March Madness

Well it is certainly a happening time if you are a sports fan and work for a full-season minor league baseball team. Not only is opening day fast approaching (26 days, 4 hours, 53 minutes according to our ticker), but the NCAA Tournament is back again, with the two most maddening days coming up tomorrow and Friday. The tournament technically started last night and I — like half the people that actually have truTV — fell in and out of love with Iona within a two hour span. It was good while it lasted (as was Iona’s 25-point lead). Nonetheless, it is an exciting time for basketball and baseball fans alike.

Down in Scottsdale, the big story is pitching, mainly because the Diamondbacks have tons of it. If Arizona repeats as National League West Champions, pitching will figure to play a big part. And if that’s the case, a few former Silver Hawks will likely be in the mix, including Josh Collmenter who pitched for the Hawks in 2008.

Collmenter is an interesting story IMO…

Listening to sports talk radio a few days ago, Eric Byrnes, a former Diamondback himself, said that Collmenter would be the one guy he would want to face least in the Diamondbacks rotation — a staff that features the likes of Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill and Ian Kennedy, three guys that aren’t “aces” necessarily but seemingly have more raw talent than Collmenter. Very few soft-throwing right-handers succeed at the big league level, but those that do are deceptive … and Collmenter is just that. So from afar, Byrnes’ comment seems strange, but in reality, it makes complete sense. It’s harder to hit what you can’t see, regardless of velocity.

Collmenter was very efficient in his lone season with South Bend. During that ’08 season, all 27 of his appearances were starts and he went 12-8 with a 3.41 ERA. The following season at High-A Visalia, he logged 27 more starts. With the exception of a rough stint in Reno, he has been very consistent. Not a bad recipe.

He is certainly a “feel-good” story though. Triple-A Reno was none too kind to him in 2010 and he was not really on the radar prior to 2011. Baseball America didn’t even have him listed as one of the organizations Top 30 prospects. But you don’t have to be a stereotypical “prospect” to succeed at the big league level and you don’t necessarily have to throw 95 MPH to make a living (that certainly helps, though). Just ask Jamie Moyer, who has pitched well into his 40s without a fastball. Deceptiveness, consistency and durability can go a long way.

Whether Collmenter has longevity remains to be seen. The average big league career is very short. Organizations do their homework and many pitchers encounter that “sophomore slump,” as they say. In the meantime, it is very fun to watch the classic “underdog” — a former Hawk no less — carve a niche with the big boys.

Speaking of Jamie Moyer, he is now 49, and trying to make the roster with Colorado. He’s logged five innings and currently has a 1.80 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .222 against him so far. He made 19 starts in his age-47 season with the Phillies and did not pitch in 2011. Trivia: The last time Jamie Moyer was in Single-A (non-rehab) was 1985 with the Winston-Salem Spirits in the Chicago Cubs organization. Moyer won eight games and was teammates with Dave Martinez who played 16 big league seasons and retired in 2001. Martinez is currently 47. Moyer’s tenure in Single-A predates the Silver Hawks franchise.

Soft throwers can last a long, long time.

I’ll be sure to post a few renovation photos at some point this week. Also, you can now purchase tickets online, so be sure to snag some for the April 9 home opener and any other dates that pique your interest. Best of luck if you have a team in the NCAA Tournament — my Zags drew a No. 7 seed and are playing West Virginia tomorrow night.

Until next time,

TL

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