Clinton, QC split doubleheader

I’m in the Quad Cities for a couple days, so I took in the LumberKings-River Bandits doubleheader at Modern Woodmen Park on Friday. The two teams split the double dip.

The first game was a pitchers duel won 1-0 by the LumberKings. Clinton’s pitching walked five but gave up only one hit. LumberKings SP Edwin Diaz struck out nine and walked three in five hitless innings.

Clinton LumberKings SP Edwin Diaz

Clinton LumberKings SP Edwin Diaz

In six innings, River Bandits SP Adrian Houser gave up one run on five hits, no walks, and two hit batters. He struck out eight.

Quad Cities River Bandits SP Adrian Houser

Quad Cities River Bandits SP Adrian Houser

One of the players hit by Houser, LumberKings LF Wilton Martinez, drove in the lone run of the first game. He did it via an RBI double in the top of the 6th inning.

Clinton LumberKings LF Wilton Martinez takes off his helmet after making the last out of the 4th inning.

Clinton LumberKings LF Wilton Martinez takes off his helmet after making the third out of the 4th inning.

The only River Bandits hit in the first game came off the bat of RF Ryan Bottger, who doubled with one out in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Quad Cities River Bandits RF Ryan Bottger

Quad Cities River Bandits RF Ryan Bottger

The previous batter, 2B Marc Wik, walked and was thrown out at the plate while trying to score on Bottger’s double.

River Bandits 2B Marc Wik was thrown out at the plate by LumberKings RF Tyler O'Neill.

River Bandits 2B Marc Wik was thrown out at the plate by LumberKings RF Tyler O’Neill.

There was more offense in the second game, which the River Bandits won 6-4. The LumberKings scored three runs in the top of the 1st inning, but their starting pitcher, LHP Eddie Campbell, gave up six runs on 11 hits and two walks in five innings.

Clinton LumberKings SP Eddie Campbell

Clinton LumberKings SP Eddie Campbell

River Bandits 1B Chase McDonald went 3-for-3 with 2 RBI.

Quad Cities River Bandits 1B Chase McDonald

Quad Cities River Bandits 1B Chase McDonald

Before the postgame fireworks show began, River Bandits co-owner Dave Heller told the crowd that the team drew an average of 3,885 fans per game this season, a new record for the franchise.

Wild-card race updates

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers lost their game, and both the River Bandits and the Peoria Chiefs split their respective doubleheaders. Wisconsin leads the Western Division wild-card race, two games ahead of both Peoria and Quad Cities with three games left to play.

In the Eastern Division, the Great Lakes Loons took over the wild-card lead by a half-game over the Dayton Dragons, the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Lansing Lugnuts. The Bowling Green Hot Rods are one game behind the Loons.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Clinton LumberKings, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Dragons, TinCaps tied for Eastern Division wild-card lead

As I wrote yesterday, the race for the second-half Eastern Division wild-card spot in the Midwest League playoffs is a close five-team race. Now, with only four days left in the regular season, it’s even closer.

Here’s the short version: On Thursday the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Lansing Lugnuts won, while the Dayton Dragons, the Great Lakes Loons and the Bowling Green Hot Rods lost. That means the Dragons and the TinCaps are now tied for the lead in the Eastern Division wild-card race. The other three teams are within a game of the co-leaders.

Of the three teams still in contention for the second-half Western Division wild-card spot, only the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers played. They beat the Burlington Bees 9-5 on a grand slam by Taylor Brennan, giving them a 2 1/2-game lead over the Peoria Chiefs and the Quad Cities River Bandits. Both Peoria and Quad Cities rained out Thursday and will play doubleheaders today.

The tarp was on the field before Thursday's game in Appleton, and it rained during part of the game, but the Timber Rattlers were able to get their game in. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The tarp was on the field before Thursday’s game at Fox Cities Stadium, and it rained during the early innings, but the Timber Rattlers were able to get their game in. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

In other Midwest League news:

Taylor Brennan’s grand slam was his third and Wisconsin’s seventh this season. The individual player record for a season is four, set by Burlington’s Peter Koegel in 1966. The team record is 10, which was set by the 1981 Wisconsin Rapids Twins.

Ronnie Richardson also hit a grand slam Thursday, not only propelling the TinCaps to victory, but belting it off Detroit Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen, who was making a rehab appearance with the West Michigan Whitecaps.

In that same game, Fernando Perez hit a solo home run, giving him 92 RBI this season — a new Fort Wayne franchise record. The old record of 91 RBI was set by current San Diego Padres OF Will Venable in 2006, when Fort Wayne’s team was still known as the Wizards.

The Kane County Cougars beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 3-2 on Thursday, setting a new franchise record for wins in a season. Their 89th victory eclipsed the wins total of the 2001 team that won Kane County’s only Midwest League championship.

The Lake County Captains announced today that they have extended their player development contract with the Cleveland Indians through the 2016 season. The Captains have been an Indians affiliate since their inaugural season (2003); in fact, the franchise’s affiliation with the Indians dates back to 1991 when it was located in Columbus, Georgia.

The Oakland A’s sent 1B Nate Freiman and LHP Drew Pomeranz on optional assignments to the Beloit Snappers. The major-leaguers are not on rehabilitation assignments; rather, they were assigned to Beloit because they can return to the big-league club faster this way. Oakland’s Triple-A, Double-A and High-A teams all are playoff-bound, but the Snappers are not, so Freiman and Pomeranz can return to the A’s on Tuesday, the day after the Midwest League’s regular season ends. Normally they would have to spend 10 days in the minor leagues before they could be recalled, but that doesn’t apply if the player’s minor-league season ends prior to completion of the 10-day period.

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Captains, Kernels clinch 2nd-half division titles

The Midwest League playoff picture became clearer Wednesday night, but the second-half wild-card teams are still to be determined for both divisions.

In the Eastern Division, the Lake County Captains clinched the second-half division title, which means they will face the South Bend Silver Hawks (the first-half wild-card team) in the first round of the playoffs. The first-half division winner West Michigan Whitecaps will face the still-undetermined second-half wild-card team; five teams are still in contention for that last playoff spot, with five days left in the regular season.

The Dayton Dragons currently lead that race, but the Bowling Green Hot Rods and the Great Lakes Loons are only a half-game behind them, the Fort Wayne TinCaps one game back, and the Lansing Lugnuts two games back.

In the Western Division, the Cedar Rapids Kernels clinched the second-half division title, which means they will face the Burlington Bees (the first-half wild-card team) in the opening round of the playoffs. The first-half division winner Kane County Cougars will face the still-undetermined second-half wild-card team.

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers currently lead that race, with both the Peoria Chiefs and the Quad Cities River Bandits two games behind them. The Beloit Snappers and the Clinton LumberKings are eliminated from playoff contention.

Bees’ Newcomb strikes out 10

After pitching poorly in his last two outings, Bees LHP Sean Newcomb was excellent in his start against the Timber Rattlers on Wednesday. He struck out 10 batters while giving up only two hits and no walks in four scoreless innings. Altogether, Wisconsin hitters struck out 17 times.

Timber Rattlers SP Clint Terry took the loss despite giving up only one run on three hits, a walk and two hit batters. He struck out eight.

Corcino, Soler make MLB debuts

A pair of former Midwest League players made their MLB debuts during the current series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds.

On Tuesday, RHP Daniel Corcino made his debut with the Reds, pitching a perfect 9th inning in Cincinnati’s 3-0 loss to Chicago. Corcino needed only 10 pitches to strike out two batters and get the third one he faced to fly out to left field.

Tuesday, incidentally, was the former Dayton Dragons pitcher’s 24th birthday.

Corcino went 11-7 with a 3.42 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 139.1 IP for the 2011 Dragons. He also pitched in six games for the 2010 Dragons, striking out 29 in 31.1 IP.

On Wednesday, OF Jorge Soler made his debut with the Cubs, hitting a 423-foot solo homer in his first at-bat. He later drove in another run and also struck out once. The Reds won the game 7-5.

Soler batted .338 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in in 20 games with the 2012 Peoria Chiefs.

Also during Wednesday’s game, Reds CF Billy Hamilton stole his 50th base of the season. He stole 103 bases in 135 games with the 2011 Dragons a year before stealing a minor-league record 155 bases in 2012.

The Cubs and Reds finish their three-game series at Great American Ball Park on Thursday.

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

River Bandits extend PDC with Astros through 2016

Modern Woodmen Park, home of the Quad Cities River Bandits. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Modern Woodmen Park, home of the Quad Cities River Bandits. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

In a joint press conference held Tuesday at Modern Woodmen Park, the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Houston Astros announced a two-year extension of their player development contract (PDC), which now runs through the 2016 season.

Previously teamed with the Astros from 1993-98, the River Bandits hooked up with Houston again during the affiliation shuffle following the 2012 season. The River Bandits won the 2013 Midwest League championship with a team that featured a pair of No. 1 overall draft picks, SS Carlos Correa and RHP Mark Appel (although Appel was shut down for the year shortly before the playoffs began).

You can read more about the PDC extension here.

Bandits, Kernels fan 33

River Bandits pitchers struck out 18 batters in their 3-2 win over the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Monday. Kernels pitchers fanned 15, giving the game a total of 33 strikeouts.

According to the River Bandits’ game story, Quad Cities pitchers struck out 18 batters for the first time since their 2011 home opener, when they struck out the same number in a 7-4 win over the Beloit Snappers. The 33 combined strikeouts by Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids were the most in a River Bandits game since Quad Cities and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers combined for 33 strikeouts in a 14-inning game on June 28, 2010.

In Monday’s game, Kernels SP Stephen Gonsalves struck out 10 batters in five innings. River Bandits pitchers Troy Scribner and Chris Lee each struck out seven batters in 3.2 innings.

Torreyes, Appel impress

Ronald Torreyes, who plays for Houston’s Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City, is having an August to remember. Even after going 0-for-5 on Tuesday, the former Dayton Dragons infielder is batting .340 with zero strikeouts in 100 official at-bats. Overall he is hitting .298 in 121 games this season.

Torreyes batted .356 with 3 HR, 41 RBI and 12 SB in 67 games with the 2011 Dragons. He also played in six games with the team in 2010.

Mark Appel is having a less impressive season, but last year’s top Astros draft pick had the best start of his minor-league career on Tuesday. The former River Bandits pitcher took a one-hitter into the 9th inning and struck out 10 batters for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks.

Appel went 3-1 with a 3.82 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 33 IP (eight starts) for the 2013 River Bandits.

Quad Cities River Bandits RHP Mark Appel throws between innings during a game at Modern Woodmen Park in July 2013. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Astros prospect Mark Appel throws between innings during a game at Modern Woodmen Park in July 2013. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in 2013 Playoffs, Beloit Snappers, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Corpus Christi Hooks, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League, Oklahoma City RedHawks, Pacific Coast League, Quad Cities River Bandits, Texas League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Bernard named MWL MVP; Velazquez is Prospect of Year

Whitecaps OF Wynton Bernard plays catch before West Michigan's home opener this year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Whitecaps OF Wynton Bernard plays catch before West Michigan’s home opener this year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

West Michigan Whitecaps OF Wynton Bernard was named the Midwest League MVP for 2014, while South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez was named the league’s Prospect of the Year.

Bernard is batting .328 with 6 HR, 45 RBI, 44 SB, 56 walks and 81 strikeouts in 126 games this season. Heading into today’s games, he leads the league in batting by a comfortable 32 percentage points. Bowling Green Hot Rods 2B Kean Wong is second with a .306 batting average.

On Sunday, Bernard collected his 159th hit of the season, setting a new franchise record for the Whitecaps. The previous record of 158 hits was set by Robert Fick in 1997 and tied by Nick Castellanos in 2011.

All of this is remarkable considering that Bernard was released by the San Diego Padres in late January. (He played five games with the Fort Wayne TinCaps last year.) The Detroit Tigers signed him after he participated in an open tryout in February.

Bernard’s 159 hits lead the Midwest League. Velazquez is second with 149 hits.

Velazquez made headlines earlier this year when he set a new minor-league record for consecutive games reaching base. His 74-game on-base streak eclipsed the previous record set by Kevin Millar in 1997 and tied by Kevin Youkilis in 2003, and is 10 games shy of the Ted Williams’ MLB record of 84.

Velazquez is batting .291 with 8 HR, 52 RBI, 50 SB, 60 walks and 126 strikeouts in 126 games this season. The Arizona Diamondbacks farmhand batted .260 in 65 games with the Silver Hawks last year.

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)

Mark Johnson was named the Midwest League Manager of the Year. At 86-46, his Kane County Cougars currently have the best record in Minor League Baseball. With eight games left this season, the Cougars need three more wins to set a new franchise record for regular-season victories (set by the 2001 team that won the Midwest League championship).

The Midwest League also announced its postseason all-star team, which is voted on by the league’s 16 field managers. The players named to the team are Fort Wayne TinCaps 1B Jake Bauers, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2B Kean Wong, Lansing Lugnuts 3B Mitch Nay, South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez, West Michigan Whitecaps OF Wynton Bernard, Quad Cities River Bandits OF Brett Phillips, Great Lakes Loons OF Joey Curletta, Cedar Rapids Kernels C Mitch Garver, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers DH Clint Coulter, West Michigan Whitecaps starting pitchers Buck Farmer (RHP) and Kevin Ziomek (LHP), and South Bend Silver Hawks relief pitchers Silvino Bracho (RHP) and Will Locante (LHP).

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Maciel, Williams named MWL players of the week

West Michigan Whitecaps RHP Jonathan Maciel delivers a pitch during a game earlier this season. (Photo by Joel Bissell of MLive.com)

West Michigan Whitecaps RHP Jonathan Maciel delivers a pitch during a game earlier this season. (Photo by Joel Bissell of MLive.com)

West Michigan Whitecaps RHP Jonathan Maciel and South Bend Silver Hawks OF Justin Williams respectively were named the Midwest League pitcher and offensive player of the week for the period of August 18-24.

Maciel was honored for his dominant performance against the Dayton Dragons last Thursday. He allowed only one hit and one walk while striking out 10 batters, including six consecutive ones to finish his seven-inning outing. He also hit a batter.

In 25 games (18 starts) this season, Maciel is 6-6 with a 3.97 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 118 IP.

In seven games this past week, Williams batted .400 (10-for-25) with two home runs, two triples, two doubles, three walks, nine RBI, and eight runs scored.

In 20 games with the Silver Hawks this season, he is batting .278 with 2 HR and 17 RBI. He also played 46 games with the rookie-level Missoula Osprey, batting .386 with 4 HR and 40 RBI.

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Midwest League, Missoula Osprey, Pioneer League, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Snappers make most of few hits to beat Rattlers

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The Beloit Snappers beat the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 4-2 on Sunday despite being outhit 13-3.

The Timber Rattlers scored first, taking a 1-0 lead on a solo homer by SS Angel Ortega in the bottom of the 3rd inning.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers SS Angel Ortega batting in the bottom of the 3rd inning, right before he hit a solo homer.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers SS Angel Ortega bats in the bottom of the 3rd inning, right before he hit a solo homer.

Timber Rattlers SP Preston Gainey didn’t give up a hit until the top of the 5th inning, when Snappers 1B Michael Soto homered to tie the score 1-1.

Beloit Snappers 1B Michael Soto hit a home run with this swing.

Beloit Snappers 1B Michael Soto hit a home run with this swing.

In a sidetracking moment of serendipity, here is a photo I shot featuring both Ortega and Soto:

Angel Ortega slides back to first base as the baseball heads for Michael Soto's glove.

Angel Ortega slides back to first base just before the baseball reaches Michael Soto’s glove.

The Snappers scored another run in the 6th before plating two more on a Ryan Mathews home run in the 7th.

Beloit Snappers LF Ryan Mathews rounds 2nd base after homering in the top of the 7th inning.

Beloit Snappers LF Ryan Mathews rounds 2nd base after homering in the top of the 7th inning.

Mathews hit two home runs at Pohlman Field on Saturday, and almost had another two-dinger day in this game, but Timber Rattlers CF Johnny Davis robbed him with a fantastic leaping catch that you can watch here on YouTube. Had Mathews successfully went deep again, I would’ve seen him hit four home runs within 24 hours’ time.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers CF Johnny Davis

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers CF Johnny Davis

Snappers SP Matt Stalcup got the win. He gave up one run (Ortega’s solo homer) on nine hits, a walk and a wild pitch in five innings. He struck out six batters.

Beloit Snappers SP Matt Stalcup

Beloit Snappers SP Matt Stalcup

Gainey got the loss after giving up four runs (two earned) on three hits, no walks, a wild pitch and a hit batsman. Both teams committed two errors.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers SP Preston Gainey

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers SP Preston Gainey

Three pitchers from the 1964 Fox Cities Foxes — Tim Sommer, Hank King and Ed Petryshyn  — threw out ceremonial first pitches before the game. They were at Fox Cities Stadium to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their team’s Midwest League championship.

From left: Hank King, Ed Petryshyn and Tim Sommer after throwing out ceremonial first pitches.

From left: Hank King, Ed Petryshyn and Tim Sommer after throwing out ceremonial first pitches.

Sommer went 13-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 139 IP for the 1964 Foxes. He threw 10 complete games, including one shutout.

Petryshyn went 9-3 with a 2.80 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 135 IP for the 1964 Foxes. He threw four complete games, including two shutouts.

King went 9-7 with a 1.84 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 83 IP for the 1964 Foxes. He started only one of the 46 games he appeared in that season — and threw a shutout.

None of them reached the major leagues, but their pitching staff briefly included future MLB All-Star and 1977 A.L. Cy Young Award winner Sparky Lyle, who went 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 35 IP for the 1964 Foxes. Lyle pitched three complete games in his six starts.

From left: Former 1964 Fox Cities Foxes pitchers Hank King, Tim Sommer and Ed Petryshyn signed autographs on the concourse before the game.

From left: Former 1964 Fox Cities Foxes pitchers Hank King, Tim Sommer and Ed Petryshyn signed autographs on the concourse before the game.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

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