New grass being installed at Four Winds Field this week

A new natural grass surface is being installed at South Bend’s Four Winds Field this week. The artificial turf that covered the ballpark’s playing field from 2011 to 2014 was removed a month ago.

Here is what the field looked like without any grass on it Monday:

grassless Four Winds Field

Workers began installing the new grass Tuesday morning under the supervision of Chicago White Sox head groundskeeper Roger Bossard, aka “The Sodfather.” Grass was installed in most of the infield, left field, and left-field foul territory by late Tuesday afternoon.

INF & LF green

In the photo above, the scoreboard says “Under CUBStruction” in reference to the South Bend club’s offseason change of MLB affiliates, from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Chicago Cubs. Management changed the team’s name from the South Bend Silver Hawks to the South Bend Cubs to reflect the change.

*Photos courtesy of the South Bend Cubs.

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Former Midwest Leaguers on World Series rosters

When the World Series begins tonight, 18 former Midwest League players will be on the active rosters — 13 Kansas City Royals and five San Francisco Giants. Both managers played in the Midwest League, too.

Here is a look at their MWL statistics, starting with the Royals because they have more former Midwest Leaguers.

Kansas City Royals

MGR Ned Yost batted .192 with 6 HR and 27 RBI in 79 games with the 1975 Wausau Mets.

OF Lorenzo Cain batted .192 with 3 RBI in 15 games with the 2009 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

LHP Tim Collins went 4-2 with a 1.58 ERA, 14 saves and 98 strikeouts in 68.1 IP for the 2008 Lansing Lugnuts.

RHP Wade Davis went 7-12 with a 3.02 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 146 IP for the 2006 Southwest Michigan Devil Rays.

LHP Danny Duffy went 8-4 with a 2.20 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 81.2 IP for the 2008 Burlington Bees.

OF Jarrod Dyson played 27 games with the Burlington Bees (10 in 2007, 17 in 2009), collectively batting .317 with 5 RBI and 12 SB.

RHP Jason Frasor went 7-4 with a 3.12 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 95.1 IP for the 1999-2000 West Michigan Whitecaps.

RHP Kelvin Herrera pitched in 12 games for the 2008-10 Burlington Bees, going 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 59 IP.

1B Eric Hosmer batted .254 with 5 HR and 49 RBI in 79 games with the 2009 Burlington Bees.

2B Omar Infante batted .229 with 5 RBI in 12 games with the 2000 West Michigan Whitecaps. He also went 2-for-5 during a two-game rehab stint with the 2013 Whitecaps.

3B Mike Moustakas batted .272 with 22 HR and 71 RBI in 126 games with the 2008 Burlington Bees.

C Salvador Perez batted .189 with 7 RBI in 36 games with the 2009 Burlington Bees.

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

OF Josh Willingham batted .259 with 7 HR, 36 RBI and 24 SB in 97 games with the 2001 Kane County Cougars.

Yordano Ventura throws a pitch for the Kane County Cougars in August 2011. (Photo by Donnell Collins/Sun-Times Media)

Yordano Ventura throws a pitch for the Kane County Cougars in August 2011. (Photo by Donnell Collins/Sun-Times Media)

San Francisco Giants

MGR Bruce Bochy batted .243 in 30 games with the 1976 Dubuque Packers.

LHP Jeremy Affeldt went 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA and 8 strikeouts in 17 IP for the 1998 Lansing Lugnuts.

INF Joaquin Arias batted .266 with 3 HR, 48 RBI and 12 SB in 130 games with the 2003 Battle Creek Yankees.

RHP Santiago Casilla pitched in 39 games for the 2003-04 Kane County Cougars, going 1-1 with a 1.62 ERA, 16 saves and 77 strikeouts in 72.1 IP.

LHP Javier Lopez pitched in 36 games for the 1998-99 South Bend Silver Hawks, going 6-10 with a 6.17 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 143 IP.

RHP Jake Peavy went 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 133.2 IP for the 2000 Fort Wayne Wizards.

Jake Peavy warming up in the bullpen for the 2000 Fort Wayne Wizards.

Jake Peavy warming up in the bullpen for the 2000 Fort Wayne Wizards. (Photo courtesy of the Fort Wayne TinCaps)

Posted in Burlington Bees, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Happy birthday, Juan Marichal!

Happy birthday to former San Francisco Giants RHP Juan Marichal, who turns 77 today.

Marichal is one of seven Baseball Hall of Fame players who are Midwest League alumni. He went 21-8 with a 1.87 ERA in 245 IP for the 1958 Michigan City White Caps. The Dominican Dandy was 20 years old and pitching in his debut season as a professional that year.

Only one other member of the 1958 White Caps went on to play in the major leagues. Jose Tartabull batted .264 with 4 HR in 69 games; he played for Michigan City again in 1959, when he batted .305 with 17 HR in 125 games.

Juan Marichal's plaque inside the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Juan Marichal’s plaque inside the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

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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.

Posted in Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment