Day 1 of Cooperstown road trip includes indy-league game

As I noted in the second half of this recent blog post, I’m driving to Cooperstown for this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. My road trip started Sunday with South Bend as my destination, but thanks to perfect timing, I arrived in Joliet just in time for an unplanned trip delay in the form of a Frontier League game.

The visiting Windy City Thunderbolts’ 5-3 victory gave them their first back-to-back wins since late May. Joliet Slammers 1B Adam Giacalone, who batted .249 in 64 games with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers last year, went 1-for-5 with a two-run single. He also struck out to end the game.

Joliet Slammers 1B Adam Giacalone played for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Joliet Slammers 1B Adam Giacalone played for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Slammers are managed by Jeff Isom, who was skipper of the Timber Rattlers in 2009 and 2010. He pitched two seasons in the Midwest League, which I wrote about here.

On Tuesday I’ll be at the afternoon game at Four Winds Field for the rubber match of the three-game series between the South Bend Silver Hawks and the Peoria Chiefs. On Saturday the Chiefs won 2-1 in 10 innings; on Sunday the Silver Hawks won behind a masterful pitching performance by SP Markus Solbach, who gave up only three hits (no runs or walks) while striking out three batters in nine innings.

The Monday matchup of pitchers in South Bend will be Silver Hawks RHP Sean Furney (5-5, 4.46 ERA, 46 strikeouts in 13 starts) vs. Chiefs RHP Arturo Reyes (6-5, 3.43 ERA, 60 strikeouts in 16 games/15 starts).

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Frontier League, Joliet Slammers, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, South Bend Silver Hawks, Windy City Thunderbolts, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Dragons rally late to beat Snappers 6-5

The Dayton Dragons rallied for five runs in the top of the 8th inning Friday to beat the Beloit Snappers 6-5 and complete a three-game sweep on the road.

The Dragons sent 10 batters to the plate in that frame, with the big blow being a two-out, bases-loaded triple off the bat of LF Gabriel Rosa. He then scored on a fielding error by SS Branden Cogswell to make it a 6-4 game.

Dayton Dragons LF Gabriel Rosa

Dayton Dragons LF Gabriel Rosa

The last run of the game came in the bottom half of the inning, when Snappers RF Tyler Marincov hit a solo home run.

Four of Beloit’s runs scored on roundtrippers. C Philip Pohl and 1B Ryan Mathews clubbed back-to-back homers in the bottom of the 3rd inning, staking the Snappers to 4-0 lead at that point. Mathews’ home run was particularly impressive, as it hit the top half of the scoreboard (where the words “Mercy Health System” are).

The Pohlman Field scoreboard.

The Pohlman Field scoreboard.

Dragons RHP Nick Howard got the win after pitching a perfect inning of relief in his professional debut. He was picked No. 19 overall by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round of last month’s draft.

According to Dayton’s game story, Howard’s fastball averaged 95-96 mph and topped out at 98 mph. He struck out one batter.

Dayton Dragons RHP Nick Howard

Dayton Dragons RHP Nick Howard

Before the game started, the Snappers unveiled a new secondary mascot named Shell B. Turtle.

Snappy D. Turtle (left) was reunited with his "younger sister" Friday.

Snappy D. Turtle (left) was reunited with his “younger sister” Shell B. Turtle at Pohlman Field on Friday.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Velazquez’s on-base streak ends at 74 games

South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez bats during a game at Four Winds Field earlier this year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez bats during a game at Four Winds Field earlier this year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez went 0-for-4 Thursday night, snapping his 74-game on-base streak four days after he broke the old minor-league record.

In his last at-bat Thursday, Velazquez was robbed of a hit by Burlington Bees LF Tyler Palmer, who made a sliding catch to make the out.

The Silver Hawks beat the Bees 6-3 with a 3-run homer by 3B Fidel Pena and a solo homer by LF Chuck Taylor.

The previous MiLB record for consecutive games on base was 71, achieved by Kevin Millar in 1997 and Kevin Youkilis in 2003. The new record by Velazquez is 10 games shy of the MLB record of 84, set by Ted Williams in 1949.

You can hear what Velazquez had to say about his streak ending here on WSBT-TV’s website.

On a personal note, I’m disappointed the streak ended just days before my next visit to South Bend. My last game at Four Winds Field was on April 10 — 12 days before the streak began. I’ll be there again Monday, less than a week after the streak ended.

South Bend will be the first baseball-related stop of my road trip to Cooperstown. I’ll be at Classic Park, home of the Lake County Captains, on Wednesday and Thursday — something I’m really looking forward to because I’ve been to only a few games there. (It’s at least an eight-hour drive from my house.) Then I’m off to Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony — inductee Greg Maddux will be only the seventh Hall of Fame player who is an alumni of the Midwest League.

Maddux went 13-9 with a 3.19 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 186 IP for the 1985 Peoria Chiefs. Here are links to a couple Maddux posts written by me earlier this year:

Maddux elected to Hall of Fame with 97.2% of vote

A look at early scouting reports on Greg Maddux

One of Greg Maddux's caps on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

One of Greg Maddux’s caps on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Burlington Bees, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Trout named MVP of MLB All-Star Game

Los Angeles Angels OF Mike Trout holds the All-Star Game MVP trophy. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Mike Trout holds the All-Star Game MVP trophy. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Los Angeles Angels CF Mike Trout was named MVP of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game after going 2-for-3 with a triple and a double — both of which drove in runs for the American League.

Trout, 22, is the second-youngest player to be named the All-Star Game MVP. Ken Griffey Jr. was 106 days younger when he won the award in 1992. Trout, Griffey and Ted Williams are the only players to have multiple extra-base hits in an All-Star Game before turning 23.

Trout also is the second player in All-Star Game history with a double, a triple and two RBI in an All-Star Game. (The other was Cleveland Indians OF Earl Averill in 1934.)

Although Trout finished second to Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera for the AL MVP Award the past two seasons, this is not his first MVP award. He was named the Midwest League MVP and Prospect of the Year in 2010 after hitting .362 with 6 HR, 39 RBI and 45 SB in 81 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Cabrera — also a Midwest League alumnus — hit a 2-run homer in the first inning of the All-Star Game. He batted .268 with 7 HR and 66 RBI in 110 games with the 2001 Kane County Cougars.

Minnesota Twins LHP Glen Perkins pitched a perfect 9th inning in front of his hometown crowd to earn the save in the American League’s 5-3 win at Target Field. The Twin Cities native started nine games for the 2004 Quad City River Bandits, going 2-1 with a 1.30 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 48.1 IP.

Jones pays tribute to Gwynn

FOX Sports is taking a lot of heat for not mentioning the recent passing of 15-time All-Star Tony Gwynn during its broadcast of the Midsummer Classic — as it should, considering the absurd amount of airtime it spent on New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is retiring after this season.

Gwynn was not forgotten by Baltimore Orioles CF Adam Jones. As seen in the photo below (tweeted by reporter Ken Rosenthal), Jones wrote “TG 19″ on his cap to honor Gwynn, who wore No. 19 during his long career with the San Diego Padres.

Adam Jones tribute to Tony Gwynn

Jones, a San Diego native, played for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2004, hitting .267 with 11 HR and 72 RBI in 130 games.

Gwynn died June 16 after battling salivary gland cancer. He was 54.

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Schwarber promoted to High-A; Almora hits for cycle

Chicago Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber bats for the Kane County Cougars late last month. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Chicago Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber bats for the Kane County Cougars late last month. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Kyle Schwarber, the Chicago Cubs’ top draft pick this year, is being promoted from the Kane County Cougars to the High-A Daytona Cubs.

After five games with the short-season Boise Hawks, Schwarber batted .361 with 4 HR and 15 RBI in 23 games with the Cougars. He was named Midwest League offensive player of the week for the period of June 23-29, during which he went 9-for-22 with 3 HR and 7 RBI.

Almora hits for cycle, drives in 5

Former Cougars CF Albert Almora, the Cubs’ top draft pick in 2012, hit for the cycle and drove in five runs in Daytona’s 13-inning win over the Jupiter Hammerheads tonight. He had five hits in seven at-bats, completing the cycle with a triple in the 13th inning.

Almora batted .329 with 3 HR and 23 RBI in 61 games with the Cougars last year.

Posted in Boise Hawks, Daytona Cubs, Florida State League, Jupiter Hammerheads, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Northwest League | Leave a comment

Candelario, Weller named MWL players of the week

Jeimer Candelario batting for the Kane County Cougars (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Kane County Cougars 3B Jeimer Candelario bats in Beloit last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Kane County Cougars 3B Jeimer Candelario and South Bend Silver Hawks RHP Blayne Weller respectively were named the Midwest League offensive player and pitcher of the week for the period of July 7-13.

During that period, Candelario played in seven games, going hitless in only one — the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader. He made up for that oh-fer performance with two home runs in the second game, including a walk-off roundtripper.

Candelario had 12 hits during the past week, including three home runs and five doubles. He walked twice, drove in nine runs, and struck out only twice. He is batting .267 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in 21 games since rejoining the Cougars from High-A Daytona last month.

It’s no surprise that Weller was named the MWL pitcher of the week after he no-hit the Dayton Dragons last Thursday in a game nationally televised by the CBS Sports Network. He struck out 12 batters and, despite giving up no hits, gave up an unearned run thanks to a walk, a stolen base, and a two-base throwing error. (The error was committed by SS Andrew Velazquez, who set a new minor-league record Sunday for consecutive games on base.)

Overall this season, Weller is 5-4 with a 4.03 ERA, 91 strikeouts and 29 walks in 82.2 IP (21 games/11 starts) for the Silver Hawks.

Hernandez, Wainwright to start ASG

The starting pitchers for tomorrow night’s MLB All-Star Game were announced today: Seattle Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez for the American League and St. Louis Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright for the National League.

Wainwright never pitched in the Midwest League, but Hernandez did briefly. The pitcher now known as King Felix started two games for the 2003 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, striking out 18 batters in 14 IP.

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Daytona Cubs, Florida State League, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

QC’s Feliz gives up game-winning HR in Futures Game

Both current Midwest League players on the World team got to pitch in the All-Star Futures Game, with Quad Cities River Bandits RHP Michael Feliz taking the loss in the U.S. team’s 3-2 win Sunday.

Feliz pitched the bottom of the 6th inning, striking out two batters and giving up a two-run homer to Texas Rangers power prospect Joey Gallo, who was named the game’s MVP. It wasn’t surprising that Gallo went deep after hitting 15 home runs during batting practice, including six into the third deck at Target Field.

Gallo’s home run was measured at 419 feet and hit the windshield of a truck displayed on the concourse.

Chicago Cubs prospect Javier Baez (2012 Peoria Chiefs) also went deep. His home run was estimated at 399 feet.

Burlington Bees RHP Victor Alcantara faced two batters in bottom of the 8th inning, walking Cubs prospect Kris Bryant before getting Gallo to fly out.

Posted in 2014 All-Star Futures Game, Burlington Bees, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment