Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

By Steve Wilaj

The Cleveland Indians held four picks during the first day of the 2014 MLB Draft on Thursday, selecting outfielder Bradley Zimmer with the 21st pick, LHP Justus Sheffield with the 31st pick, outfielder Mike Papi with the 38th pick and RHP Grant Hockin with the 61st pick. 

While it’s to be seen if any of the four will end up in Mahoning Valley this season, here’s a brief background on each Tribe selection, followed by an overview of the Indians 2013 draft class that saw action with the Scrappers.

Bradley Zimmer, OF, 21…a 6-foot-5, 205 pound lefty out of the University of San Francisco, he’s a two-time All-West Coast Conference selection. This past season as a junior with USF Zimmer hit .368 with seven homeruns and 31 RBIs. He also stole 21 bases in 54 games. He was the only player in the nation in the top 50 in stolen bases (21) and top 60 in slugging percentage (.573). His brother, Kyle, was the fifth overall pick by the Kansas City Royals in the 2012 draft.

Justus Sheffield, LHP, 18…the 2014 Gatorade National Player of the Year went 10-0 with a 0.34 ERA in 61 innings pitched at Tullahoma High School in Tennessee this past season. He struck out 131 batters. The 6-foot lefty is committed to Vanderbilt.

Mike Papi, OF, 21…a 6-foot-3 left-handed hitting junior outfielder from Virginia, Papi was a 2013 All-American as he hit .381 with seven homeruns and 57 RBI. He followed that stellar year by hitting .297 with 11 homeruns in 2014. Coming out of high school, Papi was selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 30th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

Grant Hockin, RHP, 18…a 6-foot-3 right-hander out of Damien High School in California, Hockin features a fastball that sits around 92 mph according to He’s already committed to UCLA and is the grandson of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.

2013 draftees

Dace Kime, RHP, 22…selected in the third round, the 6-foot-4 right hander out of Louisville pitched in nine games for the Scrappers in 2013 – all of them starts. He went 0-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 24.2 innings. This season he is 0-8 for the Lake County Captains with a 6.10 ERA.

Kyle Crockett, LHP, 22…a fourth-round pick out of Virginia, Crockett moved quickly through the system and made his major league debut with the Tribe on May 16. The 6-foot-2 lefty reliever began last season in Mahoning Valley where he struck out 16 and didn’t allow a run in 9.1 innings. He’s currently in AAA Columbus.

Kenny Mathews, LHP, 20…a seventh-round pick from Riverside Community College in California, Mathews went 0-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 12 starts for the Scrappers in 2013. He’s with Lake County this season, where he is 2-2 with a 2.04 ERA in eight relief appearances.

Trevor Frank, RHP, 22…selected in the eighth round, Frank logged a 2.83 ERA over 35 innings in relief for the Scrappers in 2013. He’s continued his success with Lake County this season, where he holds 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings as well as four saves.

Sicnarf Loopstok, C, 21…a 13th round pick out of Western Oklahoma State Community College, Loopstok hit .205 (15 for 73) in 24 games for the Scrappers last season.

James Roberts, SS, 22…selected in the 15th round from USC, Roberts hit .235 with 15 runs scored and 18 RBIs for the Scrappers in 2013. Now with the advanced A Carolina Mudcats, he holds a .285 batting average with 19 RBIs.

Paul Hendrix, 2B, 22…an 18th round selection, the TCU product batted .258 in 52 games with the Scrappers in 2013. Hendrix is hitting well again at Lake County this season, where he’s batting .327 with six homeruns and 21 RBIs through in 159 at-bats.

Matt Whitehouse, LHP, 23…selected in the 19th round, the lefty had a solid season with the Scrappers in 2013, posting a 0.72 ERA in 37.1 innings (four starts) as he went 4-2. This season with Lake County, Whitehouse is 1-1 with a 5.34 ERA in nine relief appearances.

Ben Heller, RHP, 22… a 22nd round selection, Heller went 1-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 37.1 innings for the Scrappers in 2013. He’s currently 3-1 with a 4.09 ERA with Lake County this season.

Grant Fink, 3B, 23… selected in the 23rd round, Fink played just five games with the Scrappers in 2013, going 8 for 18 at the plate with two doubles and a homerun. The Missouri Western State product is now with Lake County, where he has a .235 batting average and five homeruns in 187 at-bats.

Kerry Doane, RHP, 23… selected in the 24th round, the Eastern Tennessee State righty went 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in nine relief appearances for the Scrappers in 2013. This season for Lake County, Doane has a 4.40 ERA in 14.1 innings.

Cole Sulser, RHP, 24…a 25th round pick, Sulser compiled an impressive season at Mahoning Valley in 2013, going 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 15 appearances (nine starts) totaling 54 innings. He’s currently with the Carolina Mudcats, where the Dartmouth College product is 2-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 11 starts.

Garrett Smith, 2B, 24…Selected in the 37th round, Smith went 1 for 6 at the plate in limited action with the Scrappers in 2013.

If you follow baseball or have turned on Sports Center during the past few months you have probably heard the phrase “Hot Stove” mentioned once or twice.  But what exactly is a Hot Stove, and how does it have anything to do with baseball?

The phrase “Hot Stove” is a term used to describe the cold winter months between the World Series and the start of Spring Training.  The term is derived from the image of fans huddled around a hot stove, talking about baseball and speculating plans their teams have cooked up for the next season.  The Hot Stove season is a time for trades, player contract extensions, new team hires, and massive re-strategizing.

The term Hot Stove has also been embraced as a way to describe events hosted by teams in the off-season. This year, the Scrappers are very excited to host their first Hot Stove Banquet on January 30, 2014.


So What Can You Expect at the Scrappers Hot Stove Banquet?

The Hot Stove Banquet will be a unique way to experience baseball in the off-season and get a look at future Cleveland Indians.

This year, ten to twelve Top Prospects from throughout the Indians organization will be making the short trip to Niles for a meet and greet, question and answer session, and autograph session with fans in attendance at the banquet.  The names of the prospects attending will be released on this blog and at in early January.  It is likely that several of these players have played in the Mahoning Valley, and the banquet is a time for fans to see them a little more polished and refined as they prepare to play for Cleveland in the near future.  It’s also a time for fans to get to know the personalities of these prospects away from the diamond and see them as people as well as players.

Emceeing the event will be former Cleveland Indian Jason Stanford.  Stanford was signed by the Cleveland Indians as a Free Agent out of University of North Carolina- Charlotte in 1999. He had his Major League debut for the Indians in 2003 against the Minnesota Twins and also played a short two game stint as a Scrapper in 2005.  He spent nine years pitching in professional baseball with the Indians, Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs.  Stanford is currently the Pitching Coach for the Youngstown State Penguins baseball team as well as the co-host of Indians On-Deck, Indians Minor League Magazine and Tribe Report on SportsTime Ohio

In addition, a member of the Cleveland Indians Player Development staff will speak briefly at the event.

The Hot Stove Banquet is presented by the M.V.P.B.A. Scrappers Backers and Sports Radio 1240 and will be from 6-8 PM on January 30, 2014 at Cimenero’s Banquet Center in Niles.  The event includes the above-mentioned activities as well as a dinner and silent auction benefiting the M.V.P.B.A. Scrappers Backers.  Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for children (age 12 and under) and may be purchased at the Holiday Store located next to Auntie Anne’s at the Eastwood Mall, the Scrappers Box Office or by calling (330) 505-0000.

Baseball is a game, yes. It is also a business” – Willie Mays

After a full week in Florida our front office is back from Winter Meetings and adjusting to the below freezing temperatures in Ohio.  After returning on Friday, General Manager Jordan Taylor, Assistant General Manager of Sales Matt Thompson and Assistant General Manager of Stadium Operations Brad Hooser spent some time catching me up on their adventures.

Winter Meetings officially started for the trio when they arrived in Orlando and were picked up at the airport by the Brandiose party bus.  For those who are unfamiliar, Brandiose is one of the premier design firms in Minor League Baseball.  They have helped design logos for many teams including the Scrappers over the past several years.  On the bus, the staff got to loosen up and catch-up up with other winter meeting attendees on the way to the hotel.


Ready to board the Brandiose Party Bus! (Brandiose)

(Matt Thompson)

Inside the Brandiose Party Bus (Matt Thompson)

After arriving at the Swan Resort and Hotel in Walt Disney World, the group checked in and got their schedules for the week.  The Winter Meetings had over forty different seminars this year in the categories of sales, marketing, web design, operations, merchandising, media, and community relations.  Seminars are led by the industries best and are a great way for teams to share their strategies and insight.  Some of the seminars our staff attended included “Minor League, MAJOR Marketing Channel”, “Brining Technology Into Your Stadium Operations” and “Creating a Fanatical Food Experience”.

Matt Thompson walking into the Swan Hotel for a Day of Seminars (Brad Hooser)

Matt Thompson walking into the Swan Hotel for a Day of Seminars (Brad Hooser)

In addition to the seminars Jordan, Matt and Brad also attended networking events.  A favorite for many teams is the annual affiliate dinner.  The dinner is a chance for staff from Arizona, Mahoning Valley, Lake County, North Carolina, Akron, and Columbus to get together and socialize.  Of the six Indians affiliates, four are located in the state of Ohio.  This is very unusual for a farm system and for many Minor League teams the affiliate dinner is the only time of the year they get to see the other front offices in person.

Though it is not on the official Winter Meetings schedule another highly anticipated event each year is the New York Penn-League Kangaroo Court.  Kangaroo Court is a time honored baseball tradition played in almost every Minor League and Major League clubhouse across the country.  New York-Penn League execs play each year as well by airing their grievances each December.  A front office member will issue a complaint against a team and the group will decide the appropriate fee for the team to pay.  Kangaroo Court is a way for the league to poke fun at each other and raise money for the New York-Penn League foundation.  Though I am not allowed to disclose any of the charges brought in court this year I can promise it was a fun night for all teams in attendance.

In their down time, Jordan, Matt and Brad met up with old friends from different teams and enjoyed their surroundings.  I’m told one night Matt performed at a Karaoke Bar (sadly there is no video, I asked).  They explored Downtown Disney and also attended the Winter Meetings Gala.  Celebrity sightings included Kevin Millar, Chris Rose and Chris Fowler.  Jordan can also be spotted on last Thursday night’s Intentional Talk.

Winter Meetings Gala (Matt Thompson)

Winter Meetings Gala (Matt Thompson)

On their final day the front office met up with 2011 Scrappers intern and current Promotions Manager of the Lake County Captains, Drew LaFollette, and toured the set of the ESPN College Football Awards.

Now that the group is back in snowy Ohio, they are more ready then ever to bring new ideas and great fan entertainment to the Mahoning Valley in 2014.

It’s the second week of December, which can only mean one thing: Winter Meetings.  Winter Meetings week is one of the most anticipated weeks of the off season for both fans and front offices a like. on the Major League side deals are made, players are traded, contracts are extended and we start to get a glimpse of how the next seasons team will look.  Though the player development affects the Minor League teams, our version of Winter Meetings are a whole different world.

The Winter Meetings are a baseball winter wonderland.  Members of every Major League and Minor League front office fly to one resort each year to meet, make deals and network.  In addition, media, promotional representatives, ticket representatives, and hundreds of hopeful job seekers flock to the meetings as well.  This year the meetings are taking place in Walt Disney World and it will surely be a week to remember

Minor League front offices attend the Winter Meetings mostly to meet with their owners, their affiliates, and to attend seminars.  The meetings are a time to network and socialize but also a time for us to learn from each other how to get better at our craft.  Seminars range from social media in sport, merchandising and licensing, ticket sales strategy, women in baseball, and promotional brainstorms. Though there are over 160 teams across the country, winter meetings reminds us that we all have  the same goal: to provide the best family friendly entertainment and baseball atmosphere possible for you, the fan.

Another reason front offices attend the Winter Meetings is to peruse the trade show.  I have previously mentioned in this blog that Minor League front office’s like to have fun, and there is no better example of this then the Winter Meetings Trade Show.  Hundreds of stands line the convention room showcasing anything from rubber chickens to the latest laser show technology.  It’s a carnival for the baseball promotions nut.

The third major component of the Winter Meetings is the Job Fair.  Teams from across the country post their available jobs for the best and brightest in Minor League Baseball to apply to.  It’s a great opportunity for young professionals to get their foot in the door and good first look at what the industry of Minor League Baseball has to offer.   This week we are very excited to have 2012 promotions intern and Ohio University senior, Angela Martin guest blog for us her impressions of the job fair and Winter Meetings!

Tune into the blog all week as Angela and our front office update you from Orlando!

(Photo courtesy of Major League Baseball)

(Photo courtesy of Major League Baseball)

 “It’s the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back” ~ Joe Paterno

The Minor League Baseball world has been set ablaze this week with the announcements of new team names and logos.  Most notable to our area is the rebranding of the AA Indians Affiliate Akron Aero’s to the Akron Rubber Ducks.  The community as well as the industry has been very vocal about the name change, and it got me thinking, what’s really in a name?

If you’re a girl in your mid twenties like I am, you have probably thought about what you want to name your future children.  When it actually comes time to pick a name you may pour over baby name books, write out different monograms, or practice saying the name over a PA system.  With some of the bizarre names in Minor League Baseball it’s easy to wonder, do teams spend as much time and thought agonizing over a team name?  To answer simply: no. They spend a whole lot more.

In sports, a name is more then simply what you call a team, it’s an identity for a fan base and for players to latch on to and identify with.  A team name should pay tribute to the history and culture of the area as well as embody the attitude the team hopes to exhibit.

So what does it mean to be a Scrapper?  gives twenty-six synonyms for the word “scrappy” but what comes to my mind is the concept of doing whatever it takes to win.  When a person is “scrappy” they are often an underdog fighting their way to succeed.  Baseball is, at its core, all about scrappiness.   It’s about a batter fouling off pitches to stay alive or attempting diving catches for foul balls.  Is there anything more scrappy then bunting for a base hit?  Now-a-days flashy plays make web gems but scrappy players win games.

The concept of being scrappy has regional ties to the Mahoning Valley as well.  Though the industry has somewhat faded, the area is historically known for producing steel metal.  The name “Scrappers” not only identifies with the industry but also of the tough, resilient, never back down nature often associated with the people of Northeast Ohio.  There is a sense of pride with being scrappy, and this team is very proud to be to represent Mahoning Valley and everything it stands for.

“This is the best thing ever for a ballplayer, just being able to get to this point.  You dream about it. You don’t know if it’s going to happen, but when it happens, it’s a big blessing” ~ Carlos Beltran (

October Baseball.  Are there two better words in the English language?  Maybe “Opening Day” or “Play Ball” but other than that you would be hard pressed to find a better combination of two words that instill the excitement and anticipation that October Baseball does.

This month young Pirates fans experienced the bittersweet post season for the first time.  The city of Boston rallied behind a beard.  St Louis placed their hopes on the shoulders of young rookies that have gone above and beyond every time they have been asked to take the mound.  It is emotionally charged baseball on the biggest stage.

With Game 6 just a few hours away I got to thinking, how many former New York-Penn League players are playing in the World Series?

Any guesses?

Both the Red Sox and the Cardinals have New York Penn League affiliates, so odds are good that a few of the players you’ve seen in the league have made it to the big show.  However, the fact that there are eighteen players currently listed on World Series rosters is incredible.  Six of the eighteen players have been selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and these New York-Penn League alumni have combined to win four Golden Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, Comeback Player of the Year Award, American League Rookie of the Year, and a Roberto Clemente Award.

Even more mind-blowing, thirteen former New York-Penn Leaguers comprise over half of St. Louis’ roster and six of those thirteen have played for Batavia (the former St. Louis Cardinals affiliate) in the past five seasons. These players didn’t only play for Red Sox and Cardinals affiliate teams either.  Seven different teams representing half of the New York- Penn League have a former player in the 2013 World Series.

Former New-York Penn League Players in the 2013 World Series


Quintin Berry

Ryan Dempster

Felix Doubront

Jacoby Ellsbury

Will Middlebrooks


Matt Adams

John Axford

Carlos Beltran

Matt Carpenter

Randy Choate

Allen Craig

Tony Cruz

Dan Descalso

Joe Kelly

Pete Kozma

Lance Lynn

Seth Maness

Kevin Siegrist

So how does this all relate to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers?

Most Scrappers are young, so young in fact that many had never seen a Pirates postseason prior to this year.  They are fresh out of college or high school and starving to prove themselves in their first year of Professional Baseball.  The New York-Penn League is a place for them to work out their kinks, refine their skills, and start to develop who they are as a ball player.  Our games may not be as clean and orderly as Major League Baseball (excluding this very bizarre World Series) but that talent is here both on our roster and on the visiting teams’.

Whether it be tonight or tomorrow former New York-Penn Leaguers will be crowned World Series Champions, and as cliché as it may sound, they started right here.

I Got My Eyes On You

Posted: October 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

This week the front office has a treat for you, our very own starbucks drake hands video!

If you haven’t seen or heard of starbucks drake hands allow me to explain.  One day a girl walked into a Starbucks.  She thought the barista was cute and gave him her number.  The barista decided to give the girl a shout, but instead of shooting her a text or giving her a call, he sent this video.  The video has gone viral on youtube and several celebrities have spoofed it including Terry Bradshaw, Mark Sanchez, Larry King, and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers!

With the announcement of our 2014 schedule, season tickets being on sale, and the pop culture tie in we couldn’t resist making our very own rendition.  I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed filming it!