No. 2 pick Bregman starts pro career with River Bandits

Quad Cities River Bandits SS Alex Bregman fields a ball during pre-game infield practice Friday. (Photo by Rich Guill)

Quad Cities River Bandits SS Alex Bregman fields a ball during pre-game infield practice Friday. (Photo by Rich Guill)

This year’s No. 2 overall draft pick, Alex Bregman, began his professional baseball career Friday with the Quad Cities River Bandits.

The Houston Astros prospect played his first series in Cedar Rapids, collecting a hit in each of three games. On Sunday he hit his first home run, a solo shot off Kernels RHP Zach Tillery. He also stole a base in Sunday’s game.

The shortstop batted .323 with 9 HR, 49 RBI and 38 SB as a junior at Louisiana State University during the recently-completed college season.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Lockwood’s two homers lead BG to 10-2 win over Dayton

Hunter Lockwood homered twice and drove in four runs in Bowling Green’s 10-2 win Sunday.

A pair of home runs by Hunter Lockwood helped lead the Bowling Green Hot Rods to a 10-2 win over the Dayton Dragons on Sunday.

The Hot Rods connected for 17 hits — one shy of their season-high — and drew three walks. Justin Williams, Lockwood, and Mac James — the heart of their order — each had three hits. The team scored four runs in the 1st and 5th innings, doing so in the latter frame on back-to-back homers by Lockwood and James.

Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Mac James bats in the bottom of the 1st inning.

Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Mac James bats in the bottom of the 1st inning.

Did you notice the dog in the photo above? It was “Bark at the Park” day at Bowling Green Ballpark, and I have a theory connecting the promotion to Lockwood’s big day at the plate. Perhaps he did well because he pet a good-luck puppy before the game.

Hunter Lockwood (right) reaches out to pet a dog held by teammate Nick Ciuffo.

Hunter Lockwood (right) reaches out to pet a dog held by teammate Nick Ciuffo.

The Hot Rods wore their special “Rays Day Sundae” jerseys. For Sunday home games, they wear jerseys designed like the powder-blue ones of their parent club, the Tampa Bay Rays. The promotion extends to fans being able to buy half-priced sundaes and get autographs after the game.

Here is a good look at the jersey on Hot Rods starting pitcher Hunter Wood:

Bowling Green Hot Rods RHP Hunter Wood

Bowling Green Hot Rods RHP Hunter Wood

Wood pitched well, allowing only two hits while striking out six and walking none in five innings. It was his first start of 2015 after making 17 relief appearances earlier in the season.

Dragons starting pitcher Junior Morillo took the loss after giving up nine runs on 10 hits and two walks. He struck out two and gave up three homers.

Dayton Dragons LHP Junior Morillo

Dayton Dragons LHP Junior Morillo

Every Bowling Green batter had at least one hit. Dayton’s Ronald Bueno extended his hitting streak to eight games.

Ronald Bueno heads to the visitors' clubhouse after the game.

Ronald Bueno heads to the visitors’ clubhouse after the game.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Dragons beat Hot Rods 6-2 in error-riddled game

Dayton Dragons 3B Gavin LaValley went 3-for-5 with a home run.

Dragons 3B Gavin LaValley went 3-for-5 with a homer.

Five Dayton Dragons had multiple hits to lead their team to a 6-2 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods in a Saturday night game that included six errors. (A seventh error was changed to a hit after the game.)

The Dragons offense was led by Gavin LaValley, whose three hits included a solo homer. Ronald Bueno, Brian O’Grady, Avain Rachal and Narciso Crook additionally had two hits each for Dayton.

Dayton Dragons LF Narciso Crook went 2-for-5 with a two-run double Saturday.

Dragons LF Narciso Crook went 2-for-5 with a two-run double.

Jonathan Reynoso went 0-for-4 with a walk, yet managed to reach base four times. In addition to the walk, he reached base on an error three times.

Dragons baserunner Jonathan Reynoso slides back safely to first. Alec Sole is manning the base for the Hot Rods.

Dragons baserunner Jonathan Reynoso slides back safely to first. Alec Sole is manning the base for the Hot Rods.

Riley Unroe was the only Hot Rods player to collect two hits, though Thomas Milone and Mac James each drew a pair of walks.

Hot Rods 2B Riley Unroe stands at second base during Saturday's game.

Hot Rods 2B Riley Unroe stands at second base during Saturday’s game.

Just as he had earlier in the series, Milone showed off his defensive skills with a great play in the outfield. LaValley, who had homered earlier in the game, crushed the ball to deep centerfield, but Milone hauled it in by making a catch while running at full tilt.

Thomas Milone patrolled centerfield for the Hot Rods on Saturday.

Hot Rods CF Thomas Milone

LHP Mike Sullivan was credited with the win after striking out four in three scoreless innings of relief. He gave up one hit and one walk.

Dragons LHP Mike Sullivan

Dragons LHP Mike Sullivan

The four-game series closes out Sunday with a matinee game that pits Hot Rods RHP Hunter Wood (0-2, 1.44 ERA) vs. Dragons LHP Junior Morillo (1-1, 4.09 ERA). It will be my last game in Bowling Green on this road trip.

Note from the Dragons game story: Garrett Boulware and Shed Long completed three-game suspensions Saturday and will be eligible to play Sunday. Both were among seven Dragons players suspended after an on-field altercation at South Bend on June 17. Avain Rachal and Jose Ortiz will begin three-game suspensions Sunday.

Dragons 1B Avain Rachal

Dragons 1B Avain Rachal

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Midwest League HR leader promoted to High-A

Tampa Bay Rays prospect Casey Gillaspie (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Tampa Bay Rays prospect Casey Gillaspie (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Midwest League home-run leader Casey Gillaspie has been promoted to the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League, the Tampa Bay Rays announced today.

Gillaspie batted .278 with 16 HR and 44 RBI in in 64 games with the Bowling Green Hot Rods this season. He went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s game, his last with the Hot Rods.

He is replaced on the roster by third baseman Carter Burgess.

Gillaspie is the third Hot Rods All-Star to be promoted since the All-Star Game was played Tuesday. RHP Brent Honeywell and utility player Jace Conrad were promoted to High-A on Thursday; they were replaced with LHP Jordan Harrison and catcher Sean Smedley.

Posted in 2015 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Florida State League, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Hot Rods win pitchers duel, end losing streak

Greg Harris struck out nine and earned the win for the Hot Rods on Friday.

Greg Harris struck out nine and earned the win for the Hot Rods on Friday.

The Bowling Green Hot Rods beat the Dayton Dragons 1-0 to end their eight-game losing streak Friday.

The game started 28 minutes late because of a rain delay, but it was a quick affair that finished one hour and 50 minutes after the first pitch was thrown. It was the shortest nine-inning game in Hot Rods history, and lasted only one minute longer than the shortest Dragons game.

The only run of the game was driven in by Alec Sole, who started at first base for the Hot Rods instead of usual starter Casey Gillaspie. He drove in catcher Mac James, who went 3-for-3.

Bowling Green Hot Rods 1B Alec Sole

Bowling Green Hot Rods first baseman Alec Sole

Greg Harris got the win, improving to 4-5 with a 2.43 ERA in 13 starts this season. He struck out nine while scattering three hits over seven innings. Neither he nor Dragons starter Wyatt Strahan walked anyone — the game’s only base on balls was issued by Hot Rods reliever Edgar Gomez, who struck out three batters in two innings and earned the save.

Strahan pitched the complete game for Dayton, striking out six batters while giving up one run on seven hits in eight innings. His record is now 5-5 with a 3.07 ERA.

Dayton Dragons starting pitcher Wyatt Strahan (left) and first baseman Avain Rachal

Dayton Dragons starting pitcher Wyatt Strahan (left) and first baseman Avain Rachal

The walk by Gomez was the only one issued by either team in the first two games of their four-game series. (Read my post about the first game here.)

Game 3 of the series is scheduled to begin at 6:05 p.m. CST, with RHP Jake Paulson (1-2, 2.88 ERA) starting for the Dragons and RHP Hyrum Formo (4-2, 4.96 ERA) taking the hill for the Hot Rods.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Sandberg resigns as Phillies manager

Ryne Sandberg resigned Friday as manager of the Phillies. Pete Mackanin, who was Philadelphia’s third-base coach, was named the team’s interim manager.

Sandberg took over as Phillies skipper in August 2013 after the team fired his predecessor, Charlie Manuel. Philadelphia went 119-159 during Sandberg’s tenure.

Sandberg, Mackanin and Manuel each were skippers in the Midwest League at the start of their managerial careers.

Sandberg managed the Peoria Chiefs in 2007 and 2008.

Mackanin managed the Chiefs in 1985 and 1986. He replaced current Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, who was Peoria’s field manager in 1984, and was succeeded by Jim Tracy, who managed the Chiefs in 1987 and 1988 before spending 11 seasons as a big-league skipper. Mackanin’s 1985 Chiefs team included future Baseball Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux.

Manuel managed the Wisconsin Rapids Twins in 1983, sixteen years after he played for the Midwest League team. I previously wrote about Manuel’s time in the MWL as both a player and a manager here.

Posted in Baseball Hall of Fame, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs | Leave a comment

Dragons hand Hot Rods their 8th loss in a row

BGvD on scoreboard

The second half of the Midwest League season got underway Thursday, and I’m kicking it off with a four-day stay in Bowling Green to see the Hot Rods host the Dayton Dragons.

This is my first trip back to the Kentucky city since 2011, the year I went to all 16 MWL ballparks and started this blog as a chronicle of my travels. The Midwest League Traveler website has grown quite a bit since its humble beginnings, and I’m happy to report that Bowling Green Ballpark also has gotten better with age. Many improvements were made over the past few years; I will write more about them in a future post, but here is a teaser photo of one of the most obvious changes.

This carousel was added to Bowling Green Ballpark about a month ago.

This carousel was added to Bowling Green Ballpark about a month ago.

Anyway, both teams picked up where they left off at the end of the first half. The Dragons won 3-2, giving them nine wins in their last 10 games. The Hot Rods lost their eighth consecutive game after going 10-2 in their previous dozen.

The winning run was a solo homer by Avain Rachal, who had three hits in the game. Bowling Green’s Riley Unroe also had three hits.

Bowling Green Hot Rods 2B Riley Unroe

Bowling Green Hot Rods second baseman Riley Unroe

Hunter Lockwood went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI for the Hot Rods.

Bowling Green Hot Rods DH Hunter Lockwood

Bowling Green Hot Rods DH Hunter Lockwood at second base

Dayton’s Brian O’Grady hit a double in the 6th inning to extend his hitting streak to 13 consecutive games. Gavin LaValley went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, but the Dragons infielder entered the game leading all of Minor League Baseball with a .431 batting average since May 27.

Gavin LaValley bats for the Dayton Dragons.

Gavin LaValley bats for the Dayton Dragons.

Dragons LHP Seth Varner got the win, improving to 7-4 this season. He gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked none. In fact, no pitcher issued a walk in the game, which lasted only two hours and 13 minutes.

Dayton Dragons LHP Seth Varner

Dayton Dragons LHP Seth Varner

Hot Rods RHP Enderson Franco got a no-decision after giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits. He struck out six batters.

Bowling Green Hot Rods RHP Enderson Franco

Bowling Green Hot Rods RHP Enderson Franco

Game 2 of the series is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. CST, with RHP Wyatt Strahan (5-4, 3.28 ERA) starting for the Dragons and RHP Greg Harris (3-5, 2.72 ERA) taking the hill for the Hot Rods.

Hot Rods transactions

Two of Bowling Green’s All-Star players were promoted to High-A before the game. RHP Brent Honeywell and utility man Jace Conrad were replaced on the roster by LHP Jordan Harrison and catcher Sean Smedley.

Jace Conrad was the Eastern Division's starting second baseman in the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Jace Conrad was the Eastern Division’s starting second baseman in the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in 2015 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League | Leave a comment