Brian Handzel | July 11th, 2018
Jonathan Gore is the radio announcer for both the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals. Both teams play their home games at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The Jupiter Hammerheads are the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Miami Marlins. The Palm Beach Cardinals are the Class A Advanced affiliate of the St Louis Cardinals. Both teams play in the Florida State League South. As of the writing of this article, the Palm Beach Cardinals are in third place in the division, after already winning the first half of the season with a record of 46-32 and so far in the second half have a record of 8-10. The Hammerheads are in fifth place in the division with a record of 46-36 in the first half and 5-12 so far in the second half. Jonathan and I had a conversation via text message due to our busy schedules.
Brian: Hey Jonathan, its Brian from The Scorecrow, thank you for allowing me the time to interview you.
Jonathan: No problem.
Brian: How did you get into broadcasting and how long have you been broadcasting for both the Hammerheads and the Cardinals?
Jonathan: I always loved sports and always wanted to be a part of the game some home. Back home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama I interviewed at a radio station that covered the University of Alabama and one of the guys that worked at the station was on the radio for play by play and I just knew that what I wanted to do with my career. I moved to Jupiter in May 2017 and I found a school called Connecticut School of Broadcasting which allowed me to learn about broadcasting. I started doing games in July of 2017 and I finished the season with both teams and now this season will be my first full season.
Brian: That’s awesome! So it must be interesting keeping track of two teams? Is it difficult, have you ever gotten the two teams mixed up?
Jonathan: It is! We are the only stadium in the FSL (Florida State League) that has two teams in the same league. It’s difficult at times but not as difficult as you would think. I never got the teams mixed up as player wise. When we go into commercials sometimes we get it mixed up in the Hammerheads are playing and the Cardinals played the day before we will say like on the Cardinals radio network instead of the Hammerheads radio network.
Brian: That’s pretty unique to be the only stadium to have two teams. How often do the Hammerheads and Cardinals play against each other? Are the games more fun to call when they are both your team?
Jonathan: I believe they have 6 series against each other. Yes, they are in the same division so no matter what they are fighting for the playoff spot. It’s more fun to call their games because we know all the players and teams so well, the prep work doesn’t take as long and both team’s families listen in and our crowds are just bigger and it’s fun to watch both teams compete against each other. A lot of the guys know each other and probably hang out outside of ball and when it’s time to play it’s like rivalry night.
Brian: That’s awesome, a rivalry between two teams who are technically right at home! I know it’s Single-A ball, but who do you think has the best chance at making the Majors from the Hammerheads?
Jonathan: Brian Miller. He got called up right after the All-Star Game, which he was named too. He was batting .324 with 83 hits and 29 RBI’s in 62 games. In 15 Double-A games he is batting .279. He reminds me of Brian Anderson, which he played for the Hammerheads in 2016.
Brian: I’ll have to keep an eye on him. Now, who do you think has the best chance to make it to the Majors from the Cardinals?
Jonathan: The Cardinals are a different story, the whole team could make it. The pitching is unreal for the Cardinals. I will give you three guys.
All pitchers but Will I want to say didn’t allow a run in 26 innings. Casey and Evan just look like they have what it takes to make it, and they have the mechanics too!
Brian: That’s awesome! I looked over the Hammerheads roster and saw the JT Realmuto played one game this season. Did you see this game? If so, what did you think of him?
Jonathan: Yeah I did! I think he can definitely turn into a great catcher in this league. He’s still young. It all depends on what the Marlins do. He’s cheap at the moment.
Brian: Yeah, it seems like the Marlins are in a strange place right now. I see you’ve had some other Major League players come through as well this season, such as Garrett Cooper and Martin Prado. How exciting is it for you, and the fans to see these players, especially in such a low level of the Minors.
Jonathan: Yeah I’ve seen Prado a couple times this year and Wei Yin Chen and I want to say Dietrich have all came for rehab starts. I enjoy it. I think the fans are used to it because they come here for rehab all the time! I love it from a broadcaster side because it is so easy to talk about.
Brian: Absolutely, do these players often make rehab starts because of the distance between Jupiter and Miami compared to Miami’s other Minor League clubs?
Jonathan: Yes, they all come to Jupiter because it’s so close. They fly up and it probably takes the players 15 minutes to get here. They all have houses here for Spring Training and they just stay there when they are here.
Brian: That’s an awesome experience for the fans. So one last question about Major League players. I see that Alex Reyes, the Cardinals top prospect, and the 16th overall prospect played a game in the Florida State League this season. Was this a game you were calling, and if so, could you see a big difference between Reyes and the other three pitchers you had named earlier?
Jonathan: I don’t believe I was on that game.
Brian: Fair enough. So the Hammerheads pitcher, Jorge Guzman was just recently named to the Futures game to be played on Sunday, July 15th in Washington DC. So far this season he has on 0-6 record with a 3.05 ERA in 59 innings pitched. What do you think the reasoning is that he made the Futures game, and can you give us sort of a scouting report on him before we see him next week on National television?
Jonathan: Yeah I believe it’s bad team play. A lot of guys got called up for the Hammerheads and the offense absolutely dropped. Guzman, you’ll see a fastball that ranges from 95-102 MPH, he can go deep into innings and maintain the speed of his fastball, and he also has a pretty nasty slider. He can throw a changeup as well. It’s the velocity of his pitches that makes him such a good prospect.
Brian: Awesome, can’t wait to see him play next week! Any fan of Minor League Baseball knows that it is not always about the game, but about the experience as well. What stands out to you as some of the best promotions either the Cardinals or Hammerheads have done so far, whether it be this season or seasons past?
Jonathan: Every year at Roger Dean on the 4th of July we do fireworks at the stadium. It’s also for the town of Abacoa and Jupiter so we get so many fans out to the park and I mean what’s a better way to celebrate the birthday of America with good baseball, ballpark food, and to end the night, a huge fireworks show! It’s always the best, and I enjoy a great view from the booth.
Brian: That’s got to be a huge perk of the job!
Jonathan: Yes it is! It’s always on the 3rd and 4th so it’s back to back days and being honest, I’ve never seen the stadium sold out before and on those two days, it is!
Brian: I have read that Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium is going to be hosting the 2019 Florida State League All-Star Game on the 100th Anniversary of the Florida State League. How exciting is that? Have you heard of anything special that may be happening for the game?
Jonathan: Yes! We will have it here as both teams will be the host! We interviewed the president of the Florida State League a couple days ago and was trying to get some information out of him but he wouldn’t tell us anything yet! I know I’ll be on the broadcast for the game so that’s exciting for me. Once this year is done and offseason comes around, people at the stadium will start putting things together because, one, it’s a beautiful place to visit, and two, it’s a huge ballpark and I know they want to make it a great fan experience!
Brian: That’s awesome! Have you heard the call by Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimps announcer Roger Hoover where the ball was fouled back straight into the booth? Has anything like this ever happened to you?
Jonathan: Yes, I saw that! No, the netting is so high up at the stadium and where our booth is it has to be fouled back perfectly to hit us.
Brian: That was crazy, especially the way he kept calling the game through it all! Well, Jonathan, that’s all the questions I have for today. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk with me!
Jonathan: Thank you for letting me do the interview! It was a pleasure speaking with you and if you ever need anything feel free to reach out to me, I’ll be glad to help if possible!
Again, I want to thank Jonathan for taking the time to speak with me. You can find Jonathan on Twitter at @jgore13, you can also find the broadcast team on Twitter at @RDCBroadcast. You can also hear all the calls for both the Cardinals and Hammerheads via the MiLB First Pitch App.
Questions and comments?