Former Lugnuts Nolin, Pillar star in Bisons’ win

Tuesday's pitching matchup in Buffalo pitted two former Midwest Leaguers against each other.

Tuesday’s pitching matchup in Buffalo pitted two former Midwest Leaguers against each other.

Day 10 of my Cooperstown road trip brought me to Buffalo, N.Y., where I attended a game at Coca-Cola Field for the first time. Because the Buffalo Bisons are the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, I knew I would get to see some former Lansing Lugnuts in action — and two of them starred in the Bisons’ 7-1 win over the Indianapolis Indians.

The starting pitching matchup was LHP Sean Nolin (2011 Lansing Lugnuts) vs. LHP Adam Wilk (2009 West Michigan Whitecaps). Nolin was making his first Triple-A start since coming off the disabled list, and he earned the win after giving up only two hits and a walk in six scoreless innings. He also made a great behind-the-back snag that you can see video of here.

Buffalo Bisons SP Sean Nolin went 4-4 with a 3.49 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 108.1 IP for the 2011 Lansing Lugnuts.

Buffalo Bisons SP Sean Nolin went 4-4 with a 3.49 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 108.1 IP for the 2011 Lansing Lugnuts.

Side note: Sean Nolin is not to be confused with Kevin Nolan, the former Lugnuts infielder who played third base for the Bisons on Tuesday.

Buffalo Bisons INF Kevin Nolan batted .301 with 3 HR and 49 RBI in 107 games with the 2010-11 Lansing Lugnuts.

Buffalo Bisons INF Kevin Nolan batted .301 with 3 HR and 49 RBI in 107 games with the 2010-11 Lansing Lugnuts.

Wilk gave up six runs on eight hits, five walks and a hit batsman in six innings. Both he and Nolin each struck out three batters.

Indianapolis Indians SP Adam Wilk went 2-1 with a 1.49 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 36.1 IP for the 2009 West Michigan Whitecaps.

Indianapolis Indians SP Adam Wilk went 2-1 with a 1.49 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 36.1 IP for the 2009 West Michigan Whitecaps.

Six different Bisons players drove in runs. Two were scored by LF Darin Mastroianni, who reached base four times (three walks and a double).

Buffalo Bisons LF Darin Mastroianni (right) talks with hitting/third-base coach Richie Hebner. Mastroianni hit .228 with 3 HR, 25 RBI and 30 SB in 95 games with the 2008 Lansing Lugnuts.

Buffalo Bisons LF Darin Mastroianni (right) talks with hitting/third-base coach Richie Hebner. Mastroianni hit .228 with 3 HR, 25 RBI and 30 SB in 95 games with the 2008 Lansing Lugnuts.

Although teammate Andy LaRoche would later hit a more impressive home run, I was more excited to see Bisons CF Kevin Pillar homer in the bottom of the 1st inning. That’s because Pillar, who has gotten a taste of the big leagues with the Blue Jays, was the Midwest League MVP in 2012.

Buffalo Bisons CF Kevin Pillar is greeted at the plate by teammate Darin Mastroianni after Pillar clubbed a 2-run homer. Pillar hit .322 with 5 HR, 57 RBI and 35 SB in 86 games with the 2012 Lansing Lugnuts.

Buffalo Bisons CF Kevin Pillar is greeted at the plate by teammate Darin Mastroianni after Pillar clubbed a 2-run homer. Pillar hit .322 with 5 HR, 57 RBI and 35 SB in 86 games with the 2012 Lansing Lugnuts.

I’ll be staying in Buffalo for two nights and plan to go to another Bisons game on Thursday before resuming my drive home.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Buffalo Bisons, Indianapolis Indians, International League, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Midwest League news and notes for Monday, July 28

My drive home from Cooperstown began today, and I’m tired after a long day, but because I’m dedicated to bringing you the latest Midwest League news — even when I’m on vacation — here are links to some MWL stories of note from Monday:

Ziomek caps career day with 13 punchouts — West Michigan Whitecaps LHP Kevin Ziomek struck out 13 Cougars batters while allowing four hits and three walks over six scoreless innings at Kane County. He got a no-decision in the Whitecaps’ 2-1 win. Ziomek struck out 11 batters in his previous start, as I mentioned in this post last week.

Loons combine on unusual one-hitter — Five Great Lakes Loons pitchers combined efforts to one-hit the Peoria Chiefs. RHP Jordan Hershiser pitched the first three innings for Great Lakes, walking four batters and giving up Peoria’s lone hit.

Romano strikes out 10 in Dragons win — Dragons RHP Sal Romano struck out 10 batters in Dayton’s 3-2 win over the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In 5 innings, he gave up one run on five hits, one walk and a wild pitch.

LumberKings fall 9-0 as offense remains elusive — The Clinton LumberKings’ offensive struggles continued as they were shut out for the third time in four games. Clinton has a five-game losing streak during which their opponents’ starting pitchers have allowed only one run over 29 innings.

Hu, Palka named MWL players of the week — Kernels RHP Chih-Wei Hu was named the Midwest League pitcher of the week for the period of July 21-27, which you can read about here. Daniel Palka of the South Bend Silver Hawks was named the MWL offensive player of the week. (Sorry, there is no Silver Hawks story about this for me to link here.)

Finally, the next link isn’t related to the Midwest League, but I’m still sharing it because I was at the game involved.

Cole tosses five scoreless in rehab start — Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole gave up five hits and three walks while striking out seven batters in a rehab start for the Indianapolis Indians. The Triple-A team beat their hosts, the Rochester Red Wings, 5-0.

Rehabbing Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole took the mound for the Indianapolis Indians on Monday. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Rehabbing Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole took the mound for the Indianapolis Indians on Monday. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Dayton Dragons, Great Lakes Loons, Indianapolis Indians, International League, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Rochester Red Wings, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Ex-Chiefs pitcher Maddux inducted into Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame honored its latest inductees Sunday. They are, from left: Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Joe Torre. (Photo from MLB.com)

The Baseball Hall of Fame honored its latest inductees Sunday. They are, from left: Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Joe Torre. (Photo from MLB.com)

Greg Maddux became the seventh former Midwest Leaguer to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a player when he and five other baseball greats received their HOF plaques during Sunday’s ceremony in Cooperstown.

Maddux pitched for the Peoria Chiefs in 1985, his second season as a professional baseball player. He went 13-9 with a 3.19 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 186 IP.

Maddux didn’t specifically mention Peoria in his acceptance speech, but the 355-game winner did thank three minor-league coaches, including Jim Wright, who was his Chiefs pitching coach. Maddux said Wright “helped me locate my fastball to both sides of the plate.”

You can read Maddux’s entire speech here.

The other five men inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday were former players Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas and former managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre.

As is tradition, there is an area in the Baseball Hall of Fame set aside for artifacts from new HOF inductees. Maddux’s display case includes two jerseys and a cap he wore during notable games in his career, his second of four Cy Young Awards, his second of 18 Gold Glove Awards, a baseball, an autographed ticket stub, the shoes he wore during the 1995 World Series, and a baseball glove.

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

The Greg Maddux display inside the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Related reading:

Hall of Fame weekend: Parade, plaques and presentations

A look at early scouting reports on Greg Maddux

Maddux elected to Hall of Fame with 97.2% of vote

Maddux headlines 2014 Hall of Fame ballot

 

 

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

Hall of Fame weekend: Parade, plaques and presentations

2004 inductee Paul Molitor (1977 Burlington Bees) waves to fans during the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends.

2004 HOF inductee Paul Molitor (1977 Burlington Bees) gives a thumbs-up to fans during the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends.

Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend got off to a great start Saturday with thousands of fans on hand for the first festivities.

After arriving in the early afternoon, I walked around the Hall of Fame museum for awhile to pass some time before the awards presentation at nearby Doubleday Field. The place was packed, of course, but I was still able to see artifacts such as the glove used by San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman (1991 Cedar Rapids Reds) when he earned his 500th career save.

Trevor Hoffman glove and ball

A tour of the Hall of Fame would be incomplete without visiting the plaque gallery. Here are the plaques of two 1969 HOF inductees, Stan Musial and Stan Coveleski …

Musial & Coveleski plaques

… and here is the plaque of Bruce Sutter, who pitched for the Midwest League’s Quincy Cubs in 1973.

Sutter plaque

There was plenty of action outside the museum. The Main Street sidewalks were packed with people, including some former major-leaguers signing autographs for money.

Steve "Lefty" Carlton was among the former MLB stars I saw signing autographs on Main Street.

Steve “Lefty” Carlton was among the former MLB stars I saw signing autographs on Main Street.

Former New York Mets star Darryl Strawberry was kind enough to pose for pictures with fans for free, so my wife shot this photo of me with “Straw”:

Darryl and Craig

While waiting for the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation ceremony to begin at Doubleday Field, I spotted Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

Mike Maddux

His younger brother, Greg Maddux (1985 Peoria Chiefs), will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, along with Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and former managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre. At least 40,000 people are expected to be on hand for the ceremony.

The awards ceremony on Saturday, however, was for non-uniformed personnel being honored for their contributions to baseball. Author Roger Angell received the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing, Joe Garagiola was honored (in absentia) with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, and longtime Rangers radio broadcaster Eric Nadel was given the Ford C. Frick Award for major contributions to baseball broadcasting.

J. G. Taylor Spink Award winner Roger Angell delivers his acceptance speech in front of a stage full of Baseball Hall-of-Famers.

J. G. Taylor Spink Award winner Roger Angell delivers his acceptance speech in front of a stage full of Baseball Hall-of-Famers.

The final public event of the day was the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends, a fifth-year feature of induction weekend. Many Hall of Fame members, including all of this year’s inductees, participated by riding in trucks on their way to a private reception at the HOF museum.

Here is a look at the large crowd that lined Main Street for the parade …

parade crowd

… and here is Rickey Henderson riding in the parade.

Rickey Henderson

Check back here Sunday night for more Induction Weekend photos, including ones of new inductee Greg Maddux, only the seventh Hall-of-Fame player who is an alumnus of the Midwest League.

*All photos copyright of Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs | Leave a comment

Day 5 of road trip includes look at former Whitecaps

Day 5 of my Cooperstown road trip included a baseball doubleheader — a matinee game at Classic Park, home of the Lake County Captains, and a night game at Jerry Uht Park, home of the Erie SeaWolves.

The latter game was my first visit to an Eastern League ballpark, and I liked what I saw. But since this is a Midwest League blog, I won’t write much about it here. I will, however, note that I got to see several former West Michigan Whitecaps play for the SeaWolves. (Unfortunately for the SeaWolves, they lost the game 4-3 to the Richmond Flying Squirrels, who have a six-game winning streak and the best record in the Western Division of the Eastern League.)

Here are a couple of my favorite shots I took of former Whitecaps before the game:

SeaWolves RF Steven Moya (2011-12 Whitecaps) leads the Eastern League with 26 HR and 82 RBI.

SeaWolves RF Steven Moya (2011-12 Whitecaps) leads the Eastern League with 26 HR and 82 RBI.

SeaWolves SS Dixon Machado played with the Whitecaps in 2011.

SeaWolves SS Dixon Machado played with the Whitecaps in 2011.

Erie is managed by Lance Parrish, the former Detroit Tigers All-Star player who was skipper of the Great Lakes Loons in 2007 (their inaugural season). Richmond’s skipper is former major-leaguer Russ Morman, who played for the 1984 Appleton Foxes and managed the 2000-01 Kane County Cougars.

Posted in Eastern League, Erie SeaWolves, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, Richmond Flying Squirrels, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Timber Rattlers take two from the Captains

On the fourth and fifth days of my road trip to Cooperstown, I watched the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers take two games from the Lake County Captains. The Captains have now lost eight consecutive games; the Timber Rattlers have won four in a row.

Wednesday’s game

The Timber Rattlers took control of Wednesday’s game early with a five-run 1st inning. They added three more runs in the 4th inning and won the game 8-4.

David Denson and Jose Pena each had two hits and three RBI for the Timber Rattlers; Pena hit a solo home run. Chris McFarland went 3-for-5 with two stolen bases.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 1B David Denson

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 1B David Denson

Captains SP Dace Kime gave up all eight runs, including an unearned one. He gave up nine hits, two walks and two wild pitches, and struck out two batters in four innings.

Lake County Captains SP Dace Kime

Lake County Captains SP Dace Kime

Timber Rattlers SP Preston Gainey got the win. He gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits, two walks and a wild pitch in five innings. He struck out three batters.

The only notable offensive performance for the Captains was Clint Frazier’s 3-for-3 line that included a solo homer in the 1st inning. That was nice for me to see because it was the first time I got to see Frazier play in person; I saw the Captains play a pair of games in Kane County early in the season, but he wasn’t with the team yet.

Lake County Captains CF Clint Frazier

Lake County Captains CF Clint Frazier

It was also the first time I got to see Mike Papi, this year’s first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians. (Frazier was Cleveland’s top draft pick last year.) Papi went a combined 0-for-6 during the two games I attended.

Lake County Captains RF Mike Papi

Lake County Captains RF Mike Papi

Interlude

I don’t get to visit Lake County very often, so I’m glad I got to meet several Classic Park press box denizens during Wednesday’s game: David Glasier of The News-Herald, Tyler Stotsky of Indians Baseball Insider, and Tim Shirer of the Lake County Sentinel.

I appreciate the time each of them took to talk with me. You can read Glasier’s story about my Midwest League travels here.

Thursday’s game

Just as they did the previous night, the Timber Rattlers used an early offensive outburst to take control of Thursday’s game and win it 7-4.

The Timber Rattlers scored seven runs in the top of the 2nd inning; all of them came with two outs. Four players were credited with RBI: Chris McFarland (2), David Denson, Taylor Brennan and Angel Ortega.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 2B Chris McFarland

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 2B Chris McFarland

The Timber Rattlers got only one more hit after that fruitful frame — an 8th-inning single by Rafael Neda. Regardless, the seven-run stake was more than enough for Wisconsin SP Anthony Banda, who gave up only three hits and a walk while striking out six batters in seven scoreless innings.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers SP Anthony Banda

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers SP Anthony Banda

The Captains scored all four of their runs off Timber Rattlers RP Victor Diaz, who pitched the final two frames of the game. Lake County’s catcher, Richard Stock, went 3-for-4 with a double and a two-run homer.

Lake County Captains C Richard Stock follows through with his home run swing in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Lake County Captains C Richard Stock follows through with his home run swing in the bottom of the 8th inning.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Pedroza’s 4 RBI not enough for Peoria vs. South Bend

DSCN8888The second day of my road trip to Cooperstown included a Midwest League matinee at South Bend’s Four Winds Field.

Peoria’s Richy Pedroza drove in four runs, but they weren’t enough as the Chiefs fell 5-4 to the Silver Hawks. Two of his RBI scored on a two-out triple that almost cleared the outfield wall for a home run.

Daniel Palka, Joe Munoz, Michael Perez and Fidel Pena collected RBI for the Silver Hawks.

Silver Hawks SP Sean Furney got the win after giving up only two runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out three batters.

Chiefs SP Arturo Reyes struck out nine batters in six innings, but took the loss after giving up five runs on eight hits, two wild pitches, and a hit batsman.

Peoria Chiefs RHP Arturo Reyes

Peoria Chiefs RHP Arturo Reyes

It was a rare unproductive game for Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez, who recently set a new minor-league record with his 74-game on-base streak. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez

South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez

Former MLB pitcher Jack Morris signed autographs for fans on the concourse during the first two innings of the game.

Former MLB pitcher Jack Morris signing autographs during Monday's game at Four Winds Field.

Former MLB pitcher Jack Morris signs his autograph for a fan during Monday’s game at Four Winds Field.

It seemed fitting somehow that I got to meet Morris at a stop on my way to Cooperstown, considering the controversy over whether he should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The baseball Jack Morris autographed for me.

The baseball Jack Morris autographed for me.

Garver homers thrice against TinCaps

Cedar Rapids Kernels catcher Mitch Garver homered three times and drove in five runs against the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Monday. He went deep against three different pitchers: LHP Max Fried, RHP Ron Herrera, and LHP Payton Baskette.

According to The Gazette‘s Jeff Johnson, Garver is the first Kernels player to hit three homers in a game since Jordan Renz in 2006.

Cedar Rapids Kernels C Mitch Garver

Cedar Rapids Kernels C Mitch Garver

Ziomek strikes out 11 for Whitecaps

West Michigan Whitecaps LHP Kevin Ziomek struck out 11 batters and gave up only three hits in seven innings Monday against the Burlington Bees. The Whitecaps won 2-0.

Ziomek currently ranks fourth in the Midwest League with 99 strikeouts. His teammates RHP Buck Farmer (113) and RHP Austin Kubitza (106) rank first and third, respectively.

Ziomek ranks second in the league with a 2.32 ERA. Bees RHP Harrison Cooney ranks first with a 2.30 ERA.

MWL players of the week

Clinton LumberKings RHP Edwin Diaz and Beloit Snappers RF Tyler Marincov respectively were named the Midwest League pitcher and offensive player of the week for the period of July 14-20.

Diaz was honored for his performance against the Great Lakes Loons last Thursday. He gave up only three hits, struck out eight batters, and didn’t issue a walk in six scoreless innings.

In six games during the past week, Marincov batted .400 (8-for-20) with three home runs, a triple, three doubles, three walks, eight RBI, and one stolen base.

Beloit Snappers OF Tyler Marincov

Beloit Snappers OF Tyler Marincov

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Beloit Snappers, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment