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Finally Back

It's been a while folks, I've been busy with some educational items, and obviously there hasn't been a lot to write about that you, the readers, haven't covered in diaries. Not to wander from my story too much I do want to commend our reading base for carrying the site. It's a cliché, yes, but really you are the site. I remember when I first arrived the readership wasn't nearly as active as they are this season, and for that we're appreciative.

The only start Scott Kazmir will (likely) make in Orlando is still under progress, but the result won't matter as much as you'd think for this piece. Despite his large amount of walks, and his high pitch count, the only things I'll be speaking of from tonight are his at bats to Sammy Sosa and Jose Diaz. The session before the Sosa at bat ended with two questionable ball calls to Mark Teixiera, resulting in a walk to load the bases with one out. Kazmir was visibly upset, as was manager Joe Maddon.

Then Kazmir had an epiphany, at least for the next two at bats. Just another sequence until he reaches his true `Prior Awakening'. What I'm referring to is when Mark Prior was at Southern California he faced Stanford on the day of destiny, he was hearing a lot of razz from the bench, and had some calls go against him, he then proceeded to strikeout one of their players, and told him to "Sit the (explicative) down!", pointed to the on deck circle and said something to the effect of "Your turn." From there on out it was clear: don't screw with Mark Prior. Well, when he's healthy...oh and has velocity...okay so just as long as you don't fiddle with college Prior, then you're asking for it.

Kazmir has gotten close to this point, my favorite being when he told an infielder, presumably B.J. Upton that the home plate umpire could "Suck his [phallus]," after a few close calls. But tonight, tonight was the night my friend where he showed that Texas attitude. Slammin' Sammy stepped up, bases full of Rangers, one away, and Kazmir threw three pitches, all 94 MPH fastballs, all swings and misses. Sosa headed to the dugout, Kazmir thrusted his fist, victory.  The same fate would await Diaz, only he threw something else in with the fastballs.

Of course he'd go on to have a rougher than Kaz night, although I'm not sure what exactly that means, but none the less for two at bats Kaz showed some fire, something that the 23 year old needs to develop and harvest, if he needs an example of what determination can do for a pitcher, take no further look than his teammates James Shields and Al Reyes. Shields came from nowhere and is a contender to start the All-Star Game (heh, okay probably not, but it would be nice), Reyes has came back twice from Tommy John Surgery and has placed himself amongst the top closers in the game.

I'm not saying Kazmir is holding back at all, I know he's starting to get his arm strength back, but perhaps he's beginning to get that attitude, the one that Nolan Ryan had, Johan Santana has, and I believe the infamous MC Hammer described it best, "Can't touch this," remember that Kaz, nobody can touch you, or your high socks.

Quick Hits:
-The June draft is three weeks away, everyone knows my feelings on who we should select first; David Price, but I've realized that as a whole we haven't really discussed the options after pick one, not even pick 66, our second pick. Without a doubt the weakest slot on our organizational depth chart outside of catcher is first base. With the emergence of Nevin Ashley, the high OBP of Sergio Pedroza (even though he's struggling overall), and the offensive explosion of Shawn Riggans (although you really can't expect that to translate) it appears catcher isn't as big of a need as you'd think, add in John Jaso and it's a moot point.

First base on the other hand is a little less, stable. The tops of the system are Wes Bankston and Joel Guzman, although I'm not holding my breathe on either, hence why I'm praying (not really) that when we get on the clock for the second time we have a chance to select Florida first baseman Matt LaPorta.

Admittedly LaPorta doesn't have the greatest of defense. If any. Then again Travis Lee is the greatest first baseman ever, according to fielding percentage ranks, and didn't do all that much to tingle our collective souls, meanwhile Ty Wigginton and Carlos Pena are more renowned for their sticks and it's seemingly worked out fine.

LaPorta has raw power, but strikes out a lot. Thus far he's got a .423 with a .579 on base percentage, 19 homeruns, and 15 strikeouts, a vast improvement over his career numbers, where he struck out 39 times as a freshman, 65 times as a sophomore, and 35 times as a junior.

I almost never buy into the `hometown boy' argument, and I don't here either, if LaPorta played for any school from Florida to Wyoming I'd be interested in him, but for now it's just a waiting game, luckily for us it won't be a nine hour wait like the NFL draft between picks.

-How about Columbus? Talk about a team stacked, at least in the rotation and the outfield.

Townsend 27 IP 18 H 25:8 K:BB 1.04 WHIP 2.33 ERA
Rollins 48 IP 30 H 55:13 K:BB 0.89 WHIP 1.12 ERA
Butler 38 IP 27 H 32:12 K:BB 1.03 WHIP 1.66 ERA
Hellickson 20 IP 12 H 19:8 K:BB 1.00 WHIP 1.35 ERA

With a special mention to reliever Ryan Reid 25 IP 20 H 29:2 K:BB 0.88 WHIP, 2.52 ERA.

Here's the outfield:

Royster: .331/.385/.531 6 HR 18 RBI 6/7 SB
Jennings: .295/.399/.439 3 HR 7 RBI 17/24 SB
Matulia .264/.331/.397 1 HR 7 RBI 4/6 SB

Impressive, all three are 20 years old and really raking, Royster is going to chart up the prospect lists at this rate.