Infielder Cito Culver (2) of the Charleston RiverDogs tapes his bat in the dugout prior to a game against the Greenville Drive on June 3, 2012, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, South Carolina. Charleston won, 5-3. Culver is the Yankees’ No. 12 prospect, according to Baseball America and was a first-round draft pick in 2010. (Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images)
A youth baseball player stands for the National Anthem prior to a game between the Greenville Drive and Lakewood BlueClaws on July 13, 2011, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, South Carolina. (Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images)
There’s nothing much you can do during the National Anthem — except look around for photo opportunities. This is one I found while standing right behind home plate.
If you’ve ever been to just about any Minor League game you’ll know that selected youth ballplayers often run out onto the field with the position players just before the game, and they stay there for the National Anthem.
There was just something about this young kid, with the shades and the hat held just in the right position over his heart. He seemed right at home standing there with the umps and the Greenville Drive catcher. The kid has style.
Kannapolis Intimidators right fielder Kenny Gilbert (26) dives but misses a fly ball during a game against the Greenville Drive on Spartanburg Night, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. (Tom Priddy / Four Seam Images)
The only reason I got this shot was that I was sitting with my family in the first-base-side stands and happened to have a good angle at this right field action.
Normally, if I’m shooting from the dugout, this angle is blocked. Sometimes you get lucky when you shake things up a bit.
Coach Victor Valencia (38) of the Charleston RiverDogs signals to his baserunners late in a game against the Greenville Drive on May 15, 2011, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. (Tom Priddy / Four Seam Images)
I’ve commented on this photo before; it was a beautiful afternoon at the ballpark, and the RiverDogs’ manager appears to be ready to take off into the skies as he signals to his base runners.
Second baseman Heiker Meneses (21) of the Greenville Drive turns the first half of a double play as J.R. Murphy (21) slides into second in a game against the Charleston RiverDogs on May 15, 2011, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. (Tom Priddy / Four Seam Images)
This is what you hope to get at every game: Just a decent shot with a clean background, good action and dirt flying everywhere. I’d be happy with one of these at every game.
Second baseman Sean Coyle (5) of the Greenville Drive takes a tumble but applies the tag to thwart the stolen base attempt by Edward Salcedo (1) of the Rome Braves in a game on August 16, 2011, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, South Carolina. (Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images)
I don’t really know how something can be simultaneously easy and hard, but that’s what second base shots are. They’re easy in the sense that you know exactly where some action is going to take place, but you never know exactly when or how they’re going to occur. And you have about a second and a half to react and shoot it. That keeps it challenging.
This year Greenville Drive second baseman Sean Coyle made things interesting. He was always willing to do whatever it took to make the out, even if that meant twisting and turning and flopping on his rear. This was one time he went all out for the tag.
Richie Shaffer (8), Brad Miller (13) and Kevin Caughman (37) of the Clemson Tigers change into their game spikes in the dugout prior to a game against the Michigan State Spartans on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C. (Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images)
For the next several days I’ll be posting a few of my favorite photos from the 2011 season. Sometimes it seems a bit of an egotistical endeavor to do a best-of series, but it’s really helpful in planning for what I want to accomplish in 2012.
This shot has stuck in my head all year. Right before the first pitch of any game I usually hang out near one of the dugouts, hoping to see something interesting that might be worth shooting. It normally doesn’t work out.
But in this case I saw the three Clemson players reach for their laces at exactly the same time, and I liked the symmetry that resulted.
Shortstop James Kang (2) of the Greenville Drive is out at second base as shortstop Matt Lipka (5) of the Rome Braves turns the double play in the second inning of a game on July 18, 2011, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, South Carolina. Rome beat Greenville, 7-3. (Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images)
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Atlanta Braves tested out 2010 No. 1 pick Matt Lipka in the outfield during this fall’s Instructional League play in Florida.
O’Brien reported on his Twitter feed: “Took to it well, impressed. Will play CF in ’12 in minors.”
The Instructional League is a chance for young prospects to get some additional training end experience in a Spring Training environment in Florida after the regular Minor League season ends. Very little official news comes out of these sessions. The Braves have not commented on their website.
Lipka is highly regarded by the Braves, as you would expect of any top draft pick, but the team has a line of good prospects waiting for a shot at the shortstop job, which is where Lipka has been playing.
Lipka played for the Rome Braves this year in Class A, and appeared in several games at Fluor Field against the Greenville Drive.
Atlanta called up their top shortstop prospect, Tyler Pastornicky, when rosters were expanded at the end of this season. However, O’Brien has also reported that the team will be looking for a one-year veteran at short in 2012 until Pastornicky is ready for the starting job.
Atlanta also has another highly regarded shortstop prospect in the minors, Andrelton Simmons, who played this year in High A Lynchburg of the Carolina League. At the end of the season he was named one of the league’s Top 20 prospects.
And if you want to go deeper into the Braves farm system, they also have rookie Danville shortstop Brandon Drury, who was named to the Appalachian League Post-Season All-Star Team this year and was named the league’s Player of the Year.
So that kinda gives a hint of what Atlanta is trying to do with Lipka.
Infielder/shortstop Andrelton Simmons (33) of the Lynchburg Hillcats, Carolina League affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, prior to a game against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on June 15, 2011, at City Stadium in Lynchburg, Va. Simmons was a second-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. (Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images)
Starting pitcher Sean Gilmartin (2) of the Rome Braves, Class A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, in a game against the Greenville Drive on August 16, 2011, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, South Carolina. Gilmartin was Atlanta’s first-round pick (No. 28 overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Florida State. Making his second start of the season, he pitched four scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out four. (Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images)
Lefty starting pitcher Sean Gilmartin, the Atlanta Braves’ No. 1 pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, is picking up steam in the Arizona Fall League.
Gilmartin, who was called up to Rome in August and pitched a game at Fluor Field against the Greenville Drive, allowed one run on four hits over five innings and struck our four in his latest outing for the Surprise Saguaros.
(I wasn’t sure what a saguaro is, but wikipedia says it’s “a large, tree-sized cactus species . . . native to the Sonoran Desert in the U.S. state of Arizona.” Makes sense.)
Anyway, Gilmartin has struck out 14 and walked just three in his four starts in the AFL.
Other Atlanta prospects are also doing well for Surprise:
1B Joe Terdoslavich is leading the AFL in batting at .462 and second with .512 on-base percentage and .718 slugging percentage
C Christian Bethancourt ended his eight-game hitting streak Monday but remains eighth in the league with a .375 average.
OF Todd Cunningham had a multiple RBI game for the third time Oct. 19 when he drove in three runs.
Boston prospects who played with the Greenville Drive are on the same team as those Braves:
3B Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-5 with his third homer and three RBIs on Friday.
C Dan Butler was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs on Friday and is 6-for-11 at throwing out attempting base stealers.
RHP J.J. Hoover (48) of the Rome Braves, No. 24 prospect of the Atlanta Braves, pitches in a game against the Greenville Drive on July 8, 2009, at Fluor Field at the West End in Greenville, S.C. (Tom Priddy/Four Seam Images)
Whenever I shoot I always worry about getting clean backgrounds, so I’m sure I was annoyed that I got some clutter behind this shot of J.J. Hoover pitching at Fluor Field in Greenville.
I needn’t have worried, however. This Leaf card which I discovered for sale recently on eBay just wiped the background clean, and did my work for me.
I normally don’t care too much for dropouts, but I’ll be a big fan of this series of cards when the check arrives.