Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Jon Jones Removed From UFC 200; Brock Lesner & Mark Hunt To Be Main Event

You rub your eyes but the headline across Twitter and SportsCenter has not changed. You pinch yourself, but it is not a dream. Per Jeff Novitzky, former light heavyweight champion and number one pound-for-pound UFC fighter Jon "Bones" Jones (22-1, 16-1 in UFC) has been flagged for a potential anti-doping violation by USADA, back-tracking to a test from June 16, and will not have the opportunity to get his title back from current belt holder Daniel Cormier (17-1, 6-1 in UFC) at UFC 200.
Jones, 28, has had a troubled past when it comes to drugs and making poor decisions in the public eye. More specifically, he tested positive for the primary metabolite of cocaine (benzoylecgonine) before his first meeting with Cormier at UFC 182 before later being stripped from UFC gold due to his infamous hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on April 27, 2015.

Earlier in 2016, and almost a year after his incident, Jones returned to the octagon in what was expected to be his second bout versus Cormier. However, an injury to DC, turned the all-time great's returning fight into an interim championship versus Ovince Saint Preux, which he won in a unanimous decision.

Following the Jones' victory and a scheduled rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz falling through thanks to "The Notorious One" failing to comply to media obligations, Bones received the mutual wish to face Daniel Cormier at this weekend's historic event. Though, now the aforementioned is also no more.

In terms of the immediate aftermath, UFC President Dana White stated Jones may receive a two year suspension from USADA, aging the latter to 30 years old before being able to compete again. For Cormier, he still very much wants to compete on the card and is willing to move up and fight at 220 or 225 pounds. Currently, a replacement is being looked for, to face-off against the active light heavyweight champion.

As when any fighter is removed from a headliner, the show must go on and the new main event of UFC 200 will be Brock Lesner (5-3, 5-3 in UFC) versus Mark Hunt (12-10-1, 7-4-1 in UFC) in the heavyweight division. Lesner's return to the promotion will remain of the three round variety, aside from it occupying the last fight of Saturday evening.

***Photo Courtesy of Getty & Yahoo Sports

Monday, June 20, 2016

Florida State League (A+) Mid-Season Review

ABSTRACT: MiLB Correspondent Peyton Wesner highlights the Florida State League's top performers and top prospects heading into the second half of the season. 

Always the first to bring the circuit's best together for the All-Star Game and its festivities, the talented Florida State League once again has prospects shinning brighter than the sun in 2016. Thus, let's take a look at the top performers of the 1st half

Top Hitter: 
Amed Rosario (STL)
***71st Prospect in MLB
***2nd Prospect in New York Mets' Organization
***2016 FSL All-Star
---.310/.361/.448, 78 H, 8 3B, 3 HR, 38 RBI, & 13 SB.

His uncharacteristic 0-for-4 All-Star Game performance aside, New York Mets' prospect Amed Rosario has one upped his FSL production from last season in all offensive categories. Furthermore, the 20-year old has made a more concerted effort to cause havoc on the base paths and not settle for doubles as he has the same amount of steals as in 2015 while leading the circuit in triples. And, one cannot forget about his pop! After hitting zero home runs in 105 games, Rosario has three in 63. Skills, not already mentioned, that will add to his longevity at shortstop include his cannon of an arm as well as his quick hands and footwork.

Other Top Performers:
2. Miguel Andujar (TAM)
***15th Prospect in New York Yankees' Organization
***2016 FSL All-Star
***Promoted to Double-A Trenton
---.283/.343/.474, 65 H, 10 HR, 41 & RBI.

3. Kevin Newman (BRA)
***11th Prospect in Pittsburgh Pirates' Organization
***2015 1st Round Pick
***2016 FSL All-Star
***Promoted to Double-A Altoona
---.366/.428/.494, 3 HR, 24 RBI, & 4 SB.

4. Jorge Mateo (TAM)
***26th Prospect in MLB
***Top Prospect in New York Yankees' Organization
***10th Shortstop Prospect in MLB
***2016 FSL All-Star
---.281/.345/.440, 44 R, 70 H, 8 3B, 5 HR, 32 RBI, & 24 SB.

Aaron Judge or Jorge Mateo: Who should be the New York Yankees' top prospect?

Who cares! Both will be stars in the Bronx once they arrive.

Similar to the aforementioned up and coming shortstop of the Mets, the Yankees have slowly and gradually moved Jorge Mateo station to station from affiliate to affiliate. However, the pace may be quickening for the 20-year old as he was promoted mid-season to Tampa last year. While his statistics are down to a certain degree in 2016, New York's long term replacement at shortstop is displaying more power with 5 home runs and 32 RBIs in 61 games (it took him 96 contests to collect 2 HRs and 33 RBIs in 2015). A minor concern for fans of the Bombers' lies in the fact that Mateo has just 24 stolen bases, which puts him on pace for a considerably fewer amount than last year's MiLB leading total of 82. Nevertheless, he is tied with Rosario in triples and should also be in store for a taste of Double-A Eastern League action as the season grows older.

5. Christin Stewart (LAK)
***3rd Prospect in Detroit Tigers' Organization
***2015 1st Round Pick
***2016 FSL All-Star
---.239/.389/.509, 37 R, 16 HR, 39 RBI, & 48 BB.

Gaining comparisons to Steven Moya ( of his tremendous power, 2015 Detroit Tigers compensation pick Christin Stewart has definitely silenced the pre-season chatter and speculation that he would not have the same success as in his first professional season. How? He already has 16 home runs in 6 less games than he had 10 long bombs in 2015. While the 22-year old's batting average has slid under .250, his keen eye has drawn him an FSL leading 48 walks. Sure, his strikeouts have heightened, but a power hitter who knows how to draw a walk is a great commodity to any organization.

Top Pitcher:
Tyler Mahle (DAY)
***11th Prospect in Cincinnati Reds' Organization
---8-3 record, 2.50 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, & 76 SO in 79.1 IP/13 appearances.

While the road to Cincinnati has been long and monotonous for Reds' 2013 draft pick Tyler Mahle, the time should be coming for a promotion. In his last start (June 13), the California native stayed on the mound and no-hit the Jupiter Hammerheads in 9 innings of 6 strikeout baseball. The performance was truly the best of his career; however, Mahle has been dominating the FSL since his second High-A start. The 21-year old, utilizing his 6'4" frame to his advantage, attacks hitters with a lively fastball that can touch 95-96 as well as three secondary pitches, which he is confident to throw in any count. Currently possessing a 16 inning scoreless streak, Tyler Mahle doesn't have much to prove in the Florida State League. Hence, his move to Double-A Pensacola should occur by the Major League All-Star break, at the latest.

Other Top Performers:
2. A.J. Ladwig (LAK)
***2016 FSL All-Star
---8-4 record, 2.36 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, & 51 SO in 72.1 IP/12 appearances.

Despite the Detroit Tigers' not having the strongest farm system anymore, players like A.J. Ladwig are giving the city of Motown hope in the future. The former Wichita State Shocker has picked up right where he left off last season, while taking it up a notch, by being the definition of a work horse for Lakeland. Thus far, he is averaging more than 6 innings per with 3 starts of the 7 inning variety. Although the 23-year old is not winning games as much as the beginning of the season, his last three trips to the mound have been quality starts. 

3. Yonny Chirinos (CHA)
---6-0 record, 1.62 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, & 27 SO in 44.1 IP/10 appearances.

Don't let his statistics fool you, Yonny Chirinos' 2016 season has been an odd one. From starting in Port Charlotte as a reliever to being demoted to Low-A Bowling Green for a transition to the starter role, the Tampa Bay Rays' pitching prospect has used his frequent flyer/bus miles this season. The previous aside, the 22-year old Venezuelan has made a seamless switch and has had quality starts in all six of his performances in the rotation. Chirinos won't strikeout a high number as some; however, he has the precision of a surgeon, shown in just 1 walk in his last 38 innings. Expect this young man to have a Blake Snell-ish breakout year in 2016.

4. Joe Jimenez (LAK)
***8th Prospect in Detroit Tigers' Organization
***2016 FSL All-Star
***Promoted to Double-A Erie
---0-0 record, 10 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, & 28 SO in 17.1 IP/17 appearances.

5. Jimmy Herget (DAY)
***2016 FSL All-Star
---2-2 record, 11 saves, 1.53 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, & 41 SO in 29.1 IP/26 appearances.

FSL Eastern
1. 41-25 Tampa
***1st Half Champions/Playoff Berth
2. 37-28 Clearwater
3. 34-32 Daytona
4. 33-32 Lakeland
5. 30-36 Dunedin
6. 23-42 Brevard County

FSL Western
1. 36-29 Bradenton
2. 33-31 St. Lucie
3. 33-33 Charlotte
4. 31-34 Palm Beach
5. 31-35 Fort Myers
6. 30-35 Jupiter Top 100 Prospects
#26 Jorge Mateo (TAM)
***2016 FSL All-Star
---.281/.345/.440, 44 R, 70 H, 8 3B, 5 HR, 32 RBI, & 24 SB.

#37 Anthony Alford (DUN)
***7-Day DL
---.205/.277/.262, HR, 11 RBI, & 4 SB.

#38 Brent Honeywell (CHA)
***2016 FSL All-Star
***7-Day DL
---4-0 record, 1.30 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, & 46 SO in 41.2 IP/7 appearances.

#54 Tyler Jay (FTM)
***2016 FSL All-Star
---5-5 record, 2.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, & 61 SO in 60.2 IP/11 appearances.

#71 Amed Rosario (STL)
***2016 FSL All-Star
---.310/.361/.448, 78 H, 8 3B, 3 HR, 38 RBI, & 13 SB.

#72 Jack Flaherty (PB)
---2-4 record, 3.86 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, & 61 SO in 58.1 IP/11 appearances.

#83 Nick Gordon (FTM)
***2016 FSL All-Star
---.288/.341/.410, 4 3B, 2 HR, 19 RBI, & 9 SB.

#100 Stephen Gonsalves (FTM)
***2016 FSL All-Star
---5-4 record, 2.33 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, & 66 SO in 65.2 IP/11 appearances.

***Photo Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio/

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Tragic Dream

Photo Courtesy of & Cut4.
By Peyton Wesner
The forecast called for thunderstorms, but I didn't care.
It was my last day in “City Beautiful”, aka Orlando, Florida, before returning to the cold Midwest, and I was determined for my plans not to be deterred.
            The date was April 2, and my younger brother Nick and I had a humongous last day planned. More explicitly, we were going to spend the morning and early afternoon at Universal Studios before venturing to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports for the last Atlanta Braves’ Spring Training game of 2016.
            "Are you ready man?" I asked excitedly.
            "Peyton, are you sure we shouldn't just hang in the hotel today? There is a 100% chance of rain and it’s coming from the Gulf," the 5'7" lanky boy explained nervously.
            "Buddy, think about this with me. It is 8 AM. Our flight leaves at this same time tomorrow. So, we have only 24 hours remaining in paradise! Wouldn't you say it is essential to make these the best 24 possible?"
            "I guess when you say it like that..."
            “That's the spirit Nick! Anyway, I checked my phone and saw the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit has only a five minute wait, so we need to hit the road before that time skyrockets."
            We left our hotel room and headed down the long, narrow hallway until we reached the elevator. I pressed the smooth elevator button, opening the sliding, metal doors, and the two of us stepped inside. Inside it smelled like a culmination of waffles, bacon, and maple syrup while the elevator music was the soft but equally strong "Let It Go" from Frozen.
            "Are you hearing this tune?" He laughed.
"Only in Central Florida amigo," I smirked.
Despite some shaking and swaying, the elevator safely spit us out on the first floor. Walking out of our hotel, the sun kissed young, bright rays and the scent of orange grove filled the air. The sky to the east was light blue with a few puffy white clouds. However, to the west, dark, inclement clouds were floating. In fact, if one could look closely he or she could see tiny lightning bolts darting under the aforementioned.
I saw them clearly, but against my better judgement, and living the day like it was my last, I turned my 2016 GMC blue Cadillac with the license plate “DATDUDE” onto Universal Boulevard and it sprinted to the amusement park.
“After we hit up the Rockit, what ride should we venture to next?” I asked as I weaved the car onto the third floor of the seven floor parking complex.
“Man, we have to get all of them today! Maybe some “Wesner Challenge” action as well?”
The “Wesner Challenge” was a quest my brother and I had started in the summer of 2014 when Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts opened. What we would do is simple and senseless. Explicitly, we would ride the aforementioned three times, our second favorite ride Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride on seven occasions, and accomplish the final objective with eleven instances on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
“We haven’t done that since last Christmas have we?” I sighed.
“Correctamundo muchacho.”
“Let’s fix that.”
As originally planned, the two of us made our way to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit for a quick trip to start the day right.
“Uh, Peyton?” eked Nick.
“What’s up?”
“Don’t you feel the clouds directly above us are pretty dark? I mean, how are they continuing to send people on this?”
I glanced up at the sky and absorbed the ominous feelings from the sight. My brother had a point; I had never seen darker, threatening clouds in my life. But, we were next in line after waiting for two hours! Therefore, I couldn’t allow him to chicken out and make both of our time spent be for naught.
“If you ride this right now, I’ll give you a hundred dollars.”
I withdrew my Pittsburgh Pirates’ wallet and proceeded to take out a crisp, grainy hundred dollar bill with Benjamin Franklin staring back.
“This is yours if you get on this ride,” I smarted.
“Are you two dudes getting on this thing or not?” the ride attendant asked.
He was a teenager—likely eighteen or nineteen—with a black do-rag atop his golden locks of hair. Additionally, he was fried by the sun and wore a tattered red Universal Studios uniform in addition to khaki cargo shorts.
“Answer the gent Nick. We good or nah?” I impatiently inquired although I already knew his answer.
He ripped the bill from my hand and led the way to the loading platform. I followed with a hop in my step prior to taking my seat in the front row of the first coaster car.  
“So what song are you picking bro?”
The ride had the capability for one to choose and then play whatever song they desired while the coaster was in motion; that is what made it one of a kind.
“Well there are so many choices! How can I decide in just twenty seconds Peyt.”
“Go with your gut.”
“Okay, got it.”
For the record, I chose the very motivational song of “Stronger” by Kanye West. The track was always my choice and what’s wrong with an “oldie but goodie,” right? However, what Nick selected was unfathomable.
“So what are you jamming to?”
“Oh, you don’t even know man!” said Nick as a smile trickled onto his face.
I looked down to his song queue to find the title “Barbie Girl.
“NICK! What the heck is this ratty, girly song?”
“Barbie Girl!”
Our car was beginning its descent up the 17 story, 90 degree incline.
“Why did you pick this?”
“Why do you sing ‘Let It Go’ in the shower and attempt to hit the high notes every morning? Huh? How about answer why you sing every single one of Sabrina Carpenter’s songs on road trips to Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, and St. Louis?”
I wanted to put him in a rear naked choke so bad, but he wasn’t lying.
“Fair enough,” I laughed to ease the tension. However, I wanted to, on the spot, make him lose consciousness like our favorite UFC fighter Conor McGregor did at the hands of Nate Diaz less than a month ago to date.
His insult aside, the coaster was now at the apex, as I observed the horizon of rides from a bird’s eye. I looked to my right to see the iconic World Expo Observatory Towers, which marked the ride Men in Black: Alien Attack, before quickly glancing to the left to find the second theme park at Universal Orlando Resort, Island of Adventure and its memorable bricked lighthouse.
My head whipped to my little brother as he had a terrified look on his face and his right arm erectly pointing to the approaching dip in the track.
A shriek of pure hysteria ensued from a young voice in the row behind us, dampening the great beginning of Stronger, which was blasting in my ears.
“We are going to die!” shouted the youngster.
As soon as I viewed what was edging our way, I comprehended that the voice was not partaking in hyperbole. What was it? A monstrous twister that outstretched from the sky!
“Oh. My. Gosh.” I uttered.
“What are we going to do?!” yelled Nick.
I turned to him and calmly said three simple words.
“Ride it out.”
I said a prayer to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ while the “Coaster of Death” continued.
First, we met a corkscrew loop that was unpleasant only because there was a tornado scratching and attempting to tear each and every passenger from its seat. Next, we hit a valley, which actually zipped us away from danger. However, the threat reappeared, for the coaster started its journey back towards death.
Photo Courtesy of Syfy & Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
“Nick,” I gulped.
“Yeah, Peyton.”
“In case this is the end, I have to tell you something.”
A blank stare still engulfed his face as I continued.
“Remember Anna Faith from freshman year? The reason she came over to the house so much in the short stint that you two were dating was we were having a secret relationship behind your back.”
The previous blank face evaporated and anger caught like wild fire.
“What?!” burst Nick.
“Boy, do I feel better now,” I countered as I ignored his question.
“Hold up! She told me, she had to move to Canada, and that is why the relationship ended.”
“Na man, she lives on the other side of town and goes to the private school. We had our three year anniversary a few weeks ago.”
“You mother fu---“
At this point, I could hear nothing more than a full steam locomotive before the curtains of unconsciousness closed my stage of awareness.
I woke up to find a now silent loading platform with no one in sight. The sky was bright blue and birds were chirping beautifully.
“Nick, bro, are you okay?” I said while shaking him.
No response.
“Dude, wake up!”
No response.
There was just one thing to do, punch him across the face and see if he comes too. I unbuckled my safety restraint, so I could acquire some leverage to power my right hand straight. Accordingly, I stood parallel and wound up for what would be a heavy and powerful destructive blow.
I hit the cold, metal platform and wiped the metallic tasting bright red blood away from my nose.  
“And, that’s for stealing Anna Faith!”
I hopped up immediately; though, my lower jaw was still making friends with the floor.
“You’re alive! Man, I thought you were a goner,” I explained.
“Bruh, you be tripping,” he callously said.
“Okay…how about that tornado? What is the last thing you remember?”
“That was the most intense, scariest ride we have ever been on.”
“So, you do have some recollection of what it was like in the eye of the storm?” my voice raised.
“No…I went out just a moment after I saw your body go limp.”
“So, we really don’t know what occurred do we?”
“Nope. But man, I think we were out quite a long time.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because it is 4:57!”
“Then we are running late! Come on, forget the “Wesner Challenge”, we have to get to Disney’s Wide World of Sports!”
Hence, we proceeded to make the long three mile walk from the theme park to the parking garage. Surprisingly, no one else did. To elaborate, as we started walking towards the front of the park, not a single soul was present while the walking path was littered with food, ripped clothing, and memorabilia. Yet, that may not be the worse part, considering the iconic Universal globe was slowly sinking in the canal rather than rotating on land. Moreover, another landmark, the Island of Adventure light tower was nothing but a huge pile of bricks.
“How’d we survive this Peyton?”
“All credit to God man.”
“No seriously, how is it physically possible that we are still alive right now?”
“Well, how do we know the others on board didn’t just wake up prior to us and leave earlier?”
“That’s your theory?” sarcastically smarted Nick.
“That is what I will continue to believe until further notice.”
We arrived at a full parking garage with my phone announcing it was a quarter after five. Perhaps Nick’s hypothesis was correct to what happened to our fellow park goers, considering no cars had left from when we first arrived.
The drive across down was rather uneventful and silent, but on a positive, the closer to the ballpark we became, the more cars and people were seen. In fact, it seemed as though no storm had even transpired on the other side of Orlando, for the roads were dry and vacationers wore tank tops and tennis shoes. Yet, the aforementioned soon changed.
As soon as I parked the car—I would say about a half mile from the ballpark—the light blue skies were quickly consumed by dark, bumpy, threatening clouds.
More specifically, these clouds resembled the same rocky waves that resulted in the twister at Universal Studios.
            "It's the apocalypse Mommy!" screamed a young child as Nick and I started the walk to the stadium.
            "Here we go again…” muttered my brother surreally.
            Almost as if his squeak of a comment caused the skies to open, cold rain started to pelt everything in its jurisdiction.
“Come on!” I voiced, determined to withstand another catastrophic event.
Nick and I sprinted past the iconic ESPN Wide World of Sports’ globe and into Champion Stadium, the ballpark of the Atlanta Braves. Sweat was rolling down both of our faces and the taste of salt filled my taste buds because of it. Nevertheless, what met us was something neither of us were ready to re-encounter: A miniature hurricane was loose on the concourse.
Photo Courtesy of Pop Warner.
“You have got to be kidding me!” Nick screamed exhaustedly.
“Go there!” I screamed and pointed towards a small compartment under a condiment stand holding ketchup, mustard, and relish.
I slid under first as my little brother was shortly behind. The smell of fresh popcorn and rubbery hot dogs somehow filled the air and cued our mouths to water with saliva.
Mother Nature sent her beast closer and closer as it was approaching and consuming everything in its path.
I twirled around as if I took a right hand hook to the left cheek. My brother was holding onto the thin rod of the stand with his legs blown into the air by the twister.
I edged towards him, my clothes, which consisted of a yellow Pittsburgh Pirates’ t-shirt and black shorts, and my brown hair flapped and were nearly torn off by the wind.
“I gotcha buddy!” I said as I took his hand like someone holding onto a loved one hanging from the side of the Titanic.
Since my left hand had ahold of him, I tried to transfer it to my more dominant right hand.
“Don’t worry bro! I am going to switch hands so I can hold on long enough for the storm to pass.”
The only problem was, I was unable to make the conversion as my best friend sailed into the gray, debris-filled hurricane. I couldn’t believe I was unable to make the transfer as I had made a similar motion so many times before whether with past girlfriends or my parents when a young boy.
“NNNIIIIIIICCCCCCCKKK! Man, I am going to be so grounded!”
            And just like that, he was gone.
But, the hurricane wasn’t.
In fact, it was getting closer.
As the harsh breeze of the 107 miles per hour winds was ripping apart everything in its path, I cashed in all my poker chips and was ready to face death like Nick had.
I stood up calmly with my arms out like Jesus Christ on the cross, approximately 50 feet from the base of the hurricane.
Then out of nowhere I heard, “Peyton...Peyton. Come on Peyton!”
I looked around with a mouth that was as dry as the Arizona desert. There was no one in sight.
“Peyton, wake up! We have to go!” Whined the voice.
My straight right arm started to twitch as if someone was pulling it to get my attention.
“Well it has been a ride,” I thought.
At this moment, I was within arm’s reach of the end; however, the echo of “Wake up” persisted.
“Leave me alone!” I shouted referring to the youthful voice. “Can’t I go in peace?”
            My head flared with pain, for it seemed as though someone had elbowed me in the head, and I hit the concrete like a ton of bricks.
Subsequently, my lights went out for the second time that day.
I opened my eyes to see my little brother, not a hurricane, winding up for what had the indication to be a brutal haymaker.
“NICK!” I exclaimed excitedly.
I jumped on my brother and quickly put him in a friendly headlock.
“Yeah...that’s my name! Don’t wear it out bro.” He smiled.
“Man, I had a terrible dream about what was going to happen today,” I stated as I released him.
“Really? What went down?”
“Uh...nothing! Quick question though, what is today’s forecast?”
“100% chance of sunny skies AND GREAT BASEBALL!”
He pushed me playfully.

“Thank the Lord,” I sighed in relief. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Indianapolis Indians Weekly Update: Glasnow Turns in Another Great Start & Alen Hanson Continues Hot Hitting as Indianapolis Indians Finish Week 3-3

By Peyton Wesner

The Indianapolis Indians, finally back on the field and not inhibited by rain or snow, had a full week of action following Sunday's double-header with the Columbus Clippers. And they showed glimpses of the expectations put upon themselves due to the presence of the "Core Four" (Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Alen Hanson) in a week they finished 3-3.

April 12
Indianapolis 0, Toledo 3
W - Michael Fulmer (1-0)
L - Steven Brault (0-1)
S - Bruce Rondon (1)

During "Opening Weekend," the Toledo Mud Hens and the Indianapolis Indians both were limited to only one day of baseball. However, even though the road Indians entered more active, considering they played on Sunday while their opponent had three days off, they were quickly belted and found themselves in a 1-0 hole.

Left-hander Steven Brault started off his Triple-A debut rather rocky, for a personal error put MLB veteran Cameron Maybin on first. Furthermore, Dixon Machado displayed great patience at the plate, resulting in a walk, while Casey McGehee had a one-out base knock to load the bases for the dangerous Steven Moya.

Surprisingly, Moya, who entered Tuesday with two home runs in his four season at bats, didn't even have to do anything at the dish for the run to score. Why? Because Machado stole home!

On the other side of the ball, Detroit Tigers' top prospect Michael Fulmer was very dominant in his first start on Fifth Third Field 's bump. More specifically, he sent opposing batters back to the dugout empty handed. In fact, through the first three innings, he had four strikeouts while facing only one over the minimum. 

In the bottom of the 3rd, Toledo continued having their way with Brault. Starting with a Machado double and quickly ending with an RBI-single by the red-hot Moya, the Indianapolis' deficit swiftly grew to two.

Unfortunately on this night, two was more than enough. 

Sure, there were turbulent frames for Fulmer, like the 4th, when a base on balls to Josh Bell and a Jason Rogers' single set up shop with one out, and the 6th, where an error by Thomas Field kept the Indians alive for another rocket from Jason Rogers (this time a double). Nonetheless, MLB's 51st prospect ended the night perfect in terms of runs allowed as he induced a pop up of Danny Ortiz and a Willy Garcia groundout in the first jam while Drake Britton took the ball and saved the day by recording the third out in the 6th.

Aside from threatening in the two aforementioned scenarios, Lloyd McClendon's bullpen was lights out. The trio of Michael Crotta, Bobby Parnell, and Bruce Rondon fanned a total of six in the final three innings. Rondon, who was once thought to be the heir to the Tigers' closer job following Joe Nathan, easily recorded the save in the 9th despite surrendering a single to Jacob Stallings.

The Mud Hens concluded the nine with three runs, for Casey McGehee smacked his second hit, a single, that plated Machado in the 5th. Indians' starter Brault was already chased from the mound at that point and posted a statline of two earned runs in four innings pitched.

Pittsburgh Pirates' top positional prospect Josh Bell was held hitless in three official at bats while Alen Hanson smacked two base hits. Jason Rogers was 2-for-4. 

April 13
Indianapolis 4, Toledo 2
W - Jameson Taillon (1-0)
L - Matt Boyd (1-1)
S - Trey Haley (1)

September 6, 2013. That was the last time 2010 1st round pick Jameson Taillon was making a professional start as Tommy John surgery and a hernia kept the 24-year old out of action. Thus, April 13, 2016, was more than just a start for the righty and instead his long awaited return.

He didn't disappoint.

Throwing only 85 pitches, Taillon went six strong and allowed only one earned run while recording six strikeouts. 

Appearing unpromising immediately, the second Toledo batter of the contest, Dixon Machado, roped a triple to the right field corner, quickly putting the home team in business. Next up was former San Francisco Giant Nate Schierholtz and his bat found good wood in the form of an RBI-double. 

Now, this is where a gut-check moment found the starting pitcher as Casey McGehee and Steven Moya were looming with a runner in scoring position. Nevertheless, Taillon kept his composure by inducing the fourth hitter into a groundout in addition to pumping a fastball past the bat of the  home run hitting outfielder.

With damage limited in the 1st, Indianapolis picked up their starter thanks to a bases-loaded line-drive double from Jason Rogers. Two scored on the third hit of the series by the former Milwaukee Brewer and run support was finally provided. 

After the unideal start, Taillon had his best pitches working. Hence, the results were superb since he faced the minimum over the next four. Though, with the score 3-1 (Danny Ortiz run scoring groundout in the 6th) in favor of Indianapolis, the lanky Texas native ran into more trouble even though the first two were sent back in order. 

It began with a Machado single and was followed by Schierholtz producing a base knock of his own. That brought up Casey McGehee; yet, just like in the 1st, Taillon bested the experienced veteran by presenting an offering that resulted in a flyout. Inning over.

Far succeeding the leave of Toledo starter Matt Boyd (5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, & 5 SO), the Indians' Rogers continued to leave his mark on this one with his third RBI. 

Although the Mud Hens' Machado was able to cut the margin to two in the bottom of the 8th (RBI single), Trey Haley shut the door for the Tribe in the 9th. 

April 14
Columbus 1, Indianapolis 5
W - Wilfredo Boscan (1-0)
L - Will Roberts (0-1)
S - Trey Haley (2)

No rain? Check! 60 degree weather guaranteed? Check! Filled stands as far as the eye can see? Check!

The home opener for 2016 Indianapolis Indians' baseball brought a familiar foe into the friendly confines of Victory Field.

But, unlike the last meeting between the two in the state capital, the home team ended the night on top.

A pitchers' dual early, Columbus' Will Roberts and Indianapolis' Wilfredo Boscan stifled their respective opposition. However, the prior could not sustain the effectiveness, for he "gift-wrapped" a delivery to Gift Ngoepe; one he would smack for a double. Next up was shortstop Alen Hanson and he bunted a slow roller to the Clippers' third baseman Ronny Rodriguez. 

The ball dribbled down the third base line before Rodriguez flipped the ball to the catcher in the hope of gunning Ngoepe. Safe! While Hanson was thrown out attempting to get into scoring position, the most important fact was the Indians' had a one-run advantage.

Make that two.

Seeing the ball better and better as the game went on, Dan Gamache drove home Willy Garcia with an RBI double to move the gap to two. 

While the Indians' offense was clicking on all cylinders, Boscan was continuing to be the Triple-A stud he was a year ago (10-3 record and 3.07 ERA) by sitting down batter after batter.

The 26-year old minor league starter exited the matchup scattering five hits in six shutout innings. Additionally, he possessed a five run lead upon exit as Ngoepe and Hanson caused havoc to start the bottom of 5th (Hanson would triple home Ngoepe) prior to Adam Frazier playing small ball with an sacrifice fly. Furthermore, in the bottom half of the 6th, Ngoepe drilled an RBI double to left.

Granted, late inning drama did ensue following Boscan's departure, such as former Indianapolis Indian Michael Martinez plating a run via an RBI double and two on base for the very capable Adam Moore and Michael Choice. Yet, a former Clipper Trey Haley sank Columbus with a pair of strikeouts, one swinging and one looking, to ring the Victory Bell and send 13,233 fans home with a smile.

As anyone probably could have guessed when reading through the series of events, the middle infield of the Indians' was instrumental in the victory, for they combined for five hits, three runs, and two RBIs (Ngoepe was 3-for-4 with two runs and 1 RBI while Hanson was 2-for-4 with a run and a RBI). Josh Bell was 1-for-3 while Jason Rogers went hitless.

April 15
Columbus 2, Indianapolis 3 (F/11)
W - Jorge Rondon (1-0)
L - Shawn Armstrong (0-1) 
HR - Indianapolis' Josh Bell (1)

We're going streaking!

Riding their first multi-game winning streak of the season, the Indianapolis Indians' looked to keep marching through IL West opponents in the second of a four game series against Columbus. 

Starting the game for the Clippers was the phenomenal Mike Clevinger. Clevinger, who out dueled Tyler Glasnow on April 10, had been untouchable in his past three Triple-A starts dating back to the first round of the Governors' Cup Playoffs. 

On this day, he was not the same pitcher.

Immediately, he flew through turbulence considering he found himself with two runners on and only one gone in the 1st. However, he kept his stature and prevented any runs from being put on the scoreboard.

Chad Kuhl was throwing for Dean Treanor's club. Kuhl has been equally impressive each of the past two seasons as he had recorded double-digit victory totals with Single-A Advanced Bradenton in 2014 and Double-A Altoona in 2015. But, the Clippers could careless with their opponent's accolades considering they struck first on a Ronny Rodriguez base knock that drove home Robbie Grossman (walked) in the 2nd. Moreover, 2015 Governors' Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player Michael Choice got in on the act by driving home a familiar speedster (Grossman) to improve the lead to 2-0. 

Two runs? Plenty of run support for Mike Clevinger, right? 

Not Friday.

Just as swiftly as he and the Clippers acquire the lead, Pittsburgh Pirates' top positional prospect Josh Bell brought the crowd to their feet with a grown man, fourth inning, two-run round-tripper to straight away center. Indianapolis' shortstop Max Moroff walked to start the frame, setting up shop for the future MLB star and no doubt was the "Bell rung."

With both teams engaged in practically a new ball game, the scoring slowed down drastically. More specifically, no runs were scored for the next six innings! In fact, aside from two runners (one Clipper and one Indian), no player made it past second bases during the aforementioned time span.

Thus, one can imagine how restless the fans that sticked around for all eleven innings were when Alen Hanson began the bottom of the 11th with a strikeout to Shawn Armstrong in addition to Adam Frazier drawing a walk and then being thrown out at second base. 

Hope was not lost though!

Armstrong, now in his second frame of work, was having great trouble finding the strike zone. Moreover, he issued free passes to Moroff and Bell, setting up two on and two out for Danny Ortiz.

Ortiz was 0-for-4 before the plate appearance and 1-for-5 after.

Lofting a fly ball over the head of Columbus' right fielder Robbie Grossman, Ortiz had the most meaningful hit of the night as Moroff rounded third and was safe at home.

April 16
Columbus 2, Indianapolis 1
W - Austin Adams (1-0)
L - John Kuchno (0-1)
HR - Columbus' Jesus Aguilar (2) & Indianapolis' Danny Ortiz

When watching the future of Major League Baseball, there are bound to be nights that the crowd is witnessing greatness.

That was the case Saturday night with Pittsburgh Pirates' top prospect Tyler Glasnow on the hill.

Glasnow, who made his first start of the season in a 1-0 defeat, was on a mission for redemption at Victory Field, displayed by him tip-toeing out of a one-out jam. Former MLB Top 100 prospects Robbie Grossman and Jesus Aguilar had both singled off the lanky right hander, opening up a great opportunity with runners in scoring position for Joey Butler.


After the fanning of the number four hitter, Giovanny Urshela stepped to the plate and suffered the same fate (so did many more).

Hurling for the Clippers was not the same individual that faced off against Glasnow in his first start of 2016 but rather Jarrett Grube.

Nevertheless, he also had a rocky first inning, for a fielding error by Jesus Aguilar permitted Adam Frazier to reach before walking Max Moroff. Immediately the Indianapolis Indians were threatening with no outs in the frame. However, Grube kept his cool by retiring Josh Bell with runners on first and second as well as Jason Rogers and Dan Gamache with two runners in scoring position. If anyone could infer anything from the first inning, it had to be that it was going to be a pitching dual.

Or maybe not.

After Glasnow swiftly picked up his fourth and fifth strikeouts in the forms of Adam Moore and Ronny Rodriguez, Grube was back on the mound attempting to stay consistent.


Danny Ortiz, the hero of Friday night, got a hold of an offering and sent it over the right field wall for his first blast of the season. The mistake would be the only such of Grube's three innings of one run ball.

Glasnow, finally given run support to work with, continued to throw "cannonballs" at ship after ship. Robbie Grossman? He went down swinging. Joey Butler? He had a similar fate. Adam Moore and Ronny Rodriguez? Swinging...swinging! MLB's 8th overall prospect was looking unstoppable!

Until Anthony Recker came up in the top of the 5th. 

Recker, the former catcher of the New York Mets, had avoided a strikeout his first plate appearance and instead flew out to right field. This time he singled to left. 

One batter? So what?

You're right; however, Michael Choice  was next up and he sent a laser grounder past Gamache and down the third baseline. Attempting to cut it off was left fielder Adam Frazier; though, he could only get the ball back into the infield after Recker scored and the scoreboard read: Clippers 1, Indians 1. 

Despite being near 80 pitches for the game, Dean Treanor kept his ace in the ballgame to work out of trouble, which he did with a flyout of Michael Martinez. Nonetheless, damage was already done.

Similar to Opening Night at Victory Field, the Columbus Clippers and Indianapolis Indians' bullpens both assumed their position of dominance in and old fashioned battle of wills. Hence, no runner reached from the bottom of the 5th heading into the 8th inning. Yet, Ohio State product and Indians' long reliever John Kuchno found himself in danger during the third inning of his Triple-A debut.

There were runners on first and second with just one gone in the inning. The hungry Robbie Grossman was at the plate desiring to collect the tie-breaking RBI. 

The ball was a shot off the bat. But, a 'shot' that was right at Gift Ngoepe, who tagged second base before gliding a throw to Jason Rogers to convert the double play. 

In the bottom of the 8th, Toru Murata left quite the pickle for Austin Adams to clean up. There was the speedy Ngoepe on first base and one out in the inning. Scratch that! Make it two on, for Moroff drew a walk. The two batters any Tribe fan could dream of having up with runners on (Josh Bell and Jason Rogers) would have their chance to leave their fingerprint on the first home Saturday of 2016.

Whiff! Whiff! 

The dynamic duo both went down swinging and it was still knotted at 1 heading to the 9th.

First up for the Clippers in possibly their last crack was Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar was the source of the only run from Game 1 of April 10's doubleheader. 

And he left his mark on this game as well, for he blasted (I mean absolutely blasted) a Kuchno offering high into the Indianapolis' skyline before it landed with a thud in the left field lawn section. 2-1 Clippers.

Although Danny Ortiz was able to get on with two outs in the bottom half of the 9th by a double, Indians' catcher Jacob Stallings squared a pitch a little too well as it hung in the air long enough for Columbus' Michael Choice to run in and seize the victory for the Clippers.

On a night that the Indians had only three total hits, Ortiz supplied two on the evening while Willy Garcia had the other. The first five hitters in the order were held hitless and struck out five times in 16 at bats. Aside from surrendering the home run to Aguilar, John Kuchno concluded his first appearance at the Triple-A level with a formidable four innings of one run ball. Tyler Glasnow had nine strikeouts over five innings.

April 17
Columbus 8, Indianapolis 7 (F/11)
W - Jeff Johnson (1-0)
L - Trey Haley (0-1)
S - Nick Maronde (1)
HR - Columbus' Jesus Aguilar (3) and Indianapolis' Max Moroff (1)

Sunday brought the finale of a four game set between the two best teams from the 2015 International League.


On a offensive oriented day that had fans witness one more run being plated than the first three games of the series, the Columbus Clippers salvaged a four game split of the Indians with a victory.

This one began almost identically to the first matchup of the season, for Jesus Aguilar sent his IL leading third home run to straight away center for a one run advantage.

However, the edge did not last long for the Indians' picked up their boomsticks and began teeing off on former Cleveland Indian TJ House. It commenced with a one-out double by Gift Ngoepe, bringing up Josh Bell. And unlike the night before, the top positional prospect of the Pittsburgh Pirates rocketed a single to left field. But, it had too much speed on it to score a run, for outfielder Michael Choice swiftly threw the ball back into the infield. Nevertheless, Jason Rogers added a base knock of his own to supply the first tie of the contest. 

Surprisingly, from the 1-1 score, a miniature pitching dual broke out. That's right, for three innings no runs were added by either side as House and Indianapolis' Steven Brault did an excellent job stranding runners and avoiding back-to-back hits. 

Soon the floodgates were back open for business, for Columbus' Erik Gonzalez had an RBI single that brought home Anthony Recker in the top of the 5th. The Indians one upped their adversary in their portion of the frame through consecutive run plating doubles by Josh Bell and Jason Rogers. Bell presented the initial hole in the hull by bringing home two while the former Brewer chipped in one.

The Clippers came sailing back in large part to small ball. Ronny Rodriguez grounded into a fielder's choice in the 6th while Joey Butler soared a deep sacrifice fly the following inning. Moreover, they seized the lead on a Urshella RBI single with two outs. 

Just as the Indiana Pacers/Toronto Raptors game the day before, back and forth action ensued on offense. To elaborate, Max Moroff showcased a little pop in a two-run home run, which gave the Indians the lead before Columbus' Gonzalez sent home another on a single to right field, ultimately tying it at six. Furthermore, in the 10th, Gonzalez collected his third RBI of the day on a sacrifice fly prior to Indianapolis' Dan Gamache causing the fourth tie of the afternoon.

Yet, there would not be a 5th since Ronny Rodriguez, who had a good day at the dish (2-for-6, 2 RBIs), tripled with two outs, scoring Urshella.

Just kidding?

To lead off the bottom of the 11th, Alen Hanson turned on the after-burners for a triple. The Indians were in business! Next up was Gift Ngoepe. 


He fanned; however, Josh Bell was strolling to the plate in a position where a sacrifice fly would forgo an immediate defeat.


The Jeff Johnson offering darted off the bat of Bell towards now third baseman Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar had just moved to the position earlier in the inning when Michael Choice left due to injury. Despite the previous, he speared the line drive for the second out before running over to third base and doubling off Hanson.


Hanson didn't have a large secondary lead; yet, the quick nature of the Bell liner gave Aguilar an opportunity to end the game by beating the Pirates' shortstop prospect to the bag, which he did.

Unlike the day before, the first five hitters in the Indianapolis Indians' lineup was dynamite Sunday. Jason Rogers had arguably the best day out of his teammates as he was 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. Josh Bell finished the series on a 2-for-5, 2 RBIs, run scored performance while Alen Hanson was 3-for-5. Gift Ngoepe chipped in a pair of runs scored with two hits. All Indians pitchers permitted at least one run to come across the plate.

What's On Tap
April 18 - 7:05 PM EST
TOL - Matt Boyd (1-1, 1.64 ERA)
IND - Jameson Taillon (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

April 19 - 11:05 AM EST
TOL - Thad Weber (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
IND - Wilfredo Boscan (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

April 20 - 1:35 PM EST
IND - Chad Kuhl (0-0, 3.86 ERA)

Who To Watch
---Alen Hanson: .381 BA, 3 R, & RBI.

---Jason Rogers: .333 BA, 2 R, HR, & 7 RBI.

---Josh Bell: .231 BA, 3 R, HR, & 6 RBI.

---Steven Moya: .333 BA, 5 R, 2 HR, & 7 RBI.

---Casey McGehee: .240 BA, 3 R, & 2 RBI.

---Cameron Maybin: .208 BA, 2 R, & 4 RBI.

IL West Standings
1. Toledo 5-2
2. Indianapolis 4-4
3. Columbus 4-5
4. Louisville 3-5

***Indianapolis Indians' photos: Courtesy of David Hague Photo (@DHPhoto11)
***Steven Moya photo: Courtesy of the Toledo Mud Hens and
***Jesus Aguilar photo: Courtesy of Chris Russell and "The Columbus Dispatch"