Current Lugnuts pitcher included in Tulowitzki trade

Two former Midwest League pitchers and a 2015 Lansing Lugnuts hurler are part of the six-player trade between the Colorado Rockies and the Toronto Blue Jays.

The biggest name involved in the trade is All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who batted .299 with 188 HR and 657 RBI in 1,048 games with the Rockies over the past 10 years. He and 42-year-old reliever LaTroy Hawkins go to Toronto in exchange for veteran shortstop Jose Reyes and three right-handed pitching prospects: Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco.

Hawkins, the oldest active MLB player, pitched for the Fort Wayne Wizards in 1993. He went 15-5 with a 2.06 ERA, 179 strikeouts and 41 walks in 157.1 innings. He pitched four complete games, including three shutouts, and gave up only five home runs.

LaTroy Hawkins pitched for the Fort Wayne Wizards in 1993. (Photo from It's All Relative blog of the Fort Wayne TinCaps)

LaTroy Hawkins pitched for the Midwest League’s Fort Wayne Wizards in 1993. (Photo from It’s All Relative blog of the Fort Wayne TinCaps)

Castro started four games for the 2014 Lugnuts, going 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA, 20 strikeouts and seven walks in 21.1 innings. He made his major-league debut on April 6, and has split this season between the Blue Jays and their Triple-A team, the Buffalo Bisons.

Tinoco has spent this entire season with the Lugnuts. He made 15 starts, going 2-6 with a 3.54 ERA, 68 strikeouts and 22 walks in 81.1 innings.

RHP Jesus Tinoco made 15 starts for the Lansing Lugnuts this year. (Photo by Kyle Castle)

RHP Jesus Tinoco made 15 starts for the Lansing Lugnuts this year. (Photo by Kyle Castle)

Ex-Cougars pitcher in Zobrist trade

The Kansas City Royals acquired utility player Ben Zobrist and cash from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for RHP Aaron Brooks and LHP Sean Manaea.

Brooks pitched for the Kane County Cougars in 2012. He went 9-12 with a 4.98 ERA, 120 strikeouts and 26 walks in 153.2 innings. He made his MLB debut for the Royals on May 3, 2014, and has made four major-league appearances.

Posted in Buffalo Bisons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, International League, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Leblebijian, Dawson named MWL players of the week

Lansing Lugnuts infielder Jason Leblebijian is the new Midwest League offensive player of the week. (Photo by Kyle Castle)

Lansing Lugnuts infielder Jason Leblebijian was named the Midwest League offensive player of the week for the period of July 20-26. (Photo by Kyle Castle)

Infielder Jason Leblebijian and LHP Shane Dawson respectively were named the Midwest League offensive player and pitcher of the week for the period of July 20-26. Both play for the Lansing Lugnuts.

Leblebijian batted .400 (12-for-30) with four doubles, one homer, 11 runs batted in, six runs scored, two walks, and three stolen bases in his last seven games. On Friday he went 5-for-6 with two doubles, a home run, six runs batted in, two runs scored, and a stolen base in Lansing’s 18-1 win over the Dayton Dragons.

This is the second time Leblebijian was named the MWL offensive player of the week this year. (The other time was for the period of June 15-21.) He is batting .288 with 7 HR, 32 RBI and 7 SB in 44 games with the Lugnuts this season. He batted .171 in 20 games with the High-A Dunedin Blue Jays earlier this year.

This is the fourth season Leblebijian has spent time with the Lugnuts (12 games in 2012, 50 games in 2013, 100 games in 2014, 44 games in 2015). In 206 MWL games, he is batting .252 with 12 HR, 93 RBI and 19 SB.

Dawson made one start during the specified period — the same game when Leblebijian drove in six runs against the Dragons. Dawson was stellar, striking out 10 while limiting Dayton batters to two hits and one walk in six scoreless innings. Overall this season he is 12-4 with a 2.85 ERA, 91 strikeouts and 23 walks in 94.2 innings (17 appearances/15 starts).

Dawson pitched for the Lugnuts last season, too. He went 3-5 with a 3.38 ERA, 46 strikeouts and 24 walks in 56 innings (14 appearances/10 starts).

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Dunedin Blue Jays, Florida State League, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Hall of Fame moments: Marichal joins Pedro onstage; Smoltz mentions Lansing

Pedro Martínez (left) and Juan Marichal hold the flag of the Dominican Republic during Sunday's Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Photo by Milo Stewart, Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Pedro Martínez (left) and Juan Marichal hold the flag of the Dominican Republic during Sunday’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Photo by Milo Stewart, Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame)

There were a few moments during this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony worth mentioning here because of their connection to the Midwest League.

John Smoltz made several references to Lansing, Mich., where his family moved from suburban Detroit before the future Hall-of-Famer started fifth grade. He still lived there when the Tigers drafted him in 1985. (You can read about his Michigan sports career in this Lansing State Journal story.) Lansing became a Midwest League city in 1996, when the Lugnuts played their first season.

Smoltz also mentioned former Atlanta Braves teammate Greg Maddux, who last year became the seventh former Midwest Leaguer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player. Maddux went 13-9 with a 3.19 ERA, 125 strikeouts and 52 walks in 186 IP for the 1985 Peoria Chiefs.

Pedro Martinez punctuated his memorable speech by holding a Dominican Republic flag with fellow countryman and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Juan Marichal. In addition to being the first Dominican player enshrined in Cooperstown (in 1983), Marichal also was the first former Midwest Leaguer inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player.

Marichal’s first season as a professional ballplayer was spent in the Midwest League, which he dominated. The Dominican Dandy went 21-8 with a 1.87 ERA, 246 strikeouts and 50 walks in 245 IP for the 1958 Michigan City White Caps.

Craig Biggio and Randy Johnson also were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs | Leave a comment

Peoria pitcher Pearce sets new Midwest League record

Peoria Chiefs RHP Matt Pearce set a new Midwest League record Sunday for consecutive innings pitched without walking a batter.(Photo by Allison Rhoades/Peoria Chiefs)

Peoria Chiefs RHP Matt Pearce set a new Midwest League record Sunday for consecutive innings pitched without walking a batter. (Photo by Allison Rhoades/Peoria Chiefs)

Peoria Chiefs RHP Matt Pearce broke a 42-year-old Midwest League record Sunday when he didn’t allow a walk in his eight scoreless innings of work against the Kane County Cougars.

The St. Louis Cardinals prospect has not walked a batter in his last 46.1 innings. That beats the old MWL record of 45 consecutive innings without a walk, set by Danville Warriors RHP Bill Castro from June 29-August 12, 1973.

Pearce hasn’t walked a batter since June 8 at Lansing. That game arguably was his last bad outing, having given up seven runs to the Lugnuts in 4.1 innings. In his next start he gave up three runs (four earned) in seven innings, but didn’t give up more than two earned runs in any of his next six starts.

Overall this season, Pearce is 7-9 with a 2.85 ERA, 70 strikeouts and 17 walks in 101 innings. His next start probably will be against the Beloit Snappers next weekend.

When Castro set the previous record of 45 consecutive innings pitched with walking a batter, he did it in his second season with the Danville Warriors. In his first season (1972), he went 10-9 with a 3.04 ERA, 17 saves, 66 strikeouts and 26 walks in 74 innings (45 relief appearances). In his second season (1973), he went 11-4 with a 1.82 ERA, 12 saves, 104 strikeouts and 24 walks in 114 innings (46 appearances/one start).

Castro made his major-league debut for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1974. He spent seven years of his decade as a major-leaguer with the Brewers, one year with the New York Yankees, and two years with the Kansas City Royals.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs | Leave a comment

Former Loons pitcher Zach Lee makes MLB debut

Former Great Lakes Loons pitcher Zach Lee made his major-league debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. Unfortunately for him, it did not go well.

The right-hander lasted only 4.2 innings in the start, giving up seven runs on 11 hits and one walk. He struck out three batters.

The New York Mets won the game, 15-2.

Lee was the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2010. Baseball America listed him at No. 13 among Dodgers prospects in its preseason rankings.

He pitched for the Loons in 2011, going 9-6 with a 3.47 ERA, 91 strikeouts and 32 walks in 109 innings.

Posted in Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Reds trade Cueto to Royals

The Cincinnati Reds traded RHP Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for three left-handed pitching prospects Sunday.

Cueto finished second in voting for the National League Cy Young Award last season, when he went 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA, 242 strikeouts and 65 walks in 243.2 innings. He pitched for the Dayton Dragons in 2006, going 8-1 with a 2.59 ERA, 82 strikeouts and 15 walks in 76.1 innings (14 starts). He also made two rehab starts for the Dragons in 2013, earning a win and striking out eight while walking none in eight innings.

The Reds received Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed in the trade. Lamb is the only one who pitched in the Midwest League, going 2-3 with a 1.58 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 17 walks in 40 innings (eight starts) for the 2010 Burlington Bees.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Rehabbing Cardinals pitcher helps Chiefs no-hit LumberKings

Rehabbing St. Louis Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia pitched five hitless innings for the Peoria Chiefs on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the Peoria Chiefs)

Rehabbing St. Louis Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia pitched five hitless innings for the Peoria Chiefs on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the Peoria Chiefs)

Rehabbing St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia struck out six batters while pitching the first five innings of the Peoria Chiefs’ no-hitter over the Clinton LumberKings on Thursday.

James Alfonso was the only Clinton batter to reach base, taking first after Garcia hit him with a pitch in the 3rd inning.

Relievers Steven Sabatino and Cody Schumacher pitched the final four innings to preserve the no-hitter and secure Peoria’s 2-0 win. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the 8th inning, when Andrew Sohn scored the first run on a wild pitch and Oscar Mercado drove in the second run with a RBI single.

The no-hitter is the second in the Midwest League this season — three Clinton pitchers combined to no-hit the Cedar Rapids Kernels on May 1 — and is the first Peoria no-no since Austin Kirk no-hit the LumberKings on July 4, 2011. (I was at the Kirk no-hitter, which you can read about here.)

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs | Leave a comment