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Your 2007 WV Power: Latest -- Steve Chapman Video

Mass Haas

First up today, the Power, won't be your last:


FROM: Andy Barch, Director of Media Relations


RE: 2007 Power Roster





CHARLESTON, WV (March 30, 2007) ? The West Virginia Power, Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers have announced their opening day roster for the 2007 season.


Outfielders Darren Ford and Michael Brantley will return to West Virginia, as will right handed pitcher Patrick Ryan and second baseman Kenny Holmberg. Last year Ford set the franchise record for stolen bases in a season with 69 and Michael Brantley?s .300 batting average was seventh best in the South Atlantic League.


Brent Brewer, Milwaukee?s second round pick in the 2006 draft is also on the opening day roster. Brewer, who turned down a scholarship to play wide receiver at Florida State to pursue his baseball career, is expected to play shortstop for the Power.


The average age of the opening day roster is just over 21. The roster includes two catchers, five infielders, six outfielders and 14 pitchers. There are a total of nine free agents, three 2004 draftees, seven 2005 draftees and eight 2006 draftees.


The Power will play an exhibition game against WVU Tech on Tuesday, April 3 at 7:05 PM (6:05 Central). The Power will open the 2007 season at Appalachian Power Park against the Lake County Captains on Thursday, April 5 at 7:05 PM (6:05 Central).



RH reliever Patrick Ryan was incredible in 2006:




Almost unbelievable he's returning, look for him to move up as soon as the opportunity presents itself.


Roster details will be posted in a moment.

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Familiar faces set to return to Power

Jacob Messer

Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter


Four holdovers from last year highlight the 27 players assigned to the West Virginia Power for the 2007 season, according to a roster the team released today.


They are outfielder Michael Brantley, center fielder Darren Ford, second baseman Kenny Holmberg and relief pitcher Patrick Ryan.


"The older guys have to step up and be leaders," said Ford, the fastest player in the Milwaukee Brewers' organization according to Baseball America.


"We have to go all out from the first game to the last game. We have to lead by example. We have to show the younger guys the way."


Among the other prospects that will make Charleston their home this season is shortstop Brent Brewer, whom Baseball America named the best athlete in the Brewers' organization.


Brewer, an Atlanta native who originally signed a national letter of intent to play football for Florida State University, was a second-round pick in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.


"Brent is special because he is a kid with a lot of talent and a lot of tools, just like a lot of the other players on the team," Power Manager Mike Guerrero said.


"If everything plays out the way we think it will, he is going to be a pleasant player to have around."


Guerrero will field a young team this season -- 16 of the 27 players are first- or second-year players, including 10 of the 14 pitchers.


"I think we are going to have a pretty interesting club," said Guerrero, who led the Power to a 74-62 record last season, his first with the club.


"It is going to be exciting to watch them develop. Time will tell how everything is going to go. How we go about our business will dictate how everything plays out.


"For many of the players, this is their first full season. They are going to go through ups and downs. Once they get the consistency that we try to keep as a team, everything should be OK.


"They need to understand how you do things and how you play the game. They need to understand the respect you have for the uniform and for the fans and for your career and for baseball. Once they understand those things, everything is going to play out the way we hope it plays out."


West Virginia will place two of the 27 players on the disabled list to trim the roster to 25 before its South Atlantic League season opener against Lake County at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Appalachian Power Park.


The Class A club will host WVU Tech in an exhibition game at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.


Stephen Chapman and Chuckie Caufield will join Brantley and Ford in what should be one of the league's fastest and most talented outfields.


"We have a phenomenal outfield, offensively and defensively," said Brantley, who hit .300 with 24 stolen bases, 42 RBI and 47 runs in 108 games with the Power last season.


"We have a lot of speed. That will be very beneficial for us in the outfield and on the base paths."


Ford believes the outfield will be a force.


"We're the strength of the team," said Ford, who had a .283 batting average with 24 doubles, 54 RBI, 69 stolen bases and 93 runs in 125 games with the Power last year. "We're going to be dangerous."


First baseman John Alonso, second baseman Taylor Green and shortstop Jimmy Mojica will join Brewer and Holmberg in the infield. It appears Green or Mojica will move to third base, but that is unclear.


West Virginia's catchers will be Andy Bouchie and Martin Maldonado.


In addition to Ryan, West Virginia's pitchers will be Omar Aguilar, Zach Braddock, J.T. King, Dustin (D.J.) Lidyard, Mike McClendon, Roque Mercedes, Alex Periard, Luis Ramirez, Mike Ramlow, Jose Romero, E.J. Shanks, Travis Wendte and Brae Wright.


All but Braddock, Ramirez, Ramlow, Romero and Wright are right-handers.


"It's going to be a pretty solid staff from the looks of things," Power pitching coach John Curtis said. "We have a lot of good arms."


The starting rotation, in no particular order, will feature Braddock, McClendon, Mercedes, Ramlow and Wright.


"That's the way it's penciling out," said Curtis, who is in his third season with the Power.


"They haven't been on that rotation (in Arizona during spring training)."


Unlike previous seasons, Curtis doesn't plan to use a piggyback tandem with his starters.


Periard would be the sixth starter if Curtis would decide to use a piggyback tandem for the final spot in the rotation.


"We might have a baby tandem who is brought along briefly," Curtis said. "The starters are pretty much conditioned to throw 65 to 70 pitches and go five or six innings.


"That's what we're hoping, anyway. We're not planning to split them up early except maybe the last hole, which has yet to be determined."

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Darren Ford is getting jobbed here...I hope they let Chapman play centerfield...


nonetheless, this will be an exciting young team to watch...and look for first hand observations from me early in the season...with a foolowup quote from Chappy, brewer, and Ford...

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Power won't hit long-ball lottery

Jack Bogaczyk

Charleston Daily Mail Sports Editor


As followers of the local pro baseball nine have learned in the last two summers, there is a difference between Powerball and Power ball -- although you can get a $1 ticket for both.


As Appalachian Power Park regulars also can tell you, there's a difference between Power ball and power baseball. Milwaukee's local baby Brewers didn't exactly live up to their team nickname in the summer of 2006.


West Virginia could hit last season and its Charleston Class A (since 1987) club-record .277 was six points higher than any other South Atlantic League club. The capital city enjoyed only the second year of back-to-back winning half-seasons in a decade.


The Power just didn't dig the long ball.


Although "The APP" isn't exactly the pitchers' paradise that long-distanced Watt Powell Park was, the Power's 79 homers (home and road) were tied for 13th in the 16-team South Atlantic League.


So, what about the third edition of Milwaukee's best low Class A prospects, who will arrive here Monday for Thursday night's opener? Well, after discussions with Brewer brass, the 2007 Power sounds a lot like the club Manager Mike Guerrero had here last year.


West Virginia will have more speed than big fly potential. The pitching should be deeper and the rotation will take a turn to the left.


As for last June's $1.55 million top draft pick, Virginia right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, the jury's still out. He's not here quite yet.


Milwaukee farm system business executive Scott Martens said outfielder Michael Brantley will return for a second summer. The same is true of center fielder Darren Ford, who set a franchise record with 69 stolen bases last season.


The Power outfield is well-stocked. Besides Brantley and Ford, Stephen Chapman (.308 short-season Helena) and Chuckie Caufield (.284 at Arizona and Helena in 2006) are ticketed for Charleston.


The Brewers' No. 2 pick last summer is headed here. Brent Brewer figures to be the every-day shortstop. The 6-foot-2 Georgian was headed to Florida State as a football wideout until the Brewers coughed up a $600,000 bonus.


Brewer is a work-in-progress as a fielder (24 errors in 45 Arizona games last summer), but he'll hit and he's regarded as the best athlete in the Milwaukee system by Baseball America. He figures to team in a double-play combo with returning second baseman Kenny Holmberg.


Third-year first baseman John Alonso has hit .302 in his two previous seasons. Catcher Andy Bouchie (7 homers, 46 RBI in 612 Helena games) was a seventh-round pick last June.


You want power? Bouchie is a cousin of former Major League All-Star third baseman Matt Williams.


As for pitching, among the names there are a trio of lefties -- Zach Braddock, Brae Wright (a sixth-rounder last year) and Mike Ramlow.


Right-handers Michael McClendon and Roque Mercedes are expected starters, too. That group's 2006 statistics won't make fans forget Will Inman's overpowering Power numbers of last season, but their spring training work in Arizona has won jobs.


On just who's who and what's what, Power fans will have a chance to know early. The club plays 11 of its first 15 games at home.


As far as power goes, maybe the third-year ballpark has fooled everyone. Maybe it's just smaller than the bulldozed Watt Powell.


Last season's 79 West Virginia homers were only one more than in the 2005 opening season at the East End park. A trend seems to be brewing.

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"Brent is special because he is a kid with a lot of talent and a lot of tools, just like a lot of the other players on the team," Power Manager Mike Guerrero said.



Ok, I'm confused. http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/smile.gif

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We've learned that the backup outfielders will be lefty-swinging Andrew Lefave, who rocked out Arizona Rookie ball as a 22-year-old to a .353 batting average, and 22-year-old Venezuelan Anderson Delarosa, who was limited to 24 at-bats in Arizona last year, where he also saw some time behind the plate. A surprise there, but they must see something in him.
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I was just gonna say it's odd they have 27 players but only 2 catchers, but it looks like the OF/C Delarosa is #3.


Didn't Ford have a horrible '06? I don't know how he's not being treated fairly, all he can do is run.


EDIT: I see Darren did have a decent OBP, but K's often. With his speed and at that level, he needs to improve his contact rate.

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Ford's got line drive power...the word i've heard is that the rbewers would like to see darren slap more and hit for contact...i think they saw him trying to knock 'em out last year, and they want to put a stop to that...i suspect he'll move up very fast...whenever cole gillespie punches his ticket to huntsville, ford will be right there...
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Darren Ford is getting jobbed here...


Well, there's no real surprise there IMO...we all knew they had a logjam in the outfield. You have to expect movement in a couple of months, though. From one of the other threads, the Huntsville OF is Moss, Katin, and TBD right now. I assume that the TBD is a vacancy that will eventually be filled by Gillespie, which in turn will leave a corner open in Brevard for Ford or Brantley. At the same time, Moss and Fermaint are ripe for advancement in CF, each having spent some time at their current levels last season.

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First up today, the Power, won't be your last:


Actually, that is it for today, Friday.


As you can imagine, the decisions the big-league Brewers will need to make on the final position player and bullpen spots will have a ripple effect on the makeup of the Nashville, Huntsville, and even Brevard rosters, so we may not see "official" rosters until Sunday.

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Wow, some very interesting decisions. Good to see Pereird and Mercedes make the club. That's some youth. Besides being only around 18 or 19, do we know much about Pereird? I think I was more or less intrigued simply because he was so young when drafted.


wow, and Ramirez and Braddock are teens, too.


Also, I didn't realize Brantley was still 19. He could be opening 2008 in AA and not able to buy a beer yet.

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Power boasts speedy shortstop

By Mike Whiteford

Charleston Gazette Staff writer


The early months of the 2006 calendar year now probably seem like a blur to Brent Brewer.


In February, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Georgia native signed a letter of intent to play wide receiver for the Florida State Seminoles but, after switching to baseball, found himself struggling as a professional in Phoenix of the Arizona (rookie) League.


A football-baseball star at Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, Ga., in the Atlanta suburbs, Brewer considered his options last spring and chose baseball.


When the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the second round of the June draft, he accepted their offer of a $600,000 bonus, spent the summer in Phoenix and will open the season at Appalachian Power Park as the Power shortstop.


Beginning with the Power season opener at 7:05 p.m. Thursday (6:05 Central) at home against the Lake County Captains, the 19-year-old Brewer will be a regular.


As the South Atlantic League season unfolds, he?ll work to try and cut down on his strikeouts, refine the accuracy of his throws across the diamond and make maximum use of his wide-receiver speed, which in the imperfect world of 40-yard-dash timing is listed at a superb 4.4 seconds.


In his first 26 at-bats in Phoenix last year, Brewer collected just four hits for a .153 average, but he apparently was more comfortable in August and finished on a 25-for-75 tear (.333) for a .264 overall average. In those final 75 at-bats, however, he struck out 23 times.


Brewer spent the off-season working out at Milwaukee?s spring training site in Phoenix and developed a friendship with outfielder Darren Ford, who played for the Power last year and will return for another season in Charleston.


Ford is one of four Power players who will return for the 2007 season. The others are second baseman Kenny Holmberg, outfielder Michael Brantley and reliever Patrick Ryan.


Holmberg, a 24-year-old native of Dunedin, Fla., opened the 2006 season with high expectations and lofty credentials but suffered a high-ankle sprain in April when he stepped awkwardly on first base.


The injury kept him sidelined for seven weeks and, once he returned to the Power lineup, battled ankle irritation and never fully regained his stroke. He ended the season with a .235 average in 72 games.


The previous year at Helena of the Pioneer League, he batted .372 to rank second in the league, and his .450 on-base percentage and .526 slugging percentage led the league.


Ford, 21, of Vineland, N.J., hit .283 and stole 69 bases in 84 attempts and had a .361 on-base percentage. Brantley, 19, of Fort Pierce, Fla., batted .300 with a .402 on-base percentage.


Ryan, 23, of Brooksville, Fla., was effective in relief, posting a 1.87 earned run average and allowing just 77 hits in 91 innings.


POWER POINTS: The Power will play three games with the Captains. In addition to Thursday?s home opener, the teams will play at 7:05 Friday and Saturday (6:05 Central) at Appalachian Power Park. The Thursday and Friday games will include postgame fireworks. ... The Power finished with a 74-62 record last year and averaged nearly 3,500 fans a game to set a franchise attendance record. ... The Power will play an exhibition game against WVU Tech at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday (6:05 Central). ... Ford?s 69 steals led the South Atlantic League.

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Ryan back with Power, but probably not for long

Jacob Messer

Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter


Last year, some last-minute moves landed Patrick Ryan in Charleston.


This year, they kept him here.


Many people expected Ryan to start the season with the Brevard County (Fla.) Manatees, the Milwaukee Brewers' high Class A affiliate. Instead, he will begin it with the West Virginia Power, the Brewers' low Class A affiliate.


"He should be pitching in Brevard, but the pitching is stacked up," West Virginia Power pitching coach John Curtis said of Ryan, a 6-foot-1, 198-pound middle reliever. "So, he's going to be toiling in Charleston. Our job is to get him out there as soon as we can.


"He proved (he is good enough for that level) last year, and he had a good spring. But there were some moves that were late in developing, and he was the odd man out. It will just be a matter of time before he gets called up."


Ryan will be available for action at 7:05 tonight (6:05 Central) when the Power faces WVU Tech in an exhibition game at Appalachian Power Park.


West Virginia will open its South Atlantic League season at 7:05 PM (6:05 Central) Thursday when it hosts Lake County at Appalachian Power Park.


Ryan finished the 2005 season with a 0-0 record and 3.15 ERA in 17 appearances with the Helena (Mont.) Brewers, Milwaukee's high rookie-league affiliate. He yielded nine runs (seven earned) and 19 hits in 20 innings with 20 strikeouts compared to six walks.


Although his numbers were solid, Ryan was expected to spend another season in Helena last year. Instead, he received a last-minute promotion to Charleston when Power Manager Mike Guerrero decided he wanted another pitcher.


The decision worked out well for the Power and Ryan, who is from Brooksville, Fla.


Ryan finished the 2006 season with a 5-2 record and 1.88 earned run average in 45 appearances with the Power. He allowed 26 runs (19 earned) and 77 hits in 91 2/3 innings with 73 strikeouts and 27 walks. He also recorded two saves.


"He had a tremendous year," said Curtis, who is in his third season with the Power. "He was probably the most valuable pitcher on my staff last year. He was the guy who brought the game from the fifth and sixth to the seventh and eighth. He was the critical guy."


Although he admits he is disappointed, Ryan said he isn't worried about his assignment because he can't control it. All he can do, he said, is try to be the best pitcher possible every time he takes the mound.


"I wanted to move up from a career perspective," said Ryan, a right-hander who has four pitches (an 84- to 88-mph, four-seam fastball that moves like a cutter; a 12-to-6 curveball; a changeup and a palmball). "But that's out of my hands.


"You never know what's going to happen. Baseball is full of a bunch of unanswered questions. If you try to figure them out, you're going to go crazy; you're going to drive yourself up the wall. If you try to calculate every step, you're never going to make it because you're going to have bumps in the road; you just have to go with the flow."


It helps that Ryan enjoyed his experiences at Charleston and Appalachian Power Park last year.


"I'm taking it as a positive," said Ryan, who married his college sweetheart during the offseason. "It's a great city with a great ballpark and good fans. I love Charleston. I have been telling all of the younger guys about it (during spring training)."


Besides, pitching in Charleston is better than working at Aeropostale, right?


"Definitely," said Ryan, who worked at that clothing store between the 2005 and 2006 seasons. "That's the main thing -- I still have a uniform to put on everyday. That's all I can ask for -- a place to play.


"I have always valued baseball a lot because I have never been highly touted and I have never been the star. I have always had to work for everything I got. Just getting drafted was a real surprise for me. So, I never take things for granted."


The Brewers selected Ryan, 23, in the 19th round of the 2005 draft.


Ryan was 19-5 with a 2.39 ERA in two seasons at Embry-Riddle, where he earned All-America second-team honors and All-Florida Sun Conference first-team honors. Ryan and Power second baseman Kenny Holmberg led the Eagles to the NAIA World Series.

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Second go-round for some


Logjam in system keeps Brantley, Ryan with Charleston Power

By Mike Whiteford

Charleston Gazette Staff Writer


Down here in Class A baseball, a subtle, never-wavering goal lingers in the minds of all players.


Though most of them exercise admirable patience, they all want to be promoted and thus take another step up the professional baseball ladder that will move them closer to their ultimate objective of the big leagues, where childhood dreams are fulfilled and unfathomable riches await.


Conventional wisdom has always dictated that a solid season with, say, the West Virginia Power of the Class A South Atlantic League will bring a promotion to the slightly more advanced Brevard County Manatees of the Class A Florida State League.


But exceptions always arise.


In the case of Power outfielder Michael Brantley and pitcher Patrick Ryan, their 2006 numbers strongly suggest they should now be in Brevard County, preparing for the season opener, but instead they spent Tuesday afternoon working out with the Power and playing an exhibition game at Appalachian Power Park.


Beginning at 7:05 PM (6:05 Central) Thursday at APP, Brantley and Ryan will begin another season in Charleston, still waiting and hoping for an advancement that, in all likelihood, will eventually come.


Last year, Brantley batted .300 to finish in a tie for seventh place in the South Atlantic League, and Ryan compiled an earned run average of 1.87 and allowed just 77 hits in 91 2/3 innings of relief. Pitching coach John Curtis called him the team?s most valuable pitcher.


But neither is complaining and, besides, both agree Charleston and Appalachian Power Park have served their needs well.


?I obviously have no control over what happens. I?m just glad to come back here,?? said Ryan, a 23-year-old right-hander from Tampa, Fla. ?It?s a good place to play baseball. It?s awesome; it?s great. There?s a lot of fan support, a good facility, good competition around the league and good parks around the league. The people here are really great. They?re really friendly. They make it an enjoyable place to play.??


At least for the moment, Brantley fell victim to an outfield logjam in the parent Milwaukee Brewer organization and, at age 19, there?s no big rush. Moreover, Brantley knows that playing every day in Charleston is far more beneficial than being a fourth outfielder at a higher level.


?Where you play doesn?t matter as long as you play every day and develop and work on your tools,?? said the Fort Pierce, Fla., native. ?Playing every day, that?s the key. You don?t want to have to play every other day or sit behind someone else. To be starting every day is a blessing.??


Like Ryan, Brantley enjoyed his 2006 season in Charleston.


?It?s a great town to play baseball in, and I love it,?? he said. ?It?s very laid back. There?s not a lot of bad areas where you can get in trouble, and there?s always something to do. The ballpark?s phenomenal. We go to a lot of stadiums that are not close to this.??


As a reliever last year, Ryan worked in the late innings, mostly as a setup man, and saved two games. But a wealth of pitching depth at Brevard County and Class AA Huntsville is keeping him with the Power.


?He did everything here that we asked him,?? said Curtis. ?I called him the most valuable pitcher on our staff last year. He controlled that territory from the fifth inning to [closer] Joe Thatcher. It did it consistently all year. He was there when we needed him. He?s going to be in [the Florida State League] before much longer.??


Said Ryan, ?From a career standpoint, it would have been ideal to have gone [to Brevard County], but things will work themselves out.??


Another 2006 Power veteran, outfielder Darren Ford, might have expected a promotion but will open the season in Charleston. Ford, a 21-year-old native of Vineland, N.J., batted .283 last year and stole 69 bases in 84 attempts.


Second baseman Kenny Holmberg, a 24-year-old native of Dunedin, Fla., also returns. After an outstanding season at Helena of the Pioneer (rookie) League in 2005, he played in Charleston last year but suffered a high-ankle sprain in April and missed seven weeks.


POWER POINTS: In the season?s first half last year, the Power finished second to Lexington in the Northern Division and in the second half was third behind Rome and Augusta. Overall, the team was 74-62, but the roster, like always at the Class A level, is drastically different. ?All I can tell you right now is we have a good bunch of guys,?? said manager Mike Guerrero. ?I think it?s going to be another fun year here in West Virginia.?? ... Power general manager Ryan Gates said a continuation of warm, sunny weather would have assured a standing-room-only crowd on Thursday, but the forecast calls for a dramatic temperature drop. ... After Thursday?s home opener against the Lake County Captains, the teams will play at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday is an off day.


Lefty Brae Wright will pitch in the Power?s opener Thursday night.

Charleston Gazette Photographer: Chris Dorst



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Power manager expects plenty of ups and downs this year

Jacob Messer

Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter


Sitting in his office Tuesday evening, less than an hour before his players took the field for an exhibition game, West Virginia Power Manager Mike Guerrero said this team has not only an abundance of talent but also an abundance of youth.


A look at the roster confirms the latter as 16 of the 27 players are first- or second-year players, including 10 of the 14 pitchers.


As a result, he said, ups and downs are inevitable.


"I have high expectations for my team," said Guerrero, who is in his second season with the Power (74-62 last year).


"We are going to have a lot of room for improvement because we are very inexperienced. When you are young and inexperienced, you have a lot of room to grow."


The Power showed it has a ways to go Tuesday during its 12-1 win over visiting West Virginia University Tech, an NAIA school and Mid-South Conference member.


The score suggests a lopsided game, and ultimately it was, but not in the first three innings.


In fact, the Power trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the fourth inning at Appalachian Power Park, where a small crowd gathered for the exhibition game. It didn't even have a hit at that point.


But the Power scored three runs in the fourth, four in the sixth, four in the seventh and one in the ninth to pull away from the Golden Bears, who are 14-14 overall and 1-7 in league play this season.


Outfielder Michael Brantley had a team-high five RBI for the Power on a three-run homer in the sixth and a two-run single in the seventh. Catcher Andy Bouchie added a solo shot in the ninth.


The Power will open South Atlantic League play at 7:05 PM (6:05 Central) Thursday at Appalachian Power Park against Lake County.


The Power will start left-hander Brae Wright.


* * *

Like his teammates, especially the other newcomers, Power pitcher Zach Braddock is looking forward to the season opener Thursday.


He likes what he has heard about the stadium and the fans here.


"The biggest thing I have heard is the second part of our team is the fans," Braddock said.


"I have heard the fans are amazing and are an extension of the team, which is wonderful.


"We have a beautiful ballpark here. You can't ask for more than a great place to play and a great group of fans to come watch you everyday."


* * *

In case anyone is wondering what happened to the prospects who spent time with the Power last season, here is a player-by-player breakdown.


Promoted to Huntsville (Ala.), the Brewers' Class AA affiliate (Southern League): Joe Thatcher.


Promoted to Brevard County (Fla.), the Brewers' high Class A affiliate (Florida State League): Ryan Barba, Mike Bell, Lorenzo Cain, Nestor Corredor, Ryan Crew, Mat Gamel, Steve Garrison, Will Inman, Rafael Lluberes, Derek Miller, Kevin Roberts, Angel Salome, David Welch and Ned Yost IV.


Returned to West Virginia, the Brewers' low Class A affiliate (South Atlantic League): Brantley, Stephen Chapman, Darren Ford, Kenny Holmberg and Patrick Ryan.


Remained in Arizona for extended spring training: Julian Cordero, Shawn Ferguson, Matt Kretzschmar and Scotty McKnight.


Released: Hector Bernal, Josh Louis, Ronny Malave, Ryan Marion, Steve Palazzolo, Brandon Parillo, Kyle Pawelczyk, Dane Renkert, Robbie Wooley and Nate Yoho.


Retired: Tony Festa and Brad Willcutt.


Traded: Wilfrido Laureano (to Philadelphia, sinc released by the Phillies).


WVU Tech shortstop Danny Flores (4) is upended by Andrew LeFave, of the West Virginia Power.

Charleston Daily Mail Photo: Craig Cunningham



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Park puts squeeze on Power pitcher

By Mike Whiteford

Charleston Gazette Staff Writer


On Monday, after arriving in Charleston from spring training, West Virginia Power left-hander Brae Wright made a quick visit to Appalachian Power Park, where he and his teammates will spend the summer.


On Tuesday afternoon, as many of the Power position players took batting practice, Wright stood in front of the dugout and glanced around the 2-year-old ballpark.


Like any ballplayer, he paid special attention to the park?s size and the flight of the baseball off the bat.


?It?s a hitter?s park,?? said Wright. ?The ball kind of flies out of here. You can tell the ball travels real well here.??


Wright, a 23-year-old native of Southaven, Miss., will pitch the Power?s season opener beginning at 7:05 tonight (6:05 Central) against the Lake County Captains at Appalachian Power Park and knows that the ballpark itself can have an impact on his life this season.


He also knows that the execution of his fastball, slider and changeup are far more important than the size of the park and the gentle breezes that sometimes nudge fly balls toward right-center field and onto Morris Street.


Indeed, APP?s inviting dimensions and gentle breezes should serve as a reminder to all pitchers: focus on pitching and not something beyond your control.


By Class A South Atlantic League standards, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Wright is a veteran. He played two seasons at the University of Mississippi, two at Oklahoma State and pitched last season at Helena of the Pioneer (rookie) League and has learned a few things about a good mental approach.


?As long as you?re keeping the ball down, you increase your chances of keeping the ball in the yard,?? he said. ?You can?t pitch to the park. You still have to stick to your game plan. We?ll see what happens. I?m looking forward to it. If I can execute and do what I can to keep my team in the game, that?s all that matters.??


At Helena last season, Wright pitched mostly in relief, appearing in just 27 innings, and did not post imposing numbers. But the parent Milwaukee Brewers like his potential, particularly as a left-hander, and have designated him the Power?s No. 1 starter.


?I didn?t know Brae until I got to spring training,?? said Power pitching coach John Curtis. ?Jim Rooney, our pitching coordinator, said this guy?s a real comer, meaning that if he demonstrates all the things that we hope he will here, we may not have him for too long. He?s going to be a good one from everything I?ve seen so far.??


Wright is not a strikeout pitcher and needs to keep his pitches low in the strike zone and vary his velocity and location.


?My game is locating the ball, moving it in or out,?? he said. ?I just try to pitch, rather than try to overpower a guy.??


Power manager Mike Guerrero liked what he saw in spring training.


?He?ll light your eyes up,?? said Guerrero. ?I think we have a pretty good pitching staff, but it?s going to take a little time for them to adjust and learn.??


If, in fact, Wright successfully executes the fundamentals of pitching this summer, he might actually take advantage of Appalachian Power Park?s reputation as a hitter?s park.


He?s aware that many Class A hitters are free swingers; they?re often undisciplined, eager to show off their power and make a good impression on management. Such a free-swinger can sometimes be easy pickings for a smart, talented pitcher.


?A lot of times, it?s in the back of the hitters? minds,?? said Wright. ?They?ll think, ?All I?ve got to do is turn on one here,? and you can kind of pitch to that. Not to say that they will, but sometimes [the ballpark] can get in their heads.??


In the dugout between innings, he and Curtis may discuss how to approach a particular hitter. A guy who?s obviously swinging for the fences can be exploited.


?There are certain hitters whose profiles make attacking them easier,?? said Curtis, who spent 15 seasons in the majors. ?So we will talk about certain swings that can be attacked in a certain way. It may be a pitch up a little bit, a pitch in. And if a pitcher is capable of doing that on any given day, he can attack that certain hitter.??


POWER POINTS: The Power hit only 79 homers last year to tie with Delmarva for 12th place in the 16-team South Atlantic League. The Power led the league with a .277 team average and was fourth in runs scored. ... Like last year, the team is not expected to be a power-hitting threat but should steal bases, take the extra base and show good range defensively. ?We have a very fast lineup this year,?? said outfielder Michael Brantley, who batted .300 for the Power in 2006. ... Power right-hander Mike McClendon is scheduled to start Friday, and left-hander Zach Braddock will pitch Saturday. The team is off Sunday. ... Tonight?s game will mark the city?s 21st consecutive season in the South Atlantic League.


Power pitcher Brae Wright

Photographer: Charleston Gazette Chris Dorst



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On Opening Night, Wright hopes for magic on the mound

Jacob Messer

Charleston Daily Mail Sportswriter


For those West Virginia Power fans who plan to keep an eye on Opening Night starter Brae Wright, here is some friendly advice from the tall, lanky left-hander himself:


Don't watch the radar guns behind the backstop or the mph monitor on the scoreboard.


Instead, pay attention to the plate.


That, he said, is where he works his mound magic.


"I'm not going to show you anything as far as speed or velocity," Wright said in his thick Southern drawl, the result of a lifetime living near the Mississippi-Tennessee border (Tennessippi, he calls it).


"Basically, I just want to get out there and pitch rather than throw. The way I run my game is, I like to keep the ball down in the zone and throw a lot of strikes. From what I understand, the ball flies out of this park pretty good. You just have to stick to your game plan and go with it.


"I'm going to do what I have to do to keep our team in the game and give us an opportunity to win."


Weather permitting, Wright will take the Appalachian Power Park mound for the first pitch at 7:05 tonight (6:05 Central)when the Class A club opens South Atlantic League play with the first of a three-game series against the Lake County (Ohio) Captains.


"I'm really excited about it," said Wright, who is from Southaven, Miss., which is 20 miles south of Memphis, Tenn. "I'm honored to get the start on Opening Night. It should be a lot of fun."


Wright throws three pitches -- fastball, changeup and slider. His fastball usually hits 88 mph, which is comparable to 90 or 91 mph for a right-hander.


Although his fastball can't keep up with those thrown by the Milwaukee Brewers' four premier pitching prospects -- Jeremy Jeffress (95-97 MPH), Mark Rogers (95-97), Yovani Gallardo (90-94) and Will Inman (89-92), all of whom are right-handers -- Wright has "more than enough velocity for a left-hander," Power pitching coach John Curtis said.


"He can pitch," said Curtis, who notes that his observations are based on the brief time he spent with Wright during spring training. "He has some terrific physical tools. He has a good mound presence about him. He knows what he's doing. He moves his fastball around on both sides of the plate. He has some pretty good sink action."


That, Curtis and Wright said, should result in plenty of ground balls from Power opponents.


"I don't try to go out there and strike everybody out," Wright said. "I like to let the defense play behind me and make outs wherever they can."


The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Wright admittedly isn't a power pitcher, but Curtis said "cerebral" or "finesse" aren't accurate adjectives for him, either.


"He has good enough stuff to where he doesn't have to fool anybody," Curtis said. "He's going to be aggressive and go after them. The big thing with him, like all of our guys, is he has to stay down in the zone. He's capable of doing it."


The Brewers drafted Wright, 23, in the sixth round (182nd overall pick) last year. He received a $31,500 bonus when he signed.


Off-the-field woes throughout his college career cost Wright thousands of dollars, to be sure. Consider this: The Brewers gave a $166,000 bonus to their fifth-round pick, a $115,000 bonus to their seventh-round selection, a $145,000 bonus to their eighth-round pick and a $60,000 bonus to their 10th-round selection.


At that point, however, Wright was more than happy to sign the contract and put his past behind him.


Wright played two seasons at Mississippi and two seasons at Oklahoma State. He was 10-6 with the Rebels and 12-5 with the Cowboys.


Wright twice was suspended during his sophomore season at Mississippi for the infamous and ambiguous "violation of team rules." The second time was permanent.


Wright transferred to Oklahoma State, where troubles followed. Wright appeared in only seven games during his first season in Stillwater because he injured his pitching arm when he punched a teammate. The injury -- and the incident itself, perhaps -- dropped him from a third-round prospect as a junior to a sixth-round pick as a senior.


Wright's inaugural season in professional baseball was a forgettable one.


Pitching for Helena (Mont.), Milwaukee's Pioneer League affiliate (high rookie), Wright had an 0-2 record and a 5.98 ERA. He surrendered 21 runs (18 earned) and 34 hits in 27 1/3 innings. He finished with 12 strikeouts compared to 14 walks. However, he didn't allow any home runs.


Milwaukee Director of Player Development Reid Nichols considers Wright one of the players to watch at West Virginia this year, despite his struggles at Helena last year.


Curtis agreed, noting that Wright likely will be one of the first pitching prospects promoted to Brevard County (Fla.), the Brewers' Florida State League affiliate (high Class A).


"I think he learned a lot over a half-season in Helena and in our winter program," Nichols told MLB.com. "He learned how to focus and get the job done."

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Holmberg healthy, eager to play Power homestand

Jacob Messer

Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter


Kenny Holmberg is back.


Thanks to a healthier diet and a more strenuous exercise plan, he might be better than ever.


Holmberg, who began his second season with the West Virginia Power last week, shed 15 pounds during the baseball offseason. He also took the time to let his ankle heal from an injury that hindered him in all but the first month last season.


"I feel better," said Holmberg, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound second baseman who once again is a team leader and the clubhouse comedian. "I'm more confident at the plate. I'm not sluggish down the line or at second base when a ball is hit up the middle or to my left.


"It's a little mental thing, too, knowing you're in better shape and knowing you can do some stuff that you weren't able to do before."


There were no drastic changes for Holmberg. "Just eating right and training hard," Holmberg said of his secrets to success. "I took the time off to let myself heal. Then, about a month and a half into the offseason, I started to really get after it -- running and lifting weights, just doing what I had to do to get back in shape."


An ankle injury put Holmberg on the disabled list last April 30 through May 19 and again from May 29 through June 21.


"It was something different," said Holmberg, 24, from Palm Harbor, Fla. "I had never missed more than a game in a row throughout high school and college. Even in my first year in pro ball, I was always used to being in the lineup and playing."


Holmberg hit .308 (20-for-65) with four homers, eight RBI and 15 runs in 20 games before the injury compared to .205 (32-for-156) with three homers, 28 RBI and 19 runs in 52 games after it.


"It was something that was nagging me," said Holmberg, whom the Milwaukee Brewers drafted in the 22nd round (655th overall) two years ago. "It wouldn't let me go out and play at the 110 percent that I like to play at. It was a struggle.


"I'm glad it's in the past. Everything from last year is in the past. I'm beyond all of that. I'm happy to be here, and I'm ready to do what I want to do this year."


Holmberg made the mistake of trying to do too much when he returned from the disabled list for the second time last season. The results, as the statistics show, weren't good.


"I would maybe go out and try to hit a 450-foot home run to lead off an inning," Holmberg said. "I just wanted to let everybody know I was still capable of playing."


He now realizes that he simply should have heeded the advice his father, Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays Manager Dennis Holmberg, always offers at the end of their nightly telephone conversations: Play the game right.


"I'm going to stick to that this year," Holmberg said. "Hopefully, it will get me to the next level."


Holmberg has a .200 batting average after only three games with the Brewers' low Class A club this year. One of his two hits, however, was a home run -- a solo shot off the center field scoreboard.


The other was a double, which explains a .600 slugging percentage.


This year could be a bounce-back season for Holmberg, who hopes to earn a promotion to high Class A Brevard County (Fla.).


"I think he has a lot of things to prove not only to us but also to himself," Power Manager Mike Guerrero said. "I think he is going to be a plus as a player, and I think he could be a pretty good influence on the younger guys if he does the right things and shows them the right way."

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