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OnBaseMachine
06-18-2009, 01:14 PM
A sure sign of summer: Mustangs galloping across the field
Season's 1st practice includes 27 players, with more set to arrive in the coming days
By MIKE SCHERTING
Of The Gazette Staff

While nearly everyone else had retreated to the clubhouse after the Billings Mustangs' first official workout, left-hander Don Joseph was still on the field at Dehler Park, throwing phantom pitches in the third-base bullpen.

Wednesday's afternoon thunderstorm was just rolling in as Joseph, the third-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds, worked on his delivery without using a ball.

Joseph stayed out there for only 10 minutes or so before the heavy rain began to fall, but the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder was eager to get in as much work as he could.

"It's been a while since I've thrown, and my mechanics have changed so much since high school, it's a daily routine for me," said Joseph, who was drafted by the Reds out of the University of Houston after going 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 50 innings this spring. "If I don't do it then I'll get all screwed up, so I have to make sure I do it every day." Joseph was one of 27 Mustangs players in camp for the workout, with more expected to arrive in the next few days. The team took infield and outfield practice, worked on pick-off moves and bunt coverage and had its first session of batting practice in preparation for its Pioneer League season opener. The Mustangs start the season with a three-game series against the Great Falls Voyagers beginning Tuesday night at Dehler Park.

Manager Julio Garcia is back for his second season after guiding the Mustangs to a 42-32 record last season. Also back are seven players who have seen time with the Mustangs, including pitcher Leonardo Astorga, outfielders Tony Brown and Tyler Stovall and catcher Chris McMurray, who each spent all of 2008 in Billings.

Brown had 258 at-bats with the Mustangs last season, and he batted .283 with a team-high 47 RBIs. His long home runs - he led the team with 12 - made him a fan favorite.

The 21-year-old was assigned to Class-A Dayton, Ohio, after spring training, and he spent some time at the high-A level in Sarasota, Fla. But a couple of hamstring injuries set him back, and he finds himself now returning to the Mustangs.

"Usually you don't want to repeat, you always want to move (up) every year," Brown said. "I got a little taste of high-A, and I think I did pretty good up there. I started struggling a little bit at the end, but I know I can compete up there. There's going to be a lot of motivation to get back up there this year."

As for the remainder of the team, it's an unknown, for now. Garcia and his new coaches - first-year hitting coach Delino DeShields and first-year pitching coach Bob Forsch - have some experience with the players who were at extended spring training. But the players selected in the draft earlier this month are unfamiliar to the coaching staff.

"That always makes it tough, because I'm bad with names to begin with," Garcia joked. "I haven't seen them enough. We went through a little bit of a workout today where I got to see their physical abilities somewhat. That'll go on for this whole week, and then throughout most of the season, I imagine."

Joseph likened the day's events to his first day of practice at Houston, where he didn't know any of the players, either. But he said he was eager to tackle the challenge of a compacted summer season, a schedule of 78 games with just five scheduled days off, with games in places he never thought he'd play in.

"A new experience, a new place. I'm excited," Joseph said. "I'm glad I'm out of my comfort zone because that's how it's going to be the rest of my career, the rest of my life.

"Looking at the schedule, there's not many days off. But you get to play the game you love every day, so I'm excited, looking forward to it. I'm just ready to start playing."

http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2009/06/18/sports/local/18-mustangs.txt

Benihana
06-18-2009, 06:10 PM
Tony Brown is back in Billings? Yeesh.

OnBaseMachine
06-21-2009, 11:01 PM
Mustangs' Stramp out to show big numbers at little school have meaning
By MIKE SCHERTING
Of The Gazette Staff

The numbers just don't compute, and that's got William Stramp starting his professional baseball career with extra motivation.

How does finishing a senior collegiate season with a .498 batting average, 27 home runs, 99 RBIs and a 1.009 slugging percentage in 58 games equate to a 33rd-round draft pick?

Stramp, owner of those flashy stats, can't figure it out. He simply shakes his head when asked how his numbers could be overlooked.

"Me and my dad, we're watching all these guys that I played against get taken (in the draft) and we're like, 'What's the deal?' " Stramp said after his new team, the Billings Mustangs, wrapped up a Friday afternoon workout at Dehler Park. The Cincinnati Reds hope Stramp is the real deal. They drafted the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder with the 989th pick overall earlier this month, and Stramp showed some of his ability by blasting a few pitches over the Dehler Park fences during Friday's batting practice.

"Whether it went out of the park, or whether it was a line drive or a ground ball, it had something coming off the bat," Mustangs second-year manager Julio Garcia said.

Stramp put up his incredible numbers while helping Lubbock Christian University (Texas) win the NAIA national championship at the end of May. Stramp earned the NAIA World Series MVP award by finishing 12-for-28 (.429) with three home runs and 10 RBIs in the tournament as the Chaparrals claimed the title with an 11-8 win over Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)

Garcia shook his head 'no' when asked if he was aware of the caliber of Stramp's season.

Then, when given the tale of the tape, Garcia said: "Really ...? That's pretty good. In any league."

As near as Stramp can figure, it's the NAIA tag that cost him some rounds in the draft.

"I just don't think scouts follow NAIA," he said. "But there are some really good players that are running through there. It's frustrating, but I got my opportunity and it's up to me to capitalize on that."

Stramp began his collegiate career at NCAA Division I Dallas Baptist University. After two seasons, where he hit .242 and .324 in limited playing time, Stramp decided it wasn't a good fit and transferred to Lubbock Christian, where he proceeded to hit .421 with 24 home runs his junior season.

After going undrafted that year, Stramp said he decided he needed to do even more to wow the scouts. So he did.

He collected 111 hits in 223 at-bats - he was held hitless in just four of his 58 games - and scored 93 runs to go along with his other numbers. Besides the 27 home runs, he hit 21 doubles and six triples. He struck out just 27 times and stole 14 bases.

"From start to finish I never really went through a period of time where I was struggling," said Stramp, who plays the outfield and third base. "There were some times I was swinging the bat better than others, obviously, but I just managed to get hits throughout the course of the year. It was special from start to finish."

Stramp admitted he'll be playing with a chip on his shoulder, out to prove wrong all those teams and scouts who might have questioned the validity of his stats the past two seasons because they were built against NAIA pitching. But he also said those numbers, as impressive as they are, do him no good now.

"Nobody cares what round everybody got drafted in," Stramp said. "What you've done up to this point means nothing."

NOTES: The Mustangs have two more scheduled workouts before the season-opener on Tuesday. They'll hit the field around 11 a.m. today and they'll work out Monday evening to simulate Tuesday's playing conditions. ... Similar to last season, the Mustangs have six outfielders on the roster, creating a log jam for playing time. Garcia said he'll likely go with a platoon system for a while to try to get everyone their at-bats.

http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2009/06/21/sports/local/21-mustangs.txt

Scrap Irony
06-21-2009, 11:37 PM
Stramp's one of those that's most interesting to me at Billings. His numbers are sick and the power potential reminds me a bit of Brandon Waring. Hope he hits dingers like Waring did and K's less (K rate being one indicator of prospect-dom.)

Lots of college guys and not many SS's in Billings that look particularly promising. Cincinnati seems to be really pinning its SS eggs in the COzart basket, do they not?

dougdirt
06-22-2009, 12:17 AM
Stramp's one of those that's most interesting to me at Billings. His numbers are sick and the power potential reminds me a bit of Brandon Waring. Hope he hits dingers like Waring did and K's less (K rate being one indicator of prospect-dom.)

Lots of college guys and not many SS's in Billings that look particularly promising. Cincinnati seems to be really pinning its SS eggs in the COzart basket, do they not?

Sure they do, but there aren't a lot of shortstop prospects out there who can both hit and field the position. Still, don't sell short a guy like Miguel Rojas. His bat has been pretty darn good for 2 months+ now and if he can fill out even a little and add just a tad more power, he has starting potential.

Mario-Rijo
06-22-2009, 12:54 PM
Stramp is a 3B isn't he? Otherwise I'm not sure what we are discussing here. Does he profile to be a SS?

dougdirt
06-22-2009, 02:51 PM
Stramp is a 3B isn't he? Otherwise I'm not sure what we are discussing here. Does he profile to be a SS?

I was talking about this comment made by Scrap Irony

Lots of college guys and not many SS's in Billings that look particularly promising. Cincinnati seems to be really pinning its SS eggs in the COzart basket, do they not?

traderumor
06-22-2009, 04:22 PM
Whether Stramp likes it or not, the competition you play against matters. To the teams looking at him, two years and limited playing time at the big school against better competition says more than two years of beating up on competition in a lesser league. He should be upset with the Reds too with that mindset, since they picked 32 other guys ahead of him.

Mario-Rijo
06-22-2009, 06:20 PM
I was talking about this comment made by Scrap Irony

Yeah I seen that, I guess I just misread SI's initial post and didn't see he had transitioned to another topic. I thought he was intimating that Stramp somehow played into that SS depth.

Mario-Rijo
06-22-2009, 06:22 PM
Whether Stramp likes it or not, the competition you play against matters. To the teams looking at him, two years and limited playing time at the big school against better competition says more than two years of beating up on competition in a lesser league. He should be upset with the Reds too with that mindset, since they picked 32 other guys ahead of him.

No matter where he played if he had the requisite talent he wouldn't likely be picked where he was. 2 years where he played is better than 2 years vs. HS kids for example. So I assumed he figures that is a slight on his talent. And most likely is to some extent, although he musn't forget guys like Piazza.

Az. Reds Fan
06-22-2009, 06:52 PM
Meet the mustangs...

http://www.billingsgazette.net/m/extras/2009/06/21/mustangs.pdf

gedred69
06-22-2009, 09:42 PM
Most of the Reds "horizon" players passed through Billings, the list is too long to enumerate. This team has been a perrenial powerhouse, and anything less would be a major disappointment. I'm thinking it won't be. It's the opportunity for guys slighted out of college ball, to show what they got, that wasn't recognized by their draft status. Dorn comes to mind. He did so well at Billings, he skipped Dayton, and has to date out-performed everyone of his NCAA tournament Cal teamates chosen ahead of him.

OnBaseMachine
06-23-2009, 11:18 AM
Mustangs open Pioneer League season tonight
By MIKE SCHERTING
Of The Gazette Staff

A year ago at this time, the Billings Mustangs were forced to start the Pioneer League baseball season with a 14-game road trip as the finishing touches were put on newly constructed Dehler Park.

The team flew into Billings on a Sunday, hit the road on Monday, and didn't return until 15 days later.

This year things are back to normal, and fans will get their first look at the 2009 Mustangs when the season opens tonight at Dehler. The Great Falls Voyagers, the defending Pioneer League champions, are in town for three games before the Mustangs make their first road trip of the season.

Most players have been in Billings since last Tuesday and the team has been working out since Wednesday. Besides allowing manager Julio Garcia and his coaching staff - pitching coach Bob Forsch and hitting coach Delino DeShields - an opportunity to assess their team, Garcia said the ability to stay in Billings for preseason workouts has given the players a chance to get used to such things as the altitude and time zone changes. "To get acclimated before the season starts, all those things seem kind of minor, but they really aren't," said Garcia, who is in his second season at the helm of the Mustangs. "It's important obviously to get off to a good start."

In particular, Garcia is hoping tonight's starter, Leonardo Astorga, gets off to a good start.

Astorga was last year's opening day starter as well, and the 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-hander went on to have a good season. He finished with a 4-1 record and a 2.98 ERA, and following spring training this season he was assigned to the Cincinnati Reds' Single-A affiliate in Dayton, Ohio.

But Astorga struggled in six Dayton appearances (1-3, 15.43 ERA) and the Reds reassigned him to Billings. Garcia said Astorga has not complained of any injury, nor has any mechanical flaw been found in his delivery.

"I don't know how to explain it," Garcia said. "Leaving here last year he was arguably our best pitcher. Once you get into valleys like that, it's kind of hard. You start reaching, you start seeing things that aren't there, you start doing things you're not supposed to. Next thing you know the walls are caving in on you and you can't knock them off of you."

Garcia also hopes returning players Tony Brown, Tyler Stovall and Chris McMurray will anchor the lineup, especially in tonight's opener.

Brown hit .283 and led the Mustangs last year with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs, while Stovall batted .333. McMurray hit .234 in limited playing time.

"Those guys are slotted - (McMurray) not as much because he's catching and needs to concentrate a little more on the defense part than the hitting - but Tony and Tyler are up in the lineup," Garcia said. "With the numbers they had last year, obviously they're counted on to try to help out this year as well."

NOTES: The Mustangs added infielder John Dao to their roster on Monday. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder was signed by the Reds as a free agent out of the University of Louisville, where he hit .245 in 54 games. ... Joining Astorga in the starting rotation are LHP Shea Snowden, LHP Luca Panerati, RHP Adian Kummett, and LHP Justin Walker. ... Mustangs general manager Gary Roller said limited reserved tickets are still available for tonight's game. Reserved tickets are $9, $7 and $5. Roller also said the new 329 Club, the deck built down the left field line, will be open for public seating tonight. Occupancy is limited, and $5 gets fans a wristband to enter the deck.


Tonight's projected starting lineup
1. Alex Oliveras, RF

.279 with '08 Gulf Coast Reds

2. Yen-Wen Kuo, 3B

.281-0 HR-15 RBI with '08 GCL Reds

3. Tyler Stovall, DH

.333-1 HR-16 RBIs with '08 Mustangs

4. Humberto Sosa, 1B

.304-3 HRs-22 RBIs with '08 GCL Reds

5. Tony Brown, LF

.283-12 HRs-47 RBIs with '08 Mustangs

6. Efrain Contreras, CF

.271-1 HR-30 RBIs with '08 GCL Reds

7. Shane Carlson, SS

.256-7 HRs-34 RBIs with UC-Santa Barbara

8. Chris McMurray, C

.234-0 HR-13 RBIs with '08 Mustangs

9. Mauricio Pimentel, 2B

.268 with '08 GCL Reds

Leonardo Astorga, RHP

4-1, 2.98 with ERA '08 Mustangs

http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2009/06/23/sports/local/18-mustangs.txt

OnBaseMachine
06-23-2009, 11:23 AM
That Billings offense looks weak but they should improve as more guys begin to sign. Mark Fleury and Josh Fellhauer will probably sign here sometime in the next couple weeks and then head to Billings.

dougdirt
06-23-2009, 11:30 AM
I have to say I am pretty surprised that a guy who hit .500 as a senior in college with 900 extra base hits isn't starting on opening night (Stramp).

lollipopcurve
06-23-2009, 11:34 AM
That Billings offense looks weak but they should improve as more guys begin to sign. Mark Fleury and Josh Fellhauer will probably sign here sometime in the next couple weeks and then head to Billings.

Agreed. I hope to be surprised, but I'm not expecting much out of this team right now. By the way, curious that ole Stramp isn't even starting. They made him sound like Babe Ruth a couple days ago. Meanwhile, the devotion to one H.Sosa is odd. They've got Stramp and 2 new draftees (Lowery and Richburg are 1Bs, I think) yet Humberto -- who started the year as the Dragons' 1B -- is the cleanup hitter. Just the 1st game, so it means next to nothing... but signs point to a lackluster summer in Billings, in my opinion.

Benihana
06-23-2009, 05:14 PM
Joining Astorga in the starting rotation are LHP Shea Snowden, LHP Luca Panerati, RHP Adian Kummett, and LHP Justin Walker.

Where is Evan Hildenbrandt?

This team looks very weak at the moment, hopefully it gets bolstered by some signings.

If I'm running the Dragons, I'm really hoping Duran/Yorman/Hamilton will be ready by next season, or I'm starting to get very concerned.

dougdirt
06-23-2009, 05:18 PM
Where is Evan Hildenbrandt?

This team looks very weak at the moment, hopefully it gets bolstered by some signings.

If I'm running the Dragons, I'm really hoping Duran/Yorman/Hamilton will be ready by next season, or I'm starting to get very concerned.

I think you should probably see what some of the guys do in Billings before making such a statement.

Benihana
06-23-2009, 05:22 PM
I think you should probably see what some of the guys do in Billings before making such a statement.

Ok Doug...

redsof72
06-23-2009, 10:21 PM
Brown and Kuo are headed to Dayton shortly.

Not sure why the low number of signed draft picks (only five or six in the top 20 rounds). Doug, have other teams also shown similar low number of signings?

I would wonder if, because of the economy, the big league clubs are offering lower signing bonuses, and the players are waiting. Doubt if there have been many years when the starting nine on opening night (10 including the pitcher) at Billings featured a total of one player taken in that year's draft.

dougdirt
06-23-2009, 10:45 PM
Brown and Kuo are headed to Dayton shortly.

Not sure why the low number of signed draft picks (only five or six in the top 20 rounds). Doug, have other teams also shown similar low number of signings?

I would wonder if, because of the economy, the big league clubs are offering lower signing bonuses, and the players are waiting. Doubt if there have been many years when the starting nine on opening night (10 including the pitcher) at Billings featured a total of one player taken in that year's draft.

Suggested slot money is down this year by about 10% from last year according to MLB. I haven't taken a look at how far other teams have gone as far as signing picks past the first two rounds, so I really don't know.

Speaking of Kuo, he just singled again and now is 3-4 tonight.

RED VAN HOT
06-24-2009, 02:16 PM
Why is Randall Linebaugh is on the restricted list? Did I miss something?

OnBaseMachine
06-24-2009, 02:18 PM
Why is Randall Linebaugh is on the restricted list? Did I miss something?

http://www.redszone.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1902104&postcount=14

RED VAN HOT
06-24-2009, 04:15 PM
Thanks, OBM. Should have searched further before asking.

texasdave
07-01-2009, 08:28 AM
I have to say I am pretty surprised that a guy who hit .500 as a senior in college with 900 extra base hits isn't starting on opening night (Stramp).

Through the first 8 games Stramp has yet to have an at-bat. Odd.

dougdirt
07-01-2009, 02:18 PM
Through the first 8 games Stramp has yet to have an at-bat. Odd.

He is injured. Nothing major, should be back in a week or two. At the time of that post, that wasn't known.

texasdave
07-01-2009, 03:26 PM
He is injured. Nothing major, should be back in a week or two. At the time of that post, that wasn't known.

That makes sense.