Chris DeVito is hitting .375 over his last 10 games and is at .344 for the season through games of April 21.

Columbia starter Merandy Gonzalez and reliever Taylor Henry teamed up for a four-hit shutout, and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow had three hits in three at bats as the Columbia Fireflies blanked the Lexington Legends 5-0 Friday night in Columbia.

Columbia jumped on top with three runs in the third inning. With one out and Gene Cone on at first base, Luis Carpio singled, sending Cone to third. Both runners scored on a double by Michael Paez. Paez went to third on a ground out and scored on a single by Jose Medina.

The Fireflies added a run in the fifth on a triple by Paez and a ground out by Dash Winningham. They scored their final run in the eighth on when Desmond Lindsay doubled, moved to third on a single by Tebow and scored when Milton Ramos grounded into a double play.

Gonzalez (3-0) allowed three hits in seven innings and picked up the win. He has not given up a run in 20 and two-thirds innings this season.

Lexington starter Nolan Watson (0-3) was the losing pitcher.

The series is even at one win apiece and continues Saturday. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

Hot bat:  First baseman Chris DeVito has hit safely in his last seven games and has 13 hits in 27 at bats (.481) during the streak.  In his last 10 games, he is batting .375 (15 for 40).  He is tied for third in the South Atlantic League in runs batted in with 13. Four of those came on a grand slam April 17 against Greenville at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

 

Outfielder Kort Peterson leads the Legends with a .385 batting average (15 for 39). Photo – Mary Lay

After losing three out of four to West Virginia, the Legends will remain at home for a three-game series against the Greenville Drive, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

The Legends lost two out of three to the Drive in Greenville April 10-12.  Outfielder Kort Peterson had five hits in 10 at bats in the series.   Infielder Gabriel Cancel was 5-for-12, and infielder Manny Olloque hit a grand slam in the Legends’ 12-4 victory in the series opener April 10, a game in which the Legends took command early with five runs in the first inning and four in the second.

The Drive came back with a 4-3 win the next night, and completed the series with a 4-1 win April 12.  Greenville outfielder Tyler Hill hit a home run in each of the three games.

Here are the pitching matchups for this week’s series at Whitaker Bank Ballpark (Lexington pitcher listed first):

Monday 7:05 p.m. – Left-hander Gabriel Davila (0-0, 6.75)  vs left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez (1-0, 2.00).  Hernandez started against the Legends April 12 and worked four innings, allowing one run and five hits, and did not figure in the decision.  Davila pitched three innings in relief in that game.  He gave up two runs on four hits.

Tuesday 7:05 p.m. —  Right-hander Gerson Garabito (1-0, 3.27) vs. right-hander Michael Shawaryn (0-1, 11.57)  Garabito did not pitch against Greenville in the earlier series.  He got the win in the Legends’ only victory in the series against West Virginia.  Shawaryn did not pitch against the Legends in Greenville.

Wednesday 10:05 a.m. –  Right-hander Ofreidy Gomez (0-2, 8.00) vs. right-hander Logan Boyd (1-0, 3.72)

 

 

 

Left-hander Andre Davis will start for the Legends in the series opener Monday in Greenville. (Photo-Mary Lay)

After dropping three out of four in Charleston to open the season, the Legends remain on the road for three games against the Greenville Drive in Greenville, South Carolina.  Game time is 7:05 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Greenville broadcast can be heard on WLXG, 1300-AM www.wlxg.com, or on TuneIn.

Pitching matchups for the Greenville series, Lexington pitcher listed first:

Monday:  Andre Davis (L) vs. Jay Groome (L).  Davis makes his first start for Lexington after pitching for two seasons at Burlington (APP).  He was 4-4 with a 5.95 ERA in 18 appearances over the 2015 and 2016 seasons.   Groome, a first round pick in 2016 by the Boston Red Sox, is also making his first start of 2017.  He made one appearance with Lowell of the New York-Penn League and two with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in 2016, and had no record with an ERA of 2.70 in just six and two-thirds innings pitched.

Tuesday:  Nolan Watson (R) vs. Shaun Anderson (R).  Watson, who pitched for the Legends in 2016, started the season opener at Charleston.  He walked five and struck out four in four innings, but did not give up an earned run.  Anderson, a former Florida Gator, started Greenville’s opener against Delmarva.  He allowed one earned run in four and two-thirds innings, struck out seven batters and walked two.

Wednesday:  Jace Vines (R) vs. Darwinzon Hernandez (L).  Vines, who pitched in college at Texas A & M, made a relief appearance at Charleston April 7.  Entering the game in the sixth, he allowed one run in his first three innings, but took the loss when the RiverDogs came alive with four ninth-inning runs and won the game 9-8.  Hernandez recorded a victory April 7 when he worked the first five innings and allowed three hits and one earned run as the Drive beat Delmarva 3-2.

Hot starts:  INF Angelo Castellano was 5-for-11 (.455) for Lexington with three RBI in the Charleston series.  1B Chris DeVito was 5-for-14 (.357) with three RBI.  OF Khalil Lee and INF Manny Olloque homered for the Legends, and Lee stole two bases.

The Legends open the home season Thursday, April 13 against the West Virginia Power, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

For more information, visit www.lexingtonlegends.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legends manager Scott Thorman spoke to reporters at Media Day April 4.

After a month of spring training in Arizona, a trip to Lexington, and then a nine-hour bus ride to Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday, the Lexington Legends are no doubt ready to open the 2017 season.  They’ll do that tonight (Thursday) against the Charleston RiverDogs.

The Legends are entering their fifth season as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.  The opening roster for Lexington has several of the Royals’ highly regarded prospects as ranked by MLB.com.  Outfielder Khalil Lee is ranked 14th in the KC organization, catcher Meibrys Viloria 15th, RHP Nolan Watson 16th, LHP Garrett Davila 18th, OF Marten Gasparini 20th, SS Ricky Aracena 28th, and RHP Gerson Garabito 29th.  Viloria was the Most Valuable Player in the Pioneer League in 2016, when he played for Idaho Falls and batted .376.

Watson gets the start in the opening game.  First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m., and the game can be heard on ESPN Sports Radio 1300, WLXG-AM.

Pitching pairings for the four-game series:

(Lexington pitcher listed first. All of the pitchers listed are right-handers, except for Lexington’s Garrett Davila, who will start in game two Friday night).

Thursday 7:05 p.m. – Nolan Watson vs. Nick Green.  Watson, a first round pick by Kansas City in 2015, was 3-11 with the Legends last year, but the MLB.com report notes that he “maintained the stuff that made him a first-rounder. His fastball still ranged from 91-95 mph with life and his slider still looks like a potential plus offering.”

Friday 7:05 p.m. – Garrett Davila vs. Jio Orozco.  Davila had a perfect record in his first year in professional baseball.  He was 7-0 with 2.77 ERA in 12 starts, 65 innings pitched with Burlington (Appalachian League) in 2016.

Saturday 6:05 p.m. – Gerson Garabito vs. Brian Keller.  Like Watson, Garabito suffered through some bad stretches in a 2-11 season with Lexington last year.  MLB.com says he showed “showed an arsenal that was more impressive than his record.  Garabito’s best pitch usually is his curveball, which features good depth.”

Sunday 5:05 p.m. – Ofreidy Gomez vs. Nick Nelson.  Gomez was 5-4 with a 5.20 ERA in 12 starts for Burlington in 2016.

The Legends will move on to Greenville, South Carolina for a three-game series starting Monday night.  The home opener is set for Thursday, April 13 against the West Virginia Power.  Game time at Whitaker Bank Ballpark is 7:05 p.m.

 

 

Raul Mondesi was a South Atlantic League All-Star at age 17 with the Lexington Legends in 2013. (Photo-Mary Lay)

The end of spring training can bring the best or the worst of news for baseball players.

There was great news for 2013 Legend Raul Mondesi, who was named by manager Ned Yost as the Kansas City Royals’ starting second baseman.  Mondesi batted .367 (18 hits in 49 at bats) with three doubles, three home runs and six runs batted in in 21 spring training games for Kansas City.  Despite those numbers, Mondesi wasn’t thinking about winning the starting job.  In fact, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports Mondesi was just hoping he could hang on in the major league camp for an extra few days for a reason all minor league players can appreciate:  “I could really use the meal money,” he told a teammate.

The bad news is that as spring training comes to an end, some players are released.  Final rosters for minor league affiliates are determined at about this time, and some players are left without a spot.  With new draftees coming in every year, there are always more players competing for roster spots than there are spots available.  Former Legends Brian Bayliss, Matt Ditman, Mark McCoy, Austin Bailey, Brian Bien, David Edwards and Michael Hill were released by the Royals this week.

Of those players, Hill spent the most time with the Legends, playing in a total of 151 games for Lexington in 2015 and 2016.  He hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning of a game against Rome at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on June 19, 2015.

In between his two seasons with the Legends, he played in the Australian Baseball League, and early in the 2016 season recalled that the 15-hour flight in economy made a nine-hour bus ride “cake.”

Some players who are released will get an opportunity with another organization, some will sign on with an independent team (not affiliated with a major league organization), but most will go on to the next chapter in their lives.  Good luck and best wishes to all.

 

 

Michael Hill played in 151 games with the Legends in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. (Photo-Mary Lay)

 

Tim Tebow was assigned to the Columbia Fireflies of the South Atlantic League. (John Bazemore-AP)

Tebow Time:  It looks like Tim Tebow will be back on the field in Lexington, but this time it would be at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, not Commonwealth Stadium.

The New York Mets’ organization made news around the South Atlantic League when it was announced that Tebow, the former Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, will play for the Columbia Fireflies, the Mets’ affiliate in the SAL.

Tebow signed with the Mets last year and played in the Arizona Fall League against some of baseball’s top prospects.

It’s all up to the Mets as to how long Tebow stays with Columbia, but it’s certain that the Fireflies will play three series in Lexington this season: four games May 25-28, four games June 26-29, and three games July 19-21.  The Legends have put together a Tebow ticket package for 10 of those series.

Nice exit for O’Hearn:  Ryan O’Hearn, who tied for the South Atlantic League lead in home runs with 19 for the Legends in 2015, was one of five players assigned to minor league camp by the Legends’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals.   O’Hearn homered in his final spring training game with the Royals, and made a good impression – again – on Royals manager Ned Yost.

Ryan O’Hearn hit 19 home runs in 81 games with the Legends in 2015. (Photo-Mary Lay)

“We liked him the little bit that we saw him last year, too,” Yost said. “He’s got a nice, short swing. He’s going to be a good player.”

 

 

Raul Mondesi, who played for the Lexington Legends in 2013.

 

Kansas City Royals infielder Raul Mondesi, a 2013 Lexington Legend, continued his outstanding spring by leading off Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox with a home run.

Going into Thursday’s game, Mondesi was batting .444 (12 hits in 27 at bats) in 12 spring games for the major league club.

Mondesi played in 125 games for the Legends in 2013, 108 of them at shortstop, the rest as a designated hitter or pinch hitter.  A switch hitter, he batted .261 with seven homers and 47 runs batted in.  He was a late addition to the Southern Division All-Star team and had two hits in the All-Star game.  He didn’t turn 18 years old until July of 2013.

As a Legend, Mondesi hit for the cycle May 27, 2013 against Kannapolis.  Story  Video

Mondesi became the first player in history to make his major league debut in a World Series game when he pinch hit for the Royals against the New York Mets in game three.

He played in 47 games for the Royals in 2016.

 

 

 

Gabe Cramer was 3-2 and had 57 strikeouts in 43 and two-thirds innings for the Legends in 2016.

Former Lexington Legend Gabe Cramer pitched well in his World Baseball Classic debut with Israel.  Cramer pitched the sixth inning and allowed one hit and no runs in Israel’s 2-1 10-inning win over Korea.

            Cramer had a 3-2 record with 57 strikeouts in 43 and two-thirds innings for the Legends in 2016.

Left-hander Jake Kalish, who had a 2.38 earned run average in five appearances with the Legends in 2016 before being promoted to advanced-A Wilmington of the Carolina League, is also on the pitching staff for Israel.

 

Jacob Bodner had a 2-0 record with three saves for the Lexington Legends in 2016. (Photo by Mary Lay)

Jacob Bodner greeted young fans at the Legends’ caravan stop in his hometown of Danville, Ky.

Danville native Jacob Bodner, who pitched for the Lexington Legends in 2016, is more than ready for baseball in 2017.

The unusually warm weather through the winter months has helped, but even more important is having a full year of experience as a professional, including his first spring training in 2016.

“Just being able to get outside and throw – that alone can give you the itch, but having the full off-season and knowing what to expect makes you want to get back out there,” said Bodner, who was a special guest at the Legends’ recent pre-season caravan stop in Danville.  “Last year, I didn’t know what to expect going into spring training.  I was a little more nervous, but this year I’m ready to go.”

Bodner pitched for Boyle County High School before moving on to Xavier University.  He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 27th round of the June 2015 draft.  In his first professional assignment, he was 2-0 with an 0.77 earned run average in 16 appearances with rookie-level Burlington of the Appalachian League in 2015.

Assigned to class A Lexington for the start of the 2016 season, Bodner recorded a save on opening night.  In all, he made seven appearances with the Legends and had a 2-0 record with three saves before being promoted May 16 to advanced-A Wilmington of the Carolina League.

He hit a rough period there, but recovered.

“There was about a three-week stretch where I was getting hit around a little bit, and control-wise, I wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Bodner said.   “Hitters were able to capitalize on that.  In rookie ball and sometimes in A ball, I might have gotten away with a hit or two, but in high-A, I was giving up a couple of runs.”

He credits his pitching coach at Wilmington, Charlie Corbell, for helping him get back on track for a strong finish.  In August, the final full month of the season, he made seven appearances and had a 1.74 ERA.

With his second spring training approaching, he’s feeling a different kind of nervous energy.

“I have those ‘pre-game jitters,’” he said.  “But I’m ready to get on the mound and throw.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Bodner had a 2-0 record with three saves for the Lexington Legends in 2016. (Photo by Mary Lay)

Pitcher Jacob Bodner, a Boyle County graduate and a former Lexington Legend, will be a special guest at the Legends annual pre-season caravan stop in Danville Monday, February 13.

Bodner, who pitched in college at Xavier University before being drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2015, was 2-0 with three saves in seven appearances for the Legends in 2016.  He was promoted to advanced-A Wilmington of the Carolina League May 16.

Bodner and Legends representatives will be at Mallard’s Restaurant, 1001 Ben Ali Drive Suite 3, Monday from 4:30 p.m. to  6 p.m., and fans are invited to stop by and register for items to be given away, including autographed Royals’ memorabilia and Legends tickets.   Bodner will be available for pictures and autographs, as will the Legends’ Big L.   Joe Mathis of Z-105 will broadcast live from Mallard’s,  and fans are also encouraged to interact through social media.

The Legends open their 2017 home season Thursday, April 13 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark when they take on the West Virginia Power, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Game time is 7:05 p.m.

For ticket information, visit www.lexingtonlegends.com or call (859) 422-7867.

 

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