Midwest League players to watch: Lugnuts and Dragons

This fourth installment of my series previewing the 2014 Midwest League season focuses on the Lansing Lugnuts and the Dayton Dragons. You can find my first three preview posts here, here and here.

There are a variety of reasons why people go to minor-league baseball games. If watching prospects is the reason why you go, the Lansing Lugnuts are a must-see team this year. Ten of Baseball America‘s top 30 Toronto Blue Jays prospects are on the Lugnuts roster to start the season: OF D.J. Davis (No. 3), 3B Mitch Nay (No. 4), RHP Roberto Osuna (No. 7), RHP Alberto Tirado (No. 8), SS Dawel Lugo (No. 9), RHP Chase De Jong (No. 11), LHP Jairo Labourt (No. 12), RHP Tom Robson (No. 16), C Santiago Nessy (No. 23) and 1B Matt Dean (No. 25).

In recent years, the Lugnuts seem to always have at least a few notable pitching prospects on their staff at any time. That’s a testament to the ability of Blue Jays scouts to identify and convince the front office to get such talent on a regular basis. Well, this year is no different with this starting rotation: Tirado and Labourt piggybacking, De Jong and RHP Adonys Cardona piggybacking, Robson and RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski. (Osuna will start the season on the disabled list.)

This season, the Lugnuts have plenty of hitting prospects, too.

The Baseball America Prospect Handbook says speedy Davis is very much a work in progress, but has lots of potential: “Davis has the highest ceiling of any position player in the system, offering impact potential at a premium position.”

Baseball America projects that Nay could be an above-average, middle-of-the-order hitter with power and on-base ability. He also has a good arm with only adequate range at third base.

Mitch Nay takes a swing last July as a member of the Bluefield Blue Jays. (Photo by Jay Blue/Jays Journal)

Mitch Nay takes a swing last July as a member of the Bluefield Blue Jays. (Photo by Jay Blue/Jays Journal)

Baseball America heaped praise on Lansing’s new shortstop. “An above-average athlete, Lugo is a natural, pure hitter with supreme hand-eye coordination, feel for the barrel and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. He had the third-lowest strikeout rate of any Appalachian League teenager (13.9) in 2013, which leads scouts to project him to be an above-average hitter. Lugo has surprising power that could enable him to hit more than 20 home runs annually.”

Dean had a poor showing in rookie ball in 2012, but rebounded nicely by leading the Appalachian League in batting in 2013. He hit .338 with 6 HR and 35 RBI in 63 games with the Bluefield Blue Jays last year.

Lansing’s second baseman has a name that 1980s baseball fans should recognize: Dickie Thon. Yes, he’s the son of the Dickie Thon who played in the major leagues from 1979 to 1993. The elder Thon also played in the Midwest League, hitting .276 with 1 HR, 32 RBI and 19 SB in 69 games with the 1976 Quad City Angels. His teammates include Carney Lansford (.287, 14 HR, 86 RBI, 26 SB in 121 games) and current Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon (.294, 22 RBI in 50 games).

The Dayton Dragons have seven players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 prospects in the Reds organization, including Cincinnati’s last two first-round draft picks. The Reds’ 2012 No. 1 draft pick, RHP Nick Travieso, is ranked No. 8, and the team’s 2013 No. 1 draft pick, OF Phillip Ervin, is ranked No. 3.

Both No. 1 draft picks played in Dayton last year. Travieso pitched for the Dragons all season, going 7-4 with a 4.63 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 82 IP. Ervin played 12 games with the Dragons, batting .349; he also played 34 games in the rookie Pioneer League, batting .326 with 8 HR, 29 RBI and 17 walks.

The other five Dragons players ranked by Baseball America are LHP Ismael Guillon (No. 12), LHP Amir Garrett (No. 18), RHP Sal Romano (No. 25), OF Sebastian Elizalde (No. 26) and 3B Tanner Rahier (No. 27). Four of those players — Elizalde is the exception — played at least part of the 2013 season with the Dragons. Guillon led the Midwest League with 134 strikeouts.

Altogether there are 15 Dragons players returning from last year’s team. A notable one not mentioned already is OF Beau Amaral, who stole 40 bases in addition to posting a .258 batting average with 3 HR and 38 RBI in 125 games.

Beau Amaral batting for the Dragons during a game at Quad Cities last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Beau Amaral batting for the Dragons during a game at Quad Cities last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

 

Posted in Appalachian League, Bluefield Blue Jays, Dayton Dragons, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Pioneer League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Archer agrees to 6-year, $25.5M deal with Rays

We interrupt the 2014 Midwest League season preview series to bring you some MWL alumni news …

Tampa Bay Rays RHP Chris Archer agreed to a six-year, $25.5 million deal that includes two club options upping the maximum value of the contract to $43.75 million if the Rays exercise both of them.

Archer went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 128.2 IP for the Rays last year. He joined the big-league club on June 1 after starting the season in Triple-A. He finished third in voting for the American League Rookie of the Year award.

Archer went 6-4 with a 2.81 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 109 IP for the 2009 Peoria Chiefs. He pitched for Lake County the previous year, when the Captains were still part of the South Atlantic League. (The Captains joined the Midwest League in 2010, along with the Bowling Green Hot Rods.) Archer went 4-8 with a 4.29 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 115.1 IP for the 2008 Captains.

Chris Archer delivers a pitch for the 2009 Peoria Chiefs. (Photo courtesy of the Peoria Chiefs)

Chris Archer delivers a pitch for the 2009 Peoria Chiefs. (Photo courtesy of the Peoria Chiefs)

Padres prospects picked to steal — a lot

Today MLBPipeline.com prospect gurus Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis debated which player will lead the minor leagues in stolen bases. Both chose San Diego Padres prospects.

Mayo picked former Fort Wayne TinCaps OF Travis Jankowski, who stole 71 bases for the Lake Elsinore Storm in the High-A California League last year. Jankowski stole 17 bases in 59 games with the TinCaps in 2012. He begins this season in Double-A.

Callis picked TinCaps OF Mallex Smith, who led the Midwest League with 64 SB last year. Smith is back with the TinCaps for the start of the 2014 season.

Mallex Smith takes a pitch during a game in Fort Wayne last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Mallex Smith takes a pitch during a game in Fort Wayne last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Ventura photos

You may have read in this recent post that I was at Miller Park last Saturday for the final spring training game for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Kansas City Royals. Former Kane County Cougars pitcher Yordano Ventura started the game for the Royals. The fastballer brought the heat but gave up three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out five batters in three innings. He was outdueled by Brewers SP Marco Estrada, who pitched five shutout innings.

Ventura is Kansas City’s No. 3 starter and will make his season debut Thursday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers.

Here are a few photos I shot of Ventura. Two of them include Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who played for the Burlington Bees in 2009.

Salvador Perez (right) and Yordano Perez share a laugh on their way from the bullpen to the dugout before Saturday's game.

Salvador Perez (right) and Yordano Ventura share a laugh on their way from the bullpen to the dugout before Saturday’s game.

Yordano Ventura on the mound.

Yordano Ventura on the mound.

Catcher Salvador Perez talks to pitcher Yordano Ventura during the second inning of Saturday's game.

Catcher Salvador Perez talks to pitcher Yordano Ventura during the second inning of Saturday’s game.

Ventura went 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 84.1 IP for the 2011 Cougars. Perez batted .189 in 36 games with the Bees.

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

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

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, California League, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lake Elsinore Storm, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, South Atlantic League | Leave a comment

Midwest League players to watch: Chiefs, Silver Hawks and Loons

This third installment of my series previewing the 2014 Midwest League season focuses on the Peoria Chiefs, the South Bend Silver Hawks and the Great Lakes Loons. You can find the previous two installments here and here.

The Peoria Chiefs roster includes six players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals organization: RHP Alexander Reyes (No. 7), catcher Carson Kelly (No. 11), OF Kenneth Peoples-Walls (No. 18), INF Juan Herrera (No. 20), OF C.J. McElroy (No. 24) and catcher Steve Bean (No. 28).

Two of this year's Peoria Chiefs, Streve Bean (left) and Alexander Reyes, when they played with the Johnson City Cardinals last year. (Photo by Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)

Two of this year’s Peoria Chiefs, Steve Bean (left) and Alexander Reyes, when they played with the Johnson City Cardinals last year. (Photo by Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)

The Baseball America Prospect Handbook says Reyes is “the raw clay that the Cardinals covet. He has two plus pitches and a third in development, scouts say. He starts with a fastball at 92-95 mph that will consistently hit 97 … [and] has a hard curveball with two-plane break and precocious feel for a changeup, but he’s only now learning to ‘pitch soft,’ as one scout said.” He struck out 27 percent of the batters he faced in the Appalachian League last year.

Kelly started last season with the Chiefs, but was bumped down to short-season ball after batting only .219 in 43 games. He fared better in the New York-Penn League, where he batted .277 in 70 games. He played third base the past two seasons, but now is transitioning to catcher.

Herrera and McElroy also played with the Chiefs last season. Herrera batted .271 in 23 games. McElroy, son of former big-league pitcher Chuck McElroy and nephew of Milwaukee Brewers All-Star Cecil Cooper, batted .240 and drove in 23 runs in 58 games. (Incidentally, Cooper also played in the Midwest League. He batted .336 with 3 HR, 39 RBI and 28 SB in 114 games with the 1970 Danville Warriors.)

The South Bend Silver Hawks roster includes 10 players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 prospects in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization: RHP Braden Shipley (No. 2), RHP Aaron Blair (No. 5), C/OF Stryker Trahan (No. 8), INF Daniel Palka (No. 17), catcher Michael Perez (No. 20), LHP Daniel Gibson (No. 21), RHP Geordy Parra (No. 22), and infielders Joe Munoz (No. 26), Jamie Westbrook (No. 27) and Andrew Velazquez (No. 28). Two of those players, Shipley and Parra, will start the season on the disabled list.

All four pitchers on that list (Shipley, Blair, Gibson and Parra) each pitched a few games for the Silver Hawks during the tail end of the season. Two of the position players, Perez and Velazquez, spent a significant chunk of the 2013 season with the Silver Hawks.

Perez batted .247 with 2 HR and 14 RBI in 46 games with the Silver Hawks. Baseball America calls him the best defensive catcher in the Diamondbacks’ farm system, noting that “he threw out 43 percent of base-stealers thanks to an above-average arm and good footwork behind the plate.”

Velazquez batted .260 and drove in 16 runs in 65 games with the Silver Hawks.

The Great Lakes Loons roster includes five players whom Baseball America ranked among the top 30 Los Angeles Dodgers prospects: OF Jacob Scavuzzo (No. 15), 1B Justin Chigbogu (No. 18), RHP Zachary Bird (No. 21), INF Jesmuel Valentin (No. 22) and RHP Victor Arano (No. 29).

Zachary Bird delivers a pitch for the Great Lakes Loons last year. (Photo by Colleen Harrison/The Saginaw News)

Zachary Bird delivers a pitch for the Great Lakes Loons last year. (Photo by Colleen Harrison/The Saginaw News)

Of those five prospects, two played with the Loons last year. Bird went 2-5 with a 5.10 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 60 IP, and Valentin batted .212 in 33 games. Both players were 18 at the start of last season.

Valentin is the son of former major-league shortstop Jose Valentin, who managed the Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2012-13 and is now the San Diego Padres’ first-base coach.

Two other sons of former major-leaguers also are on the Loons roster. Infielder Dillon Moyer is the son of longtime MLB pitcher Jamie Moyer, and RHP Greg Harris is the son of former MLB pitcher Greg Harris.

Posted in Appalachian League, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Johnson City Cardinals, Midwest League, New York-Penn League, Peoria Chiefs, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Midwest League players to watch: Timber Rattlers, Cougars and TinCaps

This second installment of my multi-post series previewing the 2014 Midwest League season focuses on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Kane County Cougars and the Fort Wayne TinCaps. (The first installment, which you can read here, focuses on the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Bowling Green Hot Rods and the Burlington Bees.)

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers roster includes six players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 Milwaukee Brewers prospects: catcher Clint Coulter (No. 11), RHP Taylor Williams (No. 19), RHP Barrett Astin (No. 22), OF Omar Garcia (No. 26), LHP Anthony Banda (No. 27) and OF Michael Ratterree (No. 28).

Coulter began the 2013 season with the Timber Rattlers and batted .207 with 3 HR and 13 RBI in 33 games. He suffered from nagging injuries last year and spent the rest of the season playing rookie-level ball. From the Baseball America Prospect Handbook: “Coulter still is a raw defensive player, though his strong arm and work ethic allowed him to show improvement in throwing out basestealers.”

Timber Rattlers catcher Clint Coulter at Brewers spring training earlier this month. (Photo from Rattler Radio)

Timber Rattlers catcher Clint Coulter at Brewers spring training earlier this month. (Photo from Rattler Radio)

Sometimes as fans, we root for certain players for random, only-slightly-logical reasons. Ratterree is one of those guys for me after I watched him homer off veteran RHP Jeremy Guthrie at Miller Park during Milwaukee’s final exhibition game of the spring Saturday. Here is the photo I shot of him (from the second level of the park) connecting for his home run …

Ratterree HR swing 3-29-14

… and here is his “moon shot” being celebrated on the Miller Park scoreboard afterward:

Ratterree Moon Shot on Scoreboard

Ratterree was named the Pioneer League’s MVP last season after hitting .314 with 12 HR and 58 RBI in 65 games with the short-season Helena Brewers. From the Baseball America Prospect Handbook: “With good bat speed and plate discipline, Ratterree flashed raw power to all fields, accumulating home runs and extra-base hits with frequency. His confidence at the plate was apparent as he swung aggressively without worrying about drawing walks.”

One other interesting note about the Timber Rattlers roster: Lance Roenicke, son of Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, will be a player/coach and begin the season on the disabled list. He played in 52 games with the Timber Rattlers in 2012-13, batting .246 with 3 HR, 17 RBI and 7 SB.

The Kane County Cougars roster includes four players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 Chicago Cubs prospects: RHP Paul Blackburn (No. 12), OF Jake Hannemann (No. 17), RHP Tyler Skulina (No. 19) and INF Danny Lockhart (No. 30).

Jake Hannemann batting for the Brigham Young University Cougars (BYU photo by Bella Torgerson)

Jake Hannemann batting for the Brigham Young University Cougars (BYU photo by Bella Torgerson)

Baseball America says Hannemann is the fastest baserunner and best athlete in the Cubs’ farm system. Skulina started four games for the Cougars last season. Lockhart’s father, Keith, is a former major-leaguer who played for the Cedar Rapids Reds in 1986 and 1987.

Another former major-leaguer’s son has the most name recognition on the Cougars. Shawon Dunston, Jr., is the son of longtime Chicago Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston, who also is a notable ex-Midwest Leaguer. The elder Dunston batted .310 with 4 HR, 62 RBI and 58 SB in 117 games with the 1983 Quad City Cubs.

The Fort Wayne TinCaps have four players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 prospects in the San Diego Padres organization: INF Franchy Cordero (No. 12), RHP Walker Weickel (No. 19), INF Dustin Peterson (No. 22) and OF Jose Urena (No. 29).

Weickel is among 11 players who are returning from Fort Wayne’s 2013 team. He went 3-6 with a 5.04 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 111 IP last year.

Walker Weickel pitching for the TinCaps in Lansing last June. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Walker Weickel pitching for the TinCaps in Lansing last June. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Returnees from the 2013 squad also include OF Mallex Smith, who led the Midwest League with 64 stolen bases; catcher Dane Phillips, who was a Midwest League All-Star; and 1B Luis Tejada, who batted .227 in 112 games last year.

Peterson is the brother of Seattle Mariners prospect D.J. Peterson, who played for the Clinton LumberKings last year.

 

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Helena Brewers, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Pioneer League, Quad Cities River Bandits, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Midwest League players to watch: Kernels, Whitecaps, Hot Rods and Bees

The 2014 Midwest League season gets under way Thursday, which means it’s time to take a look at some of the notable players assigned to MWL rosters this week. In this first installment of my multi-post preview, I’ll write about the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Bowling Green Hot Rods, and the Burlington Bees.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels began the 2013 season with Byron Buxton, who quickly played himself into the top spot on many prospect lists. They start the 2014 season with RHP Kohl Stewart, one of the most notable prospects to be assigned to the Midwest League this year. The Minnesota Twins drafted Stewart fourth overall in last year’s draft; Baseball America projects the 19-year-old’s best-case scenario as a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the majors, with the chance to have four above-average pitches (fastball, power slider, curveball, change-up).

Two other Kernels pitchers are ranked among Baseball America‘s top 30 Twins prospects — RHP Felix Jorge at No. 17 and LHP Randy Rosario at No. 26 —  which means Cedar Rapids may have a starting rotation to watch this year.

The West Michigan Whitecaps are getting a lot of attention this offseason because of the fire that caused extensive damage to their ballpark, but soon they should be getting attention for their roster, too. Five members of the team are ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 prospects in the Detroit Tigers organization: RHP Jonathon Crawford (No. 5), LHP Kevin Ziomek (No. 10), INF Javier Betancourt (No. 14), RHP Jeff Thompson (No. 24) and RHP Zac Reininger (No. 25).

RHP Jeff Thompson went 2-2 with a 3.80 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 45 IP for the Whitecaps in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the Whitecaps)

RHP Jeff Thompson went 2-2 with a 3.80 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 45 IP for the Whitecaps in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the Whitecaps)

Three Whitecaps outfielders also are players to keep an eye on: Raph Rhymes, who was the NCAA batting champion in 2012; the fleet-footed Austin Schotts, who plays center field; and Ben Verlander, younger brother of Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

The Whitecaps aren’t the only Midwest League team featuring a major-leaguer’s younger brother. The Bowling Green Hot Rods have two of their own: RHP Aaron Griffin (younger brother of Oakland A’s RHP A.J. Griffin, who pitched for the 2011 Burlington Bees) and INF Kean Wong (younger brother of St. Louis Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong, who played for the 2011 Quad Cities River Bandits). Griffin posted a 2.02 ERA in 75.2 IP and Wong batted .328 in 46 games last year.

LHP Blake Snell returns to the Hot Rods after going 4-9 with a 4.27 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 99 IP for Bowling Green in 2013. Snell struggles with control at times, but also continues to show enough promise that Baseball America has him ranked 14th among Tampa Bay Rays prospects while projecting him to be “a solid No. 3 starter if he refines all of his pitches.”

Blake Snell delivers a pitch for the Hot Rods last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Blake Snell delivers a pitch for the Hot Rods last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Catcher Oscar Hernandez also returns to the Hot Rods after spending the last few days of the 2013 season with Bowling Green.

The Burlington Bees have three pitchers who rank among Baseball America’s top 30 Los Angeles Angels prospects: RHP Victor Alcantara (No. 15), RHP Mike Clevinger (No. 17) and RHP Joe Krehbiel (No. 23). Krehbiel went 6-5 with a 2.74 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 66 IP for the Bees last year.

Another Bees player worth watching is OF Mike Fish (No. 18), who hit a home run every 18 at-bats in rookie ball last year. (Stat courtesy of Baseball America)

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

‘Auger Dogger’ wins Whitecaps food contest

The Auger Dogger, a deep-fried hot dog on a stick wrapped in potato chips, is being added to the food menu at Fifth Third Ballpark this year. (Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps)

The Auger Dogger is being added to the food menu at Fifth Third Ballpark this year. (Photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps)

The Auger Dogger — a deep-fried hot dog on a stick, wrapped in spiral potato chips — is the winner of the West Michigan Whitecaps’ 5th annual food contest.

The food item is being added to the Fifth Third Ballpark menu after garnering 36 percent of votes in an online contest. It will be available at the Sweet Meats Smokehouse concession stand along the third base line (the same place where fans can get the famous Fifth Third Burger).

Several other notable food items and five new beers are also being added to the menu, the Whitecaps announced.

The 2014 Fifth Third Ballpark menu will include several other new food items:

  1. Pretzilla Bacon Cheeseburger (a pretzel bun with a one-third pound hamburger patty, bacon and cheese), served at the first-base and third-base large concessions stands.
  2. Coaches’ Sandwich – In honor of the three Whitecaps coaches, who hail from Australia (Andrew Graham), Texas (Mike Henneman) and Cuba (Nelson Santovenia), this sandwich includes two slices of ham, Hormel barbeque pulled pork, pickle shreddies, Swiss cheese and shrimp served on a sub bun. It will be available at the Gyro Cart behind home plate.
  3. Tony Gates Venison Burger – Named after the 97 WLAV local radio personality who is passionate about the outdoors and is an avid hunter, this venison burger on a bun and will be served at the Steak Cart behind home plate.
  4. Ice Box Brand Ice Cream Bars – Hand-made in West Michigan, these premium bars come in two flavors: Belly Full of Hoppiness (buttery pretzel crust topped with ice cream made with locally brewed Oatmeal Stout, dipped in semi-sweet chocolate and topped with dry-roasted peanuts) and Caramel Cashewlicious (gooey bed of pretzels and caramel hidden under locally-made vanilla ice cream, blanketed in milk chocolate, topped with cashews). They will be served at the large concession stands and the ice cream carts on the concourse.
  5. Strawberry Chills – Served at the large concessions stands and the ice cream carts.

Five new beers will join the beverage lineup, including Founders All Day IPA and Founders Centennial (both located at the concourse beer portable stands), Blue Moon and Killian’s (located in the main concessions stands) and Angry Orchard (cans only; located in the suites, home plate portable stand and at the grill areas). Once again this season, a beer station containing Michigan craft brews will be located on the third-base concourse.

There also is now a second food challenge, in addition to the Fifth Third Burger challenge.

A second food challenge awaits those who dare to tackle 10 of Fifth Third Ballpark’s unique and popular food items, including the Auger Dogger, Baco, Tony Gates Venison Burger, Fifth Third Burger, Coaches’ Sandwich, Pretzilla Burger, Foot-Long Corn Dog, Stehouwer Steak Sandwich, Deep Fried Mac’n Cheese and Megaphone Ice Cream (not all required during the same game). The Food Decathlon finishers will earn a T-shirt featuring a gold medal and the proclamation of Food Decathlon Champion. To participate in this season-long challenge, fans can go to the Michigan Paving Customer Service Center to get a decathlon card and present it to the cashier for a stamp when ordering each of the 10 items. Then when complete, the card can be turned back in to the Michigan Paving Customer Service Center for the Food Decathlon Champion shirt.

I’ll be interested to know how many people take on the Food Decathlon challenge this season.

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

Guide to this year’s Midwest League managers

With the Midwest League season starting soon, here is a reminder of who is managing each team, with links to my previous posts about each skipper:

Beloit Snappers — Rick Magnante

Bowling Green Hot Rods — Michael Johns

Burlington Bees — Bill Richardson

Cedar Rapids Kernels — Jake Mauer, who managed the Kernels in 2013 and played for the Quad City River Bandits in 2002

Clinton LumberKings — Scott Steinmann, who managed the LumberKings in 2009 and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2005, and played for the Timber Rattlers in 1997

Dayton Dragons — Jose Nieves, who managed the Dragons in 2013 and played for the Rockford Cubbies in 1996

Fort Wayne TinCaps — Michael Collins, who played for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2004 and 2005

Great Lakes Loons — Bill Haselman

Kane County Cougars — Mark Johnson, who managed the Cougars in 2013 and played for the South Bend Silver Hawks in 1996

Lake County Captains — Mark Budzinski

Lansing Lugnuts — John Tamargo, Jr., who managed the Lugnuts in 2012 and 2013

Peoria Chiefs — Joe Kruzel

Quad Cities River Bandits — Omar Lopez, who managed the River Bandits in 2013 and played for the South Bend Silver Hawks in 1998

South Bend Silver Hawks — Mark Haley, who has managed the Silver Hawks since 2005

West Michigan Whitecaps — Andrew Graham, who played for the Whitecaps in 2004 and 2005

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers — Matt Erickson, who managed the Timber Rattlers in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and played for the Kane County Cougars in 1998

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment