Jared Sandberg, nephew of Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg, will manage the Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2013. He managed the Short-Season A Hudson Valley Renegades the last three seasons, including when the team won the New York-Penn League championship last year.
Sandberg played parts of three seasons in the major leagues (2001-03 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). His uncle Ryne also managed in the Midwest League, helming the Peoria Chiefs in 2007 and 2008. Ryne Sandberg currently is the third-base coach and infield instructor for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Kyle Snyder joins the Hot Rods as their new pitching coach. As Hudson Valley’s pitching coach last year, he guided a pitching staff with a 2.91 ERA, third-lowest in the New York-Penn League. He pitched five seasons in the major leagues, with the Kansas City Royals and the Boston Red Sox.
Manny Castillo returns to the Hot Rods coaching staff for his fourth season in Bowling Green and his 16th year in the Rays organization. He hit .242 in 236 big-league games, mostly with the Seattle Mariners. As a player he spent the 1975 season in the Midwest League, batting .325 with 1 HR and 34 RBI in 68 games with the Wausau Mets.
Justin Upton traded to Braves
The Arizona Diamondbacks traded outfielder Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for third baseman Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado and three prospects, pitcher Zeke Spruill, shortstop Nick Ahmed and first baseman Brandon Drury.
Upton began his professional baseball career with the 2006 South Bend Silver Hawks, hitting .263 with 12 HR, 66 RBI and 15 SB in 113 games. None of the other players involved in the trade played in the Midwest League.
News from Whitecaps winter banquet
Although many Midwest League teams annually host winter banquets, it isn’t every year that one makes news in the mainstream media. Last night’s West Michigan Whitecaps Winter Baseball Banquet did because Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski was there talking about rookie Bruce Rondon as the big-league team’s probable closer. You can read what he said in this Detroit News article.
Rondon spent the 2011 season with the Whitecaps, for whom he posted a 2.02 ERA and notched 61 strikeouts while earning 19 saves in 41 games/40 innings pitched. He advanced all the way to Triple-A last season.
Billy Hamilton to play CF in Triple-A
Top Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, who broke the single-season record for stolen bases last year, will begin the 2013 season in Triple-A and play center field instead of shortstop as he had previously in his career. I’m sure this news pleases the Louisville Bats, as Hamilton’s well-documented speed and adeptness for swiping bags surely will be a draw for them. I’m already thinking about planning a trip that involves games in Bowling Green and Louisville. (If you find yourself doing the same, I highly recommend visiting the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory as I did in 2011.)
Hamilton stole 103 bases and batted .278 in 135 games with the 2011 Dayton Dragons.
T-Rats championship-related giveaways
Check out the 3-inch replica 2012 championship ring the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are offering to ticket package holders:
Pretty cool. But is it as cool as the bobblehead the T-Rats are giving away at their home opener?
I’m a big fan of bobbleheads (especially free ones), but this one is extra cool because it’s Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson holding the 2012 Midwest League Championship trophy.
This will be Erickson’s third year as manager of the Timber Rattlers. Wisconsin’s home opener is on Monday, April 8.
Incidentally, Erickson played with the 1998 Kane County Cougars as a farmhand for the Florida Marlins. He hit .324 with 4 HR, 64 RBI and 17 SB in 124 games.
Also, you can see some recent photos of the ongoing renovations being done at Wisconsin’s Fox Cities Stadium here.