Kaplan: Struggles continue for Mitchell in Birmingham

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Kaplan: Struggles continue for Mitchell in Birmingham

Coming off of five consecutive wins and two straight one-hitters, everyone in the Charlotte Knights organization was ready to label Terry Doyle the ace going into the second half of the season. But that will not be the case. Doyle requested his release from the Triple-A White Sox affiliate last week. He will be joining the Japanese powerhouse and defending champion Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
This may come as a surprise to some, but it makes perfect sense. Doyle found his groove in May and early June and this is the perfect opportunity for him to take his services elsewhere while his stock is high. Earlier this season, Sox scouts made it clear to Doyle that the chances of him ever seeing time at the major league level were slim to non-existent. He signed a three year deal with a guaranteed 500K salary for 2012, a team option for 2013 and a mutual option for 2014. The move to Japan will not only triple Doyles salary, it will give him some sort of stable plan for the future that few players find at the minor league level.
After serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Stanozolol, Andre Rienzo made his return on Saturday in Birmingham. Any time your name is linked to steroids, controversy will follow but Rienzo has atoned for his mistake and made it clear that he wants to move on and get back to what he does best: playing baseball.
The 23-year-old right-hander made his Double-A debut last week, and he looked rusty to say the least. His time away from the game was evident in his shaky approach and uncomfortable presence on the mound. He went 3.1 innings, and allowed one run on three hits. His main problem was locating his pitches as he walked five batters in his brief starting appearance. His uneasiness on the mound should not come as a surprise but it will be interesting to see if Rienzo bounces back in the second half of the season.
As another week passes the Jared Mitchell saga continues, as does his downward spiral. The wildly athletic outfielder had another week that he would soon like to forget. Over a five-game span, Mitchell only tallied two hits in 19 at bats (.105). He added six strikeouts to his season total that now sits at 83, one behind the league leader. His .310 OPS and .169 average against left-handers are starting to make me think maybe this kid just does not have the stuff to cut it at the major league level. Mitchell needs to find an answer, and it needs to be found fast. I know he is still young, but lets not forget the clock never stops ticking.
Winston-Salem clinched the Carolina League Southern Division first half championship, which guarantees them a spot in the playoffs in September. The Dash's 43-25-1 record is good enough for third best in all of High-A baseball. Their early success is largely due to the efforts of Trayce Thompson and Jake Petrika.
Although Thompson has struggled as of late, he is still finding ways to contribute when his team is most in need. Last week he was only 3-for-20 (.150) but also delivered two clutch home runs. Thompson needs to figure out a way to be more efficient at the plate and limit his strikeouts (nine last week). His clutch performances are helping his team win games but it will not be enough to move him through the system.
Petrika toed the rubber for one start last week and was awarded another no decision. He only went five innings, gave up four runs on eight hits and struck out five. He allowed a .381 average against which is much too high for a pitcher trying to go deep into a game. Petrika has been average with glimpses of brilliance this season, and if he can find a groove I think he can hold his own in Double-A when he is called up.
Rangel Ravelo is frustrated and you cant really blame the guy. In four games last week Ravelo was 2-for-15 (.133) with one RBI. What the stat sheet does not tell you is how he is spraying the ball all over the field. Ravelo did not strike out last week and has only fanned once in the last10 games. He is putting the ball in play but simply cannot find a hole in the defense. The only thing a professional can do in this situation is keep swinging the bat, and sooner or later the ball will start to find green grass.

Edgy Tim goes one-on-one with Mount Carmel's Terrance Taylor

Edgy Tim goes one-on-one with Mount Carmel's Terrance Taylor

Mount Carmel junior defensive end/outside linebacker Terrance Taylor (6-foot-4, 204 pounds) was simply one of the most impressive overall performers at the EDGYTIM Underclassmen Showcase, powered by EFT Football Academy.

Taylor, who worked out as a linebacker at the showcase, also plays defensive end for Hall of Fame head coach Frank Lenti's Caravan. Taylor, who has two early verbal scholarship offers from Central Michigan and Toledo, has the look, tools, overall physical upside and potential to become a highly sought after recruit in the Class of 2018.

Take a few minutes to meet Taylor in the video above.

Fire showing patience with emotional Dax McCarty

Fire showing patience with emotional Dax McCarty

The Chicago Fire opened its preseason on Monday, but much of the focus was on a player that wasn’t there: Dax McCarty.

The Fire traded for the midfielder from the New York Red Bulls last week and he is in camp with the U.S. national team.

Leaving New York hasn’t been easy for McCarty. He tweeted a lengthy thank you note to Red Bull fans on Sunday and still hasn’t mentioned anything about the Fire publically.

Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and coach Veljko Paunovic visited McCarty at national team camp last week to make introductions.

“We obviously knew that this had to come as a surprise to him,” Rodriguez said on Monday. “A captain of another team, he had just gotten married. There’s never a good time to have unexpected change hit you.”

Getting McCarty on board with what the club is building is going to be key for the team’s success in 2017. Integrating McCarty and the other high-profile offseason additions, fellow midfielder Juninho and striker Nemanja Nikolic, into what Paunovic wants to implement will play a big role in how the Fire start the season. In order to do so effectively means making McCarty happy with his new team.

“For sure he’s a very, very emotional guy,” Paunovic said. “I like the way he expressed how he feels at this point. We all have to empathize with that and respect his time and the situation that he is going through.”

As poor as the timing of McCarty being traded two days after getting married was, it could be to the Fire’s benefit that McCarty is with the national team now and can have some time to process the change before arriving in preseason camp with the Fire in Florida in February.

“We are waiting for him here with open arms and waiting for him to come back, to handle all this situation, to go through that, then come here clear with desire that he played so far, with the same passion, with the same effort on and off the field and for sure with leadership that he will bring to our locker room,” Paunovic said.

For now, both Rodriguez and Paunovic are preaching patience. Rodriguez said McCarty was the top target of the Fire and said the move was six months in the making.

“We respected his need to breathe and to have time to go through his emotions, to spend time with his wife,” Rodriguez said. “I think everything will come in its due course and when his time with the national team camp ends we’ll give him a little time that he might need to recover from that camp and to attend to some personal matters and we’ll embrace him when he comes.

“For those of us that are married we know that happy wife equals happy life so we have work to do with Dax and his wife and his family and having them feel comfortable about Chicago. They were looking to put down roots in New York. Whether it’s unexpected like that or it’s someone like Nemanja Nikolic who chose us and chose to come here, we still have to work with him and his family and acclimating them. Our approach and our attitude is the same, although the circumstances are different. We have to be empathetic to the sensitivity that Dax and his wife are going through.”