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.

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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

Wong leads Durham to Triple-A championship title

Kean Wong played for the Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2014, and was a Midwest League All-Star that year. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Former Bowling Green Hot Rods second baseman Kean Wong went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and a double to lead the Durham Bulls to a 5-3 win over the Memphis Redbirds in this year’s Triple-A National Championship Game.

Wong provided an unexpected source of power at the plate for Durham, considering he has only 13 home runs in 488 career regular-season minor-league games. His more-expected contributions in the game came in the form of a pair of defensive gems, both made in the late innings.

The Bulls are a Tampa Bay Rays affiliate, as are the Hot Rods. Wong played for Bowling Green in 2014, batting .306 with 2 HR, 24 RBI and 13 SB in 106 games. His batting average was second in the Midwest League that year, behind MWL MVP Wynton Bernard, who hit .323 for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Wong batted .265 with 5 HR, 44 RBI and 14 SB in 105 games with the Bulls during the 2017 regular season. Bernard played in Triple-A this year, too, batting .254 with 2 HR, 14 RBI and 13 SB in 82 games with the Sacramento River Cats, a San Francisco Giants affiliate.

The Redbirds are a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate. Wong is the younger brother of Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, who played in the Midwest League in 2011. The older Wong batted .335 with 5 HR, 25 RBI and 9 SB in 47 regular-season games with the Quad Cities River Bandits, and was still with the team when it won the MWL championship title that year.

Posted in 2011 Playoffs, 2014 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Durham Bulls, International League, Memphis Redbirds, Midwest League, Pacific Coast League, Quad Cities River Bandits, Sacramento River Cats, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Burlington Bees pitcher traded to Tigers

Elvin Rodriguez made three starts for the Burlington Bees at the end of the 2017 season. (Photo by Steve Cirinna)

The Los Angeles Angels announced Friday that they are sending RHP Elvin Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers as the player to be named later in the Aug. 31 trade involving outfielder Justin Upton and RHP Grayson Long.

Rodriguez ended the 2017 season with the Burlington Bees. In his three Midwest League starts, he went 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA (seven earned runs in 14 innings), 12 strikeouts and three walks. He also made 11 starts for the rookie-level Orem Owlz this year, going 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 11 walks in 54 innings, earning him the Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year award.

The Dominican hurler likely will return to the Midwest League to start the 2018 season, in which case he would pitch for the West Michigan Whitecaps. He will turn 20 less than a week before the MWL season begins.

MLB Pipeline had Rodriguez ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the Angels organization prior to the trade’s completion. MiLB.com said this about him:

The 6-foot-3, 160-pound right-hander throws a fastball that sits in the high 80s with late life, and his command is far ahead of most teenage pitchers. He combines a repeatable delivery with good feel for his curveball and change-up, but will need to get stronger to reach his full potential.

Upton and Long also are former Midwest Leaguers, which I wrote about here at the time of the trade.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Midwest League, Orem Owlz, Pioneer League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment