Former Timber Rattler wins ALCS MVP award

Former Wisconsin Timber Rattlers OF Lorenzo Cain was named MVP of the American League Championship Series after the Kansas City Royals completed their ALCS sweep of the Baltimore Orioles to head back to the World Series for the first time since 1985.

He batted .533 (8-for-15) with two doubles and two walks during the ALCS. He also made several highlight-reel catches in the outfield.

Cain didn’t spend a lot of time in the Midwest League — only 15 games, in which he batted .192 (10-for-52) with 3 RBI for the Timber Rattlers.

Lorenzo Cain as a Wisconsin Timber Rattler, in bobblehead form. (Photo by Mike Jehle)

Lorenzo Cain as a Wisconsin Timber Rattler, in bobblehead form. (Photo by Mike Jehle)

Royals skipper played in MWL

When the Royals won Wednesday, Ned Yost became the first manager in MLB history to win his first eight postseason games.

The Royals skipper played in the Midwest League early in his baseball career, when he was a New York Mets farmhand. He batted .192 with 6 HR and 27 RBI in 79 games with the 1975 Wausau Mets.

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Reed, Winker named AFL players of the week

Jesse Winker bats for the Dayton Dragons during the 2013 season. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Cincinnati Reds prospect Jesse Winker bats for the Dayton Dragons during the 2013 season. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Former Midwest Leaguers Jake Reed and Jesse Winker respectively were named the Arizona Fall League Pitcher and Player of the Week for the league’s opening week.

Reed, a right-handed pitcher drafted by the Minnesota Twins in June, pitched 25 innings in relief for the Cedar Rapids Kernels this year. He earned three wins and five saves while compiling a 0.36 ERA and 31 strikeouts. He walked only three batters.

Winker, a Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect, played 112 games with the 2013 Dayton Dragons. He batted .281 with 16 HR and 76 RBI.

Zimmer fans 11 in AFL start

Kansas City Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer struck out 11 batters in five shutout innings Monday. He struck out the side in the third and fourth innings, and fanned nine of the last 11 batters he faced.

Zimmer pitched only 4.2 innings during the regular season because of tendonitis and a lat injury. In 2012 he pitched for the Kane County Cougars, going 2-3 with a 2.43 ERA, 29 strikeouts and eight walks in 29.2 innings. That was Zimmer’s first season as a professional pitcher after being selected fifth overall in the June 2012 draft.

Kyle Zimmer pitching for the Kane County Cougars in 2012. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Kansas City Royals RHP Kyle Zimmer pitching for the Kane County Cougars in 2012. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in Arizona Fall League, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Former K-Twin Hale hired as D-backs manager

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that they’ve hired Chip Hale as their new manager, replacing Kirk Gibson.

Hale was a minor-league manager in the Diamondbacks organization for six seasons before serving as third-base coach for the big-league team from 2007 to 2009. He was the third-base coach for the New York Mets in 2010-11 before serving as Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin’s bench coach the past three seasons.

He played parts of seven seasons in the major leagues, mostly for the Minnesota Twins. His professional playing career began in 1987 as a second baseman for the Midwest League’s Kenosha Twins; he batted .345 with 7 HR and 65 RBI in 87 games. His MWL manager was Don Leppert, who was succeeded by Ron Gardenhire the following year.

Hale’s hiring is the latest move by the Diamondbacks, who have been undergoing a managerial overhaul overseen by Arizona’s chief baseball officer, Tony La Russa. Late last month, the Diamondbacks hired Dave Stewart as senior vice president and general manager and De Jon Watson as senior vice president of baseball operations. Both Stewart and Watson also played in the Midwest League, which you can read about here.

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Four former QC players homer in St. Louis win

The St. Louis Cardinals got four home runs from four former Quad Cities River Bandits in their 5-4 win over the San Francisco Giants in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

The biggest home run of the game came off the bat of rookie Kolten Wong, who hit a walk-off blast to lead off the bottom of the 9th and bail out Trevor Rosenthal, who blew a save in the top half of the inning.

This is Kolten Wong's jersey that was literally ripped off his back by his teammates after the former River Bandit hit a walk-off homer in Game 2 of the NLCS. (Photo tweeted by MLB Authenticator)

Kolten Wong’s teammates literally ripped this jersey off Wong’s back after the former River Bandit hit a walk-off homer in Game 2 of the NLCS. (Photo tweeted by MLB Authenticator)

Wong batted .335 with 5 HR, 25 RBI and 9 SB in 47 games with the 2011 River Bandits. Rosenthal also was a River Bandit in 2011, going 7-7 with a 4.11 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 120.1 IP.

One of their Quad Cities teammates, Oscar Taveras, also homered in Sunday’s game. He won the 2011 Midwest League batting title with a .386 average in 78 games. He hit eight homers and drove in 62 runs as a River Bandit.

The other two former River Bandits who homered Sunday were Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter. Adams batted .310 with 22 HR and 88 RBI in 121 games with the 2010 team. Carpenter batted .295 with 10 RBI in 29 games with the 2009 team.

Seth Maness got the win in relief. He pitched five innings for the 2011 River Bandits.

The NLCS, tied 1-1, resumes Tuesday in San Francisco. The Cardinals likely will be without catcher Yadier Molina, who left Sunday’s game with a strained left oblique muscle.

Molina batted .280 with 7 HR and 50 RBI in 112 games with the 2002 Peoria Chiefs.

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Cain’s four hits lead Royals to Game 2 victory

Royals CF Lorenzo Cain hits an RBI single in the 9th inning of Saturday's game against the Orioles. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Royals CF Lorenzo Cain hits an RBI single in the 9th inning of Saturday’s game. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Former Wisconsin Timber Rattlers OF Lorenzo Cain went 4-for-5 with two runs, one RBI and a stolen base to help lead the Kansas City Royals to a 6-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. He is the second Royals player to collect four hits in a postseason game. (Hall-of-Famer George Brett did it twice in 1985.)

In winning Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, the Royals take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as they head home for the next two games (three if necessary).

Cain has reached base in eight of his 10 plate appearances in the series, and has made highlight-reel catches throughout the postseason. He played 15 games with the 2009 Timber Rattlers, posting a perfect fielding percentage in the 33 chances the centerfielder had in the Midwest League. He batted .192 (10-for-52) with 3 RBI.

Another former Timber Rattler, Orioles CF Adam Jones, went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer off Royals SP Yordano Ventura, who left the game with right shoulder tightness after 5.2 innings. Royals 3B Mike Moustakas also homered in his third consecutive game and for the fourth time this postseason.

Jones batted .267 with 11 HR and 72 RBI in 130 games with the 2004 Timber Rattlers.

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

Moustakas batted .272 with 22 HR and 71 RBI in 126 games with the 2008 Burlington Bees.

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Burlington Bees, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Former Cougars pitcher Beckett retires

Former Kane County Cougars pitcher Josh Beckett announced his retirement Tuesday after his 2014 team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, was eliminated from the playoffs.

Beckett is a two-time World Series champion (2003 Florida Marlins and 2007 Boston Red Sox) — he was the World Series MVP in 2003 and the American League Championship Series MVP in 2007 — and a three-time All-Star (2007, 2009, 2011). He pitched a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this year.

He finished second (behind CC Sabathia) in voting for the 2007 AL Cy Young Award after going 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA, 194 strikeouts and 40 walks in 200.2 IP (30 starts) for the Red Sox.

Beckett pitched 14 seasons in the major leagues. He started his professional playing career with the 2000 Kane County Cougars, for whom he went 2-3 with a 2.12 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 59.1 IP. He made his major-league debut a year later, starting four games for the Marlins.

Josh Beckett pitched in the Midwest League in 2000. (Photo courtesy of the Kane County Cougars)

Josh Beckett pitched in the Midwest League in 2000. (Photo courtesy of the Kane County Cougars)

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Adams’ homer launches Cardinals to NLCS

The National League Championship Series is set after both the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants won their respective NL Division Series on Tuesday.

In the case of the Cardinals’ win, the clinch came thanks to the offensive effort of a former Midwest League player. Matt Adams, who played for the 2010 Quad Cities River Bandits, hit a three-run homer off Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw — also a Midwest League alumnus — to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead that held.

Adams batted .310 with 22 HR, 41 doubles, and 88 RBI in 121 games with the 2010 River Bandits.

Kershaw pitched for the Great Lakes Loons in their inaugural season (2007). He went 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 97.1 IP for the Loons.

Game 1 of the NLCS will be played Saturday in St. Louis. Game 1 of the American League Championship Series will be played Friday in Baltimore, with the Orioles hosting the Kansas City Royals.

Posted in Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment