Sanchez dies from boating accident injuries

Victor Sanchez pitched for the Clinton LumberKings in 2013. (Photo by Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)

Victor Sanchez pitched for the Clinton LumberKings in 2013. (Photo by Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)

Former Clinton LumberKings pitcher Victor Sanchez died Saturday night from head injuries suffered in a boating accident last month.

According to reports, Sanchez suffered a double skull fracture and brain hematoma after being struck by the propeller of a motorboat while swimming at a beach in his native Venezuela. He underwent surgery to repair his fractured skull and had been in an induced coma since Feb. 17.

“The Seattle Mariners are saddened to learn of the passing of Victor Sanchez,” Mariners executive vice president and general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. “Victor was a tremendous young man and a wonderful teammate. He was a very talented player who was close to fulfilling his promise as a major-leaguer. He will be missed by his teammates and the coaches and staff at the Mariners.

“The entire Mariners organization sends our deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time.”

Sanchez pitched for the LumberKings in 2013, going 6-6 with a 2.78 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 113.1 IP. He pitched a no-hitter against the Lansing Lugnuts, striking out eight batters and walking none, on July 17, 2013.

He spent the 2014 season pitching in Double-A, going 7-6 with a 4.19 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 124.2 IP for the Jackson Generals of the Southern League.

Posted in Clinton LumberKings, Jackson Generals, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Southern League | Leave a comment

Ventura tosses 7 no-hit innings; Walker dominates spring training

Royals SP Yordano Ventura winds up against the Mariners in the 5th inning of Friday's game. (AP photo by Lenny Ignelzi)

Royals SP Yordano Ventura winds up against the Mariners in the 5th inning of Friday’s game. (AP photo by Lenny Ignelzi)

Kansas City Royals SP Yordano Ventura looked ready for his Opening Day assignment as he pitched seven no-hit innings against the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

Ventura walked two and struck out four in the Cactus League game. He is expected to get one more spring training start before pitching for the Royals against the Chicago White Sox on Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium.

Ventura pitched for the Kane County Cougars in 2011, going 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 84.1 IP.

Yordano Ventura throws a pitch for the Kane County Cougars in August 2011. (Photo by Donnell Collins/Sun-Times Media)

Yordano Ventura throws a pitch for the Kane County Cougars in August 2011. (Photo by Donnell Collins/Sun-Times Media)

Walker continues dominant spring

Taijuan Walker hasn’t been named to the Seattle Mariners starting rotation, but he appears to be the leading candidate for the No. 5 slot with the dominant spring he’s having.

After pitching six scoreless innings Wednesday, Walker has a 0.00 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 18 IP. He has given up only six hits.

Walker pitched for the Clinton LumberKings in 2011, going 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 96.2 IP.

Seattle Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker on the mound for the 2011 Clinton LumberKings. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker on the mound for the LumberKings in 2011. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Rollins suspended 80 games

Mariners prospect David Rollins was suspended 80 games Friday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

He pitched in Double-A for the Houston Astros last year, but was picked up by the Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft in December. He was a Toronto Blue Jays farmhand when he pitched for the Lansing Lugnuts in 2012, going 6-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 77.2 IP before being traded to Houston.

Buck announces retirement

Catcher John Buck, who played for seven teams over 11 major-league seasons, announced his retirement Thursday. He hit .320 in 25 at-bats with the Atlanta Braves this spring, but decided to retire to spend more time with his family.

He batted .282 with 10 HR and 71 RBI in 109 games with the 2000 Michigan Battle Cats. He also went 1-for-10 in four games with the 1999 team.

New Lugnuts video board

Here is a look at the new video board at Cooley Law School Stadium, home of the Lansing Lugnuts.

Photo tweeted by the Lansing Lugnuts

Photo tweeted by the Lansing Lugnuts

The new video board is part of a $25 million renovation project being done at the ballpark. You can see an infographic listing new features of the park, along with artist renderings of the changes, here. There are lots of photos of the construction in progress here on the Lugnuts’ Facebook page.

You also can look at photos of the stadium’s old video board being taken down here.

Posted in Clinton LumberKings, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Whitecaps announce winner of annual food contest

Which of these 10 finalists won this year's Whitecaps fan food contest? Read on for the answer.

Which of these 10 finalists won this year’s Whitecaps fan food contest? Read on for the answer.

The West Michigan Whitecaps announced the winner of their annual food contest Thursday, along with other new unique food items that will be available at Fifth Third Ballpark this year.

This is the sixth year the team asked fans to submit ideas for unique food items and then vote for a finalist to be added to the ballpark menu. Previous winners include the Auger Dogger (a deep-fried hot dog on a stick, wrapped in spiral potato chips), the Baco (a taco in a bacon shell), the Declaration of Indigestion (a giant Philly cheese steak sandwich), and Chicks with Sticks (celery, carrots and hummus).

Without further ado, here is a photo of this year’s winning submission, Hot-To-Tot:

Hot-to-Tot

Hot-To-Tot is described by the Whitecaps as “Buffalo tater tots with pulled chicken topped with blue cheese.” It received 17 percent of the vote, narrowly beating French Fry Pizza Pie, which got 16 percent of votes cast.

Other new food items being added to the menu this year include Nutella Poppers (Nutella-stuffed sweet dough fried to a golden brown and rolled in sugar), Oreo Churros (Oreo cookie pieces made into a churro, served with Oreo frosting for dipping), Pretzel-Breaded Italian Sausage (Italian sausage covered with a pretzel breading on a sub bun), Beer-A-Misu (Tiramisu gelato with local stout beer), Chicken and Steak Quesadillas, Loaded Tater Tots, Vietnamese Chicken Sausage, Chimichurri Pork Tacos, Deviled Eggs, and Chorizo Oysters. You can see photos of these, along with where in the park they can be purchased, here.

The Whitecaps also added a new walk-in beverage stand called The Craft Clubhouse, located on the third-base side of the concourse. It will feature 16 local craft beers on tap, mixed drinks, and wine. The Beer-A-Misu also will be available there.

Related reading:

Timber Rattlers unveil new food items for 2015

More Midwest League menu additions for 2015

On tap at Kane County: Cougars beer, replica rings, new videoboard

Posted in Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

2014 Cougars get their MWL championship rings

Last night Carrie Muskat, Chicago Cubs beat writer for MLB.com, posted the following photo on her blog, Muskat Ramblings.

2014 Cougars with rings

Those are members of the 2014 Kane County Cougars showing off their newly received Midwest League championship rings.

Although they are now affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cougars will give away replicas of the rings to the first 1,500 fans at their June 4 game.

Artwork courtesy of the Kane County Cougars

Artwork courtesy of the Kane County Cougars

The Cougars finished the 2014 season with a 98-49 record (including their 7-0 run in the Midwest League playoffs). They had a .650 winning percentage in the regular season and a .666 winning percentage overall — the best across all levels of affiliated baseball last year.

The team was honored for its achievement at Wrigley Field last September.

The 2014 Kane County Cougars pose with their Midwest League championship trophy at Wrigley Field earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Cubs)

The 2014 Kane County Cougars pose with their Midwest League championship trophy at Wrigley Field last September. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Cubs)

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Snappers, Timber Rattlers to play at Miller Park on June 19

Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, will host a Midwest League game again this year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, will host a Midwest League game again this year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The annual tradition of a Midwest League game being played at Miller Park will continue this year when the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Beloit Snappers face off at the home of the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, June 19.

Although the Timber Rattlers are a Milwaukee farm team, the Oakland-affiliated Snappers will be the home team. The game is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m.

It will be the fourth time these two teams face each other at Miller Park. Beloit previously played there thrice, beating Wisconsin all three times. The Timber Rattlers previously played at Miller Park seven times, owning a 3-4 record there.

“The annual game at Miller Park is a great showcase of the prospects with the Timber Rattlers and always a day our fans and players look forward to,” Timber Rattlers President Rob Zerjav said in a press release. “As an organization, we appreciate this opportunity the Brewers provide and we thank the Beloit Snappers for their willingness to relocate one of their home games to Miller Park.”

Tickets cost $10 for Field Diamond Box seats and $5 for all other seat locations. Parking costs $5.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Dozier agrees to 4-year, $20 million deal with Twins

Former Beloit Snappers SS Brian Dozier has agreed to a 4-year, $20 million deal with the Minnesota Twins, covering what would have been his arbitration-eligible years but not delaying his possible free agency after the 2018 season.

Dozier, the Twins’ starting second baseman the past two seasons, seems interested in signing a long-term contract with the team, according to this Associated Press report. He turns 28 in May.

Dozier batted .241 with 47 HR, 170 RBI and 44 SB in 387 games with the Twins the past three seasons. He played shortstop in 2012, his rookie season.

He played part of the 2010 season with the Snappers, batting .278 with 17 RBI in 39 games.

Thorpe may need TJ surgery

Twins LHP prospect Lewis Thorpe is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his throwing elbow this week after leaving his most recent outing with elbow pain. The 19-year-old may need Tommy John surgery, depending on what the exam shows.

Thorpe pitched for the Cedar Rapids Kernels last year, going 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 71.2 IP/16 starts during the regular season. He was shut down for the Midwest League playoffs last September after being diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.

“Just another one of those deals,” Twins GM Terry Ryan told the Pioneer Press. “I hope it’s not as serious as it might be. You never know about those things. This has been going on for awhile. We took a very cautious approach. We thought we had this thing under control. He threw the other day and threw well, so now it’s resurfaced again and that’s not good.”

LHP Lewis Thorpe on the mound for the Cedar Rapids Kernels last August. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

LHP Lewis Thorpe on the mound for the Cedar Rapids Kernels last August. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Honeywell’s screwball coming to BG?

Jake Seiner profiled Tampa Bay Rays RHP prospect Brent Honeywell and his screwball pitch for MiLB.com yesterday. It’s a good read.

Seiner noted that Honeywell is preparing to break camp with the Bowling Green Hot Rods. I’ll definitely try to see him pitch if I can — it’s not often a prospect boasts a screwball among his repertoire.

Honeywell pitched for the short-season Princeton Rays last year. He went 2-1 with a 1.07 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 33.2 IP. He turns 20 on March 31.

Reds trade Soto to White Sox

The Cincinnati Reds traded infielder Neftali Soto to the Chicago White Sox for cash Monday.

Soto played for the Dayton Dragons in 2008, batting .326 with 7 HR and 36 RBI in 52 games. He made his major-league debut for the Reds in 2013 and has appeared in 34 big-league games.

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Appalachian League, Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League, Princeton Rays | Leave a comment

Happy birthday, Mark Buehrle

Former Burlington Bees pitcher Mark Buehrle turns 36 today. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Former Burlington Bees pitcher Mark Buehrle turns 36 today. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Toronto Blue Jays LHP Mark Buehrle turns 36 today. The former Burlington Bees hurler is a workhorse, having pitched over 200 innings in each of the last 14 seasons.

Buehrle’s 200-inning streak began in 2001, the year after he made his major-league debut with the Chicago White Sox, and two years after he pitched in the Midwest League. He is a five-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner, and finished fifth in the American League Cy Young Award vote in 2005.

Buehrle went 7-4 with a 4.10 ERA, 91 strikeouts and 16 walks in 98.2 IP for the 1999 Burlington Bees. He started 14 of the 20 games he appeared in, pitched a shutout, and earned three saves. He was a mainstay of that Bees team, which won the Midwest League championship title.

Some notes about the 1999 Midwest League season:

Rick Renteria, who managed the Chicago Cubs last year, was skipper of the Kane County Cougars and was named the Midwest League Manager of the Year. Buehrle’s Bees team knocked the Cougars out of the postseason in the second round of the playoffs.

Corey Patterson, who played 12 years in the major leagues, was the Midwest League Prospect of the Year. He batted .320 with 20 HR, 79 RBI and 33 SB in 112 games with the Lansing Lugnuts.

Aaron McNeal was the Midwest League MVP after batting .310 with 38 HR and 131 RBI (!) in 133 games with the Michigan Battle Cats. It was his age-21 season and his second year in the Midwest League. (He batted .284 with 14 HR and 61 RBI in 112 games with the 1998 Quad City River Bandits.) He never made it to the big leagues.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Gold Glove Awards, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment