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Golden Sombrero: Kelly Johnson (No. 3)


Bottom 1: Kelly Johnson struck out swinging against Tim Wakefield

Bottom 3: struck out swinging against Wakefield

Bottom 6: struck out swinging against Franklin Morales

Bottom 7: grounded out to first against Daniel Bard

Bottom 8: struck out swinging against Matt Albers

Final Line: 0-for-5, 4 K

Notes: With players like Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard and Mark Reynolds playing nearly everyday—well, I guess not so much Dunn these days—it’s hard to believe that Kelly Johnson is now tied for the league lead in golden sombreros.  Tied with Adam Dunn and Grady Sizemore with three, Johnson’s latest achievement came against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.  The second baseman’s strikeout rate sits at a career-high 27.6% and his OPS is down over 150-points.  And after this season, it’ll be interesting to see if Johnson will be factored into their long-term plan. (The same can be said regarding the Diamondbacks and Aaron Hill.)

Total 2011 Sombreros: 109

Will Latimer Cracks AFL Roster; Jake McCasland Receives Cape Cod Invite

This week preliminary rosters for the Arizona Fall League were announced.  The AFL is a prestigious league for what are typically regarded as the surest bets in the Minor Leagues.  While there are some exceptions, in general the rosters for the AFL are comprised of the top prospects in the game.  Exceptions include those pitchers and hitters receiving September call-ups and obviously those players making playoff rosters as well as pitchers who have approached appearance caps, innings caps, or other forms of usage limitations.  Even without these players the rosters can be pretty damn impressive.  Look no further than the Scottsdale Scorpions’ outfield for proof.  It will feature the game’s top two prospects in Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.  Whitney also happens to live a few blocks from their home yard, so I am absolutely ecstatic about the Scorps.  What has me even more thrilled, however, about the Scottsdale roster is a lefty reliever named Will Latimer, a Four Corners baseball product hailing from Bayfield, CO.

Bayfield is a tiny community located immediately east of Durango and well within the gorgeous San Juan Range, which is famous for ski areas like Telluride, Purgatory, and Silverton.  In recent years Bayfield has become a community where Durango’s workforce establishes residence to flee outlandish real estate costs in the Durango city limits.  Will Latimer was raised in this community and ultimately graduated from Bayfield High in 2004.  Latimer played his club baseball in the Farmington Connie Mack league but was never a standout talent until college.  Latimer signed at Trinidad State (CO), which currently rosters former Strike Zone Cardinal Austin Rochford.  While at Trinidad, Latimer saw his fastball begin to pick up pace and his slider begin to bite harder.  He was selected by Boston in the 22nd round of the 2007 draft and, after missing much of 2008 and 2009 due to injury, is on the right track at the age of 25, reaching as high as Double-A this season.  With a healthy ERA in the low 3’s and more than 3 K’s per BB, his stats certainly justify his AFL invitation.  A quality showing for Scottsdale could land Latimer in the high minors to begin 2012, and with a three-pitch mix featuring a low-90’s fastball and a lanky 6-foot-3 build; the former BHS Wolverine has a very realistic shot at the Show.

In other Four Corners baseball news, former Piedra Vista Panther and current UNM Lobo Jake McCasland has received an invitation to the Cape Cod Baseball League.  If you are a regular guest at The Sombrero, I assume you know what that means.  For those of you who aren’t, The Cape is the premier amateur baseball league worldwide.  Rosters are comprised of nothing but elite collegiate players fighting to climb draft boards.  Jake is the first product of Farmington baseball to crack a Cape roster, and the community is absolutely ecstatic about his invitation.  Jake is arguably the finest local product the town has ever produced, and, after a freshman season at UNM in which he started 15 games, Jake is ready to step back into the weekend rotation in Albuquerque as the Lobos look to build on their 2011 Mountain West title.  Congratulations!

Changeups and Screwballs: A Southpaw’s Perspective for 8/31/11

–       Another Yankees vs. Red Sox series got underway last night…yawn.  At least there was a little bit of tension after Francisco Cervelli’s (weak) celebration of his own homerun.  But other than that, what is the point of so many meaningless games for these two teams down the stretch Bud Selig?

–       How cool would it be to play for Joe Maddon?  The guy used to go to elementary school with Julius Caesar, supports awesome Rays fashion wear , and is a leading man in the case of using crunched numbers (to give his team the best chance of winning).  Is he baseball’s Phil Jackson?

–       Why does MLB not care about exciting pennant races?  Here’s a great article by Rob Neyer over at SB Nation.

–       I can’t seem to understand why so many people hate the Mets blue and black unis.  Not the “Los Mets” ones, these.  They seem to be fitting for a team who is getting beat day after day.

–       Matt LaPorta is being sent back down to the minors.  Is anyone surprised anymore?

–       How about Alex Gordon?  After being the 2nd overall pick of his draft class, and not living up to people’s ridiculous hype, he has finally hit his stride as a ball player.  It is my personal opinion that maybe if the Royals had pulled their heads out and given him enough regular AB’s with the big club this probably would have happened sooner.  Just look at his Triple-A numbers.

–       I have become discouraged with youth baseball over the last couple seasons.  I am sick and tired of watching 11-year-old kids quit all other fall sports to play baseball year round.  I find it extremely frustrating and detrimental.  It not only limits a child’s athletic development, but it deprives them of experiencing different aspects of sport and what it offers.  This idea is probably best reserved for an entire article of its own and most likely will find its way to the Sombrero very soon.  Just wanted to vent my frustrations.

Golden Sombrero: Carlos Santana

Top 2: Carlos Santana struck out on a foul tip against Tim Wakefield

Top 4: Santana struck out swinging against Wakefield

Top 6: Santana struck out swinging against Wakefield

Top 8: Santana struck out swinging against Randy Williams

Final Line: 0-for-4, 4 K

Notes: To say that Santana struggled against Wakefield’s knuckie would be a gross understatement.  In fact, Santana was so baffled by the pitch that he actually turned around to face him right-handed for his third at-bat.  As you can see above, it didn’t matter; his golden sombrero was meant to be.

Total 2011 Sombreros: 84

Golden Sombrero: Carl Crawford

Bottom 2: Carl Crawford grounded into force out against Kyle Davies

Bottom 4: Crawford struck out swinging against Davies

Bottom 7: Crawford grounded out to second against Tim Collins

Bottom 9: Crawford struck out swinging against Aaron Crow

Bottom 11: Crawford stuck out swinging against Greg Holland

Bottom 14: Crawford struck out swinging against Joakim Soria

Final Line: 0-for-6, R, SB, 6 LOB

Notes: Like so many others, Crawford’s golden sombrero against the Royals on Monday night was made possible by extra innings. His final two strikeouts were extremely costly, as the one in the 11th inning came with two outs and runners on first and second, and the one if the 14th led off the Red Sox final at-bat.

Total 2011 Sombreros: 75