Indians prospect Jordan Brown rides the momentum of back-to-back Most Valuable Player campaigns into the 2008 season. The University of Arizona product received Eastern League top honors in 2007 after leading the circuit in hitting (.333) while adding 11 homers and 76 RBIs. He also posted MVP numbers (.290-15-97) in 2006 at Kinston of the Carolina League.
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Hello again from Buffalo.
I'm starting to run out of one-liners to open up the journal, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to e-mail them to me so I can write them off as my own.
For those of you who have been following me this year, it's been rather disappointing.
Around the end of April, I started to feel a little pain in my surgically repaired left knee that gradually got worse (I had it scoped in late September last year). It got to the point where tendinitis reared its ugly head and started to affect my performance. If it continued to get worse and worse and deteriorate my condition, then I would be battling this injury all year. So the training staff in Buffalo decided to shut me down for a while until I'm pain-free and ready to play hard without any hesitation in my game.
Fortunately, that day will come Monday, the 19th of May. I'm excited to come back and play, but I realize there will be some challenges to get back into the swing of things.
Some people have asked me what the necessary steps will be to get back to where I left off. It won't be an easy task, but I believe that if I see a lot of pitches and try to hit the ball the other way, then I'll be successful. I also need to keep reminding myself to catch the ball deep and keep my hands inside the ball. (I realize I sound like a Tom Emanski video, but you guys asked.)
As of late we've been playing a lot better in Buffalo, and it makes it easier to compete and come to the ballpark every day. The morale is a lot better. We've been making good decisions on the mound and bases and getting timely hitting, all of which is helping us win ballgames (not to mention, we got rid of yours truly and started winning, ha ha).
I talked a little earlier about the general attitude of the ballclub as the season continues. Everybody feels a little more comfortable, so let me share a few differences I've noticed around our laid-back environment:
1. The sudden emergence of Latin club music blaring in the clubhouse 24/7. As soon as I walk into the clubhouse in the afternoon, I feel like I'm shopping for trendy clothing at Hollister or Express. Seriously, I'm surprised there aren't women waiting with shots and glow-sticks when those doors open.
2. More pranks. I came in from conditioning the other day, only to find all of my clothes everywhere in a ball in front of my locker. Enough said.
3. Nintendo hooked up in the lounge. We've been playing the first baseball game ever made into video format to entertain us lately. That game is absolutely brutal. I honestly feel that if you locked me in a room for two days, I could create a better game myself with no prior experience in that field. I'm pretty sure my communications major isn't going to help me.
Every week I've been throwing one of my buddies from the University of Arizona under the bus with a funny story, and today it's Jon Meloan, one of the top pitching prospects in the Dodgers organization (he already made the Show last year).
We had been playing poorly for a little while and our coach, Andy Lopez, had called us together as a group to discuss what we needed to improve upon before a big weekend series at Arizona State. Those of you who know what kind of coach Andy Lopez is understand that he tends to get fired up and is motivated by brutal honesty.
He was pretty much belittling us because we'd been "soft" and timid as a team. His main point was that in today's game, college baseball players are pampered and lack an overall toughness that is necessary to compete at the next level. If we didn't show it pretty soon, our season would come to an abrupt end.
As he closed his lecture, he discussed the travel itinerary for the weekend and said, "Any questions?"
Meloan raised his hand with a slight hesitation and whimper in his country accent and said, "Are we gonna have a lunch for us on the bus?"
Meloan is one of the hardest workers I know and has a mental toughness second to none, which is why this story is something I'll never forget.
Quote of the day: "Great players don't come from strength and ability. They come from perseverance."
I thought I'd answer a couple of questions you guys asked.
Tim Kurki writes: "What are some of the things that separate good hitters and pitchers from level to level the higher you climb?"
Well, it's tough to answer this question because there are so many variables. As far as hitters go, I believe that those who have a better approach and learn the strike zone seem to move quickly through the system. Those who do not, and are free swingers, tend to struggle a little bit until they can stop laying off bad pitches. As far as pitchers go, those who struggle do so because of location. Hitters improve the higher you go, and a good fastball doesn't cut it anymore. There has to be a good secondary pitch to go along with a located fastball to get good hitters out.
William Matty writes: "What kind of toll does the cold weather in Buffalo take in getting off to a good start?"
Cold weather is tough on everybody in the game. It's tough to hit when you can't feel your hands and your body isn't loose. On the flip side, it's tough to pitch when you don't have a very good feel for the seams on the ball. For me personally, I'm from California and played at Arizona, so playing in cold weather has been a little bit of an adjustment.
Chris Fox writes: "How good a bond do you develop with your teammates over a long season?"
It's hard not to get to know everybody because you spend way more time with them than you do your own family. It's kind of cool because you get to know people from all walks of life and cultures. On our team alone, we have players from Columbia, Venezuela, Korea and all throughout the States.