One of the Blue Jays’ minor league clubs that doesn’t get much attention is the AA affiliate, New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Now, we keep up to date with our recaps and whatnot, but we don’t really get much opportunity to go in depth about this club. So, we reached out to the Fisher Cats sportscaster, Bob Lipman, to pick his brain a bit. We wanted to find out how the season is going for them from the inside. We also asked him about guys like Dwight Smith Jr, Dalton Pompey, Jack Murphy and more.
Firstly, Bob was named New Hampshire’s 2014 Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA). So, he’s coming off a pretty successful season himself. He is partnered up with Tom Gauthier and Ben Gellman-Chomsky. You can catch them calling all 142 games on the Fisher Cats Radio Network. Bob has been announcing games since the team moved to New Hampshire in 2004.
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Without further adieu, here is the interview:
JJ: The Fisher Cats are 57-54 and 5.5 games back. Can you give us the synopsis of their season thus far? The good, the bad, the ugly?
BL: The Fisher Cats just finished a tough week at Richmond and Bowie, going 2-4 and scoring only 7 runs in the six games. Those Western teams may just be really good. We only scored 15 runs on them in 12 games this year combined, going 3-9. Still, the team is very much in the race for one of the Eastern Division’s two playoff spots. Key series are still to be played with Reading, Binghamton and Trenton…so there will be opportunities. Have to get past two of those three teams over the remaining 30 games.
Toronto Blue Jays
We went from 31-38 on June 23 to 50-43 on July 21 (19-5). A big homestand opens Tuesday night with Akron and Erie. That 24 game stretch was some of the best baseball we’ve seen in a few years. Starters had 17 quality starts, the bullpen was solid, and the line-up was producing with lots of late inning magic.
Matt Boyd‘s emergence was a key part of the success in the early part of the season. He was tremendous…didn’t have a bad start among the 12 he made with us. He dominated Double-A hitters, allowing just a .155 average against. The other starters have had ups and downs. Taylor Cole has continued to improve as the season has progressed. Casey Lawrence recently became New Hampshire’s career win leader—with 20 (11 this season). John Anderson, now in the bullpen, had some good outings. Casey would be considered our ace right now, he’s been going deep into games and already has 11 wins.
It’s been an aggressive offense all season under Bobby Meacham and Stubby Clapp. Aggressive going after pitches early in counts, and aggressive on the base paths. The team hits pretty well, we have been among the league leaders in home runs and average all season.
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JJ: What’s up with Dwight Smith Jr? After a good year last year, is he not going to progress as quickly? Should he have been promoted already?
BL: Dwight Smith Jr. has had a decent, although unspectacular year. He was named an Eastern League All-Star. He hits a lot of balls between left center and right center, not taking advantage of the short porch we have in right. Otherwise, those home run totals would be much higher, and should be. Fields well, arm is OK. So much can determine when the Blue Jays move players, but at 22, they were in no rush to move Smith. He’s played about 90 games, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the final 30… great attitude and well liked.
JJ: Can you explain the turn around for Dalton Pompey in AA? He’d struggled, but seemed to regain his confidence there. Was there any one thing you can point to?
BL: All I can say about Dalton Pompey is wow. As hot as any player has ever been. And I do attribute that to regaining confidence. He starting hitting right away for the Fisher Cats and it was apparent he was determined to turn around a season that was getting away from him. He turned around not only his season, but ours as well. The move to New Hampshire certainly seemed to work, whether it was matching him back up with Bobby and Stubby….or whether it was just the level of competition.
JJ: We’d love for you to explain the legend of Jack Murphy.
BL: We’ve had Jack Murphy around us for a few years. He’s probably the team leader. Great attitude, a great sense of humor. I think a lot of his appeal comes from his interaction with our fans (all positive) and the thick mustache. Some of our most popular players over the years have been the catchers, the ones who have been around awhile. Like Erik Kratz and Brian Jeroloman. They emerge as team leaders and all three have been a big part in what we do off the field too.
JJ: Roemon Fields hit .351 in 22 games with New Hampshire earlier this season. What did you see in Fields? Are we crazy to consider him as a September call-up for pinch-run situations and defense?
BL: Roemon Fields should absolutely be considered as a September call-up for his speed and defense. We’ve had some really good ones in New Hampshire…really good. He plays center with the best of them…Kevin Pillar, Anthony Gose…Darin Mastroianni. Now offensively, his first 27 Double-A hits were singles before homering and doubling in the same game on July 29. We’ll see how that part of his game develops. A lot of fun to watch.