What's in store for the Cozy's future?

Ponce, Puerto Rico - Cozy Ponson had no problems with his right shoulder in a 6 inning, 90 pitch outing, to pick up the win against the Carolina Giants in winter league action. Many scouts have been watching the El Paso Fighting Tacos' highly touted pitching prospect. Sporting long hair and a beaded necklace, Ponson could easily be confused for an amateur surfer in town for the winter, rather than one of the Major League's most promising prospects.

Ponson is pitching in the Puerto Rico Winter League as part of a strengthening assignment, following a frustrating season 11 that saw Cozy injure his shoulder three times. Scouts from several teams have been watching the former 1st round pick very closely, amidst rumors that El Paso may trade their future ace due to health concerns. If Ponson can stay healthy and get back on track with his development, they should have no problems in finding takers... but if he regains his form, they may have no desire to trade him. Fighting Taco officials have declined to comment, but the pitching coach for the Ponce Lions,
Tony Ortiz, mentioned that he is getting plenty of questions about Ponson's workouts and command of his pitches from people within and outside the organization.

Ponson, originally from Cambridge, Masachusetts, was a first round pick and second overall pick of the amateur draft two seasons ago. Ponson moved quickly through the Minor League ranks: he never pitched in rookie or Low A ball, and only pitched 7 innings in High A ball before being promoted to AA. He started 12 times for Kansas City's AA team and was promptly promoted to AAA, where he pitched 45 innings over two seasons. Kansas City traded Ponson to El Paso, and was originally reassigned to AA by his new franchise. He quickly overmatched AA hitters and El Paso promoted him again to AAA. In his 2nd season in professional baseball, Ponson logged 187 innings between two franchises, 3 teams and 2 levels. His combined record was 15-9 in 29 starts. Season 11 brought great promise - Ponson started 5 Spring training games and limited opponents to a .212 AVG, 1.05 WHIP and a 2.51 ERA. Things progressed quickly after that : 3 trips to the disabled list due to shoulder injuries and a season in which he only pitched 60 2/3 innings and gave up a 7.42 ERA, .303 OAV and a 4-5 record for El Paso's AAA team.

El Paso is hoping that a vigorous strengthening and conditioning program and off-season rehab while pitching to live batters in Puerto Rico will return Ponson to top prospect form. Many critics believe that Ponson's 187 innings in Season 10 took a toll on his arm, but his recent appearances as a starter have shown no indication that Ponson has slowed down. Ponson has struggled against left handed batters, and his coaches' efforts have focused on developing his delivery mechanics to give lefthanded hitters a more difficult read on his 4-pitch arsennal. Ponson has the potential to be one of the top pitches in the Major Leagues, and El Paso is investing heavily on his development. If the past is any consolation, and judging from his rapid progression through the minors, Ponson should someday challenge for the Cy Young award.

Ponson's AAA teammate and fellow New Englander
Joe McCormick is also pitching for Ponce in the Puerto Rico Winter League.

Buffalo Blizzard Crowned World Series Champions

By the time the ball landed on Sun Wanatabe's glove in deep right center field, it became official that Buffalo had its world series revenge. Leading 8-2 in the bottom of the 9th, it was no surprise that the Buffalo Blizzard were this season's World Series champs. This revenge was sweet for the Blizzard, after losing the Season 10 World Series to the Trenton Fire. In this rematch of last year's World Series, Buffalo won the series 4-2 and outscored the Fire 30-18 in the 6 games played. Buffalo followed on their reputation of a high scoring, offensive powerhouse led by Parker McIntyre and Rey Shigetoshi. Trenton suffered from a late season injury to Cy Young winner Andrew Baxter, whose stellar pitching performance last season made the difference in shutting down the Blizzard's offense.

Here is a game by game summary and highlights of the World Series:
Game 1: Buffalo 4, Trenton 2
Jorge Lee (13-3, 3.95 ERA) vs Norberto Gonzalez (4-0, 4.28 ERA no starts in regular season).

Jorge Lee pitched 6 innings, allowing 1 run before turning it over to the bullpen. Career closer and world saves leader Don Gonzales logged the save. Norberto Gonzalez pitched reasonably well (4 IP, 2 ER), and reliever Max Nunez allowed 2 ER over the next 4 innings, but 4 runs was all that Buffalo needed to win this one. Buffalo led the series 1-0.

Game 2: Buffalo 1, Trenton 2
Kenny White (13-9, 3.57 ERA vs
Stewart Pose (19-5, 3.05 ERA)

Pitching on short rest, 19-game winner Stewart Pose shut off the Buffalo offense for 4 innings before relievers Jorel Roth and Kirk Heiserman picked it up and picked up the win for the Fire. Buffalo pitchers performed well enough to win, but it would go Trenton's way in this low scoring game. Kenny White pitching 6 innings, allowing 1 ER, and Carlos Gil got the loss by allowing 1 ER in 2 innings pitched. Series tied 1-1.

Game 3: Trenton 1, Buffalo 7
Aaron Ashley (14-5, 4.45 ERA) vs Benito Manzanillo (13-4, 4.73 ERA)

The series shifted to Buffalo for Game 3, where historic lows in October temperatures chilled the Fire's chances early on, but it was actually
Benito Manzanillo's strong pitching and the combined power of Rey Shigetoshi and Parker McIntyre that finished them off. The Blizzard jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning on back to back homers by the dynamic duo. Ashley allowed 12 hits and 6 ER in 6IP, and the offensive onslaught demoralized the Fire early on. Buffalo led series 2-1.

Game 4: Trenton 1, Buffalo 9
Norberto Gonzalez (4-0, 4.28 ERA) vs Elston Brunson (12-7, 4.84 ERA)

In a series turning point, Trenton's veteran Norberto Gonzalez started for the second time in the World Series, limiting the Blizzard to 1 run in 5 innings, but reliever Max Nunez was crushed by the Blizzard and by untimely erros, giving up 8 runs (6ER). The Blizzard asserted themselves in the 8th inning, with back to back homeruns by Shigetoshi and McIntyre followed three batters later by a 2Run HR by Horacio Guardado. Bill "The Caveman" Torres picked up the win in relief. Buffalo led series 3-1

Game 5 : Trenton 10, Buffalo 1

(Stewart Pose (19-5, 3.05 ERA) vs. Jorge Lee (13-3, 3.95 ERA)

Trenton re-established themselves in Game 5, denying the Blizzard's attempt at clenching at home and showing that Trenton's offense is also capable of fireworks. Once again pitching on short rest, Pose established himself as a gutsy pitcher, throwing a few innings before Jorel Roth picked up the win in 5+ innings of one-hit shutout ball. Jorge Lee pitched 5 innings, giving up 6R, 3 ER. Trenton's Russell Leonard provided the fire power, going 4 for 5 with 5 RBIs, including 2 homeruns. Buffalo led the series 3-2.

Game 6: Trenton 2, Buffalo 8

Aaron Ashley (14-5, 4.45 ERA) vs Kenny White (13-9, 3.57 ERA)

Kenny White finally got his series win, by throwing 7 innings of shutout ball in the World Series clincher. Buffalo jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning on a 2-Run HR by Rey Shigetoshi and never looked back, scoring 4 more in the 3rd and 2 more later on. Parker McIntyre went 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs, including a solo shot in the 9th for his 11th homerun of the postseason. Buffalo wins the World Series for the second time in franchise history.

Fire and Ice Face off in World Series

In a rematch of last season's World Series contenders, the Buffalo Blizzard will face the Trenton Fire in this year's edition. The Fire made it to their second consecutive world series after defeating San Antonio in the League Championship series in 6 games. The well-rested Buffalo team enters the World Series undefeated in post-season play after sweeping the Iowa City Bison and the El Paso Fighting Tacos. The series should be an evenly matched affair. Although Buffalo seems to have a slight edge in offense, Trenton's 105 regular season wins came riding on great pitching and superb defense. Leading Cy-Young award candidate Andrew Baxter, who went 23-3 in the regular season after an incredible World Series performance last year, will be missing from the defending champions due to a shoulder aneurysm. Game action starts tomorrow in Trenton.


Batting Average
R. Alomar - NO - .383
B. Green - COL - .371
E. Silva - COL - .349
P. Zheng - BUF - .347
M. Burrell - IA - .343

Home Runs
McIntyre - BUF ..76
Shigetoshi - BUF ..70
Horton - ELP ..49
Devereaux - CLB.. 47
Silva - COL ..45
Grey - POR ..45

Runs Batted In
McIntyre - BUF ..158

Shigetoshi - BUF ..146
Post - CIN ..137
Horton - ELP ..133
Silva - COL ..131

Runs Scored
Green - COL ..161
McIntyre - BUF ..143
Shigetoshi - BUF ..142
Mieske - CIN ..134
Gonzalez - POR ..123

Stolen Bases
A. Gutierrez - RIC 68
H. Maas - COL 63
A. Bailey - IA 60
K. Mieske - CIN 60
D. Cook - LAA 53

Y. Cooper - CIN 19
P. Harang - LV 19
W. Meadows - LV 18
T. Arnold - LV 17

J. Jimenez - LV 46
D. Gutierrez - STL 40
S. Welch - POR 36
D. Gonzales - BUF 35
M. Boyer - CLB 31

League ERA
C. Leach - ELP 2.73
P. Harang - LV 2.80
B. Bartee - POR 2.85
J. Amaro - IA 2.88
R. Jimenez - CLB 3.08

C. Ramirez - IA 227
T. Murphy - LA 197
M. Song - HEL 184
J. Little - CLB 177
A. Robinson - LA 174