Hunter Pence

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Posted by kaori 03/09/2009 @ 01:11

Tags : hunter pence, baseball players, baseball, sports

News headlines
Bourn, Pence quick studies at the plate - MLB.com
The same goes for Hunter Pence, another free-swinger who is slowly adopting more plate discipline. Both Pence and Bourn have reduced their strikeouts, an encouraging sign that they're getting better at recognizing pitches and reacting to the situation,...
Astros notes: Berkman blames himself for loss - Houston Chronicle
Alfonso Soriano led off the sixth with a bloop single to right, just out of the reach of Berkman, Kaz Matsui and Hunter Pence. Oswalt then got ahead in the count 0-2 on Derrek Lee, who worked it to 3-2 before giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead with an RBI...
Astros notes: Pence producing like an All-Star - Shreveport Times
By Larry Wade • shreveportsports@gannett.com • May 10, 2009 Hunter Pence has more hits than Alfonso Soriano. He's got more stolen bases than Carlos Beltran. And he has more assists than Nate McClouth. Soriano and Beltran are perennial All-Stars,...
3 Up, 3 Down: Pudge hits No. 300 - SportingNews.com
The lefthander will see better days, but there's a chance he could get sent right back down to Triple-A Columbus. Hunter Pence, OF, Astros. Break out the "Golden Sombrero." Pence went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts against the Cubs. Pence was 9-of-19...
No Fantasy Teams Found - CBSSports.com
Then again, Hunter Pence, James Loney and Edwin Encarnacion all had youth in their favor when they put hitting streaks together early last season, and none of them used the streaks to catapult their offense to a new level over the remainder of the...
Play by play - USA Today
Single: Hunter Pence singled to center. Runner on first with none out and Geoff Blum due up. Single: Geoff Blum singled to center. Runners on first and second with none out and Ivan Rodriguez due up. Out: Ivan Rodriguez grounded into a double play,...
Astros prevail late in duel - MLB.com
Right fielder Hunter Pence was the one to deliver the game-winner. Pence hit a two-run double in the top of the ninth off Cincinnati closer Francisco Cordero to combine with a solo shot from Berkman and seven innings of one-run pitching from Oswalt....
Play by play - USA Today
Runner on second with two outs and Hunter Pence due up. Double: Hunter Pence single to center scored Carlos Lee. On the play, Hunter Pence advanced to second on the throw. Runner on second with two outs and Ivan Rodriguez due up....
MLB: Houston 5, Colorado 3 - United Press International
Hunter Pence had two hits and one RBI, and "Pudge" Rodriguez added two hits for the Astros, who have won five of six. Todd Helton's two of five hits and one RBI led Colorado. Two others drove in one run for the Rockies, who have lost five of seven....
Last licks, last laugh - Chicago Sun-Times
Gregg hadn't pitched since Tuesday, but he said rust wasn't the reason Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee homered, Miguel Tejada and Hunter Pence singled and Geoff Blum got hit by a pitch. ''I threw everything down the middle,'' said Gregg, who was hit on...

Hunter Pence

Hunter Pence Smiling.jpg

Hunter Andrew Pence (born April 13, 1983, in Arlington, Texas) is a major league outfielder with the Houston Astros. Pence is 6' 4" tall, and weighs 210 pounds. He bats and throws right handed.

Hunter Pence attended Arlington High School in Arlington, Texas. He played shortstop and wore #8. He later made the transition to outfield in college. He majored in finance at the University of Texas-Arlington. He was on the Dean's List.

Pence was drafted in the second round of the 2004 draft by the Astros out of the University of Texas at Arlington. In 2006 with the AA Corpus Christi Hooks, Pence batted .283 and hit 28 home runs, with 95 RBI. He had 17 stolen bases, while being caught stealing only 4 times. Pence began the 2007 season as the AAA Round Rock Express' center fielder, though he made a serious run to make the big league club out of spring training. While in the Minor Leagues, Hunter Pence went by the nickname "Bam Bam", but before the 2007 season, he earned the nickname "The Natural".

Pence made his major league debut as the Houston Astros center fielder on April 28, 2007, vs. the Milwaukee Brewers and got his first major league hit and scored his first run. Pence's first home run in the majors was a grand slam, against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 5th. Pence hit a dramatic walk-off home run against Jose Mesa of the Philadelphia Phillies in the bottom of the 13th inning at Minute Maid Park on July 3rd in a 5-4 win. It was Mesa's only pitch of the game.

Throughout the first half of 2007 he was often referred to on ESPN's Baseball Tonight as "Rookie Phenom Hunter Pence" by analyst Steve Berthiaume.

On July 23rd, General Manager Tim Purpura announced that Pence would be out with a with a small chipped bone fracture in his right wrist. On August 21st, Pence was activated from the disabled list. At that point, despite having missed a month he was 4th among NL rookies in at bats.

Pence led NL rookies in triples (9), was 2nd to Ryan Braun in batting average (.322), on-base percentage (.360), slugging percentage (.539), and OPS (.899), 4th behind Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Chris Young in extra base hits (56) and total bases (246), 4th in RBIs (69; behind Tulowitzki, Braun, and Kevin Kouzmanoff), and 4th in at bats (behind Tulowitzki, Young, and Kousmanoff), tied for 5th in runs (57; behind Tulowitzki, Braun, Young, and Mark Reynolds), tied for 6th in home runs (17), and 7th in stolen bases (11).

Pence was a unanimous selection to the 2007 Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team. The selection was the result of the 49th annual Topps balloting of Major League managers.

Pence (15 points) came in third, and lost out to Braun (128 points) in the vote for the 2007 NL Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award by 488 major league players and 30 managers.

He also lost out to Braun in the competition for the 2007 Baseball America Rookie of the Year Award, in the vote for the 2007 Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie by their fellow major league players, and in the Baseball Prospectus 2007 Internet Baseball NL Rookie of the Year Award, with 16 first place votes, versus 666 for Braun.

Pence has also been called "The Pickle" in reference the BLT (Berkman, Lee, Tejada) core hitters in the Astros lineup.

In his sophomore season, Hunter Pence set new career records in home runs (25), runs batted in (83), doubles (25), hits (160), and at bats (595). However, his batting average dipped to .269, his on-base percentage fell to .318, and his slugging percentage also fell to .466. Hunter Pence also established himself as a gold glove outfielder. He led the league in outfield assists with 16, committed 1 error, making his fielding percentage .997.

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Walter Young (baseball)

Walter Earnest Young, Jr. (born February 18, 1980) is a first baseman and designated hitter who played for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and is currently playing for the independent Sioux City Explorers. He is known for his large size and his ability to hit towering home runs. Young is listed at 6'5" and 322 pounds, giving him a Body Mass Index of 38.2 (over 30 is considered "obese"), the highest BMI of any major-league player in history.

Young was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. An accomplished high school football player, Young turned down a scholarship offer from LSU to sign with and play baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He advanced steadily through the system, but before the 2004 season, the Pirates released him. He was claimed on waivers by the Orioles and assigned to their Class AA affiliate, the Bowie Baysox. Young recovered from a slow start in Bowie to set a club record with 33 home runs and appear in the Eastern League All-Star Game. In 2005, he participated in the Orioles' spring training and started the regular season with the Orioles' Class AAA affiliate, the Ottawa Lynx; he started the season by hitting 24-for-48.

Young was called up to the Orioles on September 1, 2005, after batting .286 with 13 home runs and 81 RBI at Ottawa. Since 2005 was the last year that he could be optioned to the minors without having to pass through waivers, the Orioles said upon promoting him that they would use him in September to see if he fit into their plans for 2006. Young played 15 games for the Orioles in 2005, finishing with a .303 (10 for 33) batting average, one home run, and 3 RBI. In the offseason, Young played for LaGuaria in the Venezuelan Winter League.

In January 2006, Young was designated for assignment by the Orioles, after the O's had signed first basemen/outfielders Jeff Conine and Kevin Millar. Young was then claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres, but faced much competition for the first base job: although their regular first baseman, Ryan Klesko, started the season on the disabled list, Young did not win a spot on the major league roster out of spring training; Adrian Gonzalez became their starting first baseman instead. Young was sent to the Padres' Class AAA affiliate, the Portland Beavers, where he shared a first-base job with Paul McAnulty. He started the season in a slump; and although he hit his second and third home runs for the Beavers on April 23, 2006, the Padres released him two days later to make room for pitcher Jon Adkins, who they were sending back to Portland. On May 8, the Houston Astros signed Young and assigned him to their Class AA affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks, where he spent the rest of the season and watched Hunter Pence lead the team to a Texas League championship.

On March 29, 2007, the independent Winnipeg Goldeyes signed Young. Young spent the full 2007 season with the Goldeyes, batting .313 with 21 home runs, 78 RBI, and two stolen bases. The Goldeyes exercised Young's 2008 option following the season, but instead signed with the Sussex Skyhawks. As of July 12, 2008, Young is batting .299, with seven home runs and 38 RBI in 167 at-bats. On July 24, 2008 he was traded to the Sioux City Explorers.

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Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki about to field his position (shortstop)

Troy Trevor Tulowitzki (pronounced /ˈtuləˌwɪtski/; born on October 10, 1984, in Santa Clara, California), nicknamed "Tulo," is a Major League Baseball shortstop for the Colorado Rockies.

Tulowitzki's arm, range and instincts at shortstop are highly regarded. Furthermore, his size, ability and leadership skills have garnered him comparisons to Cal Ripken, Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.

Tulowitzki graduated from Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California. He earned four varsity letters in baseball and two in basketball. He was twice named second team All-State in baseball and was a 3-time team MVP. As a junior, Tulowitzki had a batting average of .536. He also went 15-1 on the mound. As a senior, he batted .519 with 24 home runs. In basketball, Tulowitzki won league MVP, where he was second team All-State and team MVP, averaging 22.6 points per game during his senior year. He was named Fremont High Athlete of the Year in 2002.

A sure-handed starting shortstop for three seasons at Long Beach State, Tulowitzki had a .962 career fielding percentage. Offensively, in 155 career games, he had a career batting average of .310, with 20 career homers, 117 career RBI, 37 career doubles and a .491 career slugging percentage. He also accumulated 31 multi-hit games in his collegiate career. Baseball America rated him as having the top arm and as the best defensive shortstop in the Big West Conference. Tulowitzki was a two-time All-Big West selection (second team in 2003 and first team in 2004) and a two-time All-Regional Tournament selection, earning Most Outstanding Player (MOP) honors in 2004. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies, with the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft.

Tulowitzki made his Major League Baseball debut with the Colorado Rockies on August 30, 2006, in a 11-3 home loss against the New York Mets, wearing jersey number 14. He had four at-bats and went hitless with three strikeouts. Tulowitzki made it to the big leagues after playing just 126 minor league games. He collected his first Major League hit, an infield single off of Óliver Pérez of the Mets, in a 8-4 home win over New York on August 31, 2006. Tulowitzki hit his first MLB home run on September 4, 2006, off of Woody Williams of the San Diego Padres, in a 7-5 road loss against San Diego. He posted a .240 batting average with one home run and six RBI in 25 games during the 2006 season.

Spring training Tulowitzki entered spring training prior to the 2007 season in a battle with incumbent Rockies shortstop Clint Barmes for the starting role. After a spring that saw Tulowitzki winning the spring training's MVP award, along with Barmes struggling offensively, Tulowitzki entered 2007 as the Rockies' starting shortstop.

Defense As a rookie, Tulowitzki established himself in the eyes of some as a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop. He led all MLB shortstops in fielding percentage (.987), putouts (262), total chances (834), assists (561) and double plays turned (114; 2 more than Jack Wilson, in 233 more innings). He also ranked first in range factor (5.39) and second in zone rating (.866). His target at first base, 3-time gold glover Todd Helton, led the National League in fielding percentage (.999; for the second straight year) and range factor (10.39). Tulowitzki's .987 fielding percentage set an MLB-single season record by a rookie shortstop. He was also a major contributor in the Rockies' MLB-record .98925 fielding percentage for one season.

Tulowitzki ended up not winning the 2007 National League Gold Glove Award, which is voted on by NL coaches and players. The award went instead to Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, despite the fact that Tulowitzki had a better fielding percentage (.987 to .985), zone rating, and range factor, and more total chances, putouts, and assists, and turned 4 more double plays, in 66.1 fewer innings, than Rollins. They each had 11 errors, but Tulowitzki's came on 834 total chances, compared to Rollins' 717.

Tulowitzki did, however, win the Fielding Bible award at shortstop, which is awarded to the shortstop who a panel of voters view as the best defensive shortstop in Major League Baseball. The panel consists of national sports writers, scouts and sports radio talk show hosts.

Unassisted triple play On April 29, 2007, Tulowitzki turned just the 13th unassisted triple play in MLB history, during a 9-7 home victory at Coors Field over the Atlanta Braves. Eight of the 13 unassisted triple plays have been made by a shortstop. In the top of the seventh, Tulowitzki caught third baseman Chipper Jones' line drive with the runners moving, then stepped on second base to retire Kelly Johnson and tagged Edgar Rentería who made no attempt to escape, before he could return to first base. Confused and not realizing what he had done, Tulowitzki went back and tagged second again, then threw the ball to Helton at first, neither of which was necessary.

Instead of giving the historic triple play ball back to Tulowitzki, Helton accidentally tossed it into the crowd. However, the ball was eventually retrieved and returned to Tulowitzki a couple of weeks later.

Home run record On September 10, 2007, Tulowitzki hit his 20th home run of the season, which set the record for most home runs in a single season by a National League rookie shortstop. The previous record was 19, held by Ernie Banks. Tulowitzki hit his first career grand slam on September 29, 2007, in a 11-1 home win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, off of Dustin Nippert. He ended with 24 home runs on the season.

National League Rookie of the Year candidate Tulowitzki was named National League Rookie of the Month for August.

In the 2007 season, Tulowitzki ranked first among NL rookies in at bats (609), plate appearances (678), games (155), hits (177), doubles (33), runs (104), total bases (292), walks (57) and RBI (99; 2 ahead of Ryan Braun, in 158 more at bats). Tulowitzki's 99 RBI led all National League shortstops (he was 3 short of a tie for the MLB lead, held by Detroit Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillén). His RBI total set an MLB-single season record for a rookie shortstop. He finished second behind Braun in OBP (.359). He was third behind Braun and Hunter Pence in batting average (.291), slugging percentage (.479), OPS (.838) and triples (5). Tulowitzki was also third behind Braun and Chris Young in home runs (24) and extra base hits (62), and tied for ninth in stolen bases (7).

Tulowitzki tied Young, Rajai Davis and Norris Hopper for the lead among all NL rookies in caught stealing (6), was second to Carlos Ruiz in grounding into double plays (14, which was one more - with 158 more at bats - than third place Braun) and second behind Young in strikeouts (130; leading all NL shortstops). However, Tulowitzki had the third lowest strikeout ratio (21.3%) out of all rookies with at least 400 at bats, behind Kevin Kouzmanoff (19.4%) and Pence (20.8%). He batted .320 with a .554 slugging percentage and 15 home runs at mile-high Coors Field, but hit only .256 with a .393 slugging percentage and 9 home runs in away games. However, it should be noted that one of the reasons for any substantial differences in home and road splits for Rockies batters is that they have to make adjustments in how they see pitches away from Coors Field - particularly breaking balls, such as sliders and curve balls - since those pitches act differently at Coors Field than on the road.

Team veterans alerted Tulowitzki every time Braun, his chief rival for rookie of the year honors, hit a home run.

Tulowitzki had a 10.8 WARP3 for the season (WARP3 is a metric that measures offensive and defensive production). By comparison, Tulowitzki's rookie of the year rival, Braun, only had a 4.8 WARP3 rating.

Tulowitzki came in second in the race for National League Rookie of the Year. The award was voted on by 32 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, two from each National League city. Braun beat Tulowitzki, 128 points to 126 points, which was the closest voting in the NL since the current system was adopted in 1980. Tulowitzki also lost to Braun in the vote for the 2007 NL Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award, which was voted on by 488 major league players and 30 managers. Furthermore, he lost out to Braun in the competition for the 2007 Baseball America Rookie of the Year Award, in the vote for the 2007 Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie by their fellow major league players, and in the Baseball Prospectus 2007 Internet Baseball NL Rookie of the Year Award, with 487 first place votes, versus 666 for Braun. However, on December 14, fans voted Tulowitzki the This Year in Baseball Rookie of the Year, with 27.6% of the vote, which was ahead of Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (26.3%) and Braun (22.3%).

Tulowitzki was selected to the 2007 Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team. The selection was the result of the 49th annual Topps balloting by Major League managers.

Tie-Breaker and Postseason On October 1, 2007, in a one-game tie-breaker against the San Diego Padres, Tulowitzki went 4-7 with 3 extra-base hits and scored the tying run in the bottom of the 13th inning. The Rockies won the game, 9-8, and entered the playoffs as the NL wild card team. They faced the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series. On October 4, 2007, in the second game of the series, Tulowitzki and left fielder Matt Holliday hit back-to-back first-pitch homers in the first inning to begin a 10-5 win, and the Rockies headed to Denver with a 2-0 lead in the series. The Rockies went on to complete a three-game sweep of the Phillies, and advanced to the National League Championship Series, in which they swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in four games. Colorado then played the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, which was the first ever World Series appearance in Rockies history. Boston swept Colorado in four games.

Tulowitzki batted .195 in the postseason, with a .267 on-base percentage and 15 strikeouts in 41 at bats. Fox Sports writer Chadd Finn stated that while the World Series was the first time that he thought Tulowitzki looked like a rookie all season, he feels Tulowitzki will be better for the experience.

On January 23, 2008, Tulowitzki signed a six-year, $31-million contract extension with the Rockies. The deal, which also included a club option for 2014, was the largest-ever contract for a player with less than two years experience until Braun signed an eight-year, $45-million contract extension with the Brewers on May 15, 2008.

On April 29, 2008, in a 3–2 road win over the San Francisco Giants, Tulowitzki tore a left quadriceps tendon during a defensive play in the first inning of the game. He wasn't originally in the starting lineup for the game; however, he was later put in at the last minute after utility player Jeff Baker broke a blood vessel in his throwing hand during pregame warmups. On June 11, Tulowitzki played his first rehab game since the injury, as he started at shortstop in a minor league game for the Modesto Nuts - a high-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. He returned to the Rockies, starting at shortstop, on June 20, in a 7-2 home loss against the New York Mets. Tulowitzki went hitless in four at-bats and committed no fielding errors in the game. Colorado optioned second baseman Doug Bernier (who made his MLB debut with the team on June 17) to Triple-A before the game in order to open a roster spot for Tulowitzki.

On July 5, 2008, Tulowitzki went back on the disabled list after cutting his right palm in the previous day's 18–17 home win over the Florida Marlins. The injury occurred in the bottom of the seventh inning when Tulowitzki slammed a maple bat into the ground in frustration. The incident took place after he was taken out of the game in that same inning; however, he noted that the frustration leading up to his injury wasn't due to being taken out, saying, "I was a little bit frustrated, not at the move. If anything, I thought it was the right move. I came in the hallway, grabbed a bat, hit it on the ground and the bat exploded in my hand and cut open my palm running up to my index finger." The cut required 16 stitches, but no damage was done to any tendons or nerves. Tulowitzki returned to the Rockies lineup, starting at shortstop, on July 21, 2008, in a 16-10 home loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He recorded a career-high five hits during the game, as he went 5-for-5 with one RBI.Also since returning from July 21st he has had 6 multi-hit games in his past 8 games (updated through July 29th). During the season in games prior to July 21st, Tulowitzki only had six multi-hit games in the whole season (38 games played, prior to July 21st).. Tulowitzki ended the 2008 season with a .263 AVG, 8 home runs and 46 RBIs in 101 games.

Tulowitzki's favorite players growing up were Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter. Tulowitzki's jersey number in college was No. 5, due to his admiration of Garciaparra, and his jersey number for the Rockies is No. 2, due to his admiration of Jeter.

In a television interview with ESPN, Tulowitzki stated that his favorite team growing up was the Oakland Athletics, and that his favorite musical artist is Jay-Z.

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Ryan Braun

Ryan Joseph Braun (born November 17, 1983 in Mission Hills, California), nicknamed The Hebrew Hammer, is an American right-handed All-Star left fielder who broke into Major League Baseball with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007.

He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, during which he led the National League in slugging percentage. He also won the Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year, the Baseball America Rookie of the Year, the Baseball Prospectus Internet Baseball NL Rookie of the Year, and the Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie Awards. Over the prior decade, the only other NL hitter to win all 5 awards was Albert Pujols, in 2001.

Braun's father, Joe, is Israeli-born, and immigrated to the United States at the age of seven. Braun is of Jewish descent. "It's something that draws a lot of interest and something I take pride in," Braun said. His nickname is "The Hebrew Hammer." It references his Jewish heritage, former Brewer Hank Aaron (whose nickname was "Hammerin' Hank"), and the movie The Hebrew Hammer, starring Adam Goldberg. It is also the nickname of former teammate Gabe Kapler, and in the past was a nickname for Al Rosen and Hank Greenberg.

Braun is one of the highest-drafted Jewish ballplayers in the history of professional baseball. The New York Yankees made Ron Blomberg the number one pick in the 1967 draft. Braun was considered the best Jewish minor league baseball prospect in 2006, and became major league baseball's first Jewish Rookie of the Year the following season. In each of 2007 and 2008, Braun hit more home runs (34 and 37) than all but 3 of the top 10 career Jewish home run hitters had hit in their best seasons. Only Hank Greenberg (58), Shawn Green (49), and Al Rosen (43) hit more in a single year. In 2008, with 71 career home runs he passed Art Shamsky and Lou Boudreau for 9th on the all-time list (directly behind Brad Ausmus) for home runs by Jewish major leaguers.

Braun's younger brother, middle infielder Steve Braun, played for the University of Maryland, College Park. He signed with the Brewers in 2008 as a free agent, and played for Helena, Montana in the Pioneer League.

Braun was a 4-year letterman on the Granada Hills High School baseball team, and 3-year team captain and MVP. He played shortstop, and also pitched until his junior year. As a sophomore in 2000 he recorded the highest batting average of his prep career (.456), while posting a .654 on base percentage. During his junior year he hit .421, with a .668 OBP. Braun capped off his high school career by batting .451 as a senior, with an OBP of .675, and breaking the school record for career home runs (with 25).

He was a two-time all-area selection by the Los Angeles Times, and a three-time choice by the Los Angeles Daily News. Braun was rated the 6th-best shortstop prospect in the country by Team One Baseball as a senior, and rated among the top 100 overall prospects by Baseball America. He graduated in 2002, but went undrafted as he told teams that he intended to go to college.

Offered scholarships to Stanford University and UC-Berkeley, he instead attended the University of Miami. He chose Miami for its academics, its athletics, and its social scene, noting: "I think the girls were the deal closer on the recruiting trip." There, Braun was named "National Freshman of the Year," as well as a 1st-team "Freshman All-American," by Baseball America in 2003. He was also named 1st-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball. He clinched the awards by batting .364 with 76 RBIs and 17 home runs. As a sophomore shortstop/DH, Braun hit .335 and slugged .606, stealing 21 bases.

During his junior year, his final and most successful at Miami, Braun batted .396 with 18 home runs, a .726 slugging percentage, 76 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. He was 9th in slugging, and 10th in RBIs, in NCAA Division I, and was named to Baseball America's 2005 College All-American Team as the DH. He moved from shortstop to third base during the year. His performance earned Braun a spot as one of the finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, the most prestigious individual award in college baseball.

The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Braun in the 1st round (5th overall) in the 2005 Amateur Baseball draft as a third baseman, and Braun signed for $2.45 million. Assigned to the Helena Brewers in the Advanced Rookie Pioneer League in 2005, Braun batted .341/.383/.585 in 10 games. He was then promoted to the West Virginia Power in the Single-A South Atlantic League, where he hit .355/.396/.645, and was rated the 5th-best prospect in the league. His most memorable moment there was when he hit a walk-off grand slam to lead the Power into the playoffs. Following the 2005 season he was rated by Baseball America as the Brewers' Best Minor League Hitter for Average, and the 5th-best prospect in the South Atlantic League, and the 3rd-best prospect in the Brewers organization.

Braun began 2006 playing for the A-Advanced Brevard County Manatees, where he earned a spot in the Florida State League All-Star game, and played in the All-Star Futures Game in Pittsburgh. He was rated the top third base prospect in the FSL, and Baseball America rated Braun the best batting prospect in the league. On June 21, Braun was promoted to the Class AA Huntsville Stars (Alabama) of the Southern League. In July he was voted the Brewers' Organizational Player of the Month, and at the end of the season he was voted the 6th-best prospect in the Southern League. Collectively between Class A and Class AA, Braun finished with a .289 average, 22 home runs, 77 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases. He received the 2006 Robin Yount Performance Award as the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League player of the year.

In 2006 in the Arizona Fall League he hit .326/.396/.641 in 92 at-bats for the Scottsdale Scorpions, and was rated as one of the top three prospects in the league. He led the AFL with 16 extra-base hits, tied for tops with 9 doubles, ranked 2nd in slugging percentage and HR/AB ratio (1/15), tied for 2nd in home runs (6), tied for 3rd in RBIs (25), and was voted to the AFL All-Prospects Team.

Baseball America rated Braun the Brewers' # 2 prospect for 2007. He began the year with the Nashville Sounds of the AAA Pacific Coast League. Before being called up to the majors in late May, in 113 at bats he led the PCL with a .726 slugging percentage while batting .354 (6th), with 10 home runs (T-2nd) and a .426 on base percentage (5th). At the same time, Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino were batting a combined .214 while playing third base for the major league club.

Braun has used as at-bat songs "Superstar," by Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco, "Go Getta," by Young Jeezy, and "My Life" by The Game.

In 2007 Braun had one of the most dominant rookie seasons in the history of the game.

On May 24th, Braun was called up by the Brewers. He hit his first major league home run two nights later, off Padres' starter Justin Germano.

His rookie hazing took place on his first full road trip after being called up. "I had to carry bags. I had to sing on the bus." With headphones to his iPod plugged into one ear, he sang "On Bended Knee" and "Water Runs Dry" by Boyz II Men. "I was into it, but I don't think my voice was too great. I feel like I'm going to have to dress up soon." That did in fact happen later; in September he was inducted into the annual rite of Brewers' rookies being required to put on silly costumes, and wore a hot dog costume for a team flight to Atlanta.

Braun was voted the National League Rookie of the Month for June, after leading all N.L. rookies with 21 RBIs. He hit 6 home runs, tying him for 1st among N.L. rookies, while recording a .716 slugging percentage and a .435 on base percentage. In July he was voted the National League Rookie of the Month for the second straight month, as well as the NL Player of the Month (marking the first time a player won both awards in the same month). He hit a league-leading 11 home runs, with 25 RBIs, while batting .345.

In mid-August, Yost moved Braun from 3rd in the lineup to cleanup, switching him with Prince Fielder. The move was expected to allow Braun to steal more, since when he batted in front of Fielder, it did not make sense for him to risk getting thrown out on steal attempts. In addition, if he were successful stealing, teams could simply counter by walking Fielder. The switch also allowed Yost to move left-handed Geoff Jenkins up in the batting order, behind the right-handed Braun. At the end of August, however, Yost reversed the switch.

In September, as the Brewers sought in vain to capture the pennant, he was 3rd in the NL in runs (27) and RBIs (29), and tied for 5th in home runs (9), while batting .308 with a .644 slugging percentage.

Season Stats. In 2007, during which he played in 113 games and had 492 plate appearances, Braun led the National League with a .634 slugging percentage. He set a new all-time major league rookie slugging percentage record, breaking the record set by Mark McGwire, who slugged .618 for Oakland in 1987.

He was also 5th in the league in at bats per home run (13.3; behind Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Barry Bonds, and Adam Dunn) and OPS (1.004; behind Bonds, Chipper Jones, Fielder, and Matt Holliday), tied for 5th in home runs (34; behind Fielder, Howard, Dunn, and Holliday), and 8th in batting average (.324) among hitters with at least 490 plate appearances.

He also led the Brewers in batting average and slugging percentage, and was 2nd behind Fielder in home runs, runs (91), and RBIs (97), tied for 2nd in triples (6), and 3rd in obp (.370) and steals (15) -- despite not having played in the first 48 games of the season. Braun obliterated the club rookie records of 28 home runs and 81 RBIs, set by Fielder in 2006. A projection of his statistics over 162 games put him at 49 homers and 139 RBIs.

Home Run Pace.

On July 7th Braun became the fastest Brewer ever to hit his 10th major league home run, hitting it in his 38th game, shattering the previous record of 61. He hit his 15th home run in the 50th game of his career, and his 20th in his 64th game, making him the fastest to 15 and 20 since Albert Pujols got there in the 49th and 63rd games of his career in 2001. He was also the fastest to 20 in Brewers history. He hit his 25th home run in his 82nd game, quicker than any player since Mark McGwire in 1987, becoming just the 21st player ever to hit that many homers as a rookie. H e broke the Brewer rookie record of 28 home runs on September 9th. Braun hit his 30th home in his 94th game. No player had hit as many homers in so few at-bats since Mark McGwire hit 30 in 84 games during the 1986 and 1987 seasons. His 34 home runs for the season were just 4 behind the NL rookie record of 38 home runs, shared by Frank Robinson (1956) and Wally Berger (1930), and were the fifth-highest total ever for an NL rookie.

NL Batting Title Race. Braun had the 8th-highest batting average in the National League in 2007, among players with 490 or more plate appearances. He finished with 492 plate appearances, 10 short of the number needed to qualify for the NL batting title. Though he didn't have a high enough batting average to take advantage of it, an exception to the qualification rule kicks in and a player is awarded the title if he falls short of 502 plate appearances, but would still have the highest batting average if enough hitless at-bats were added to his total to enable him to reach the 502 mark.

In 2007, Braun led all NL rookies in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, extra base hits, home runs, and at bats per home run. He was 2nd in RBIs and runs (behind Troy Tulowitzki; 2 and 10 fewer, respectively, in 158 fewer at bats) and in triples (behind Hunter Pence), 3rd in hits, and tied for 4th in stolen bases.

He was 4th in strikeouts (behind Young, Tulowitzki, and Mark Reynolds; with the highest strikeout ratio of rookies with at least 400 at bats, at 24.83%; Young was 2nd, at 24.78%), 3rd to Carlos Ruiz (in 77 more at bats) and Tulowitzki (in 158 fewer at bats) in grounding into double plays (13), and tied for 5th in caught stealing (5).

Since 1947, Pujols was the only other NL rookie to hit at least .320 with 30 homers. Of all prior NL Rookies of the Year, only Pujols and Willie McCovey hit for higher batting averages in their rookie year.

Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year. Braun was voted the 2007 NL Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award. The vote was by 488 major league players and 30 managers.

Baseball America Rookie of the Year. Braun was awarded the 2007 Baseball America Rookie of the Year.

Baseball Prospectus Internet Baseball NL Rookie of the Year. Braun won the Baseball Prospectus 2007 Internet Baseball NL Rookie of the Year Award. He had 666 first place votes, versus 487 for Tulowitzki and 16 for Pence.

Topps Rookie All-Star Third Baseman. Braun was a unanimous selection as the 2007 Topps Rookie All-Star Third Baseman. The selection was the result of the 49th annual Topps balloting of Major League managers.

Brewers' Top Newcomer. In October, he was voted the Brewers' Top Newcomer. The award was voted by the Milwaukee chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

NL MVP vote. Braun was mentioned as a top NL MVP candidate by writers at Sports Illustrated, ESPN, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Philadelphia Daily News. In the end, he received two 10th place votes.

This Year in Baseball Rookie of the Year vote. Braun finished third in the This Year in Baseball Rookie of the Year Award voted on by fans, with 22.3% of the vote, behind Tulowitzki (27.6%) and Dustin Pedroia (26.3%).

In spring training, Braun hit .368/.431/.719, and tied for 3rd in the NL in home runs with 5, and 7th in RBIs with 16, while playing in only 22 of the Brewers' 29 games.

At the beginning of the season it was anticipated that Braun would hit cleanup, behind Fielder, giving him more opportunities to steal, but during the season he batted third the vast majority of the time.

In May Braun was second in the league in home runs (11), while batting .322. On June 17th, Braun drove in his 152nd career RBI, in 182 games. He reached the 150-RBI milestone faster than any Major Leaguer since Boston's Walt Dropo needed only 155 games from 1949-51.

Braun was named the NL's Player of the Month for July, after batting .366 for the month (6th in the league) with 9 home runs (3rd), and 23 RBIs (7th). He also led the league with 76 total bases and 18 extra base hits, and was among NL leaders with 37 hits (2nd), 3 triples (2nd), a 1.163 OPS (3rd), and a .752 slugging percentage (4th). He had back-to-back 4-hit games, just the 5th player in team history to accomplish that feat. "It's a huge honor," Braun said before beginning a three-game series against the Reds. "The way I look at it, you're the MVP of the National League for that month. It's definitely a big accomplishment.

As of August 8th, Braun had had one of the best major league career starts ever. He was first, in 227 games to start a career, with 558 total bases and 133 extra base hits, second with 64 home runs, and tied for second with 181 RBIs.

On August 9th, Braun strained the intercostal muscles around his oblique ribcage, leading to him missing a number of games, and shorten his swing for a number of weeks. After returning, on September 25th Braun hit his first grand slam in "grand" fashion. With the bases loaded, Braun delivered a 2-out, 2-2 pitch from the Pirates' Jesse Chavez into the left field bleachers of Miller Park in the bottom of the 10th inning, winning the game 5–1, and keeping the Brewers' 2008 post-season hopes alive. Three days later Braun helped put the Brewers into the post-season for the first time since 1982, by hitting a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 8th against the Chicago Cubs. The homer gave the Brewers the lead and was the difference in the game, giving the Brewers a one-game lead over the New York Mets for the NL wild card.

All Star Game. Braun was a starting outfielder for the NL in the 2008 All Star Game. He finished first in fan voting among NL outfielders, and second among all NL players, with 3,835,840 votes, behind only Chase Utley of the Phillies (3,889,602). He also finished first in player voting. Braun was the first Brewers outfielder voted to start an All Star game. He was one of only seven first-time starters in the game, and--along with Kosuke Fukudome and Josh Hamilton--one of only three who had not reached the major leagues until 2007 or 2008.

Home Run Pace. On June 3rd, Braun became the second-fastest major league player to reach 50 career home runs. He did so in 171 career games (the only player to reach that plateau sooner was Mark McGwire). On July 8th, Braun hit his 56th home run in his 200th game, the third-highest total ever in a major leaguer's initial 200 games, behind McGwire (59) and Rudy York (59).

In early August Braun hit his 30th home run, becoming just the second player in MLB history to hit 30 or more homers in each of his first two seasons, joining Albert Pujols. Braun hit 71 home runs in his first two seasons, tieing him with Pujols for fourth all-time. Joe DiMaggio tops the list with 75 home runs in 1936 and 1937, followed by Ralph Kiner (74), and Eddie Mathews (72).

Season Stats. In 2008, in 151 games Braun hit 37 home runs (tied for 4th in the NL, behind Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn, and Carlos Delgado), with 106 RBIs (9th), and batted .285 with a .553 slugging percentage (5th). He also led the league with 83 extra base hits, and had 338 total bases (2nd in the NL), 7 triples (6th), 16.5 at bats per home run (10th), and 611 at bats (10th).

Against starting pitchers, Braun hit .244 the first time he faced them in a game, .331 the second time, and .328 with a .672 slugging percentage the third time. Braun led the Brewers in batting average, slugging percentage, triples, home runs, RBIs, extra base hits, total bases, at-bats-per-home run, OPS (.888), runs (92), and hits (174).

Post-season Braun's played his first post-season series in October against the Phillies. Braun hit 313 in the series, but the Brewers lost 3–1.

Contract. In March the Brewers renewed Braun's contract for $455,000, a $75,000 increase.

Braun then signed an 8-year, $45-$51 million contract extension (the total depending on his 'Super 2' service-time ranking after the 2009 season) on May 15, 2008. The contract is through the year 2015. The deal includes Braun's $455,000 salary for 2008, and a $2.3 million bonus in 2008. It could increase to $51 million through incentives. Braun also has a no-trade clause for the first four years, and then a limited no-trade clause allowing him to block deals to 12 teams from 2012–13, and 6 teams from 2014–15. The contract will keep Braun locked up through his age-31 season. It is the largest contract in Brewers' history, surpassing Jeff Suppan's. It is also the largest contract in baseball history given to a player with less than 3 years of experience. Braun's agent, Nez Balelo, crunched enough numbers to show him what he potentially could have made over the life of this contract if he had chosen not to sign it. "But the question I ultimately asked myself was, `What can't I buy with that amount of money?"' Braun said.

Sporting News NL All Star Team. Braun was voted to the 2008 NL Sporting News All Star Team. A panel of 41 major league general managers and assistant general managers chose the team.

Silver Slugger Award. Braun was awarded the 2008 NL Outfielder Silver Slugger Award, determined annually by a vote of major league coaches and managers who select the top offensive performers at each position in both leagues. The award, sponsored by Louisville Slugger, is based on a combination of statistics, including batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage, as well as the coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value.

MVP Race. Braun was third in the voting for the 2008 NL MVP award, with 139 points. behind Pujols and Ryan Howard, for which he received a $50,000 bonus..

Braun has accepted an invitation to play for Team USA in 2009 in the second World Baseball Classic, the 16-team tournament scheduled for March 5-23 at locations around the world. "I'm really excited to get to represent my country," Braun said. "It's an honor just to get invited for the event, and I think it's going to be great." He may well see significant playing time in the tournament, as he is the only candidate who spent 2008 primarily in left field.

Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections for 2009 anticipte that Braun will come in second in the NL in home runs, with 37, while hitting .296.

Braun has the ability to hit for average and significant power. His swing is compact and short, with a protracted follow-through, and he is a pull hitter with tremendous bat speed and strong wrists. He stays back on offspeed pitches, and uses the entire field.

In addition, his speed garnered him comparisons to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Braun has been timed at 4.2 seconds to first base from the right side of the plate. During Scout Day at the University of Miami in 2004, Braun ran the 60-yard dash in 6.2 seconds. In spring training in 2007, he was second only to Corey Hart in the Brewers' 60-yard dash.

While Yost removed Braun from a number of games in September 2007 for defense, he praised Braun for his improvements. "The great thing about it is it doesn't involve throwing at all now," said Yost, referring to Braun's biggest issue in the spring. "It involves first-step quickness to the ball, which will increase his range. soften his hands a little bit. hand-eye coordination to the ball needs to be a little better. That comes with repetition, repetition, repetition." Braun finished 2007 last of all eligible third basemen in fielding percentage (.895, with 26 errors in 248 total chances; only the fourth third baseman since 1916 to play 100 games or more in a season and have a fielding percentage under .900), range factor (2.11), and zone rating (.697). His target at first base was Prince Fielder, who finished 2007 last of all eligible major league first basemen in range factor (8.49), and first in errors (14). Similarly, his target at second base, Rickie Weeks, had the lowest fielding percentage of all NL second basemen (.976), and the lowest zone rating among all major league second basemen, .737.

Furthermore, it was suggested that it was possible that Braun would learn to play the position adequately, given that David Wright (who tied for the major league lead in errors by a third baseman in 2005 (his second in the league) in 2007 became a "passable defender" (and won the NL Gold Glove at third base).

In January 2008, however, the Brewers acquired three-time Gold Glove winning center fielder Mike Cameron, prompting the team to move center fielder Bill Hall to third base and Braun to left field.

In 2008, Braun led all major league outfielders with a 1.000 fielding percentage. He also led all NL left fielders in putouts (275), and was second in the league in range factor (1.95) and fourth in assists (9), in 1,310.1 innings.

Roll over stat abbreviations for definitions. Stats through September 28, 2008.

Braun is developing his own signature fashionable t-shirt line for Affliction Clothing, a California-based clothing manufacturer owned by friends of his which manufactures shirts that are garment dyed and hand distressed. In August 2008 he filmed a YouTube video with supermodel Marisa Miller for Remington's ShortCut clippers, which was released in the fall. And in October 2008, Apple released a commercial for its new iPhone, which showed a clip of Braun's 10th inning walk-off grand slam against the Pittsburgh Pirates on 9/25/08, which kept the Brewers' Wild Card hopes alive. He has also signed an endorsement deal with an airline, and is working on his own line of aluminum bats.

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Jason Lane

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Jason Dean Lane (born December 22, 1976 in Santa Rosa, California) is a Major League Baseball outfielder who is currently in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He was drafted out of the sixth round in 1999. Lane graduated from El Molino High School in Forestville, California in 1995. Notably, Lane is one of those rare position players in major league history who throws left-handed but bats right-handed.

First attended Santa Rosa Juinor College where he was selected as the 1997 California Junior College Northern California Player of the Year and Bay Valley Conference MVP before Transferring to University of Southern California. At Southern California Lane earned All-America honors during his senior season (1999) at USC including pitching 2.2 innings in the 1998 College World Series championship game to pick up the win and help USC to its 12th NCAA baseball championship, topping Arizona State University 21-14. Lane served as the DH in the game, going 3-6 with a ninth inning grand slam setting a CWS record with 11 hits overall, and led the tournament with a .417 batting average. Astros, Padres, and Yankees teammate Morgan Ensberg was also his college teammate on the USC national championship squad.

The Astros believed Lane’s future was at the plate rather than on the mound, so he began his professional career as a first baseman. He was later moved to the outfield because of Jeff Bagwell, who played first base.

In 2005, while hitting 26 home runs, he led the major leagues in fly ball percentage (51.3%). When asked after Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series (an 18-inning game) who would pitch if Roger Clemens had begun to tire, Astros manager Phil Garner stated that he would have had Lane pitch for the victory with Clemens taking his place in the outfield. Lane hit the last home run and made the last out at Busch Memorial Stadium on October 19, 2005.

On July 12, 2006, Lane was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock after Houston acquired utility slugger Aubrey Huff. In August, Lane was called back to the majors, and on August 29, 2006, he hit a pinch hit grand slam off Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Dan Kolb in the 8th inning.

Lane finished the 2006 season with 15 home runs, although he hit just .201 over 112 games.

Lane began the 2007 season with the Astros, but carried an abysmal .165 batting average into June. With Rookie of the Year candidate Hunter Pence's spectacular play earning him the starting job in center field, Lane became expendable and was demoted to Round Rock. On July 23, with Pence out with a fractured wrist and Lance Berkman struggling with a hand injury, Lane was called back up to the big league club. Lane had hit well at Round Rock (.308 with 8 HR and 35 RBI in just 42 games), but then again, he has always hit well at the minor league level where he has a lifetime batting average just under .300 and has hit over 100 HR. The Astros hoped that he could repeat his 2005 success and become the outfield mainstay that they had long expected him to be, but it would not happen despite Lane being given every opportunity to succeed. While Pence was on the DL, Lane received the bulk of the playing time at center field despite an abysmal .172 average as of August 12, 2007.

On August 22, 2007 Lane was demoted once more to Triple-A. The Astros recalled relief pitcher Travis Driskill to the majors to help their bullpen. Lane was recalled when rosters expanded in September. On September 24, 2007, he was traded to the San Diego Padres for cash consideration. Lane was not offered a new contract by the Padres and became a free agent on December 12, 2007.

On January 10, 2008, Lane agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Yankees and was invited to spring training. However, he did not make the team, and was assigned to the Yankees Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. On August 19, 2008, after opting out of his contract with the Yankees, Lane signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in December.

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Corpus Christi Hooks

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The Corpus Christi Hooks are a minor league baseball team that plays in the Texas League as the Class AA affiliate of the Houston Astros. The team's ownership group is headed by Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan; the team's CEO, Reid Ryan, is Nolan's oldest son. The team's president is J.J. Gottsch.

Before the 2005 season, the Hooks played in Round Rock, Texas as the Round Rock Express. The Express name was taken over by the club formerly known as the Edmonton Trappers, a Class AAA team in the Pacific Coast League also owned by the Ryans' group. The Hooks play at Whataburger Field, a new ballpark on Corpus Christi's waterfront that opened in 2005.

The franchise began as the Memphis Blues in 1968, and was affiliated with the New York Mets. In 1974, the team moved to Texas for the first time, playing in Victoria as the Victoria Toros. The following year, the team moved yet again, this time to Jackson, Mississippi, and took the name Jackson Mets. In 1991, at the same time that the team's major-league affiliation changed to the Astros, the team became the Jackson Generals. While the team has moved twice since then, to Round Rock in 2000 and now to Corpus Christi, its affiliation has remained with the Astros.

The team's colors are navy blue and light blue, representing the ocean and sky of the popular South Texas fishing area.

A number of Hooks players have been called up to the major leagues in the two years the team has been in Corpus Christi. These include outfielder Charlton Jimerson, catchers Héctor Giménez and J.R. House, and pitchers Matt Albers, Fernando Nieve, Chris Sampson, Jason Hirsh and Philip Barzilla. Most recently Hunter Pence who was on the 2006 squad, spent a short time in Round Rock before getting the call up to the majors.

One of the most exciting moments in the team's history was an appearance by Roger Clemens on June 11, 2006, as he prepared for his return to the Astros. Clemens' start attracted nationwide attention and a record crowd of 9,022. Clemens struck out 11 batters in six innings on his way to the victory. Tickets were being sold on Ebay for up to 230 dollars.

The team store is called the Hook, Line, and Sinker. The team mascots are Sammy the Seagull and Rusty Hook, with occasional appearances from the HEB bag.

On September 14, 2006, in a wild 5 hour 14 inning marathon, the Corpus Christi Hooks eclipsed the Wichita Wranglers 8-7, clinching the 3rd and decisive game to defeat Wichita 3 games to 1 in the best of five series to win the 2006 Texas League Championship. Marking the first time a Corpus Christi franchise has won the TL Championship since the 1958 Corpus Christi Giants.

Other 2006 Accolades of note: Field Manager Dave Clark was named 2006 Texas League Manager of The Year and Pitcher Matt Albers was named 2006 Texas League Pitcher of the Year.

On June 25, 2007, Whataburger Field played host to the 2007 installment of the Texas League All-Star Game. Seven hooks players were invited to play on the squad, including fan favorite Jonny Ash.

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Source : Wikipedia