Blankenhorn, Erwin named MWL players of the week

Cedar Rapids Kernels 3B Travis Blankenhorn bats during the Midwest League All-Star Game earlier this week. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Cedar Rapids Kernels 3B Travis Blankenhorn and Beloit Snappers LHP Zack Erwin respectively were named the Midwest League offensive player and pitcher of the week for June 12-18.

In seven games during that period, Blankenhorn batted .407 (11-for-27) with one homer, three triples, one double, five walks, six runs batted in, six runs scored, and one stolen base.

The Minnesota Twins prospect was the starting third baseman for the Western Division team in the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday. He went 0-for-2 at the plate.

In the first half of this season, Blankenhorn batted .259 with 8 HR and 40 RBI in 66 games with the Kernels. He also played 25 games with the Kernels last season, batting .286 with 1 HR and 12 RBI.

Erwin made two starts last week (both against the Quad Cities River Bandits). In the first one, he allowed only one hit and one walk while striking out seven batters in five scoreless innings. In the second start, he gave up one run on five hits in six innings, while striking out four batters and walking none.

The Oakland Athletics prospect has made five starts for the Snappers this season, posting a 1.25 ERA, 21 strikeouts and four walks in 21.2 innings.

Posted in 2017 All-Star Game, Beloit Snappers, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Harrison homers twice to lead West to ASG victory

The 2017 Midwest League All-Star Game was held at Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons, on Tuesday.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers outfielder Monte Harrison homered twice to drive in three runs for the Western Division team in its 5-2 victory in this year’s Midwest League All-Star Game.

Not only did he single-handedly drive in more runs than the entire Eastern Division team, Harrison also was the only player with more than one hit in Tuesday’s contest. His effort earned him the game’s most valuable player award — and a bath of water poured on him by teammates during the presentation.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers outfielder Monte Harrison hit two homers in the Midwest League All-Star Game.

The West team’s other two runs came off the bat of Cedar Rapids Kernels first baseman Lewin Diaz, who homered for a two-spot in the top of the 4th inning. Harrison’s homers came in the 7th (solo) and the 9th (two-run) innings.

Cedar Rapids Kernels first baseman Lewin Diaz (No. 44) is greeted by Kane County Cougars outfielder Marcus Wilson after Diaz homered in the 4th inning.

The East All-Stars were the first and last team to score. In the 1st inning, Lansing’s Bo Bichette singled, stole second base, and scored on Lugnuts teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s groundout to shortstop. In the game’s final frame, Loons shortstop Brendon Davis launched a 425-foot bomb to centerfield, pleasing the home crowd.

Great Lakes Loons shortstop Brendon Davis bats during Monday’s Midwest League Home Run Derby.

Before the game began, Loons outfielder Carlos Rincon threw out a ceremonial first pitch to Guerrero. Rincon won Monday’s Home Run Derby, beating Guerrero in the final round of the competition.

Carlos Rincon 1st pitch

Great Lakes Loons outfielder Carlos Rincon throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the start of Tuesday’s Midwest League All-Star Game.

Attendance was announced as 5,009.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in 2017 All-Star Game, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Rincon blasts 20 homers in final round to win MWL HR Derby

Great Lakes Loons outfielder Carlos Rincon bats during Monday’s Midwest League Home Run Derby. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Great Lakes Loons outfielder Carlos Rincon blasted 38 home runs — including 20 in the final round — to win the Midwest League Home Run Derby in front of a favorable crowd at Dow Diamond.

He faced Lansing Lugnuts third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the final round. Guerrero went deep 24 times during the three-round competition, but managed only five homers in the last round.

Also participating in the contest were Fort Wayne TinCaps shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., West Michigan Whitecaps first baseman Blaise Salter, Whitecaps third baseman Josh Lester, Bowling Green Hot Rods outfielder Jesus Sanchez, Loons infielder Brendon Davis, and Kane County Cougars outfielder Marcus Wilson.

Rincon was the only participant not selected to play in Tuesday’s Midwest League All-Star Game, but the league allowed him to be part of the Home Run Derby as a representative of the host team. (Davis was a late addition to the derby.)

The Home Run Derby lasted longer into the night than planned because of periodic rain throughout the evening. Heavy rain delayed the start of the contest and caused a second delay two batters into the derby. Some lighter rain fell later, but the contest continued through it.

The grounds crew put the tarp on the field as ominous clouds approached following completion of the High School All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

There was a silver lining to all the rain. Actually, it was more colorful than that. Rainbows appeared twice. I didn’t get a great photo of the first one, but I shot lots of pics of the second one. I wasn’t in position to shoot across the field at the rainbow like some other people were, so I used different framing ideas, including some baseball-themed ones involving the “Road to the Show” display. Here is one of them:

Rainbow over the “Road to the Show” sign at Dow Diamond. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in 2017 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Bichette finishes first half with .396 batting average

Lansing Lugnuts shortstop Bo Bichette bats during Sunday’s game against the West Michigan Whitecaps. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Lansing Lugnuts shortstop Bo Bichette entered the Midwest League All-Star break with a .396 batting average after going 0-for-2 in Sunday’s game.

Bichette has the second-highest batting average in Minor League Baseball, behind only Lancaster JetHawks shortstop Brendan Rodgers’ .400 mark. Both players started Sunday with a .400 batting average, but Rodgers did not play in Lancaster’s game.

Bichette has a huge lead in the Midwest League batting race, 66 points ahead of West Michigan Whitecaps first baseman Blaise Salter.

Bichette has 45 runs batted in, second only to Salter’s 53 RBI.

Bichette is scheduled to start at shortstop for the Eastern Division team in Tuesday’s Midwest League All-Star Game. He also is one of eight players slated to participate in Monday’s home run derby. Both events will be held at Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons.

UPDATE: Bichette is no longer participating in the home run derby. He and Peoria Chiefs infielder Andy Young have been replaced in the event by Great Lakes Loons infielder Brendon Davis and West Michigan Whitecaps third baseman Josh Lester.

Posted in 2017 All-Star Game, California League, Great Lakes Loons, Lancaster JetHawks, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, West Michigan Whitecaps | 1 Comment

Mariners fire Shine as LumberKings manager

When the Clinton LumberKings start the second half of their season Thursday, they will do so with a new manager.

Their parent club, the Seattle Mariners, announced late Sunday that Pat Shine was removed as Clinton’s skipper, and former Chicago Cubs farmhand David Macias will manage the LumberKings the rest of the season.

Macias had been serving as Seattle’s player and staff systems coordinator. He played four seasons in the Cubs’ farm system, including part of two with the Peoria Chiefs. He batted .246 with 1 HR and 30 RBI in 98 Midwest League games (92 in 2009 and 6 in 2011).

Shine’s last game as manager was Clinton’s 16-3 loss to the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Sunday. Shine was scheduled to manage the Western Division team in this week’s Midwest League All-Star Game, but presumably (because Clinton is providing the entire Western Division coaching staff) Macias will helm the team instead.

The LumberKings finished the first half with a 31-36 record, eight games behind the first-place Kane County Cougars, and fifth out of eight Western Division teams.

Posted in 2017 All-Star Game, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs | Leave a comment