March 2012

50 Years in 50 Days: 2000

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 12.

12 Years Ago:
The Timber Rattlers made it to the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.

Cover of the 2000 Media Guide.

TIMBER RATTLERS INFORMATION:
Name: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Affiliation: Seattle Mariners (8th Year)
Manager:  Gary Thurman (1st Year)
First Half Record:  38-30 (2nd, West)
Second Half Record: 40-30 (1st, West)
Overall Record: 78-60

The Timber Rattlers of the 2000 season. Added to this post on 3/27/2012

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Cha Seung Baek (8-5, 3.94) 24 games – all starts – with 99K in 127.2IP
Third baseman Justin Leone hit .267 with 18 homers and 63RBI in 115 games
Pitcher Aquilino Lopez (6-1, 1.85) in 39 games – 5 starts – with 17 saves & 67K in 68IP
Pitcher Julio Mateo (4-8, 4.19) in 36 games – 1 start – with 4 saves & 73K in 68.2IP
Pitcher Gil Meche (0-0, 0.00) in 1 game – a rehab start – with 6K in 5.0IP
Pitcher JJ Putz (12-6, 3.15) in 26 games – 25 starts – with 105K in 142.2IP
Outfielder Termel Sledge hit .217 with no homers and three RBI in seven games
Outfielder Chris Snelling hit .305 with nine homers and 56RBI in 72 games
Pitcher Rafael Soriano (8-4, 2.87) in 21 games – all starts – with 90K in 122.1IP
Pitcher Matt Thornton (6-9, 4.01) in 26 games – 17 starts – with 88K in 103.1IP

Category Leaders:
AVG: Chris Snelling – .305
HR: Justin Leone – 18
RBI: Shawn McCorkle – 73
SB: Ariel Durango – 49
OPS: Justin Leone – .920
WINS: JJ Putz – 12
ERA: Rafael Soriano 2.87
IP: Craig Anderson – 157.2
SO: Craig Anderson – 131
SV: Aquilino Lopez – 17

2000 Midwest League Season:

2000 Timber Rattlers Magnet Schedule

The Rockford Reds moved to Dayton and became the Dayton Dragons.

Also, the Midwest League switched from a three division league to a two division league.

East: Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne Wizards, Lansing Lugnuts, Michigan Battle Cats, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps
West: Beloit Snappers, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Kane County Cougars, Peoria Chiefs, Quad City River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

2000 MWL All-Star Game:
Kane County hosted the game on June 20.  The West beat the East 5-3.  Chris Snelling(OF) and Shawn McCorkle (1B) were picked as starters for the West.  Aquilino Lopez (P) was the only other Rattler selected for the game.

2000 MWL Postseason:
The first place and second place teams in each half made the playoffs.  If a team qualified in the first half and finished first or second in the second half, a team that finished third….or even fourth….would qualify.  Also, the playoffs were set by division.

West Division first round (Best-of-three):
Beloit 2, Clinton 1
Wisconsin 2, Kane County 1

East Division first round (Best-of-three):
Dayton 2, West Michigan 1
Michigan 2, Fort Wayne 1

Division Finals (Best-of-three):
West: Beloit 2, Wisconsin 1
East: Michigan 2, Dayton 0

2000 MWL Finals:
Michigan 3, Beloit 0

I rated the game two loss to the Snappers in the Western Division Finals at #2 on my list of the toughest losses in Timber Rattlers playoff since 2000.  The Rattlers led Beloit 4-1 heading into the top of the eighth inning.  The score was 4-2 with two outs…then…

Chad Wiles, who had helped Seattle’s Arizona League affiliate win a championship days earlier, relieved Ramos and got Eliezer Alfonzo to pop up to second baseman Oscar Ramirez.  But, Ramirez misjudged the ball and it dropped off his glove.  Instead of the end of the inning, de la Cruz scored from second and Bill Hall stepped to the plate with Johnson as the tying run in scoring position.  Hall delivered a single and the game was tied.  Cristian Guererro was next and he singled to load the bases.  Hector Garcia followed with a two run single and the Snappers had a 6-4 lead.  Wiles did not retire a batter in this outing.  Erik Grunwald had to come in to get Frank for the final out of the inning.

I hate that game.

2000 MWL Prospect of note:
Albert PujolsPeoria Chiefs

Albert Pujols as a Peoria Chief in 2000.

He got his start here as a third baseman. Pujols hit .324 with 17 homers and 84 RBI in 109 games.

2000 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Bill HallBeloit Snappers

Bill Hall has a Beloit Snappers bobblehead. He MUST have played there.

Hall hit .262 with three homers and 41 RBI in 130 games for Beloit in 2000.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5. Get here soon!

Timber Rattlers Spring Training – March 23, 2012

It started out as such a nice day

It was a great day to get to the ballpark early.  The weather in Arizona has warmed up and the players in the Timber Rattlers work group today seemed energized after Thursday’s light workload.

Heck, Jeff Isom even requested that I take a picture of him and Matt Erickson.

Matt Erickson and Jeff Isom, the two Timber Rattlers managers of the Brewers Era.

That’s how good a mood everyone was in this morning

This next portion of the post will be represented in slideshow form.  Plenty of drills, some batting practice, and Arizona Railbirds

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not to say that the morning was without news.
Jeff Paxson is returning for his third year as the Rattlers Athletic Trainer this season.  We were going over the 2012 schedule and mapping out travel plans.  He asked me when the MLB All-Star Game was and when the Futures Game was and wondered aloud how he could make it back in time to catch the bus to Lake County…

“Why would that be a problem?  Are you working it?” I asked.

“Yep,” was his understated reply.

I think this is a pretty big deal.  Pax has been the Midwest League trainer of the Year for the last two seasons and was the Trainer of the Year for all of Minor League Baseball in 2011.  For him to get the opportunity to work the Futures Game is pretty neat.  Of course, he’ll have to work it instead of enjoying it, but still…It should be a mark of the regard that his peers hold for him.

Congratulations, Pax.

I also had the opportunity to talk with Cameron Garfield.  Gar has been a Timber Rattlers catcher in 2010 and 2011.  If you remember, he was injured during a game early in the 2011 season.  Then, he was injured in Arizona as he rehabbed for the first injury.  He said that he can do everything, but is being held out of games until his knee gets stronger.  Once that happens he’ll be able to get into games.  He is resigned to staying in Arizona to take part in extended spring training, but understands that it is what he needs to do.  Then, he’ll be back.

I’m pulling for that to happen for him.

While the players broke for lunch, I headed over to the big league ballpark.

Inside Maryvale Baseball Stadium.

One of the first people I saw was Adam McCalvy, the mlb.com Brewers beat writer.  He mentioned that he needs to work on a minor league preview article for next week.  I look forward to it.

The next couple of paragraphs – while containing information on former Brewers prospects – are specifically for one person. I don’t know if he reads anymore, but here goes.

I bumped into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in awhile.  Mike is a scout.  There are people out there who just wrecked their monitors because I called a scout an old friend….but that’s a different story.  Mike had been a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks and you would know him if you saw him.  He is a big guy, usually wore a big straw hat and would – on occasion – wear a loud Hawaiian shirt.

Mike wasn’t around last year, but he was sitting in the Media Workroom in Maryvale to scout the Brewers and the Angels.  We recognized each other immediately.  Mike told me that he now works for the Washington Nationals as one of their pro scouts.

He mentioned that he was not surprised that the Cardinals took Erik Komatsu in the Rule 5 draft.   Mike also keeps in touch with Cutter Dykstra.  Kid, Cutter is doing well and looking forward to a great season.  There is a chance for him to start in AA this year.

Time to get back over to Diamond 7 for the game between the Timber Rattlers and the Great Lakes Loons.  Plenty of good seats available:

Moments before first pitch between the Rattlers and Loons on Diamond 7.

The Rattlers starting lineup looked like this:

Michael Reed – RF
Orlando Arcia – SS
Michael Nemeth – DH
Nick Ramirez – 1B
Ken Allison – LF
Tyler Roberts – C
Ruben Ozuna – CF
Kevin Berard – 3B
Adrian Williams – 2B

Starting Pitcher:
Andrew Gagnon

Keep in mind that just because a player appears in the starting lineup for the Rattlers in a spring training game it does not mean that the player will be on the Opening Day roster for the Rattlers.  If I could find the starting lineups for the spring training games I attended last year, I would have a more solid number for you.  But, I think that at least a few of these guys may stay behind for extended spring training.  That is not to say that they could not be Rattlers at some point during 2012.

It’s just that some guys are really young, some guys don’t have much pro experience, and some guys don’t have a spot to play based on several factors.  I am making it sound simpler than it is.  Decisions aren’t easy and the Brewers front office people in charge of the minor leagues will put a lot of thought into who goes where over the next nine or ten days.  It’s not a job that I would want.

Friday’s game started with Gagnon striking out the first two batters, but a homer, a dropped foul pop, and a double put the Loons in line for a crooked number.  Then, Gagnon calmly struck out the final batter.

Andrew Gagnon on the hill.

The bottom of the first was when the day took a decided turn.

Arcia was hit by a pitch.  Believe it or not, I actually caught the pitch on its way at the 17-year old.

Arcia is about to get hit.

Then, with two outs and Arcia at second, Nick Ramirez swung at a 3-0 pitch.  He had a good swing, but fouled it back.  It was a swing like any of the hundreds that Ramirez has taken this Spring.  No one thought anything about it.  Ramirez, a top pick in the 2011 draft, has been stinging the ball of late and seemed primed to start the season with the Rattlers.

He stepped back into the box to await the next pitch.  Then, he called time.  He stepped in again.  Then, called time again and started walking off the field towards the Rattlers dugout.  Paxson met him halfway there and Ramirez pointed to his right hand.  I didn’t see Nick or Pax the rest of the day, but Ramirez did update his twitter account:

Well mental toughness comes into play now. Gotta stay strong

Read into that what you will.

Greg Hopkins, who was scheduled to come in later in the ballgame, grabbed a helmet and a bat and smacked the first pitch he saw into left-center for an RBI double to tie the game.

A two out rally from Ozuna (Bloop double) and Berard (broken bat single) in the second inning put the Rattlers up 2-1.  Here is Ozuna scoring the run with Adrian Williams directing traffic.

Ozuna scores a run.

Gagnon would allow a run in the top of the third, but Tyler Roberts threw out a would be base stealer to stop the Great Lakes rally.  I had Gagnon at: 3IP, 4H, 2R, BB, 4K.

Roberts is in a great mood.  You can tell that he was disappointed in the way last season turned out for him and that he wants to have a better year this year.  Later in the game, he drew a walk and went from first to third on a single to right.  I kidded him a bit about his performance and tossed in  “AND you threw a guy out at second!” He just said, “I could always do that last year.”

The Rattlers padded the lead with runs in the fourth and fifth as Drew Moye worked a couple of scoreless innings.

Andy Moye on the hill.

Moye did allow a run in the sixth, but pitched well over his three innings.  But, in Spring Training the instruction never ends:

Instruction never stops at this time of the year.

That’s Moye talking with Lee Tunnel, the Brewers Minor League Pitching Coordinator, and Dave Chavarria, the Timber Rattlers pitching Coach, after his work on the field.  Moye also worked three innings.  He allowed a run on one hit with a hit batsman and two strikeouts.

It was about the time that I took this picture that I heard about another injury.  Max Walla, a name that is frequently heard in discussions about Brewers prospects, was apparently hurt while trying to make a diving catch in the Brevard County game on Diamond #4.  Walla hit a home run in the Rising Stars Game at Miller Park last year.  I hope that he is going to be okay.

But, hope is such a dumb thing to have.

Just as I was finishing up this post, Mike Walla sent me a tweet.  Short story, Max is out for four weeks. Damn.

Let’s try this again.  I hope that Max Walla AND Nick Ramirez recover fully to return to play baseball ASAP.

Back in the Wisconsin game: The Rattlers blew the game open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to an odd play.  Wisconsin had the bases loaded and no outs and Gant Elmore at the plate.  Elmore sent a ground ball to short and it looked like a 6-4-3 double play.  But, Chad Stang, the runner at second was hit by the ball before it reached the Loons shortstop.  As Stang happily pointed out back at the dugout, that was the best case scenario. Not only did it keep the bases loaded and erase the double play, it also gave Elmore a base hit.  Canadians.

John Dishon cashed in the opportunity with a three-run double.

The Rattlers put the game away with scoreless innings from Seth Harvey (0 hits, 1K), Kevin Shackelford (1H, 0K), & Jacob Barnes (0H, K).

Seth Harvey (L) warms up in the bullpen before entering Friday's game. Tom Keeling (R) gets ready to go into the Brevard County game.

I did get a shot of the Rattlers dugout in the late stages of the game:

Where's Don?

If you enlarge that picture, should be able to find former Brewer Don Money.  He stopped down at my end of the dugout to chat for a bit.  I asked him if he would be in Appleton in his new role as a roving instructor.  He said that he would so, mark down that homestand against Burlington and Kane County from May 16-21 for Don Money at Time Warner Cable Field.  Keep in mind, he may be a little busy.

I like this shot.  Something about the score…even if it is a Spring Training Game:

Scoreboard!

I just like this shot, too.  Something about the mountains in the background

Baseball in Arizona definitely has its moments.

Tomorrow is another full day for the Timber Rattlers work group.  A 9am workout and a trip to Tempe to face the Cedar Rapids Kernels work group.

And I can’t wait for it to get here.

Before ending this, a word from our sponsors.  If you have enjoyed these articles, please consider coming out to a Timber Rattlers game at Time Warner Cable Field this season.  You may purchase tickets online right here.  Or, if you wish, stop by the Ticket Office or give them a call at (800) WI-TIMBER or (920) 733-4152.  Tell them about getting the idea from Mehring on Rattler Radio.  It might shock them a bit.

Thank you.

50 Years in 50 Days: 1999

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 13.

13 Years Ago:
The Timber Rattlers made it to the MWL Championship Series for the second time as Bo Robinson & Juan Silvestre put up numbers that still boggle the mind.

The cover of the 1999 Timber Rattlers media guide.

TIMBER RATTLERS INFORMATION:
Name: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Affiliation: Seattle Mariners (7th Year)
Manager:  Steve Roadcap (1st Year)
First Half Record:  32-26 (4th, Central)
Second Half Record: 40-30 (1st, Central)
Overall Record: 72-66

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Scott Atchison (4-5, 3.42) in 15 games – 13 starts – with 85K in 81.2IP
Pitcher Aaron Looper (9-6, 4.10) in 38 games – 7 starts – with 3 saves & 73K in 90.0IP
Catcher Carlos Maldonado hit .308 with no homers and 33RBI in 92 games
Pitcher Julio Mateo (1-3, 4.34) in 20 games – no starts – with 27K in 29.0IP
Pitcher Chris Mears (10-1, 2.43) in 13 games – all starts – with 78K in 89.0IP
Pitcher Allan Simpson (2-9, 4.38) in 24 games – 13 starts – with 88K in 90.1IP
Pitcher Matt Thornton (0-0, 4.91) in 25 games – one start – with a save & 34K in 29.1IP

Chris Mears went 10-1 in 1999.

Category Leaders:
AVG: Bo Robinson – .329
HR: Juan Silvestre – 21
RBI: Juan Silvestre – 107
SB: Ramon Valera – 42
OPS: Bo Robinson – .965
WINS: Melqui Torres – 13
ERA: Melqui Torres – 4.51
IP: Melqui Torres – 171.2
SO: Josue Matos – 136
SV: Clint Chrysler – 8

Juan Silvestre and Bo Robinson were monsters in 1999.

Domination Stats:
Juan Silvestre: .288/.348/.485; 34 2Bs; 21 HRs; 107 RBI in 137 games
Bo Robinson: .329/.446/.519; 50 2Bs; 13 HRs; 102 RBI; 108 BBs in 138 games

Ridiculous Numbers!  And a couple of years ago, the Timber Rattlers website ranked Robinson’s 1999 season as the #1 season by a Rattler.  Silvestre’s 1999 season was #2.

1999 MWL Season:

The magnet schedule to the 1999 Timber Rattlers season.

Plenty of changes in affiliations.  I turn to Joel’s MWL Guide for the details:

Burlington Bees changed affiliation from Reds to White Sox.
Clinton LumberKings changed affiliation from Padres to Reds.
Fort Wayne Wizards were sold; changed logos; changed affiliation from Twins to Padres.
Lansing Lugnuts changed affiliation from Royals to Cubs.
Michigan Battle Cats changed affiliation from Red Sox to Astros.
Quad City River Bandits were sold; changed affiliations from Astros to Twins.
Rockford Reds were sold; changed name (from Cubbies); changed affiliation from Cubs to Reds.

Those moves knocked the Royals out of the league and let the Reds have two affiliates. Rockford was considered the High-A team and Clinton was considered the Low-A team.  That was perfectly fine in the minor leagues at the time.

Divisions:
West: Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Quad City River Bandits,
Central: Beloit Snappers, Kane County Cougars, Peoria Chiefs, Rockford Cubbies, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
East: Fort Wayne Wizards, Lansing Lugnuts, Michigan Battle Cats, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps

1999 MWL All-Star Game:
Lansing hosted the game on June 22.  The West beat the East 4-0.  Joel notes that 14 – FOURTEEN – pitchers for the West held the East to one hit – ONE HIT – in the game.

Four Timber Rattlers pitchers were selected for East squad.  That’s right pitchers.  Somehow, Bo Robinson AND Juan Silvestre were not selected for the game.  Ridiculous.

Chris Mears worked a scoreless inning with a strikeout.  Melqui Torres worked a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.  Aaron Looper and Enmanuel Ulloa did not play in the game.

1999 MWL Postseason:
Eight teams made the playoffs: The Division winner in each half and two Wild Card teams

First Round (Best-of-three):
Burlington 2, Clinton 1
Wisconsin 2, Rockford 0
Lansing 2, Michigan 0
Kane County 2, Quad City 1

Second Round (Best-of-three):
Burlington 2, Kane County 1
Wisconsin 2, Lansing 0

Finals (Best-of-Five):
Burlington 3, Wisconsin 2

The Timber Rattlers lost both games in Burlington and fell behind 2-0 in the Finals.  Wisconsin rallied to win the next to games and force a Game Five, but Burlington pulled out the win and the Championship.

1999 MWL Alumni of Note:
Corey PattersonLansing Lugnuts

In 1999, Corey Patterson was a Lansing Lugnut & one of the top prospects in baseball.

Patterson hit .320 with 20 homers and 79RBI in 112 games for Lansing in 1999.  One of his teammates…Carlos Zambrano.

Roy OswaltMichigan Battle Cats

I can find no photographic proof, but trust me. Roy Oswalt WAS a Michigan Battle Cat in 1999 and went 13-4 with 143K in 151.1IP.

One other pitcher of note from that MWL season…Mark Buehrle of the Burlington Bees.

1999 Brewers Farmhands of Note:
J.M. Gold and Nick NeugebauerBeloit Snappers

J.M. Gold as a Beloit Snapper.

Nick Neugebauer was a Snapper in 1999. He would make it to the big leagues with the Brewers.

Brewers fans know the stories of these two.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5. Get here soon!

Timber Rattlers Spring Training – March 22, 2012

Wounded Warriors, Defense, & Intrasquad!

I arrived at Maryvale a little before 9am this morning.  Dan O’Brien greeted me and let me know the whole schedule for the minor leaguers.  Meeting at 9am, defensive work until 11am, and intrasquad games starting at 11am.

Usually, I will stay as far away from a meeting as possible.  But, this meeting was for all of the minor league players in camp.

There were a couple of special guests to speak to the players.  They are members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.  I didn’t get the names, but judging from the profiles on that website, I think the two were Matt Kinsey and Josh Wege, who lists his current residence as Fond du Lac.

Both wounded warriors worked with the Timber Rattlers during this defensive day in Maryvale. Here is a picture of them playing catch.

Matt is in the foreground. Josh is out in centerfield.

More on the Warriors later.

Manager Matt Erickson and hitting coach Dusty Rhodes are both upbeat about how the team is playing this spring.  Erickson mentioned that the team beat the Dayton 13-1 on Wednesday.  Rhodes mentioned that the Rattlers have won four in a row.

I could list off the whole roster of players who were working out as Timber Rattlers today, but the group was nearly 40 strong.  plus, workout squads change almost every day.

Instead here are the Rattlers from last year who were working out with the team today:

Greg Hopkins
Seth Lintz
Brandon Macias
Matt Miller
Nick Ramirez
Yadiel Rivera
Chad Stang
Tyler Roberts

For the Prospect watchers out there, the Baseball America Top 30 Brewers Prospects working with the team today were: Rivera (#15), Pitcher David Goforth (#17), Orlando Arcia (#22), Drew Gagnon (#23), Michael Reed (#24), & Nick Ramirez (#28).

It was a little different day today than most other Spring Training days for the minor league side.  It was all defense.   Lots of grounders on Diamond #4

This is only half of what is actually going on during the drills.

Lots of time trying to turn two.

Nick Ramirez ready to throw to second base after fielding a grounder.

Yadiel Rivera after he takes a throw at second base.

Lots of grounders back to the mound

Step and throw...

Eye on the ball.

After 15 minutes it was on to Diamond #5 for a game of 27.  I mentioned this drill last spring when I was at a Defense Day.  The nine players in the field have to field 27 consecutive plays perfectly or the count goes back to zero and they have to start again.

And I do mean perfectly.  It’s not just a matter of fielding the ball and making the throw.  The cutoff man has to be in perfect position.  The pitcher has to be in the right spot at the right time to back up the base.  Everything has to be perfect.  I think that the most consecutive perfect plays was eight or nine.

On to Diamond #6 for more drills.  The outfielders worked on fly balls.  The pitchers were in left field with some agility and hand-eye co-ordination drills.  The infielders had a little target practice by fielding grounders at either short or third and making throws into a net that was set up at first base.

During this time catchers went over to do whatever it is that they do….which is blocking balls in the dirt up in the bullpen area.  So, you want to be a catcher?

On to Diamond #7 where the outfielders got to track and catch flyballs against the bright, yellow Sun and the infielders had more fun.  “King of the Infield” was played.  All of the infielders working with the Rattlers lined up at short and took grounders.  Miss one and you were out.  The winner would be the last person left.

It was a little odd to see Yadiel Rivera go out first – on just the second grounder hit to him in the series.  He heard about it a little bit.

Then, the most amazing play I have ever seen occurred and one of the loudest cheers on the outer diamonds at Maryvale was heard.  Josh Wege took a step to his left on a high chopper and the ball was going left.  He planted, dove back to his right, and – with full extension – cleanly fielded the ball in the webbing of his glove.  The shout went up from around the field.

This wasn't the play described above, but this is Josh Wege during "King of the Infield".

You may understand why the players and coaches reacted the way that they did on Josh’s diving play if you click on that picture.

At the end it came down to Greg Hopkins against Adrian Williams.  Williams had a tough hop and missed.  Hopkins got another tough hop, but stuck with it and he is King for a Day.

Stick with it and you could be King.

The game between the Timber Rattlers and the Brevard County Manatees was next.  Here were the starting lineups.  Yes, there were ten players to hit in the lineups:

Brevard County
Nick Shaw
Reggie Keen
Max Walla
Jason Rogers
Mike Walker
Ben McMahan
Rafael Neda
Carlos George
Miguel Velazquez
Joey Paciorek

Wisconsin
Chad Stang – CF
Michael Reed – LF
Greg Hopkins – 3B
Nick Ramirez – 1B
Jalen Harris – DH
Brandon Macias – 2B
John Dishon – RF
Adam Weisenberger – C
Kevin Moscatel – X
Yadiel Rivera – SS

Pitchers:
BC: Austin Ross (4), Alan Williams (1)
WI: Will West (2), Michael Strong (3)

Austin Ross at work.

Brevard County won the game 3-0.  Austin Ross struck out nine in his four innings of work.  The only hit that he allowed was a one out double hit by Jalen Harris.

Mass Haas tipped me to the Jalen Harris story with a tweet during the game.

The windy days are the most challenging for Jalen Harris on the field.

On those days, the soon-to-be, 19-year-old third baseman can’t hear anything but the whistle of the breeze.

But that hasn’t prevented the Toronto native, who was born deaf, from chasing his baseball dreams.

Equipped with cochlear implants since he was three, Harris has been impressing big league scouts with his never-say-die attitude, expert lip-reading abilities and natural athletic gifts over the past few years. His combination of speed, soft hands and a strong arm were enough to convince the Milwaukee Brewers to select him in the 41st round of this year’s First-Year Player Draft.

There. You learned something today, too.

The only other hit by a Rattler player today was by Michael Nemeth, who had a double off Williams in the bottom of the fifth inning.

There were a few other players to get swings for the Rattlers today:  Ken Allison, Gant Elmore, and Ruben Ozuna.

Since Yadiel Rivera is the highest rated prospect on the Rattlers side today, here’s how he did:  0-for-1 with a K and he handled his one chance in the field flawlessly.

Sorry, Yadi. The picture of you on defense didn't turn out as well as this one of you at the plate.

Defensively, Brandon Macias made a nifty 4-3 double play in the top of the first as he was covering second base on a hit-and-run.  The ball – hit by Jason Rogers – was hit towards the base.  Macias made the pick, stepped on the bag, and threw to first to get the twin killing.  In the bottom of the fifth, Mike Walker made a nice diving stop to rob Harris of a second hit on the afternoon.

West worked two scoreless innings with a walk and a couple of strikeouts.

Will West on the mound Thursday.

Strong pitched three innings and gave up three runs.

Michael Strong on Thursday.

One of the runs came on a long home run by Velazquez in the third.  Velazquez is an interesting story, too.  He had been in the Rangers organization since 2007, but did not play last year.  The Brewers signed him in December, 2011.

Unfortunately, two errors and a walk in the top of the fifth led to two more runs charged to Strong.  Carlos George reached on an error by Hopkins.  George stole second and took third on an errant throw.  Velazquez took a walk and Paciorek drove them both home.

I did get a chance to walk over the other diamond to watch the end of the Huntsville-Nashville game.  And I got over there just in time to watch Zelous Wheeler double in a run and a Sean Halton send home a run with a sacrifice fly against Hiram Burgos.

Then, Tyler Thornburg got on the hill for Nashville.

Tyler Thornburg on Thursday.

He got a strikeout and a flyball, but a walk, a single, and an error on the single let in a run.  Then, this neat moment:

Tyler Thornburg pitches to Franklin Romero in a battle of ex-Rattlers.

The game ended an inning later with Huntsville winning.

In all, not a bad first day in Maryvale.  Plenty of upbeat and familiar faces.

Friday will be a little longer with practice in the morning and a game against the Great Lakes Loons in the afternoon.  Follow me on twitter – @CMehring – for updates throughout the day.  I’ll have a write up on the day sometime tomorrow evening.

For now, think warm thoughts, Rattlers fans.  Opening Day is less than two weeks away.

50 Years in 50 Days: 1998

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 14.

14 Years Ago:
The Timber Rattlers had their best starting rotation ever and made the playoffs for the third straight season.

Ryan Anderson was on the cover of the '98 program.

TIMBER RATTLERS INFORMATION:
Name: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Affiliation: Seattle Mariners (6th Year)
Manager:  Gary Varsho (2nd Year)
First Half Record:  39-30 (1st, Central)
Second Half Record: 33-35 (3rd, Central)
Overall Record: 72-65

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Leslie Brea (3-4, 2.76) in 49 games – no starts – with 12 saves & 86K in 58.2IP
Second Baseman Jermaine Clark hit .324 with six homers and 55RBI in 123 games
Pitcher Justin Kaye (6-2, 1.71) in 28 games – no starts – with nine saves and 79K in 47.1IP
Catcher Carlos Maldonado hit .174 with no homers and an RBI in seven games
Pitcher Gil Meche (8-7, 3.44) in 26 games – all starts – with 168 K in 149IP
Pitcher Joel Pineiro (8-4, 3.19) in 16 games – all starts – with 84K in 96.0IP
Pitcher Allan Simpson (3-5, 4.44) in 19 games – all starts – with 86K in 93.1IP
Pitcher Bob Wells (0-1, 3.00) in one game – a start – with 2K in 3IP [Rehab]

Category Leaders:
AVG: Jermaine Clark – .324
HR: Juan Silvestre & Harvey Hargrove – 15
RBI: Mike Marchiano – 74
SB: Ramon Valera – 52
OPS: Jermaine Clark – .877
WINS: Gil Meche & Joel Pineiro – 8
ERA: Ryan Anderson – 3.23
IP: Gil Meche – 149.0
SO: Gil Meche – 168
SV: Leslie Brea – 12

About That Rotation Stat: For most of the 1998 season, the starting rotation of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers was Gil Meche, Joel Pineiro, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Parker, and Allan Simpson.  Those five pitchers combined to strike out 642.  The entire Rattlers pitching staff struck out a total of 1,274 opposing batters.

The Next Unit:  Ryan Anderson had a very good year with the Timber Rattlers as one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

Ryan Anderson as a Timber Rattler in 1998.

1998 MWL Season:

The 1998 Magnet Schedule of the Timber Rattlers.

No changes from last season.

Divisions:
West: Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Quad City River Bandits,
Central: Beloit Snappers, Kane County Cougars, Peoria Chiefs, Rockford Cubbies, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
East: Fort Wayne Wizards, Lansing Lugnuts, Michigan Battle Cats, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps

1998 MWL All-Star Game:
The West beat the East 7-4 at Clinton on June 23.

No Timber Rattlers started in the game, but there were five representatives.  Anderson, Brea, Meche, and Pineiro were the pitchers and Mike Marchiano was the lone position played selected to the team.

1998 MWL Postseason:
Eight teams made the playoffs: The Division winner in each half and two Wild Card teams

First Round (Best-of-three):
West Michigan 2, Michigan 1
Rockford 2, Wisconsin 1
Clinton 2, Quad City 1
Fort Wayne 2, Peoria 1

Second Round (Best-of-three):
West Michigan 2, Clinton 0
Rockford 2, Fort Wayne 0

Finals (Best-of-five):
West Michigan 3, Rockford 1

Gil Meche and Ryan Anderson had two amazing performances against Rockford in the playoffs.  Flashback Friday covered both games.  Here is the Anderson 18K gameHere is the Meche game.

1998 MWL Alum of Note:
Rick AnkielPeoria Chiefs

This would be from the pitching point of Ankiel's career and from the time when the Chiefs were affiliated with the Cardinals. Ankiel was 3-0 w/ 45K and 12BB in seven starts for the Chiefs in '98.

Matt EricksonKane County Cougars

I refuse to have a picture of the manager of the Timber Rattlers in a Cougars uniform on this blog. He did finish tied for third in the MWL batting race at .324.

1998 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Bucky JacobsenBeloit Snappers

The legend of Bucky started in Beloit with a 27 homer, 100RBI season during 1998.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 Days: 1997

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 15.

15 Years Ago:
The Timber Rattlers made the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Cover of the 1997 Media Guide.

TIMBER RATTLERS INFORMATION:
Name: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Affiliation: Seattle Mariners (5th Year)
Manager:  Gary Varsho (1st Year)
First Half Record:  40-29 (1st, Central)
Second Half Record: 36-34 (2nd, Central)
Overall Record: 76-63

The 1997 Timber Rattlers wore Papermakers jerseys on Turn Back the Clock Days & posed in front of some cool classic cars for this team photo. Added 3/31/12

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Brian Fitzgerald (3-1, 1.94) 41 games – no starts – with 10 saves & 68K in 69.2IP
Pitcher Brian Fuentes (6-7, 3.56) 22 games – all starts – with 153K in 118.2IP
Pitcher Justin Kaye (8-12, 7.30) 28 games – 26 starts – with 115K in 127.0IP
Catcher Carlos Maldonado hit .190 with no homers and 25RBI in 97 games
Pitcher Joe Mays (9-3, 2.09) 13 games – all starts – with 79K in 81.2IP
Pitcher Gil Meche (0-2, 3.00) 2 games – both starts – with 14K in 12.0IP
Pitcher Roy Smith (3-4, 5.59) 18 games – 11 starts – with 38K in 66.0IP
Pitcher Denny Stark (6-3, 1.97) 16 games – 15 starts – with 105K in 91.1IP
Shortstop Ramon Vazquez hit .269 with 8 homers and 49RBI in 131 games
Pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (0-1, 5.82) 3 games – all starts – with 18K in 17.0IP

Brian Fuentes was a pitcher, folks!

Category Leaders:
AVG: Adonis Harrison – .318
HR: Rob Zachmann & Mike Burrows – 12
RBI: Adonis Harrison – 62
SB: Adonis Harrison – 25
OPS: Adonis Harrison – .865
WINS: Julio Ayala – 11
ERA: Brian Fuentes – 3.56
IP: Justin Kaye – 127.0
SO: Brian Fuentes – 153
SV: Brian Fitzgerald – 10

Joe Mays seems like a fun guy.

Future Managers Stat:  Both Scott Steinmann & Jim Horner were catchers for the Timber Rattlers in 1997.  Steinmann managed the Rattlers in 2005.  Horner managed the Rattlers in 2006 and 2007

1997 MWL Season:

Magnet schedule for the 1997 Timber Rattlers season.

There were three affiliation changes in the MWL for the 1997 season.
Burlington from the Giants to the Reds
South Bend from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks
West Michigan from the A’s to the Tigers

For the record, the White Sox affiliation in South Bend lasted from 1988-1996.  The Sox had been in Appleton from 1967-1986.

Divisions:
West: Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Quad City River Bandits,
Central: Beloit Snappers, Kane County Cougars, Peoria Chiefs, Rockford Cubbies, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
East: Fort Wayne Wizards, Lansing Lugnuts, Michigan Battle Cats, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps

1997 MWL All-Star Game:
Lansing hosted the game on June 17.  The East beat the West 6-5 on a walk-off triple by Steve Medrano of the Lugnuts.

The Timber Rattlers Joe Mays was the winning pitcher.

No Rattlers were in the starting lineup, but three did get into the game for the East:
Luis Figueroa – 3B
Jason Regan – DH
Joe Mays – P

1997 Postseason:
Eight teams made the playoffs: The Division winner in each half and two Wild Card teams

First Round (Best-of-three):
Cedar Rapids 2, Burlington 0
Kane County 2, Wisconsin 0
Fort Wayne 2, West Michigan 0
Lansing 2, Michigan 1

Second Round (Best-of-three):
Lansing 2, Fort Wayne 0
Kane County 2, Cedar Rapids 0

Finals (Best-of-five):
Lansing 3, Kane County 2

1997 MWL Alum of Note:
Scott PodsednikKane County Cougars

He made it to the majors.

Scotty hit .277 in 135 games for the Cougars during 1997.  He became a Brewer for the 2003 season and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting (behind Dontrelle Willis).

1997 Brewers Alum of Note:
Allen LevraultBeloit Snappers

Allen Levrault as a Brewer.

Levrault went 3-10 in 24 starts for the Snappers in 1997.

He pitched in the big leagues for the Brewers in 2000 and 2001 and for Florida in 2003.

This story from 2010 caught up with Levrault.

It’s here he rushes near every afternoon, coaching the town’s middle school baseball team through 14-odd games in the regional Massasoit League. Mike Friar — father of varsity players Nick and Jake — stepped down last summer, and district athletic director Gail Silvia was approaching desperation for a replacement when she ran into Levrault in March at Westport’s playoff basketball game in Boston.

Hearing her former student had been laid off from a job as a welder, she told him about the opening.

“His eyes lit up,” Silvia said.

“I’ve been wanting to coach, just haven’t had the time,” said Levrault, a member of Westport High’s athletic hall of fame and its first baseball player to have his number retired. “I make time now.”

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5. Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 Days: 1996 (UPDATE)

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 16.

The pictures of the 1996 Timber Rattlers used in today’s post were provided by Brad Krause.  Brad’s blog is TRatsBaseball.com.

16 Years Ago:
Fox Cities Stadium hosted the All-Star Game and the man who would be David Ortiz led the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to the playoffs!

The cover of the 1996 Midwest League All-Star Game Program.

TIMBER RATTLERS INFORMATION:
Name: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Affiliation: Seattle Mariners (4th Year)
Manager:  Mike Goff (2nd Year)
First Half Record:  46-21 (1st, Central)
Second Half Record: 31-37 (4th, Central)
Overall Record: 77-58

Team photo of the 1996 Timber Rattlers. Added on 3/31/12.

David Ortiz - or David Arias as he was known at the time - in 1996.

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Kevin Gryboski (10-5, 4.74) with a save in 32 games – 21 starts – with 100K in 138.2IP
Pitcher Damaso Marte (8-6, 4.49) in 26 games – all starts – with 115K in 142.1IP
First Baseman David Ortiz hit .322 with 18 homers and 93RBI in 129 games
Pitcher Aaron Scheffer (8-1, 3.72) with 14 saves in 41 games – 1 start – with 89K in 67.2IP
Pitcher Roy Smith (6-13, 5.12) in 27 games – all starts – with 99K in 146.0IP
Third baseman Ramon Vazquez hit .300 with no homers and one RBI in three games

Ramon Vazquez in 1996

Joe Mathis led the Rattlers in stolen bases during 1996.

Category Leaders:
AVG: David Ortiz – .332
HR: David Ortiz – 18
RBI: David Ortiz – 93
SB: Joe Mathis – 19
OPS: David Ortiz – .943
WINS: Brent Iddon – 11
ERA: Damaso Marte – 4.49
IP: Roy Smith – 146.0
SO: Damaso Marte – 115
SV: Aaron Scheffer – 14

David Ortiz led the Rattlers in most of the offensive categories in 1996.

Roy Smith led the Rattlers in Innings Pitched in 1996.

1996 MWL Season:
The only changes for 1996 were: The Sultans of Springfield moving to Michigan to become the Lansing Lugnuts and the new divisional alignments.

UPDATE:
I found the 1996 magnet schedule.  Thought it might look good right about here.

The magnet schedule for the 1996 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers season.

West: Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Quad City River Bandits,
Central: Beloit Snappers, Kane County Cougars, Peoria Chiefs, Rockford Cubbies, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
East: Fort Wayne Wizards, Lansing Lugnuts, Michigan Battle Cats, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps

1996 All-Star Game:
The Timber Rattlers hosted the MWL All-Star Game on June 19.  The East beat the West 10-4.  The program is not wrong.  The game was rained out on June 18 and was played on June 19.

Here are the rosters for the game:

Click for a larger image...and see who the manager of the East Division was in the 1996 MWL All-Star Game.

Click for a larger image. Roster for the 1996 West Division All-Stars. Remember, David Arias = David Ortiz.

1996 Postseason:
Eight teams made the playoffs.  They were the winners of the three divisions in each half and two Wild Card teams.

Round one (Best-of-three):
Quad City 2, Cedar Rapids 1
West Michigan 2, Lansing 1
Rockford 2, Beloit 1
Wisconsin 2, Peoria 1

Round two (Best-0f-Three):
West Michigan 2, Rockford 0
Wisconsin 2, Quad City 1

MWL Finals:
West Michigan 3, Wisconsin 1

1996 MWL Alum of Note:
Freddy GarciaQuad City River Bandits

Freddy Garcia from the Mariners part of his career.

Garcia may have made the major leagues as a Mariner, but he was in the Midwest League as an Astros farmhand.  Garcia went to Seattle in the 1998 trade that sent Randy Johnson to Houston.  He was 5-4 in 13 starts for the River Bandits in 1996.

1996 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Valerio De Los SantosBeloit Snappers

Valerio De Los Santos as a Beloit Brewer in 1996.

De Los Santos was 10-8 with four saves and a 3.55ERA in 33 games – 23 starts – for Beloit in 1996.  He struck out 137 in 164.2IP.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon!

50 Years in 50 Days: 1995

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 17.

17 Years Ago:
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Fox Cities Stadium begin a new era of professional baseball in Appleton.

The 1995 cover of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers souvenir program.

TIMBER RATTLERS INFORMATION:
Name: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Affiliation: Seattle Mariners (3rd Year)
Manager:  Mike Goff (1st Year)
First Half Record:  30-38 (4th, Central)
Second Half Record: 33-37 (3rd, Central)
Overall Record: 63-73

Ken Cloude was a member of the 1995 Timber Rattlers.

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Ken Cloude (9-8, 3.24) in 25 games – all starts – with 140K in 161.0IP
Shortstop Wilson Delgado hit .243 with no homers and seven RBI in 19 games
Pitcher Shawn Estes (0-0, 0.90) in two games – both starts – with 11K in 10.0IP
Outfielder Shane Monahan hit .283 with a homer and 32RBI in 59 games
Pitcher Marino Santana (8-3, 1.77) in 15 games – all starts – with 110K in 96.2IP
Pitcher Aaron Scheffer (0-1, 6.59) in nine games – no starts – with 8K in 13.2IP
Pitcher Roy Smith (7-14, 5.38) in 27 games – all starts – with 109K in 149.0IP
Catcher Dusty Wathan hit .091 with a homer and three RBI in five games

Category Leaders:
AVG: Jason Cook – .269
HR: James Clifford – 10
RBI: Jason Cook – 64
SB: Kyle Towner – 34
OPS: James Clifford – .797
WINS: Chris Beck – 12
ERA: Derek Bieniasz – 3.13
IP: Derek Bieniasz – 175.1
SO: Ken Cloude – 140
SV: John Thompson – 19

Cliffy was with the Foxes in 1994 and with the Rattlers in 1995. He led the team in homers and .OPS in 95. I believe that he is still with Seattle as their minor league strength & conditioning coordinator.

1995 MWL Season:

I just left the whole page in there.

Remember all the changes last year?  There were even more for 1995.  Here are the franchise changes from MWLGuide.com.

 Beloit Snappers changed name (from Brewers).
Burlington Bees changed affiliation (Expos to Giants).
Michigan Battle Cats [Battle Creek] moved (from Madison), changed name (from Hatters), and changed affiliation (Cardinals to Red Sox). This team was temporarily known as the Battle Creek Golden Kazoos.
Peoria Chiefs changed affiliation (Cubs to Cardinals).
Rockford Cubbies changed name (from Royals) and affiliation (Royals to Cubs).
Sultans of Springfield changed affiliation (Padres to Royals).
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers [Appleton] changed name (from Appleton Foxes).

Get all that?

1995 Pocket Schedule cover.

 

Plus the MWL changed from a two division format to a three division format AND they expanded the playoffs from four teams to eight teams.

Here is the page from the ’95 Program that lays out the new divisions.

That's six teams in the west and four teams in both the central and east.

Don’t worry.  More changes in store for 1996.

1995 MWL All-Star Game:
West Michigan hosted the All-Star Game on June 20.  The East beat the West 7-5.

1995 MWL Postseason:
Playoff teams were: Beloit, Cedar Rapids, Fort Wayne, Kane County, Michigan, Quad City, Rockford, & West Michigan

Round One (Best-of-Three):
Beloit 2, Rockford 0
Michigan 2, Fort Wayne 0
Quad City 2, Cedar Rapids 1
West Michigan 2, Kane County 1

Round Two (Best-of-Three):
Beloit 2, Quad City 1
Michigan 2, West Michigan 1

MWL Championship Series (Best-of-Five):
Beloit 3, Michigan 0

1995 MWL Alum of Note:
Carl PavanoMichigan Battle Cats

Carl Pavano in 1995 from checkoutmycards.com

Pavano was 6-6 with a 3.44ERA in 22 starts for the MWL affiliate of the Boston Red Sox in 1995.

1995 Brewers Farmhands of Note:
Ronnie BelliardBeloit Snappers

Ronnie Belliard hit .297 with 13 homers and 76RBI in 130 games with the Beloit Snappers in 1995.

Jeff D’Amico – Beloit Snappers

Jeff D'Amico went 13-3 with a 2.39ERA and 119 strikeouts in 132IP during 21 games - 20 starts - for the Snappers in 1995.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon.

50 Years in 50 Days: 1994

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 18.

18 Years Ago:
The Appleton Foxes sad good bye to Goodland Field and hello to a guy by the name of Alex Rodriguez made his professional debut.

Same Paul Birling cover from 1991, but with a different tint.

FOXES INFORMATION:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Seattle Mariners (2nd Year)
Manager:  Carlos Lezcano (2nd Year)
First Half Record:  39-30 (2nd, North)
Second Half Record: 36-34 (4th, North)
Overall Record: 75-64

Carlos Lezcano, Foxes manager in 1994.

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Dean Crow (2-4, 7.04) in 16 games – no starts –  with two saves & 11Ks in 15.1IP
Pitcher John Cummings (0-0, 3.00) in one game – a start – with 6K in 3IP
Pitcher Scott Davison (0-1, 3.68) in 4 games – no starts – with 7K in 7.1IP
Shortstop Wilson Delgado hit .194 with no homers & no RBI in 9 games
Pitcher Shawn Estes (0-2, 4.58) in 5 games – 4 starts – with 28 K in 19.2IP
Pitcher Ryan Franklin (9-6, 3.13) in 18 games – all starts – with 102Ks in 118IP
Second Baseman Giomar Guevara hit .301 with 8 homers & 46RBI in 110 games
Pitcher Tim Harikkala (8-3, 1.92) in 13 games – all starts – with 63K in 93.2IP
Pitcher Brett Hinchliffe (11-7, 3.21) in 27 games – all starts – with 160K in 173.2IP
Catcher Raul Ibanez hit .312 with 7 homers & 59RBI in 91 games
Pitcher Matt Mantei (5-1, 2.06) in 48 games – no starts – with 26 saves & 70K in 46.0IP
Shortstop Alex Rodriguez hit .319 with 14 homers and 55RBI in 65 games
Pitcher Matt Wagner (4-2, 0.83) in 15 games – one start – with a save & 48K in 32.2IP

Alex Rodriguez baseball card from the 1994 Appleton Foxes.

Category Leaders:
AVG: Raul Ibanez – .319
HR: Alex Rodriguez – 14
RBI: Raul Ibanez – 55
SB: Mike Barger – 40
OPS: Raul Ibanez – .905
WINS: Brett Hinchliffe – 11
ERA: Ryan Smith – 2.81
IP: Brett Hinchliffe – 173.2
SO: Brett Hinchliffe – 160
SV: Matt Mantei – 26

He did play in Appleton, but he played for the Foxes, not the Timber Rattlers.

A-Rod Stat:  The Mariners selected Alex Rodriguez with the #1 overall pick of the 1993 draft.  He made his professional debut with the Foxes.  Rodriguez was named to the MWL All-Star game, but did not play in the game at Fort Wayne due to being promoted.  Despite just 65 games in the MWL in 1994, Rodriguez was named the Prospect of the Year for 1994.

Everyone says that they saw him play at Goodland Field. Everyone also saw the Marlboro Man at Goodland Field, too.

No-Hitter Stat: Brett Hinchliffe tossed a no-hitter against Cedar Rapids on June 28, 1994.  The Foxes won the game 13-0.

See. There were other guys on that '94 Foxes team.

Count Them Up Stat:  There were thirteen future major league players on the 1994 Appleton Foxes roster.

Ryan Franklin as an Appleton Fox in 1994.

 

Raul Ibanez as an Appleton Fox in 1994.

Tim Harikkala as an Appleton Fox in 1994.

Matt Mantei as an Appleton Fox in 1994.

 

Goodbye, Goodland Stat: The 1994 season was the final year of Foxes baseball at Goodland Field.  This Flashback Friday captures the night.

Fifth row of the bleachers.  Third-base side.  Above the Foxes’ dugout.  Aisle seat.  This has been Patti McFarland’s home away from home for the better part of 50 years.

Scorebook in hand, she’s dutifully recording history tonight.  As she records each out, the emotions rattle around her head like a pinball machine.

“It’s sad,” she says, groping for the words to express her feelings.  “We’ve had a lot of good memories here.  We’ve made a lot of friends, made friends with the players, even the umpires.”

The “we” Patti speaks of are the people she sits with at the ballpark.  They have become her family.

“Yes, this is definitely my second home,” she says.  “I know a lot of people who won’t be able to get to the new ballpark.  I’m going to miss all those people.”

But she’s thinking of doing something for them, as well as others.

“I’ve kept saying that someday I’m going to write a book and someday I think I might.  It’d be about life in the minor leagues.  It’s been a good life.”

1994 Midwest League Season:

The schedule for the final season of Foxes baseball at Goodland Field.

Lots and lots of changes for the MWL in 1994.

Cities:
Madison left for West Michigan
Springfield left for Madison
Waterloo left for Springfield

Nicknames:
Clinton Giants to Clinton LumberKings
Madison Muskies to West Michigan Whitecaps
Springfield Cardinals to Madison Hatters
Waterloo Diamonds to Sultans of Springfield
South Bend White Sox to South Bend Silver Hawks

North: Appleton Foxes, Beloit Brewers, Fort Wayne Wizards, Kane County Cougars, Rockford Royals, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps
South: Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Madison Hatters, Peoria Chiefs, Quad City River Bandits, Sultans of Springfield

1994 MWL All-Star Game:
Fort Wayne hosted the game on June 20.  The South beat the North 3-2.

1994 MWL Postseason:
Rockford won both halves in the North, but there was no first round bye in the MWL playoffs in this season.  That was when the oft times confusing MWL tiebreaker system kicked in to high gear.

The Appleton Foxes finished the first half in second place and had a better overall record (75-64) than West Michigan (74-65).  The Beloit Brewers (40-30) finished tied for second in the second half with West Michigan (40-30) AND had a better record (76-64) than BOTH Appleton and West Michigan.  But, West Michigan claimed the second half playoff spot.  Head-to-head record must have been the tie-breaker.

Not that it mattered which team Rockford would play.  They had MWL’s best record at 89-50 and swept West Michigan in the North Division Series.  In the South, Cedar Rapids  swept Springfield.

In the Championship Series, the Kernels beat Rockford 3-1 in the best-of-five set.

1994 MWL Alumni of Note:
Torii HunterFort Wayne Wizards

Torii Hunter as a Fort Wayne Wizard. Photo from baseballinfortwayne.com

Hunter played 91 games for the Wizards in 1994.  He hit .293 with 10 homers and 50RBI.  Hunter repeated the MWL in 1995, but he has been a mainstay in the Major Leagues for a long time.

Billy WagnerQuad City River Bandits

Billy Wagner as a Quad City River Bandit in 1994.

Wagner (12th) was selected eight spots higher than Hunter (20th) in the first round of the 1993 draft.  Wagner was a starting pitcher with the Bandits (26 starts) and finished with a record of 8-9, but he had, oh what’s the term…eye-popping strikeout numbers.  Wagner struck out 204 opposing batters in just 153 innings.  You can understand why he became one of the more dominant closers in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

1994 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Cory LidleBeloit Brewers

Cory Lidle's in memoriam card.

Lidle signed with the Twins as a minor league free agent in 1990.  He was released by Minnesota in 1992.  Lidle signed with Pocatello, an independent team in the Pioneer League in 1993.  The Brewers liked what they saw and purchased Lidle for the 1994 season and sent him to Beloit.

While in the MWL, Lidle went 3-4 with a sub 3.00ERA in 13 games.  He was promoted to Stockton for the rest of the season and spent 1995 with El Paso in AA.   Milwaukee sent him to the Mets for Kelly Stinnett in January, 1996.

Lidle’s journey to the major leagues was not a straight one and he spent time in many organizations.  Here is a link to all of his transactions.

He made the Mets in 1997 and the Devil Rays in 1999.  Lidle also was a member of the A’s, the Phillies, the Blue Jays, the Reds, and Yankees.

Lidle pitched in the ALDS series for the Yankees against the Detroit Tigers in October of 2006.  It would be his final appearance because of a tragic plane crash.

Lidle died on October 11, 2006, when an airplane he was co-piloting crashed into a residential New York City building. He had taken up flying as a hobby in the previous year and a half and had been planning to fly home to California after the baseball season ended in New York. He was survived by his wife Melanie and a 6-year-old son, Christopher.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5.  Get here soon.

50 Years in 50 Days: 1993

Fifty years ago, Appleton Professional Baseball joined the Midwest League. As part of 50 Years in 50 Days, Rattler Radio is counting down to April 5 with a look back at each season of Appleton Professional Baseball team since 1962 (with a lot of help from MWLGuide.com and baseball-reference.com). The countdown to Opening Day, 2012 has reached 19.

19 Years Ago:
The Foxes began Appleton Professional Baseball’s long affiliation with the Seattle Mariners.

A fox, standing on a pier...A left-hand hitting fox standing on a pier. Drawn by Dave Taylor

FOXES INFORMATION:
Name: Appleton Foxes
Affiliation: Seattle Mariners (1st Year)
Manager:  Carlos Lezcano (1st Year)
First Half Record:  34-32 (T-4th, North)
Second Half Record: 28-41 (7th, North)
Overall Record: 62-73

Future Major Leaguers:
Pitcher Tim Davis (10-2, 1.85) in 16 games – 10 starts – with 3CG, 2SV, & 89K in 77.2IP
Infielder Eddy Diaz hit .333 with three homers and 33RBI in 46 games
Pitcher Shawn Estes (5-9, 7.24) in 19 games – 18 starts – with 65K in 83.1IP
Infielder/Outfielder Charles Gipson hit .256 with no homers and 20 RBI in 109 games
Pitcher Tim Harikkala (3-3, 6.52) in 15 games – 4 starts – with 33K in 38.2IP
Catcher Raul Ibanez hit .274 with five homers and 21RBI in 52 games
Shortstop Andy Sheets hit .263 with a homer and 25RBI in 69 games

Note: Most Foxes cards in this post are from checkoutmycards.com.

Shawn Estes as an Appleton Fox in 1993.

Category Leaders:
AVG: Robby Robertson – .285
HR: James Koehler – 17
RBI: James Koehler – 60
SB: Charles Gipson – 21
OPS: David Lawson – .829
WINS: Tim Davis – 10
ERA: Jackie Nickell – 3.06
IP: Jackie Nickell – 150.0
SO: Jackie Nickell – 151
SV: Bob Worley – 22

Jackie Nickell, 1993 Appleton Foxes

More Than Sixto’s Cousin Stat:  Carlos Lezcano is the cousin of former Brewers outfielder Sixto Lezcano.

Carlos Lezcano in 1993.

Carlos Lezcano has managed in the Mariners, Giants, Brewers, and Padres systems.  In 2010, his Lake Elsinore Storm won 81 games in the California League and Lezcano was named that league’s Manager of the Year.  In 2011, the Storm were 23-31 on June 3 and Phil Plantier replaced Lezcano as the manager when Lezcano resigned.

Lake Elsinore Storm manager Carlos Lezcano, the franchise’s all-time winningest manager, resigned Thursday, effective immediately due to family reasons, the Storm announced.

Team hitting coach Phil Plantier has been named interim manager and will lead the team tonight at The Diamond against the Inland Empire 66ers.

Lezcano, in his 19th season as a minor league manager and his fifth with the Storm, is 43 victories shy of 1,000 career Minor League victories. He led the Storm to four consecutive playoff appearances, including the California League Finals in 2007.

This past November, Lezcano took over as the manager of Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League when Tim Teufel was let go.

Totally by Accident Stat:  Remember back in the 1963 entry for this feature when I picked Paul Lindblad as the MWL Alum of Note?  I had no idea that he was the pitching coach of the Appleton Foxes in 1993.

Thirty years after pitching against the Foxes, Lindblad would be coaching for the Foxes.

Seriously.

1993 Midwest League Season:

Lots of Changes in the MWL for 1993.  The biggest being Kenosha moving to Fort Wayne for the birth of the Fort Wayne Wizards.  The most local being the Foxes switching from the Royals to the Mariners.  Other moves included: the Royals went to Rockford as the Expos went back to Burlington, The Astros switched to Quad City from Burlington; and the Angels moved to Cedar Rapids from Quad City as the Reds left the Midwest League.

Name Changes included Burlington from the Astros to the Bees, Cedar Rapids from the Reds to the Kernels, Rockford from Expos to Royals.

North: Appleton Foxes, Beloit Brewers, Fort Wayne Wizards, Kane County Cougars, Madison Muskies, Rockford Royals, South Bend White Sox
South: Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton Giants, Peoria Chiefs, Quad City River Bandits, Springfield Cardinals, Waterloo Diamonds.

1993 MWL All-Star Game:
Kane County hosted the game on June 21.  The North beat the South 302.  Tim Davis of the Appleton Foxes was the winning pitcher.  Steve Sisco, who played for the Foxes in 1992, was the game’s MVP as a member of the Rockford Royals.

1993 MWL Postseason:
South Bend swept Rockford 2-0 in the North and Clinton swept Springfield 2-0 in the South.

In the Finals, South Bend defeated Clinton 3-1 in the best-of-five series.

1993 MWL Alumni of Note:
Johnny DamonRockford Royals

Johnny Damon as a Rockford Royal in 1993.

Damon hit .290 with five homers and 50 RBI in 127 games for Rockford.  He made the major leagues in 1995, has been a 2-time All-Star, and has played 17 seasons for three World Series Champions.  Damon is currently a free agent.

Ugeth UrbinaBurlington Bees

Ugeth Urbina as a Burlington Bee in 1993.

Urbina was 10-1 with a 1.99ERA in 16 games – all starts – with 108K in 107.1IP in 1993.  He went on to be a two-time All-Star – once with Montreal and once with Boston – and collect 237 saves in an 11-year career.  His baseball career ended after 2005 because….Well, the second search term on google for him is Ugeth Urbina Machete.

1993 Brewers Farmhand of Note:
Kelly WunschBeloit Brewers

Kelly Wunsch, Beloit Brewer.

Wunsch was the #1 pick of the Brewers in the 1993 draft.  He was a product of Texas A&M and went 1-5 in 12 games – all starts – with a 4.83ERA and 61 K in 63.1IP for Beloit.  He would return for stints in Beloit during the 1994 and 1995 seasons.

Wunsch struggled through injuries, but would make the major leagues with the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2000-2005.

He has been building homes in West Central Austin since 2007.

Opening Day, 2012 is April 5. Get here soon!

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