Penn State

A major connection

Watching plenty of baseball these days.

Saw the Cleveland Indians squander a large ninth-inning lead and lose in 16 innings to the Toronto Blue Jays. Could it be a sign of chilly spring along Lake Erie?

Watched Mariano Rivera blow a save against the Tampa Bay Rays. Could it be a sign of decline?

Noticed some former State College Spikes on major-league rosters. Could players such as Matt Hague and Tony Watson begin a wave former Spikes to reach the big leagues?

The Spikes don't open their seventh season until June 16. But April and May are still busy times for New York-Penn League observers.

Spring provides time for scrolling box scores and uttering the seven glorious words: I saw him play at Medlar Field.

Hague and Watson are Pittsburgh Pirates; Jason Motte is closing games for the St. Louis Cardinals; David Carpenter is one of Houston Astros' few legitimate major-leaguers; the Seattle Mariners are still sticking Brendan Ryan in their infield; and the San Diego Padres exhibit few worries when Luke Gregerson pitches.

World Series slugger Allen Craig will rejoin the Cardinals when his knee recovers from off-season surgery. Craig opened the season on the 15-day disabled list.

Seven former Spikes are beginning this season with the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate Indianapolis. Reliever Daniel Moskos and infielder Chase D'Arnaud should return to Pittsburgh at some point this season, and Rudy Owens and Kyle McPherson are candidates to plug holes if a patchwork rotation struggles. Fourteen former Spikes, including Brock Holt, Tony Sanchez and Victor Black, are seeking breakout seasons at Double-A Altoona.

Infielder Donovan Solano and pitcher Adam Ottavino are also worth tracking. Solano was one of the Florida Marlins final roster cuts and the Colorado Rockies claimed Ottavino after he was waived by the Cardinals. Solano and Ottavino are beginning the season in Triple-A.

Our advice is to keep watching.