Results tagged ‘ Japan ’

Independent Minded – October 28, 2014

I have been waiting for awhile to use the material in this post.  Today seemed like a good day.

First, a brief time lapse video of the grounds crew prepping the field.

My choice of music for that video would have been Yaktey Sax…but that’s just me. Either selection works.

The other section of this post is material that was collected by Jay Grusznski in the second half of the 2014 Timber Rattlers season.

Jay did a lot of searching through the pages of the teams in the different independent leagues and came up with a list of former Timber Rattlers playing in those leagues.

Some of these players spent time in both affiliated ball and the independent leagues this season. If I had a heart, these guys would hold a special place in it. Why? Because – as some of you may remember – I spent three seasons as a radio announcer for the Duluth/Superior Dukes in the Northern League of Professional Baseball. Maybe one day I will share some of my photos of the stadiums of the league at the time.

American Association:
Kansas City T-Bones:
TJ Mittelstaedt (’11)
Bryan Sabatella (’06)

That time TJ Mittelstaedt pitched for the Timber Rattlers in 2011.

That time TJ Mittelstaedt pitched for the Timber Rattlers in 2011.

St. Paul Saints:
RJ Seidel (’09)

Wichita Wingnuts:
Brent Dean (’13)
Alan Williams (’11, ’12, ’13)

Laredo Lemurs:
Gerardo Avila (’06, ’07, ’08)
Seth Lintz (’11, ’12)


Grand Prairie AirHogs:
Tom Keeling (’11)

Atlantic League:
York Revolution:
Johan Limonta (’06) – All-Star
BROCK! Kjeldgaard (’09)
Zack Braddock (’11)
Cody Scarpetta (’09)

Sugar Land Skeeters:
Travis Scott (’06)
Dan Meadows (’09)

Somerset Patriots:
Jeff Dominguez (’06)
Mike Wilson (’05)

Long Island Ducks:
Brett Lorin (’08)

Bridgeport Bluefish:
Denny Almonte (’08)
Emiliano Fruto (’02)

Camden Riversharks:
Joe Dunigan (’08)
Kalian Sams (’07)


Can-Am League:
Les Capitales de Quebec:
Sebastien Boucher (’05)

New Jersey Jackals:
Joe Dunigan (’08)

Rockland Boulders:
Taylor Mangum (’13)
Chad Robinson (’10)

Taylor Mangum for the Timber Rattlers.

Taylor Mangum for the Timber Rattlers.

Frontier League:
Evansville Otters:
Chad Robinson (’10)

Lake Erie Crushers:
Juan Sanchez (’09)

Rockford Aviators:
Kyle Dhanani (’09, ’10)

Kyle Dhanani in 2010.

Kyle Dhanani in 2010.

Joliet Slammers:
Managed by Jeff Isom (’09, ’10)
Adam Giacalone (’13)
Tyler Roberts (’11, ’12, ’13)
Chadwin Stang (’11, ’12)
Santo Manzanillo (’10, ’12)



United League:
Fort Worth Cats:
Jose Duran (’09)

Not Independent League, but this seems like a good place to mention these players

Japan Central League:
Yokohama Bay Stars:
Jorge Sosa (’01)

Yakult Swallows:
Wladimir Balentien (’04)

Alumni Birthdays for October 28:
Andy Collett (’96) – 41
Lister Lespier (’72, ’73) – 61

Timber Rattlers in Japan

Wladimir Balentien played for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2004.  He hit 15 home runs in just 76 games with the Rattlers during that season.

In case you’ve missed the discussion over the last few weeks, Balentien is making a run at the single season record in Japan.

And who is the slugger who might soon usurp [Sadaharu] Oh? Wladimir Balentien, from a tiny island in the Caribbean.

“I’m going for the top,” Balentien, a native of Curaçao, in the Netherlands Antilles, told reporters after hitting his 52nd home run of the season last week for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. “I always want to be No. 1.”

Balentien, a hulking outfielder who once played for the Seattle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds, has been unstoppable this season. Though he missed the season’s first 12 games with an injury, he has averaged a home run every two games and is hitting a league-best .340 with 111 runs batted in.

He is the lone highlight for Yakult, which languishes in last place in Japan’s Central League.

That story was written before Balentien hit home run #53 for the Yakult Swallows over the weekend. Sadaharu Oh’s record is 55. There is just over a month to go in the season over in Japan.  The 2013 season is the third year Balentien has played for Yakult.  He hit 31 home runs in 2011 and 2012.

I decided to see if there were other ex-Timber Rattlers playing in  Japan.

I found two others that are still playing – and one who made two starts – over there.

Jorge Sosa had just made the switch to being a pitcher from an outfielder when he joined the Rattlers near the end of the 2001 season.  He was in the majors in 2002 after Tampa took him in the Rule 5 draft.   

He’s with the Yokohama Bay Stars this year after spending last season with the Chunichi Dragons.

Bryan LaHair joined the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers for the second half of the 2004 season.  He wound up leading the team in doubles that year.  LaHair was an All-Star with the Cubs in 2012, but since Anthony Rizzo was ready, there was no spot for LaHair in Chicago this year. 

He is playing for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League in 2013,

Justin Thomas was 5-5 in eleven starts for the Timber Rattlers in 2006.  He made it to the big leagues with the Mariners, Pirates, Yankees, and Red Sox.  Thomas started the 2013 season with Sacramento, the PCL affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, but was let go in June.  Thomas signed with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of the JPL and made two starts between July 31 and August 7.

There were a few other interesting names on that I found in Japan.

One of Sosa’s teammates in Yokohama is Nyjer Morgan.
NyjerMorganYokohamaBrooks Conrad spent two months with the Hanshin Tigers.

Vinny Rottino – of the Racine Rottino’s – has played 37 games with the Orix Buffaloes.

Casey McGehee is with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. McGehee has 24 homers and 81 RBI so far this season.


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