4th and Goal for Johnny Football

08/13/2017 7:01 AM - Devo

It wasn't too long ago when I went on a rant on society's perspective (no pun intended) on athletes, expectations, and how their performance and actions somehow impact our life. And when our role models and heroes let us down, we take it personally.

There's this disappointment we feel when the first-round pick doesn't live up to the hype. They're human and can only do so much. Yes, these upper echelon athletes are one of a kind. They can run fast, jump higher, and hit farther, but underneath it all, they're people just like us.

The perfect example of the untouchable is Johnny Manziel. But, oh how the untouchable have fallen. Once one of the most highly touted quarterbacks in the world is no longer playing football. And why? He believed his own hype, we believed the hype, and no one could bring themselves to tell him to slow down. Take your time or you'll lose everything. 

The looks, the fame, the money sign! Johnny Football had it all until he didn't. And we, we glorified it on national television. He's littered all over TMZ, and Wright Thompson of ESPN exposed Manziel for what he was; a young kid in the limelight trying to dealing with the constant pressure and stress of being the man.

We've mocked Manziel for what he's not; a loose cannon who drank it all away, but where do we stand now?

We all love a underdog story and this one is no different. Manziel was the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and it's safe to say expectations were not met. In 14 career games he's thrown for seven touchdowns, 7 interceptions and 1,675 yards. At 24 years old, he's out of the NFL. It's mind boggling to think that the poster boy for fame and fortune is nowhere to be found on Sunday afternoons. 

That could all be changing. Manziel has been staying out of trouble and staying sober (as far as we know). And you know what, good for him. Everyone's written him off and he's decided to to do what he's always done; do it his own way. Sort of a backwards way to look at it since everything he's done to this point has got him to where he's at right now. Nevertheless, it takes a strong person to know when they've messed up.

Currently, Manziel is looking to get back into the game, even saying he'd be interesting in coaching if his playing days are done. If the NFL doesn't work out, the CFL is an option as his negotiating rights are currently held by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here

For Tulsa's Gailen, it's all about trusting the process

08/05/2017 10:13 AM - Devo

Blake Gailen is living the dream, a dream every kid has when growing up. He's been playing professional baseball for over 11 years and has been successful at every level he's been at. 

But it's not as easy as everyone thinks. Does anyone really understand the ups and downs of a minor league player?

Here at The GM's Perspective, his career has been profiled countless times and each time it's another step in the right direction; to play Major League Baseball. We were fortunate enough to speak with Gailen and his dedication and never say die attitude proves that his chance to play in the bigs is closer than any of us may think.

The GM’s Perspective: Blake, thank you for your time. I’ve actually been writing about your career for approximately five years now. The first time coming when you signed with the Colorado Rockies.

First and foremost, you recently signed a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, how’s your time been with them up to this point?

Blake Gailen: It has been great so far. The Dodgers are a first class organization who make the players feel like they come first.

GMs: I played Indy ball for a short time and heard all the comparables of divisions, leagues and levels. In your point of view, what’s the talent like in Double-A compared to the talent you’ve played against in the American Association and Atlantic League?

BG:  I can't speak on the American Association because the league and players have probably changed so much since my last time there (2011). But as for the Atlantic League, the level of play is different in a few ways and very similar in many ways. The differences are mostly age related. A lot more raw talent in Double A, where the Atlantic League is 60-70% former Major Leaguers. I always say the Atlantic League is anywhere from AA-AAAA on any given night.

GMs: One question I’ve always wanted to ask...How have you been able to keep going after all these years (11 in total). There’s a lot of ups and definitely a lot of downs…

BG: I've been asked that a lot, but I started from the bottom. All I know is that I want to play in the Big Leagues and I believe I have the mind and skill set to do that. I'm not saying I'm Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, but I know what I bring to the table.

I just feel like if I keep playing and put up consistent numbers, that anything is possible. One thing is for certain; if I stop playing, I won't get there. I don't ride the highs and lows. I keep it even keel.

GMs: If I’m not mistaken, you signed five professional contracts out of Indy ball! That’s gotta be some kind of record and outstanding in my opinion. Thoughts?

BG: Well, I appreciate that. But I just try to make as much of my opportunities as I can. It's not about how many teams I can sign with, it's about showing the MLB team I'm with that I can produce at the Big League level. Just want that chance.

GMs: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome; Physical, mental or just bad luck?

BG: The biggest obstacle is probably the stuff I can't control. I can only do what I can do to prepare and put a good product out on the field. Getting signed or resigned and getting called up is not something I can control. So worrying about it will only slow me down. 

If I were on the outside looking in, I'd say that my biggest obstacle is the lack of full minor league seasons. I just want to prove that I can put up good numbers in one MiLB season. If I fail, that's fine. I'll swallow that pill. But I have confidence in myself that I won't.

GMs: You’ve done this for a long time. What’s your most memorable moment; signing that first contract, playing for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic or perhaps named team MVP by the fans, earning the Atlantic League MVP award, and Baseball America’s Independent Player of the Year all in the same year.

BG: So many great ones along the way. But playing in the WBC against Japan has to be the most memorable. 43,000 screaming fans in a 0-0 tie in the 6th of an elimination game for us. Just electric.

GMs: What kind of advice can you give to the other minor leaguer’s out there grinding everyday?

BG: Don't take the game for granted. It will pass you by faster than you think and enjoy your time while having a good attitude the entire way. It does become a grind, but it could be a lot worse.

Never burn a bridge. Lots of networks to be made out there in the baseball world and you never know who will be a GM one day.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here

Albaladejo is Vegas bound, signs deal with Mets

07/30/2017 4:59 AM - Devo

The 2016 Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year is heading to Las Vegas. Jonathan Albaladejo signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets early last week and was promptly sent to their Triple-A Affiliate.

This isn't anything new for the 17-year professional. He's pitched at every level from the foreign leagues, to the Independent leagues and of course, all the way to the majors. But for Albaladejo, this is nothing short of a true redemption story.

His career started off as good as you could possibly ask for. Eventually released by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007 after spending six years in their organization, he was signed by the Washington Nationals and raised eyebrows almost immediately. When he made his MLB debut in that same season, his 1.88 ERA, 12 strikeouts, and .628 WHIP were stuff that dreams are made of. Unfortunately the Baseball Gods had other plans. The rest is history.

Everyone has a plan. We never know what it will be, where will we go, and have zero clue about all the people we will encounter which is why Albaladejo's journey is that much more fascinating. He's been to the top of the mountain, but also had to work his way back up to the top when so many others would've just given up. This mentality couldn't be any more evident than after hearing what Bluefish General Manager Paul Herrmann said about him and the confidence others feel when he's on the mound.

“Jonathan has been our ace the past two seasons and instills a confidence in his teammates that is unparalleled,” says Bluefish General Manager Paul Herrmann. “We are so happy for him to receive this opportunity and wish him the best of luck in his journey.”

Over the past two seasons Albaladejo has put together 22 wins against 12 losses. His ERA is still a little ballooned at 4.20, but over the course of 44 starts, he's been about as reliable as they come. With 8.8 SO/9 (a career high) against 2.0 BB/9 (a career low), there's little wonder why the Mets are taking are taking advantage of this opportunity.

Since inking the deal with the Mets, he's been as advertised. In two games, and in just over 11 innings, he's 1-0 (0.00 ERA) with 11 strikeouts.. 

So far so good if you ask me!

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here

Indy stars earning their MiLB stripes

07/24/2017 7:21 AM - Devo

With a plethora of independent players getting the call from MLB clubs, it's always a fun to take a step back and check up on their progress.

Josh Wilson, a veteran infielder with eight years of MLB experience and 19 total years under his belt, became the first York Revolution player to sign a minor league contract this year. After signing with the Revs to return for a second season, the Texas Rangers scooped up the sure handed infielder and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock where he proceeded to hit .329 in 22 games. On June 1, his contract was purchased by the Cleveland Indians and immediately assigned to Triple-A Columbus. In 32 games with the Clippers he's batting .200 with two home runs and five RBI. Overall, Wilson's batting .258 with 6 home runs and 21 RBI.

Jarret Martin, another Revs players to sign with a MLB club, is cruising right along in Double-A Richmond (San Francisco Giants). Martin, who's spent the majority of his eight-year career within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, was putting up some of the best numbers of his career when the Giants signed him. In 18 games with York, he struck out 13.3 batters per nine innings while surrendering only two runs equating to a 0.98 ERA. Martin's tenure in Richmond got off to a bumpy start, but over his last 10 games he's 1-2 with a 2.19 ERA to go with 14 K's in 12 innings. In 19 total appearances, batters are only hitting .167.

Darian Sandford is a master of the stolen base, and it's no surprise opportunity keeps knocking. WIth 430 stolen bases to his name, Sandford has made his mark on the independent game. In 2017 though, it was his bat that did the talking. After batting .340 for the Lanscaster Barnstormers, the Washington Nationals signed him to a minor league deal, marking the second time he's inked an MLB deal after playing in the Indy leagues. While the numbers may be a little lower than expected, Sanford is toughing his way through one game at a time. Currently he's hitting .232 with stolen 14 bases.

You can say Blake Gailen is an Indy ball legend and you'd be spot on. On five separate occasions he's leveraged his time in the Indy's to a minor league contract. Year after year Gailen does what he has to do, and regardless of where he's playing, scouts take notice. In 2012, he put up numbers so big, they rivaled anyone's anywhere (338/.415/.534, with 26 doubles, three triples, 22 home runs, 89 RBI, and 25 stolen bases) earning team MVP as voted on by the fans, the Atlantic League MVP award, and Baseball America’s Independent Player of the Year. Since signing with the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A affiliate of the Dodgers), Gailen's continued to pound the baseball. After 17 games he's a tad under .285 (.283) with three big flies and 11 RBI. Not too shabby for someone undrafted out of university.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here

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