Former Bees infielder traded to Tigers

Kody Eaves

New Detroit Tigers farmhand Kody Eaves was a Midwest League All-Star when he played for the Burlington Bees in 2014. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Former Burlington Bees second baseman Kody Eaves was traded to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. In return, the Los Angeles Angels received third baseman Jefry Marte, whom Detroit designated for assignment after inking outfielder Justin Upton to a six-year deal.

Eaves was a Midwest League All-Star in 2014, when he batted .268 with 10 HR, 45 RBI and 25 SB in 130 games with the Burlington Bees. He spent the 2015 season in the California League (High-A), where he batted .248 with 11 HR, 71 RBI and 21 SB in 134 games with the Inland Empire 66ers.

Tigers general manager Al Avila told reporters Eaves will start the 2016 season in Double-A.

Marte did not play in the Midwest League. To make room for him on their 40-man roster, the Angels designated former Dayton Dragons infielder Ronald Torreyes for assignment. The Angels selected Torreyes off waivers from the New York Yankees two days earlier.

Torreyes batted .347 with 3 HR, 43 RBI and 12 SB in 73 games with the 2010-11 Dragons. Since playing with the Midwest League affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, he has belonged to six different MLB teams — the Chicago Cubs, the Houston Astros, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees, and the Angels. He played in eight major-league games for the Dodgers last year.

Angels trade Navarro to Orioles

On Tuesday the Angels traded 1B/OF Efren Navarro to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations.

Navarro batted .269 with 2 HR and 45 RBI in 94 games with the 2008 Cedar Rapids Kernels. He split the 2015 season between Triple-A and the major-league level.

Brewers sign lefty Capuano

The Milwaukee Brewers signed lefthander Chris Capuano to a minor-league deal Monday. He previously pitched for the Brewers from 2004 to 2010, and most recently pitched for the Yankees, in 2014 and 2015.

As an Arizona Diamondbacks farmhand, Capuano pitched for the South Bend Silver Hawks in 2000. He went 10-4 with a 2.21 ERA, 105 strikeouts and 45 walks in 101.2 innings (18 starts).

Posted in 2014 All-Star Game, Burlington Bees, California League, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Inland Empire 66ers, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Padres DFA former Midwest League MVP Liriano

Rymer Liriano heads back to the Padres dugout after striking out in his first MLB at-bat. (Photo by K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Rymer Liriano heads back to the Padres dugout after striking out in his first MLB at-bat. (Photo by K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune)

The San Diego Padres designated prospect Rymer Liriano for assignment Friday to make room on their 40-man roster for former Chicago White Sox infielder Alexei Ramirez, who signed a one-year contract with the Friars.

Liriano played 166 games with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, split between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. After batting only .191 in 50 games with the 2010 team, he had a breakout season in 2011, batting .319 with 12 HR, 62 RBI and 65 SB for the TinCaps. That earned him the 2011 Midwest League MVP and Prospect of the Year awards.

After missing the entire 2013 season as he recovered from reconstructive elbow surgery, Liriano made his major-league debut for the Padres in 2014. He batted only .220 in 38 big-league games, prompting the outfielder’s return to Triple-A El Paso for the 2015 season. He batted .292 with 14 HR, 64 RBI and 18 SB in 131 games with the Chihuahuas.

Rymer Liriano swings at a pitch while playing for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2011. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Rymer Liriano swings at a pitch while playing for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2011. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in El Paso Chihuahuas, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Midwest League, Pacific Coast League | Leave a comment

Ex-Midwest League pitcher suspended 50 games

Jared Burton, a righty who pitched for the Kane County Cougars and the Dayton Dragons, was given a 50-game suspension Friday after testing positive a second time for a drug of abuse.

The veteran reliever is a free agent after the Texas Rangers released him in June. He pitched in the big leagues for the Cincinnati Reds from 2007 to 2009 (and briefly in 2010 and 2011) and for the Minnesota Twins from 2012 to 2014.

He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2002 and pitched for the Cougars in 2003. He went 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA, one save, 33 strikeouts and seven walks in 31.2 IP (15 games/two starts) for Kane County.

He also pitched an inning for the Dragons during a rehab stint in 2009. He struck out three batters and was awarded the win.

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Upton agrees to six-year deal with Tigers

Justin Upton bats for the South Bend Silver Hawks in April 2006. (Photo by Santiago Flores/South Bend Tribune)

New Detroit Tigers outfielder Justin Upton bats for the South Bend Silver Hawks in April 2006. (Photo by Santiago Flores/South Bend Tribune)

Former South Bend Silver Hawks outfielder Justin Upton reportedly agreed to a six-year, $132.75 million deal with the Detroit Tigers on Monday night. The 28-year-old All-Star’s contract reportedly will include an opt-out clause after the second year.

The Tigers are expected to hold a press conference announcing the signing later this week after Upton takes a physical.

Upton was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005, selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks. His professional playing career began the next year in the Midwest League, where he batted .263 with 12 HR, 66 RBI and 15 SB in 113 games with the Silver Hawks. He made his major-league debut with the Diamondbacks in August 2007; in addition to Arizona, he also has played with the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres during his nine-year MLB career.

Upton is projected to bat second for the Tigers, between fellow former Midwest Leaguers Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera. Kinsler batted .402 with 30 doubles, 11 HR and 52 RBI in 60 games with the 2004 Clinton LumberKings. Cabrera batted .268 with 7 HR and 66 RBI in 110 games with the 2001 Kane County Cougars.

Posted in Clinton LumberKings, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

ICYMI: More MWL coaching assignments announced last week

Six Midwest League teams announced their coaching assignments for 2016 last week. You can find my posts about them by clicking on the team names below.

Burlington Bees

Fort Wayne TinCaps

Great Lakes Loons

Lake County Captains

Peoria Chiefs

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Subscribe for free alerts so you never miss another Midwest League Traveler post! Just click the “follow” button near the top of the column on the right side of this page.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Gordon signs five-year contract extension with Marlins

Former MLB reliever Tom "Flash" Gordon (left) and son Dee Gordon pose during Dee's press conference Monday. (Photo courtesy of the Miami Marlins)

Miami Marlins infielder Dee Gordon (right) poses with his dad, former MLB reliever Tom “Flash” Gordon, during Dee’s press conference Monday. (Photo courtesy of the Miami Marlins)

Former Great Lakes Loons infielder Dee Gordon signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension with the Miami Marlins on Monday. The deal, which runs through the 2020 season, includes a $14 million vesting option for a sixth year (2021).

Gordon led the National League in batting average (.333), hits (205) and stolen bases (58) last season. He became the first player since Jackie Robinson in 1949 to lead the NL in both batting average and stolen bases. He also led all NL second basemen in fielding percentage (.992).

Last year was Gordon’s first with the Marlins after playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2011 to 2014. In his last season with the Dodgers, he led the league with 12 triples and 64 stolen bases.

Gordon was the Midwest League Prospect of the Year and co-MVP (sharing the honor with teammate Kyle Russell) in 2009, when he batted .301 with 3 HR, 35 RBI and 73 SB in 131 games with the Loons.

Dee Gordon turns a double play for the Great Lakes Loons during the 2009 season. (Photo by Octavian Cantilli/Bay City Times)

Dee Gordon turns a double play for the Great Lakes Loons during the 2009 season. (Photo by Octavian Cantilli/Bay City Times)

He was born in 1988, the year his father, former MLB reliever Tom “Flash” Gordon, pitched in the Midwest League. Flash is also a former MWL Prospect of the Year, earning the honor by posting a 2.06 ERA and 172 strikeouts in 118 IP for the Appleton Foxes.

Tom Gordon's 1988 Midwest League All-Star card

Tom Gordon’s 1988 Midwest League All-Star card

Dee is the older half-brother of Minnesota Twins prospect Nick Gordon, who batted .277 with 1 HR, 58 RBI and 25 SB in 120 games with the 2015 Cedar Rapids Kernels. Nick didn’t win the Prospect of the Year award, but he did something else that neither his dad nor his brother experienced in the Midwest League — his team reached the MWL Championship Series.

Nick Gordon was the starting shortstop for the Cedar Rapids Kernels last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Nick Gordon was the starting shortstop for the Cedar Rapids Kernels last year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in 2015 Playoffs, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Maybin, Kelly to be inducted into Whitecaps Hall of Fame

Detroit Tigers outfielder Cameron Maybin and free-agent utilityman Don Kelly will be inducted into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame during West Michigan’s winter baseball banquet Thursday.

Both players are expected to attend the event, which is sold out.

Maybin played for the Whitecaps in 2006, one year after the Tigers selected him 10th overall in the draft. He was named the Midwest League Prospect of the Year after batting .304 with 9 HR, 69 RBI and 27 SB and 101 games with the Whitecaps, who won the league title that year. The Tigers reacquired him in a trade with the Atlanta Braves last November.

Kelly batted .286 with 1 HR and 59 RBI in 128 games with the Whitecaps in 2002, and was the Eastern Division’s starting shortstop in the Midwest League All-Star Game that year. After making his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, he played for the Tigers for six seasons before signing with the Miami Marlins last year. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in July and is currently seeking a job for the 2016 season.

Whitecaps want food ideas

In what has become an annual tradition, the Whitecaps are once again asking for fan suggestions for unique food items to be added to the menu at Fifth Third Ballpark this season. This is the seventh year the Whitecaps are doing this, with past winning submissions including the Baco (a taco with shell made of bacon) and the Hot-to-Tot (a combination of tater tots, hot sauce and bleu cheese).

Suggestions can be made through Friday, Jan 29, via the team’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and email accounts. Starting Wednesday, Feb. 24, fans will be able to vote for one of the finalists, with the winning entry added to the menu for the 2016 season.

Whitecaps coaching staff set for 2016

In case you missed it in early December, you can click here to read about this year’s Whitecaps coaching staff. One of the three main coaches — a former Midwest Leaguer and brother of a former MLB player — is new this year.

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