Tag Archives: chicago cubs

Wizards Where R They: Kyler Burke

Kyler Burke was selected by the San Diego Padres in the supplemental first round of the 2006 First Year Player Draft (35th overall). As a senior at Ooltewah High School in Tennessee he batted .459 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs in 45 games. While in Fort Wayne with the Wizards in 2007, Burke hit .211 with 45 hits and 1 home run in 213 at-bats.
Then he was traded to the Chicago Cubs with Fort Wayne native, Rob Bowen, in return for Michael Barrett. Interestingly, Burke is the only one of the three to still be with the organization he was traded to as a result of that trade.

But the stay has not been easy for Burke.

The 21-year-old Burke endured a disappointing 2008 season that saw his confidence drop and his status with Baseball America ‘s prospect ratings basically fall off.

“Every guy is different. How they learn and how they develop and the pace they learn is very unpredictable,” Chicago Cubs minor-league hitting coordinator Dave Keller said. “The things he went through, being in (the Hawaiian Winter League) and going through that and some of the adversity he went through the last couple of years, he’s learning from all that and applying it in a game” [PJStar.com]

Through his first 50 games with Peoria in 2009, Burke is hitting .282 with 50 hits, 27 runs and a league leaging 22 doubles. He’s hit 4 homers with 25 runs batted in and 5 stolen bases. It’s a perfomance that is good enough to earn him a Midwest League All-Star Selection.  

Photo: Kyler Burke during an at-bat at Memorial Stadium – by Chad Gramling

And Why Did it Take Ten Years for Bobby Scales?

Earlier this month, former Fort Wayne Wizard, Bobby Scales made his Major League Debut after more than a decade in the minor leagues without as much as one at-bat in the MLB level. At the time, the call-up was expected to last mere days as he filled in as a utility infielder during some injuries. When Aramis Ramirez dislocated his shoulder, Scales got the assurance of a longer look.

And apparently, the stars remain in alignment. He got called up when staff ace, Carlos Zambrano went down to injury. Then he got an extended stay when Ramirez got hurt. That same day, Cubs GM Jim Hendry traded Joey Gathright to the Orioles in return for Ryan Freel – which could have meant Scales was on his way back to Triple-A Iowa. However, Freel was damaged goods, bowing out to a hamstring injury the night he was to make his Cubs debut.

Scales first career hit came off of reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum. Since then, he’s proven he belongs in the Majors. And others are starting to take notice.

Coming into today’s game, Scales led National League rookies in batting average and on base percentage with a .429 mark in both categories. After today’s game in which he went 2-4 with a walk and two runs scored, he’s hitting .444 with a .474 OBP . He’s also slugging .833.

Oh, and by the way, he now has a six-game hitting streak; just one short the longest for a Cubs player to start a career since Jerome Walton did it back in 1989. As you might remember, Walton was named the National League Rookie of the Year that year.

On May 12th, Scales hit his first Major League home run against the visiting San Diego Padres, the team who drafted him in the 14th round back in 1999. Scales was as surprised as anyone, and appeared humbled while keeping things in perspective as he was interviewed following the game:

That home run was a pinch hit. His first career pinch hit was a triple.

Scales persistence has almost become this season’s equivelant of last season’s Josh Hamilton Story. Bloggers who don’t even typically blog about baseball are lauding Scale’s character. It’s become an inspiring story of hope and redemption. And through it all, Scales remains grounded yet confident in his abilities:

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, so go ahead and get one mark on the board,” said Scales . . . I knew for a fact that I could play here. That never wavered. Whether you get opportunities or not, that’s not up to me. There are guys I know — good players that had better numbers than me — who never got a chance for whatever reason.”

I am glad that Bobby Scales stuck it out. From people I have spoken with and even some of the commenters of this blog have told me that he is genuinely one of the nicest guys anyone will ever meet and is certainly deserving of what he is achieving right now.

But I remain fixated on that statement, “who never got a chance for whatever reason.” Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but when I hear this story, tremendous as it is, I wonder if Scales (and those others of whom he speaks) would have been up four or five years earlier had baseball not been in the midst of the now infamous “steroid era”.

Scales probably was not inferring the injustice of that era, and I am not trying to put words into his motuh, but I think specifically to another former Fort Wayne Wizard, Dan Naulty, who was man enough to come clean about his experiences with HGH and the like:

I had cheated my way right onto the team that year by using steroids, human growth hormone and amphetamines. I was watching my so-called friends leave big-league camp, beginning another grueling year in the minors, while I kept sticking needles in my butt and patting them on the back as they were dismissed. . . I took a roster spot of another athlete who was competing naturally. This causes a domino effect on all the levels below – someone loses their job and the financial security of that job. Then they’re on to another small minor-league town where their children have to move schools again. Their wives are being put through another disappointing year of loneliness while their husband keeps trying to make it to the major leagues.

Naulty was a member of the 1999 New York Yankees World Series team. As fate would have it, that was pretty much the end of his big league career. If you want to read more about Nautly’s experiences, click here. It’s a fascinating story that is simply overlooked or swept under the rug by pretty much all the sports talking heads in mainstream media.

So forgive if I think of all the “Bobby Scales” of the baseball world when I read about all the “Dan Naulty” like players that also inhabited it. I think about how many had given up their dreams of hitting the Major Leagues because they weren’t quite good enough to crack the roster of a team that probably had players who took shortcuts. Not to mention the veterans who got pushed out the door in favor of up and coming sluggers with less experience but much inflated exuberance.

We’ll never know how many players were juicing and we’ll never know how many other players missed out becuase of the shortcuts those other players too, but watching Bobby Scales makes me smile. I suspect we’ll see more like him in the coming years. Last year saw the White Sox bring up 30-year-old DeWayne Wise and there may be others of which I have no knowledge. Could it be that the youth movements might now require a little more seasoning?

Maybe – as far as baseball and the new “steroid free” era are concerned – 30 is the new 27!

More Bobby Scales:

 Related BBIFW Posts on Bobby Scales:

Bobby Scales Debut May be Coming

Bobby Scales has been on the verge of making “the show” for years. He’s been a minor league player for a decade and has spent the last five years at Triple-A with no call-up. During the offseason, he chose to resign with the Cubs rather than take his chances with yet another organzation.

This spring, he battled along with two other former Wizards for a backup infielder role, presumably third base. None of the three got the job (Luis Rivas was released and Corey Koskie officially retired). He was among the late spring cuts and actually went with the Cubs to New York for the exhibition games in New Yankee Stadium.

This spring, I predicted Scales as one fo the “sure thing” former Wizards to make their MLB debuts this season. He’s started the 2009 campaign, his second as an Iowa Cub, pretty well. In 20 games, he’s seen 72 at-bats and compiled a .306 average with 22 hits, a triple, two home runs and nine runs batted in. He’s also drawn nine walks and has a .378 OBP.

You have to figure that being a third baseman at Iowa, you stand a good probability of getting a cup of coffee with the Chicago Cubs before the season is out. Given that Aramis Ramirez is oft-injured, Scales may be called upon to see some action. In fact, the injury bug is buzzing around Aramis currently as he deals with inflamation in his left calf. Entering the day, there was speculation that Ramirez might have to take a brief DL stint, so the Cubs had Scales at the park just in case.

The Cubs are also currently carrying an extra outfielder, which leaves them a player short for the infield. Today, the Cubs used Mike Fontenot and backup catcher, Koyie Hill at third in an 8-2 loss to Florida. Said Cubs’ manager Lou Pinella of the situation:

“We’ve gone as far as we can without an extra infielder,” said manager Lou Piniella. “It’s decision time. If we have to do something, we’ll bring up Scales. He’s been in the Minor Leagues a long time, and it’ll be a wonderful opportunity for him.”

It doesn’t get much closer than that! Scales’ time is coming. I’m rooting for you Bobby.

Bobby Scales Going to New York…as a Cub

Bobby Scales should be on the Cubs’ roster. He should have already gotten his chance on the major League Level. But alas, he’s being place at Triple-A Iowa and told he might get to go to the show this season if cicumstances allow it.

But at least the Cubs realize and are rewarding his decision to return to the Cubs rather than try his luck at yet another organization.

A number of them, including Bobby Scales, will be on the charter to New York. That gives the Cubs some extra bodies for the two exhibition games at new Yankee Stadium. It also rewards the guys who were with the team most of the spring with a big-league trip, and to Yankee Stadium, no less.

And Then There Were None; Rivas and Scales Sent Packing

If you follow this blog, you know that I’ve been following the backup 3B spot with the Chicago Cubs this spring. At one point, we had three former Wizards vying for the spot.

Corey Koskie retired, leaving Luis Rivas and Bobby Scales. I had been pulling for Scales, so I was bummed when I read they had demoted him today. Also today, I was looking over the Cubs’ recent transactions, and saw that Rivas was sent down on March 17th.

I guess the’ll put Aaron Miles in the spot. But they did free up room on the 40-man roster, so one has to speculate a trade is in the works.

Cubs Invite Scales and Rivas to Spring Training

The Chicago Cubs have included two former Wizards, Luis Rivas and Bobby Scales, on their list of non-roster Spring Training invitees.

Luis Rivas with the Wizards in 1997Rivas is the most known and experienced of the two. He has previously played with the Twins, Indians, Rays and most recently, the Pirates. When he came through Fort Wayne with the Wizards in 1997, he was a considered their number one prospect. He debuted in 2000 but saw his career largely derailed at the hands of several injury-plagued seasons.

Last season, Rivas won an opening day spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates, in part due to Freddy Sanchez being injured. On that season, he hit .218 over 206 at-bats and 76 games.

With the Wizards in 1997, Rivas appeared in 121 games and hit .239 with 100 hits and 30 runs batted in over 419 at-bats. More about Luis Rivas can be found on page 58 of Baseball in Fort Wayne.

Bobby Scales played the full 2008 season within the Cubs organization at Trople-A Iowa. The 31-year-old infielder set career highs in batting average at .320 and had 94 runs, 59 walks to go along with a .415 on-base percentage over 121 games.

He finished tied for eighth in the Pacific Coast League batting race and finished tied for second in runs scored. A switch-hitter and right-handed fielder, he begins his 11th pro season after he was originally selected by San Diego in the 14th round of the 1999 Draft [DesMoinesRegister.com]

In addition to San Diego and Chicago, Scales has played in the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies organizations.

You may also be interested in reading these posts:

Photograph of Luis Rivas is courtesy of the Fort Wayne TinCaps.

I Saw Them in Fort Wayne: Felix Pie

When I started taking photos of Midwest League Players back in 2003, one of the first players I sought out was Felix Pie, of the Lansing Lugnuts.

Felix Pie with the visiting Lugnuts in 2004

The Lugnuts have since changed their affiliation from the Chicago Cubs to the Toronto Blue Jays. Meanwhile, Pie had worked his way through the minor league system with the Cubs and had played in several games at the Major League Level.
Felix Pie with the visiting Lugnuts in 2004

However, the once heralded and supposed five-tool prospect that was once “untouchable” has been traded to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for a couple middle releivers -hander Garrett Olson and Class-A right-hander Henry Williamson.

That’s quite a fall from grace. Seems to be the exact same path that Corey Patterson took to go from uber-prospect to big league bust.

These photos were taken early on in the game, probably his first at-bat of the game. If I recall correctly, he stole second pretty easily after reaching first base. The Wizards Catcher (above) is Andres Pagan. The Wizards player on first (right) is Paul McAnulty (who recently signed with Boston).

As a Cubs fan, I had looked forward to the day i would get to see Pie roam the outfield at Wrigley and become the next great Cubs player.

But unfortunately, like most other Cubs fans, I’ve come to realize that Pie will never prosper with the Cubs. If he has any chance at a big-league career, it has to be with another organization. It needs to be an organization where there is not so built to win now. Baltimore fits that bill.

Best of luck to you Felix.

Note: Thanks to BK, a reader who noted some innacurracies and provided additional information (see comments).

Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry to be Featured Speaker in Fort Wayne

It’s cold outside. Rally cold. And to make matters worse, the so-called Hot Stove League has been little more than agent posturing, absurd rumors and barely keeping the burner warm for Springtime longing baseball fans. At least things will be warming up in January when Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry takes the podium as the featured speaker at the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation’s (FWSC) Annual Banquet on January 29. The banquet and sports memorabilia auction take place at Ceruti’s Reception Hall starting at 6 p.m. and is open to the general public.

Fort Wayne native and current Cleveland Indians manager, Eric Wedge, will also be on there to talk about his team and the Eric Wedge Baseball Camp, which occurs on Saturday, January 24 at the ASH Centre.

Those who are interested in attending the event can RSVP for $85 per person (75 for Fort Wayne Sports Corp. members). Organizations can reserve a table of eight for $525. Proceeds go to the Special Olympics of Allen County, the World Baseball Academy that is planned for Fort Wayne, and the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation to provide Eric Wedge Baseball Camp scholarships for kids.

Contact the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation at (260) 420-1305 to make reservations. For more information, please visit EricWedgeBaseballCamp.com.

Is Trading Peavy a Part of Padres’ Offseason Plans?

Jake Peavy with the Fort Wayne WizardsWith us being on the verge of closing the book on the 2008 MLB year, I thought now would be a good time to introduce what is sure to be one of the biggest Wizards Alumni topics.

If you don’t maintain a blog about Fort Wayne Baseball or are not an avid fan of the San Diego Padres, you may not be aware that the Padres are considering dealing their ace, former Wizard Jake Peavy.

It’s certainly a notion the organization must consider. After a miserable season, rumors of a sale in the wake of an ownership divorce and what appears to be a conscious decision to rebuild with youth, Peavy would pretty much be a wasted talent for a large portion of his remaining contract; which runs through 2013. They might as well see what they can land on the market in terms of prospects who will be Major League ready when the team is ready to truly compete again.

The Friars initially courted five teams; Atlanta, St. Louis, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros.

Reportedly, Peavy said at the regular season’s end that he would not consider waiving his no-trade clause for a trade to an AL team. He’d also require a full no-trade clause wherever he ultimately ends up.

Peavy, 27, has full no-trade rights through 2010 per the three-year, $52 million extension he signed in December. But in 2011 he can be traded without his consent to 14 clubs, and in 2012-13 can block a trade to only eight clubs.

“The Astros inquired about Peavy in July and appeal to the pitcher, whose close friends include Astros ace Roy Oswalt” [SignOnSanDiego]. However, before Astros fans even had a chance to get excited about the news, reports soon surfaced that it is unlikely Houston would have the pitching prospects that San Diego seeks in return.

The Atlanta Branves quickly emerged as a likley candidate to land the former Cy Young Winner’s services. However, Braves GM, Frank Wren, issued a statement to the Associated Press that insists the “Braves won’t trade their most valued prospects.” 

With the Cardinals choosing to decline their option on Mark Mulder and the uncertainty sorrounding the comeback of Chris Carpetner, one might speculate that St. Louis would at least have interest. A trade to St. Louis would probably take top prospect Colby Rasmus and two pitching prospects. That said, they are still not considered a serious contender:

…the Cardinals and Padres have had only one conversation concerning Peavy, and the discussion didn’t lead to any follow-up negotiations.  And so the chances of the Cardinals getting Peavy appear to be pretty cold right now. 

As for the Cubs, a deal involving Peavy does not appear likely, but Phil Rogers hints that GM Jim Hendry might try to pull off an Adrian Gonzalez for Derek Lee trade. I’ll file that in the “I’ll beleive it when I see it,” category. But now I am thinking of a rotation that starts with Peavy, Zambrano, and Harden!

I personally think they should make the trade if the Cubs would throw in Rich Hill or Sean Marshall. Then, they can flip Lee at the mid-season trade deadline for more prospects while bringing up Kyle Blanks for the rest of the season and have him ready to go as the incumbant first baseman in 2010.

As the Padres continue to explore other teams not on the initial list that Peavy indicated he’d accept a trade to, the Yankees have emerged as a slight possibility. But they would have to give up Phil Hughes; which the probably would not consider. The other New York team, the Mets have shown no interest in a deal.

And naturally, if the Yanks are intersted, so are the Boston Red Sox:

If the Sox were to include highly regarded first baseman Lars Anderson in a package with two of their best pitching prospects, talks between the clubs would certainly become interesting. But officials with other clubs believe the Sox consider Anderson to be virtually untouchable.”

Other AL teams that Peavy might consider include the Angels and Rangers – but they’d have to pay a steep price given his preference to remain in the NL. Yet and it is assumed that Peavy has already vetoed a deal to the Rangers. While the Padres insist they are in no hurry to deal the ace, others speculate it could happen as early as the Winter meetings.

Finally, while Peavy is not officially on the trading block, Padres’ GM Kevin Towers makes it no secret that he’s been talking to clubs in preliminary discussions. He plans to “slow things down” a bit and share his preliminary talks with Peavy and Peavy’s agent (Barry Axelrod) before getting into serious discussions.

But alas, many wonder why the Padres would consider trading Peavy when they have him under contract for so long and he’s been so good. The easy answer is money.  Peavy is to be $22 million in 2013, with a buyout worth $4 million.  

As the Padres move forward, they’re planning to put together a winning team. They beleive they have the position players in their farm, so they’re seeking some high-level pitching talent in return. Paul DePodesta explained it succinctly

As far as Jake’s particular situation, we have him under contract for the next four years with an option for a fifth year. Our task, then, is to determine whether what we would receive in exchange for him would outweigh the benefits of having him for those five years (presumably some player(s) we would get in return could be of service for more than five years, so that needs to be factored in as well). Make no mistake, however – we place tremendous value on Jake’s presence here. That is why any offers for him in past years and every day up until this writing have been rejected.