Tag Archives: Will Venable

Fort Fragments: Blanks, Venable, Ready, Latos, Peavy, Pierzynski

Padres’ youth movement hits Triple-A Portland hard: Several former Fort Wayne players; including Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Mat Latos and Greg Burke have seen big league action this year. It’s also spelt a drain on talent for Triple-A Portland. With the likelihood of others (such as Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby winner, Chad Huffman) trickling onto the Padres’ roster in the coming weeks, the chances of Portland improving upon their league worst win-loss record doesn’t look good.

Speaking of Kyle Blanks, he’s starting to earn more widespread attention:

Speaking of Will Venable, the former Wizards outfielder has been fortunate enough to play under close tutilage of his father, Max Venable, a former big leaguer who used to be the hitting coach in Fort Wayne. But apparently it was his mother’s advice that kept her son in baseball rather than the pursuit of hooop dreams. See Also: Venable Has Been a Quick Study.

Former Wizards skipper, Randy Ready has been promoted to the Padre’s hitting coach. Probably a move that also is intended to help keep him in the organization rather than jumping ship to be a big league manager when teams start interviewing to fill soon-to-be vacancies.

Mat Latos is also drawing a lot of acclaim since rising from Fort Wayne to the big leauges earlier this season. He netted his first MLB win in his second start. He allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-2 Padres’ win over the Washington Nationals. He went seven innings in his next start before allowing former Wizards, Michael Ekstrom and Burke to finish his win in a game that also saw a Blanks homer.

While it’s early to call Latos the next San Diego ace of the staff, it’s probably refreshing news following the trade of the former incumbant, Jake Peavy, to the White Sox. In fact, Friday night, Latos gave up seven runs and eight hits in four-plus innings, leading to a 9-2 loss to the Cardinals. The 21-year-old had won his last four starts and was the first Padres pitcher in history to win four of his first five career starts.

More Latos:

On another Jake Peavy note, the former Wizard and Padre has begun his rehab work with the White Sox. He struck out five in his first assignment.

TinCaps right hander, Simon Castro took the seventh Midwest League honor earlier in the month when he was selected as MWL Pitcher of the Week for the week ending Augst 2nd. At the time, he was leading the league in strikeouts with 125 and had just concluded two dominant startswhere he allowed just one run while struck out out 15 over ten innings.

Current White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski hopes to remain in Chicago but realizes tha the might have to try the free agent waters if the up and coming (and cheaper) competition continue to press.

Off the DL: Nick Hundley, Torii Hunter

Taking a Look at the Padres Prospects (requires MadFriars subscription):

Speaking of MadFriars, FriarForecast recently caught up with John Conniff following his trip to Fort Wayne. He provides his take on the new erea of baseball in Fort Wayne

Wizards Where R They?

  • Paul McAnulty: After being released by Boston, McAnulty signed with the Colorado Rockies. He’s now playing with the Triple-A SkySox.
  • Jose Lobaton: The Tampa Bay Rays claimed the catcher off waivers from the Padres and assigned him to Double-A Montgomery.
  • Freddy Guzman: Now playing in Triple-A Norfolk with the Orioles organization.
  • Josh Barfield: After not getting claimed off waivers, Barfield was outrighted from Indian’s 40-Man Roster.

Finally, Paul DePodesta shares his thoughts on the current prospects in the Padres’ system. Many of them are former Wizards/TinCaps.

Alumni Movement: Huber, Doyne, Venable, Moeller, All-Stars

Former Wizards Pitcher, Jon Huber has signed a deal with the Atlanta Braves and will report to Triple-A Gwinnett County. Huber has some limited Major League experience and had been pitching with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League prior to the signing.

Former Wizards right-hander, Cory Doyne has signed with the Nationals and joins Triple-A Syracuse. Doyne has spent the past two seasons in the Baltimore Orioles organization.

Former Wizards outfielder, Will Venable has returned to the Padres after starting the season at Triple-A Portland. I recently got Will’s autograph. Glad to see him back in the big leagues.

As expected, former Wizards catcher, Chad Moeller was designated for assignment when Matt Wieters was called up. He cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A norfolk.

The TinCaps will have four representatives at this year’s Midwest League All Star game. Congratz to INF James Darnell, OF Sawyer Carroll, and right-handers, Brad Brach and Anthony Bass. If you’d like to help former Wizard Kyle Balnks make the Triple-A All-Star game, you can cast a ballot similar to the MLB version.

Padres’ Moves Will Dictate Future of Former Wizards

If this headline doesn’t read as a big fat red “DUH!” I don’t know what does. The statement is true no matter the day or time. However, it’s worth stating right now because the Padres are in the midst of utter turmoil adn an uncertain future. With that being the case, it is obvious that the San Diego Padres will be making moves and those moves might change and alter the potential futures of some former Fort Wayne Wizards.

Wiht the Winter Meetings kicking into gear this week, here’s what we know so far:

  • Trevor Hoffman will not be the closer in 2009. This is probalby 99.9% certain. He has not signed with another team yet, so I guess there is a glimmer of a chance he’ll be back, but don’t bet on it. That means there will be an opening for a closer. I’ve speculated on this previously, and I probably didn’t give Heath Bell a fair look, but my money is still on former Wizard, Greg Burke.
  • The rest of the bullpen needs a little shoring up too. Reliable setup man, Mike Adams is likely out until the All-Star Break, so there are some spots up for grabs there too.
  • Kahlil Green will be the starting shortstop . . . for St. Louis (where he may be playing next to former Wizard, David Freese who went to the Cardinals as part of the failed Jim Edmonds experiment. Freese has a very good shot at playing with the Cards in 2009. Back in San Diego, they will need a new starting shortstop. Unless there is a trade, The heir apparent is Luiz Rodriguez, but don’t count out former Wizard, Sean Kazmar.
  • Former Wizards Pitcher, Jake Peavy still has a good chance of being traded (most likely to the Cubs). But, even if he remains with the club, the team still needs pitchers to fill the number three and four slots (Chris Young at number 2 and Cha Seung Baek as the number five guy). If he is traded, that leaves three openings. Maybe one or two of those slots will get filled from the ranks of the minors, but I expect trades and/or Rule 5 Draft picks to be used here. Former Wizard, Wade LeBlanc is likely to earn one of the spots up for grabs IMHO. Former Wizar, Josh Geer also would be likely, but there’s a chance he may be heading for Tommy John surgery, which will kill his 2009 season (if anyone has any updates on this, please comment below). Former Wizard Mike Ekstrom may also be a dark horse contender.
  • Former Wizard Jon Ellis are unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and could potentially be snagged by other clubs. The sidearmer is an interesting gamble for a club who is willing to take a chance and I suspect he’s as good as gone.
  • The catching corps is owned by former Wizards. Right now, it looks like the starting gig will go to Nick Hundley, with Luke Carlin serving as backup unless a veteran presence is added. Wonder why Colt Morton never gets much consideration. Jose Lobaton probably has a pretty solid chance and playing with the big club in 2009 too.
  • Ironically, the Padres seem to have an excess of outfielders. This time last year, they were converting former Wizard, Chase Headley from third base to outfield. Now, they have Headley, and fellow former Wizard Will Venable to slot into the outfield with Scott Hairston, Brian Giles and Jody Gerut. Couple that with an emerging former Wizard outfielders Drew Macias and Chad Huffman, and you have a couple odd men out (yes, that’s seven guys for three slots). It’s still likely that Giles will get traded (proably during the 2009 season). Moving Headley back to third and trading incumbant third baseman Kevin Kousmanoff is an option, but not one that the club seems to endorse.
  • Second basse and first base seem to be in good hands with Edgar Gonzales and Adrian Gonzales respectively. Former Wizard Matt Antonelli might serve as a backup or utility player at second. If San Diego doesn’t move Adrian and he stays healthy, first base remains blocked for uber-prospect Kyle Blanks, so you may see him traded. But I suspect Blanks will play a full season at triple-A in Portland and then the club with consider their options at first for 2010.

So there you have it. The Padres season outlook remains dim, but the bright side is that they don’t have a lot of bad contracts and they are in a highly winable division if the Dodgers don’t run away with it early. Methinks, barring any huge trades to fill holes in the field, suspect we’ll see a roster witha lot of former Wizards.

Could Max Venable Follow His Son to the Majors?

Not too long ago, I bloged (in jest) that it would seem logical for the Padres to get former Wizards hitting coach, Max Venable, with the parent club now that his son, Will Venable, has reached the Padres. Max has been wiht Will pretty much every step of Will’s professional career; having followed him from A-ball in Fort Wayne all the way to Portland this season.

So you can see the logic in that suggestion. However, even I didn’t take it seriously as a possibility . . . until I read that Wally Joyner has resigned as the Padres hitting coach.

“It bothers me a lot that I have come to the point where it is clear that I need to move on,” Joyner said. “I came to the job hoping to put my experience and ideas to good use in teaching and coaching the Padres’ hitters, but it has become obvious to me in the past few months that the organization’s approach is different from mine.”

The Padres have not yet named a successor to Joyner. However, Venable might indeed be one of the best in-house choices the Padres have. I’ll keep you updated.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Kottaras, Venable, Mott

YorkRegion Profiles George Kottaras

Following his MLB debut, George Kottaras gets some coverage from his native area press. A very good profile that covers the Red Sox’s fourth string catcher from being drafted, to his career in the minors, to the Olympics and to the eventual call-up. Unfortunately, they can’t spell his last name correctly. 🙁

“There was a lot of stuff going on with our AAA team (playoffs) and I wasn’t aware that I would be called up.” About a half hour after the team got knocked out of the playoffs, he got a call to go into Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson’s office. “He told me I was going up right away,” Kottaras recalled.

Will Venable is Impressing

The San Francisco Chronicle recently took a brief look at “Max’s son” – Max being former Wizards’ hitting coach, Max Venable and Max’s son being former Wizard, Will Venable. At the time, the 25-year-old rookie was hitting .340 in 47 big-league at-bats. But the irony of the situation is that it was not Will’s Dad, but his mother, Molly, who encouraged Will to pick up baseball again after having not played his freshman college year while playing baseball at Princeton.

“She told me to think about maybe trying baseball again because she saw the opportunities that it gave my dad,” he said. “I went to Princeton with the intentions of trying both. I didn’t play my freshman year because I couldn’t handle it. She just continually reminded me to keep it in mind, and it ended up working out.”

Mott Reflects Fondly on Fort Wayne Memories

TOM MOTT was recently named as one of the All-Time Wizards based upon his performance as a Wizards player. He wrote in to the Journal Gazette to reflect.

Although my dream of getting to the big leagues was never realized, when I think about my five-year baseball career, Fort Wayne is always the first thing that comes into my head. Great people, great stadium, great teammates and an absolutely wonderful community.

Mott is now the founder and director of a non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged kids from around the world come to the United States to receive a fully sponsored education. Check out his site at  1dreamfoundation.com. The link has also been added to the right panel links.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Hundley, Cuddyer, Macias, Venable

Nick Hundley Gets Ejected

On Tuesday, former Wizards catcher, Nick Hundley received his first MLB ejection after arguing his strikeout with homeplate umpire, Marty Fosterin, the eighth inning. He was replaced by fellow rookie and fellow Wizards alumnus, Luke Carlin.

Michael Cuddyer Still Trying to Return

Minnesotat Twins’ outfielder and former Wizard, Michael Cuddyer took two batting practice sessions on Tuesday and he had his broken left foot re-evaluated. He was given the okay to start running, but he’s still making very slow progress and the chances of a 2008 return are starting to slim.

“We’re just going to let him get well first,” (Ttwins manager, Ron) Gardenhire said. “Maybe when he gets to the point where he can run a little bit, and maybe put a swing on it, then we’ll see what he can do.”

Drew Macias Hits Homer for First MLB Hit

Usually, when a player collects his first Major League hit, you see a player toss the ball to the team’s dugout personnel so it can be saved. But former Wizard, Drew Macias got his first Major League start the other night. He went 3-5 and homered off a first-pitch fastball from Giants RHP Matt Cain during his first at-bat to collect his first MLB hit and home run.

Gary Jones Discusses Cumberland, Zawadski, Kazmar, Blanks & more

MadFriars caught up with Gary Jones, where he talked candidly about the progress of many former Wizards who are still in the Padres system. If you want to know more about Drew Cumberland, Lance Zawadski, Sean Kazmar, Matt Antonelli, Kyle Blanks and Raynar Contreras, this is the read for you (subscription required).

Will Venable Making Most of His Playing Time

Padres center fielder, Jody Gerut has missed a lot of games due to a sprained left middle finger. Will Venable, who is a recent callup, has thrived while getting extra playing time in Gerut’s absence; including a sixth multihit game on Thursday. He’s going to be on the 2009 Opening Day roster IMHO

Padres to Slash Payroll? What it Means for Former Wizards.

With the news that the Padres will release second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and pitcher Brett Tomko to make room for Wade LeBlanc and Matt Antonelli, anyone can see that the Padres are already making plans for next year. This is the latest in a series of moves that have involved bringing minor league talent to the Padres, and many of them have included former Wizards.

I gotta think there will be many more moves in the remaining days of the 2008 season that could spell opportunities for other former Wizards, which should also make for an interesting Spring Training as the prevailing speculation is that the Padres will continue to slash payroll.

As part of a pitch to get Brian Giles to accept a trade to the Red Sox this past week, a Padres executive painted a stark fiscal picture for 2009, saying club owner John Moores might shrink the payroll to $40 million. [SignonSanDiego -August 9, 2008]

GM Kevin Towers denies this claim, but then again, he also hasn’t seen the budget for 2009 yet. Yet, the Padres already field one of the lowest salaried teams in Major League Baseball.

The Padres don’t have any large contracts on the books for ’09; Giles would be their most expensive player at $9MM unless they choose his $3MM buyout.  After that it’s Jake Peavy at $8MM, Khalil Greene at $6.5MM, Chris Young at $4.5MM, and Adrian Gonzalez at $3MM.  By my count they have six arbitration-eligible players, including Josh Bard, Heath Bell, Scott Hairston, and Jody Gerut [MLBTradeRumors.com].

There is also speculation that John Moores’ divorce is a factor that may adversely impact the team.

California is a community property state, which means Becky Moores — the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs.-John — is in play and there already are indications that player payroll will be cut significantly in 2009 (it’s just over $70 million this year). That’s why the Padres already have worked hard to trade Giles and pitcher Greg Maddux this season, positioning themselves for an early start on the payroll-shedding process [CBSSports.com].

Sean Kazmar with the WizardsSo what does this mean for former Wizards who are trying to crack a big league roster? Certainly, the Padres are trying to add by subtracting. There’s the possibility that the Padres may try to move Khalil Greene and his $6.5MM salary, shich might provide a spot for Sean Kazmar, who made his debut just a couple weeks ago. But the rookie is now learning how to play outfield (a la Chase Headley) during this season’s Arizona Fall League. The move could merely be an attempt to get him more at-bats, or it could mean there is nowhere to play Kazmar in the infield.

Kazmar will join the Peoria Saguaros in the AFL with pitchers Greg Burke, Cesar Carillo, Mike Ekstrom, Wilton Lopez, first baseman Kyle Blanks and outfielders Mike Baxter and Chad Huffman. All of them except for Carillo are former Wizards. If Blanks keeps playing the way he has lately, San Diego may have to move him or Adrian Gonzalez or find a place elsewhere on the diamond for one of the two.

Like Kazmar, Brian Joynt, who played third this season with the Wizards before his promotion to Lake Elsinore will see time in the outfield.

Colt Morton with the WizardsBaxter will also get time at an unfamiliar position. The outfielder hit .270 with seven home runs and 47 RBIs at Double-A San Antonio and will get some looks at catcher. This season has seen three different former Wizards serve the backstop role. Luke Carlin and Nick Hundley have seen the most time between the three, which might suggest Colt Morton could be moved to another team during the offseason. the starting catcher, Josh Bard may not be around for 2009 either if the Friars think Carlin and Hundley can do the job.

Longtime closer, Trevor Hoffman has had some troubles while attempting to nail down games this year. There is divided opinion about whether it is time for a change or not. The Portland pitcher who produced the most saves this year, Jared Wells, is now in the Seattle organization (traded earlier this season). That may bring about an opportunity for Greg Burke, who will see action in the AFL and has collected 23 saves at Double-A San Antonio. Lake Elsinore doesn’t have anyone who is ready to fill that void. And while Jackson Quezada collected 27 saves on minimal opportunities in Fort Wayne, that is probably too big of a jump from Low-A to the MLB (but then again, it worked out well for the Royals and Joakim Soria).

Jackson QuezadaAll this should make for an interesting winter and 2009 Spring Training. There should be some names that are familiar to Fort Wayne fans on the San Diego Roster come opening day. The best part is that we have the whole month of September to see some of these great former Wizards make the most of their opportunities. Chase Headley, Will Venable, Wade LeBlanc, Sean Kazmar, Josh Geer, Dirk Hayhurst, Matt Antonelli, Nick Hundley have joined Jake Peavy on the parent club roster and maybe some others will soon follow.

When you factor in the former Wizards who are with other organizations, there have been nine former Wizards to debut at the MLB level. This ranks second only to 2002, which saw 11 prospects (including Jake Peavy and Oliver Perez) hit the big leagues. With about a month to go, I am sure we’ll see at least 3-4 more.

I’m predicting we’ll see Dale Thayer (P-Rays), Brett Dowdy (SS-Padres), David Freese (3B-Cardinals) this season.

It wouldn’t be too surprising to also see Jon Link who had 35 saves with the White Sox’s Double-A Birmingham Barons and was named the Southern League’s Top Reliever of 2009. He was one of 15 players, and the only reliever, named to the league’s post-season All-Star team and was the lone Baron selected. He was one save shy of the league saves record. But given the Sox’s playoff race, he’s probably a 2009 debut.

Anyone else have thoughts on the Padres prospective 2009 squad and/or which prospects we’ll see make their MLB debuts this season (whether they are in the Padres’ system any longer or not)?

Will Venable’s MLB Debut

Will VenableIn the bottom of the second inning versus the Colorado Rockies, former Fort Wayne Wizard Will Venable launched a shot to deep right and landed a triple in his first Major League at-bat. He then promptly scored his first Major League run on a wild pitch. Not a bad way to make your MLB debut.

Venable grounded to second two innings later in his second at-bat. In the sixth, he grounded out to the pitcher and struck out in the eighth to go 1-4 on the night.

Former Wizards catcher, Nick Hundley also had a home run in the contest. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get Hayhurst his first Major League win in his second career MLB start. He took the loss after giving up four runs over four innings.

“I was just in that ‘I can’t believe I’m here, this is great’ mode,” he said. “I got the first hit out of the way and it was great, but it was kind of surreal. I was really on auto-pilot. I was just there reacting and got a pitch to hit” [source: Marin Independant Journal]

Venable is the 70th former Wizard to reach the Major League level and the eighth to do so this season; Luke Carlin, Jared Wells, Eddie Bonine, Leo Rosales, Nick Hundley, Sean Kazmar and Dirk Hayhurst being the others in that respective order.

Venable was drafted out of Princeton in 2005 and spent 2006 with the Wizards. By all accounts, it was a very good year for him. He hit .313 with 11 home runs and 92 runs batted in. It was enough to garner the Wizards Most Valuable Player season award. With Portland on the season, he’s hit .292 with 26 doubles, four triples, 14 home runs and 58 RBIs.

Related Posts:

Venable in Starting Lineup, Geer & Pauley to Pitch Saturday

Looks like Will Venable will become the 70th former Wizards player to make his MLB debut. He is in the starting lineup for the Padres tonight against the Colorado Rockies after having his contract purchased along with fellow former Wizard, Josh Geer. Tonight’s lineup features four former Wizards as Dirk Hayhurst makes his second MLB start.

Geer will start tomorrow’s game for the Padres and be the 71st former Wizard to debut.

Also on Saturday, former Wizard, David Pauley is expected to pitch for the Red Sox in a spot start. This will be his third Major League stint with the BoSox. Hopefully he’ll fare better this time around. More an all these players to come.

Haiston Injured, Venable and Geer to Get Callups

Scott Hairston was putting together his best season Major League season, so it is unfortunate that it will come to an early end due to a torn thumb ligament that was suffered Wednesday during the outfielder’s diving attempt at a play. He could have surgery as soon Friday to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Former Wizard and a personal favorite here at BBIFW, outfielder Will Venable will more than likely will be promoted from Triple-A Portland to replace Hairston’s spot on the roster, General Manager Kevin Towers said.

Venable was scratched from the lineup Thursday night in Portland, a sign which is solid sign that he’s in store for a promotion. The the former Princeton baseball and basketball star could join the Padres before Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

UPDATE: MadFriars is reporting that right-hander, Josh Geer will also likely debut this weekend for San Diego:

After winning the Texas League Pitcher of the Year last season with Double-A San Antonio, Josh Geer has gone 8-9 with a 4.54 ERA across 28 games, including 27 starts, for Triple-A Portland. The right-hander has logged 166.2 innings, giving up 187 hits and 45 walks while striking out 107 . . . Geer is expected to start on Saturday and the announcement of the move could wait until then

So now the race is on to see which will be number 70 and 71!