LOTS of Chop items today…
This writer had a great day yesterday. Over the next several days, I’m going to be letting y’all in on the things I learned while being hosted by Kyle Tait – the radio voice of the AA Mississippi Braves as they are now in the midst of their final regular season series for 2014. I am literally up at 6 am writing this because my brain wants to burst from all the “stuff” that I’m trying to figure out just how to present to you on these pages. So here’s some teasers of Coming Attractions.
- 2014 Braves’ first round pick Jason Hursh (poor guy probably got the most annoying questions)
- 2011 3rd round pick Kyle Kubitza
- 2011 37th round pick Ryne Harper
- pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn, who had several cups of coffee in the majors from 1975-1982 en route to a lifetime 4-4 record
There was also a solid hour with Tait, who I’ll also highlight below. We talked about a huge range of topics – himself, radio philosophy, players on this team, answers to several questions I’ve been getting from you, the minor league grind, Guam, franchises around the Southern League, their stadiums, and much more.
Southern League Broadcaster of the Year
[Editor’s note: yes – it’s the M-Braves’ Kyle Tait. I’ll get to Miranda’s Piece in a second, for she wrote up a ton of stuff about Kyle that I won’t have to re-do when I get to talk about him myself next week. News about this award was quite literally breaking as I was talking with him. As a result, he was getting congratulatory kudos – plus the expected harassment from the next booth – all afternoon. In fact, I’m pretty much the one to blame for Kyle being delayed on returning thanks for the tweets coming in from well-wishers. Oops.
But it really speaks volumes when the General Manager for the opposing club bursts in to the tiny room not only offer his own congratulations, but to go into an extended, unsolicited explanation about why he had nominated Kyle for that award himself – even all the while noting that the Mississippi club hadn’t even set foot in Huntsville this year until the night before. Kyle had already mentioned to me the kind of things he did to prepare for broadcasts – a level of detail that many of us wouldn’t understand – and this GM recognized that work, citing it as a basis for his nomination.
So while I’ll have more on Kyle and what he does later on, I do highly recommend the full article that I am excerpting here. ]
PEARL, MS — As announced by The Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs this afternoon, Mississippi Braves radio broadcaster Kyle Tait has been named the 2014 Southern League Radio Broadcaster of the Year. Tait has been the “Voice of the M-Braves” on WYAB 103.9 FM for the past four seasons.
“What a tremendous and humbling honor it is to be recognized by the league and my peers this year,” Tait said. “It’s been a special and record-setting season for the Braves and it only makes the broadcast that much better with the team winning.”
Tait began his play-by-play career in 2007 calling Georgia Tech baseball. Since then, he has called more than 800 baseball games, including over 500 with the Double-A Braves.
Tait’s resume also includes a stint hosting “The Kyle Tait Show” in Jackson, MS, and a season as color commentator for Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball.
Braves Sign Indy Ball’s Hardest-Throwing Pitcher
It wasn’t that many years ago that an independent leaguer throwing 92-93 mph would be notable. But the ever-increasing velocity around the game has spread to the indy leagues as well.
Now we have a triple-digit indy baller.
Windy City’s closer Danny Carela more often sits at 96-97 mph. But he will pop a few 98s and 99s most every time out, and he’s flashed a 100 mph pitch or two in the past month.
And now Carela, who considered retiring after he was released by the Indians this spring, is back in affiliated ball. The Braves signed him on Thursday and plan to add him to the high Class A Lynchburg roster for the final weekend of the regular season.
This won’t be Carela’s first foray into affiliated ball. The Mets signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 2009 and he pitched for them for two years. He pitched in the Dodgers system in 2011, and was re-signed by the Dodgers in 2012 after a stint in Joliet. He pitched for the Phillies in 2013, making it back to high Class A.
Carela had a spring training shot with the Indians this year. But he tried to pitch through an ankle injury that cut 6-7 mph off his fastball. When the Indians released him, he thought about putting his glove away.
Windy City manager Ron Biga wouldn’t let that happen. He’d gotten to know Carela during his time as Joliet’s director of baseball operations and had kept in touch with Carela ever since.
[ Editor's note: Carela got into last night's game for the Hillcats (recapped below), replacing an injured Benino Pruneda (injury unknown). There's a conflict between the play-by-play and the box score, but it seems that Carela had some nerves after him in this first appearance. He allowed a run on a sacrifice fly in the 7th after walking 2 to load the bases, then one more in the 8th, but also struck out a pair... only the one ball was put into put among 5 batters and 1 full inning of work. ]
[Lynchburg] Hillcats top Carolina, 5-4, maintain wild-card lead
Two teams involved in separate Wild Card races needed 10 innings to determine a winner, but the Hillcats prevailed in an extra-inning thriller with a 5-4 victory at Carolina Friday night to maintain a one game lead over Frederick in the Northern Division standings.
After Lynchburg (33-33, 67-69) held a lead three different times only to see Carolina (32-34, 61-72) tie the game on each occasion, Will Skinner finally delivered the decisive blow in extra frames. Emerson Landoni singled to open the 10th and advanced to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run with Eric Garcia. With two outs, Skinner drove in Landoni for his second RBI of the game and 52nd of the year to give the Hillcats a 5-4 advantage.
Nate Hyatt (5-3) recorded the first out of the bottom of the 10th to complete two scoreless innings of relief and earn the victory. Alex Wilson came on for the final two outs to improve to 16-for-16 in save opportunities this year. The loss went to Grant Sides, who fell to 4-2 on the season.
[Danville] Braves clinch playoffs with win over Pirates
DANVILLE, VA - The Danville Braves have clinched a playoff spot with a big regular season finale victory over the Bristol Pirates by the score of 6-1. Along with a victory from the Bluefield Blue Jays over the Pulaski Mariners, the Danville Braves have sealed a spot in the playoffs and are set up to square off against the Princeton Rays in the first round.
Andrew Waszak threw a great game in what turned out to be the fourth win of the season for the right hander. In the final game of the regular season, Waszak threw 6.0 innings, allowing just one run on seven hits, without walking any batters. Waszak also struck out five, and with the one run performance lowered his ERA to 4.44 on the season.
Oh! There was a major league game, too!
Craig Kimbrel became the first player ever to notch 40+ saves in each of his first 4 full major league seasons while starter Ervin Santana fought through 6 tough innings as the Atlanta Braves scored late and scored often to defeat the Miami Marlins, 5-2.