Thursday, August 7, 2008

Power Outage suspends Miracle

Tampa Yankees

Fort Myers 2 at Tampa 0 - Suspended (Power)

Did someone forget to pay the electric bill at Casa de Steinbrenner?

Light failure at the home of the Tampa Yankees on Wednesday night forced the Fort Myers Miracle and Tampa Yankees into a suspended ball game with the Miracle ahead 2-0. The stadium lights were on pre-game but suddenly went dark just before first pitch. The stadium fire alarm went off immediately after the lights and forced the contest to halt heading into the fourth inning.

The Yankees and Miracle won’t take a chance on the lights being fixed for Thursday night. Instead, the two teams will pick up the action at 1:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The regularly scheduled game will be seven-innings and follow approximately 30 minutes after the suspended game (a full 9-inning game) from Wednesday concludes.

Let's go Miracle Blog
Pending Pinstripes Blog

* Former Miracle and current Minnesota Twins pitcher Pat Neshek has arrived in Florida and is expected to be here at least a month, and most likely until the end of the season, depending upon how his elbow responds. (Pat Neshek's Baseball Page Blog)

* Another former Miracle, Denard Span, drove in a career-high four runs and robbed Adrian Beltre of a go-head homer in the seventh inning, leading the Minnesota Twins to a 7-3 win over the Seattle Mariners Wednesday. Nick Blackburn (9-6), another member of the 2005 Miracle squad, allowed three runs in six innings to tie Detroit's Armando Galarraga for most wins by an American league Rookie.

Cole Devries

When Jeff Manship received his promotion to AA New Britain following the Florida State League All-star game, it really came as no surprise when Cole Devries stepped in to take over the roll of ace on the Miracle pitching staff.

The 23-year old right hander was 5-6 at the half season mark with a 2.99 era. He'd struck out 54 in 78.1 innings pitch and walked only 18 while giving up just 3 home runs in 11 games.

After an excellent season in 2007 with Low A Beloit, Devries was certainly making a name for himself in the Florida State League as well. Which lead to a very interesting question.

"How did you not get drafted?"

"Oh, that's a story," said Devries. "I get asked that a lot."

Sitting in the stands during a recent Fort Myers Miracle game, Devries relates "the story".

"I had one interview with a scout," said the University of Minnesota product. "I didn't know much about the draft process at the time, so I was bouncing some things off of him, some numbers, to see how he would react. And I told him I thought I would go somewhere in the fifth to eighth round, most likely the fifth.

"He took this to mean I wanted high fifth round money, when home and wrote up this report that way. And you know, that goes out to EVERYONE."

After that, despite being named All-State and Class 3A Player of the Year in his senior season in high school and leading the Golden Gophers in strike outs (72) and ERA (2.42) in his Junior year, he didn't even get a sniff.

The Minnesota Twins however become interested in the Eden Prairie native during the 2006 Cape Cod Summer League, a wooden bat league that compiles the best college players from across the country each summer. Devries finished with a 3.31 ERA in 49 innings, fanning 50 while walking just five.

He was talked to by several teams at the time, but it was his hometown Twins that really pursued him. "If I played well out there, I had a chance to get signed by a team," he said. "Coming towards the end of summer, I was planning on going back to school for my senior year, but the Twins and I started talking and we came up with a deal we both liked and here I am," Devries was reported as saying the Beloit Daily News during a 2007 interview.

"Since I'm a hometown guy and I really love the state of Minnesota, it was awesome. I'm really happy I'm here right now."

For now "here" is the Sunshine State of Florida, a stop that marks the halfway point to the major league. Virtually all of the pitchers agree on one big difference between the Low-A Midwest League, and the High-A Florida State League. "The batters are a lot more disciplined," teammate Alex Burnett explains. "You can't throw (junk) at them and expect them to go after it."

For Devries, that has meant making some adjustments on the mound. "You really need three pitches here, so I've been working my change up in more. In Beloit you could pretty much get away with your fastball and your curve, but here you really need the change up."

Many so called experts have questioned Devries status as a prospect, in part because he wasn't drafted and in part because he doesn't have a so called "money pitch". But he doesn't see that as a lack, but rather as a strength.

"You don't want to rely too much on one pitch." By mixing his pitches, he finds he can keep the batters from getting to comfortable at the plate.

As the Miracle make their way into the playoffs, they'll be looking for Devries to come on strong on the mound, and provide the leadership for the team as they try for their first Florida State League Championship since the team relocated to Fort Myers. The franchise has won 5 championship since its inception in 1927, the last one was landed in 1978 when they were known as the Miami Orioles, holding a Baltimore Affiliation while playing at the old Miami Stadium.

* Playoff tickets are currently on sale. The Miracle host game two and if necessary, game three of the West Division Series on September 3rd and 4th. Ticket prices are the same as for a regular season game: $7 for a box seat, $5 for reserved seats. Season ticket holders have until Sept. 2 to reserve "their" regular season seat for the playoffs. The Miracle are still awaiting their partner for the the West Division Championship round.

* Around the System: The AAA Red Wings took both games of a double header from the Lehigh Valley Iron pigs. They won the first game 3-2 (Box/Log). Former Miracle Trevor Plouffe knocked his fifth AAA home run over the wall in that one. In the second game, the Wings shut out the Iron Pigs 5-0. (Box/Log). Former Miracle first baseman Garrett Jones hit a 2-run home run in the 3rd inning for Rochester. Zach Ward picked up the win in New Britain as the AA Rock Cats defeated the Blue Jays affiliated New Hampshire Fisher Cats 11-7. (Box/Log) Brian Dinkelman's second home run in a Rock Cat's unform brought in 2 runs for New Britain in the 8th inning. Shooter Hunt recored his second loss as a Beloit Snapper, allowing 6 runs, 5 earned on four hits and 5 walks while striking out only 3 in 3.1 innings as the Twins low-A affiliate fell 8-1 to the Kane County Cougars (Box/Log). Former Miracle Yangervis Solarte was 1-for-3 at the plate, driving in former first round draft pick Ben Revere for the only Beloit run.

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