The 2013 campaign continues for the Stockton Ports, and we’re now already over a quarter of the way through the season. We’ve had some streaks where we’ve played extremely well and others where things just haven’t gone our way. But as I’ve been told time and time again, being able to maintain an even keel is paramount in the success of a ballplayer as well as a team. And this team, through it all, has shown a real knack for being able to remain positive and come to the park with a plan to get better each and every day.
Since my last entry, we’ve continued to play extremely well at home. I’m not quite sure exactly what it is about Banner Island Ballpark, but we continue to win lots of games at home. Maybe it’s sleeping in your own bed, familiarity with the ballpark, great fans, etc. But for whatever reason, we always seem to be in a good position to win when we’re the home team. We’ve seen some outstanding performances the past couple of series, with Drew Granier and Tanner Peters both racking up double-digit strikeout performances on the mound. Tanner, in fact, had a perfect game going through five innings last week. And as a bullpen guy, it’s great to see your starters have success for multiple reasons. One, it doesn’t tax the ‘pen when they’re able to go deep into games, and two, when a starting pitcher goes out there and dominates, he exposes the other teams’ weaknesses, which we in turn can try to exploit when we follow them into the game.
Our outfielders continue to chase balls down in the outfield and make plays for us. It seems like almost everyday Myrio Richard or Dusty Robinson makes a diving catch. And in one of my recent outings, Bobby Crocker made an outstanding catch in the 9th inning to bring back a home run ball for an out. These kinds of things mean the world to a pitcher and to a team. Guys busting their tails out there and giving it their all makes a huge difference and is greatly appreciated.
Having now spent more than a month in California and in the Cal League, I feel like I’m starting to get acquainted with the state and the league. Since I last wrote, we have traveled to Modesto, Visalia, High Desert and Lancaster. And I really enjoy getting the opportunity to go on the road and see different places. The California League is referred to as a hitters’ league, and High Desert and Lancaster are notorious as the toughest places to pitch in the league. As a pitcher, you are always trying to keep the ball down to induce ground ball outs but, in places where the ball really flies, you have to be especially conscientious about it.
While the elements may not always be in your favor, the difference between success and failure is really more of a mental battle, especially in this league. If you go out there too worried about giving up a home run, then it most likely is going to happen. But going out there with confidence and a plan of keeping the ball down and executing pitches will always set a pitcher up with a good chance to be successful. As I have been told countless times by my coaches in the organization, “Control what you can control.” There are a lot of factors that go on that we have no influence or control over, but what we can control is our preparation, game plan and execution.
Throughout the course of the season, players are going to have good games and bad games. One thing that’s important to remember is that it’s not one particular game or outing that defines you; it’s a whole body of work. As one of my former managers told me, “You aren’t evaluated over a bad outing. You’re evaluated on your ability to bounce back your next outing and get the job done.” As a player, it’s important not to dwell on things because this game will beat you up in a heartbeat if you let yourself do that. It is important to learn from past performances, both positives and negatives, but not to over-analyze. The beauty of baseball is that, whether it’s a good game or a bad one, tomorrow is a new day and a new game. The important thing to do is to take advantage of your opportunities, work hard to become more consistent, and get better each and every day.
Having the opportunity to play this game is a blessing and a great honor. That being said, the season is a grind and every player has to have something to keep them motivated and on the right path. For me, my faith in God and my wife and family help me to stay grounded and focused on what I am trying to do. I had the opportunity to watch an ESPN E:60 piece on former Oakland A’s catcher and current Mets’ farmhand Landon Powell last week. Landon, who is from my hometown of Apex, North Carolina and who went to my high school a few years before me, has always been a role model to me as far back as I can remember. His work ethic was something that I always felt separated him from others, and I tried to replicate that same kind of work ethic in my game.
Landon persevered through multiple health issues in his career to make it to the big leagues and spent parts of three seasons with our team in Oakland. He went through the toughest thing in his life this past offseason in losing a child, a daughter named Izzy. I can’t imagine what it must be like to go through that, but to see him still remain positive and strong in his faith as well as driven to get back to the big leagues is such an inspiration to me. It goes to show you that we all have so much to be thankful for. For me, I am thankful to have a supportive wife, a great family and, as always, thankful to have the opportunity to still play the game I love.
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Seth Frankoff was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He was drafted by the A’s in the 27th round of the 2010 draft. You can follow him on Twitter @frankoff34
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The 2013 season has started and, to be honest, it seems to be flying by already. It’s hard to believe it’s already been almost three weeks since my last blog entry on opening day.
The 2013 campaign for the Stockton Ports has started quite well. Through the first 18 games, we have a record of 12-6. Our season began with a seven-game home stand. We swept the first four games against Bakersfield, then took one of three from San Jose. We then began our first road trip of the year, playing the same two teams on the road. We went to Bakersfield and took three of four from them on their home turf, then took one of three again from the Giants in San Jose. And in our last four games at home, we played well, taking three of four from Modesto at Banner Island Ballpark.
For someone who has never been to California before, I was looking forward to getting on the road and seeing other places around the state. I had heard differing opinions on Bakersfield but, all in all, I thought it wasn’t a bad place to play. The stadium is an old historic ballpark, which didn’t have a big press box or full stadium seating like we are fortunate to have at home in Stockton. Dusty Robinson, who is from Bakersfield, had all his family and friends at our games to support him and the Ports. Being born and raised in the Southeast, the closest I have ever been to playing at home in professional baseball has been seven hours away. So I can only imagine the thrill it must have been for him to play in his hometown at a place he grew up going to games at. I think the team played some great baseball on the road at Bakersfield. We lost just one game but we were in a position to win that one, so we have to feel good about the way we played during the series.
After our four-game series at Bakersfield, we actually traveled back to Stockton for our series in San Jose. San Jose is about eighty miles from Stockton and, in minor league baseball, any road game which is under a hundred miles away from your hometown is considered a “commuter.” Commuter trips mean that you travel back and forth from your home city each day to the opposing stadium to play games. While it is nice to sleep in your own bed each night, it also is a grind physically and mentally since you have to travel to and from the opposing city back to your hometown each and every night.
Having never been to the Bay Area before, I didn’t know what to expect in regard to the weather. I became aware as soon as we arrived that we would need extra layers for each night game. The outside temperature really wasn’t that unbearable; however, the constant wind each and every night made it seem a lot chillier than it really was. San Jose has a good club, with some solid bats in their lineup and power arms on their pitching staff. There is a certain amount of rivalry that takes place for us, even in the minor leagues, being members of the two Bay Area teams. We definitely don’t want to lose any games to anyone, but especially not to the Giants, the other team in the Bay Area.
After our series against San Jose, we returned home for a four-game series against Modesto. We lost game one, but were able to take the next three from the Nuts. We played some pretty solid baseball in all facets of the game and feel good about building some momentum going into our first off day. We saw a dominating pitching performance by Drew Granier, who struck out 10 batters in his outing against Modesto. Max Muncy continued to swing a powerful bat, slugging a few more home runs and taking his season total to 8 through 18 games. Antonio Lamas almost always seems to hit the ball on the barrel and has really been a huge part of our success. It really is a lot of fun to come to the yard each and every day and see guys perform at such a high level.
As for myself, I continue to work towards becoming more consistent every time I am fortunate enough to get the chance to pitch. One thing that is preached to us is executing each and every pitch, and that is something I strive to do every time I toe the rubber. The biggest thing is not getting ahead of yourself and just controlling what you can control. Preparation is crucial, and we are fortunate to have a pitching coach in Jimmy Escalante who always ensures that we have all the information we need in terms of scouting reports, etc. to put us in a good situation to be successful every time we go out there. Something that we are working towards as a pitching staff is not only pitching to our strengths but also being able to exploit the hitters’ weaknesses. A slogan that we have is that we want to become “big league pitchers, not minor league throwers.” To do so we have to develop big league habits and pitch off our fastball and get ahead in the count.
On a separate note, I would like to acknowledge and remember the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Too often we get caught up in everything going on in our lives and forget just how precious and fragile life is. We are fortunate to live in a great, strong country which has shown time and time again the ability to persevere through adversity and come back from tragedies like this even stronger. Watching the ceremony before the Red Sox game was quite moving for me. Seeing the emotion the players, fans, law enforcement and government officials displayed during the ceremony was a moment I won’t soon forget. It’s amazing how the game of baseball has a way of bringing people together from all walks of life.
As the season continues, I hope that we continue to improve each and every day we come to the park. After our off day, we go back on the road again for three games at Visalia and then three games at High Desert. I am excited to see more of California, but even more so to continue the season and take the ball every time I get the opportunity. This team is a great group of guys and we enjoy coming to the park each and every day. There is something to be said for team chemistry, and we certainly have a good time playing the game we love. As always, I am still thankful to have the opportunity to chase my dream!
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Seth Frankoff was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He was drafted by the A’s in the 27th round of the 2010 draft. We look forward to having Seth keep us posted throughout the season on how life is going down on the farm for him, his wife, his dog, and the Stockton Ports! You can follow him on Twitter @frankoff34
Hey y’all, this is Seth Frankoff, right-handed pitcher for the Stockton Ports. When I was approached about writing this blog, I felt that it would be a good way for me to communicate to everyone what goes on day in and day out in the life of a minor leaguer in the Oakland Athletics organization. This is my first time writing a blog though, so bear with me!
Spring Training started early this year due to the fact that the World Baseball Classic was taking place. I reported a week before the mandatory reporting date of March 4th for minor league pitchers and catchers. Different guys like to report at different times; however, I felt that getting in before the majority of the other pitchers would help put me ahead of schedule and allow me ample time to prepare for the season. My wife, Bess, who is very supportive of my career, traveled with me last season and will do the same this year, along with our new addition to the family – Addie, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Everyone has their own opinion of spring training, but I really enjoy it. We get to spend a month in Phoenix during the most beautiful time of the year in Arizona. There are long days with lots of attention paid to each and every facet of the game. Between throwing, conditioning, PFPs (pitchers fielding practice), bunt defenses, BP shagging, and then games, there is quite a bit of time spent on your feet all day. But all the time and effort spent in spring training is meant to prepare us for the grind that is the minor league season.
Team assignments vary quite a bit during spring training and really don’t make much of a difference until the last couple of days. This is when the final rosters are posted and you have a pretty good idea of where you are going to get placed. This time is exciting and tough on a player because you are sometimes unsure of where you will get placed. When I got the news that I was going to Stockton, I was very excited. After beginning the past two seasons in the Midwest League, I am glad to experience California and all it has to offer. For a kid who was born and raised in the state of North Carolina, California always seemed like it was on the other side of the globe to me. So when spring training finally came to a close, we packed the car up and hit the road in a caravan with a couple of my teammates. I would like to say the drive up to Stockton from Phoenix was great; however, I very quickly became aware of the craziness of California traffic. It even started thunder-storming and hailing on the last leg of our trip, which I was informed hardly ever happens out here.
Nonetheless, we arrived safe and sound in Stockton and checked into our hotel. I got up early the next morning to get my things situated in the locker room at Banner Island Ballpark before we left for our exhibition game against our Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento. My first impressions of Banner Island Ballpark were very positive. It is a beautiful park located right on the delta of the Stockton Deep Water Channel downtown. Our exhibitions with Sacramento were a home and home series taking place the first night in Sacramento and the second in Stockton. These games were great for both teams because they allowed us to get our work in to make sure we are ready to go on opening day. Sacramento beat us both nights, but I would like to say that we held our own against the Sacramento team. They really are a good ballclub and I anticipate they will have a strong season of their own.
As for our team, let me first say this, we are going to score some runs. From top to bottom, we have guys who can hit the ball with authority and power to all parts of the field. Anytime you can have guys like B.A. Vollmuth, Bobby Crocker, Dusty Robinson, Josh Whitaker, Max Muncy, Tony Thompson and Wade Kirkland, you are going to feel like you have a pretty good chance to win. That is not even including our shortstop Addison Russell, who will be hitting in the leadoff spot for us and who always seems to find a way to get on base. Our pitching staff is anchored by a strong starting rotation of Drew Granier, Blake Hassebrock, Sean Murphy, Tanner Peters and Andres Avila. We know that all five of those guys are going to be able to pitch deep into games and give us quality starts. Our bullpen has some great experience with the likes of Jake Brown, Pedro Vidal, Jonathan Joseph and T.J. Walz. And with the group of quality players we have on our roster, I think we will have a great season here in Stockton.
The team so far seems to have pretty good chemistry. If I recall, I have played on the same team at one point in my career with all but three individuals on the roster, and it’s always an added bonus to play with guys you’re familiar with. As for my role on the pitching staff, I believe I will be starting off in middle/long relief. It really makes no difference to me though what my role is. I really just want the ball. As a pitcher, we aren’t fortunate enough to have the ability to play everyday, but I want to have the opportunity to pitch as many times as possible. The biggest thing that I want to work on is consistency. I feel like in my career thus far I have had some pretty good stretches followed by some times where I struggled. I know, from an organizational standpoint, for guys to move, they want to see consistent results day in and day out; therefore, my goal for this season is to be more consistent. I am excited to get the season started. I have put a lot of work in during the offseason and spring training to get to this point. Now is the time to put all that time and effort to use and play the game I love. And as always, I am thankful to still have the opportunity to chase my dream!
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Seth Frankoff was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Since being drafted by the A’s in the 27th round of the 2010 draft, he has seen time in the Arizona League, the Northwest League, the NY-Penn League and the Midwest League, and this season, he’ll be making his debut in the California League. We look forward to having Seth keep us posted throughout the season on how life is going down on the farm for him, his wife, his dog, and the Stockton Ports! You can follow him on Twitter @frankoff34