Friday, May 11, 2018

Quick Hits, New Guys

Just a mid-series update with info gleaned from this weeks games against the Shuckers, with the 'nally on Friday. Saturday the Jacksonville Suns, errr Shrimps, come to town and we will go over them on the next post, probably Monday. But for now, this is what I gots...

Southpaw Jordan Harrison earned a promotion to Durham, but he isn't alone.

Also said to be headed north to the Bulls bullpen is reliever Mike Franco, who was not seen at the park on Thursday.

As I understand it, the pair traveled separately, with one guy flying ahead. What that means, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe he is scouting apartments.

Also absent is Kyle Bird, away from the team for a few days to become a parent.

Speaking as an old-school baseball guy, this is one thing that has changed for the better in the game. In the past only the most superstar of players were allowed to leave the team for family reasons. Its comforting to know that organizations have learned what is important to players as people, no matter what level.

Ruben Alaniz (photo by Mac the Camera Guy, thanks Mac!)
Studly hurler Ruben Alaniz was awesome in his first four games with Montgomery, blowing by hitters and striking out eight in five and two thirds innings. He took himself out of the game on April 17th with a sore wrist and has been on the DL since.

When I spoke with him this week he said he was feeling much better and would be ready to take the hill "probably next week."

Roel Ramirez
Roel Ramirez and Colin Poche arrived dealin heat, both made their Riverwalk debuts with excellent outings.

Right-handed Ramirez did allow an earned run, his first of the season, he was unscored upon as a Stone Crab this year. When I met him, I said "ah, you pitched your way out of Port Charlotte". He just smiled and nodded.

Roel throws a fastball in the low-90's, splitter and slider. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2017.

Colin Poche
When I met the lefty Poche, I said "ah, you left your car in the home team parking lot." He also smiled and nodded.

Colin got a bit of notice on social media for his ride, which may be a van - it was hard to tell under the mountain of TP that was covering it, left for him as a parting gift from his teammates. An internet search for the image is probably worth the effort.

Both these guys have live arms and bring good numbers into the bullpen, we can probably count on these guys to have more good days than bad. Also, they are both pretty easy to talk to, excited to be where they are and usually able to tolerate my repeated pestering.

from 1943
Curtis Taylor
As the middle innings of Thursty Thirsday played out the newest Biscuit arrived, suited up and was ready for action by the time Take Me Out to the Ball Game echoed across the stands.

Curtis Taylor comes to town fresh from Port Charlotte where he punched out 23 batters in just eight relief appearances. He earned two saves there and could see more chances following the Biscuits bullpen shakeup.

Notes on the new guy:
He is not the Curtis Taylor who played for the SF 49'ers and LSU.
He is not the Curtis Taylor who won a Grammy Award for his trumpet playing.
He is not the Curtis Taylor who appeared in the films Bad Santa and RoboCop 3.
He is not the Curtis Taylor who appeared in the tv show Wild Wild West.

He is the Curtis Taylor acquired by the Rays via trade with the Diamondbacks straight up for Brad Boxberger.
He is Canadian. 
He is right-handed.
He is every bit of six-foot-six, just as it says on the back of his baseball card.
He throws a nice mid-90s heater with a hard slider and a changeup.
He made 13 starts last year in the Arizona organization.

Shout-out to my man @bubba36109, who was the first on my twitter timeline to share the info on his promotion!

I went down to the bullpen to snap a shot of Curtis, It's great to see someone getting their first taste of double-A, even if it comes after a ten hour road trip. Hows it feel, Curtis?


Monday, May 7, 2018

Biscuits Welcome Back Shuckers, We Got That

The Biscuits return for the first home series in May, facing a familiar foe in the Biloxi Shuckers. The two teams have already locked up for five games at Riverwalk and five games in Biloxi, fully one-third of games the Biscuits have played are against the Shuckers.

it is BS
Biloxi isn't in our division and we don't host division-rival Birmingham in the first half, so OF COURSE we need to see another five game series against the Biloxi Shuckers.

The upside is that it is a ten game homestand, so we will get a look at the Jacksonville team, currently led by former Biscuit Cade Gotta. But thats later.

First the Biscuits have to face the Shuckers, who lead the South Division in large part on the backs of the Biscuits slow start. Brady's Boys have to turn away the Biloxi crew or risk being further mired around the .400W-L mark.

For his part, Brady hasn't appeared happy while watching. The Biscuits skipper has been tossed from two contests, which would put him on pace for somewhere between six and twenty ejections this season.

On the road in Jackson it appeared that catcher Brett Sullivan disagreed with being charged for a mound visit after a sacrifice bunt and was ejected.

This action prompted Brady Williams to continue the discussion and his opinion was also met with the arbiters thumb.

IMO it was a crappy call followed by a bad decision to argue and compounded with a worse move to eject the catcher, leaving Brady little choice but to get tossed as well.


This is the same team that was here a few short weeks ago, rehabbers from the Brewers have come and gone, so it will be basically the same roster that has won seven of ten games from Montgomery last month.

Jake Hager
Look for former Biscuit Jake Hager, punishing pitchers with a .292 average for the Shuckers.

Be sure to look for Nick Solak, batting .311 and providing excellent defense, Biscuits fans may not get to see Nick for long before he earns a promotion.

We will all get a look at the new guys, Colin Poche and Roel Ramirez. Two new arms for the bullpen, one lefty in Poche comes from the Souza trade, the other has earned a spot after pitching great for the Stone Crabs.

Look for me to be trying to get a picture of the new guys, as well as Matt Krook who has somehow eluded my lens so far this season.

Moats may juggle roles too
The last game of the Generals series was started by Dalton Moats, manager Brady Williams may again look to the bullpen on game five. Doling out about two innings for each relief arm is a common strategy for the Biscuits in the month of May.

The Biscuits look to face their foe head on, with a chance to redeem both their home record and save face from a pair of series losses to the Angry Clams. They will play hard to set the tone at home and put the month of April behind them.

Look for a cool flyover after the anthem on Saturday. The Biscuits have done a great job getting impressive aircraft flyovers lately, this weekends Military Appreciation Night offers a great opportunity for another. It's not technically this series, but its something that has become worth watching!

Brady has the team playing well on the road. During that game in Jackson he probably knew how the team has played at Riverwalk this year and really would have liked to put that game of the roadtrip in the W column. Losing that one meant the road record went from one game over to one game under.

At home the 'Skits are just five wins against ten losses so far this year. It resembles a trend that plagued the Montgomery club for several seasons before Brady Williams took the helm. With Montgomery, playing well on the road but having a noticeably bad home record wasn't unusual.

Brady Williams turned that around to become the winningist manager in Montgomery baseball history, marking his 300th victory with Montgomery earlier this year.

A couple seasons ago I asked manager Brady Williams about what causes a club to have a bad home record, pointing out some of our past teams struggles. "Too many distractions" was his first response, "with road games, there's nothing to do but play baseball."

I doubt that is the cause of this teams poor showing at home in April, but I do agree with that logic as applied to some of the past teams home woes. As the downtown grew and more entertainment became available, the teams home record indeed suffered.

Lowe and Palacios
Some have claimed the Biscuits lack a power bat, but Brandon Lowe enters the homestand tied for the league lead in circuit clouts at six and runs batted in with twenty-one.

Others have complained that the Biscuits strike out too much, but no Montgomery players are in the top twenty in the K category. In fact, only two teams whiff less than the Biscuits, Biloxi and Chattanooga.

As one would expect from a Brady Williams team, Montgomery leads the league in stolen bases.


the real slim sallee
MAY 8 1906 
Pitcher Salee of Birmingham two-hits Montgomery but loses due to his own wildness.

MAY 8 1920 
"Jacksonville Stars Lose to Montgomery"

 - Grey Sox Win Before Large Crowd; Moss is in Fine Form -
Grey Sox Pitcher Jim Moss
In one of the prettiest games played in the city this season the Montgomery Grey Sox team defeated the Jacksonville Stars by the score of 4 to 2, Saturday afternoon before a large crowd. Both Moss and O'Neal pitched good ball, the latter after the third inning had the Grey Sox batters at his mercy.

Moss allowed only six scattered hits and was given almost perfect support by his team mates. Williams was the batting star for the game, his long double with two on bases clinched the contest for the Grey Sox. After the third inning, it was three up and three down for both teams, players on both clubs making several beautiful plays.

The two teams will clash again today, the games starting at 3 o'clock.

MAY 10 1908 

Montgomery and Shreveport play 15 innings to a tie, 3-3

MAY 11 1908 
Montgomery and Shreveport AGAIN play 15 innings to a tie, 1-1

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

#BullpenLife - A Field Guide to Biscuits Relievers

Watching the Biscuits at home was torturous over the first three weeks. Chilly weather could be to blame for the cold bats and weak play.

If the Skitz can figure out how to post two or three runs in the early innings it won't be a tough task to get back to even in the win column. Everything else is there, good pitching, reliable defense and a knack for plating runs in the late innings.

The Montgomery team has played pretty bad so far, but they look good doing it.

Not just photogenic, though they are, the Biscuits have a good foundation to build on going forward. Perhaps the bad start is just that, a bad start. Lets hope so!

Biscuits coach Gary Redus was a member of the Pirates team in that infamous playoff game seven that sent the Braves to the World Series with a Sid Bream slide.

Gary had three hits off of Tom Glavine a couple days earlier and batted .479 that postseason, but was not in the lineup for that fateful contest.

When asked why he wasn't in that game, not even used as a pinch hitter by manager Jim Leyland, Redus replied simply "I don't know".


There will be help for the Skitz, even if we can't yet see the flags over the hill.

Guys like outfielder Jesus Sanchez (.338ba 4hr in 18 games) will arrive, perhaps sooner than later. Shortstop Lucius Fox is hitting .353 and stealing bags. Reliever Roel Ramirez has been nearly unhittable in nine pitching appearances.

Several other Stone Crabs are pitching well or slugging the ball and could get promoted, but touted third baseman Kevin Padlo isn't yet among them. His .236 average is among the Charlotte teams lowest.

Brandon Lowe
Players named Lowe could soon complicate Brady Williams lineup cards, Charlotte outfielder Josh Lowe is batting .362 and their first baseman Nate Lowe is flirting with .400 early on. Adding them to the Biscuits current Lowe, second baseman Brandon, would surely confuse everyone.

Truly it can be said that having those three in the lineup together would be a real Lowe point in Montgomery history! (ha-cha-cha-cha I gots a million of em!)

This edition of the relief corps is a cut above most April issues. They work quickly, throw strikes and get the job done more often than not. If there isn't a barrage of changes or bouts of severely contagious suck-itis, we could even learn to love these guys. Once we learn who they are.
(l-r) Alaniz, Ott, Wright, Harrison, Karalus, Moats, Krook

That being said, at least one and maybe more of these dudes needs to start browsing a Durham apartment guide. The past few seasons, the reliever throwing the best at the end of April gets a promotion. Last year it was Jose Alvarado who went straight to the big leagues from Montgomery.

So on that note, lets get a look at those relief pitchers in this in-depth edition of #BullpenLife!

(l-r) Ott, Wright, Bird, Harrison, Karalus, Krook

Tall Kyle Bird and sidearming Jordan Harrison have had the longest tenure in Biscuits raiment. Both these southpaws have been getting the ball in the late innings and are co-closers along with right-hander Mike Franco.

Kyle Bird is a hard throwing lefty, kind of a country boy at heart and so far the team leader in bubblegum-dart tossing for distance.

K.B. got married in the offseason and also loves the Jaguars, according to the media guide. The Birds are expecting their first baby next month, a little girl, so be sure to give dad a break if he looks a little sleepy come June.

Bird is off to a very nice start, keeping hitters off stride and stranding baserunners. He has a nice pickoff move to first and a quick time to home plate with his fastball, which eliminates the running game.

Kyle locates his fastball well and has minimized his mistakes so far this year, looking much more dominant than in previous seasons.

He is friendly and easy to talk with, you can bet when Jags gameday rolls around, his place is a ton of fun!

Jordan Harrison has a wicked sidearm delivery and a sense of humor that cuts as well as his fastball. A Biscuit since 2015, Jordan is the longest tenured player and should oversee Kangaroo Court very capably.

Texas born, "Harry" was originally chosen by the Mets but refused to sign, getting drafted by Tampa three years later.

Harrison has good movement and last summer seemed to turn the corner in his development, holding opponents batting averages twenty points below his previous career average. He has shown the same so far this year and is likely to earn a promotion for his improved efforts. Until then he is welcome to keep tossing quality relief for the Montgomery bullpen as long as he likes!

Also tossing from the south side is Travis Ott.

With a bright red beard and a leg kick over his head, Travis Ott has dazzled local fans with nine K's in six innings.

His leg kick is impressive but he also features a FILTHY slide step delivery with two strikes that crosses the plate before the surprised hitter can get his bat off his shoulder.

Ott told me he had just developed the leg kick last summer.

Last year he was a starter, getting knocked around until a trip to the bullpen and a new leg kick dropped opponents batting average against him from .239 in July to .123 in August.

If Matt Krook looks like he feels a little out of place in the Biscuits bullpen at times, there could be many reasons.

no photo yet but its kinda like this
Maybe the former Oregon Duck is still recovering from the shock of being traded, or perhaps because he is in his first April with a new organization. Also the California lefty is a long ways from home, having played last summer in San Jose, just a short drive from his home near San Francisco. Culture shock, y'all.

Matt was chosen by the Marlins when first drafted, then later signed with his hometown Giants. However fate was determined that he should play for a team in Florida and he was dealt to the Rays in the Longoria trade.

Its easy to see why the Rays wanted him, Krook-Daddy throws hard and misses bats. A former starter, Matt is about four years removed from TJ surgery and last year moved to the bullpen where he found renewed success.

Matt Krook features four pitches, highlighted by a lively fastball and nice sinker. He especially tough on lefthanded batters. The lanky hurler is a funny and friendly guy to talk to, adding to the chemistry among the relief staff.

Krook is one of the few current Biscuits with their own Wikipedia entry.

Dalton Moats brings another port-sided delivery and some great nickname options to the Biscuits bullpen.

Moatsy was a three sport star in highschool and originally chosen by his hometown KC Royals. Instead he chose to go to Delta State University in Ms. and became a legend there, leading the team to conference championship and deep into the the NCAA tourney.

The Moat-monster isn't overwhelming, his heater sits about 90mph, but his command of three pitches make each offering a more effective combination than the sum of their parts. Location is everything for Moats, who is very effective against lefthanders and usually able to keep the ball in the park.

Submit your own Dalton Moats nickname now!

doing the Wright thing
Austin Wright is a professional and brings all business to the park, every day. A double-A level veteran, Wright bounced around the Phillies and Dbax affiliates, often at double-A and now seeks to hone his craft in the Tampa system.

Wright simply needs to throw strikes, as he doesn't allow many base hits. The Biscuits would like him to figure that out quickly so he can throw quality innings in the first half and mentor the younger guys in the pen.

Austin's early numbers aren't pretty, but lets face it, there haven't been many good nights to pitch for the Biscuits this season. There is plenty of time for him to Wright the ship (ha-cha-cha-cha I told ya!)

we gots them too!

Reuben Alaniz, currently on the DL with a wrist strain, was throwing well when injured. His eight strikeouts in five and two-thirds innings were stellar, a couple tough luck runs scored bumped his ERA up but hopefully he bounces back quickly.

Reuben, formerly in the Astros and Tigers organizations, comes to Montgomery after signing as a free agent with Tampa. He has bounced around for about eight years, but he is probably better suited to triple-A based on his age and experience level. Once he proves he is healthy he will only need a few good outings to earn a promotion.

Texas native Alaniz throws hard and mixes his pitches well, fooling hitters into swings and misses with good movement as well as simply throwing the ball past them.

Mike Franco returns to the Biscuits bullpen, throwing hard and pitching important innings.

I would like to say more about the friendly righthander, but can't, as I am still waiting for his reply to the questions I sent him back in January (sorry, bro, you get that tablet working yet?haha). I do know he is currently reading Jason Kendall's book. Also a Texas native, he attended Florida International U. and isn't afraid of some good natured ribbing about not replying to his email.

Pitching really well in relief this year, Franco looks in fine form and is seeing plenty of action in important situations. It does not appear that a return to the rotation is in the works.

Reece has been with the team since the meet and greet event, lurking in wait for a roster spot to open that he could vulture. That opportunity came and now he takes the ball in mop-up situations, giving manger Brady Williams a chance to bawl out other players while Reece tries to limit the damage.

Karalus has good life on his fastball and locates well, more importantly he doesn't offer many free passes. He will graduate from mop up duty to middle relief once the team decides to play better and needs less triage pitching.

The Washington native is enjoying his time in Montgomery, curious about local eats and activities. An 8th round choice, Karalus is a relief pitcher all the way, earning kudos for his sinking fastball and abilities in the closers role at Santa Clara.

He is an amateur astronomer and would like to someday experience leaving Earth's atmosphere.


APRIL 24 1976 
Steve Trella
Montgomery pitcher Steve Trella no hits Jacksonville 1-0

APRIL 25, 1966 
Southern League/ Michael D. Kilkenny of the Montgomery Rebels had 5 wild pitches v the Macon Peaches.

APRIL 26 1906 
Ike Durrett
Montgomery manager Ike Durett, in a game at Birmingham, assaults umpire Buckley. This would be a factor two days later, when Durett is refused permission to sit in the dugout during the game and results in a forfeit when Durett refuses to leave.

APRIL 27 1956 
The Rebels host the Augusta Tigers in Sally League play, losing 6-4 in a game that takes a whopping 4:24 to play, finishing at 12:09 am.

APRIL 28 1906 
Montgomery forfeits the game to the Barons after Manager Ike Durett is refused permission to sit in the dugout by the umpire he attacked two days before. Durett will be fined $300 by President Kavanaugh and eventually released by Montgomery due to his behavior issues.