Three former Midwest Leaguers given 50-game bans

Four minor-league players were given 50-game suspensions Thursday after testing positive for banned drugs.

Three of the suspended players are former Midwest Leaguers: Cleveland Indians RHP Duke von Schamann, Minnesota Twins RHP Hudson Boyd and free-agent RHP Chris Capper. The fourth player is Texas Rangers OF Chris Grayson. You can read reporter Danny Wild’s story about the suspensions here.

As a Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand in 2012, von Schamann went 4-4 with a 3.22 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 67 IP for the Great Lakes Loons. The Dodgers traded him to the Indians in early April 2014.

Boyd spent the past two seasons in the Midwest League, both with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In 2013 he went 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 103 IP. In 2014 he went 4-4 with a 4.34 ERA, seven saves and 45 strikeouts in 58 IP.

Capper last pitched in 2013, when he went 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 42.1 IP for the South Bend Silver Hawks. The Arizona Diamondbacks released him after that season.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Reds add Corky Miller to Dragons coaching staff

Corky Miller (Photo courtesy of the Dayton Dragons)

Corky Miller (Photo courtesy of the Dayton Dragons)

The Dayton Dragons recently announced that former Cincinnati Reds catcher Corky Miller was added to the team’s coaching staff for the 2015 season.

The Reds fan favorite joins manager Jose Nieves, pitching coach Tom Browning and hitting coach Luis Bolivar on the Dayton staff. Although he will be based with the Dragons, Miller also will visit other Reds affiliates in his role as a catching instructor.

“We are excited to transition Corky Miller onto our minor-league coaching staff in 2015,” Jeff Graupe, Reds director of player development, said in a press release. “Corky will be based out of Dayton and will split his time working with the Dragons and roving around our system developing our catchers. As a player, Corky was well known throughout the game as a terrific defensive catcher with outstanding fundamentals and quality relationships with his pitchers. He will be a tremendous asset for our young catchers to learn from.”

Miller played parts of 11 seasons in the major leagues, including seven with the Reds. Overall he played professional baseball for 17 seasons, including part of the 1999 season in the Midwest League. He batted .287 with 10 HR and 40 RBI in 66 games with the Rockford Reds, who moved to Dayton after the 1999 season.

Here is a photo of Miller at the 1999 Midwest League All-Star Game in Lansing. Thanks to Lisa Winston for letting me use it!

Then-Rockford Reds catcher Corky Miller at the 1999 Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Lisa Winston)

Then-Rockford Reds catcher Corky Miller at the 1999 Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Lisa Winston)

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Midwest League | Leave a comment

‘D-Train’ Willis signs with Brewers

Former Kane County Cougars LHP Dontrelle “D-Train” Willis reportedly has signed a minor-league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Willis was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2003 and finished second in voting for the NL Cy Young Award in 2005, but his last full season in the major leagues was 2007 with the Florida Marlins. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2011, when he went 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 games with the Cincinnati Reds.

Since 2011, Willis has pitched in the minor leagues for the Baltimore Orioles, the Los Angeles Angels and the San Francisco Giants. He also pitched for two independent-league teams.

In addition to the Marlins and the Reds, Willis also has pitched at the major-league level for the Detroit Tigers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2000 and pitched in their system before being traded to the Marlins in late March 2002. He pitched in the Midwest League in 2002, going 10-2 with a 1.83 ERA, 101 strikeouts and 21 walks in 127.2 IP for the Cougars.

Dontrelle Willis pitched for the Kane County Cougars in 2002. (Photo from The Cougars Den)

Dontrelle Willis pitched for the Kane County Cougars in 2002. (Photo from The Cougars Den)

Astros trade Corporan to Rangers

The Houston Astros traded catcher Carlos Corporan to the Texas Rangers for minor-league RHP Akeem Bostick today.

Corporan played for the Beloit Snappers in 2004, batting .228 with 1 HR and 16 RBI in 63 games. He made his major-league debut for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009.

Bostick was a second-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2013. He went 5-6 with a 5.18 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 28 walks in 92 IP for the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League (same level as the Midwest League) in 2014.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Hickory Crawdads, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, South Atlantic League | Leave a comment

Hot Rods announce 2015 coaching staff

The Bowling Green Hot Rods announced today that Reinaldo Ruiz will be their manager this year. He spent the past three seasons as hitting coach of the Princeton Rays, rookie-level Appalachian League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Ruiz spent five seasons as a minor-league catcher for the Houston Astros before joining the Rays organization as a coach in 2009.

Rounding out the Hot Rods coaching staff are Bill Moloney (third season as pitching coach) and Dan DeMent (second season as hitting coach). Moloney pitched six seasons in the minor leagues, mostly for the Boston Red Sox. DeMent was a versatile fielder in his eight seasons playing for Tampa Bay and the Washington Nationals in the minor leagues.

Last year’s Hot Rods skipper, Michael Johns, will manage the Charlotte Stone Crabs, High-A Florida State League affiliate of the Rays, this year. His predecessor, Jared Sandberg — who managed the Hot Rods in 2013 — will manage the Durham Bulls, Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate in the International League.

Posted in Appalachian League, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Durham Bulls, Florida State League, International League, Midwest League, Princeton Rays | Leave a comment

South Bend Cubs unveil image of new mascot

The South Bend Cubs unveiled an image of their new mascot today and are asking for fans’ help in naming him.

The South Bend mascot resembles Clark the Cub, mascot of the team’s parent club, the Chicago Cubs.

Starting Thursday, fans can submit name suggestions only on the South Bend Cubs’ Facebook page. The deadline for suggestions is Thursday, Jan. 29.

Team management will narrow the submissions down to four. Fans will then select the final name via Facebook vote. The fan who submits the winning name will win two tickets to the team’s home opener on Thursday, April 9.

The new mascot will not replace the team’s existing mascot, Swoop.

“Swoop is still here and will continue to make regular appearances at Four Winds Field,” team owner Andrew Berlin said in a press release. “He hasn’t flown the coop. We know how much kids love him. My kids do, too!”

Image of the new South Bend Cubs mascot released by the team today.

Image of the new South Bend Cubs mascot released by the team today.

Posted in Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Larkin to manage Captains this year

The Cleveland Indians announced today that Shaun Larkin will manage the Lake County Captains this year.

Larkin was Lake County’s hitting coach last year when the team batted .246 and finished 65-74 under manager Mark Budzinski. Larkin also played for the Captains, in 2003 when the team was part of the South Atlantic League. A third baseman, he batted .266 with 20 HR and 80 RBI in 128 games.

After one season at the helm of the Captains, Budzinski moves up to the Carolina League to manage Cleveland’s new High-A affiliate, the Lynchburg Hillcats. His predecessor, 2013 Captains manager Scooter Tucker, also has a new job in the Indians organization. After managing the Carolina Mudcats last year, Tucker now will serve as Cleveland’s catching coordinator in a roving capacity.

Tucker played in the Midwest League in 1989, batting .246 with 3 HR and 43 RBI in 126 games with the Clinton Giants.

Former Indians hurler Steve Karsay, who pitched in parts of 11 seasons in the major leagues, will be Lake County’s pitching coach this year. He was Lake County’s pitching coach in 2013, too.

The Indians did not announce a hitting coach for the Captains.

Posted in Carolina League, Carolina Mudcats, Clinton LumberKings, Lake County Captains, Lynchburg Hillcats, Midwest League, South Atlantic League | Leave a comment

Brewers trade Gallardo to Rangers

Multiple media reports say the Milwaukee Brewers have completed their trade of RHP Yovani Gallardo to the Texas Rangers.

To get Gallardo, the Rangers reportedly are giving up INF Luis Sardinas, RHP Corey Knebel and RHP Marcos Diplan.

Gallardo has pitched in the major leagues since 2007 and was Milwaukee’s ace in recent years. He was a second-round draft pick in 2004, the year he had a short, forgettable stint with the Beloit Snappers. In the two games he started for the Snappers — then a Brewers affiliate — Gallardo struck out eight, walked four, threw three wild pitches, and gave up 10 earned runs in 7.1 IP.

Of the three players Milwaukee is getting from Texas, only one played in the Midwest League. Knebel posted an impressive 0.87 ERA with 15 saves and 41 strikeouts in 31 IP for the 2013 West Michigan Whitecaps.

Kelly signs with Marlins

Knebel isn’t the only former Whitecaps player on the move today. Don Kelly, a utility player for the Detroit Tigers the past six seasons, signed a minor-league deal with the Miami Marlins.

Kelly’s batting average is only .232 in 570 MLB games, but his versatility in the field is what has kept him in the majors. He mainly plays outfield and corner infield, but has made appearances at all nine positions, and served as Detroit’s designated hitter in 17 games.

He batted .286 with 1 HR and 59 RBI in 128 games with the Whitecaps in 2002.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment