Chris Davis

From left, Will Kauber, Chris Davis, Montsho Thoth, Nathan Wilkins and Clem- entine Kruczynski represent some of the many creative forces behind Austin-based media label Raw Paw. The collective was recently voted best record label at the Austin Music Awards.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

Whether you’re a doodling college student or an artist with decades of experience, Austin-based media label Raw Paw wants to represent you.  

Raw Paw is a record label company, publishing house and creative platform. The collective produces an expansive variety of local Austin artists’ work, including “zines,” comic books
and albums. 

When Will Kauber and UT alumnus Chris Davis founded Raw Paw in 2010, it was a group of artists and friends searching for a creative outlet. Five years later, Raw Paw was voted best record label at the Austin Music Awards.

The community represents a group of pop-culture artists who want to network with people who share similar interests and passions. Davis said Raw Paw helps its members create a living off of what they love to do.

“We’re trying to wipe away the grit and muck of life and find their true potential,” Davis said. “Then, on our end, try to make and establish and figure how to open up doors for that artist.” 

Director of operations Clementine Kruczynski said Raw Paw can be split into three different categories — books and print, the record label and Raw Paw events.

Raw Paw publishes a series of poetry chap books, each of which features 20 original poems from a single artist and is designed by CogDut, a customized screen printing business run by Davis and Kauber.

Nathan Wilkins, lead vocalist for the band Hikes, said Raw Paw both promotes the band’s music and genuinely supports the band’s endeavors. 

“[Raw Paw and Hikes have] been growing together, instead of just watching something grow or being left behind,” Wilkins said. 

Davis said Raw Paw focuses on a few bands at a time, creating a team of people who lift up one another. Raw Paw also promotes Milezo, Young Tongue and Chipper Jones. 

One of Raw Paws’ bigger projects, “Raw Paw the Zine,” is an annually published book that incorporates submissions from the public. This year, the zine has an alien theme. 

“This is like our flagship — full-color, full-design, with a year or more of content,” Kauber said.

Kauber said the Zine hosts a release party that encompasses all of the artistic elements. 

“[Zine] is a way to capsulate a culture and disseminate information,” Kruczynski said. “It’s more of a art collective than a business — very inclusive.”

Kruczynski said the group represents a creative pocket in which the goal is to fulfill artists’ dreams.

“We’re encouraging friends and the people around us to pursue their true passions,” Davis said.

The founders of Raw Paw said they advise everyone to obtain a degree in what they love and find a way to make a career out of it. 

“We’re taking a last stand at trying to convince our community that you can do this and make a living,” Kauber said. “Just keep trying; we’ll keep helping; we’ll keep working together.” ‚Äč

On Feb. 14, I took a look at catchers. Now, let’s preview the first basemen.

Which first baseman should go off the board first?

Chris Davis (BAL) – Davis exploded last season, hitting 53 home runs, knocking in 138 runs and posting a solid .286 batting average. His on-base plus slugging percentage was a very high 1.004, just behind Miguel Cabrera. Last year’s success doesn’t mean he is going to do it again in 2014, but he seems like he is seeing the ball better at the plate. The power has always been there for Davis, but now the average is going up. Sure, you could go with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt and be fine, possibly even better, but I am all in for Davis as the number one first baseman.

Who is making a comeback from a disappointing 2013 season?

Albert Pujols (LAA) – Unfortunately for me, Pujols was my first-round pick last season, and he had the worst season of his entire career last year in a limited 99 games due to his plantar fascia in his left foot. However, this is Pujols we are talking about here, who is one of the best baseball players of all time. He will aim to turn things around in a big way in 2014. The fact that some fantasy experts rank him as low as 10th at his position is a rare site. Pujols should provide great value, especially when you can draft him later than he is used to being drafted in previous years. Also, look out for Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Justin Morneau (COL) – In December, Morneau signed with the Colorado Rockies. Let me repeat that. Morneau just signed with the Colorado Rockies. This means he will be in a lineup with Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, Wilin Rosario and Dexter Fowler, all good hitters. This also means Morneau will be playing 81 games in Coors Field where the air is thin in the mile high city of Denver, Colorado. The ball will travel much further than it will in any other park, so this could very well help his home run numbers. He has potential to be the guy he used to be in Minnesota, and he is going to have a better-than-expected season for the Rockies.

Bound to bust

Allen Craig (STL) – This is going against what I believe in because the St. Louis Cardinals are the gold standard of baseball in my opinion. However, Craig is ahead of guys like David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Trumbo on fantasy rankings out there. I don’t see him being better than those guys this season. He had a great year last year and has performed well in place of Pujols for the Cardinals, but he is being picked among consistent fantasy stars. He may prove me wrong, but I don’t see him being as good as he is ranked or as good as last year.

My Pre-Season Rankings: First Baseman

  1. Chris Davis (BAL)
  2. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)
  3. Prince Fielder (TEX)
  4. Joey Votto (CIN)
  5. Freddie Freeman (CIN)
  6. Albert Pujols (LAA)
  7. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)
  8. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)
  9. David Ortiz (BOS)
  10. Mark Trumbo (ARI)
  11. Michael Cuddyer (COL)
  12. Allen Craig (STL)
  13. Eric Hosmer (KC)
  14. Brandon Belt (SF)
  15. Mike Napoli (BOS)
  16. Justin Morneau (COL)
  17. Anthony Rizzo (CHC)
  18. Victor Martinez (DET)
  19. Mark Teixeira (NYY)
  20. Ryan Howard (PHI)

I’ll leave you with this...

First of all, keep in mind that I left off guys like Buster Posey, Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana because I have them as catchers. In addition, I left off Miguel Cabrera. There is no doubt that Cabrera would have been the number one first baseman, but I still have him at third base.

First base is generally a pretty deep position; so don’t feel like you need to grab one in the early rounds, unless of course a stud like Davis or Goldschmidt is available. Good luck.

Each week, Adam will give his two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper, a bust, his full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.

Three biggest surprises in fantasy baseball this year

We are now a little more than two weeks into the MLB season and it is still way too early to start throwing labels on players, but there are a few players who have been on fire so far this season. Here’s a list of a few guys that have done a lot to increase their fantasy value in the first two weeks of the season.

1. John Buck, C, New York Mets

In his first 46 at-bats of the year Buck has already hit six home runs and knocked in 19 runs. This is a good sign for fantasy owners because in 106 games during the 2012 season, Buck hit just 12 home runs and had a horrendous .192 average. I would not recommend making a trade for Buck just yet though; maybe wait a month or so and see if he can continue to put up quality stats. I would also be careful to give up a lot for Buck because in his nine MLB seasons he has never hit for an average above .300. There is no doubt that the way he has been playing has significantly increased his fantasy value, but just make sure to keep a close eye on his performance to see if he can keep it up throughout the rest of the season.  

 2. Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

Davis has almost identical stats to Buck; in 47 at bats he has hit six home runs, 19 RBIs and is hitting .340. His stats are not as surprising as Buck’s though because last season he hit .270 with 33 home runs and 85 RBIs so it looks like he has picked up right where he left off in 2012. Nonetheless, his stats are still quite impressive and if you are in need of a power hitter who can also hit for a decent average then you should definitely look into trading for Davis, and you should be able to get a fair deal for him.

3. Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets

Harvey has started this season as one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball. In his first three starts he has recorded three wins, allowed only two earned runs and posted an ERA of just 0.82. This hot start is surprising because in 10 starts last season, he struggled, posting a mediocre record of 3-5, but with a year of experience under his belt the 24-year-old starter looks poised to have a great season. Harvey is owned in 100 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, but if he begins to struggle a little bit that number could decline and ultimately give fantasy owners a chance to pick him up or trade for him.

As the Round Rock Express approach the regular season’s home stretch, they find themselves in an extremely desirable position. Barring a colossal collapse, the Express will play in the PCL playoffs. All that’s left for Round Rock to do before the postseason rolls around is make sure it builds some momentum.

The Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate boasts the league’s second-best record, a PCL American South-best 68-49, just two games behind the PCL Pacific South leader, the 70-47 Sacramento River Cats. Round Rock holds a nine-game lead over the Albuquerque Isotopes, who are just one game above .500, making it that much harder to believe that they once held the division lead. In fact, the Isotopes held that lead as late as June 23, but it took less than two weeks for the Express to erase it and build a seven-game gap of their own.

One of the driving forces behind the Express’ season-altering surge was first baseman Chris Davis, who hit .368, notched a mind-boggling .824 slugging percentage and hit 24 homeruns in only 48 games. Round Rock’s single-season home run record was set in 2005 by Luke Scott, who hit 31 long balls that year but did so in more than twice as many at-bats than it took Davis to hit two dozen.

Davis was busy last month. On July 23, he was called up to the big leagues when Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre suffered a hamstring injury and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Eleven days later, Davis and starting pitcher Tommy Hunter were traded to the Baltimore Orioles for right-handed reliever Koji Uehara. Texas acquired both Uehara and former San Diego Padres set-up man Mike Adams to bolster their bullpen and strengthen the bridge between its starting pitchers and flamethrowing closer Neftali Feliz.

Uehara and Adams weren’t the only ones moving around in the Rangers organization. Former Longhorns shortstop Omar Quintanilla and catcher Taylor Teagarden were called up this month: Quintanilla on July 8 after backup middle infielder Andres Blanco went on the disabled list and Teagarden July 29 when Texas put outfielder Craig Gentry on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Since being called up, they’re a combined 2-for-15 (.133) and are still on the big league roster.

It doesn’t stop there, though. The Rangers made two deals with Baltimore within 12 days, the first one coming on July 19 when they dealt southpaw Zach Phillips for minor league utility man Nick Green, who seems to be adjusting to his new surroundings well. In his first 70 at-bats with the Express, Green is hitting .329 and has driven in eight runs.

Round Rock will need Green to stay hot as they prepare for their final contests, nine of which will come against Albuquerque, who should have a heightened sense of urgency considering the sizable amount of ground they need to make up. Then again, the Express could use a few victories to maintain their winning ways and ensure they save their best baseball for last.