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Browsing Posts tagged Maxx Tissenbaum

(MiLB.com)

By Scott Barancik, editor

San Diego Padres prospect Maxx Tissenbaum was one of five players sent to the Tampa Bay Rays today as part of a 7-player trade headlined by Rays pitcher Alex Torres and Padres infielder Logan Forsythe.

A 22-year-old infielder who was chosen in the 11th round of the 2012 amateur draft and hit .277 with the Fort Wayne Tincaps (Single A) in 2013,  Tissenbaum was described today by the Tampa Bay Times as a “young, scrappy player with a good eye.”

Just how good an eye? The Toronto native struck out a team-low once in every 11.5 at-bats in 2013, was the only Tincap to walk more times (43) than he fanned (36), and ranked second on the club in on-base percentage (.365). He also led the team with 28 doubles and ranked third with 49 RBIs.

What position the Rays expect Tissenbaum to play is the big question. A career infielder who split 2013 between second base (92 games), shortstop (22 games) and DH (2 games), the Stony Brook College alum was sent to the Padres’ instructional complex in the Dominican Republic during the offseason for a crash course in playing catcher. Among those he worked with were Triple-A manager Pat Murphy and retired MLB catcher (and fellow Jew) Brad Ausmus, who later was named manager of the Detroit Tigers. “I tried to be as much of a sponge as I could, soaking up all the lessons that their years of experience could offer me,” Tissenbaum wrote in a recent blog post. “I actually enjoyed learning to catch way more than I thought I would.”

The only other Jewish player in the Rays’ system is P Lenny Linsky, who went 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 2013 for the Charlotte Stone Crabs (A-Advanced). Sam Fuld, who played for the Rays from 2011-13, is a free agent.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

A couple of minor-leaguers we didn’t know about until recently have been added to our roster of Jewish players.

As they used to say on Law and Order, here are their stories:

Jeremy Rathjen, 23

A 6-foot-5-inch, 195-pound outfielder out of Rice University, Rathjen was chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2012 amateur draft. He spent the 2012 season with the rookie-league Ogden Raptors, where he excelled, ranking among team leaders with a .324 average (4th), nine HRs (1st/tie), 53 RBIs (3rd), 17 doubles (2nd/tie), 16 stolen bases (2nd), a .443 on-base percentage (1st), and a .943 OPS (1st).

This year Rathjen’s playing for the Great Lakes Loons (Class A). Through Sunday’s games he was hitting .239 with 7 HRs, 60 RBIs (1st), 29 doubles (1st), 14 hit-by-pitches (1st), and a .347 on-base percentage (3rd).

Rathjen was the valedictorian of his high-school class in Houston, Tex. He turned down the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had selected him in the 45th round of the 2008 draft, to attend Rice. He was selected first team All-Conference USA his senior year and led the Owls with 9 home runs, 14 doubles, and a .525 slugging percentage.

Baseball America predicted he would be chosen within the first five rounds of the 2012 draft, but he dropped to the 11th round, possibly because of an ACL tear in his right knee. Improbably, he was one of three Jewish players chosen in the 11th round that year, the other two being Maxx Tissenbaum (San Diego Padres) and Eric Jaffe (Chicago White Sox).

Greg Zebrack, 22

Greg Zebrack went undrafted in 2013, but he didn’t escape the attention of the Washington Nationals, which signed him shortly after. Since then the 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound outfielder has played 37 games for the Auburn Doubledays (Class A-short season), hitting .236 with 1 HR, 14 RBIs, 7 stolen bases, and a .336 on-base percentage. He’s hit significantly better with men in scoring position (.290) and against lefties (.310).

Zebrack’s path to the pros was serpentine. After starring on the baseball team at his North Hollywood high school, he rejected a 43rd-round draft bid by the Los Angeles Dodgers in favor of playing for the USC Trojans. But scant playing time his freshman year led him to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania, where he became a legitimate star after sitting out his sophomore season.

After graduating from Penn, Zebrack returned to USC for an MBA and another shot at baseball there. In 2013 he hit .345 with 3 HRs, 15 doubles, a .422 on-base percentage and a .495 slugging percentage for the Trojans.

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Editor’s note: Maxx Tissenbaum is a 21-year-old prospect with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the San Diego Padres’ Single-A team, and an honest chronicler of life in the minor-leagues. Click here to see Maxx‘s past blog entries, and click here to join the Jewish Baseball News mail list.

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By Maxx Tissenbaum/Special to Jewish Baseball News

Wow, what a week it has been for your fighting Fort Wayne Tincaps!  Since arriving home for our short three game set with the Great Lakes Loons, and everybody’s favorite Midwest League manager Razor Shines, we are 5-0, and have won a road series!  Hard to believe, but BELIEVE IT! That. Just. Happened.  Our home series with Great Lakes was a marked by a barn burner of a middle game, one in which four pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter.  We outscored Great Lakes 13-7, and we forced Razor to argue 26 calls, most of which he argued twice.

In the middle game, Max Fried went up against Jharel Cotton.  [Editor's note: Fried is a Jewish pitcher as well as one of Maxx Tissenbaum's roommates.] We faced him in our first series of the year at Great Lakes, and he’s a guy I faced in college, too.  I was looking forward to facing him now that I’d sort of found some rhythm at the plate.  I knew he was going to pitch off of his 2-seam fastball, which he locates well down in the zone.  He loves to stay away from lefties, and has a good changeup that he loves to use against lefties.  As a hitter, there is nothing better than going into a game with a very precise scouting report and an abundance of knowledge and familiarity with the opposing pitcher.  Walking to the plate knowing both tendencies and what each of his pitches looks like is a huge advantage and completely eliminates the surprise factor that pitchers try to beat you with. As Spring says on his Quality At Bats tape, it gets rid of the “whoaaaaa where’d that come from?”  I was confident that I’d play a part in a hit parade that was surely on its way.  Shortly after the first pitch was thrown, I realized this wasn’t going to be the case.  I did absolutely nothing at the plate, our team collected just five hits all night and going into the 9th we hadn’t scored a run.

 

The final line score from our no-hitter.

The exciting part of the game turned out to be on the defensive side of the ball.  Playing behind Max Fried, we all got chances early in the game.  We turned two double plays, our outfielders tracked down everything, and Max struck out 8 through 5.2 innings.  We were rolling. Matt Shepherd came in and immediately got a first pitch ground out to end the inning, another chance for me defensively.  He then threw another perfect inning before handing the ball to Leonel Campos, who threw a perfect inning, striking out every batter he faced. Roman Madrid threw the 9th, with a walk and a strikeout.  All night our guys gave us a chance to win the game.  We came up in the 9th inning, managed to get a hit and a pair of hit batsmen to load the bases.  It all came down to Brian Adams and [Loons pitcher] Scott Griggs. B.A. outlasted Griggs, walking on four pitches to set off the most exciting celebration in baseball, the walk-off walk.  Okay, so maybe it was a LITTLE anti-climatic, but a walk-off win is a walk-off win.  For most of our guys the no-hitter was an afterthought.  Nobody really noticed it until we were packing up and headed back to the clubhouse.  It was such a weird way to throw a no-no, there was no celebration on the mound like you always see on SportsCenter. There was a subdued mob around Adams at first base and then we all sort of just left.

We came back the next day and thumped the Loons 6-2 behind another dominant pitching performance by Justin Hancock.  We were out to a 6-0 lead before they got a run across, and by that point it was far too late.  We pulled out another home sweep, improving our record at Parkview Field to 13-3, a dominant clip.  It was great to sweep Great Lakes because as I mentioned in the open, our favorite manager Razor left in a huff.

We jumped on the bus the next morning and headed to Dayton, Ohio, to face the Dragons, the Cincinnati Reds affiliate.  Dayton’s Fifth Third Field is a stadium that currently boasts an over 900-consecutive-game sellout streak, and is one of the hardest tickets in all of pro sports to get.  I was excited to play at that stadium not because of the sellout streak, but because it seemed to bring together the long road I’ve traveled in my baseball career.

The entrance to 5th 3rd Field that my family used when I arrived at the showcase. This picture was taken from our bus as we pulled up to the players entrance yesterday.

Let me flash back to June of 2008.  I was a high school Junior, and had just been selected to play on Team Canada during its spring Dominican Summer League trip. I was beginning to receive letters from both college and pro teams requesting more information on both my playing and my academic career.  When I found out I’d be away from home for 10 days, I knew I’d be missing out on the excitement of checking the mail to see who wanted me to fill out what forms.  I told my parents that I wanted them to call me every time someone sent me baseball-related mail, and told them to open it and read it to me.  I came home from one of our games against the DSL teams and had my daily phone call with my mom, and she joked, “Okay, it’s time to commit mail fraud,” a running joke over the course of the week. What she read next floored me.  I had been a relatively obscure player in terms of the prospect rankings, and so I was totally off guard when she told me that the New York Yankees had sent me a huge package.  She read to me that they wanted me to go to a workout in Dayton, where I’d be evaluated by scouting directors, cross-checkers and other pro scouts from across MLB.  I freaked out, I wrote it in my calendar, and put in on my computer I made sure there were reminders everywhere.  When I came home I made sure to rearrange the exam I had scheduled for the morning of the workout.  My parents and I traveled to Dayton, and I walked through the home plate gate of Fifth Third Field, where I met the scout who had invited me.  He handed me a Yankees batting practice jersey and cap, and told me to head to the 3rd-base dugout.  I sat there putting on my spikes with about 50 other high school kids in either Yankees, Reds, Diamondbacks or Tigers uniforms.  We were all wide eyed, and I’d assume more nervous than any of us let on.  The workout was a blast, I got to work with all sorts of pro scouts and coaches, got to play with and against some of the top players in my graduating class and to top it all off  I was in a GORGEOUS minor league stadium.  Let’s just say it was one of my best baseball memories.

When the Tincaps arrived on Saturday afternoon, I threw my stuff into a locker and headed right to the dugout to check out the stadium I’d played on years earlier.  When I got to the field I was sort of disappointed.  I was surprised at how unimpressive the stadium looked compared to what I thought it was in high school.  I guess having never played at Alabama, Coastal Carolina, San Diego State, North Carolina, LSU, the College World Series, PK Park in Oregon, or any of the big league Spring Training stadiums, that Fifth Third Field seemed like the top of the baseball world.  I was almost as surprised about getting that invitation as I was at the weird realization that this was just another Class-A stadium, a nice ball park, but hardly the pantheon I thought it was.

The scoreboard in Dayton features two enormous dragons that spray smoke from their snouts when the home team hits a home run.

We went out and beat Dayton in the first two games, one of which I played, the other I sat and charted from the dugout.  Today we wrap up our series and head back to Fort Wayne for a three-game set against Bowling Green.  I think based on our start to the year we can finish this series off strong, because our team seems to play its best baseball in front of big crowds at nice stadiums, so Dayton has that almost homey feel to it.

Hopefully we can grab an early lead and pitch our way to another sweep, our first road sweep of the year!

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Here are highlights from minor-league games played on Saturday, April 13:

  • Max Fried, a 19-year-old starter ranked the San Diego Padres’ No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, earned his first professional win, and in dominant fashion. Fried pitched 5 scoreless innings for the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Single-A), giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out eight (see article and box score). Chosen 7th overall in the 2012 amateur draft — for which he received a $3-million bonus — the 6’4″ Californian walked the first batter of the game but then picked him off first base. Providing support was Jewish teammate and roommate Maxx Tissenbaum, who drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and drew his Midwest League-leading 10th walk of the season. (Click here to see Tissenbaum‘s excellent blog.)
  • Double-A players Jack Marder and Jake Lemmerman both hit their first HRs of the 2013 season. Marder, a Seattle Mariners prospect who went 2/4 and added a walk, was Jewish Baseball News’ 2012 minor-league rookie of the year. Lemmerman plays shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization.
  • Red-hot New York Mets prospect Josh Satin had a perfect day at the plate, going 2/2 with a home run, 3 RBIs, and 3 walks for the Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A). Satin is hitting .474 (3rd highest in the Pacific Coast League) with 4 HRs (1st/tie), 12 RBIs (3rd/tie), 12 runs (2nd/tie), a .545 on-base percentage (3rd/tie), and an on-base plus slugging of 1.440 (3rd).
  • Baltimore Orioles prospect (and former Major Leaguer) Danny Valencia went 3/4 and drove in a run, raising his batting average to .333. Valencia plays third base for the Norfolk Tides (Triple-A).
  • In his second start of the 2013 season, Tampa Bay Rays prospect Sean Bierman earned his second consecutive shutout. Bierman gave up five singles and no walks while striking out four batters for the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Single-A).

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Editor’s note: Maxx Tissenbaum is a 21-year-old prospect with the San Diego Padres organization and an honest chronicler of life in the minor-leagues. Click here to see Maxx‘s past blog entries, and here to join our mail list.

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By Maxx Tissenbaum/Special to Jewish Baseball News

There are very few days in a calendar year that I find to be as important as Opening Day. Sure, baseball is a marathon of a season and the first game rarely, if ever, has a real outcome on the season. I understand that, but there is something about Opening Day, and a team’s Home Opener, that just make an early April day so much more than just an early April day. As you can imagine, April 11 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, isn’t necessarily going to be the most wonderful weather day of the year, but it was the night of our Home Opener at Parkview Field.

Now let me backtrack just so you get the whole Minor League Baseball experience. My team started the season on a 7-game road trip, of which we played only 6 because rain washed out our middle game against West Michigan. We finished our series in the cold and the rain of Grand Rapids around 9:30 p.m on April 10. We all packed up our own lockers, showered and brought our stuff out to the bus. I was in charge of making sure the trainer’s equipment also made it to the bus, so I had to make three trips back and forth to get everything loaded. Yes, players do have to carry things in the Minor Leagues, and no, the bags on wheels don’t always have a handle (it shattered into a million pieces en route to Grand Rapids). We left Fifth Third Field shortly after 10 p.m and made the 3-and-a-half-hour DRIVE back to Fort Wayne, arriving at the ballpark around 1:30 a.m. We all threw our bags into our lockers (and the trainer’s bags into his office) before running to our cars to drive back to our apartments. All told, I think I finally made it into bed around 2:15 a.m. after our quick Taco Bell stop, and taking time to (Mom and Dad, get this) put my laundry in the bucket and fold up my clothes and put them back in my closet!

So, 7 hours of sleep later, I was awake and back at it. Walker Weickel, one of my roommates, and I woke up early to go and do the grocery shopping. Now, I do consider myself a pretty decent grocery shopper. I can always take a list based on a recipe Mom or Dad is going to work from and I can come home with everything we need. I have NEVER had to shop to stock a completely EMPTY apartment that has four male athletes between the ages of 19-22 living in it.

I had a bit of a panic attack and decided to call in the expert. I spent most of my time in the store talking it through with my Mom, making sure that I got what I needed and avoided the ingredients for Pizookies and other desserts that I really can’t afford to be messing around with just yet. Walker and I each had a shopping cart filled to the top, and we attempted to guess each of our bills. We were both off by around $40 but I was closer, so by Price is Right rules I won. We came home and unpacked everything into our fridge, cupboards and drawers making sure to keep everything incredibly organized. We then quickly made brunch, as it was almost time to leave for the stadium. I fried up some eggs, cut in some (ADVERTISING here) Bumpercrop Beer Sweet Peppers and made some toast. I had Brian Adams and Dane Phillips, two of my teammates from last summer, come over to the apartment because we were all going to the stadium for early hitting. I crushed my lunch, rinsed the dishes and the frying pan, and grabbed my keys to head to the field.

Arriving at the stadium I began to get butterflies, not the nervous UH OH ones, but the excited I CAN’T WAIT ones. We headed down to the clubhouse and I flipped on the TV by my locker and put The Masters on. We all quickly changed into a pregame outfit, some guys wearing shorts over their spandex pants, others wearing game pants. The great thing about being at home is that we get to set the schedule pregame and do whatever we want. Burkie, our hitting coach, has made a schedule that allows us up to an hour of open cage time to get loose, then a full hour of on-field soft toss all before batting practice. Dane, BA and I went upstairs to the cage and hit for about 15 minutes inside to get loose before heading to the field for front toss. At 2 o’clock when we started there were 10 guys, so we split into two groups, lefties hitting first and the righties in the outfield retrieving the balls. I got the majority of my pregame work in during this on field session. I love being able to see the ball travel, and take mental notes of how my swing feels, how the wind is playing, even how the field itself is playing. I know it sounds like I’m searching for things to make this seemingly mundane pregame prep work seem more interesting but it really is invaluable both offensively and defensively. I get to see how the ball reacts in the air and on the ground, which can give me some hints about how I’ll need to position myself defensively during the game. We finished our soft toss session after chasing down the balls hit by the right-handed hitters, and I remember saying to Corey Adamson, our Australian outfielder, how lucky I felt to be running around chasing down baseballs.

It occurred to me as I took in the sight of our stadium decked out in Opening Day bunting that I am extremely blessed to call this my job, and to not have to be in Tuesday night classes like I was almost every semester at Stony Brook. We headed back inside to get ready for BP [batting practice], but I was asked to go do an interview for WFFT, the local Fox station. I ran back to the dugout, sat up on the top of the bench like all the Big Leaguers do it, and fielded questions about our road trip, team bonding and, of course, our Home Opener.

I hurried back inside to get ready for our team pregame, which started at 3:30. We stretched, ran the bases for conditioning, and then threw to get our arms loose. We took an “infield” (because it’s sacrilegious in pro ball to call it In and Out like we do in college) and then went back upstairs to the cages for batting practice, as the grounds crew didn’t want us to mess up the field with the inclement weather on its way. We hit for our usual 12-minute groups and then headed to the clubhouse for our pregame snack/meal. We had pulled pork as our hot meal item, and then the usual spread of peanut butter, jelly, fruit, yogurt and of course Oreos. I sat in my locker watching the NCAA Frozen Four game between Yale and UMass Lowell and eating before heading to the gym for a quick workout. BA and I knocked out our lift in about 25 minutes, and then headed back to our lockers to kill the rest of the pregame time.

When it was finally time to hit the field we were all pretty excited, we got to see our faces on the scoreboard and those awkward videos of us waving the bat in front of the camera for the lineup introductions.

Just before 7 o’clock we had our team introductions, jogging out to the first-base line and giving high fives to each other, just like you see on TV every year during the Big League openers. When Joe Ross was finally ready to go we hit the field. I immediately was blown away by how many people were at the game. It was foggy, rainy and cold, but somehow we had over 5,000 fans packed into the ballpark. Apparently we not only have the best ballpark in MiLB but we also have the best fans, so shout out to Fort Wayne for the support on Opening Night! Joe was dominant, and we put together enough offense to score 4 runs in the first 5 innings. I had a double in my second at bat, and it felt great to get the first one out of the way. It’s nice to show well on Opening Day so the crowd’s first impression of you as a player is positive. An “0 for” in your Home Opener is a great way to start pressing and to forget about the process of hitting.

The game lasted only 6 innings before being called on account of rain. We won 4-0 and snapped our 3-game losing streak. The only thing we had left to do was give away our red game jerseys to the fans that had won them. We all lined up in front of the dugout and proceeded to find the person or family with our number on their card. We shook hands, posed for pictures and autographed the jerseys, and then a few of us stuck around to sign for some kids that had stayed through the game and post-game. We signed hats, shirts, a bat and several baseballs before heading inside to get changed. We passed on eating in the clubhouse as Max’s dad had invited the four of us (roommates) out for dinner at Champions, a sports bar in the hotel we stayed at during our first three days in Fort Wayne. Finally, around midnight we got home and watched parts of the game on our DVR which I had set in the morning. It was really cool to watch a telecast of a game I played in, in my own apartment, on my own DVR.

Looking back on the evening I can’t even describe how cool it was to finally be a part of a true Opening Day ceremony. Getting to jog out to the line and high five teammates and then just take in the atmosphere was truly a cool experience. My other memory was of a conversation me and our SS Stephen Carmon had during the 4th inning. He remarked that he was impressed by the crowd on such a gross night weather-wise. That got me thinking, how awesome is it going to be when Parkview Field is absolutely packed out on a sunny July afternoon? I’ll have to wait for that dream to become reality, however, because once again I woke up and found that it is 39 degrees and cloudy. Oh well, a man can dream, right?

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