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Help K Cancer on May 30


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The Jason Motte Foundation is teaming up with the Memphis Redbirds for a special night at AutoZone Park. On Friday, May 30, fans can purchase ticket packages that will include admission into the ballpark and a K Cancer shirt like the one above. Find more information about the event by clicking on the photo above or here. We hope you join us in the fight to K Cancer!

Bird Feeder Feature Story: Taking it Easley


By Grant Braden

For most minor league players in professional baseball, receiving a placement in Memphis, Tennessee is a welcomed feeling. Owned by the St. Louis Cardinals, Triple-A Memphis is just a drive away from the big league club, allowing fans an easy time of keeping tabs on their favorite players. The Redbirds play in the competitive Pacific Coast League, facing off against some of the top minor league systems in baseball. The team plays at AutoZone Park, acclaimed as one of the best ballparks by several top publications. The list could continue on.

Most players would list those things among the frontrunners of why they love playing in Memphis. But for Memphis-native and Redbirds’ Opening Day catcher Ed Easley, another motive holds true.

“It feels really good to just be able to play professional baseball and live in my own house,” Easley said.

Born in Memphis and having grown up in nearby Olive Branch, Mississippi, the former 2007 supplemental 1st round draft pick was signed by the Cardinals as a minor league free agent in the offseason. He spent the first seven seasons of his career in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization. Signing with St. Louis brought about excitement concerning a fresh start with a new organization.

“I couldn’t ask to be in a better spot,” Easley explained, “not only because I’m getting to play in my hometown, but because of the St. Louis Cardinals’ reputation and how successful they have been.”

A 2004 graduate of Olive Branch High School, Easley was one of the top catchers in Mississippi, earning All-State honors twice. In addition, he was named a Louisville Slugger All-American, Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year and Olive Branch’s MVP, among other top accolades, following his memorable senior campaign. The four-year starter hit nearly .460 for the Conquistadors in his career, driving home 158 runs, while recording 61 doubles and 28 home runs.

His offensive output for a catcher made him a highly recruited backstop out of high school. With options to attend schools like Georgia Tech, Clemson, and several Southeastern Conference universities, Easley decided to stay close to home and committed to Mississippi State University.

“The opportunity to play early in my career was probably the biggest decision factor, along with being closest to my home, so I chose Mississippi State,” Easley clarified. “(It helped) going to school where I knew who my teammates were going to be since I knew a few other guys from this area that had signed with them.”

Easley looks back now as having no regrets during his time as a Bulldog. In his three years at Mississippi State, the Bulldogs won an SEC Tournament Championship, were ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation at one point and advanced to the College World Series. For Easley, getting to be a part of college baseball’s pinnacle event in 2007 was “everything you dreamed it would be.”

Used primarily as a catcher throughout his career, the 28-year old has made appearances at first and third base tracing back to his time at State. Utilized at the hot corner in his first two years, Easley then caught every game in his junior campaign. He acknowledges being drafted as a catcher, but remains open-minded about other positions.

“I’ve slowly kind of taken catching as my primary position and that’s what I want to do,” Easley explained. “But also I want the coaching staff and front office to know that if there’s a need at the corner, that I am familiar with that position.”

Similar to his last year in high school, Easley’s final season with Mississippi State gave him recognition for a superb job both behind the plate and at the dish. He was the recipient of the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top collegiate catcher. The backstop was selected as a Rawlings and Louisville Slugger All-American, in addition to being the Mississippi Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year. No mistake though, the Johnny Bench Award was his most-notable honor.

“Once they called my name, I didn’t have a speech prepared so I just kind of let it flow from the top of my head,” Easley said. “I was very proud to be able to stand up there and win the award, but also having my parents with me at that time to thank them and let them be recognized.”

Easley jumped right into professional baseball following the draft in June of 2007. He moved through Arizona’s minor league affiliates in the years to come, but uncharacteristically hit below a .275 average every season through 2012. He admittingly “didn’t have too many great years early.” With only 17 games of prior experience above the Double-A level, Easley was assigned to Triple-A Reno in the Pacific Coast League to begin 2013. In his best campaign statistically at any minor league level, the catcher hit .334 with 49 runs batted in and 29 extra-base hits, to go along with throwing out a league-best 35.7% of attempted base stealers. Easley attributed last year’s success to a budding amount of confidence following a strong Spring Training.

Fast forward to now, hopes are high for that same confidence to guide him during his time with Memphis. The right-hander’s aspirations for the season are different than any before though.

“This year it’s going to be being a leader defensively,” Easley proclaimed. “There are a lot of guys I haven’t caught before and played with, so just looking to slowly get used to the guys and being confident, knowing that I have done this all before.”

It can be safe to say that he can count on support from many different people this season too. Hailing from the area, Easley has already seen a strong number of those he grew up with come out to see him play. The chance to play in front of family and friends on a consistent basis is something few baseball players are given and Easley knows it. “The door opened for me and they told me that this was the opportunity I had,” Easley said. “Being at home with friends and family had a little to do with my decision.”

Ed Easley (bottom left) and Charlie Lea (upper right) in Collierville Little League.

In the midst of his eighth professional season, Easley has experienced the ups and downs of professional baseball. He has had many coaches, parents, friends, and teammates make a lasting impression on the way he plays baseball, and many of them will be able to see him play at AutoZone Park this year. But if there was one person Easley wishes could be in the stands, it would be Charlie Lea, the man who made the most lasting impression on Easley’s baseball career.

Lea, a former Memphis Chicks pitcher and Redbirds’ broadcaster, had sons that were similar in age to Easley. The boys all grew up together and played competitive baseball with one another. The former Montreal Expo helped Easley by teaching the catching side of things, instead of what Lea was famous for, pitching. The experiences and time spent around Lea will always be something Easley cherishes.

“Charlie Lea taught me more about this game than anyone else,” Easley emphasized. “When it came to baseball skills and how to live my life on and off the field, I learned a lot from Charlie in those ways.

“He was a great man. Unfortunately he is not here to experience all this with me. He’s always in the back of my head and I look forward to playing this season for him.”

As Easley looks to repeat last year’s strong performance, his chance to play in AutoZone Park during its 15th season is something he will cherish. In the end, Easley’s passion is playing baseball and he hopes fans can see it by the way he plays.

“Playing pro ball in my hometown, there’s not much more I can ask for honestly,” Easley concluded.

Easley before the St. Louis Cardinals Exhibition Game at AutoZone Park in 2014.

Help K Cancer on May 30


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The Jason Motte Foundation is teaming up with the Memphis Redbirds for a special night at AutoZone Park. On Friday, May 30, fans can purchase ticket packages that will include admission into the ballpark and a K Cancer shirt like the one above. Find more information about the event by clicking on the photo above or here. We hope you join us in the fight to K Cancer!

Help K Cancer on May 30th


KCancer-Aardsma-social-media

The Jason Motte Foundation is teaming up with the Memphis Redbirds for a special night at AutoZone Park. On Friday, May 30, fans can purchase ticket packages that will include admission into the ballpark and a K Cancer shirt like the one above. Find more information about the event by clicking on the photo above or here. We hope you join us in the fight to K Cancer!

 

Happy Mother’s Day


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Twitter Talk – In-Season


It is more than a month into the season and players have been active on Twitter. In this edition we see trash talk, movie references and some talk about food.

Springfield pitcher Kurt Heyer drops a line from “The Rookie.”

Springfielder outfielder Mike O’Neill talks some trash with Memphis infielder Jermaine Curtis about their alma maters’ baseball teams.

Former Redbird Randal Grichuk was ecstatic about getting the promotion to St. Louis.

Memphis reliever David Aardsma congratulates teammate Angel Castro on becoming a father.

Palm Beach starting pitcher Marco Gonzalez must have been walking through a flood.

Memphis pitcher Tim Cooney is going to want to visit Colorado again in the offseason.

Former Memphis pitchers Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha and Seth Maness enjoy some food during their series against the Cubs in Chicago. The bibs look nice on them.

Memphis first baseman Xavier Scruggs is always working hard.

John Gast and Tyrell Jenkins, who are both rehabbing from injuries, give one another grief.

Springfield infielder Jonathan Rodriguez gave some praise to his teammates after a good win.

 

Mother’s Day at AutoZone Park


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We have a fun, promotion-packed home stand that starts this Saturday, May 10 against the Round Rock Express. Check the Redbirds website for all the details. One of the promotions for the eight-game home stand occurs on Mother’s Day. That Sunday’s game starts at 1:35 pm and gates will open at 12:05 pm. We want to make sure all the moms out there feel appreciated. One of the ways we are doing this is giving 1,000 mothers the opportunity to go home with this special shirt. Be sure to get to the park in enough time to grab your shirt and check out what else we have going around AutoZone Park so you don’t miss any of our great giveaways!

Guest Blog: Xavier Scruggs


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Xavier Scruggs (@Xavier_Scruggs) was drafted by St. Louis in 2008 out of UNLV and is in the midst of his seventh professional season. He grew up in California and attended Poway High School in San Diego. The infielder spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, where he is the all-time career home runs leader with 59.

“A few years ago I was blogging for Scout.com and had a great time doing it,” Scruggs said. “I wrote about winter ball and my season in Springfield. When the Redbirds Media team approached me about blogging, I immediately thought about how awesome it would be to give fans an inside look on a player’s thoughts and everyday experiences.”

The 2014 season is here and underway and I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s Memphis Redbirds team. It is another season to show improvement, strive for your dreams and to grind all 140 games. Triple A is a new experience for me.

I have never been to Memphis but I have heard so much about it. The first day we arrived I couldn’t help but be in awe of such an awesome stadium. I stared at the field just thinking how AutoZone Park will be my new playground for the next 6 months. It was three days before the season started but I already wanted to be on the field. I was visualizing myself in the batter’s box and hitting one over the fence. Redbirds fans showed up for one of our first practices and it only emphasized how awesome it is to have so many people that support you. 

Needless to say I am very blessed to be here. Every day I remind myself to not take this for granted. When I think about it, all I’m really doing is playing the sport I have loved to play since I was five years old. What makes it even more special is that every year I get to play in front of so many Cardinal fans that truly love the game as much as I do. For that I will be forever thankful grateful.

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There are two things that I have always associated with Memphis and I’m sure it is probably the same for others who aren’t from here: music and food. People warned me about the food here in Memphis. They told me there is a good chance I could get fat with all the wonderful food here in this city. It’s such a shame that all the hard work I put into shedding pounds this offseason will be put to waste with places like Rendezvous, Central BBQ, Gus’s, Blue Plate Cafe and Germantown Commissary surrounding me. I’m not complaining though because being from California it’s not too often I get options like this.

My first thought about the upcoming season is that we have a very talented team. It is not every day that a team has such a remarkable outstanding core of guys. I’m positive that our team will do very well this year. True baseball fans know that a team only goes as far as their pitching will take them. With that being said we could definitely lose pitchers to the big league team if they are pitching well. Actually that could be said for both position players and pitchers. That is one thing that I will have to get used to more of this year, seeing players get promoted to the big leagues. That’s the most exciting part though, knowing that you are only one step away from being in ‘the show’. That’s all the motivation I need.

I’m happy to call Memphis my new home for a little while, but hopefully not for too long because I would love to check out St. Louis as well. More blogging to come very soon, but for now you can find more of my thoughts on Twitter. Until next time!

Inside the Park App


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The baseball season is underway and with a brand new start comes a brand new application that allows fans the opportunity to interact even more. MiLB released their Inside the Park app before the season began in April. It is a terrific resource that enables fans to know all the different events planned for the game and gives more information on the Redbirds’ team, AutoZone Park and other various outlets. 

For every home game inside AutoZone Park, fans can open the app and see a rundown of the night’s schedule of events on the dashboard. The app sets different avenues for fans to interact on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Fans can purchase tickets straight from the app if they want as well.

The new app provides fans a fun, new way of experiencing a game. It is available for Apple and Android phones. Download Inside the Park today and get to a Redbirds game! Here’s a peek of what it looks like.

Opening Night At AZP


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We hope you will join us for the home opener of the 2014 season and the beginning of AutoZone Park’s 15th season tomorrow! These three guys will be here. How about you? Get your tickets here.

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