Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Red Sox Rotation Still intact for 2008

BOSTON -- If there is one thing the Red Sox proved emphatically in both 2004 and '07, it's that quality starting pitching will take you a long way. In fact, if the other areas of your club are strong enough, an elite starting rotation will put you right over the top.
So as the Red Sox go after their third World Series championship in five years, their starting rotation -- provided it stays healthy -- once again looks to be a major strength.
In Josh Beckett, the Red Sox not only have one of the best aces in the game, but also a man who is likely entering his peak at the age of 27.
Ask Curt Schilling what the key to the 2007 postseason run was and the righty doesn't even blink.
"For me, it was the first fastball Josh threw," Schilling said. "It was the proverbial [case of taking] the bull by the horns. We had him either on the mound or in our pocket for future use whenever we needed him. I thought he set the tone in a way that very few guys ever have or could. We're down, 3-1, against Cleveland. We knew -- I think we knew with him on the mound -- it was going to be 3-2. Guys like that, they affect the staff, they affect the team. For me, that was it."
Backed by a 20-win season in 2007, Beckett finished second to Indians left-hander C.C. Sabathia in the American League Cy Young Award race. Once October came around, Beckett took it to an even higher level, going 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA.
Of course, Beckett didn't do it by himself last year and he won't be able to do so in 2008. That's where the rest of the rotation comes in.
The pitcher to watch in Spring Training will be Daisuke Matsuzaka. After his well-chronicled arrival from Japan, Matsuzaka had his share of peaks and valleys in 2007, which was understandable considering all of the baseball and cultural adjustments he had to make.
Will Matsuzaka be able to make a leap similar to the one Beckett made in his second season in Boston? If so, the Red Sox would have a 1-2 punch as strong as any in baseball.

Boston Red Sox
• Catchers: In Varitek we trust• Corner IF: Sox spoiled by success• Middle IF: Second season for combo• Outfielders: Talent all around• Starters: Beckett leads elite staff• Bullpen: Feb. 6• DH/Bench: Feb. 13
And even with Matsuzaka's inconsistency, he still won 15 games and had 201 strikeouts, capping his season with a strong performance in Game 3 of the World Series.
One of the best late-season stories surrounding the 2007 Red Sox was the way Schilling remade himself. After coming off the disabled list, Schilling was hopeful he would regain his velocity. When that didn't happen, he adjusted, learning how to thrive on location and improved offspeed stuff.
If there were any doubts Schilling's new approach could survive against the toughest competition, they were laid to rest in the postseason when Schilling once again came up big, going 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts.
The 41-year-old Schilling has stated numerous times that 2008 will be his last Major League season. That said, you can be sure Schilling will be highly motivated to close out his stellar career in strong fashion.
In case you forgot, there is another 40-something pitcher in the Boston rotation, and that is knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. You might have also forgotten that Wakefield matched a career-high with 17 wins last year.
Assuming Wakefield is over the back/shoulder woes that plagued him late in 2007, he will once again eat up innings and probably reach double digits in wins.
Wakefield will once again have long-trusted batterymate Doug Mirabelli behind the plate.
The Sox could have an old-fashioned Spring Training battle on their hands for the fifth spot in the rotation. Left-hander Jon Lester was last seen earning the win in Game 4 of the World Series. This spring, he comes in without the burden of regaining his strength following chemotherapy treatments. This time around, Lester will be at full strength and determined to break camp with the Red Sox.
But he could get a stiff battle from the team's top pitching prospect, right-hander Clay Buchholz. How could anyone forget the no-hitter Buchholz threw against the Orioles on Sept. 1? Still, Buchholz only has three Major League starts under his belt and, no-hitter or not, he is still in the development phase.
Buchholz will be heard from at some point in 2008. He added muscle and improved his winter training program.

Top Louisiana HIgh School Prospects

With signing day just 1 week away, recruiting news is red hot. I've listed the top prospects from the State of LA and where they might show up.

1. Chase Clement, (TE/DE), 6'6", 243, 4.7, E.D. White. Chase Clement has size, speed, toughness and all the tools to be a great defensive end in college. LSU commitment.
2. Tyler Edwards, (TE), 6'4", 236, Ouachita Parish. Edwards is the brother of former LSU tight end Eric Edwards. Tyler has good feet and is a very good blocker.
3. Chris Tolliver, (WR), 6'3", 196, 4.5, Rayville. Tolliver is the real deal and will be highly recruited.
4. Jordan Jefferson (QB), 6'3", 210, Destrehan. Hurt most of last season but still drew interest from teams like LSU, Florida, Alabama, and Auburn. LSU commitment.
5. Tim Molton, (WR), 6'3", 186, 4.5, Destrehan. Moten has great size and speed and will be very highly recruited. LSU Commitment
6. Matt Branch, (TE), 6’7”, 240, Sterlington. Matt is big, fast and strong LSU commitment.
7. Clay Spencer, (OL), 6'6", 280, Parkview Baptist. Spencer spends most of his spare time working out in the weight room and working on his foot speed. LSU commitment.
8. P.J. Lonergan, (OL), 6'4", 280, Rummel. Son of a former LSU offensive lineman. Needs to get stronger in the upper body. LSU commitment.
9 LaRon Byrd, (WR), 6'3”, 209, Hahnville. Byrd is one of five big-time wide receiver prospects in the state.
10 Ryan ST Julien, (DB), 6’1”, 180, Catholic NI. Great speed and will likely play cornerback in college. LSU commitment.
11. P.J. Smith, (WR/FS), 6'1", 175, 4.5, John Curtis. A sure open-field tackler on defense.
12. Jhyryn Taylor, (WR), 6'1", 200 , 4.5. Brother of Curtis Taylor and Brandon Taylor. Big, fast and great hands. LSU commitment.
13. Rocky Duplessis, (CB), 6'2", 185, Belle Chase. Great size and speed and very aggressive. LSU commitment.
14. Brandon Taylor, (WR/ATH), 6'0", 175, Franklinton. Taylor has a twin sister and his older brother, Curtis, plays at LSU. LSU commitment.
15. Deangelo Peterson, (ATH), 6' 2 1/2", 4.5, 196. Desire Street Academy. Was impressive enough at the LSU Summer camp to receive a scholarship offer. Will likely play wide receiver in college. LSU commitment.
16. Alonzo Landry, (RB), 5'11", 210, 4.5, Carencro, LA. Landry reminds me of LaBrandon Toefield. He is strong enough to run over linebackers and fast enough to outrun defensive backs.
17. Michael Mauti, (LB), 6’2”, 210, Mandeville. His dad played for the N.O. Saints and he has a brother who plays wide receiver at Penn State. Penn State commitment.18. Jerico Nelson, (RB), 5'11", 200, Destrehan. Very fast and hard to tackle.
19. Robby Green, (CB), 6'0", 180, John Curtis. Green has great size and speed to play cornerback in college.
20. Luther Ambrose, (RB), 5'9", 160, 4.4, ST James. Blazing speed.
21. Prentiss Waggner, (CB), 6'2", 185, 4.4, Clinton. Waggner has the size and speed to be a great cornerback in the SEC.
22. Trent Mackey, (LB), 5'11", 210, Carencro. If Mackey was two inches taller he would be one of the most highly recruited linebackers in the nation. Tulane commitment.
23. Ryan Lewis, (QB), 6'3", 215, Catholic of BR. Lewis will be starting for his third year inn a row for the Bears and he makes good decisions. Rice commitment.
24. Josh Jordan, (QB), 6'4", 210, ST Amant. Iowa State commitment.
25. Kevin Saia, (OL/DL), 6'3", 295, Dutchtown. A hard-worker who spends much of his time working with weights. La Tech commitment.26. Khiry Cooper, (WR), 6'2", 175, 4.4, Calvary Baptist. Hand great hands, great speed and runs good pass routes.
27. Lavar Edwards, (DE), 6'4", 275, Desire Street Academy.
28. Alex Lauricella (CB), 6'1", 190, John Curtis. Tulane commitment.
29. Joel Ross, (DT), 6'2", 290, Vandebilt Catholic. Very aggressive with good quickness, and almost impossible to block one on one.
30. Dallas Thomas, (OL), 6'6", 290, Scottlandville. I saw Thomas play two times last season and he has great foot work and balance. He's a super prospect in my opinion.
31. James Landry, (QB/ATH), 6’5”, 210, Assumption32. Nathan Lewis, (TE/DE), 6'4", 250, Hahnville33. Bradley Roussel, (LB), 5'11", 215, Redemptorist, BR 34. Mario Wiley, (WE/KR/DB), West Monroe35. Randall Mackey, (QB), 6'0", 175, 4.55, Bastrop36. Evan Ruiz, (OL), 6'4", 282, ST Michael BR. Ruiz 37. Demetrius Porter, (OL), 6'6", 285, Marksville38. Damion Dixon (WR), 6'4", 185, Port Allen 39 Mikie Mahtook, (QB), 6'1", 195, 4.4, St. Thomas More 40 Mandela Kazi, (DT) 6’3”, 280, Newman41 Allen Muse, (WR), 6’5”, 197, Leesville42. Alfred Franklin, (CB/S), 6'2", 176, 4.4, Kentwood 43. Zeke Jones, (FB), 6’0”, 235, Springfield44. Darren Sophus, (RB/DB), 6'0", 170, 4.445. Beau Boudreaux, (SS), 6’0”, 189, Shaw46. Joe Narcisse, (LB), 5'9", 200, ST James47. Lindsey Leavoy, (LB/DE), 6’4”, 237, ST Michael of BR48. Rodarrick Jones, (ATH), ", 185, ST John49. Michael Casanova, (LB), 6’2”, 215, Notre Dame/Crowley50. Matt Saucier, (QB), 6'1", 190, John Curtis51. Matt Jones, (CB) 6'2", 195, Jennings52. Joe Dave Petijean, (RB), 6’1”, 200, Notre Dame53. Justin Higgins, (ATH), 6'2", 185, Rayville. 54. Devin Figaro, (WR), 6'3", 180, Lafayette High 55. Michael Carvajal, (DT), 6’1”, 290, Acadiana56. Dyron Hart, (DT) 6'2", 280, Slidell57. Jake Bryan, (TE), 6'3", 230, Grant High 58. Jordan Miller, (CB), 6’1”, 180, Teurlings Catholic59. Tripp George, (SS), 6’0”, 180 Loyola Prep College60. Logan Bonnette, (CB/S), 6'2", 190, Calvary Baptist61. Geanie Lyons, (DT), 6’3”, 330, Bastrop62. Don Brown, (FB), 5’11”, 235, West Monroe63. (tie) Ethan Piazza, (OL), 6’2”, 275, Acadiana High 64. Marvin Batiste, (WR), 6'1", 180, 4.4, Baker65. Jamie Payton, (OLB), 6'1", 210, Dutchtown 66. Dustin Coker, (LB), 6'2", 190, Minden67 Damien Jackson, (S), 6'1", 180, Pineville68. Elliot Hebert, (ATH), 5'11", 180, Teurlings of Lafayette69. Cadena Drews, (CB), 6'1", 175, Minden 70. Adam Bertrand, (OL), 6'5", 295, Catholic, BR71. Bryan Munch, (C), 6'1", 250, John Curtis72. Evan Mistich, (QB/DB), 6'2", 180, Vanderbilt Catholic73. Kentrell Butler, (LB), 6'2", 225, Patterson 74. Brendan Wilson, 6'5", 230, Dutchtown75. Isaac Wiley, (DB), 6'0", 180, West Monroe76. Kasey Stelly, (FB), 6'2", 230, STM77. Blake Prince, (DB), 6'1", 180, Hahnville78. Trent Kropog, (DL), 6'2", 290, Brother Martin79. Chris Brady, (QB), 6'1", 180, Holy Cross 80. DeJuan Guillory, (LB), 6'2", 220, Mamou81. Nate Bradley, (OL), 6'4", 325, Barbe 82. Ryan Tott, (RB), 5'11, 190, 4.5, Slidell 83. (tie) J.P. Verzwyveit (RB) , 5’10”, 186, Northshore84. Troy Wainwright, (TE), 6'6", 220, Barbe85. Greg Booker,(WR/KR), 5'7", 160, Minden86. Jeffery Enloe, (QB), 6'4", 190, Dutchtown87. Jeremy Talbot, (OL), 6'7", 340, John Ehret 88. Blaine Gautier, (QB), 6’1”, 185, Lutcher89. Harold Wilson, (DT), 6'2", 300, Carroll of Monroe 90. Avery Crooks, (LB), 6'1", 225, Higgins91. Hansoni Alfred, (QB/ATH), 6'2", 190, Ville Platte92. Travis Zacharie, (RB), 6'1", 180, Catholic NI93. Gaylon Johnson, (CB), 6'3", 200, Southern Lab94 Spencer Harrell, (WR), 6'1", 170, Catholic BR95. Roderick Banks, (WR), 6'2", 200, Evangel96. Ryan Lemelle, (OG), 6'2", 295, Barbe97. Rayshaw Miller, (DB), 6'4", 215, East Jefferson 98. David Mills, (OL), 6'3", 270, Westminister99. Teddy Holley, (DB), 6'0", 165, Neville . 100. Zach Fourroux, (QB), 6'1", 180 Erath
Best of the rest:
Darius Miller, (LB), 6'1", 235, SpringfieldWade Delaneuville, (DT), 6'4", 250, RiversideJohn Hinton, (K), 5'10", 160, Ruston Brandon Abner, (DT), 6'1", 310, Captain ShreveBen Feibel, (C ), 6’2”, 280, Norwood of ShreveportBrandon Ross, DT, 6'3", 330, East ST JohnKermit Tyler, 6'4" 295, OL, HigginsJonathan Cancienne, (RB), 5'11", 185, ST CharlesRyan Broussard, (WR), 6'2", 180, Northside Brian Mitchell, (DL), 6'3", 265, HigginsCraig Rasco, (LB), 6'2", 210, Calvary Baptist Ron Alexander, (DL), 6'2", 270, Marksville Leonard Bates, (OL), 6'4", 260, HigginsMichael Hollins, DT, 6'3", 265, East JeffersonZach Jones, (LB) 6’0”, 185, MontgomeryJosh Mire, (OL), 6'2", 265, ShawBeau Major, (TE), 6’1”, 220, RedemptoristCalvin Wesley, (WR), 5'9", 160, PattersonMatt Saucier, (QB), 6'1", 195, John CurtisJammal Thomas, (DL), 6'2", 270, Port BarreJermain Smith, (WR/RB), 6'0", 180, SpringfieldBrison Porter, (DE), 6'4", 230, NorthsideWade Delaneuville, (DT), 6'4', 250, RiversideJamar Cook, OL/DL, 6'4", 300, East ST JohnMichael Ashy (RB), 5'10", 180 STM DeShanti Mitchell, (ATH), 6'1", 180, SterlingtonKyron Benoit, (ATH), 6'0", 190, CrowleyRyan Broussard, (WR), 6'2", 180, NorthsideJeremy Callais, (RB), 5'10", 180, Breaux Bridge Ted Holly, (DB), 6'0", 170, NevilleChristian Lacy, (DT), 6'2", 265, ShawMichael Bell, (RB), 5'11", 185, JenaAlex Williams, (QB), 6'4", 220, MenardZack O'Quinn, (QB), 6'3", 210, Sam HoustonJonathan Morvant, (QB), 6'2", 180, Acadiana Jeremy Sims, (LB), 6'0", 210, BakerRicky Spears, (LB), 6'0", 220, BelaireWade Delaneuville, (DT), 6'4", 250, RiversideEdward Robinson, (RB), 5'9", 180, West JeffersonMichael Robinson, (DB), 5'10", 185, O.P. WalkerBroderick Albert, (TE), 6'3", 205, LutcherMarshall Harris, (DE/DT), 6'3", 218, OpelousasJeremy Bertrand, (LB), 6'3", 210, Vermillion Catholic Trey Williams, (RB), 5'7", 180, ST MartinvilleCalvin McDermott, (OT), 6'4", 300, Opelousas Jordan Jeffers, (ATH), 5'10", 180, DestrehanDamion Weeks, (WR/DB/K), 6'3", 180, PinevilleAldaro Russell, (RB), 6'1", 190, HigginsJoshua Ford, (RB), 6'0", 180, RB, Higgins Lambert Tasby, (RB), 5'9", 175, Benton Roland Taylor, (QB), Lagrange Justin Derousselle, (OT), 6'3", 275, Comeaux Alec Savoie, (OL), 6'7", 290, Comeaux Edward Briggs, (LB), 6'0", 200, Morgan CityJarrid Ceaser, (RB), 5'9", 185, Riverside Jacob Frank, (TE), 6'4", 250, NorthsideSam Jewitt, (LB,) 6’1”, 225, Montgomery

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Running Back Thomas Committs to Ole Miss

Devin Thomas (RB, San Antonio, TX) - The Army All-American selection and's #1 rated prospect in south Texas built a tight relationship with several of the newly hired Ole Miss coaches, and in the end, that bond could not be broken.
"I just can not imagine being without Coaches Vaughn, Nutt and those guys," stated Devin Thomas. "It would not even feel right playing for anyone else. Coach Vaughn is like blood to me. I know they are going to look after my best interests during my college career at Ole Miss."There were also several more selling points that tilted Devin towards Ole Miss."I liked their facilities, and I have known their staff for a long time. When I took my trip to Baylor. They showed up at my house on Monday. I knew how busy they were with recruiting, so that showed me they wanted me. And Coach Vaughn called my coach on Saturday while I was at Baylor. He was checking up on me, seeing how much I liked it at Baylor. I know how busy they are with all of the prospects in town during the weekends, so I knew that they just had to have me."The commitment went public today, but the verbal was given over a week ago."Yes sir, I committed to them on that Monday when they came and saw me. I wanted to keep it quiet until signing day, but I couldn't wait that long. I had to let every one know I am going to be an Ole Miss Rebel. I had to get it off of my chest. It feels good."Who else was in the picture before Thomas decided on Ole Miss?"I was suppose to visit TCU or Arizona State this past weekend, and I was going to go to Missouri or Kansas next weekend. But I informed all of them I was going to Ole Miss when I committed last Monday."Devin broke his ankle in the middle of a record breaking senior campaign. He rushed for 1, 477 yards and 17 TD's in five games of action which earned him a spot on the prestigious Army All-American roster even though he was injured. "I still think about what could have been, but oh well, I am just excited about my next chapter in life. My injury is coming around better than expected. I am ahead of schedule, and I am already running on it."Thomas began to make a name for himself when he rushed for over 1, 800 yards and 23 Td's as a junior. He ended his senior season on a high note when he almost single handily beat Smithson Valley, who had defeated Madison for five straight years, with a 374 yard and 4 TD rushing performance. Devin was named the National Player of the Week for his performance."I guess you can say I left on a high note, but a disappointing note nevertheless."The former Arkansas commit is now headed to another school within the SEC."Like I said, it is just a perfect fit for me. You know how I feel about their coaches, and when I went on my official visit, I just fell in love with the area. The people, students