June 2012

‘Cats Conversation: Austin “Catfish” Elkins

Tri-City ValleyCats play-by-play announcer Evan Valenti sits down to talk with ‘Cats second baseman, Austin Elkins. The two discuss life in the NY-Penn League, Elkins’ early success on the season, and how the middle infielder came to be known as “Catfish.”

Youth Baseball Night at “The Joe”

Friday’s game was Youth Baseball Night at “The Joe” as the ValleyCats celebrated the work of the Community Grounds Crew, a partnership with BlueShield of Northeastern New York. 

Prior to the game representatives from the leagues that received the “4 in 24” renovations were on hand to help thank BlueShield and the ValleyCats for their efforts. 

Rodger Wyland from Fox Sports 980, and his son, Brady, also participated in the pre-game festivities with ceremonial first pitches that were caught by ‘Cats manager, Stubby Clapp, a frequent guest on his radio program.
The BlueShield crew had a special “blue carpet” set up for photo opportunities just inside the main gate and helped to promote healthy food options available at “The Joe.” Pappy and SouthPaw both stopped by to pose for the camera as well.
Jim Gordon, the Rensselaer County Stop DWI Coordinator, was on hand to promote R.I.D.E. (Rensselaer County Invites Designated Drivers Everyday). The program is designed to increase the number of designated drivers each night, with local bars, restaurants, and venues offering free non-alcoholic drinks to the designated driver of a group of two or more. The ValleyCats are participating in this program for the 2012 season along with other supporters such as DeCrescente Distributors and Black & White Taxi.

On the field, the ValleyCats ran their impressive win streak to seven games. Brady Rodgers set the tone with seven strikeouts and gained his first professional victory, while Andrew Aplin, Jesse Wierzbicki and Tyler Heineman each had two hits to pace the offense. Aplin now leads the NY-Penn League in batting average, on-base percentage, hits, and stolen bases!

Juri Perez, Jobduan Morales, and Austin “Catfish” Elkins helped to provide the ever popular postgame autographs to cap off a great night at “The Joe.”
The team will look to continue their winning ways with a sweep of Connecticut on Saturday night to end the homestand on Scout Sleepover/Farm & Agriculture Night. Tickets are still available to catch the ‘Cats before they head out on their next road trip.
Be sure to check out all the photos from Youth Baseball Night on our FACEBOOK page.

Girls of Summer Night at “The Joe”

Thursday night at “The Joe” was a celebration of women in business and the community with a number of local softball teams also on hand for the festivities.

The ValleyCats and U-Albany Weekend MBA program teamed up to recognize Michelle Giovine from the 99 Restaurants and Maria Neal from Mildred Elley on the field prior to the game.
The 99 Restaurants also made a very special check presentation to the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital District which highlighted some impressive fundraising efforts. Members of the Boys and Girls Club were guests of the 99 for the game and joined them for a special tour prior to the game.
Some of the softball teams that participated in the ‘Cats Baseball Buddies program were Colonie Girls Softball, Latham Lassies, Bethlehem Tomboys, Rotterdam Girls Softball, West Albany Athletic Association, Cohoes Softball, and Pine Bush Girls Softball. Special thanks to all the leagues who came out for softball night.
On the diamond, the ValleyCats continued their winning ways with a 5-2 victory over the Connecticut Tigers. The ‘Cats tied the game on a great hustle play by Mike Cokinos in the 5th and took the lead for good after a Dan Gulbransen triple in the 6th. Reliever Juan Minaya pitched four shutout innings in relief, and Blake Ford closed the door with a 1-2-3 9th to earn his third save in as many tries this season.
The post-game fireworks delighted the sellout crowd of 5,334 on a beautiful night for baseball at “The Joe.” The ‘Cats are play host to the Connecticut Tigers again on Friday for Youth Baseball Night. Tomorrow night’s game will also feature our Field Renovation Celebration highlighting the great work of BlueShield of Northeastern New York’s Community Grounds Crew. The celebration will also include a recap of the “4 in 24” project that was also supported by Pioneer Bank. Tickets are still available for Friday night’s game on tcvalleycats.com or at the stadium box office. For more information call 518-429-CATS.

50 Cent Hot Dog Night

On a perfect night for baseball, a sellout crowd of 4,668 fans watched the ValleyCats stage a late game comeback to sweep their division rival Lowell Spinners. Starting pitcher Juri Perez held the Spinners to just one run through six innings, and the ‘Cats offense came alive in the bottom of the eighth stringing together 3 straight singles to tie the game at one. With one out, a sac fly gave the ValleyCats the lead, as they would go on to win their fifth straight in comeback fashion. The ‘Cats improved to 7-3 on the season, their best start since the 2004 season when they won eight of their first ten games.

Photo Credit: Dan Little Special to the Times Union

Wednesday’s game was also the 2nd Annual 50 Cent Hot Dog Night at “The Joe”, presented by Helmbold’s. Fans enjoyed over 4,000 of the Capital Region’s favorite dogs both at the concession stand and on the field!
Mustard and Ketchup greeted fans at the gates and even helped the grounds crew with the 5th Inning Drag.
Relish got into the act as well by claiming an unofficial victory in the Cooley Motors Mayors Race , but it was 50 Cent Hot Dog himself who stole the show with a win in the Helmbold’s Hot Dog Race.
The ‘Cats hosted a number of youth baseball teams for a Baseball Buddies parade around the warning track prior to the game. Special thanks to Hudson Valley Little League, Pine Bush Little League, Devil Cats Baseball, and Hoosick Falls Youth Baseball for joining the ‘Cats on the field.
The boys will look to continue their hot start when Connecticut comes to town for the first of a three game series on Thursday evening.  Local youth teams will be in attendance for Softball Night with limited tickets still available to catch the 7pm game and post-game FIREWORKS presented by Price Chopper.
Be sure to check out all of the pictures from 50 Cent Hot Dog Night on our FACEBOOK page

Latino Night at “The Joe”

It was Latino Night at “The Joe” Tuesday, as the ValleyCats squared off against the Lowell Spinners. Tonight’s promotion highlighted the many contributions that Latino players have made to the game of baseball.

Current ‘Cats like Juri Perez, Emilio King, Jobduan Morales, and Juan Minaya caught tonight’s ceremonial first pitches and helped welcome the crowd. Astros second baseman, Jose Altuve, also provided a special message on the video board.
Tonight also marked the season’s first Tunes for Tuesday with Alex Torres and members of his Latin Orchestra performing near the stadium’s main gate. SouthPaw enjoyed the show and even got into the act.
On the field, the ‘Cats won their fourth straight game, and second straight series, defeating Lowell 10-5 while pounding out 13 hits. Travis Ballew got the win in relief for the ‘Cats and Jesse Wierzbicki added three hits as the South End Tavern Player of the Game.

The ‘Cats will go for the sweep on Wednesday, which is also 50 Cent Hot Dog Night, presented by Helmbold’s Hot Dogs. Come out to “The Joe” and enjoy the Capital Region’s favorite hot dog for just 50 Cents! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO>>
The team will welcome Connecticut into town on Thursday for a three-game set. Thursday night is Softball night with the always great Price Chopper fireworks following the game. Limited seating is still available. Please go to TCVALLEYCATS.COM for ticket and scheduling information.
Also be sure to check out our Facebook page  for more pictures from last night’s game.
For the Times Union story from last night’s game, CLICK HERE.

‘Cats Conversation

Play-By-Play Announcer Evan Valenti (@EvanValenti) sits down with the two former Arizona State Sun Devils Andrew Aplin and Brady Rodgers

Bark in the Park Night!

A yearly tradition at “The Joe,” this night truly represents the dog days of summer! Fans were invited to bring their dogs to the game and browse the many informational tables that were set up along the concourse.

Before the game, Guiding Eyes for the Blind had an on-field demonstration of professionally trained guide dogs.

Special thanks to Hounds on the Hudson, Pet Spas of America, Out of the Pits, Inc., Miller Animal Hospital, Nassau Veterinary Clinic, Nassau Pharmacy, 4 Paws Animal Hospital, Guilderland Animal Hospital, River Road Animal Hospital, East Side Collars and East Greenbush Animal Hospital for adding to the fan experience. Also a big thank you to Pet Connection’s own Steve Caporizzo for making a guest appearance!

Game Show Night at “The Joe;” ‘Cats win 5-3

Last night was Game Show Night at “The Joe.” The ‘Cat Pack lead some special on-field promotions highlighting all of our favorite TV Game Shows.
The Radio Disney Family of the Game participated in Let’s Make a Deal but should have stayed with their gift certificate. Instead they were the proud winners of a plunger!
Jamie Roberts from Oldies 98.3 WTRY was on hand for a ceremonial first pitch and also played the Ben Bailey-role for the on-field Cash Cab.
The ‘Cats 5th inning drag crew debuted some new moves to the ever-popular summer tune: “Call Me Maybe.”
Mayor McCarthy of Schenectady earned his first victory in the Cooley Motor’s Mayor edging out rookie racer Mayor Rosamilia and veteran sprinter Jerry Jennings.
Between the lines, the ‘Cats defeated Vermont, 5-3. Justin Gominsky, recalled from Lexington made his first start of the season in right field. The ‘Cats got contributions up-and-down the lineup, including three hits from Chase Davidson and a big, three-run 6th inning sparked by five straight Tri-City hits.
The night was capped off with a tennis ball launch, autographs for the youngsters, and a picturesque fireworks display presented by Price Chopper. The ‘Cats hit the road for a weekend series in Connecticut but return for a six-game homestand Monday night at 7pm for “Bark in the Park” against Lowell.
Check out some additional photos from the evening!

The Boys of Summer are Back!

The Tri-City ValleyCats kicked off their 11th year in the Capital Region last night with a festive atmosphere at “The Joe.” Despite record temperatures and unseasonable humidity, a standing-room-only crowd of 5,186 fans packed the ballpark to usher in the 2012 season.
The pre-game festivities welcomed Colonie Little Leaguer, Joey Mendrick along with Officer Brian Curran. Joey’s heart stopped beating when he was struck with a ball during an April game at Cook Park. League members and Office Curran helped stabilize and revive Mendrick, who is expected to make a full recovery.
ValleyCats Team President, Bill Gladstone, welcomed the fans prior to the game, and also introduced Senator Joseph L. Bruno, who fired a strike for his annual ceremonial first pitch.
Quinn and Cantara from the PYX 106 Morning Show were on hand to help out with some pre-game entertainment and on-field contests.
Wednesday night saw the ‘Cats debut the brand new Field of Dreams picnic area which is designed to look like a baseball field with turf on the ground and outfield-fence-style walls. The Albany County Covention & Visitors Bureau hosted the first event in this space with a pre-game picnic for their volunteers.
The New York 529 Program’s Puzzle Challenge highlighted one of the new on-field promotions.
Patio Enclosures was the game sponsor on opening night with a great display between the pillars and New York Life was on hand offering a free Child ID Program.
Schedule Magnets, courtesy of Garelick Farms, where distributed at the gate along with the brand new Homeplate Central News Daily Programs.
Between the lines, the ‘Cats returned from Vermont with a 1-1 record. They overcame an early 2-0 deficit with an R.B.I. double by Andrew Aplin and safety squeeze from Austin Elkins in the bottom of the 5th. The score remained tied into the 7th but Vermont pulled away late to hand the ValleyCats a 7-4 defeat.
The ‘Cats are home again tonight for Game Show Night, presented by Trustco Bank. Brian Holmes will take the mound for the home team in this 7:00 PM start. Tickets are still available, post-game fireworks to follow.
Here are some more photos from opening night:

‘Cats Fall 7-4, Ready For Opener

by: Gabe Cassillo

The ‘Cats fell to the Vermont Lake Monsters last night 7-4, dropping to 1-1 on the season before heading back to Troy for the Home Opener tonight at 7:00pm against these same Lake Monsters.  The ‘Cats were befell by poor defense, committing three errors, 2 in the deciding 5th inning in which the Lake Monsters scored 5 runs.  Tri-City was up early, leading 1-0 entering the bottom of the 5th. They mounted a comeback attempt in the 9th inning, scoring 3 runs before ultimately falling by a final score of 7-4.

-Starter Aaron West went 3 innings allowing no runs and striking out 2 before being lifted for reliever Juan Minaya.

-Minaya surrendered 4 runs in 1.1 innings, walking 2

-Thomas Shirley worked 2.2 innings of strong relief, allowing no runs while striking out 3.

-Outfielders Andrew Aplin and Emilio King each collected two hits apiece for the second straight night.

-Austin Elkins extended his hitting streak to 2 games with a single in the 3rd.

The ‘Cats continue their 4-game series against Vermont tonight at 7:00pm.  The home opener will feature pitcher Juri Perez for the ‘Cats and Andres Avila for the Lake Monsters.  Postgame Fireworks are to follow tonight’s action.

‘Cats Win Opener 10-2

by: Gabe Cassillo

The ‘Cats defeated the Vermont Lake Monsters last night to win their season opener and improve to 1-0 on the season.  For a complete game summary, click here.


-Vincent Velasquez (1-0) picked up his first victory of the season and since 2010, pitching 5 innings of 2-hit ball, while walking none and striking out 6.

-Second baseman Austin Elkins hit his first home run as a professional, a three-run shot in the 5th inning that put the ‘Cats on top to stay. Elkins finished 2-5 with 3 RBI.

-Catcher Jobduan Morales also had a big two-run double in the 6th inning. He finished 2-5 on the night as well.

-CF Andrew Aplin, RF Emilio King, 3B Ryan Dineen also had two hits apiece and 1B Jesse Wierzbicki added a single as well.

-The ‘Cats offense finished with 10 runs and 11 hits.

-John Neely, Jamaine Cotton, and Blake Ford came out of the bullpen to pitch a combined 4 innings of 1 run baseball.

Tonight, the ‘Cats will take the field looking for the 2-game sweep in Vermont before returning to “the Joe” for the home Opener, Wednesday night, 7:00pm. Pitching for the ‘Cats will be RHP Aaron West taking on LHP Chris Lamb.  Game time is 7:05, radio coverage can be found at milb.com.

‘Cats Open 2012 NY-Penn League Tonight

by: Gabe Cassillo

The ValleyCats open their 2012 NY-Penn League season tonight at 7:00 pm in Burlington, Vermont taking on their Stedler Division rivals, the Vermont Lake Monsters.

Taking the hill for the ‘Cats will be Vincent Velasquez, a right hander making his first start since 2010 after spending the 2011 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Opposite Velasquez will be Deyvi Jimenez, a right hander who spent last season pitching for the Vancouver Canadiens of the Northwest League.

For radio coverage visit: http://www.1013espn.com/

Check back at ‘Cats Corner tomorrow morning for full results and box score from tonight’s game.

Street Team Spreads Excitement For Opening Day

by: Gabe Cassillo

As the countdown to Opening Day and the start of the 2012 season continues to inch ever closer,  our very own Street Team led by beloved SouthPaw has been busy.  Here are some of the highlights from this past week.

Lunch at the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany!  Last Tuesday SouthPaw and the Street Team soaked in the sunshine by handing out pocket schedules and taking pictures with enthusiastic fans of all ages.  On Wednesday, SouthPaw met more fans outside at the Plaza’s Farmer’s Market.

Excited kids and SouthPaw at the State Capital in downtown Albany

After a Morning downtown, the Team headed over to St. Gregory’s School to show their support as students K-4 participated in an end of the year Field Day.  Unable to fit his large feet into the potato sacks, SouthPaw couldn’t participate in the relay races, but was happy to lend his expertise with ValleyCats trivia.  He also took part in his favorite activity, posing for pictures!  It was a great day, and many of the students plan to take in a game at “The Joe” this season

Friday morning, SouthPaw and Amy went to Southgate Elementary School to participate in another day of sun, games and races at their Purple and White Field Day.  SouthPaw raced school mascot, Allie the Alligator, and we can proudly report, won the race.  After outside activities, the kids enjoyed freezepops and snacks along with a slideshow of pictures from the days events.  Southpaw was happy to high five and smile with the excited and energetic youngsters.

In the afternoon, SouthPaw, Amy, Kevin, and Michelle headed over to CBA for the Colonie Relay for Life.  Making it’s debut for the ‘Cats was a brand new inflatable game, the object of which is to bounce one of the balls off the wood circle and into the different holes labeled single, double, triple, home run.  The game turned out to be a lot harder than it looked.

Youngsters test out one of this year’s new inflatables!























Continuing the busy week, on Saturday morning, SouthPaw and members of the ‘Cats front office headed to the Berkshire bank Carnival to help celebrate the grand opening of their new location in North Greenbush.  The carnival included more inflatables, the always popular prize wheel, and a baseball card maker.  Even though the weather was poor, those that made the venture out had a great time, enjoying the various activities and games., but the kids all enjoyed it.  SouthPaw put his undefeated racing record on the line and again, took home the prize, finishing first and beating out other local mascots such as Devil Dawg and Damien the Dane of SUNY Albany.

Capping off a great week, “The Joe” was proud to host Relay for Life of Rensselaer County Saturday evening.  Dozens of children played with inflatables making their debut this season, and hundreds of people cheered on SouthPaw and three of his mascot friends as they all raced along the third base line.  Yet again, SouthPaw was victorious.  More importantly, Relay for Life raised over $49,000 for the evening!  Be sure to come to “The Joe” on Saturday July 7th as the ‘Cats will be sporting Relay for Life jerseys to be auctioned off during the game.  Proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Relaying for Life.

Even the ValleyCats’ extended family of mascots got into the spirit.

Final Draft Results (Updating)

As the dust from the MLB Draft begins to clear, let’s take a final look at a complete list of picks from Round 1 to Round 40 for the Houston Astros.  Over the course of the next few days, we expect to hear news about players signing and where they will be assigned.  Be sure to check back as we continue to update the draft list.

(Signed Players in Bold)
*Possible* ValleyCats Assignees in RED

1. (1) Carlos Correa-SS (P.R. Baseball Academy)
1.5. (41) Lance McCullers-RHP (Jesuit HS, FL)
2. (61) Nolan Fontana-SS (University of Florida)
3. (96) Brady Rodgers-RHP (Arizona St.)
4. (129) Rio Ruiz-3B (Bishop Amat HS, CA)
5. (159) Andrew Aplin-CF (Arizona St.)
6. (189) Brett Phillips-CF (Seminole HS, FL)
7. (219) Preston Tucker-OF (University of Florida)
8. (249) Tyler Heineman-C (UCLA)
9. (279) Daniel Minor-RHP (Texas A & M Corpus Christi)
10. (309) Joseph Bircher-LHP (Bradley University)
11. (339) Hunter Virant-LHP (Adolfo Camarillo HS, CA)
12. (369) Terrell Joyce-LF (Florida State College)
13. (399) Brian Holmes-LHP (Wake Forest)
14. (429) Joe Sclafani-SS (Dartmouth)
15. (459) Erick Gonzalez-RHP (Gateway Community College)
16. (489) Dan Gulbransen-LF (Jacksonville University)
17. (519) Aaron West-RHP (Washington University)
18. (549) Ricky Gingras-C (Point Loma Nazarene Univeristy)
19. (579) Austin Elkins-2B (Dallas Baptist University)
20. (609) Ryan Clark-LHP (Kent State University)
21. (639) Marc Wik-CF (Chabot College)
22. (669) Kenneth Long-LHP (Illinois St. University)
23. (699) Travis Ballew-RHP (Texas State)
24. (729) Patrick Blair-SS (Wake Forest)
25. (759) Ryan Dineen-SS (Eastern Illinois University)
26. (789) C.J. Hinojosa-SS (Klein Collins HS, TX)
27. (819) Tanner Mathis-CF (University of Mississippi)
28. (849) Angel Ibanez-3B (University of Texas Pan American)
29. (879) Christian Garcia-RHP (Florence-Darlington Tech, SC)
30. (909) John Neely-RHP (Texas Tech)
31. (939) M.P. Cokinos-C (St. Mary’s University)
32. (969) Tyler Manez-LHP (Plainedge HS, NY)
33. (999) Mike Hauschild-RHP (University of Dayton)
34. (1029) Jordan Jankowski-RHP (Catwaba College)
35. (1059) James Sinatro-C (Skyline HS, WA)
36. (1089) Michael Martinez-1B (Florida International)
37. (1119) Michael Dimock-RHP (Wake Forest)
38. (1149) Zachary Remillard-3B (LaSalle Institute, NY)
39. (1179) Mitchell Traver-RHP (Traver Christian HS, TX)
40. (1209) Joe Shaw-RHP (Ennis HS, TX)

A Closer Look at the Astros Draft

by: Evan Valenti (@EvanValenti)

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian once told me one of the reason’s why he is so successful is because he has a knack for noticing the uncanny. As a kid, he studied box scores looking for irregularities, interesting/rare stats, etc. and has applied that to his professional journalism career (KurkGems is always a “must watch” segment). So, with that in mind, I decided to put the Houston Astros draft under the microscope.

As a part of its exclusive draft coverage, Baseball America ranks each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico as well as the players associated with each section. They rank it on a 1-5 star system, with a “1-star” grade being the lowest and a “5-star” grade being the highest grade (a 5 grade indicates a draft class that is “one for the books”). The only area that received a 5-star grade was Puerto Rico, with Astros draftee Carlos Correa being the top talent. 

The Astros first nine picks came from three areas: the Southeast (Puerto Rico and Florida), Arizona, and California. Florida and California received 4-star grades (12 total draft picks from those two areas) while Arizona received a 2-star grade (3 draft picks). Houston also drafted nine total players from its home state of Texas (3-star) and three from Illinois (2-star)

Florida and Puerto Rico:

The Astros, under the influences of Larry Pardo (amateur scout for Southern Florida and Puerto Rico), John Martin (amateur scout for Northern and Central Florida), and JD Alleva (Houston’s East Regional Supervisor), drafted some of the region’s top players. We all know Correa was the top talent in Puerto Rico, but Houston feasted on this area hoping it will pay dividends in the future.

List of P.R. and FL Draftees (rankings indicated per Baseball America, high school talent in italics):

Carlos Correa, SS – 1st (P.R.)
Lance McCullers JR, RHP – 3rd (FL)
Nolan Fontana, SS – 9th (FL)
Brett Phillips, OF – 17th (FL)
Preston Tucker, OF/1B – 34th (FL)
Terrell Joyce, OF – NR
Mike Martinez, 1B – 62nd (FL)


Arizona State’s baseball program is a powerhouse. Known for its success (Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, Andre Ethier, Dustin Pedroia just to name a few), Arizona State finds itself ranked this year among the nation’s elite. So it is easy to see why Houston would want to grab a few players from that program.

List of AZ Draftees:

Brady Rodgers, RHP – 4th
Andrew Aplin, OF – 9th
Erick Gonzalez, RHP -29th


California is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, state for baseball talent year-in and year-out. Lauded for its talent in the collegiate ranks (UCLA, Cal-State programs, Stanford), California has a huge advantage: its ability to sustain high-quality baseball all year long. 

List of CA Draftees:

Rio Ruiz, 3B – 21st (Northern Cal.)
Tyler Heineman, C – 53rd (Northern Cal.)
Hunter Virant, LHP – 10th (Northern Cal.)


Much like Florida and California, Texas is another state that has the ability for an athlete to participate in a sport year-round. Texas might be the best state for producing pure athletic talent, no matter the sport. With nine selections from all over the state, the Astros clearly have a taste for home cooking.

List of TX Draftees:

Daniel Minor, RHP – NR
Austin Elkins, 2B – 63rd
Travis Ballew, RHP – 45th
CJ Hinojosa, SS – 9th
Angel Ibanez, 3B – NR
John Neely, RHP – NR
Mike “MP” Cokinos, C – NR
Mitchell Traver, RHP – 13th
Joe Shaw, RHP – 64th 

Make sure you keep checking the blog for updates on who has signed! ValleyCats roster coming soon!