SmartAsset names Geneva, IL, fifth-best MiLB town

Northwestern Medicine Field, home of the Kane County Cougars, is located in Geneva, Ill. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Kane County Cougars’ hometown was named the fifth-best community in Minor League Baseball by SmartAsset, a financial technology company that offers free data-based advice.

Geneva, Ill., is the only Midwest League community that made the list of Top 10 Minor League Baseball Towns. (Appleton, Wis., home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, ranked fifth on the list in 2016. Three MWL communities, including Geneva, made the Top 10 list in 2015.)

SmartAsset compiled its list based on a variety of game-day experience and quality-of-life factors from 159 MiLB communities. You can read about those here.

Here is what the company wrote about Geneva and the Cougars:

In the past year the Kane County Cougars and their fans were pretty competitive on the field. They won around 53 percent of their games in front of an average of 5,800 fans. But off the field is where Geneva shines. This is the safest city in this study, with the third-lowest violent crime rate and the lowest property crime rate.

Plus, living here won’t break your budget. Our data shows that the average household should have about $77,000 left over after paying for housing, the fifth-highest figure in our study.

Two other Midwest League communities cracked the top 25, though SmartAsset did not includes blurbs about them. Davenport, Iowa — home of the Quad Cities River Bandits — ranks 20th, while Fort Wayne, Ind. — home of the TinCaps — is 22nd on the list.

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Posted in Fort Wayne TinCaps, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Ex-Dragon’s two homers power Yankees past Indians

Former Dayton Dragons shortstop Didi Gregorius homered twice Wednesday to lead the New York Yankees to a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians in the decisive Game 5 of their American League Division Series.

The Bronx Bombers were down 0-2 in the best-of-five series before winning the last three games to advance to the American League Championship Series. They will play against the Houston Astros starting Friday.

Gregorius, who took over at shortstop for the Yankees after Derek Jeter retired following the 2014 season, batted .287 with 25 HR and 87 RBI in 136 regular-season games with New York this year. He was a Cincinnati Reds prospect when he played in the Midwest League, batting .273 with 5 HR, 41 RBI and 16 SB in 120 games with the 2010 Dragons.

Red Sox fire Farrell

The Boston Red Sox fired manager John Farrell on Wednesday, two days after the team was knocked out of the playoffs by the Astros.

Farrell managed the Red Sox for five seasons. The team won the World Series in 2013, finished fifth in the AL East in 2014 and 2015, and won their division in 2016 and 2017 (but did not advance past the ALDS round in either year).

Farrell pitched in the Midwest League in 1984. He went 0-5 with a 6.44 ERA, two complete games, 29 strikeouts and 33 walks in 43.1 innings (nine starts) for the Waterloo Indians.

Angels get Pena from Cubs

The Los Angeles Angels acquired RHP Felix Pena from the Chicago Cubs on Monday, in exchange for cash or a player to be named later.

Pena split the 2017 season between Triple-A and the major-league level. He played in the Midwest League in 2012 and 2013. He pitched 10 innings for the 2012 Peoria Chiefs and 103.1 innings for the 2013 Kane County Cougars, cumulatively going 4-7 with a 3.97 ERA, 87 strikeouts and 37 walks in 27 games (17 starts).

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

Dragons attendance best in Single-A, 8th among all MiLB clubs

The main entrance to Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Dayton Dragons were the top draw among Single-A teams and ranked eighth overall in Minor League Baseball this year.

Of MiLB’s top ten teams attendance-wise, the Dragons are the only club not in Triple-A. This is the 12th consecutive year that Dayton has outdrawn every other team below the Triple-A level. Additionally, the Dragons’ 18 seasons of operation have resulted in the top 18 single-season attendance records in Single-A baseball history, thanks to an ongoing 1,246-game sellout streak at Fifth Third Field, dating back to the team’s first game there.

A total of 554,638 fans passed through the gates at Fifth Third Field this year, for an average of 8,038 heads per game.

Four Midwest League teams were among the top 10 attendance draws for Single-A and Double-A clubs. (There are 130 teams in those classifications.) Those teams are the Dragons, the Fort Wayne TinCaps (No. 4 with an overall attendance of 409,253 and an average attendance of 5,931), the Kane County Cougars (No. 6 with 394,567 overall and 5,889 per-game attendance), and the West Michigan Whitecaps (No. 9 with 383,983 overall and 5,565 per-game attendance).

The Midwest League is comprised of 16 teams that drew a total of 4,087,373 fans this year. That is the league’s lowest attendance total since 2012, when 4,084,343 fans went to MWL games. The MWL’s highest attendance was in 2015, when the league’s 4,233,904 attendees accounted for 10 percent of the people who went to MiLB games that year.

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Big night for ex-Dragon in LA’s NLDS Game 1 win

Former Dayton Dragons infielder Justin Turner had a big night at the plate Friday, going 3-for-4 with a home run, a walk and five RBI to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 9-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of their National League Division Series.

Turner’s five RBI ties the Dodgers record for most in a single postseason game. The feat was previously achieved by Davey Lopes (1978) and Pedro Guerrero (1981).

Turner played for the Dragons in 2007, batting .311 with 10 HR, 59 RBI and 12 SB in 117 games. He primarily played second base for Dayton, but has mostly manned the hot corner for L.A.

Guerrero also played in the Midwest League. He batted .345 with 10 HR, 76 RBI and 10 SB in 104 games with the 1975 Danville Dodgers. He went on to play more than 1,500 games in the major leagues, for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was named to five All-Star teams and was a top-five finalist for NL MVP four times.

Only one other player from the 1975 Danville team reached the major leagues: RHP Ubaldo Heredia, who went 11-13 with a 3.33 ERA, two shutouts, 99 strikeouts and 75 walks in 154 innings (26 games/25 starts) in the Midwest League that year. He made two MLB starts for the 1987 Montreal Expos.

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QC ballpark to keep Modern Woodmen name through 2027

The home of the Quad Cities River Bandits will continue to be called Modern Woodmen Park through the 2027 season. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Quad Cities River Bandits’ ballpark will keep the name Modern Woodmen Park for at least 10 more years.

According to the Quad-City Times, Modern Woodmen of America recently exercised its option to extend its naming-rights agreement with the River Bandits for 10 years.

Modern Woodmen of America is a fraternal financial services organization based in Rock Island, Ill., one of the Quad Cities. Modern Woodmen Park is located in Davenport, Iowa, which is across the Mississippi River from Rock Island.

Modern Woodmen signed its original 10-year naming agreement with the River Bandits in December 2007. The facility was known as Municipal Stadium when it opened in 1931, and was renamed John O’Donnell Stadium in 1971. The ballpark’s press box is now named after O’Donnell (a former Quad Cities newspaper sports editor), with that change happening when Modern Woodmen bought naming rights to the stadium.

Posted in Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | 1 Comment