Former Cougars pitcher Beckett retires

Former Kane County Cougars pitcher Josh Beckett announced his retirement Tuesday after his 2014 team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, was eliminated from the playoffs.

Beckett is a two-time World Series champion (2003 Florida Marlins and 2007 Boston Red Sox) — he was the World Series MVP in 2003 and the American League Championship Series MVP in 2007 — and a three-time All-Star (2007, 2009, 2011). He pitched a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this year.

He finished second (behind CC Sabathia) in voting for the 2007 AL Cy Young Award after going 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA, 194 strikeouts and 40 walks in 200.2 IP (30 starts) for the Red Sox.

Beckett pitched 14 seasons in the major leagues. He started his professional playing career with the 2000 Kane County Cougars, for whom he went 2-3 with a 2.12 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 59.1 IP. He made his major-league debut a year later, starting four games for the Marlins.

Josh Beckett pitched in the Midwest League in 2000. (Photo courtesy of the Kane County Cougars)

Josh Beckett pitched in the Midwest League in 2000. (Photo courtesy of the Kane County Cougars)

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

Adams’ homer launches Cardinals to NLCS

The National League Championship Series is set after both the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants won their respective NL Division Series on Tuesday.

In the case of the Cardinals’ win, the clinch came thanks to the offensive effort of a former Midwest League player. Matt Adams, who played for the 2010 Quad Cities River Bandits, hit a three-run homer off Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw — also a Midwest League alumnus — to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead that held.

Adams batted .310 with 22 HR, 41 doubles, and 88 RBI in 121 games with the 2010 River Bandits.

Kershaw pitched for the Great Lakes Loons in their inaugural season (2007). He went 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 97.1 IP for the Loons.

Game 1 of the NLCS will be played Saturday in St. Louis. Game 1 of the American League Championship Series will be played Friday in Baltimore, with the Orioles hosting the Kansas City Royals.

Posted in Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Former Midwest Leaguers key to Cardinals’ victory

Thanks to key contributions from some former Midwest League players, the St. Louis Cardinals won 3-1 Monday to take a 2-1 lead in their National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Offensively, the Cardinals’ big blow came off the bat of Kolten Wong (2011 Quad Cities River Bandits), who hit a two-run homer that broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 7th inning. They also got a solo homer and a double from Matt Carpenter (2009 River Bandits).

Wong batted .335 with 5 HR, 25 RBI and 9 SB in 47 games with the River Bandits. Carpenter batted .295 with 10 RBI in 29 games with the River Bandits.

Pitching-wise, the Cardinals were led by starter John Lackey (2000 Cedar Rapids Kernels). He gave up only one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings, and he struck out eight. St. Louis also got scoreless innings from relievers Pat Neshek (2003 River Bandits) and Trevor Rosenthal (2011 River Bandits).

Lackey went 3-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 30.1 IP for the Kernels. Neshek went 3-2 with a 0.52 ERA, 14 saves and 53 strikeouts in 34.1 IP for the River Bandits. Rosenthal went 7-7 with a 4.11 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 120.1 IP for the River Bandits.

Trevor Rosenthal started the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game at Quad Cities' Modern Woodmen Park. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Trevor Rosenthal started the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game at Quad Cities’ Modern Woodmen Park. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

In Monday’s other NLDS game, the Washington Nationals staved off elimination by beating the San Francisco Giants 4-1. Doug Fister pitched seven scoreless innings, Bryce Harper homered, and Asdrubal Cabrera (2005 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers) drove in a run for the Nationals.

Cabrera batted .318 with 4 HR and 30 RBI in 51 games with the Timber Rattlers.

Posted in 2011 All-Star Game, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Pitchers, shortstops top BA’s MWL prospects list

Peoria Chiefs RHP Alex Reyes was ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Midwest League this season. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Peoria Chiefs RHP Alex Reyes was ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Midwest League this year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Baseball America released its list of top 20 Midwest League prospects Friday, with four of the top six being right-handed pitchers and the other two of the top six being shortstops.

If you are a subscriber to Baseball America, you can read the list (with scouting reports) here, and anyone can read BA writer/editor J.J. Cooper’s MWL prospects chat from Friday afternoon here.

Here is the top 20 list, with each player’s Midwest League statistics from this year:

1. RHP Alex Reyes (St. Louis Cardinals): 7-7, 3.62 ERA, 137 strikeouts, 61 walks in 109.1 IP for Peoria Chiefs

2. SS Trea Turner (San Diego Padres): .369 BA, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 14 SB in 46 games with Fort Wayne TinCaps

Fort Wayne TinCaps SS Trea Turner (Photo from BaseballAmerica.com)

Trea Turner bats for the Fort Wayne TinCaps earlier this year. (Photo from BaseballAmerica.com)

3. RHP Braden Shipley (Arizona Diamondbacks): 4-2, 3.74 ERA, 41 strikeouts, 11 walks in 45.2 IP for South Bend Silver Hawks

Braden Shipley pitching for the South Bend Silver Hawks in the Midwest League playoffs last year. (Photo by Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune)

Braden Shipley pitching for the South Bend Silver Hawks last year. (Photo by Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune)

4. RHP Michael Feliz (Houston Astros): 8-6, 4.03 ERA, 111 strikeouts, 37 walks in 102.2 IP for Quad Cities River Bandits

5. SS Willy Adames (Detroit Tigers/Tampa Bay Rays): .271, 8 HR, 61 RBI in 125 games (combined) with West Michigan Whitecaps and Bowling Green Hot Rods

Willy Adames started the 2014 season with the West Michigan Whitecaps. (Photo by Joel Bissell/MLive.com)

Willy Adames started the 2014 season with the West Michigan Whitecaps. (Photo by Joel Bissell/MLive.com)

6. RHP Kohl Stewart (Minnesota Twins): 3-5, 2.59 ERA, 62 strikeouts, 24 walks in 87 IP for Cedar Rapids Kernels

Minnesota Twins prospect Kohl Stewart pitching for the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Cedar Rapids Kernels RHP Kohl Stewart (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

7. C Clint Coulter (Milwaukee Brewers): .287 BA, 22 HR, 89 RBI in 126 games with Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers C/DH Clint Coulter (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers C/DH Clint Coulter (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

8. OF Brett Phillips (Houston Astros): .302 BA, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 18 SB in 103 games with Quad Cities River Bandits

Brett Phillips bats during the 2014 Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Brett Phillips bats during the 2014 Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

9. OF Clint Frazier (Cleveland Indians): .266 BA, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 12 SB in 120 games with Lake County Captains

Lake County Captains CF Clint Frazier (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Lake County Captains CF Clint Frazier (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

10. RHP Buck Farmer (Detroit Tigers): 10-5, 2.60 ERA, 116 strikeouts, 24 walks in 103.2 IP for West Michigan Whitecaps

Buck Farmer pitched in this year's Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Buck Farmer pitched in this year’s Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

11. LHP Amir Garrett (Cincinnati Reds): 7-8, 3.64 ERA, 127 strikeouts, 51 walks in 133.1 IP for Dayton Dragons

Dayton Dragons LHP Amir Garrett (Photo by Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

Dayton Dragons LHP Amir Garrett (Photo by Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

12. 2B Jesmuel Valentin (Los Angeles Dodgers): .280 BA, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 24 SB in 108 games with Great Lakes Loons

13. C Carson Kelly (St. Louis Cardinals): .248 BA, 6 HR, 49 RBI in 98 games with Peoria Chiefs

14. RHP Austin Kubitza (Detroit Tigers): 10-2, 2.34 ERA, 140 strikeouts, 43 walks in 131 IP for West Michigan Whitecaps

15. RHP Zach Bird (Los Angeles Dodgers): 6-17, 4.25 ERA, 110 strikeouts, 55 walks in 118.2 IP for Great Lakes Loons

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

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

16. SS Andrew Velazquez (Arizona Diamondbacks): .290 BA, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 50 SB in 134 games with South Bend Silver Hawks

South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez (Photo by Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune)

South Bend Silver Hawks SS Andrew Velazquez (Photo by Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune)

17. C Kyle Farmer (Los Angeles Dodgers): .310 BA, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 9 SB in 57 games with Great Lakes Loons

18. RHP Duane Underwood (Chicago Cubs): 6-4, 2.50 ERA, 84 strikeouts, 36 walks in 100.2 IP for Kane County Cougars

Kane County Cougars RHP Duane Underwood (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Kane County Cougars RHP Duane Underwood (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

19. RHP Mitch Brown (Cleveland Indians): 8-8, 3.31 ERA, 127 strikeouts, 55 walks in 138.2 IP for Lake County Captains

Lake County Captains RHP Mitch Brown (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Lake County Captains RHP Mitch Brown (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

20. 1B Jake Bauers (San Diego Padres): .296 BA, 8 HR, 64 RBI in 112 games with Fort Wayne TinCaps

Posted in 2014 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Ex-MWLers homer to lead O’s, Royals to ALCS

Orioles DH Nelson Cruz (right) is congratulated by teammate Adam Jones after hitting a two-run homer in Game 3 of the ALDS. during the sixth inning in game three of the 2014 ALDS. Both are former Midwest League players. (Photo by Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)

Orioles DH Nelson Cruz (right) is congratulated by teammate Adam Jones after hitting a two-run homer in Game 3 of the ALDS. Both are former Midwest League players. (Photo by Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)

The two underdog teams in the American League playoffs advanced to the championship round Sunday thanks in part to key homers by a trio of former Midwest League players.

The Baltimore Orioles completed their sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 2-1 win in Game 3 of their American League Division Series. Orioles DH Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer; he hit 20 home runs for the 2003 Kane County Cougars. (See a photo of Cruz as a Cougar in this post.)

Cruz’s home run was his 16th in the postseason, tying him with Carlos Beltran for 9th place all-time. Cruz was tied with Babe Ruth, who played when MLB’s only postseason games were part of the World Series.

Beltran played 11 games with the 1996 Lansing Lugnuts. He didn’t homer or drive in a run in his 43 plate appearances. Adam Jones, who is congratulating Cruz in the photo at the top of this post, batted .267 with 11 HR and 72 RBI in 130 games with the 2004 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

In Kansas City, the Royals finished their sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 8-3 win in Game 3 of their ALDS. It was the first time in four games this postseason that the Royals didn’t need extra innings to win.

Former Burlington Bees players Eric Hosmer (2009) and Mike Moustakas (2008) each homered for the Royals. As Bees, Hosmer hit 5 HR in 79 games and Moustakas hit 22 HR in 126 games.

Royals CF Lorenzo Cain made a pair of great diving catches in the 5th inning. He had a perfect fielding percentage in the 15 games he played with the 2009 Timber Rattlers.

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols homered for the Angels. Trout hit 6 HR in 81 games with the 2010 Cedar Rapids Kernels. Pujols hit 17 HR in 109 games with the 2000 Peoria Chiefs.

The Angels had the best record in Major League Baseball during the regular season (98-64). Including the postseason, they had a 98-67 record (.594 winning percentage). Including the Midwest League playoffs, Kane County had a 98-49 record (.666 winning percentage) and won the MWL title.

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Hosmer, Carpenter, Peavy come up big in playoffs Friday

There was a full slate of MLB postseason games Friday, and some former Midwest Leaguers played significant roles in their outcomes.

In Anaheim, the Kansas City Royals won 4-1 in 11 innings to take a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Angels in their American League Division Series. The winning hit was a two-run homer by Eric Hosmer (2009 Burlington Bees), who is 6-for-11 in the postseason.

In Los Angeles, the St. Louis Cardinals scored eight runs in the 7th inning and stopped a late rally by the Dodgers in time to win the first game of their National League Division Series 10-9. Ace pitchers Clayton Kershaw (2007 Great Lakes Loons) and Adam Wainwright uncharacteristically gave up eight and six earned runs, respectively. Matt Carpenter (2009 Quad Cities River Bandits) went 4-f0r-5 with a solo homer and a 3-RBI double (both off Kershaw).

In Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Giants beat the Nationals 3-2 to win the opening game of their NLDS. Jake Peavy (2000 Fort Wayne Wizards) outdueled Stephen Strasburg to earn his first-ever postseason win.

In Baltimore, the Orioles scored four runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to beat the Detroit Tigers 7-6 and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five ALDS. Miguel Cabrera (2001 Kane County Cougars) went 3-for-4 and Nick Castellanos (2011 West Michigan Whitecaps) hit a solo homer.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Former Bee Moustakas is latest hero for Royals

Royals 3B Mike Moustakas watches his solo home run in the 11th inning Thursday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Royals 3B Mike Moustakas watches his solo home run in the 11th inning Thursday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Thursday night saw another extra-inning playoff victory for Kansas City, with another former Burlington Bees player getting the game-winning hit for the Royals.

On Tuesday it was catcher Salvador Perez who drove in the game-winning run for the Royals — he played 36 games with the 2009 Bees, as I noted in my last post. On Thursday it was third baseman Mike Moustakas with an 11th-inning solo homer to beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2.

Moustakas played the entire 2008 season with the Bees, batting .272 with 22 HR and 71 RBI in 126 games. That team, which included LHP Danny Duffy (8-4, 2.20 ERA, 102 strikeouts in 81.2 IP/17 starts), won the Midwest League championship.

Two Royals outfielders — CF Lorenzo Cain and RF Nori Aoki — each made two defensive gems. Cain played 15 games with the 2009 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, batting .192 (10-for-52) with nine walks and three RBI.

In Baltimore, the Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers 12-3 to take Game 1 of their American League Division Series. Orioles DH Nelson Cruz went 2-for-4 with a HR and 3 RBI.

Cruz played the entire 2003 season with the Kane County Cougars, batting .238 with 20 HR and 85 RBI in 119 games.

Nelson Cruz playing with the 2003 Kane County Cougars

Nelson Cruz playing with the 2003 Kane County Cougars

Posted in Burlington Bees, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment