Relive History: The Tepesch/Reyes No-Hitter

With Myrtle Beach off on Monday there may be a little Pelicans withdrawl — or you might just want to relive the Pelicans first nine-inning no-hitter in team history.  In case you haven’t heard it, find below postgame audio from Nick Tepesh and Jimmy Reyes along with pitching coach Brad Holman.  You can also listen to the whole ninth inning again, and read quotes from catcher Tomas Telis and third baseman Christian Villanueva:






…on the nerves of making sure no balls get through the infield

“We did our best.  We saved all those hits and tried to make all those plays and we did it.”

…on Roman Hernandez’s hard hit ball to his left in the fifth inning

“I was ready for everything.  I didn’t want to let any ball past so I did my best.  You feel excited.  You want everything [to come your way].”

TOMAS TELIS (through Wilmer Font)

…on catching a no-hitter

“I feel good.  It was my first no-hitter.  It feels like the finals.  I was very nervous in the last inning because of the situation and the pressure.”

Bus Ride Comfort…Just $3

So the Pelicans have arrived in Wilmington.  No, not North Carolina.  They’re in the Wilmington in Delaware.  You know, just south of Philadelphia.

Myrtle Beach to Wilmington happens to be the longest bus trip in the Carolina League.  Well good thing the Pelicans only had to drive from Winston-Salem, cutting the trip down to a measly seven hours, or about the amount of time it takes to watch Titanic (complete with Rose not make enough room on the floating board for Jack) two and a half times.

Anyway, the team rolled into its hotel just before 7am this morning, well past bedtime.  Sure, most of the team hit the hay as soon as they got to their rooms, but everybody caught at least a little shuteye during the trip — each with his own method to the madness.  There’s always the conventional “sleep sitting up” routine.  If that’s not your style you can always use my technique, called the “curl up into a ball and lay across your two seats.”

But what if chair sleeping isn’t something you’re up for?  Well, do I have the solution for you.  It’s common practice on a baseball bus that players will lay down in the aisles in order to both A) sleep laying down and B) stretch out.  This, however, can tend to be a little uncomfortable anyway (the ground is hard and sometimes hot) and dirty (it is the floor).

A few Pelicans had solutions to the aforementioned floor problems last night.  Outfielder Josh Richmond stopped by the Family Dollar next to the Winston-Salem hotel and picked up a mattress pad.  Not a bed at the Ritz, but it’s certainly better than the floor’s linoleum.  Christian Villanueva went one step further and purchased a blanked, an idea only bested by strength coach Ryan McNeal’s use of a brand name Snuggie.

Side Note: Brett Nicholas had a queen size air mattress with him too.  It was delivered to him with the rest of his stuff from his old teammates in Hickory, which is an hour or so from Winston-Salem.  The idea of inflating the mattress and putting it on top of the bus seats was discussed, but discarded.

Now as ingenious at mattress pads and blankets may seem, that’s just too conventional for a handful of Pelicans.  There was a trio that took traveling in comfort to a whole new level.  Of course, by the way, they would be members of @CrawdadsBullpen.

Reyes’ bed stored away after the ride

Pelicans relievers Ben Henry, Joe Van Meter and Jimmy Reyes spent the night on the ground…on pool floaties.  Yes…you know the things that you lay out on to tan or relax while at the pool.  They used those.

“Mine actually popped,” Henry said.  “I don’t know if it popped actually, but it just deflated.  I still slept like a champ though.”

The idea actually dates back to last season in Low-A.  While anticipating the long ride home from Lakewood (NJ) and Delmarva (MD), the pitchers and Luke Jackson (who’s still in Hickory) went to Dicks and sought out camping gear.  Understandably, it wasn’t the cheapest stuff in the world — $40 for some comfort.  But the $3 floatie on the next stand over….now that’s a bargain.

“For $3 if it provides any kind of comfort…” Henry said, comparing the ‘bed’ to an air mattress.

The move also opens up the chairs for one person to use four seats.  With one guy on the ground and asleep on his floatie, the guy who sits across from him can lay out across the aisle for added comfort.

“Like a bunk bed,” Reyes said.

As to what happens if the guy on top falls…

“It’s a Pelicans sandwich,” Reyes replied.


“Barack Wasn’t Near So I Couldn’t Say Hi”

I don’t know why, but for some reason there’s one memory that sticks in my head from my time working with the Buffalo Bisons. Well, there are a lot of memories, but this one is among them…

New York Mets pitcher Dillon Gee, then a prospect, looked at me as he got on the bus for a roadtrip.  “Where’s Lehigh Valley?” Gee said.  I grew up in Allentown, PA, so to me that seemed like a silly question.  “Seriously, where is it?” Gee followed.  “I’m from Texas.”

That brings us to Pelicans first baseman Brett Nicholas, well traveled, but new to the east coast.  Nicholas is from Phoenix, AZ.  He went to college at Gonzaga and Missouri and played last season mostly in Spokane.  So bottom line, he’s really never explored this part of the county.

So that’s why Nicholas ventured out during the recent 10-game Pelicans roadtrip.  See, the trip began in Woodbridge, VA, about a half hour outside of Washington, DC.  Wanting to explore, Nicholas and pitcher Ben Rowen took their Saturday morning and headed to the nation’s capitol.

Nicholas stopping by the White House

“I’m from Arizona,” Nicholas said.  The biggest thing we’ve got is a giant hole in the ground (Grand Canyon).  So it’s nice to go see a bunch of history.  You vote every four years, but you don’t really see where it gets to go.  It’s something cool where you get to say ‘this is where the people that are working for me go, or working for the people of Arizona.'”Of course, though, there is a lot to see in DC…and it was kind of amusing listening to Nicholas try to sort it out and prioritize.”Isn’t there a museum there?” Nicholas said to me at batting practice.

“The Smithsonian?” I replied.

“Yeah, that one,” Nicholas said.  “The one from Night at the Museum.”

“The Smithsonian is 19 museums,” I finished with.

Nicholas and Rowen ended up heading to the Museum of Natural History, where both players took pictures with various things they recognized from the Ben Stiller movie, including the giant T-Rex skeleton.  That, however, was only a small part of their voyage.

“We got to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the White House,” Nicholas said.  “The incredible part was the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the World War II.  Even getting to go to Arlington [was incredible].  It just puts everything in perspective.  You can’t take it for granted what those people have done, giving their lives so that we can enjoy a great game like baseball.”

Nicholas’ HS football teammate was killed in Iraq

What made the trip more special, however, was a personal connection for Nicholas.  Back home in Arizona Nicholas played football with a classmate named John Daggett.  The duo played next to each other as linebackers on defense.  Their paths split after high school, however.  While Nicholas eventually became a professional baseball player, Daggett joined the armed forces and was killed in action as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“It was something special because that’s somebody that I know,” Nicholas said.  “We think everybody’s a lot older in Arlington but really, he was 22 when it happened.  But it was just something special getting the goose bumps to go see.  I’ll never forget that moment.”It was a poignant moment, but one of many on that Saturday morning.  Both Nicholas and Rowen were taken aback by all of the memorials they saw, and the sheer size and scope of the people those monuments represent.

” We saw Arlington has something like 400,000 burials there,” Nicholas said.  “We were at the WWII Memorial and there are gold stars and each star represents 1,000 soldiers.  There were just over 4,000 stars.  So that’s over 400,000 soldiers that gave their lives just in WWII.  Plus in the Vietnam War the names are so small and that wall just goes on forever.  I owe them my life really.”

But there were also some light moments too, like when they stopped by the White House and became a little disappointed in what they did, or didn’t see.

“You’re like half a mile away and you’re looking through trees,” Nicholas lamented.  “Barack wasn’t anywhere near so I couldn’t say hi.  I wanna get closer one day, maybe a World Series title.”

I think the Rangers would be okay with that too.

Understanding the Dominance of Cody Buckel

We’re six starts into his first year at A-Advanced and he’s still only 19, two years removed from portraying Zac Efron’s character in Royal High School’s production of Disney’s High School Musical.  His stuff is nearly unhittable, and it almost feels as if all that’s left for Cody Buckel at this level is to actually throw a no-hitter.

The Pelicans righty is 3-1 with a 1.31 ERA, second best among active Carolina League pitchers.  He has a league best 41 strikeouts, the fifth ranking total in the minors as of his last appearance.  And yet, Buckel gets a little lost in the ocean of prospect hype.

At just 19, Cody Buckel has proven to be one of the best pitchers in the CL this season.

Buckel’s left off the Top 50 lists by all four Baseball America experts in their yearly Prospect Handbook.  He’s lost behind the likes of fellow teens Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, justly so, because both have made their big league debuts.  But he also falls behind organization mate Jurickson Profar, who skipped Myrtle Beach this year for Double-A Frisco.  He slides behind 18-year old Dylan Bundy, who some assert could make his MLB debut this season for the Orioles at just 18.  He doesn’t generate discussion like the Royals Bubba Starling, the Twins Miguel Sano, the Cardinals Carlos Martinez or the Pirates Jameson Taillon.  Granted, all were first rounders or coveted international signees, but none have dazzled like the Pelicans 19 year old.With Harper making his Nationals debut last week, I asked Myrtle Beach pitching coach Brad Holman how Buckel would do in the bigs tomorrow…you know, just for fun.  He said he’d probably do alright.  Then he added, “He thinks he can.”

“Moving up the ladder,” Buckel said, “obviously the game’s going to speed up a little bit and the talent’s going to be a lot better and the knowledge of the game is going to be a lot better.  But it’s still baseball.  It’s still the same game I’ve been playing since I was three.  It’s still on the same field with the same bases.  Nothing really changes.  I look at it as just another start.  It doesn’t matter who I’m facing, who’s in the batter’s box.  I’m going to attack with what I have and how I know how to pitch ever since I picked up a ball on the mound when I was eight.”

Just for fun I asked if Buckel thinks he could get big leaguers out.

“Oh yeah I got Moustakas out a couple times and I got Torrealba twice,” Buckel said with a boyish laugh.  Confident but not cocky.  “I can get big leaguers out.”

We’ve already given you Buckel’s stats, but numbers can be deceiving.  So let’s dig deeper.  In six starts he’s allowed only four extra-base hits and two came in one start.  He’s allowed more than one run in only one start — three allowed at Potomac — and those all came in an inning spurred by two infield singles, one that hit the base umpire to help the Nationals hitter reach.  And forget hits.  Look at the outs.  Thirty-nine percent of his outs come on strikes.  Only 10% of his outs come on flys to the outfield.  Everything else is on the ground.  His success caused one media member to tweet that Buckel even saved an orphaned kitten while pitching against Frederick Thursday.  Go pray to Jobu hitters, because that might be your only chance.

“Just making quality pitch sequences,” Buckel said.  “A lot of hard work in the offseason’s paying off right now.  Doing drills to keep my arm healthy and my body in shape and right now I’m showing that on the field.”

Now it’s not like everything’s cake for Buckel.  He does have things he works on and would like to see improve.  He is, after all, still at Advanced-A.

“The changeup wasn’t there early in the game yesterday,” Buckel said.  “I was trying to slow it down too much with unnecessary things and not letting the grip do its work and letting it be explosive, like it is my fastball.”

Buckel’s also working on using his legs better.  He wants to use his legs to push power into his core, not throw from his core.  He’s also constantly improving his grasp of Effective Velocity — the theory created by former hitting coach Perry Husband, and devoutly studied by Diamondbacks prospect Trevor Bauer, Buckel’s longtime friend.

Perry Husband has written about Effective Velocity

“It’s basically a mind game,” Buckel said.  “It’s deceiving the mind of hitters, disrupting their timing with certain pitch sequences and locations of pitches.  Going all the way up to the Major League level it’s just reaction of the hitters and being able to see that.  Right now I’ve got a pretty good feel of what sequences I need to throw and what I’m seeing out of the hitters and what the catchers are telling me.”The theory is nothing new.  In fact it’s been around a while, dismissed Buckel says, because it was too scientific and difficult to grasp.

“Trevor’s a tricky mind and he can grasp anything he puts his mind to,” Buckel said.  “It’s definitely difficult to grasp at first.”

Getting a grasp on Perry Husband’s theory has taken time for Buckel as well.  He used it last year at Low-A Hickory, but has really driven into the core of the process during the offseason and in 2012.  In fact, he’s having so much success, he’s almost matching Bauer, who leads the minors with five more K’s than Buckel.  The two traded texts about it this week.

“No one ever succeeds their master,” Buckel said Bauer joked to him.

Maybe not.  But in this case, a pretty close second isn’t half bad.

Who Are You and Have We Met Before?

Welcome to the Southercarolina League?

A couple new faces with the Pelicans on the road this weekend.  We start with the opposing team.  The Carolina Mudcats aren’t new, they’ve been around for years…just as a member of the Double-A Southern League.  As a matter of fact, the chairs in the clubhouse still seem to think that’s the case (see right).

The Mudcats joined the Carolina League in a fun game of dominoes this past offseason.  The first push came when the owners of the Independent Pensacola (FL) Pelicans sold their franchise and watched it move to Amarillo, TX.  Those owners then went out and purchased the Mudcats and moved them to a new park in Pensacola, renaming them the Blue Wahoos (and allowing all in Minor League Baseball the great pleasure of yelling Wahoo Wa! — See the University of Virginia).  The owner of the Mudcats then purchased the Kinston Indians franchise and moved them to Carolina.So to recap: Pensacola goes to Amarillo.  Carolina goes to Pensacola (Wahoo Wa!).  Kinston goes to Carolina.  The Mudcats then become the K-Tribe, thusly moving from Double-A to A-Advanced.

Carolina mascot ‘Muddy the Mudcat’ then decides it would be a good idea to dress as the Will Ferrell cheerleading character from SNL.  Muddy the Mudcat is still not better than Wally the Warthog, but he no longer exists.  Wally, like Kinston, was a casualty of change in the Carolina League when Winston-Salem became the Dash.  Sad Day.

Carolina becomes just the third new team to join the CL since 1993 (19 years).  Wilmington joined the league in ’93, replacing the Peninsula (VA) Pilots.  The Pelicans entered the league in 1999, taking the spot of the Danville 9’s/Durham Bulls.  Danville was in as a one year placeholder after Durham left and Myrtle Beach arrived, so we won’t really count them.  The good news for Carolina is that both Myrtle Beach and Wilmington either won, or appeared in, the Mills Cup Finals in each of their first two seasons.

In a fun twist.  The league could see another move in two seasons, with the Braves expected to move to Wilmington, NC form Lynchburg, VA.  The Braves have agreed in principal to buy the Hillcats and begin that process contingent on things like a new stadium in Wilmington.  I look forward to the inaugural Wilmington – Wilmington matchup.  I really hope both teams run a ‘guaranteed win night’ promotion when they play.

You can't tell know, but the scoreboard in left lights up.

Anyways, welcome to Carolina and the Mudcats’ giant Las Vegas-like scoreboard in leftfield.Onto new face number two.  Pelicans manager Jason Wood isn’t on the road with the team this series.  He’s gone home to California for a family affair and will be back next week.  That means hitting coach Julio Garcia has taken over the managing duties and Jayce Tingler has joined the coaching staff.

Tingler is the Texas Rangers Minor League Field Coordinator.  He roves throughout the organization evaluating players and making sure things are as they should be.  He’s a Pelican this weekend.  Tingler is a former Blue Jays and Rangers farmhand.  He played for Pelicans coach Kenny Holmberg’s father in Auburn, NY several years back.  Tingler is also a Missouri product, bringing the Pelicans total to three (Nicholas, Tepesch, Tingler).  Say hi Jayce….Hi!

One final note today…Pelicans outfielder Teodoro Martinez is the son of former Major Leaguer Carlos Martinez.  Carlos is also known as the  guy who hit the ball that hit off Jose Canseco’s head for a homerun in 1993.  That hat is now up for auction and expected to fetch some good money and Canseco would like it back.  Let the bidding begin.

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned next week for ‘Rate that Carolina League Roadtrip’ part II.  We’ll also have the second episode of the Pelicans Brief coming up soon as well.

Rate that Carolina League Roadtrip: Salem, VA

Let me begin by saying the following series is a complete rip-off.  A good friend of mine, Jason Benetti, is the broadcaster for the Syracuse Chiefs.  A few years back he began a blog segment entitled “Rate that International League Hotel.”  It thought it was kind of catchy and wanted to do something similar.  I, however, was a broadcaster in the Florida State League at the time and roadtrips in the FSL are mainly day trips.  Wouldn’t have made for much of a blog.  So, without further ado, here is the first edition of “Rate that Carolina League Roadtrip.”

Throughout the 2012 season we will examine each roadtrip as the Pelicans travel along the Carolina League.  Roadtrips will be graded on several criteria, just like dishes on Iron Chef: Ballpark Atmosphere, Play of Ballpark, Travel to Destination, Hotel, and Food Options.  All response will be anonymous and I will give my own two cents on several topics.  Because I like my job, nothing will really be too critical — just a look at how life is on the road.

The team’s first roadtrip of 2012 was to Salem, VA.  Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Salem is located next to Roanoke and about an hour away from Virginia Tech and Blacksburg, VA.  The Division III National Championships for basketball and football are played there every year, and the rodeo next to the ballpark was the rodeo featured in the movie Borat.  Enough of the background…onto the roadtrip.


The view from the top of the Salem stands

Lewis-Gale Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark, formerly known as Lewis-Gale Medical Center Field at Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium, is an expansive park.  It’s probably the largest feeling park in the Carolina League.  The park is almost entirely contained within  the seating bowl, meaning you can see the game from anywhere in the park if you so choose.  While there are some areas underneath the concourse, the ballpark has more of a Roman Coliseum feel.  Theoretically, once in the ballpark you can go to your seat, go to the concessions and walk to the picnic areas, all while still in view of the field.  This is both good and bad.  It’s good in that you can always see the field.  It’s bad in that it makes the park feel huge.  Even when there are 4,000 fans it can feel less than full.

While Lewis-Gale Field might feel enormous, it also has one of the best views in the league. Over the right field fence in particular is a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that is breathtaking. One concessions worker told me the mountains looked carpeted with trees. It was a pretty cool way to describe it.”It was weird,” one Pelican said.  “I looked in the parking lot and it looked like there were so many more fans.”

“It’s a good atmosphere,” said a Pelican.  “Seems like the get a lot of fans.”

“I enjoyed the scenery,” said a Pelicans pitcher.  “And I really am talking about the mountains.”

Some of the non-natural scenery was entertaining as well.  For starters, being a Red Sox affiliate there has to be a green monster.  In Salem the monster isn’t part of the actual field, but instead is present behind the third base side seats.  Lewis-Gale Field is home to a mini-Fenway.  The park is free and open during Red Sox games for wiffle ball.  It even has its own fully operational manual scoreboard on the monster.

Just for fun I took some hacks at mini-Fenway.  I was twice robbed by the monster.  It was a cool, yet frustrating experience.  Now I know how Wade Boggs must have felt about all those doubles that could have been homers.

Finally, what’s a ballpark without a little fun and games.  Check out the sign they had next to the elevator.  By the way, there are two stair options.  You can take the actual stairs, or you can climb the grandstands to get to the top and the press box.

Try the stairs?


There are a few unique features of Lewis-Gale Field.  For starters the outfield wall is 20 feet high all around.  That didn’t matter to Cafe Martinez and Tomas Telis, but it can take a few homeruns away.  Secondly, the wind blows in fairly strong from centerfield, or at least it did this series.

“The wind is a pain to play with,” said one hitter.

It really didn’t seem to matter too much, though.  The teams scored a combined 28 runs in the first two games of the series.


Maybe the biggest visiting clubhouse in the league, there are a lot of comforts of playing at Salem.  The visiting clubhouse might even rival the size of the home one in Myrtle Beach.  Salem’s home clubhouse, by the way, is palatial.  You could house a small village in it.

The little monster at Mini-Fenway

“The space and accessibility to the field are nice,” said one player.  By accessibility he was referencing the ease of getting to the field from the clubhouse, which has a tunnel to the dugout and is located underneath the bleachers.


We have redacted the name of the hotel from this section.  We’ll do so throughout this part.  It is a common chain, we will say that.

“It was average.  The beds were small,” said one Myrtle Beach player.  On a plus side the HD TVs were new in the rooms.

Another saving grace of the hotel was one particular breakfast selection: chocolate batter for waffles.  From what I could tell, most made marble waffles, but there might have been some that went strictly chocolate.  This is the first time I’ve seen this in all of my hotel breakfast conquests.

“I didn’t get to try them,” said a Pelicans pitcher somewhat sadly.  “I just noticed them after breakfast this morning.”


Food is always important when on the road.  Because you don’t have a car, it’s important to have good food options within walking distance.  In this area, the Salem roadtrip wins big.  While it can be a bit of a walk (20 minutes depending on where you go), there are so many different options from Chinese to Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, Carrabas, Panera and a mall with a food court and several other choices, including a Buffalo Wild Wings.

“The food options there are good.  Probably a nine,” remarked a pitcher.  The one demerit was that it was a little bit of a walk, but the walk was easy and involved crossing no major roads, which sometimes is a required on roadtrips.

OVERALL RATING: The consensus among the players was 7 out of 10.  Not too shabby, and a definite place the team will enjoy a return trip to.

Pulling Tarp: Baseball’s Favorite Pastime

So when anybody makes the decision to get into pro baseball they’re told one important nugget of information: “You have to be willing to pull tarp.”  For those who don’t know, the tarp is that big square thing that covers the field during rain delays.  The reason most people don’t like to pull tarp is because it can be somewhat messy.  The tarp is wet (and stays wet after getting rolled up), has infield dirt all over it and presumably has the chemicals that treat the field on it as well.  Also, it often gets pulled in the rain – so you get really wet.  Add to that the act of taking the tarp off, which usually involves lots of standing water and it’s not a very fun task.

There’s another important note about pulling tarp — you never really know when you have to do it.  You could have to pull tarp in the morning, during a game, after a game, on the weekends, at night, in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse, here or there or anywhere (if you caught the Green Eggs and Ham reference, point for you).

Box Office Manager Shannon "dressed" the field in its tarp...See what I did there?

Now take a second and get inside the 20 something female mind. You there yet? ………….I know, scary, but glad you got there safe.  Now that you’re in this mindset you know that getting ready to got out with friends means a lot of prep work. You have to pick the right dress and shoes and get your hair set and makeup in order etc. This is nothing short of what I’m assuming is a six-hour process. Logically, one would not want to pull the tarp after this lengthy ordeal…well tough, this is Minor League Baseball. Saturday Night’s tarp crew might have been the best dressed tarp crew in the history of baseball. I’m glad to say I was in a t-shirt and jeans. I’m also glad to say I had shoes on for this one (see below).

That brings us to Saturday night. On Sunday the University of Michigan and the University of Connecticut played at Pelicans Ballpark. Rain was in the forecast late Saturday night and into Sunday morning. That meant we had to pull the tarp Saturday night…literally at night. Around 8pm everybody in the front office got a text message that we should be ready to pull the tarp on the field at 8:30. What made things complicated is that it was 8pm on a Saturday night and it also happened to be a certain member of our front office’s birthday, with most of us ready to go out together to celebrate.  After mutch kvetching we all got to the park and pulled tarp…still dressed to the nines.

Green feet!

Nobody really thought much of not wearing shoes for pulling the tarp.  I’ll be the first to admit I’ve pulled tarp barefoot, no big deal.  When a handful of the people on your staff are in high heels, barefoot seems like a better option.  Pulling in heels could lead to this.  Or this.   Or this.  What was not expected, however, was that Sports Turf Manager Corey Russell had fertilized with a tracking device earlier…the tracking device being a greenish substance that might look like paint if you step on it.  So Happy St. Pattie’s Day!  Several members of our staff wound up members of the green foot club.

Long story short.  The Pelicans pulled tarp in dresses and heels on Saturday. That, is dedication.

Till Next Time,