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2006 Oneonta Tigers Diary

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Randon Bierd 43 22 6-4 190 R/R

Christopher Cody 19 22 6-1 195 L/L

Casey Fien 20 22 6-5 210 R/R

Jose Fragoso 56 21 6-0 170 R/R

Jeff Gerbe 13 22 6-3 200 R/R

Brett Jensen 44 22 6-7 190 R/R

Chris Krawczyk 54 23 6-1 200 R/R

Phillip Napolitan 26 24 6-1 185 R/R

Mathew O'Brien 27 23 6-3 215 R/R

Zach Piccola 35 21 6-4 240 R/L

Tim Robertson 39 23 6-1 185 R/R

Tom Thornton 51 22 6-6 220 L/L

Brendan Wise 7 20 6-2 190 L/R

Derek Witt 18 19 6-1 180 R/R


Jeffery Kunkel 17 23 5-11 200 S/R

Jordon Newton 24 20 5-10 195 R/R

James Skelton 22 20 5-11 165 L/R


Ronnie Bourquin 30 21 6-3 210 L/R

Santo DeLeon 14 22 6-2 175 R/R

Louis Ott 49 21 6-0 185 S/R

Angel Reyes 21 22 6-3 180 R/R

Scott Sizemore 11 21 6-0 185 R/R


Brennan Boesch 55 21 6-6 210 L/R

Delk Scram 12 21 6-0 170 L/R

Brandon Timm 9 21 6-2 200 R/R

Joe Tucker 10 22 5-11 170 R/R

Casper Wells 52 21 6-2 210 R/R


Tom Brookens - Manager 31

Ray Burris - p.coach 48

Basilio Cabrera - coach 58

Eric Hall - Trainer

Brad Zeh - Clubhouse Mgr.

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Wow...according to one of those articles, Sizemore's starting at shortstop. An interesting experiment. Might as well let him prove he can't do it before moving him back to second.

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Can someone give me the story behind Phil Napolitan again? Was he a high pick who got hurt elsewhere? Or am I mixing him up with Garrett Berger? How did Napolitan wind up in the organization?

Looks like he's competing with Jensen for the closer role. Jensen seems like he'll have a chance as a middle reliever. I understand he throws sidearm so I imagine he'll have too much trouble against lefties to make the bigs as a big time high leverage guy.

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Randor Bierd is back and pitching in the Oneonta bullpen. It'll be nice to get him rolling again. Hopefully he's in Lakeland before the end of the year.

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Can someone give me the story behind Phil Napolitan again? Was he a high pick who got hurt elsewhere? Or am I mixing him up with Garrett Berger? How did Napolitan wind up in the organization?

Looks like he's competing with Jensen for the closer role. Jensen seems like he'll have a chance as a middle reliever. I understand he throws sidearm so I imagine he'll have too much trouble against lefties to make the bigs as a big time high leverage guy.

He was a position player at Wichita State.

Signed as an undrafted FA last year.

From a thread from last year:

The MiLB roster has him listed as a pitcher, but he never pitched at Wichita State. Is this a position change or a mis-print?
Talked to Phil yesterday and he told me he has had two back surguries since college and no one would touch him as a position player. Have not seen him on the mound yet.


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Anyone know what kind of stuff Napolitan's got? He must have at least a little promise considering he's stuck so far despite his lack of experience.

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No, I'm not. Macomb,MI I can't wait for Strieby to sign. I hope we don't have some signability issues with him. I would expect him to take the spot from Beird, once they send him back to Lakeland. 14 pitchers on a 27 man team is too much. I wonder how the Rookie team will look.

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did they release Max Leon or did they send him to instructional league? Heard Lavon Lewis has been told adios.

So, Lavon is gone?

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what g said. Leon didn't impress me at all during his stay in WM, what did he do to deserve the bump to AA?

It's only a temporary move. He's somebody who wouldn't hurt from sitting on the bench for a bit.

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Manager Brookens looks to better self


By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA — Oneonta Tigers manager Tom Brookens said he’s looking for improvement during the 2006 New York-Penn League baseball season.

From himself.

"I hope to be a better manager this year than I was last year," Brookens said Monday, a day before he officially started his second year with the O-Tigers.

He got off to a good start Tuesday as Oneonta rallied in the ninth inning to win its season opener, 7-6, at the Tri-City ValleyCats. In his first season as a professional baseball manager last year, Brookens led the O-Tigers to a 48-29 record and the NY-Penn’s Stedler Division title.

The 2005 O-Tigers finished six games ahead of the Lowell Spinners to win their third Stedler Division crown in four years. Brookens helped Oneonta to the best home record in the NY-Penn (26-12) last season, but the Tigers were swept by the Auburn Doubledays in the first round of the playoffs.

"Any time you get one year — or however many years — under your belt, you always feel a little more comfortable going into the next season," said Brookens, who spent the first 10 of his 12 major league seasons with Oneonta’s parent club, the Detroit Tigers. Brookens also played one season for the New York Yankees before closing his career in 1990 with the Cleveland Indians.

"Last year, I was pretty nervous going into the start of it," he continued. "Now I’m more comfortable. Hey, I’m just looking forward to working with the kids. I’m glad to be back in Oneonta again. I like this age-bracket."

Brookens honed his skills earlier this minor league season, serving as a bench coach for Single-A West Michigan for about a month. Brookens took over for Tony Jaramillo, who retired before the Midwest League season opened April 6.

"I went up as a bench coach and part-time hitting guy to help them have another coach for (third-year manager) Matt Walbeck," said Brookens, who coached first base for the Whitecaps. "I really enjoyed it. It gave me a learning experience."

Brookens also got the chance to see several of his "graduates" play at the next level. As of Wednesday, West Michigan’s 27-man roster included 18 men who played for Brookens in Oneonta last season.

"At this level (in the NY-Penn), you don’t worry about a lot of trick stuff," Brookens said. "You just let them play and get their feet wet."

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O-Tigers outfielder is a big hit in season opener


By Al Cuomo

Contributing Writer

ONEONTA — Four out of five ain’t bad.

Neither is a two-run homer in the ninth inning of a season-opening baseball game.

Oneonta Tigers outfielder Brandon Timm started the 2006 New York-Penn League season on a high note Tuesday, capping his a 4-for-5 performance with a two-run shot in the top of the ninth with two out. His homer plated the final runs in a 7-6 victory over the host Tri-City ValleyCats.

"It feels awesome to get back into the swing of things and play some actual ball," said Timm, who went 1-for-4 in Wednesday’s homer opener against the ValleyCats. "But that was (Tuesday), and today’s a new day. It was a confidence-builder; four hits are four hits."

Timm went with an outside fastball off T-C reliever Celson Polanco for a homer to right field.

"The wind was going left-to-right," Timm said. "It was an outside pitch, so I went with it and it happened to go out."

Tom Brookens looked good as a result; the second-year O-Tigers manager batted Timm in the clean-up position Tuesday.

"As a player, everybody likes to get off to a good start, and that’s exactly what he did," Brookens said. "He’s a veteran player who should be a key member of the ballclub."

Timm batted .260 with a .314 slugging percentage in 50 games for Oneonta last season, which marked Brookens’ first as a manager in professional baseball. Timm also had 14 RBIs and 28 runs in 2005.

"It’s a long season," Timm said. "We just go game-by-game. I’ll find my swing eventually and go at it with the same mentality. If the strikes fall, I’ll hit them. I’m just going to swing at what they give me."

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New O-Tigers pitching coach making impact

Burris drawing on 15 years of big-league experience

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA — Ray Burris is in his first year as pitching coach for the Oneonta Tigers, but said Sunday he has a hard time considering it a job.

"This has been fun for me," said Burris, who pitched 15 years in the major leagues. "This is being able to take what the game has taught me, experiences I’ve had over my years and giving it back to these young men out here who are going along the same path I went through at that age. It’s rewarding for me to see them accept, apply and make it work."

Burris took over for Bill Monbouquette, who retired at the end of last season after six years in Oneonta and 50 in professional baseball.

Burris, who played with the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Montreal Expos, Oakland A’s and Milwaukee Brewers, had Monbouquette as a coach as a member of the Mets.

"I respected him then and for what he accomplished here during his tenure," Burris said. "I’m not trying to replace Bill Monbouquette because I don’t think anyone can come in and do that. ... He left his legacy here and it will always be in tact."

Burris, 55, finished his big league career with a record of 108-134, spending time as a starter and reliever. His top two seasons came in 1975 and 1976 as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

He finished 15-10 with a 4.12 ERA and eight complete games in 1975 and was 15-13 with a 3.11 ERA and 10 complete games in 1976.

Oneonta isn’t Burris’ first stop as a coach.

He was the assistant pitching coach for the Brewers (1990-91) and Texas Rangers (1992). He also served as the pitching coach for Milwaukee’s Rookie League team in Helena, Mont., in 1988-89 and was the roving pitching instructor for the St. Louis Cardinals’ short-season teams in 2001.

"Ray’s awesome," O-Tigers pitcher Matt O’Brien said early last week when the team came into town. "Ray definitely knows his stuff. I’ve worked with him since March and he has a lot of knowledge and he’s willing to share it with everybody."

Second-year O-Tigers manager Tom Brookens said he’s been impressed with how quickly Burris has built a strong relationship with the pitching staff.

"I think probably one of the first things that impressed me when I first saw him was his eye for detail and his patience," Brookens said. "Guys are pitching and as a manager sometimes you get a little frustrated with what’s going on out there, but he’s never frustrated. Everything is ’Hey, he’s working his way through it.’ He has a great rapport with the kids and he actually helps me relax out there myself."

Burris, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, started 302 of the 480 games he played in the big leagues. Brookens said having someone with experience as a starter and reliever is beneficial.

"I enjoy doing what I’m doing and I want to relay that to the young men out there," Burris said. "I hope they see in me the joy, the passion and the love I have in being on the field, talking about the game and teaching the game."

Hall promoted as trainer

Detroit promoted Eric Hall to be the trainer this season in Oneonta, a year after being with the Gulf Coast League Tigers. Hall takes over for Jay Pierson, who moved up to Single-A West Michigan.

Hall, 24, got his bachelor’s degree from West Texas A&M in sports and exercise sciences. He earned a master’s degree in sports performance at Ball State University, where he also served as a trainer for the baseball team for two years.

Last season was his first in professional baseball.

Hall said he first interned with the Tigers two years ago during extended spring training. The following year, Detroit had an opening and he was offered the job.

"This is my second year and I’m still testing the water, but I’m enjoying every bit of it so far," Hall said. "Ultimately, I would love to hit the majors. But, eventually I want to settle down, have a family and have some kids and of course that’s a big factor where you’ll be at."


Roger, have you met Eric?

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O-Tigers owner: Damaschke OK

NY-Penn baseball field is dry, but water still covers much of Neahwa Park


By Rob Centorani

Staff Writer

The Daily Star Online


Star photo by Dean Russin Two picnic tables stand Thursday in the middle of Neahwa Park’s Field 1, which is covered with water from Wednesday’s flooding. All four fields that the Oneonta City Softball League uses during the summer were under water Thursday.

Although water still covered much of Neahwa Park on Thursday, Oneonta Tigers owner Sam Nader said Wednesday’s flooding had little effect on Damaschke Field.

While neighboring softball fields that host several area recreation teams throughout the summer remained submerged Thursday, the infield dirt at Damaschke Field was dry.

"The field is all right," said Nader, whose team began a three-game series at the Lowell Spinners on Thursday.

"The dugouts are full of water, but we’re going to be ready for our home game on Sunday."

Nader said barring more rain, his Stedler Division leading O-Tigers will play their next scheduled home game, at 6 p.m. Sunday against the Vermont Lake Monsters.

Nader spoke by phone Thursday from his office at Damaschke Field, something that seemed unlikely a day earlier; almost all of Neahwa Park appeared to be under water Wednesday.

"We’re extremely pleased to be able to play at home," Nader said. "Financially, there’s no question there are pluses."

Though Damaschke Field and Field 6 at Neahwa Park — where Oneonta Post 259 plays its Legion home games — are relatively dry, the softball fields appear to be the equivalent of Hodges Pond. Picnic tables are strewn throughout the park, a portable toilet has tipped over onto its side in the parking lot of Field 4 and some fencing has been destroyed. While the basketball courts were dry Thursday, the jungle gym area has several feet of standing water.

Oneonta City Police directed a handful of people out of the park just before 8 p.m. Thursday, saying Neahwa is closed until further notice. Both entrances to Neahwa Park are blocked off.

Two area Legion coaches — Oneonta’s Mike Jester and Cooperstown’s Ed Dubben — said they didn’t think the flooding would affect their schedules.

Jester’s team is scheduled to play in a wood-bat game tonight at Scranton, Pa.

"They called me and wanted to make sure we were still coming," Jester said. "I’m still seeing if we can get there."

Oneonta then plays in the World Youth Baseball Classic in the Binghamton area July 4-9.

Dan Miller is the tournament director for the World Youth Baseball Classic — one of the largest Legion tournaments in the country. He said that although two of the five fields where tournament games will be played are under water — Conlon Field in Binghamton’s Southside and Union-Endicott High — there are no plans to postpone the tournament.

Jester’s team then plays host to a tournament July 14-16 at Field 6.

Dubben’s team plays its home games at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown and at Cherry Valley-Springfield High.

"Doubleday is in good shape and my field (at CV-S) is soft but playable," Dubben said. "For 8 inches of rain, it’s not too bad."

Dubben said Cooperstown is still scheduled to play at Oxford-Norwich today.

Two Pony League baseball games were played Thursday. Worcester beat visiting Cooperstown, 8-2, and Milford topped visiting Schenevus, 9-8.

"We practiced (Wednesday)," said Worcester coach Russ Keever, whose team plays its games at the high school field. "Our field is dry as a bone. We have a lot of damage in our area, but our field is on high ground."

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Wells sent to Lakeland



By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

Oneonta Tigers outfielder Casper Wells made his move Monday.

Schenectady native Wells earned a promotion within Detroit’s Single-A system, moving from the short-season O-Tigers to the Lakeland Tigers.

Wells, selected in the 14th round of the First-Year Player Draft in 2005, batted .244 (11-for-45) in 15 games with Oneonta this season. He had 10 runs, 10 RBIs, five walks, a home run and a double, but struck out 13 times.

Right-handed pitcher Jonah Nickerson replaces Wells, who batted .200 (3-for-15) in six games for Lakeland before the start of the New York-Penn League season. Nickerson is a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder who was selected by Detroit in the seventh round (202nd overall) of this year’s draft.

Nickerson helped Oregon State win the NCAA Division I championship this past spring. The Beavers finished 50-16 after beating North Carolina, 3-2, in the third game of the NCAA championship series.

Nickerson started that game and went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He left with the score tied at 2. He also earned two victories in the College World Series, beating Rice, 2-0, and Georgia, 5-3.

Against Rice, he struck out nine and gave up two hits in 7 2/3 innings. That victory came on two days’ rest, after he allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings against Georgia.

Nickerson finished his junior season 13-4 with a 2.24 ERA. He allowed 114 hits and 40 runs (34 earned) in 136 2/3 innings. Nickerson also struck out 131 and walked 38.

Nickerson went 26-9 in three years with the Beavers.

SIZEMORE EARNS HONOR: O-Tigers shortstop Scott Sizemore was named the New York-Penn League’s Player of the Week for the week ending Monday.

Sizemore batted .333 (8-for-24) with two homers, a triple, a double and 11 RBIs last week. For the season, Sizemore is hitting .318 (35-for-110) with three homers, five doubles and two triples. He also has 23 RBIs.

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Wells is taking Jim Essian's spot, Essian wound up hurting his back in a loss to Sarasota on Sunday.

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From BA's Daily Dish (yesterday):


• Tigers third-rounder Brennan Boesch continued his hot hitting by going 3-for-3 yesterday for short-season Oneonta. The outfielder from California has a nine-game hitting streak (which includes a 1-for-12 effort in the 26-inning game against Brooklyn) and is up to .277/.310/.460.

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I found a link to some photos of the O-Tigers when they played in Cooperstown at the Unofficial Oneonta Tigers Web Page message board:

The board:


The Photos:


A very quiet board.

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Manager Brookens says O-Tigers stranding too many runners

Team leaving nearly eight men on base per game this season

By P.J. Harmer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA — That the Oneonta Tigers are second in the New York-Penn League in runs scored this season is impressive when one considers they’ve left an average of nearly eight runners on base.

The O-Tigers have scored 250 runs — second to Staten Island’s 275 — but have stranded 416 through 53 games. That’s an average of 7.8 runners left on base.

In Monday’s 5-2 victory over visiting Auburn, the Tigers stranded seven runners.

"We still left too many men on base and we didn’t get runners in that we should have got in," O-Tigers manager Tom Brookens said. "But at least we got enough in to win the ballgame."

Oneonta has left 10 or more runners on base 14 times this season, including a season-high 22 in a 6-1, 26-inning victory over Brooklyn on July 20.

The most the Tigers have left on in a nine-inning game was 13 in a 9-6 victory over Jamestown on July 8.

"Normally a team goes through spurts where you’ll have trouble getting men in and then all of a sudden you don’t have that problem and then all of a sudden you got it again," Brookens said.

"It’s been my experience through the years that that type of thing runs in spurts and we had been into one of those spurts where we couldn’t get them in," he continued. "So maybe we’ll get back into the swing now and start driving guys in."

The Tigers (29-24) entered the NY-Penn All-Star break 1½ games behind Tri-City (31-23) in the Stedler Division. The ValleyCats, who are fourth in the league in runs scored with 234, have left 383 on base in 54 games.

"It’s a good thing-bad thing," Brookens said. "The good thing is we’re getting guys on, but the bad thing is we can’t get them in. I’m not really concerned about it and it doesn’t really worry me. I know it’s part of the game and we’ll do probably better at it the rest of the season."

MOMENTUM BUILDER — After dropping the first two games of the series with Auburn, the Tigers avoided the sweep with the victory Monday.

That win was big, said outfielder Brennan Boesch, whose two-run double capped a four-run first inning for Oneonta.

"Not one game is bigger than any other, but I think it’s nice having some positive momentum going into the break," Boesch said. "We’re going to make a charge down the stretch and hopefully we’ll win it all, so we’re pretty excited."

It also trimmed a game off Tri-City’s lead as the ValleyCats lost, 6-5, to Mahoning Valley in 11 innings.

The O-Tigers are two games behind Staten Island (31-23) in the wild-card race.

"There’s no question, we’re in the thick of it and that’s where we want to be," said Brookens, whose team faces Tri-City two more times this season, Aug. 28 at Tri-City and Aug. 29 at Damaschke Field. "We just have to focus on ourselves, not worry about what some other club is doing — mainly Tri-City. Focus on our game, go out and win the ballgame and we’ll finish wherever we’re supposed to."

O’BRIEN IN CHARGE — Right-hander Matt O’Brien has evolved into one of Oneonta’s leaders this season, Brookens said. Oneonta’s top pitcher is 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA. He leads the league in victories.

He’s pitched 67 2/3 innings in 11 starts, allowing 22 runs on 66 hits. He’s struck out 42 and walked 16.

"I can’t take all the credit," O’Brien said Monday after earning the win against Auburn. "(Pitching coach Ray Burris) helps out a lot and my team picks me up a lot when I don’t do as great of a job as I should have. But I was in the league last year and thought I had figured it out then, but I had a pretty good idea what I could do in the league this year."

O’Brien went 6-3 with a 3.34 ERA for Oneonta last season. He allowed 42 runs in 89 innings (15 games).

"He’s a bit of a team leader, there’s no question," Brookens said. "I think that’s because of being a repeat player and also because of what he’s done on the field. A lot of leaders on the ballclubs that I ever played on were the guys getting it done out on the field and they didn’t have to talk or be real vocal, they led by example. I think that’s what he does."

ROTATION — Chris Cody (4-1, 2.47) will pitch against host Batavia at 7:05 today when the Tigers return from the two-day All-Star break. He’ll be followed by Brendan Wise (3-3, 3.40) on Friday and Cristhian Martinez (0-2, 4.32) on Saturday.

Oneonta returns home at 6 p.m. Sunday to start a two-game set with Vermont. Zach Piccola (0-5, 3.57) will pitch Sunday and O’Brien on Monday.

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O-Tigers rally in ninth for triumph

Boesch drives home decisive run; Jensen blows save, gets win


Staff Report

Brennan Boesch’s two-out single in the top of the ninth inning scored Joe Tucker from second base to give the Oneonta Tigers a 4-3 New York-Penn League victory over host Hudson Valley on Tuesday.

Oneonta (38-34), eliminated from the playoffs Monday, closes its season with games at Hudson Valley tonight and Thursday.

Tucker walked with one out in the top of the ninth and stole second before Hudson Valley reliever Ryan Reid walked Louis Ott.

After Scott Sizemore struck out swinging, Boesch broke a 3-3 tie with an RBI single to left.

Brett Jensen (1-0), who got the final out of the eighth inning, threw a perfect ninth to earn his first professional victory. Jensen blew his first save in 18 opportunities in the eighth inning. Jensen entered with bases loaded and two out, but allowed a two-run single to Ryan Royster that tied the score at 3.

The Tigers erased a 1-0 deficit with three runs in the third. Ronnie Bourquin tied the score with a two-out RBI single to center, and Ryan Strieby did the same for a 2-1 lead. Brandon Timm capped the rally with a bases-loaded, infield single.

Oneonta starter Cristhian Martinez allowed one run on three hits in seven innings. He struck out 10 and walked one.

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