Archive for March, 2010

Amin’s Prepared For The Patriots

March 31, 2010

Adam Amin is all about preparation.

And after being named the new radio broadcaster for the Somerset Patriots, the 23-year-old is already hitting the books, learning everything he can about the franchise, players and stadium he’ll call home for the next six months.

“I want to know everything about everybody,” Amin said.

“I want to know every story about every guy that I can find.  I want to know every stat that I can find.  I want to read every possible thing, not only about that particular game, but about the rest of the games in the league.  I want to have an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball.  As long as I’ve been a baseball fan, I feel like I’ve been a student of the game that same time.  Not only am I enjoying the game, but I’m learning.  So I want to be well-informed, and I take a lot of pride in being well-informed and prepared.”

With experience in the Northern League over the past two seasons, Amin is no stranger to independent baseball and the challenges it can provide in terms of being able to adequately prepare for a broadcast.  However, he was also familiar with the Atlantic League and the Somerset Patriots, even before having read an article about Brian Bender’s resignation.

“You want to talk about a high quality run league and high quality organizations,” said Amin of the Atlantic League.

“There are big time former Major Leaguers and a lot of prospects, and we all knew about the Atlantic League.  Maybe it sometimes was for stuff that the league might not want to be known for, like the Offerman stuff or John Rocker, but I had known about the Atlantic League and knew that Somerset was definitely the most successful franchise.”

For as polished as Amin is — anyone who listened to his one minute clip online or has spoken to him can attest to that — he was far from a lock for the Patriots job.  The number of people considered for the position by Somerset dipped into the triple digits, but Amin managed to make the final cut.  The final four choices, including Amin, Jon Barr and Frank Mentesana — as well as another broadcaster who landed a Triple-A job at the last minute — were all subject to a voting process on the Patriots website, as well as the opinions of media, players, select fans and front office members to determine who the new broadcaster would be.

“I was so freaked out during the interview process,” said Amin, who himself had just been a finalist for a different Triple-A radio position.

“I was just nervous after getting shot down, I didn’t want to get shot down again.  So after I finished my interview with Somerset, as cool as Patrick (McVerry) and Marc (Russinoff) were — it wasn’t an interrogation by any means — but I just felt so nervous about it and worried.  I didn’t want to miss out on my shot to be back in baseball.  I really wanted it, but I was worried a ton.”

With the stressful process now over, Amin can focus on getting a fresh start to his career with Somerset, and honing his craft in the process.

“Every baseball broadcaster has the outright goal of maybe getting to the Majors one day, and I’m certainly no different,” Amin said.

“But I like the fact that I’m going to get to enjoy Somerset for hopefully a long time.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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Nettles Back, But What More Can He Do?

March 29, 2010

If Jeff Nettles isn’t the first name you think of when you think about the Somerset Patriots — Sparky Lyle likely holds that distinction — then he’s certainly near the top of your list.

Nettles, returning for his seventh season with the team, is the franchise all-time leader in RBI (470), home runs (118), doubles (156), games played (666), at bats (2,462), and hits (716). He’s won three rings and has two Atlantic League Playoff MVP titles to his credit as well.

Given that it’s so clear that he has nothing left to prove in the Atlantic League, some questions have been raised as to why he’d bother coming back.

“I thought about that this off-season, and I think a lot of that had to do with the core guys coming back,” said Nettles, mentioning the likes of Josh Pressley, Matt Hagen, Casey Cahill and Jason Belcher.

“I want to come back and play for those guys, they’ve been a big part of this team. I just remember telling myself in the clubhouse after we won it last year, how could you not want to come back and play again.  It was a fun year.  I’m not ready to hang em’ up quite yet.”

Now 31 years old, Nettles is considered an Atlantic League lifer by some, despite performing well during two stints in Double-A during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.  The Patriots are lucky to have Nettles, but in a way, Nettles also feels lucky to have the Patriots.

“Somerset is like a second home to me,” Nettles said.

“It’s always a fun place to come back and play.  Especially after you win a championship, it’s even more fun to come back on Opening Day and enjoy the festivities and get a ring and go out there and know that the whole league is kind of gunning for you.”

For last year’s team, a big motivating factor was to win back-to-back championships, something no team had ever done in the history of the Atlantic League.  Now, they can win three straight titles, and that too will serve as a driving force for the 2010 version of the Patriots.

“It sounds kind of cliche, but we come there every year wanting to win,” Nettles said.

“Having been a part of the back half of that back-to-back championship, I know that a lot of guys are coming back because they want to win that third one, and I think it would be stupid for us to not think anything else.  I know that’s on our minds.  We’re going to start at spring training, work at it there, and hopefully we can do it.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Patriots Add Three Pitchers

March 29, 2010

(PR) Bridgewater, NJ- The Five-Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots have announced the re-signings of right-handed pitcher Josh Miller and left-handed pitcher Brian Henderson (pictured) and the signing of right-handed pitcher Daryl Arreola.

Miller finished an All-Star 2009 season for the Patriots with a 10-5 record, a 3.65 ERA, and 55 strikeouts in 101 innings pitched in 15 games played. He was 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched in two post-season games.

Miller spent the 2008 season with the Houston Astros organization at the Triple-A level and he finished with 74 strikeouts in 148 innings pitched.

He has two seasons of Triple-A experience with the Astros and also played in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Miller has a career 55-46 record with a 4.08 ERA and 571 strikeouts in 980.1 innings in 265 games pitched.

Henderson was 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA, two saves, and 29 strikeouts in 54.1 innings pitched in 45 games pitched.

Before joining the Patriots, Henderson spent his entire career in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, mostly at the Double-A level. He split time during the 2008 season in Double-A and Triple-A.

Henderson has a minor league career 22-15 record, a 3.08 ERA, 18 saves, and 266 strikeouts in 371 innings pitched in 310 games all as a reliever.

Arreola has a season in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, including a brief time in Triple-A. He also has experience in the Frontier League and the American Association.

Arreola has a career 3.52 ERA with nine saves and 145 strikeouts in 102 games played.

The Somerset Patriots have placed all tickets on sale for the upcoming season, beginning at TD Bank Ballpark on Friday, April 30th. For more information, call (908) 252-0700 or visit http://www.somersetpatriots.com.

Coming Soon…

March 25, 2010

I’ll have my chats with Jeff Nettles and Josh Pressley, as well as a feature on new radio broadcaster Adam Amin.

Be sure to check out my article in the Democrat today, and keep staying tuned to PatriotsBaseball.com for all the latest Somerset news.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

A Healthy Hagen Is A Happy Hagen

March 24, 2010

Let’s look through Matt Hagen’s Atlantic League resume, shall we?

Two seasons with Somerset.

Two championships.

Two All-Star Game appearances.

.313 batting average

27 home runs

146 RBI

59 stolen bases

And the list goes on.  It’s safe to assume that he didn’t need any references when he re-signed with Somerset for the 2010 season.  But if, for some reason, he did, it’s just as safe to assume that he’d have a clubhouse full of guys willing to provide them.

“This is a great group,” said the 30-year-old second baseman.

“I had a lot of fun with the guys over the last couple years.  And that’s all the way from the top down; from the front office to Sparky to Brett Jodie to everybody, it’s just the kind of place where you look forward to going to the ballpark every day.  You don’t ever feel like you’re going to have a bad day when you walk through those doors.”

And yet, there were some bad days last season for Hagen, who battled his way through injuries for seemingly the entire season, but especially during the second half.  Having rehabbed in Florida with current housemate Josh Pressley, the California-born slugger is optimistic he’ll be as good as new once Opening Day rolls around.

“I think by the time the season starts, I’ll be 100 percent,” he said.

“I’m definitely feeling a lot better than I did at the end of the season.  I feel close.  I’m not quite in game shape yet, I’ve got to do a little bit more running to get there, but I’m feeling a lot better.” 

Now healthy, Hagen is seemingly surrounded by all of his closest friends for another season in Somerset.  Jeff Nettles, Josh Pressley, Jason Belcher are among the notables returning to TD Bank Ballpark in 2010, and that core group of players is arguably the best of any Atlantic League nucleus. 

It also makes the answer to this question to Hagen very easy: Any reason you can’t win three in a row?

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“I think we’re going to be just as good as last year’s club, if not better.  And having experience doesn’t hurt, either.  I know with the guys who were there two years ago, it helped experience-wise with the playoffs last year.  I expect that everyone who experienced this last year for the first time, it’s only going to help them coming into this year.”

Atlantic League playoff experience is great, for sure.  But having been out of affiliated baseball since the end of the 2006 season, Hagen hasn’t exactly given up the thought of gaining some more affiliated experience, either.

“I don’t know if it’s in the front of my mind, but it’s definitely in your head,” Hagen told me.

“You see guys get picked up, and you’re excited for them.  You only want the best for the guys from the Atlantic League who’ve gotten back, you feel like those guys kind of represent you.  But it’s so far out of your control.  So many things have to go just right, it seems like.  I try not to worry about it too much.  If it happens, great.  If not, then I’m just going to enjoy my time in Somerset and do the best I can there.  It’s the best franchise in the best league.  You couldn’t ask for a whole lot more.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Around The AL: Bears Banking On 41-Year-Old

March 24, 2010

The Newark Bears have signed 41-year-old Major League veteran pitcher Willie Banks to a contract.  Additionally, the team has traded the rights to pitcher Ramiro Mendoza to the Long Island Ducks for outfielder Lew Ford and reliever Julio Manon.

Banks made 17 appearances for Newark last season (1-0, 6.43) after not having pitched since 2005, also with the Bears.  He’s made 181 big league appearances for the Twins, Cubs, Dodgers, Marlins, Yankees, Diamondbacks and Red Sox.

Mendoza made 17 appearances for the Bears last season as well, including 15 starts.  The Panama-born former Yankee was 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA, and held the Patriots to no runs on just two hits through seven innings in a masterful playoff start in Bridgewater.

Ford raked during his tenure with the Ducks last year, as the former Minnesota Twins outfielder hit .330 with 10 home runs and 55 RBI in 93 games before getting picked up by the Cincinnati Reds and assigned to Triple-A Louisville, where he finished the season.

Manon has big league experience with the Expos and Orioles, and spent all of 2009 with the Ducks after finishing his 2008 campaign with them.  He went 9-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 143.2 innings of work, striking out 108 batters along the way.

Patriots Bring Back Core Offensive Players

March 23, 2010

(PR) Bridgewater, NJ – The Five-Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots announce the re-signings of third baseman Jeff Nettles (pictured), first baseman/designated hitter Josh Pressley, and second baseman Matt Hagen.

Since joining Somerset in 2003, Nettles has been one of the top players in Patriots and Atlantic League history, ranking as the Patriots career leader in RBI (470), home runs (118), doubles (156) games played (666), at bats (2,462), and hits (716). He has helped the Patriots win three championships and is a two-time MVP of the Championship Series.

Nettles finished the 2009 season with a .295 batting average with 148 hits, 29 doubles, 15 home runs, and 93 RBI in 133 games played. More impressive was his MVP performance in the post-season, where he hit .281 with nine runs scored, three home runs, and seven RBI.

“Jeff comes to play hard everyday, even if he’s hurt. He’s done it for us since day one and is one of those guys you can’t replace because he means that much to the ballclub. He is a guy that the whole team rallies around and he motivates the team to be better,” said Sparky Lyle, Manager of the Somerset Patriots Baseball Club.

In 2007, Nettles led the Atlantic League in home runs with 19, RBI with 60, slugging percentage with .679, and extra base hits with 37 when he was signed by the Kansas City Royals organization. Nettles played in 58 games for Wichita, the Royals Double-A affiliate in 2007 and finished with a .267 batting average, 24 runs scored, 59 hits, 14 doubles, eight home runs, and 41 RBI.

He spent 2008 in Double-A in Bowie for the Baltimore Orioles organization, where he had a .253 batting average with 129 hits, 25 doubles, 24 home runs, and 78 RBI in 134 games in an All-Star season.

Nettles was third in the Atlantic League in home runs with 21 and fourth in slugging percentage with a .509 during the 2006 season. Nettles finished the 2006 season with a .277 batting average, 106 hits, 26 doubles, and 69 RBI in 101 games played. Nettles finished the 2005 season with a .265 batting average, 133 hits, 36 doubles, 28 home runs, and 99 RBI in 136 games played. He missed just four games during the season. Nettles finished the 2004 season with a .319 batting average, 145 hits, 23 doubles, 22 home runs, and 93 RBI in 123 games for Somerset. He finished the 2003 season with a .286 batting average, 118 hits, 25 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, and 56 RBI in 117 games played for the Patriots.

Nettles has two seasons of Triple-A experience in the New York Yankees organization, where his father Graig Nettles spent 11 seasons of his 22-year Major League career.

Pressley finished an All-Star 2009 season with a .314 batting average, 116 hits, 21 doubles, 15 home runs, and 72 RBI in 109 games played.

He was the Atlantic League MVP in 2008, finishing as the batting champion with a .354 batting average. He also led the league in home runs with teammate Brandon Larson with 30. Pressley also led the Atlantic League in hits with 173, on base percentage with .440, and slugging percentage with .605. He was among the league leaders in RBI with 101 and extra base hits with 63.

Pressley was the third Patriot to be named the Player of the Year, joining Michael Warner (2001) and Victor Rodriguez (2004).

Pressley was signed by the Houston Astros during the off-season and reported to Spring Training before re-joining the Patriots for 2009.

Pressley has experience in the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, and Florida Marlins organizations.

He began the 2006 season at the Triple-A level for the Red Sox at Pawtucket and then split the rest of the season in Double-A for the Cardinals and Marlins.

In 2005, Pressley hit .311 with 137 hits, 25 doubles, 22 home runs, and 88 RBI in 119 games at the Double-A level for the Royals.

Pressley has three seasons of Triple-A experience and has a minor league career .291 batting average, 562 runs, 1,189 hits, 248 doubles, 109 home runs, and 647 RBI in 1,161 games played.

Hagen finished an All-Star 2009 season among the league leaders with a .317 batting average, 88 runs scored, 143 hits, 36 doubles, ten home runs, and 75 RBI in 120 games played. Hagen helped lead the Patriots in the playoffs, finishing with a .294 average, seven runs, ten hits, six doubles, a home run, and eight RBI in eight games.

Hagen had an All-Star season for Somerset in 2008, finishing with a .308 batting average, 71 runs scored, 132 hits, 23 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs, 71 RBI, and 34 stolen bases in 117 games played.

Hagen has experience in the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres organization, including a season at the Double-A level. He has a career .267 average with 707 hits, 167 doubles, 88 home runs, and 402 RBI in 757 games played.

“You can’t ask for two better players in your lineup then Pressley and Hagen. Both are the top players at their positions and what they bring to the team is incredible. They are two of the big reasons we won back-to-back championships and why we have a good shot of making it three in a row,” said Lyle.

The Somerset Patriots have placed all tickets on sale for the upcoming 2010 season, beginning at TD Bank Ballpark on Friday, April 30th. For more information, call (908) 252-0700 or visit http://www.somersetpatriots.com.

Amin Named New Patriots Broadcaster

March 23, 2010

(PR) Bridgewater, NJ – The Five-Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots have announced that the team has hired Adam Amin as their new radio broadcaster.

Amin, of Addison, Illinois, will be the team’s broadcaster for all 140 games on WCTC 1450 AM, the Flagship Station for Somerset Patriots Baseball.

“To become a part of the Somerset Patriots, the class franchise in one of the most respected baseball leagues in the country, is a true privilege. Not only because of the consistent success that the Patriots have delivered, but because of their dedicated fans. The responsibility of bringing Patriots baseball to those great fans is one that I am honored to have. Night in and night out, I promise to give every loyal fan an informative broadcast in a friendly, conversational, and excitable style, all the while challenging myself to create the most complete and detailed word picture possible,” said Amin.

Amin, a graduate of Valparaiso University, was the broadcaster and pre-game show host for the Gary Southshore Railcats Baseball Club for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He also did fill-in play-by-play for the Joliet Jackhammers Baseball Club during the 2009 season, along with working freelance television assignments for the NCAA’s Horizon League.

He was most recently the Sports Director for two radio stations in Iowa, performing lead broadcast duties for five area high schools.

After a seven-week search from mid-January to early March, the Patriots narrowed the field of over 150 applicants to four finalists.

In an effort to make the process one that involved their fans, the Patriots posted profiles and audio clips of each of the finalists to ask fans for their opinion and to vote for their choice. With a combination of ownership, front office staff, fans, players, and media voicing their opinions, Amin was selected in a very close race.

“We were impressed by all the applicants in one way or another. The finalists all brought something exciting for us to the job. After weighing all the elements in the decision, Adam became the top choice and someone we are thrilled to have become part of our family,” said Patrick McVerry, President/General Manager of the Somerset Patriots.

WCTC To Unveil New Broadcaster Tomorrow Morning

March 22, 2010

If you want to be the first to find out who the Somerset Patriots new radio broadcaster is, be sure to listen to 1450 WCTC AM between 8 and 8:15 AM tomorrow morning.

The team’s new broadcaster will be unveiled, replacing the popular Brian Bender, who stepped down after the 2009 season to pursue other opportunities. 

Here are the details straight from the team…

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Bridgewater, NJ – The Five-Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots will announce the selection of their new radio broadcaster on WCTC 1450 AM on Tuesday, March 23rd.

Tune in live to WCTC 1450 AM between 8:00 am and 8:15 am on Tuesday morning during the Jack Ellery Show. Jack will interview the new “Voice of the Somerset Patriots” live on his morning show.

After a seven-week search, the Patriots narrowed a field of over 150 broadcasters to three finalists- Adam Amin, Jon Barr, and Frank Mentesana.

The Patriots then asked fans, staff, players, and media to let us know who their choice was for the position. Taking all the factors into consideration, the Patriots are ready to announce their choice.

Tune in to WCTC 1450 AM or Click Here To Listen Live On-Line (http://www.wctcam.com/stream.htm) to find out if your choice for the broadcaster position has been selected!

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Stay tuned later this week for a chat with the winner…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Open Tryouts Next Saturday

March 20, 2010

(PR) Bridgewater, NJ- The Five-Time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots have announced that open tryouts for the team will be held at TD Bank Ballpark on Saturday, March 27th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.

There will be an administration fee of $40 to tryout, with proceeds being donated to the Somerset Patriots Children’s Educational And Sportsmanship Foundation, which has been established to give to various charities supported by the Somerset Patriots.

Players are to report to TD Bank Ballpark at 8:00 am for registration. Participants must be high school graduates and at least eighteen years of age. All those present should provide their career statistics and must supply their own wooden bats and baseball gloves. All participants will be required to sign a release form before trying out for the team.

Coaches and representatives from the Patriots will be on hand to evaluate the players at the ballpark, including Manager Sparky Lyle, President/General Manager Patrick McVerry, and Vice President/Assistant General Manager Rob Lukachyk.

The Patriots have invited ten players from tryouts to Spring Training over the past decade. Several players made the roster including last season when pitcher Scott Van Es pitched for the Patriots through mid-August. Other notable tryout signings were Tony Gsell, who played for Somerset from 2003 through 2006, and Jim Burt Jr. (pictured), who played for the team throughout the 2006 season.

“We’ve had success finding players during our open tryouts. It’s a great opportunity for a player to come out and show what he’s got in hopes to play at this level. We’re looking forward to hopefully finding someone from the tryouts again this year,” said Patrick McVerry, President/ General Manager of the Somerset Patriots Baseball Club.