Friday, February 26, 2016

Women in Baseball: It's a Good Thing

I've started to sense a sea-change over the last year or so. A change for the good. I talk about it in the introduction to my new book.

DEDICATION

This book is dedicated to all of the women who love baseball, not just those who love to watch it, but those who strive to become an integral part of the great American pastime on the field, in the dugout, behind the plate, in the press box, in the clubhouse, or in the front offices.

Alison Gordon opened the doors in 1979 when she became the first female beat writer in the MLB (for Toronto) and the first female member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Many have followed in her footsteps, but it took another 36 years for Jessica Mendoza to become the first woman to provide in-game analysis for a nationally televised major league game last fall.

Progress, however, has been glacially slow for women who wish to participate in the world of baseball in “non-traditional” roles, but there are signs that opportunities may at long last be opening up for them.

Justine Siegal has collected a few firsts in her lifetime. She was the first woman to throw major league batting practice, the first woman to coach for a professional team (in the independent leagues) and just last fall was the first woman invited by a major league club to coach prospects in the Fall Instructional League for the Oakland A’s. Siegal formed the organization Baseball for All as a platform to help girls and young women participate in the sport.

Rachel Balkovec, recently hired by the Astros as the strength and conditioning coordinator for their Latin American operations, was the first female S&C coach in affiliated baseball when she handled those duties in the Cardinals organization.

Robin Wallace has proven herself as a full-time scout for the MLB Scouting Bureau, and Christie Stancil Wood first started with that same organization as a video technician in 2000. Amanda Hopkins was hired in December by the Mariners to be a full-time scout for that organization and is believed to be the first woman in that position since the 1950’s when Edith Grace Houghton, a former professional shortstop, scouted for the Phillies from 1946 to 1951.

There was even a French shortstop, Melissa Mayeaux, who became the first female to register for the July 2nd international signing class. She was also the first female to train with the MLB Elite Camp in the Netherlands last August. She hopes to continue making history by landing a spot on the French team for the World Baseball Classic in 2017. And, of course, everyone is now familiar with the story of Mo’ne Davis as the first female to earn a win in Little League World Series history in 2014.

Unfortunately, the news for female umpires isn’t quite as good. Pam Postema made it as far as umpiring in a major league Spring Training game in 1988 thanks to her support from then Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti, but she topped out at AAA, losing that support and her job shortly after Giamatti’s death in 1989. To my knowledge, there are currently zero female umpires working in the minor leagues. Bernice Shiner Gera was the first woman to serve as a professional umpire, doing so for a short time for the New York-Penn League in 1972. It required a lawsuit for her to get there and she was reportedly more or less bullied into quitting.

As for executives, no one female baseball executive has a higher profile than Kim Ng. She has worked in baseball since first serving as an intern for the White Sox in 1991. She went on to serve as the Assistant General Manager for the Yankees and the Dodgers before taking on the role of Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball in 2011. Despite now having 25 years of experience, Ng is always the bridesmaid and never the bride, having interviewed for numerous General Manager positions going back over 10 years, but never getting the offer.

In late January, MLB announced the creation of a new “front office and field staff diversity pipeline program” to be headed by Tyrone Brooks, formerly the Director of Player Personnel for the Pirates. Brooks has been tasked with increasing “the pool of minority and female candidates for on-field and baseball operations positions.” I wish Mr. Brooks the best of luck.

Again, thank you to all the women who love baseball and are working to make it more reflective of baseball’s audience.

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Now available for download to your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Preview it right here!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016 Astros Minor League Coaching Staff

Quite a number of changes were made to the original coaching staff roster that was announced back in October. Most notable was former Corpus Christi Hooks Pitching Coach Doug Brocail's departure as he took on that role for the Rangers major league club. Dave Borkowski, Pitching Coach of the Quad Cities club in 2015, was moved to replace Brocail for the Hooks. 2015 Tri-City Pitching Coach Chris Holt will replace Borkowski at Quad Cities. Fresno Pitching Coach Ace Adams, originally listed as the Tri-City Pitching Coach, departed for a job with the Tigers organization.

Also, Managers Josh Bonifay and Omar Lopez were moved around from that original list and Ramon Vazquez, formerly a coach on the Lancaster team will now be the JetHawks new Manager. 2015 Tri-City Hitting Coach Russ Steinhorn will be headed to the Dominican Republic to manage one of the two DSL Astros teams there. Tri-City Pitching Coach Drew French and Hitting Coach Dillon Lawson and Greeneville Pitching Coach Bill Murphy were added to the mix and will be new to the organization.

I'll pin this revised list to the front page sidebar for easy reference.

2016 ASTROS MINOR LEAGUE COACHING STAFF
(Preliminary List: Subject to Minor Changes)

COORDINATORS, ROVERS AND MEDICAL STAFF
Field Coordinator: Paul Runge
Pitching Coordinator: Doug White
Hitting Coordinator: Jeff Albert
Catching Coordinator: Mark Bailey
Infield Coordinator: Adam Everett
Mindset Coach: Morgan Ensberg
Roving Outfield Instructor: Leon Roberts
Complex Coordinator-Pitching: Josh Miller
Strength & Conditioning Coordinator: Brendan Verner
Latin American Strength & Conditioning Coordinator: Rachel Balkovec
Rehab Coordinator: Daniel Roberts

FRESNO (AAA)
Manager: Tony DeFrancesco
Pitching Coach: Dyar Miller
Hitting Coach: Ralph Dickenson
Athletic Trainer: Bryan Baca
Strength & Conditioning: Trey Wiedman

CORPUS CHRISTI (AA)
Manager: Rodney Linares
Pitching Coach: Dave Borkowski
Hitting Coach: Dan Radison
Athletic Trainer: Grant Hufford
Strength & Conditioning: Taylor Rhoades

LANCASTER (A+)
Manager: Ramon Vazquez
Pitching Coach: Mike Burns
Hitting Coach: Darryl Robinson
Athletic Trainer: Michael Rendon
Strength & Conditioning: Dwayne Peterson

QUAD CITIES (A-)
Manager: Omar Lopez
Pitching Coach: Chris Holt
Hitting Coach: Joel Chimelis
Coach: Wladimir Sutil
Athletic Trainer: Corey O'Brien
Strength & Conditioning: Joe Bossard

TRI-CITY (SSA)
Manager: Lamarr Rodgers
Pitching Coach: Drew French
Hitting Coach: Dillon Lawson
Athletic Trainer: John Gregorich
Strength & Conditioning: Mark Spadavecchia

GREENEVILLE (Rk+)
Manager: Josh Bonifay
Pitching Coach: Bill Murphy
Hitting Coach: Cesar Cedeno
Athletic Trainer: Elliot Diehl
Strength & Conditioning: Julio Diaz

GULF COAST LEAGUE (Rk-)
Manager: Marty Malloy
Pitching Coach: Erick Abreu
Hitting Coach: Luis Mateo
Athletic Trainer: Ben Myers

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE (FRk)
Manager: Russ Steinhorn
Full list not available

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For profiles on 273 Astros players, stats galore, depth charts, lists of top players in dozens of categories and notable departures, buy the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook today! The book is now available on Amazon and can be downloaded to your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone and is compatible with both Android and IOS. Buy yours today!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

2016 Houston Farm System Handbook

My book just went live and is now available for purchase on Amazon. The 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook contains basic information on 273 players in the Astros system and expanded profiles on scores of players! You'll find stats galore, photos, links to interviews and video and much, much more! This year's handbook also includes Depth Charts and a Notable Departures section as we said goodbye to several very high profile players over the last year.

You can download the book for reading on your computer, tablet or smartphone (or, like me, all three!). It is portable and completely searchable in any number of ways. There are bookmarks throughout to direct you back to read more about a given player. Don't go to Spring Training without this book, especially if you like to hang out on the backfields!

Thanks for your support and thank you for buying my labor of love!

 

Astros Birthdays

As the 2016 Houston Farm System Handbook is currently winging its way to Amazon via the internet, let me take a moment to apologize for going AWOL for the last two weeks. Finishing up the book with everything else on my plate proved to be a more difficult and time-consuming process than I had anticipated. I promise that I will be forthcoming with some original content this coming week, but today I'm only going to catch you up on birthdays and then I plan on taking a long nap! TTFN!

WISHING A VERY HAPPY (BELATED) BIRTHDAY TO

2-17: RHP Zac Grotz (23)
2-19: LHP Kevin Chapman (28)
2-20: IF Rodrigo Ayarza (21)

WITH A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK TO

2-21: LHP Bryan Radziewski (24)
2-27: 1B Conrad Gregor (24)
2-27: 1B Connor MacDonald (20)
2-27: RHP Felipe Tejada (18)