Ex-Jay Alvarez signs minor league deal with Phillies

08/27/2017 11:45 AM - Devo

His name is not the biggest in the game, but he has done some pretty entertaining things; accomplishments that will always have him listed in the MLB record books.

After some time away from the big stage, Henderson Alvarez signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. He made his first start with Triple A Lehigh on August 25 going five innings surrendering eight hits and two runs.

Alvarez was supposed to be the next great Toronto Blue Jays hurler, but he never fully reached his potential until he was part of the blockbuster trade that brought the Jays Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle while he was shipped off to the Miami Marlins. Coincidentally, this is where Alvarez came into his own.

Prior to, he was treading water in Toronto sporting a 10-17 record. Despite throwing in the mid-90's, he had an affinity for giving up the longball. In his first full season (2012), he gave up 29 home runs (9th in the league). While baseball people new his talent, it never truly became evident until the final game of the 2013 season when he threw the 282nd no-hitter in MLB history. If the no-no isn’t good enough, in 102 innings, he surrendered two home runs, a significant reduction from the previous year.

His second season in Miami, Alvarez became the pitcher everyone knew he could be. He represented the National League at the 2014 All-Star game. His 2.65 ERA to go along with 12-7 record was good enough for 12th placing in the Cy Young voting.

Over the past couple seasons, Alvarez has endured numerous arm injuries, injuries so severe that it limited him to 66 innings. There was even talk he would never pitch again.

In 2017, Alvarez started his comeback with the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League. After seven starts, it appears his right arm is getting back to normal. He’s posted a 2-1 record with a 3.94 ERA. In 32 innings, he struck out 13 and walked 14.

That may not impress most, but to baseball people, they understand that he can still get guys out. It’s a shame that injuries derailed a career after only five MLB seasons, but at 27 years old there’s plenty of time for him to right the ship.

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

Red Sox sign a Jackal

08/20/2017 11:18 AM - Devo

Conrad Gregor, outfielder for the New Jersey Jackals, became the first CanAm League player to sign a minor league contract in 2017. The Boston Red Sox signed the 5-year vet to a minor league deal and so far he’s been as advertised.

Since signing with the Sox, the Vanderbilt alum. has batted .340 in 16 games for the Salem squad (Class A Advanced). Gregor, who’s a career .270 hitter, spent his entire professional career within the Houston Astros organization until this year.

Drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 draft by the Astros, it was not a coincidence that his success on the college field, translated to early success on the minor league field. Heck, the accolades in college are endless;

 

  • 2013 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American

  • 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll

  • 2012 SEC Academic Honor Roll

  • 2011 First Team Freshman All-American

  • 2011 Second Team All-SEC

  • 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team

  • 2011 SEC Academic Honor Roll

 

He came out of the gate hitting. In his first two seasons he developed a power stroke that contributed to double digit home runs and SLG over .500. Unfortunately, baseball has a funny way of bringing everyone back down to earth.

The Astros released him in March of 2017 after a couple seasons where the numbers weren’t quite what they were expecting, but in the grand scheme of things may have been the best thing to happen to him.

In Gregor’s first Independent League season, his impact was felt throughout the CanAm League. At the time of signing with the Sox he was batting .303/.429/.510 with 12 home runs (5th in league.), 74 RBI (4th in the league) and 11 stolen bases. In 251 at-bats he only struck out 32 times.

Gregor’s innate ability to make contact with the ball and get on base is what everyone wants. The Astros loss is the Red Sox gain.

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

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