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“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball.  I’ll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring” ~ Roger Hornsby

It’s been a little over a month since the season ended.  Players have left, the clubhouse is spotless and jerseys have been washed, ironed, and placed in storage.  So what does a Minor League front office do in the off season?  For starters, we don’t just look out the window and wait for spring, we plan for it.

For the next few months it’s going to be planning, meetings, and then meetings about planning.  Meetings often have the connotation of being long and boring.  However, Minor League Baseball is not your typical business. Our job is not only to create revenue and provide a premium atmosphere for baseball’s top prospects, but also to allow our fans to have as much fun as possible.

In an average weekly promotions meeting we may talk about 90’s boy bands, monkeys who ride dogs and herd sheep (check this out!), Dancing with the Stars, and how one employee (who shall remain nameless) has never seen Boy Meets World.  I’ll give one highly coveted front office signed baseball to the first person who can correctly answer who the employee is.

It is in these meetings that the seeds for Zombie Apocalypse Night are planted and the not so great ideas like Tin Foil Appreciation Day are tossed to the wayside.  The challenge is not only to predict what will be popular eight months from now, but also what fans here in the Mahoning Valley will like.  We also take into consideration our brand image, and the reputation of our sponsors.  A good promotions schedule should be creatively mesh both pop culture and the identity of the region while positively enforcing a team and their sponsors’ role in the community.

Often times the best ideas and biggest office arguments happen while spit balling about promotions.   Should we get our very own food truck? Would fans like a Rush themed fireworks show or a Drake Appreciation Night? Should we have a date auction? What does a fox really say?  Should we have a Texas A&M football night or Ohio State football night? Shockingly, I’m always out voted on the last one.

In this last week’s promotions meeting the gauntlet was thrown down over what is the best baseball movie of all time.  Not so surprisingly we all had a different idea of what it should be, so we would like to ask our fans to help settle it once and for all.  You never know, the winning movie may be incorporated into the 2014 promotions schedule!

“All I ever wanted was to be president of the American League” – A. Bartlett Giamatti

After a year hiatus, the Scrappers Scoop is back with a new look, new information, and a new angle.  We all love summers at Eastwood Field, but this time around we’re going to give you a first row ticket to what happens in the off-season and the people who make Scrappers Baseball come to life every June.

As we embark on the 2013-2014 off-season here is your Mahoning Valley Scrappers starting lineup:

General Manager – Jordan Taylor

Assistant General Manager Marketing – Heather Sahli

Assistant General Manager Sales – Matt Thompson (@MattyT_6)

Assistant General Manager Stadium Operations and Concessions – Brad Hooser (@HooserBrad)

Group Sales Manager – Chris Sumner

Box Office and Merchandise Manager – Stephanie Novak (@StephanieNovak)

Accounting Manager – Courtney Perrino (@Court_kneeeP)

My name is Annie Stoltenberg (@astoltenberg) and after two summers of on-field hosting for the Scrappers I’m now a Marketing Intern this fall.  Though I don’t aspire to be president of the American League anytime soon, I have known that I wanted to work in Minor League Baseball since my first baseball concessions job ten years ago.  For me, Minor League Baseball embodies everything America’s Greatest Pastime should be.  It is family oriented, it rewards hard work and resiliency, and it’s full of baseball magic.

Why watch Minor League Baseball many people ask? Well, how many times have you seen an inside the park home run?  I saw undrafted free agent Cody Ferrell hit one here at Eastwood Field this last season.  What about a player hitting for the cycle?  St. Louis Cardinals’ prospect Jimmy Bosco accomplished that very feat on June 26, 2013 in Mahoning Valley.  Even more impressive, it was one day after he hit his first professional home run.  Minor Leagues though sometimes unrefined, are often baseball at its very best.

We often joke that there is no better stage for a reality tv show than a Minor League baseball office.  Though we may not have as much drama as the “Real World”, everyone here has an interesting story.  Every week I’ll post on this blog about my experiences in my first year working in a Minor League front office.  Follow along to learn a little more about us, what life working in baseball is really like, and a lot more about the ins and outs of Scrappers Baseball.

Media Day:

After months of planning Opening Night is tomorrow and our players have finally arrived!

The Scrappers roster is comprised of professional baseball players who have either signed a contract as a free agent or who were drafted in the annual Amateur Player Draft.  Some of our players were drafted directly from high school and others come with college experience under their belt.  Click below to see an interview with the Indian’s first round draft pick, Tyler Naquin.

http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=22411155&topic_id=&sid=t545&tcid=vpp_copy_22411155&v=3

After the players arrive they get fitted for uniforms, meet their host families, take their headshots, and then finally meet the media.  Before meeting the media however, the players were lucky enough to get interviewed by us.    We spent a few minutes with each guy getting information for their player profiles which you can see in the 2nd inning of every game this year.  For those of you who can’t wait until Opening Night we can give you a few tidbits from our interviews:

-Aaron Siliga prides himself on being a professional shower singer

-Mark Bradley wants to have dinner with the Dos XX Man.

-Evan Frazar lives by the motto “YOLO” (You Only Live Once)

-Captain Crunch is the most popular breakfast cereal of your 2012 Scrappers.

Hunter Jones showing off his athleticism by doing a backflip!

Although intimidating at first, getting the opportunity to interview the team has been the most interesting preseason preparation we have done so far.  Several of the players helped us think of questions to ask their teammates, and things to have them do on camera.  We saw Hunter Jones do a backflip (he offered to backflip off the wall, but we said no figuring Coach Kubiak wouldn’t appreciate it if he got hurt doing it), Evan Frazar serenaded us with the Backstreet Boys, we heard an amazing rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” (Which hopefully you all will get to hear very shortly), several good Elvis impressions, and not to mention the dance moves.  It’s easy for people to see these guys as baseball players, but they are also 20-year-old guys who like to have fun.  One thing we know for sure about the team this year, is that there is a bunch of fun personalities, which should make for a great year!  We’re always looking for question suggestions, so let us know if there is something you would like to know about the Scrappers!

After the fun, laugh filled hour of interviewing with us the players were prepared to face the media.  We introduced all of the players as they ran out of the dugout and onto the field.  They made time to speak with whoever needed them.  Shockingly no one wanted to interview either of us.

2011 3rd round draft pick Jake Cisco getting interviewed on media day

Sitting atop the Pinckney Division standings all season long, the Scrappers have had some prospects emerge as serious contenders with Big League aspirations.

Shortstop Tony Wolters, third baseman Jordan Smith, outfielder Bryson Myles and pitcher Danny Jimenez were selected to the 2011 New York-Penn League All Star Game. All four players are receiving their first taste of Class A ball, this season, and have proven that their early professional careers are just a hint of what is to come down the road.

Wolters, an Indians 3rd round draft pick in 2010, has drawn comparisons to Red Sox infielder,  Dustin Pedroia. He stands at just 5’10,” but proves that you don’t have to be a big guy to make a big impact. Wolters swings a good bat and gets on base. He has good speed knocking three triples this year and is second on the team with a .307 batting average. Even before he was a pro, Wolters has experience playing with the best of the best when he was a part of the 2009 U-18 USA baseball team. Baseball prodigy, Bryce Harper in the Nationals system was on that team and the two remain close friends to this day.

Mahoning Valley’s best overall hitter, thus far, is Jordan Smith. The St. Cloud State product was a legend at the Division 2 school earning All-American honors. He was originally tabbed as an outfielder, but has seen considerable time at third base for the Scrappers. Smith is batting a blistering .327 with 72 total bases and 34 RBI. On August 6th, he was named the Wing Warehouse Player of the game in a 5-3 win over Auburn. He collected a pair of key RBI, while going 2-for-3 in the game.

The speediest player of the team, Myles has swiped 11 stolen bases on the year. One look at him, though, and you would think he could be a football linebacker. His build of 5’11,” 235 pounds is beastly. He has been tremendous at the plate batting .294 in just 27 games, having missed some time due to injury. A 6th round pick in 2011, the Texas native set the hits record at Stephen F. Austin University. Throughout his collegiate career, Myles was always noted as one of the top outfielders in the country. The Indians are seeing why as he could be on the fast track to a promotion. He is a trusted lead-off hitter who sees the ball well.

Jimenez has struck out 33 batters in 2011 while averaging over six Ks per nine innings. He is a flame-throwing lefty who has been consistently clocked in the low 90s. His control is solid and he is most of all, consistent. Manager Dave Wallace has been able to have confidence that Jimenez can go deep into games and still have gas in the tank to get guys out. He is no stranger to the spotlight, as he was rated as the No. 1 Junior College prospect in the state of Illinois coming out of John A. Logan College. Jimenez has had time to develop himself as a quality pitcher with two years in the Arizona Rookie League before earning a spot on the Scrappers roster.

Fans, be sure to pay attention to the All-Star festivities which are taking place in Lowell, Mass on August 15 and 16. Support your Scrappers who look to represent the Mahoning Valley, and their first place team, well.

Photos are credited to Jesse Piecuch and his Scrappers baseball card project. More samples of Jesse’s work can be found on his facebook page and sportsshooters.com.

Nearly 200 avid runners came out to Eastwood Field early Saturday morning. Not for a baseball game, but for the opportunity to take part in the Scrappers annual 5K race/walk. This year, proceeds from the event were donated to Akron Childrens Hospital-Mahoning Valley.  CASHLAND, REFRESH DENTAL MANAGEMENT, LASER HAIR REMOVAL, ATC HEALTHCARE SERVICES, MAXIM PEDIATRIC SERVICES, SAVANYU REFLEXOLOGY, THE BODY SHOP AEROBICS AND FITNESS, BRAYDICH CENTER FOR ADVANCED DENTISTRY, CORTLAND LANES and WALGREENS all sponsored the race and helped to make it truly successful.

On a perfect day for a run, participants ran throughout the Eastwood Mall complex and crossed the finish line at homeplate, right on the field.

Festivities got underway at 8:15 with the kid’s fun run. A swift jog around the warning track of Eastwood Field got the youngest trekkers’ blood pumping.

The horn sounded at 8:30 for the 5K and it was a rush all the way through. Members of the Scrappers front office staff were on hand to motivate the runners and hand out cups of water to the dashing athletes.

While everyone could be considered a champion for their efforts, the top three runners for both males and females received trophies and the winners of certain age groups earned plaques.

Listed below are the winners for the race.

Female Age 13-19: Rachel Roberts

Male Age 13-19: Sam Sheonovich

Female Age 20-29: Lindsay Blazek

Male Age 20-29: Brad Bee

Female Age 30-39: Margaret Hudak

Male Age 30-39: Ed Brainard

Female Age 40-49: Donna Danko

Male Age 40-49: Donald Peace

Female Age 50-59: Jodi Banas

Male Age 50-59: Mark Osborne

Female Age 60+: Renee Persin

Male Age 60+: Robert Latavish

Female Overall Standings: 1) 20:28-Tina Seech 2) 21:47-Lisa Dano 3) 23:09-Katie Seech

Male Overall Standings: 1) 17:28-Jonathon Richmond 2) 17:31-Alexander While 3) 17:58-Ronnie Malmfeldt

The average baseball game lasts approximately three hours. The time it takes for each team to record 27 outs can vary with every swing of the bat, though. Each pitch, each hit, each diving catch all have an impact on the game. Sometimes if you blink, you’ll miss it.

Jesse Piecuch is here to record it all.

A Photographer from Woodard Photographic, Piecuch is an everyday regular at Eastwood Field. An avid baseball fan, he grew up dreaming of taking action shots of his boyhood heroes playing the game he loved. His dream has come true as he sets up shop every evening taking pictures of the game, inside and out. His work is noticed by fans on liveyouryear.com. Shots of kids playing between inning games, National Anthem singers and groups from games can be found there. Also, he has been picked up by the grand stage, MiLB.com, the official website of Minor League baeseball. On four seperate occasions, so far, Piecuch has been featured on the Photo of the Week section. It is an honor he says is completely humbling.

The Scrappers Scoop discussed with Piecuch what drives his passion for sports, photography and the great game of baseball.

Scrappers Scoop : What got you into photography?

Jesse Piecuch: When I was younger I loved to collect baseball cards. The action shots always seemed to capture my imagination, and I was always disappointed when the card was just a guys portrait. When I figured out that baseball wasn’t in my future, I knew I still wanted to be around the game. Photography just seemed like a good way to combine two things that I’ve always enjoyed.

SS: Would you say sports photography has always been a hobby for you?

JP: Photography was never a hobby for me. I’m a very impulsive person, so I literally decided in one day that I was going to be a photographer. There was never even a question what I was going to shoot. It was going to be baseball.

SS: What type of equipment do you use each game?

JP: I use a Canon Mark IIN camera body attached to a Canon 300mm f/2.8 L series lens for the action. That basically means my camera is really fast and sharp, and my lens gets some distance and lets in a lot of light!

SS: How does it feel to be a notorious member on MILB’s “Photo of the Week” list?

JP: It truly is an honor. There are 240 teams in Minor League baseball and you can always find someone with a camera at the park every night. I’ve been very fortunate that the Scrappers have an exciting team and the games have been pretty action packed. Hopefully we can keep it going and get the club some exposure every week!

SS: Where would you like your career to eventually take you?

JP: Well, let me first say that the company I currently work for, Woodard Photographic, is a first class company. Like the Scrappers, they are stacked with talent! I have learned more from the other photographers I work with then I did in college. However; my ultimate destination is to be a full time team photographer. I want to shoot an organization from top to bottom every day!

SS: What is it like showing up to work at a baseball stadium, each day?

JP: This season has been phenomenal. My goal coming in was to keep my head down and try to stay out of everyone’s way. Instead, I have met some outstanding people and made some great friends. I can’t wait to get to the ball park every day just to see everyone! I’m willing to bet that is one of the reasons why my images have been coming out so well!

The chuckles of “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase could be heard throughout Eastwood Field on Sunday.

But it was the Scrappers who had the last laugh in a series against the State College Spikes.

In three games, Mahoning Valley tallied 16 runs to take every game against the Spikes. The offensive onslaught by the Scrappers was the most runs collected by the team in a three game stretch, this season.

With DiBiase on hand, the Scrappers held Wrestling Night on June 26. Trivia, autographs from the “Million Dollar Man” and even a main event bout between Scrappy and Costanza the Rally Gorilla turned the stadium into an all-out wrestling ring. On the field, it was a one sided cage match with the Scrappers scoring six 1st inning runs. Doubles from Tony Wolters, Jake Lowery, Todd Hankins and KC Serna paced the way as the Scrappers batted around in the first frame. In his professional debut, Mason radeke earned the win goign five full innings, allowing justone run on three hits. The Santa Barbara, CA native fanned four Spikes batters in his first Minor League go-around.

Mahoning Valley found itself in an all too familiar scenario on Tuesday.

With a chance to walk off with a win in the bottom of the 9th, the Scrappers did. It took 11 innings back on June 22, but pinned against the wall to win in stunning fashion, the home team has come through. In both situations, the game has ended on a walk. Both times, Jordan Smith has been the hero with a good eye drawing a walk to win it in the end.

The Scrappers polished off the series sweep on Tuesday with a 2-for-4 performance by Bryson Myles.

The Stephen F. Austin product led off the bottom of the first with a bunt single. Showcasing his speed, Myles stole second, and then third. He now has five stolen bases in 2011. Myles scored the first of six Scrappers runs there in the first frame. He collected his fourth RBI of the season scoring Todd Hankins with a triple in the bottom of the 2nd. Myles leads the team with a .333 batting average and .412 on-base percentage.

Alex Lavisky and Wolters also had two hit days, Tuesday.

It’s now the Spikes turn to be at home as the Scrappers travel to State College for another three game set Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Be sure to include a trip to Eastwood Field in your 4th of July weekend plans. The Scrappers will be back in Mahoning Valley on the 2nd and the 3rd. With a Youth Jersey giveaway on Saturday and Patriotic Night celebrations on Sunday, the perfect way to honor America is with some Scrappers baseball.

Photo Credits: courtesy of Woodard Photography/ Jesse Piecuch