher Jason Wheeler

The 2015 Season At A Glance…

-Yearly Awards handed down by the League Office prior to Post-Season-
Southern League MVP: Max Kepler (Chattanooga Lookouts)
Southern League Pitcher of Year: Jorge Lopez (Biloxi Shuckers)
Southern League Manager of Year: Carlos Subero (Biloxi Shuckers)

-Best Of The Best-
Overall Record: Biloxi Shuckers 78-59
Home Record: Montgomery Biscuits 45-25
Road Record: Chattanooga Lookouts 42-28**
**Nearly half Biloxi’s home wins were actual road games
Team Batting Title: Montgomery Biscuits .264
Team Home Run Title: Chattanooga Lookouts 107
Team Stolen Base Leader: Chattanooga Lookouts 164
Team E.R.A. Crown: Biloxi Shuckers 3.25
Team Strikeout Crown: Montgomery Biscuits 1,158
Post-Season Batting: Biloxi Shuckers .253
Post-Sesaon E.R.A.: Chattanooga 2.63

-Individual Accomplishments-
Batting Champ: Wilson Contreras (TEN) .333
HR King: Adam Brett Walker II (CHT) 31
RBI King: Adam Brett Walker II (CHT) 106
Stolen Base Leader: Tim Anderson (BIR) 49
E.R.A. King: Tyler Wagner (BLX) 2.25
Wins Leaders: Myles Jaye (BIR) Jorge Lopez (BLX) 12
Strikeout King: Jamie Schultz (MTG) 168
Saves Leader: Zack Weiss (PNS) 25

-Post-Season Leaders-
Batting: Orlando Arcia (BLX) .400 (12-for-30)
HR: Orlando Arcia (BLX) 3
RBI: Orlando Arcia (BLX) 10
Wins: Wagner, Lopez (BLX), Hurlbut (CHT) 2
E.R.A.: Tyler Wagner (BLX) 0.00
Strikeouts: Lopez, Houser (BLX) 15

The Final Spotlight…
         -JP’s Eye On The Southern League “Golden Eye” Top Performing Prospect of 2015-
       OF Adam Brett Walker II – Chattanooga Lookouts – Minnesota Twins Organization
     -Walker joins Kris Bryant, who was last season’s Southern League Central Top Performer-

-JP’s Eye On The Southern League “Post-Season Performer” Top Performing Prospect In Playoffs-
          SS Orlando Arcia – Biloxi Shuckers – Milwaukee Brewers Organization

A Last Glance At The Final 2015 Standings…

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Jason Patterson’s Eye On The Southern League – Championship Edition

Eye On The Southern League

EyeonSL

By Jason Patterson
Jacksonville Suns

The Championship Series…

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First Glance…

Two Remain. It all comes down to Biloxi and Chattanooga. Both first half champions survived their respective Division Series to compete for the title. It’s a baseball fan’s dream of power pitching vs power hitting for the 2015 Southern League crown.

Chattanooga entered its first season as a Minnesota Twins affiliate with the highest expectations in the Southern League, thanks to a full arsenal of high-profile prospects. Despite continual roster turnover and countless role changes related to key personnel, they have continued to consistently rise to the occasion. The Lookouts have handled the pressure with solid team chemistry and a never say die approach which has allowed them to stand on the doorstep of eighty-wins and a first league tittle since 1988.

Perhaps no team in all of Minor League Baseball has overcome more adversity than Biloxi. Literally without a home for nearly the entire first half of the season, this core group of road warriors proceeded to simply win more game than anyone else in 2015. Whatever the final result, it is fitting that this storybook season for the Shuckers will finish on the road at AT&T Field.

The Shuckers boast the best pitching staff in the league and a starting rotation which went 3-0 in the division series against Pensacola. Southern League Pitcher of the Year Jorge Lopez and rotation mate Tyler Wagner set the tone. The duo combined for 12 2/3 scoreless innings in the Division Series. Mix in Adrian Houser’s complete game shutout (which featured six innings of perfection) in Game Two and it becomes clear why this starting group is fifthly good.

Led by Adam Brett Walker II and Southern League MVP Max Kepler, the Lookouts were easily the best offensive club in the Southern League this year. This trend and their leadership remained in the opening round of the playoffs. Down to their final strike more than once in the opening game of the NDCS, the club battled back and set the tone with a two-run single as a walk-off winner from the league MVP to set the tone. Walker homered twice in the series, providing the breathing room heading into the late innings of the team’s Game 4 clincher.

For all of Chattanooga’s offensive firepower, Shuckers shortstop Orlando Arcia provided the marquee Division Series performance at the plate. In just three games Arcia batted .615 (8 for 13), homering twice and scoring five of Biloxi’s seventeen runs while driving home six more. In addition, the Brewers top prospect posted a trio of doubles and one triple in the series.

With the two clubs splitting their eight regular season meetings right down the middle, it’s probably not a bad idea to pre-purchase tickets for games four and five in Chattanooga. The matchup features a classic Southern League franchise “looking” for a return to glory against the circuit’s impressive newest member. Whatever the ultimate result, these teams will end the year having posted more wins than anyone else in the league. This much is sure, two championship worthy organizations will clash in two great Southern League cities over the next several days.

Seeing The Big Picture…

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Players To Focus On…

The series features both the Southern League’s Player of the Year & Pitcher of the Year:

Chattanooga: Max Kepler (Lookouts Outfielder, 2015 Southern League MVP)
Kepler is a primetime performer with a knack for clutch hits, including the walk-off knock in the Division Series opener.
Biloxi: Jorge Lopez (RHP, 2015 Southern League Pitcher of the Year)
Lopez will be the starter for Game One, hoping to repeat his foundational performance in the Division Series opener.

A Look Back At The Division Series….

North Division Championship SeriesCHATTANOOGA WINS (3 Games To 1)
Chattanooga Lookouts (1st Half Champs) vs Montgomery Biscuits (2nd Half Champs)

Game 1 @ Chattanooga – Chattanooga 4 Montgomery 3
Game 2 @ Chattanooga – Montgomery 6 Chattanooga 5
Game 3 @ Montgomery – Chattanooga 7 Montgomery 3
Game 4 @ Montgomery – Chattanooga 4 Montgomery 1

South Division Championship Series – BILOXI WINS (3 Games To 0)
Biloxi Shuckers (1st Half Champs) vs Pensacola Blue Wahoos (2nd Half Champs)

Game 1 @ Biloxi – Biloxi 4 Pensacola 2
Game 2 @ Biloxi – Biloxi 6 Pensacola 0
Game 3 @ Pensacola – Biloxi 7 Pensacola 5