Sports has fallen into its February lull. We’re pre-NCAA Tournament, pre-baseball, post-all star break and slightly pre-playoff stretch in both basketball and hockey. Luckily, one thing will save us all.
The James Mungro Memorial Award, sponsored by (sponsor pending).
That’s right. Players have reported to spring training, workouts are in full bloom down in Lakeland, and the Tigers play their first spring training game on Friday. The successor to Jacques McClendon and — in purely baseball terms — Chris Bootcheck must be found.
If you’re a regular, you know just how special time this time is, how the third best fictional award on that internet can change lives.
If you’re new to the blog, read about the James Mungro Memorial Award sponsored by (no sponsor yet) here. If you don’t want go through the whole page, just read the origin of the award and you’ll get the idea.
As always, the rules remain the same: 1.) the award has to go to someone I’ve never heard of. If I’ve heard the name, he’s automatically eliminated. 2.) He has to have at least an outside chance of making the team. I don’t want any catchers that are just there to be bullpen catchers. You have to play in the preseason games. That’s part of the fun. 3.) He can’t be a big-time prospect. Any player that makes anybody’s list of the Top 10 or Top 20 prospects is eliminated. I’ve done a bit of preliminary research but if I missed anybody, I’ll need a heads up. I’ve also added a fourth rule this year. It was always a rule but had never been given the bold-font treatment: 4.) He can’t be the subject of a feature story in the first half of spring training/training camp. The definition of feature is a judgment call made by me, but players can file an appeal to be heard by Roger Goodell. In special cases, this rule may be waved.
It’s worth noting that Rule No. 1 eliminates all of last year’s contestants. Just one player was so anonymous I didn’t recognize his name for a second year: Argenis Diaz. Despite this accomplishment, he’s still not eligible.
I would also like to bring special attention to Matt Tuiasosopo being in Tigers camp. He isn’t eligible due to us (well, mostly me) learning about him in the Manti Te’o scandal as perpetrator Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s cousin.
With those two gone, we started with 16 brave candidates for this year’s award. Many were eliminated immediately.
Seven got the boot for being named one of the Tigers’ top 20 prospects: Eugenio Suarez, Tyler Collins, Daniel Fields, Jeff Kobernus, Kenny Faulk, Melvin Mercedes and Ramon Cabrera.
Also eliminated: Brayan Pena and Kyle Lobstein (not the greatest name for a pitcher). I probably should’ve known Pena’s name, considering he is an eight-year MLB veteran and the likely backup catcher for the Tigers, but I didn’t. Unfortunately, he showed up on a few too many radars. The Detroit News has already produced a feature on the Cuban-born Pena. The article is a good read, but it automatically disqualifies him from the award. If that wasn’t enough, the Free Press wrote the same story a day later.
Lobstein’s selection in the Rule 5 draft and subsequent trade to the Tigers earned a feature from MLive.com.
That leaves us with a seven-man class of nominees for the 2013 JMMA. They are:
Jose Alvarez, LHP. Age: 23. Last played for: Jacksonville Suns (AA affiliate for the Miami Marlins). Status: Non-roster invitee, just like Chris Bootcheck was.
Trevor Bell, RHP. Age: 26. Last played for: Salt Lake Bees (AAA affiliate for the Los Angeles Angels). Status: Non-roster invitee, just like Chris Bootcheck was.
Michael Morrison, RHP. Age: 25. Last played for: Erie SeaWolves (AA affiliate for the Detroit Tigers). Status: Non-roster invitee, just like Chris Bootcheck was.
Ryan Robowski, LHP. Age: 25. Last played for: Toledo Mudhens (AAA affiliate for the Detroit Tigers). Status: Non-roster invitee, just like Chris Bootcheck was.
Dixon Machado, SS. Age: 20. Last played for: Lakeland Tigers (High-A affiliate for the Detroit Tigers). Status: On the 40-man roster.
Brad Davis, C. Age: 30. Last played for: Toledo Mudhens by way of New Orleans Zephyrs (Miami) who he came to by way of the Tuscon Padres (San Diego). Status: Non-roster invitee, just like Chris Bootcheck was. Winner of the newly created Chris Bootcheck Award, given to the oldest competitor.
Kevin Russo, 2B. Age: 28. Last played for: Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (AAA affiliate of New York Yankees).
More on these players to come on them in the coming days, weeks and month. Let me just say, Trevor Bell is the early favorite for a very good reason.