You see that red circle up there in the club level of First Tennessee Park? Well, I’m excited to say I have Picked My Seat, for that is where this Soundbytes blogger will be set up.
What does the view look like from such a great location? Something like this.
SoundBytes is excited about taking in baseball with such a great view in 2015. But don’t worry, the press aren’t the only attendees getting a great vantage of the city, because every view at First Tennessee Park is going to be great!
It was announced on December 2 that Steve Scarsone would be the 26th manager in Nashville Sounds’ history. The 48-year old will be entering his third season as the skipper for Oakland’s top minor league affiliate and his seventh overall season in the Athletics organization. The veteran manager compiled a .549 winning percentage over the last two years at Triple-A and has recorded winning seasons in five of his eight years at the helm.
He took some time recently to answer a few questions regarding his playing career, family and of course, coming to the South. In part one of our interview with Nashville’s newest manager, we talk Nashville and First Tennessee Park.
Nashville Sounds: Oakland’s announcement for minor league coaching staff happened just two weeks ago. Of course, it revealed you landing in Nashville. What were the initial thoughts of coming to Music City?
Steve Scarsone: We had heard that Nashville was a possible landing spot for the team for a while. Everyone was really excited about the announcement when it came. The city of Nashville isn’t normally the type of city you find a minor league team in. I would call it a Major League city. I’m excited about getting to know parts of Nashville that you can’t see when just playing there four days as a visiting team. I imagine there are a lot of places that visiting players are not able to familiarize themselves with, so that’ll be cool.
I think being in Nashville will allow the team to form its own identity. Being separated from Oakland a bit should help the morale of our team. I feel like it will be an overall better experience for the club.
I’ve talked to my staff and they’re excited about coaching as well. They’ve got the energy and attitude to make the most of their time in Nashville. Don Schulze will be the pitching coach and Webster Garrison will be the hitting coach and both are coming off successful campaigns with Midland’s championship season, so I’m looking forward to working with them.
Probably the most exciting part of the announcement is the new facility that’s being built. It is going to be something really special.
Nashville Sounds: It definitely is a very exciting time around the city with the development of First Tennessee Park. Have you seen any of the plans for the park or kept up with its progress at all? What kind of excitement does a new park give to you?
Steve Scarsone: Every couple of weeks I find myself on the website to check the progress. It’s kind of cool to see the construction cam and all the different things that are going on. We got a chance to drive by the site when the club played Nashville late in the season. Unfortunately we weren’t able to walk around it or go inside at all but it seemed like a cool area.
I’ve read up a little bit about the history of the site and how they are going to bring that history back. I’m a big fan of baseball history, and seeing some of the things that happened in the area several years ago coming back to life is truly fun to watch. I really can’t say enough about how excited that makes me.
We’ll have more from new Sounds Manager Steve Scarsone coming soon!
The Arizona Fall League announced members of the 2014 All-Prospects Team on Wednesday. The league announced 22 different prospects including one player from 16 different organizations. The managers and coaches of the league voted on the members of the team, keeping in mind their performance over the fall and their projected future in the MLB.
Shortstop Daniel Robertson, first baseman Matt Olson and right-hander Chris Bassitt all garnered a spot on the All-Prospects list. Both Robertson and Olson were supplemental first round picks for Oakland in 2012. Bassitt was recently acquired from the Chicago White Sox and completed his 4th professional season in 2014. The Athletics were one of only two organizations to feature three different players on the squad (Los Angeles Dodgers).
RHP – Chris Bassitt: At the start of play, Bassitt was still a member of the Chicago White Sox organization and thus pitched for the Glendale Desert Dogs. The University of Akron product turned in a solid fall. He posted an impressive 0.69 ERA (1er/13.0ip) in six relief outings. Bassitt failed to allow a home run, recorded a 0.92 WHIP and .184 average against, and led the league with a 15.23 strikeouts per nine innings. His most eye-popping stat may be the 7.33 K/BB ratio though, fanning 22 and walking three. The right-hander was one of only two relievers named to the All-Prospects Team.
After getting a late start to the season due to a broken right hand, the hurler buzzed his way through Double-A and made the jump for his Major League debut in 2014. Five of his six appearances were starts with his best performance coming on September 22 at Detroit (W, 7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K). Overall, he went 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA (13er/29.2ip) with the White Sox.
1B – Matt Olson: The first baseman made the All-Prospects Team despite missing the final two weeks of the fall league after sustaining a shoulder injury during a collision at first base. He saw 11 games of action and batted .257 (9-for-35) with 11 runs scored and four home runs. He displayed his patience at the plate by walking 10 times compared to nine strikeouts. His 1.120 OPS was fueled by his six extra-base hits, two of them being home runs in the October 11 game against Peoria.
Olson showed great improvement during his 2014 campaign. After struggling at the plate (.225) with Single-A Beloit in 2013, he was assigned to Advanced-A Stockton where he compiled a .262/.404/.543 line. The slugger lowered his strikeout totals (from 148 to 137) and drew more walks (from 72 to 117), proving himself to be more selective at the plate. He finished with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs during his 138 games, both of which were tops among all Oakland farmhands.
SS – Daniel Robertson: One of the most consistent players in the whole league, Robertson was one of only a handful of MVP nominees. He was named to the East Division squad for the Fall Stars Game on November 1 and finished the season with a .301 average (22-for-73) in 20 games. The 20-year old posted a .398 OBP courtesy of 11 walks and the team-leading mark in hits. He drove in 12 runs and was named the Player of the Week during Week 3 (4 G, .556, 8 RBI, 5 R).
Robertson’s was recently named the Athletics’ top prospect by Baseball America. He spent his full season with Stockton and posted an impressive .310/.402/.471 line. The former first-round pick scored 110 runs, hit 37 doubles, blasted 15 home runs and compiled 60 RBIs. He played in 123 games at shortstop with a .964 fielding percentage. Many believe Robertson will plant himself in the middle of the infield for the Athletics soon.
The Oakland Athletics announced minor league coaching responsibilities for the upcoming 2015 season. The release included the staff for the Nashville Sounds initial season at First Tennessee Park. Most notably, Steve Scarsone, former big leaguer and manager of Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate the past two seasons, was named the 26th manager in Sounds’ franchise history. Read more here.
As the temperatures drop, every player has a different set of offseason plans. Some of them participate in baseball leagues around the world. Others prepare to spend time with family and do some traveling. Whatever happens, things always end up presented in an entertaining way on social media.
Josh Lindblom is all about those cough drops
Josh Whitaker provided a strange truth to the world
Ryan Doolittle was able to produce a healthy, productive season in 2014
Here’s to hoping Rudy Owens brings his perm to Nashville
Seth Frankoff came across a unique sight
Billy Burns gave a shout out during an important day of the year
Daniel Robertson was obviously watching Sunday Night Football
Tucker Healy really likes chocolate
The big news coming out of Oakland on Wednesday was the signing of free agent Billy Butler. The splash that the transaction left may have overshadowed another signing: minor league pitcher Pat Venditte.
While Venditte has yet to reach the Major League level, he has excelled during his seven professional seasons to the tune of a 2.46 ERA in 242 games. The reliever appeared with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in parts of 2012 and 2014, spending the majority of last season with the Yankees’ top minor league affiliate.
The acquisition of Venditte is out of the ordinary though due to the fact that the 29-year old is ambidextrous. The switch-pitcher is a natural right-hander but has thrown with both arms since he was three years old.
The former Creighton Bluejay is the only pitcher in professional baseball that pitches to hitters with both his left and right arms. He works on the mound with a six-finger glove capable of allowing him to switch pitching hands with ease. Essentially Venditte has the potential to obtain the upper hand with every at-bat.
Many fans may remember a clip a couple years back of Venditte going back-and-forth with a switch hitter (view above). That episode forced the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation to create a specific rule.
Rule 801(f) states: “A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch…”
Not only can he throw with both hands, but if the opportunity of hitting arises, Venditte can appear from both sides of the plate. While it may be some time til the seven-year veteran gets to bat in a game, he undoubtedly hopes for the chance to do so in a Major League uniform.
Athletics’ farmhand Daniel Robertson concluded his Arizona Fall League with a .301/.398/.356 stat line. The infielder played 20 games at shortstop during the exclusive offseason league, recording team-high marks in hits (22) and runs scored (13).
Robertson was awarded the AFL Player of the Week on October 28 after batting .556 (10-for-18) with a homer, eight RBIs and five runs scored in just four games.
Oakland’s top prospect is considered the Athletics’ shortstop of the future. He provides plenty of range for a middle infielder and even has the flare to make tough plays look easy (see above video).
Robertson is coming off a successful year with the Advanced-A Stockton Ports. With a .310 batting average and .402 on-base percentage, he ended up on the leaderboard for all of Minor League Baseball with 170 hits (3rd) and 110 runs scored (4th). The former first-round pick also showed more pop in his bat than years past, blasting 15 home runs with 60 RBIs in 132 games.
A’s fans need to keep a close eye on the 20-year old Robertson who could be in for a breakout campaign during 2015.
Construction at First Tennessee Park continues to progress. Lights are going up and seating bowls are starting to take shape. Check out more by visiting the media gallery on the park’s website.
Construction on First Tennessee Park continues to progress as the baseball season approaches. Fans have the chance of securing season tickets now to be apart of the inaugural year at a new park. Don’t forget to check out the park’s website for updated construction photos and a live webcam as well.