Pinstriped Profile: Dillon Tate

The New York Yankees acquired right-handed pitcher Dillon Tate, along with Erik Swanson and Nick Green in a trade with the Texas Rangers on August 1, 2016, for outfielder Carlos Beltran.

The Rangers had drafted the hard-throwing Tate, who features a fastball in the upper 90s with a nasty slider, in the first round with the fourth overall pick of the 2015 draft out of the University of California – Santa Barbara.

2015

After signing with the Rangers on June 12, Tate was assigned to the Spokane Indians of the short-season Northwest League.  Tate pitched in two games with the Indians pitching two innings walking three and striking out three while allowing no runs.

Those appearances earned Tate an August call-up to the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League.  Tate pitched in four games, pitching seven innings while striking out five, walking no one, allowing just one run.

The Crawdads ended up in the playoffs allowing Tate to get his first taste of postseason baseball.  “The playoff atmosphere is a little bit different than the regular season, so it was good to be a part of that and be playing with a winning club. I was playing with some older guys too. You know, the game can speed up on you a little bit, and it was good that I was exposed to that,” Tate said of his playoff experience.

During the playoffs, Tate worked exclusively out of the bullpen and pitched a total of four innings, allowing six hits, striking out three while posting a 4.50 ERA.

2016

Tate found himself at Hickory to start 2016, and the Rangers had some changes in mind for him.  First, they moved him to the starting rotation after spending his time collegiately and much of his first year of professional baseball in the bullpen.  Second, they wanted Tate to work on a changeup to complement his fastball and slider.

Tate’s season got off to a rocky start as he ended up on the disabled list with a strained hamstring after his second start of the season.  The Rangers had also changed Tate’s mechanics which led to a drop off of velocity.  His fastball that topped out at 98 was suddenly clocking in the low 90s.  “There’s was something I was doing mechanically that threw everything off,” Tate had said about the change in velocity.

Tate went 3-3 with a 5.12 ERA in 17 games with Hickory, 16 of which were starts.  In 65 innings, Tate struck out 55 and walked 27 batters allowing 39 runs, 37 of which were earned.

When Tate was traded to the Yankees on August 1, he was assigned, along with Hickory teammate Swanson, to the Charleston RiverDogs.  With Charleston, Tate was put back in the bullpen, and his velocity returned.  He was hitting 97 on the radar gun, and his stuff was electric.

In seven appearances, Tate pitched 17 and one-third innings, striking out 15 and walking six.  He allowed ten runs, but only six of those were earned, ending up with an ERA of 3.12.

The Yankees sent Tate to the Arizona Fall League after the RiverDogs season had ended where he solidified his standing as a top pitching prospect.  Against other top prospects, Tate appeared in six games, pitching nine and one-third innings striking out 11 batters and allowing just one hit.  He allowed four runs, all of them earned, calculating to a 3.86 ERA.

Scouting Report

Tate is a hard throwing righty who relies on his velocity to get hitters out.  Tate’s fastball registers in the high 90s, reaching 97 mph during his stint with Charleston.  He’s working on a changeup to balance his slider, which registered at 87 mph on the gun, and curveball.  The movement on all his pitches is what he relies on to get batters out, but he does need to command those pitches better as he’s had issues with bases on balls.  His 1.07 WHIP during his Arizona Fall League season was a step in the right direction.

2017 Outlook

Yankees general manager confirmed that the Yankees are looking to move Tate back to a starter for 2017.  This will most likely result in Tate at least starting off 2017 in Charleston.  It wouldn’t be shocking to see Tate start at Tampa if he has a strong spring.

Tate has been a reliever in college and most of his time in the minors.  It may be tempting to put him back in the bullpen if he struggles out of the gate starting.  The Yankees need to give him time to develop as a starter and give him every opportunity to harness his control and command to become a front line starter.

He’s proven he can be an effective reliever.  He needs to show he can be a capable starter, but there’s no reason to rush Tate’s progress as he’s only entering his third year of professional baseball and will hit the age of 23 when the calendar turns to May.

Sandy Alderson’s remaining to do list

New York Mets Spring TrainingMets pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training in just four weeks. Now there’s something to smile about. However, with a quieter than usual hot stove season, many teams, including the Mets, find themselves with incomplete rosters and some remaining holes to fill and issues to sort out before the equipment trucks head south. Here is Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson’s remaining to do list.

Sort out the Jay Bruce thing

This discussion has grown tiresome. Now that Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo are off the board, surely a team in need of a power bat will come calling, right? Yes, there are other sluggers available, but Bruce may be a better alternative than two years of strikeout machine Chris Carter or a year of the less than super Brandon Moss, Pedro Alvarez, Adam Lind, or *gasp* Ryan Howard. By now, every general manager in Major League Baseball, and probably in the other major sports as well, know that Bruce is available in trade. Alderson knows the situation, but despite his posturing, we can’t go to spring training with this third wheel in tow. It would create too much of a disruption. Whoever is willing to take on his salary can have him. Then our outfield logjam and payroll are clear.

Fill out the bullpen

The Mets are still clearly in need of a few more arms in the bullpen. We’ve got two great arms at the back end, some solid depth behind the rotation, a few guys who could compete for a last spot, and Hansel Robles. We need two more guys like him to bridge from early exit starter to Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia. At least one of them should be a lefty. There are still a lot of names that fit the bill available in free agency, and the list includes a number of former Mets. Lefties Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan, J.P. Howell and Travis Wood are all available, as are righties Sergio Romo, Greg Holland, Joe Smith, Joe Blanton, Fernando Salas and Jim Henderson. There are still more quality relievers reportedly available via trade like Sean Doolittle.

Gauge the Captain’s health

Prior to spring training, Alderson and Terry Collins should really try to have a good idea of where all the players are at who are returning from significant injuries. The list is long and it includes at least seven players critical to this team’s success in 2017 – Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, and every starting pitcher not named Noah Syndergaard. By all accounts Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey are okay and will be ready to rock. Walker and Duda are coming off back injuries, which can be so tricky. Duda appeared to be okay when he came back at the very end of the season. Walker may not be a slam dunk and Wright is far from it.

The front office really needs to make a proper assessment of Wright and try to estimate what they can expect from him this season. There are no guarantees here, but it helps to be prepared. It’s been three years since he’s played a full season of baseball, as he’s battled spinal stenosis and then a significant neck injury. If we can realistically anticipate even a half season of play out of our captain, then we can get by with a combination of Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores and TJ Rivera filling in at third base. Those three players are all bound to see significant playing time, especially with Duda’s splits at first and Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera needing days off as well. By midseason, the front office can reassess, but for now, our infield depth should be sufficient to begin the season.

Settle up with Wilmer Flores

The aggressive approach the Mets front office took to arbitration this year was successful. Nine out of 10 eligible players settled, and most for less than what was estimated. The lone hold out is fan favorite and super sub Wilmer Flores who reportedly asked for $2.2 million but was offered $1.8 million and is now expected to take his case to an arbitration hearing, where the two sides will hopefully meet halfway and move on with their storied relationship.

Beyond those moves, all that’s left to do is count the days until the bats, bases, and gloves are loaded onto the moving truck headed for Port St. Lucie. Warmer days are coming.

Yankees Shouldn’t Rush to Trade Brett Gardner or Chase Headley

In recent interviews, Brian Cashman has made it known that the Yankees are most likely done making big moves this off-season. This means that the team probably will not be trading Chase Headley or Brett Gardner until at least the start of the season, and probably until at least the middle of the year. The Yankees apparently felt that the trade offers they were getting weren’t worth executing, and seem content with keeping both players.I feel that keeping these players is a wise decision, as the team isn’t equipped to replace either player. The Yankees farm system has a lot of prospects and is probably the deepest in baseball, but in my opinion that depth won’t help them that much at either position in 2017.

I feel that keeping these players is a wise decision, as the team isn’t equipped to replace either player. The Yankees farm system has a lot of prospects and is probably the deepest in baseball, but in my opinion that depth won’t help them that much at either position in 2017.

This is particularly the case in-regards to the third base position. If the Yankees trade Headley, there starting third-baseman would be the Ronald Torreyes. While Torreyes is a decent backup, he isn’t nearly as good as Headley on offense or defense. To make matters worse the Yankees best prospect at the third-base position-Miguel Andujar—will probably need to spend significant time in AA next season.

The Yankees lack of depth at the position is one reason why another contributor on this site proposed moving top-prospect Gleyber Torres, over to third. But not only do I feel such a move is premature, but I also don’t think it helps the Yankees move Headley. After all, it’s not like Torres is on the verge of playing in the majors, he’s not even in AAA yet.

In AAA, the Yankees options to replace Headley would be Donovon Solano, and maybe Rob Refsnyder. So, in a sense, I
would have to say that Headley might be one of the most important Yankees. If the Yankees want to remain competitive next season, they really shouldn’t entertain any Headley offers, because they don’t have a solid plan B.

Gardner is seemingly in a disparate situation as the Yankees have plenty of players that can play left-field. If you were to look a top-30 Yankees list, you would certainly see a significant amount of outfield prospects that can play left-field. I’m not going to say the Yankees don’t have good outfield depth, they certainly do.

Right now, the Yankees two solid outfielders in Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, and a potential star outfielder in Aaron Judge. Beyond those three starters, they have two former top prospects in Mason Williams and Tyler Austin. Both players have had their fair share of struggles in recent years, and they certainly don’t have the same amount of hype that they used, but I feel like both players could have major-league careers.

Beyond that, the Yankees have several noteworthy outfield prospects in AA and AAA. They have Jake Cave who is major league ready; they have Clint Frazier who could be ready at some point next year, and they also have guys like Billy McKinney, Mark Payton, and Dustin Fowler, who are all capable of playing left field. Lastly, the Yankees have also begun playing Tyler Wade in the outfield, and with some practice, he could also be a decent depth option.

So yes, they have plenty of outfield depth, but I still do not think they have enough to make Gardner expendable.

To demonstrate this, I will simply write-out how their outfield will look if they trade Gardner. Their left fielder would probably be Aaron Hicks, their centerfielder would be Jacoby Ellsbury, and their right fielder would be Aaron Judge.

Going into a season with that outfield is precarious. I know that people don’t love Ellsbury, but he’s only outfielder there that I would trust. And that’s a problem because he does have a history of getting injured. And if he does get injured his replacement would probably be Mason Williams; he is the only other centerfielder on the depth chart.

So, if Ellsbury gets injured the Yankees would need to rely on Mason Williams. Which is also a problem because Williams himself has question-marks surrounding both his health and his overall hitting ability. But the Yankees wouldn’t have another option because while the Yankees have plenty of outfield depth, that depth isn’t focused in centerfield.

After Williams, the Yankees next best option to play center would have to be Jake Cave, a guy that every MLB team could’ve taken in the Rule-5 draft, but elected not to; that’s not exactly encouraging.
So, while the Yankees do have depth, it could disappear quickly if Gardner is traded.

So, in my opinion, the Yankees best option is to hold on to both Headley, and Gardner. They’re both serviceable players with a good contract. Neither player is that easy to replace, so the Yankees should only consider trading one of them if another team overpays, or if another player proves himself to be an adequate replacement. Right now, I don’t see a good replacement for Headley. And while Gardner could be replaced internally I don’t see who would replace his value as both a left fielder and as a centerfielder.

Charleston RiverDogs & Palmetto Goodwill Partner for Jobs at The Joe Hire Me! Events

CHARLESTON, SC – The Charleston RiverDogs, in partnership with Palmetto Goodwill, will host three Jobs at The Joe Hire Me! events to fill ballpark gameday positions for the upcoming season.

The RiverDogs will host two hiring events at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park in addition to one session hosted at Palmetto Goodwill, in order to give candidates flexibility in applying for jobs.

The RiverDogs are seeking qualified candidates for positions ranging from cashiers to ushers, merchandise employees to mascots, and more. Those interested in positions in food and beverage are encouraged to attend one of the two January hiring events.

 Applicants for all other positions – and anyone interested in F&B jobs who miss the January events – should attend the February job fair at the ballpark.

All interested applicants MUST pre-register for this event by filling out a candidate information form located at tinyurl.com/RiverDogsJobs and then attend one of the event dates listed below.

F&B Jobs Only

·         Friday, January 20 – 9am-1pm at Goodwill (6554 Rivers Ave, North Charleston, SC 29406)

·         Saturday, January 21 – 11am-3pm at Ballpark (360 Fishburne St., Charleston, SC 29403)

All Jobs (including F&B)

·         Saturday, February 25 – 10am-2pm at Ballpark (360 Fishburne St., Charleston, SC 29403)

On-site interviews will be conducted for positions in the following areas:

·         food & beverage (front and back of the house)

·         ushers

·         ticket takers

·         box office attendants

·         kids zone

·         stadium clean-up crew

·         parking attendants

·         And if you have what it takes, you can possibly be Charlie T. RiverDog!

Applicants are encouraged to dress appropriately.

RiverDogs season tickets, half-season ticket packages and mini plans are now available for the 2017 campaign. The RiverDogs begin the season on April 6 when they host the Lexington Legends at Joseph P Riley, Jr. Park. Ticket information can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. Tickets for the RiverDogs 13th Annual Hot Stove Banquet featuring Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine on January 27 are still available on rileyparkevents.com.

–RIVERDOGS–

Examining the Yankees’ Positions: Second Basemen

The New York Yankees have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball.  The number of top prospects in the organization rivals all other teams.  Beyond that, the depth of talent on the farm in the most impressive collection of young players that the Yankees have had in my lifetime.  As we prepare for the start of spring training, let’s look at this depth, position by position.  We will examine the organization from top to bottom.

The Yankees developed a home-grown talent into a perennial all-star at second base.  However, when he reached free agency following the 2013 season, they allowed Robinson Cano to leave for the lucrative deal that the Seattle Mariners offered him.  Since then, General Manager Brian Cashman has struggled to replace the consistency and production that Cano had provided.

Last offseason, Cashman was able to pry Starlin Castro away from the Chicago Cubs in a deal for right-handed pitcher Adam Warren, who subsequently returned to the Yankees as part of the trade for closer Aroldis Chapman, who later returned to the Yankees as a free agent last month.

Castro had formerly been a shortstop with the Cubs and was athletic enough to make the switch to second base in deference to Didi Gregorius.  He provided solid defense as well as provided 21 home runs from the keystone position.  Castro has three more years remaining on his contract, and he has the versatility also to play third and short if the need arises.  As the roster is currently configured, he will remain at second, where the Yankees will look for him to provide some much need power and to hit with more consistency.

Rob Refsnyder with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Cheryl Pursell)

Last year, Rob Refsnyder saw time at first, second, third, left, and right field.  He is the proverbial jack of all trades.  He has earned a reputation as a contact hitter but has yet to master any specific position.  He is very useful as a player with six more years of team control that can fill in at several different positions.

Donovan Solano played most of the last season at Scranton, before getting a late season call-up to the Yankees.  He became a free agent after the season, before re-signing to a minor-league contract.  He saw time at second, third and short while providing a solid bat for the RailRiders.

Abiatal Avelino (Bryan Green)

Abiatal Avelino split time last year between Tampa and Trenton.  The natural shortstop also split his time on each side of second base.  With so many gifted shortstops in the system, it has become necessary for them to share playing time.  The 21-year old has a nice combination of speed and developing power.  We, of course, would not leave out Tyler Wade who has seen time at second base in his career but spent most of his 2016 season as a shortstop.

Billy Fleming (Photo by Martin Griff)

Billy Fleming hit very well at Tampa (.329/.395/.479) in 2016, earning a promotion to Trenton.  That is likely where he will start the upcoming season.

Thairo Estrada with the Charleston RiverDogs (Photo by Martin Griff)

Thairo Estrada played last year as a 20-year-old advancing from Charleston to Tampa.  He is another shortstop that has begun spending more time at second base.  He has even added third base to his repertoire.  He is a very talented player that should improve upon his (.290/.346/.391) stats as he adds muscle to his slender frame.  Jorge Mateo has some work at second base and is now getting some reps in the outfield.

Gosuke Katoh is a former top 10 organizational prospect (2013) that has stalled at Charleston, as this was his third year there.  He has also seen playing time at both short and third.  At 22, he still has time to turn things around and start moving back up the ladder.

Nick Solak (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Last year’s second-round draft pick, Nick Solak, had an impressive debut season with Staten Island.  He hit .321/.412/.421 while providing solid defense.  His best asset has always been his bat, and he will go as far as it allows.

Griffin Garabito, Brallan Medina, and Diego Duran are three to keep an eye on.  Garabito is a 19-year-old that played last year in the Gulf Coast League. Medina is also 19, spending last season in the Dominican Summer League.  Duran also spent the season in the DSL and is yet to turn 19. They all have a lot of work to do to develop into blue chip prospects.

Castro will continue to man second base for the foreseeable future.  However, if Chase Headley is traded at some point, Castro could move across the diamond, allowing Refsnyder more playing time at second.  There is also going to be a push of young players looking to break into the major leagues in the very near future.

Amazin’ game, lousy year: June 14, 1980

80 programBaseball is really something, y’know? A six-month, 162-game haul that can take us on an emotional rollercoaster that makes the Coney Island Cyclone look like a kiddy ride. And if your team is having a bad season, it can be a horrible slog. The trick is to find joy in the game itself. Over the one-sixty-two, there are bound to be some games that warm the heart and cause a shout: the law of averages dictates that. As Mets fans, of course we have seen our share of bad seasons, but rabid fans – especially younger ones – have a way of remembering how high the highs were, even amid a Sargasso Sea of loss and mediocrity.

1980 was a watershed year in Mets history. The team had been sold by its longtime owners, the Payson family. There were a couple of dynamic, young businessmen running things now. Fred Wilpon was all of 43 years old. His new partner, Nelson Doubleday, not quite 46. They bought the team on the eve of spring training and immediately set about updating its image – “rebranding,” in today’s argot. They hired a smart GM, Frank Cashen, to spearhead the resurgence. Having taken over so late in the game, though, there wasn’t much Cashen could do in a short time frame to upgrade the roster. So the Mets started 1980 with largely the same cast as 1979, which saw them lose 99 games and have to have a six-game winning streak at the end of the season to reach even that lofty perch. But there was something different about these guys. Whether it was a new coat of paint on creaky Shea Stadium, the energy of the new owners or simple hopes for the future, the Mets appeared to have shaken the cobwebs and start playing some good baseball. It wasn’t evident at first: they found themselves 12-20 after a May 20 loss to Houston at home. But something clicked after that. They started winning games with a lot of nerve and small-ball. From May 21 through June 12, they went 14-7 to climb within a game of .500. The Mets hadn’t been that close to dead-even since Tom Seaver was around! On June 12, the Mets beat the Dodgers at Shea with a late-inning rally built around a bunch of singles, groundouts and LA errors. The next day, Friday, the San Francisco Giants were due in and the town was nuts. They were expecting big crowds in Queens. The local news even sent a crew to cover the re-birth at Shea. Instead, Vida Blue and the Giants thoroughly shut down the Mets on four hits. They now faced the daunting prospect of a weekend sweep, which would sweep the fans right out of the ballpark all over again. It didn’t appear to get any better the next day.

John Montefusco took the mound for the San Franciscans and immediately picked up where Blue had left off, retiring Mets in order inning after inning. For his part, Mets’ starter Pete Falcone wasn’t up to the challenge. A couple of singles, a walk, a wild pitch and a three-run home by second baseman Rennie Stennett staked the Giants to a 4-0 lead before the top of the first was over. Falcone couldn’t make it out of the second, when he gave up another run on a single and a double. It looked for all the world like 1979 – rather than the “Magic” – was back. The Mets were being no-hit and thoroughly stifled. They got their first hit in the bottom of the sixth – by which time they were now trailing 6-0 on a scratchy run given up by Falcone’s replacement, Mark Bomback – a leadoff single by the light hitting Doug Flynn. After a foul out, first baseman Lee Mazzilli reached on an error by Stennett and shortstop Frank Taveras dragged a bunt single to first and suddenly, the bases were loaded. Recently acquired slugger Claudell Washington followed with a sacrifice fly and the Mets were on the board.

Bomback was replaced by Ed Glynn, “the Flushing Flash.” Glynn was a local kid and had been a peanut vendor at Shea when he was a teenager. As was the Mets’ wont, they picked him up on the cheap when he was released by Detroit. This night, he earned his nickname. In the seventh and eighth, he completely throttled the San Francisco attack, not allowing a base runner. In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets wormed out another run on singles by Mazzilli, Taveras and left fielder Steve Henderson. Still, there wasn’t a lot of hope heading to the ninth.

Rookie reliever Jeff Reardon took over for Glynn and continued to stifle the Giants. So here it was, bottom of the ninth. With one out, Flynn hit a bunt single to second base. Jose Cardenal grounded out and Flynn moved on to second, where he scored on Mazzilli’s base hit. That made it a 6-3 game. If Taveras could get on, the heart of the order would be looming with a chance to win it. Taveras walked. Washington knocked a single up the middle and Mazzilli scored. 6-4 now and the mob out at Shea was shaking the rafters, everyone up on their feet and howling. Henderson stepped in. He took a ball, then a strike. Another ball. Then a foul. On the fifth pitch, he hit a rocket to deep right that landed in the back of the bullpen. He’d done it. You’d have thought it was a game 7. The place went nuts with torn up paper and strangers hugging.

The rest of the year would not be as good. The Mets went on a seven-game losing streak after this mini-miracle. Later on they had a 12-game loss skein. They finished four games better than ’79.

But for one night? Hoo, boy…

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

Mystery or Not, Adams’ Chances Are Excellent

For some reason, there seems to be a split among the rank-and-file about who right-hander Chance Adams is, and whether or not he could eventually fill a spot in the Yankees rotation.

The division is as sharp as what we see today between Republicans and Democrats. In this case it’s between those who have seen Adams pitch and those who have not. We have, and are among the believers.

Adams, 22 (he won’t turn 23 until Aug. 10), was simply the best pitcher in the Double-A Eastern League in 2016, He put together, between Class-A Advanced Tampa and Trenton a 13-1, 2.33 mark with a strikeout/walk ratio of 144-39 in 127.1 innings. His WHIP was an absurd 0.903.

To say he dominated in 25 appearances (24 starts) would seriously be not giving his performance enough credit. If he continues at the same level at Triple-A Scranton the first half of 2017, those based at 161st and River will be calling. The only thing that stopped him last season was an innings limit.

“Everything about him this season is what you are looking for in a young starter,” said a scout from a National League East team. “He places all his pitches well, fools hitters and is determined. I really like him.”

So what propelled this 6-foot, 215-pound native of Scottsdale, Ariz., who was drafted by the Yankees out of Dallas Baptist University in the fifth round in 2015? Yes, he spent all of 2015 as a reliever passing through Staten Island, Charleston and Tampa with a fastball  that hit 99, thus the innings limit last season.

“It would have been great if we had him for the playoffs,” said Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell, who led his team to the Eastern League Championship Series, where it fell to the Akron Rubber Ducks, Cleveland’s talented Double-A club. “He was excellent for us, often as a stopper.

“He kept getting better, but we have to protect young arms.”

Adams enters 2017 with a biting fastball that sits at 94-95, and has touched 96-97, a changeup that improved so much between 2015 and 2016 that it prompted the Yankees to make him a starter and a fair cutter that morphed into a decent curve. His velocity has increased from his college days.

The Yankees evaluated a dozen young pitchers in Spring Training last year and switched roles of several. So far, Adams’ move to the rotation has proven to be the right one so far..

“I was really excited they gave me a chance to start,” said Adams. “I have I have the approach that is needed to win as a starter.”

He sets a high bar for himself.

“I have my fielders behind me, but a lot of the game depends on how I pitch,” Adams said. ”I go out there with same approach every game, and don’t worry what stuff I have on a given day. I pitch when I’m supposed to pitch and try to get to challenge the hitters and get the best of them.”

His exhibited outstanding control last season, allowing just nine homers in those 127.1 innings.

Perhaps, since he emerged as a major prospect just last season, we understand how some may not be all that familiar with him. But, as they say, especially with Adams, seeing is believing.

 

 

 

RiverDogs to Partner with CCSD for “Reading Around the Bases”

CHARLESTON, SC – In an effort to encourage and improve literacy in the local community, the Charleston RiverDogs and Charleston County School District (CCSD) will partner in “Reading Around the Bases,” a baseball themed reading program for local students.

Starting on Thursday, January 19, 2017, schools from all over CCSD will start “Reading Around the Bases”, a 12-week baseball-theme incentive program. Each student will receive a Reading Challenge packet that includes a score card, tracking sheet, and their very own personal baseball card.

“Literacy has long been a community initiative of the Charleston RiverDogs,” said Dave Echols, RiverDogs President and General Manager.  “We are excited to partner with CCSD in bringing our ‘Fun Is Good’ approach to reading to Lowcountry 2nd graders.”

To move around the bases on the score card, a student must read a certain number of pages: 100 pages for a single, 200 pages for a double, 300 pages for a triple, and 500 pages for home run! Students also earn points for their class depending on how far they advance on the score card.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our district’s second graders. Hopefully, the competition between classes in each school will motivate students to read more than they have in the past,” said Terri Nichols, CCSD Associate Superintendent of Schools. “More importantly, we believe this program can enhance literacy, and lead to a lifetime of reading for fun and expanding each student’s world.”

During the program, special guests from the RiverDogs will visit schools in the district to provide encouragement, fun, and serve as volunteer readers with second grade classes each month.

The winning second grade class from each participating school will receive special seating at the Education Day game at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park on May 31, 2017, and participate in special events before and during the contest.

For more information on “Reading Around the Bases,” please contact Jessica Richards with CCSD at (843) 937-6300, or Zana Bowens with the RiverDogs at (843) 723-7241.

About the Charleston County School District

Charleston County School District (CCSD) is the second largest school system in South Carolina representing a unique blend of urban, suburban, and rural schools that span 1,000 square miles along the coast. CCSD serves more than 50,000 students in 86 schools and several specialized programs.  With approximately 6,100 employees district-wide, CCSD is the fourth largest employer in the region.

CCSD offers a diverse, expanding portfolio of options and specialized programs, delivered through neighborhood, charter, magnet, IB (international baccalaureate), and Montessori schools, and is divided into three Learning Communities led by associate superintendents. Options include specialized programs in science, engineering and mathematics; liberal arts; music and other creative and performing arts; career and technical preparation programs; and military and other public service enterprises.

About the RiverDogs

The Charleston RiverDogs, the Class A affiliate of the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees, are Charleston’s leader in affordable sports entertainment. With a “Fun is Good” mentality, Charleston has impressed off the field with zany promotions and consistently are one of the top drawing teams in the South Atlantic League. The RiverDogs develop the next major league stars for the Yankees at one of the finest ballparks in Minor League Baseball, Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park and just celebrated their 20th season in the storied venue. The RiverDogs had a record-setting year in 2016, filling the stands and having even more fun along the way, drawing more than 293,000 fans to 68 home games.

RiverDogs season tickets, half-season ticket packages and mini plans are now available for the 2017 campaign. The RiverDogs begin the season on April 6 when they host the Lexington Legends at Joseph P Riley, Jr. Park. Ticket information can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. Tickets for the RiverDogs 13th Annual Hot Stove Banquet featuring Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine on January 27 are still available on rileyparkevents.com.

–RIVERDOGS–

Yankees MiLB IF Solano Heading to DWL Finals, Rosa Impressive in Loss

Spring Training might be weeks away, but several Baby Bombers are still getting their reps in as part of the Caribbean Leagues.  One of them, infielder Donovan Solano, will be heading to the final round of the 2017 Dominican Winter League playoffs with Tigres Del Licey.

Solano went 2-for-3 in the game, driving in a run in the ninth inning to cement the lead for Licey.

Licey will face off against Aguilas Cibaenas, a team that does not have any current Yankees players but does feature former Yankees OF Zolio Almonte.

Aguilas Cibaenas defeated Gigantes del Cibao to advance to the finals.  In that game Yankees prospect, Adonis Rosa was impressive, throwing 25 pitches in a three-inning performance, striking out five batters allowing a walk and two hits.

The finals start tomorrow, and the winner will go on to represent the Dominican Winter League in the annual Caribbean Series which features teams from the Mexican Winter League, Venezuelan Winter League, the Puerto Rican League and Cuba.

Justus Sheffield Ranks in The Top 10 LHP in Baseball

MLB Pipeline continues to unveil their ranking of the top minor league prospects in all of baseball and Justus Sheffield is among the top left-handed pitchers in the game.  The 5-foot 10-inch, 195-pound lefty joined the Yankees organization this season as part of the Andrew Miller trade.

With the Yankees Sheffield was able to get his first taste of Double-A after earning a 3-1 record and a 1.73 ERA in five games for the Tampa Yankees.  Combined he went 10-6 with a 3.09 ERA in 25 games, 125 1/3 innings with three different teams in 2016.

The young lefty is among the Yankees top prospects, easily ranking in the Top 10 on almost every list.  He possesses a fastball that has reached as high as 96 miles per hour as well as a curve and changeup.  This season he will likely return to Double-A with the Trenton Thunder.