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2006 Erie Seawolves Diary

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Welcome to 2006 Erie Seawolves season diary.

This thread will attempt to provide a little bit of everything dealing with the 2006 Seawolves season.

It will have some articles from the Erie Times-News (www.goerie.com)

Also, it will have daily commentary and thoughts on the past games and state of the team and whatever else Seawolves.

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First, some administrative stuff:

Seawolves Home Page

The Eastern League

2005 Erie Stats

2005 Lakeland Stats


First game is 2 days away. They play a 3 game series to open the season in Harrisburg, PA, followed by a trip up interstate 99 to Altoona, 10th through the 12th.

With Jordan Tata currently in the bigs, the opening day assignment seems open. According to manager Duffy Dyer, either Jeremy Johnson will be starter or the rotation will be moved up a slot, which would put Nate Bumstead in the opening assignment.

To replace Tata on the roster, Pete Sikaras was promoted from Lakeland. Not sure what roster shift happened in L-land. Looking at his stats (& the fact that I have never heard of him!), he looks like journeyman minor-league reliever.

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Our 2006 Erie Seawolves:

2006 SeaWolves Roster!

Familiar faces and top prospects fill the Erie SeaWolves Opening Day roster. Nine of the top 30 prospects (Ranked by Baseball America) and 16 players from Class-A Lakeland (Florida State League 2005 West Division title winners in both halves with an 85-48 record) will be in uniform on Opening Day.


Nine players are making the return trip to “The Uht.” Veteran OF Kurt Airoso is slated to once again be the designated hitter in his fifth stint with Erie. Other players headlining in their return include SS Tony Giarratano (89 games with Erie prior to being called up to the Tigers in 2005), RHP Humberto Sanchez (Ranked the number six prospect in the Tigers organization by Baseball America), RHP Eulogio De La Cruz (Ranked 15th), 2B Juan Francia (Ranked 17th), and Virgil Vasquez (Ranked 26th ).


Switch hitting Mike Rabelo returns for the SeaWolves and will be joined by Danilo Sanchez as the two backstops for Erie.


The left side of the SeaWolves infield will feature two top prospects in Kody Kirkland at third and Giarratano at short. Utility infielder Scott Tousa and 2B Francia make their return to the SeaWolves and Kelly Hunt will patrol first base.


Three new outfielders will get the nod for Duffy Dyer’s squad in ’06. Vince Blue, Brent Clevlen and Garth McKinney are all making the move from Class-A Lakeland to Erie. In 2005, the three combined to lead the Florida State League with 35 assists. Clevlen is ranked as the number four prospect in the Detroit farm system and Blue is ranked number 30.


The SeaWolves will be counting on big bats and speed lead the offense in 2006. The 11 offensive players for the SeaWolves combined to hit a total of 131 home runs in 2005. Airoso led the SeaWolves with 22 long balls in ’05 and McKinney(23), Sanchez (22), Clevlen (18), Hunt (18), and Kirkland (16) paced the ’05 Lakeland Tigers. Erie is also getting 103 of the league leading 166 stolen bases from the ’05 Lakeland club. Blue lead the Tigers with 40 during the campaign.


Erie’s Opening Day starter Jordan Tata has been called up to the big league club to replace the injured Todd Jones, however, the SeaWolves should not skip a beat with the pitching staff to open the year. The projected starting staff will feature Nate Bumstead (12-4, 2.58 ERA in 2005), Humberto Sanchez (3-5, 5.57 ERA), Virgil Vasquez (4-1, 4.21 ERA with Lakeland; 2-8, 5.27 ERA with Erie) and Preston Larrison (1-2, 4.70 ERA with Lakeland; 4-3, 5.23 ERA with Erie). Coming out of the bullpen will be Eulogio De La Cruz, Chris Homer, Jeremy Johnson, Bobby Jones, Ian Ostland, Brian Rogers and Danny Zell.

The 2006 season opener is April 6 as the SeaWolves travel to the Harrisburg to take on the Senators (Washington Nationals). The SeaWolves home opener is April 13 against the Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles). Fans can catch all 142 games live on The Fan Sports Radio 1330 AM and at www.SeaWolves.com.


RHP - Nate Bumstead

RHP - Eulogio De La Cruz

RHP - Chris Homer

RHP - Jeremy Johnson

LHP - Bobby Jones

RHP - Preston Larrison

LHP - Ian Ostlund

RHP - Humberto Sanchez

RHp - Brian Rogers

RHP - Virgil Vasquez

LHP - Danny Zell

RHP - Pete Sikaras


Mike Rabelo

Danilo Sanchez


Juan Francia

Tony Giarratano

Kelly Hunt

Kody Kirkland

Scott Tousa


Kurt Airoso

Vince Blue

Brent Clevlen

Garth McKinney


Duffy Dyer - Manager

Pete Incaviglia - Hitting Coach

Mike Caldwell - Pitching Coach

Chris McDonald - Trainer

Steve Chase - Strength & Conditioning Coach




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23 on the roster in Erie. Is that the roster limit in AA, or should we expect 1-2 more on this roster by opening day? Anybody remember?

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23 on the roster in Erie. Is that the roster limit in AA, or should we expect 1-2 more on this roster by opening day? Anybody remember?

24 for the first month then it drops to 23.

No Chris Maples? I thought he would be a valuable utilityman.

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My probably not as well known prospects to watch... Danilo Sanchez C, De La Cruz RHP and Danny Zell LHP. Both Zell and De La Cruz could see MLB time next season.

Of course it will be interesting to see Clevlen does offensively. I think he will have a bump in numbers like a lot of players in Erie although I am not sure the power will stick long term.

Kirkland needs to fix his off field issues that Mark has brought up, but I think he does fairly well in AA.

Giarratano needs a rebound season to replenish his status.

I expect Larish, Whelan, possibly Clete, and possibly PJ Finigan to see this level this season.

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Kelly Hunt is going to hit 25+ HR's this year. The kid has awesome power....and I'm not just saying that because I'm a BG grad.

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As much as Hunt has struggled in his minor league career, I would be surprised if he finds himself in AA.

He might hit 25 homeruns... but that won't mean much if he can't up his contact rate.

He hit 18 last season while hitting 0.216/0.259/0.375 over 501 at bats and 128 games. He also had 29 bb:128 K...

If Larish starts out hot in Lakeland over the first month to month in a half I would be surprised if he wasn't in Erie which would relegate Hunt to the bench.

Right now I just don't think Hunt is much of a prospect. I am semi-surprised he is still with the organization.

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I'm with you on Hunt, he really really really struggled last year. I guess the raw power and local ties bought him a little more time. As soon as Larish is ready, he probably should be headed back down to Lakeland. At this point, he's simply a placeholder, nothing more.

Here's hoping that Danilo Sanchez gets quite a bit of time at catcher. I know that the organization loves Rabelo's defense, but Sanchez's bat (while he's been old for levels) has been very good recently, and he could potentially turn into a Josh Willingham.

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I apologize in advance, but can someone give me a brief synopsis of what exactly Kirkland's "off field" problems are? I am just flat out too lazy to search the site for Micro's post about it....

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I apologize in advance, but can someone give me a brief synopsis of what exactly Kirkland's "off field" problems are? I am just flat out too lazy to search the site for Micro's post about it....

If I recall correctly he has problems with putting a full effort into practice and his ability to make the needed adjustments to his game. He is very inconsistent as a fielder.

I guess those are on the field problems that are under the radar.


Here is a quoted synopsis:

Here's the synopsis for my Kirkland hate.....

I disagree that his numbers are "good" for anyone if you take out his hot April. Without 73 april at-bats where he went .384/.423/.658, you end up with a player who posted a .243/.327/.432 line in 370 at-bats. That's simply poor, by just about any standards, particularly for a player who performed as a 22-year old in A-ball for most of the season.

His defense is the least of my concerns, as that is typically a late blooming factor for many third basemen.

We're talking about a player who has not improved his strikeout rates at any level, and actually got a touch worse each month during the 2005 season, and a player who's walk rates have not improved either.

Aside from his impressive GCL performance, and another impressive, albeit misleading, NYPL performance, he's done nothing to warrant the praise laid upon him since he the second month of his NYPL season.

He's demonstrated an inability to improve at the plate, has stagnated (while still having potential) defensively, and simply hasn't shown the progress that his tools suggest he should at this point.

Kody Kirkland gets considered one of the top position prospects in the Tigers system by many people, and it's simply misguided and incorrect. He's a very average minor league player, who doesn't even deserve the praise he receives in a system with a lack of quality position prospects.

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DAMMNN...thanks for doing the grunt work for me...He sounds like the anti-Granderson, in that he isn't whatsoever willing to work to get better.

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Kelly Hunt needa great 1st half to stay with the Tigers. He has heavy competition at his heels and his size and power did nothing spectacular at the plate last year. Speed and contact need major improvement. I'm critical and one of his fans.


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If I recall correctly he has problems with putting a full effort into practice and his ability to make the needed adjustments to his game. ...Here is a quoted synopsis...

I thought there was a better quote from Micro specifically stating comments on his practice habits (heard from people in the organization???), etc...

My memory may be faulty though...

Also, how can you find someone's prior post like that? So quickly?!?!?!?!

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Bumstead to start 'Wolves opener


By Ron Leonardi


Erie SeaWolves right-hander Nate Bumstead has been bumped up a day in the rotation and will start the season opener Thursday at Harrisburg.

Bumstead, one of 12 Double-A rookies on the Erie roster, was scheduled to start Friday in the second game of the SeaWolves'four-game series against the Senators, but Tigers roving pitching instructor Jon Matlack on Tuesday decided to move up Erie's entire starting rotation a day.

Those changes were necessitated by the loss of SeaWolves right-hander Jordan Tata, who was recalled to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. Tata was scheduled to be Erie's opening-day starter.

Matlack also elected to insert right-hander Jeremy Johnson into Erie's rotation as the club's fifth starter. A starter with Erie in 2005, Johnson was set to begin the season in the bullpen.

Bumstead, in his third season in the Detroit organization, was 12-4 with a 2.58 earned-run average in 25 starts last season at Class A Lakeland.

"I knew I was throwing No. 2 and kind of with the shuffle, I didn't know what was going to happen," Bumstead said. "I'm excited. It's cool. I felt coming into the spring I was right where I wanted to be in the strike zone throwing three pitches for strikes. I was consistent and I feel healthy."

After Bumstead's opening-day assignment, the SeaWolves will throw right-hander Humberto Sanchez on Friday, right-hander Virgil Vasquez on Saturday and right-hander Preston Larrison on Sunday. Johnson is scheduled to start Monday, when Erie opens a three-game road series at Altoona.

The Tigers called up Tata a day after Detroit closer Todd Jones suffered a hamstring injury against Tampa Bay in the Tigers' final preseason game Saturday. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Dyer said his revamped rotation will remain that way indefinitely. He said the Tigers have not made a decision on Tata's future once Jones returns from the disabled list.

"We don't know if Tata will be up there just two weeks until Todd Jones comes off the disabled list, but it probably depends a lot on how Jordan pitches," Dyer said. "Jim Leyland is not afraid to use the young kids, so if he goes up there and just pitches the way he did this spring, he may stay there all year."

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.


I am excited for Nate. As has been said already, Nate doesn't have overpowering stuff, but somehow seems to win at each level.

He's not my AAT, but he is one I am definitely rooting for.

Is his scouting report still mid-80's heat and movement, movement, movement? Any early major league comparisons to him?


I don't read too much into Dyer's comments on Tata. Heck Jordan hasn't even thrown a pitch yet. Obviously, anything can happen - if Jordan pitches good, they COULD keep him. IF they keep him, who do they move off the big league roster and to where? Jason Grilli? Bobby Seay? Tata would either need to become a long man or a lefty :classic: (the latter was tongue in cheek). Personally, I think it would take ALOT to have him stay in Detroit.


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I thought there was a better quote from Micro specifically stating comments on his practice habits (heard from people in the organization???), etc...

My memory may be faulty though...

Also, how can you find someone's prior post like that? So quickly?!?!?!?!

Just search for the user and the topic... You were right that there was another post that got more into his work ethic.

Here is that post:


I'm not tossing his numbers in Lakeland aside completely, but I'm also not looking at them as though he's suddenly discovered something. My biggest beef with Kirkland lies in his inability or lack of enough work ethic to adjust and react to changes against him...and his numbers at Oneonta, West Michigan, and Lakeland bear that out. Good players adjust and become more consistent...Kody hasn't done that.

April (73 ABs) - 384/428/658

May (112) - 232/295/375

June (74) - 243/317/351

July (94) - 234/308/489

August (79) - 266/370/506

September (11) - 273/500/545

Every season he's been with the Tigers has looked very similar to the above trend from last season in Lakeland. He simply hasn't developed. You can post nice numbers over the course of the season that are the result of a hot month...players do it all the time, that doesn't make them a good prospect....it makes them interesting and someone who has potential....but that doesn't mean good prospect.

I can make a list of 29 guys that have either more tools to justify a high ranking, or have performed better than Kirkland pretty easily....in fact, I've done it the last two years. Now, I don't necessarily agree with the results spit out by the ranking system I developed, that he's only the 51st best prospect in the system....but I also would have a difficult time defending him if her were ranked above say 25. He just lacks too many things at this point.

If he goes to Erie this year, and even shows the slightest improvement in consistency, he'll likely shoot up the list, but until he does that, he's nothing more than an interesting name to peak at in the box score.

In addition, citing the fact that the organization added him to the 40-man roster, doesn't do much for me....particularly considering the history of crappy 40-man decisions this organization has made in recent years.

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alrighty then. Since opening day is tomorrow and my AAT is starting, I guess it's time to update my sig.


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Youth movement

Foundation for SeaWolves' success could be with players new to Class AA

Many of the 12 Double-A rookies on the Erie SeaWolves roster are celebrated prospects who already have experienced success climbing the Detroit Tigers' minor league ladder.

Several were teammates on West Michigan's low-Class A Midwest League championship team in 2004.

Many remained together last season when high Class-A Lakeland won a regular season Florida State League championship with an 85-47 record.

Now, they are gearing up for what many baseball people regard as one of the most difficult jumps in the minors - the move from high Class A to Double-A.

"I don't think that happens too many times when that many players from a team move up and take over the Double-A team," SeaWolves first baseman and Double-A rookie Kelly Hunt said. "This could be pretty special."

Their 142-game regular-season indoctrination begins tonight when the SeaWolves open the season at Harrisburg. First pitch at Commerce Bank Park is 6:35.

Erie's four-game series against Harrisburg concludes Sunday. The SeaWolves visit Altoona for a three-game series from Monday through Wednesday. Erie's home opener is April 13 against Bowie.

Nine of the Tigers' top 30 minor-league prospects, according to Baseball America, will start the season with the SeaWolves.

Five of those prospects - right fielder Brent Clevlen (No. 4), third baseman Kody Kirkland (11), reliever Eulogio De La Cruz (15), right-handed starter Nate Bumstead (29) and center fielder Vince Blue (30) - are making their Double-A debuts following successful 2005 seasons at Lakeland.

Clevlen was the Florida State League's MVP and the Tigers' minor league player of the year last season after hitting .302 with 18 homers and 102 RBIs.

He enjoyed a productive spring in the Tigers' big league camp before he was assigned to Erie.

"I was waiting for my chance to get out there and see how I went up against all those other guys," Clevlen said. "I felt like I did good and I had the confidence I could play up there."

Other members of the 2005 Lakeland class who will begin their Double-A careers with Erie are left fielder Garth McKinney, catcher Danilo Sanchez and relievers Brian Rogers, Chris Homer, Ian Ostlund and Daniel Zell.

"It's going to be a new season for most of the guys -- a new challenge," said Bumstead, the SeaWolves' opening-day starter. "We played very well as a team in Lakeland and we're comfortable. It's not like we're walking into a clubhouse full of new guys and we have to get reacquainted. We're a tight group. It's going to be fun."

SeaWolves manager Duffy Dyer feels good about his pitching, despite losing No. 1 starter Jordan Tata to the Tigers on Sunday, and believes the strength of his club entering the season might be its defense.

Erie's starting outfield of Clevlen, Blue and McKinney led the Florida State League with a combined 35 assists last season.

Erie's infield will have two new Double-A rookie starters this season -- Kirkland at third and Hunt at first. Both players won FSL gold gloves a year ago, and the SeaWolves should be strong defensively up the middle with returnees Tony Giarratano at shortstop and Juan Francia at second base.

Sanchez, a Double-A rookie beginning his ninth year in the Detroit organization, is the SeaWolves No. 1 catcher, with Mike Rabelo as the backup. Rabelo backed up Max St. Pierre last season and was a non-roster invitee to Detroit's big league camp in spring training.

Although Rabelo had a solid spring, the Tigers feel Sanchez, coming off a productive offensive season (.284, 22 homers, 68 RBIs) in 2005, warrants more playing time.

"We're getting a lot of kids who are making the jump to Double-A this year and I think some of them might struggle a little bit because the pitching is going to be much better and they're going to see more breaking stuff," Dyer said. "Usually the higher up you go, you see pitchers who can throw off-speed pitches better.

"Most guys can hit a fastball pretty good, and when they get in fastball counts they get fastballs at the lower levels," Dyer added. "But when you get to Double-A, pitchers start throwing a lot more change-ups and splits and breaking balls in fastball counts, and that separates a lot of guys."

One of Dyer's main concerns is an absence of speed and penchant for strikeouts from the middle of his lineup, which will be packed with power-hitting prospects like Clevlen, Hunt, McKinney and Kirkland, along with veteran designated hitter Kurt Airoso.

Don't expect the SeaWolves to have the capability to put pressure on an opponent with any type of sustained running game.

All of Erie's speed will be concentrated at the bottom and top of the batting order. Blue, who will hit ninth, stole 40 bases last season at Lakeland but was caught 29 times and needs to improve his reads, jumps and bunting to better utilize his speed, Dyer said.

Francia will hit leadoff and shortstop Tony Giarratano will bat second.

"I don't like sitting back and waiting for the three-run homer," Dyer said, "but I think with Francia, Giarratano and Blue as our speed, we're going to have to generate some extra-base hits from them. We have a few other guys who can steal some bases, but I don't think we're going to run a great deal."

Airoso, one of the few veterans on Erie's young club, spent most of spring training with Triple-A Toledo, but kept a close watch on many of Erie's younger players in camp.

Entering his fifth season with the team, Airoso's experience could be an invaluable commodity with the young position players.

"When you have a bunch of young guys, things can kind of snowball where, if you're struggling, and a lot of them are going to struggle maybe early when it's cold and it's hard to hit, it's good to have a guy who's done it," Airoso said. "I've struggled in April and May every year, so I can tell them, 'Hey, don't worry if you get into a little slump, it's easy to dig your way out in this park.' Later in the year, when the weather heats up and the ball starts carrying a little bit, you can really put up some good numbers late in the season, so don't press early."

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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The Official Opening Day Roster:


Player B T HT WT Age Resides 2005 club

Tony Giarratano S R 6-0 180 23 Marlboro, N.J. Erie/Detroit

Juan Francia S R 5-9 158 24 Venezuela Lakeland/Erie

Kelly Hunt R R 6-5 240 24 Bowling Green, Ohio Lakeland

Kody Kirkland R R 6-4 200 22 Pocatello, Idaho Lakeland

Scott Tousa L R 5-11 180 27 St. George, Utah Lakeland/Erie

Chris Maples R R 5-10 187 26 Hillsborough, N.C. Erie


Mike Rabelo S R 6-1 200 26 New Port Richey, Fla. Erie

Danilo Sanchez R R 5-11 215 25 Dominican Republic Lakeland


Kurt Airoso R R 6-2 190 31 Tulare, Calif. Erie

Vince Blue L R 6-2 180 23 Houston Lakeland

Brent Clevlen R R 6-2 190 22 Cedar Park, Texas Lakeland

Garth McKinney R R 6-3 210 23 Johnson City, Tenn. Lakeland


Player B T HT WT Age Resides 2005 club

Nate Bumstead R R 6-1 210 23 Las Vegas Lakeland

Eulogio De La Cruz R R 5-11 177 22 Dominican Republic Lakeland

Chris Homer R R 6-1 190 25 Jamesville, N.Y. Lakeland

Jeremy Johnson R R 6-3 170 23 Mooresville, N.C. Erie

Bobby Jones R L 6-0 170 34 Orange, N.J. Charlotte (AAA-White Sox)

Preston Larrison R R 6-4 235 25 Aurora, Ill. Lakeland/Erie

Ian Ostlund R L 6-1 200 28 Singers Glen, Va. West Michigan/ Lakeland

Humberto Sanchez R R 6-6 230 22 Bronx, N.Y. Erie

Brian Rogers R R 6-4 190 23 Marietta, Ga. Lakeland

Virgil Vasquez R R 6-3 205 23 Santa Barbara, Calif. Lakeland/Erie

Daniel Zell L L 6-5 210 24 Cypress, Texas Lakeland

Pete Sikaras R R 6-2 205 27 Chicago Tennessee (AA-Arizona)

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I started a gameday thread for the Seawolves opening game here:

Opening Day Game Thread

Not sure how much I will be able to update it - gotta take my daughter to Brownies tonight. Game starts at 6:30.

But if someone is energetic and is so inclined to listen to the game on the Erie or Harrisburg feed, please feel free to provide updates. Thanks.

Listening to the minor league broadcasts is always fun. I remember last year, especially with the West Michigan feeds, listening to the guys between innings chatting about whatever. Pretty funny. Another thing that I like to do, is listen to the opponent's feed, for at least part of the game. Gives me an idea of what type of competition our guys are going up against. For me, it keeps the "Our Guys Are Special" thinking in perspective, because, of course, they think there guys are too.

On the players to watch section, also, feel free to comment on those guys or add any players you know of.

Well, enough of me for now, T-minus 10 hours to game time. If I leave right now, I should be in Harrisburg with time to spare (I wish).

Now if I could only find those dancing Seawolves!!

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New Website Launch Coming Soon!

Coming soon....the NEW and IMPROVED www.seawolves.com!!!

The new site will continue to offer all of the great features of the current site, such as online merchandise sales and ticket sales...but wil be easier to navigate and more user-friendly.

Powered by Newline Creations, the SeaWovles are excited about the prospects of the new site. "We think this site will create a destination for intense and casual fans alike. It will fill all needs congruent with a team's website, with statistics and promotional information, but will have a new design, be easier to navigate and update, and will hopefully remain a site that our fans visit on a regular basis" said Rob Magee, Director of Marketing and Promotions for the Erie SeaWolves.

The new site will be launched in the coming weeks...keep checking back and enjoy SeaWolves baseball.



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