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Pre-Season Home Town Articles - Latest: LHP Adam Pettyjohn

Mass Haas

We'll likely see several "hometown" newspaper stories in the coming weeks prior to minor league training camp. Because it's a bit early for us to start the "Your 2007 Nashville Sounds", "Your 2007 Huntsville Stars", etc., threads, we'll accumulate them in this thread for now.


We also continue to place all columns and articles on the minor leaguers in our home page "Article Crawler", and links to articles are included on each player's Brewerfan Player Index Page. Hopefully the links remain active an extended time -- every so often we'll review the Index Page links and try to remove "dead" ones.


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Former Pioneer hurler hopes to win roster spot in Nashville

By Ron Johnston

Marietta (Ohio) Times


At 29, Dave Bradley is a young man with his whole life ahead of him.


But the sands of time are running out on his dream to pitch in the major leagues ? and he knows it. Ah, but if only he could throw a 95 mph fastball.


On March 9, the two-time All-American pitcher who played his college ball at Marietta College will be reporting to the Milwaukee Brewers? minor league spring training complex in Maryvale, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix.


This will be Bradley?s second tour of duty in the Brewers' organization. In 2004, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound right-hander threw for their Class A-plus affiliate High Desert Mavs in the California League.


?After last season, my agent and I put together a list of teams and made some contacts, and Milwaukee responded almost immediately,? Bradley said. ?When I go to spring training, Triple-A (with the Nashville Sounds) will be my goal.?


In eight previous seasons in the minors, Bradley has not pitched above Double-A ball. So, if the lanky right-hander does get an opportunity to throw for the Sounds, he?ll be at the Big League doorstep. And, if he performs well in Nashville ... well, you just never know.


First things first, though ? make the Nashville Sounds team.


This winter, Bradley has been working out and lifting weights at Marietta College, where he still remains one of the school?s career leaders in strikeouts (262) and wins (36). He?s also been employed at Sears in the Grand Central Mall in Vienna, W.Va., and has been helping his wife, Julia, raise their two small children ? Isabelle and Roman ? a full-time job in itself.


Anyone playing professional baseball will more than likely tell you that it?s a dream job. But it has its shortcomings, too, and one of them, especially if the player is married with a family, is being away from your loved ones for months on end.


Another shortcoming, particularly at the minor league level, is all the travel and long bus rides.


Since being drafted in the 14th round by the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, Bradley has seen quite a bit of the country.


First, he pitched for Billings, Mont., in the Pioneer Rookie League. From there, he went to Class A affiliates Clinton, Iowa, Dayton and Mudville, Calif.


After being released by the Reds, Bradley could have hung it up. But instead, he stayed in uniform, and threw for the Washington (Pa.) Wild Things in the independent Frontier League. From there, he was first signed to a Brewers' contract, and then earned a promotion the following summer, hurling for the Class AA Huntsville (Ala.) Stars in the Southern League in 2005.


Last season, because Bradley wasn?t protected by Milwaukee, he was acquired by the Oakland Athletics via the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft at baseball's winter meetings. Under Rule 5, minor leaguers get the right to become free agents after seven seasons. Those left unprotected (and not on a major league team 40-man roster) are available to other teams as Rule 5 selections. The idea behind the rule is to prevent major league teams from stockpiling talent in their minor league system.


So, during the summer of 2006, Bradley, under contract for one season, threw for Oakland's Double-A Midland RockHounds in the Texas League.


It would turn out to be a season to forget, because there, he was 6-11 with a 5.41 ERA. In 131.1 innings of work, he struck out 81 and walked 58.


"Yes, I was healthy, and I had no arm problem," Bradley said. "But my performance was poor. It was a career-worst season for me. "I wasn't consistent and my velocity on the average was down. I tried to develop a split-finger pitch, but ... it was just a tough year."


Is Bradley, who will be turning 30 in late August, at a crossroads in his pro baseball career? Maybe. Maybe not.


His dream of one day pitching in the majors is still alive, but ...


"The one thing I've learned in this business is that none of it's ever certain," Bradley said.


David Bradley Brewerfan Player Index Page:



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Ex-Jenison pitcher reports to camp

By Brian Vanochten

The Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press


JENISON -- Brandon Harmsen is keeping the faith.


Entering his sixth season of professional baseball, the 25-year-old relief pitcher and former prep standout at Jenison High School remains steadfast in the belief that he still has the right stuff to graduate to the major leagues.


"I know I just need a chance," he said before leaving for spring training this week.


Harmsen, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hander, isn't required to report to the Milwaukee Brewers minor-league camp in Maryvale, Ariz., until next month, but he departed Wednesday to get a head start on earning a spot in the bullpen for the Double-A Huntsville (Ala.) Stars or Triple-A Nashville (Tenn.) Sounds.


He doesn't want go through a repeat of last season.


The path to the big leagues for Harmsen, a 2002 sixth-round draft pick of the New York Yankees, stalled when the Yankees released him a week before Christmas in 2005. He spent much of last season searching for a new organization, first pitching in the independent Northern League before finally attracting the interest of the Brewers.


He signed with Milwaukee midway through the summer, finishing the season with the Class A Brevard County (Fla.) Manatees, where he went 1-0 with a 5.51 ERA and one save in 10 relief appearances.


"I grew up fast from that stuff," Harmsen said of his release.


"I'm pretty much committed (to reaching the majors). It scared me that I might never play on a field again when I got released by the Yankees," he said. "There's a lot of guys like me that need opportunities.


"I'm knocking on the door, I just hope somebody answers."


Phil Regan, a former major-league manager and pitching coach, thinks Harmsen still has the right stuff. They're both members of the teaching staff at Diamonds Sports Training Academy, 5770 Clay SW, in Wyoming.


Harmsen first caught his attention in the summer of 2003.


It was Regan's second season as manager of the West Michigan Whitecaps and Harmsen was splitting time on spot-starter duty and throwing in middle relief for the Battle Creek Yankees of the Midwest League.


"I don't know how he ever got released," Regan said. "He's throwing the ball really well. He's hitting 90-92 (mph) right now. He's got three quality pitches -- a plus fastball, a hard slider and a changeup. He's a good athlete."


He liked him so much, in fact, he recommended Harmsen to the Detroit Tigers.


In spite of that referral, the Tigers passed on Harmsen after he auditioned for them last spring. Harmsen threw hardest among the three finalists in the open workout, but the Tigers chose another pitcher.


"I thought he would've been a great addition to the Whitecaps," Regan said.


"He might be in the right spot with Milwaukee. If he comes in and has a good year, he could bounce right up through their system. All it takes is a little break here or there. I think he's got a chance," he added. "I like his attitude."


Harmsen is reporting to spring training two weeks ahead of schedule.


He insists he's more focused than ever about his baseball career since turning 25 on Dec. 13 and getting engaged during the offseason.


"I'm in great shape and ready to go," he said. "I want this to be the best possible situation."


RHP Brandon Harmsen Brewerfan Player Index Page:



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Technology ruins my plans

Jeff Cali

Ada (Oklahoma) Evening News


The wonders of modern technology are great when they work.


But when they fail you ...


They failed me this week.


Two or three years ago, I broke down and purchased a digital recorder. No tape needed. Compact. It made my old tape recorder obsolete.


There were a few kinks to work out when I first began to use it, but she has served me well through hundreds of interviews. Heck, she?s even bleeped out Ada head coach Sharon Dean a time or too.


But I came into work one morning last week to find my digital recorder as dead as the proverbial door knob.


I had never had it completely go out on me, but saved messages had survived numerous battery changes so I had no fears. After I had inserted a pair of fresh AAA?s, it seemed to be working fine. But upon further inspection, every single interview I had saved on it ? including a 20-minute session with former Ada High star and current professional baseball player Chuckie Caufield ? was gone.


So instead of that feature story on Caufield I was going to prepare for today?s edition, I?m forced to share the bits of information I can pull from my ever-fading memory.


Caufield is headed to Arizona for spring training on Tuesday and is hopeful that he will be part of an elite mini camp that includes 30 of the top prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers organization from AAA down to the rookie leagues.


Last fall, from the middle of September through the middle of October, Caufield ? along with former Latta standout Brad Miller ? competed in 12-16 games in another rookie league and hit four home runs and stole more bases than any other player in that short season.


Needless to say, the Brewers organization was impressed.


?I?ve had several coaches use me as an example to others. They like how hard I work not only in games but in practice,? Caufield said.


Last summer, after tearing it up in rookie league play in Arizona for a week and a half, Caufield was shipped to Helena, Montana to compete in an advanced rookie league there. During that stay, Caufield strung together a 17-game hitting streak.


Although he may get to rub shoulders with some Major Leaguers during spring training, he hasn?t had the chance to meet or play with many big name Brewers. Caufield did get to meet J.J. Hardy while the shortstop was send down during a rehab stint.


Caufield hopes to be playing with an A-level Brewers club after spring training.


?I think I had a good first year,? Caufield said. ?I still have a few things to work on, but the Brewers think I?ll have a bright future.?


Where's my old ? yet reliable ? tape recorder when I need it?!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not so much a hometown article, but from a columnist in the Long Beach area -- you'll see the connection below --


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Column: Pettyjohn still trying to prove he's not finished

Former Long Beach Armada left-hander is impressing some in the Brewers organization as he continues his climb back from ulcerative colitis.

By John Klima

Torrance (CA) Daily Breeze Staff Writer


MARYVALE, Ariz. -- Believe Adam Pettyjohn when he tells you that, two years ago, he asked himself this question a thousand times over.


What on earth was a 27-year-old left-handed pitcher with major league experience, with no history of shoulder problems, doing in independent baseball? It's the land of the released and the home of the dregs, where young scouts take the competition level as an insult to their intelligence, and generally pay more attention to not spilling their tobacco dip cups all over themselves than they do finding a player who might one day return to the big leagues.


There, Pettyjohn was stranded in the summer of 2005. He won 10 games in Long Beach, but as the season progressed, he became disenchanted. For the first time, he thought about giving up. He saw no one giving him a chance and scouts dismissing him, if they saw him at all.


Times had been bad before, but in baseball, Long Beach was life at its worst. Three years after he was near death because of ulcerative colitis, his career had come to Independent ball, and he was looking at another kind of finish.


Pettyjohn can smile about it now, which is a good thing, but for a pitcher whose ordeal in baseball is unique to him, it doesn't mean he's content. Arm problems can take a pitcher away from the mound, but losing a colon and 70 pounds of blood and flesh does more damage than rotator cuff surgery. It took at least two years for him to begin to regain his body strength. It's taken him longer to prove that he's not finished. Healing was the easy part. Finding a team who believes as strongly about his ability as he does has been the challenge. As affable a player as you'll find, beneath Pettyjohn's perspective is defiance.


In the sometimes narrow-minded, impatient, 'we're-never-wrong' approach of professional baseball evaluation, Pettyjohn was systematically eliminated partly because of an illness that few understood and fewer took the time to ask him about. That, perhaps, bothered him more than anything. All a ballplayer can ever ask for is an honest explanation, but nowhere is it written that anyone has to give him one.


He has refused to go away quietly and continues to fight his way back to the major leagues. He believes in the purpose of this journey. He wants anyone who has the condition he survived to know that it doesn't have to be a death sentence. Now 29 and signed to a triple-A contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, his third major league organization in two years, Pettyjohn refuses to accept that his year with Detroit in 2001 will be his last major league season. This journey, then, is about more than a baseball player trying to find a big league job. That would be too simplistic.


"I missed two full years and it wasn't a performance thing," Pettyjohn said. "It was just a freakish thing. What I learned is that the first year back (in affiliated) baseball after Independent ball is the toughest. No one knows who you are, where you've been, or what you've gone through."


What he went through, both personally and professionally, is part of who he is. That meant pushing back into a business that didn't care why he was throwing 78 instead of 86 mph in 2003 or why he was stuck in Long Beach in 2005. The ignorance frustrated him. A radar gun can't tell you everything.


He caught a break when a bird dog recommended him to former Texas scouting director Lenny Strelitz, himself a former pitcher. Strelitz, an agent who co-founded West Coast Sports Management in Pasadena, took a chance. Strelitz helped smooth out Pettyjohn's delivery, showed him before-and-after video when they threw bullpen sessions together, and convinced the Seattle Mariners that Pettyjohn was worth a look.


As it turned out, Pettyjohn was nothing more than a body. He pitched at double-A, and in the gusty Texas League, held left-handed hitters to a .218 average and had an overall 2.91 ERA. He thought he was in good standing, but the fun was just starting. Though he was performing well, he was released in June. Desperate, Pettyjohn agreed to pitch for a team in Taiwan. He was two hours away from leaving for the airport when Oakland called to offer him a triple-A contract on July 13.


Pettyjohn pitched at Sacramento, where he posted a steady 3-2 record and 4.57 ERA in nine starts, but again, he proved he could shut down left-handed hitters, holding them to a .221 average in the Pacific Coast League, which is usually as friendly to pitchers as axe murderers are to the rest of us. Yet Oakland released him after the season and Milwaukee, which likes left-handers as much as the city likes beer, signed him and brought him to minor league camp.


Here Pettyjohn believes he has seen encouraging signs from the coaching staff. Veteran pitcher R.A. Dickey, also with the club on a minor league contract, told Pettyjohn that he thinks he could stick in the big leagues for a decade as a reliever because his slider is so effective against left-handed hitters.


His velocity is in the mid-to-upper 80s, exactly where it was when the baseball industry considered him a prospect. Age is against him, but his shoulder lacks the mileage of a typical 29-year-old. For a left-hander, it's not about the radar gun. It's about a breaking ball, movement and outs.


The Brewers have a history of promoting left-handers who perform. Pettyjohn hopes he will finally find that elusive combination of right person, right place, and right time. His confidence is evident, and finally, his body is equal to his ambition.


"I just want a solid, honest look and an opportunity to get back to the big leagues," he said. "I thought I had that with Seattle last year and the All-Star break came and it showed that I wasn't getting the look that I thought I was getting.


"That was last year, this is this year. So to me, this is about proving myself. There's not a doubt in my mind that I can pitch in the big leagues again."


Believe Pettyjohn when he tells you that this path is not complete. He trusts in the plan, and it's hard to tell him otherwise. He's already bounced back far more times than anyone with a rotator cuff scar on their shoulder blade has ever had to.


Ask the question a thousand times. The answer is he is not finished yet.

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