Thursday, July 26, 2012

Prep baseball: Catching up with the area's draft picks

photo by Grant Jefferies
Here is a look how some of the area's baseball draft picks are doing with their selective clubs, including Lakewood Ranch alum Zack Larson, who signed with the Minnesota Twins on July 13

GRANDEN GOETZMAN (Tampa Bay Rays, 2011) - The Palmetto grad was off to a solid start with the Rays' Appalachian League team in Princeton, W. Va., batting .298 with eight RBIs and seven steals in 12 games. But Goetzman hasn't played since July 12 because of a back ailment, according to Matthew Tracy, who covers the Princeton Rays for Rays Digest, and the team isn't sure when he'll return.
CORRELLE PRIME (Colorado Rockies, 2012) - The recent Manatee grad was taken by the Rockies in the 12th round of this year's draft and has appeared in 13 games with the franchise's Pioneer League team in Grand Junction, Colo. He is hitting .205 and has played nine games at first base, where he has made two errors in 84 chances, and four as a designated hitter.
J. R. MURPHY (New York Yankees, 2009) - The Bradenton native and IMG product was promoted to the Yankees' Double-A team in Trenton, N.J. earlier this season and is hitting .233 with two home runs and seven RBIs with the Thunder. A catcher, Murphy has thrown out six of nine runners trying to steal (69 percent) and was picked for the Florida State League All-Star game before the promotion.
MICHAEL OHLMAN (Baltimore Orioles, 2009) - After serving a 50-game suspension for violating minor league baseball's drug policy, the Lakewood Ranch alum hit .276 in eight games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles and is now with the team's low Single-A squad in Delmarva, Md, where he is batting .245 with eight RBIs in 16 games.
ZACK LARSON (Minnesota Twins, 2012) - The area's newest pro ballplayer, Larson reported to the Twins' GCL team in Fort Myers and is 3 for 6 (.500) in three games with an RBI, a triple, a stolen base and a run scored.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Prep baseball: Sandberg surprised by Perfect Game selection

photo by John Lembo
Manatee's Cord Sandberg, above, is headed to San Diego next month for the Perfect Game All-American Classic
Cord Sandberg is one of about 40 prep baseball players in the country selected to take part in next month's Perfect Game All-American Classic.
And when the call came, Manatee's rising senior said he was a little surprised to be included.
"I was like, 'Do you really want me to play in this? I'm a football player. I like baseball, and it's fun,'" Sandberg said. "It wasn't that I didn't think I can play - I'm confident. It's not a question as to whether I can play baseball. But when that happened, I was like, 'I guess I can really do this.'"
Sandberg first caught wind of his inclusion last month while taking part in the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minnesota's Metrodome. Sandberg tripled and was clocked at throwing 87 m.p.h from the outfield, according to Perfect Game's website.
"I just saw one swing," Perfect Game scouting coordinator Kenny Gardner told the site, "and knew he's going to be good."
A centerfielder at Manatee, Sandberg said he opened his own eyes with his performance.
"When I was up there playing with those guys, I was able to get a couple of hits," he said. "It kind of made me realize I could do this."
Consequently, Sandberg said he may give professional baseball a shot if he's drafted high enough next year.
He hit .358 with 22 runs and 17 RBIs last season with Manatee.
"That definitely changed the mindset," he said.
The All-American Classic is scheduled for 9 p.m., Aug. 12 at Petco Park, and will be broadcast live at CBS. Sandberg has been selected for the East Team, which will be coached by Sarasota's Clyde Metcalf.
"It's pretty cool to be selected," Sandberg said. "Maybe once I'm out there, but it hasn't really sunk in yet."
Sandberg, of course, is known for his work on the football field. The quarterback guided the Hurricanes to the Class 7A state title last season and has verbally committed to play at Mississippi State, and hopes that playing in the All-American Classic doesn't take too much away from football.
"This time last year, I was done with the whole baseball thing about two weeks ago," he said. "I'm going to be missing practice to play in that game...But I'm not too worried about it. I'm hoping I can come back to football and change gears."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Prep sports: How Chris Perez became Cleveland's unlikely spokesman

photo by Amy Sancetta/AP
Closers rarely became a baseball team's de facto spokesman.
That role typically falls to an everyday player.
Chris Perez, however, has become a the go-to quote guy with the Cleveland Indians. It helps that he's good - he's made two All-Star teams and has converted 26 of 28 save chances this season - and it also helps that Perez enjoys speaking his mind.
Remember earlier this season, when Perez chided the Cleveland fans for not flocking to Progressive Field while the Indians were fighting for first place?
"Whenever asked, I've always told how I felt," Perez said Wednesday at Tropicana Field before the Indians met the Tampa Bay Rays for the third game of their four-game series. "Now, I've been getting asked more so it's getting more attention."
A Holmes Beach native who went to Manatee before transferring to IMG as a senior, the 26-year-old Perez prides on himself on being honest rather than just telling people what they want to hear.
"People are tired of just getting the same interviews all the time," he said. "People know if they ask me a legitimate question, I'll give them a legitimate answer. I don't deal with that political correctness b.s. just because you already know all the answers.
"You ask me something, I'm going to tell you how I feel."
For more on my interview with Perez, check out Thursday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Prep basketball: Falcons hire new girls coach

Saint Stephen's has named Tim Pflug as its news girls basketball coach, according to athletic director Carlos Boothby.
Pflug comes to the area from Medford, Oregon, where he coached girls and boys and girls basketball at St. Mary's School. Pflug piloted the boys from 1995-2004, guiding the team to eight playoff berths and five league titles.
He then coached the girls team for two years. The team reached the state playoffs both years under Pflug.
Pflug takes over for Scott Dell, who coached the Falcons for a year.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Prep baseball: Larson comes to an agreement with Twins

photo by Grant Jefferies
Lakewood Ranch senior Zack Larson has an agreement with the Minnesota Twins and plans to sign with the team some time in the next two days.
"I'm pumped," Larson said earlier this evening.
The agreement is for $190,000 and once he signs, Larson will report to the Twins' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Fort Myers.
The Twins picked Larson in the 20th round in the draft during June's draft. He also had an offer to play at State College of Florida.
For more on this story, check out Saturday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Prep football: Four county players named among state's top 200

photo by Paul Videla
Four Manatee County football players were listed among the top 200 in the state by
Manatee's Cord Sandberg, Derrick Calloway and Blake Keller, and Braden River's Trevon Young made the cut for the website's Elite Top 200.
Sandberg, a quarterback who has verbally committed to Mississippi State, is ranked No. 26, highest among area players and tops in the state for quarterbacks.
Calloway, a defensive tackle, is listed at No. 123 and Keller, a defensive end who has committed to UCF, is No. 152.
Young, an offensive lineman, is at No. 195.
The four players will come together when Manatee visits Braden River on Oct. 5.