Timber Rattlers unveil new logos for 25th season

The new logos to be used by the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers during the 2019 season.

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers recently unveiled a new logo commemorating their 25th season next year.

Seen above, the logo features the number 25 over an outline of the state of Wisconsin, with a Timber Rattler wrapped around the number 5.

The announcement came a week after the team unveiled updated versions of their existing logos, which also can be seen in the graphic at the top of this post.

The team’s first season as the Timber Rattlers was 1995, the same year they moved from Goodland Field to their current home, Fox Cities Stadium.

Posted in Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Ex-Hot Rods hurler Snell wins AL Cy Young Award

Former Bowling Green Hot Rods hurler Blake Snell is the winner of this year’s American League Cy Young Award. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Former Bowling Green Hot Rods hurler Blake Snell was named the American League Cy Young Award winner on Wednesday, becoming only the second Tampa Bay Rays pitcher to receive the honor.

Snell won with 169 total points, 15 more than runner-up Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros. Snell received 17 first-place votes, 11 second-place votes, and two third-place votes. Verlander got 13 first-place votes, 13 second-place votes, three third-place votes, and one fourth-place vote.

Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber — a former Fort Wayne Wizards pitcher — finished a distant third in the voting with 71 points.

Snell went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA, 221 strikeouts and 64 walks in 180.2 innings/31 starts for the Rays this year. Opponents batted only .176 against the southpaw.

Snell pitched for the Hot Rods in 2013 and 2014, making 31 starts in the Midwest League. He went 7-11 with a 3.55 ERA, 148 strikeouts and 92 walks in 139.1 innings.

Kluber went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA, 222 strikeouts and 34 walks in 215 innings/33 starts for the Tribe this year. He pitched for Fort Wayne in 2008, going 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA, 72 strikeouts and 13 walks in 56 innings/10 starts in the MWL.

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Hot Rods announce stadium improvement plans

The Bowling Green Hot Rods announced a plan Wednesday to make more than $2 million in improvements to Bowling Green Ballpark, to be completed by Opening Day next year.

Perhaps the most visible change will be a new high-definition scoreboard and LED board measuring 35 feet tall and 56 feet wide — almost triple the size of the current videoboard in place. Atlanta-based Foremetco Sports will install the videoboard, which will feature the latest technology offered in outdoor boards, including the highest resolution of any videoboard in Minor League Baseball, and other enhancements that allow the team to have an in-house game feed and to broadcast their home games on MiLB.tv for the first time in franchise history.

Also notable will be completion of the 360-degree walkway around the ballpark — a feature included in the stadium’s original design, but cut during construction phase due to budget concerns. Additional signage structures will be added behind the walkway.

A new “Splash Zone” for children will be installed behind the centerfield wall. The 1,500-square-foot zone will feature a 10-foot-tall water fountain shaped like a baseball bat and ball. It also will have 30 ground-to-air water fountains. Two new restrooms and two changing rooms will be installed behind the batters’ eye.

“Finishing the 360 walkway and the splash zone are two of the ideas that our staff have been dreaming about adding for the past five years,” Hot Rods general manager Eric Leach said in a press release. “We feel that both of these additions will allow us to utilize the entire ballpark space and continue to bring quality family entertainment to South Central Kentucky.”

A new Splash Zone for children will be installed behind the centerfield wall at Bowling Green Ballpark. (Artist’s rendering courtesy of the Bowling Green Hot Rods)

Another major part of the project will be on the suite level, where the Reinhart Club will be completely reconfigured, expanding its usable space by over 35 percent. The club’s bar will be relocated to help maximize the space.

“The enhancement with the Reinhart Club will allow the space to be used year-round instead of just during the season,” Leach said. “It will allow for a more functionable space for business meetings, formal dinners, banquets, and holiday parties.”

The entire suite level will get new glass as part of the renovation. The current glass provides a three-foot opening to view games, but the new glass will be 10 feet from floor to ceiling to allow for bigger views and a more open feel, something new Hot Rods owner Jack Blackstock said he wanted to include after noticing at other ballparks how impactful such an enhanced feature can have on the fan experience.

Other, smaller changes that will be made include new signage at the front entry, new entrance gates, and new tables and chairs in the leftfield picnic area.

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Former hitting coach to manage Snappers in 2019

A former hitting coach will return to Beloit next season as the new manager of the Snappers.

It is the first managerial assignment for Lloyd Turner, who was Beloit’s hitting coach in 2014 and 2015. He also served in that same capacity for the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters the past three seasons and in 2013. The former utility player was an Oakland Athletics minor-leaguer from 2002 to 2007, and he played five seasons in the independent Atlantic League after that. He went 4-for-12 in the four games he played in the Midwest League, for the 2003 Kane County Cougars.

Last year’s Beloit skipper, Webster Garrison, will manage the Stockton Ports, Oakland’s High-A affiliate in the California League.

Juan Dilone will return for a fourth season as Beloit’s hitting coach, and Don Schultze also will return as the team’s pitching coach. Schultze served as Beloit’s pitching coach in 2016 and 2018, and in the same capacity for Kane County in 2008.

Beloit’s fourth coach will be Anthony Phillips, who played 11 seasons of minor-league baseball from 2007 to 2018. The South Africa native played for his country in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The former infielder also played in the Midwest League, for the Clinton LumberKings in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he batted .199 with 4 HR, 25 RBI and 23 SB in 100 games; in 2012, he hit .214 with 5 HR, 24 RBI and 11 SB in 118 games.

Chapman named defensive player of year

A’s third baseman Matt Chapman was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday. He had a .959 fielding percentage for Oakland, committing only 20 errors in 484 chances at the hot corner this year. At the plate, he batted .278 with 24 homers, 42 doubles and 68 RBI in 145 games with the A’s.

Chapman played 50 games for the Snappers in 2014, batting .237 with 16 extra-base hits and 20 RBI. He played 38 games at third base, posting a .914 fielding percentage (11 errors in 128 chances) in the Midwest League.

Posted in Atlantic League, Beloit Snappers, California League, Clinton LumberKings, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, New York-Penn League, Stockton Ports, Vermont Lake Monsters, World Baseball Classic | Leave a comment

McCullers undergoes elbow surgery, will miss 2019 season

Lance McCullers Jr. pitches for the Houston Astros during a game in 2015. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Houston Astros RHP Lance McCullers Jr. — a former Quad Cities hurler — underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Tuesday and is expected to miss the entire 2019 season as he recovers.

He went 10-6 with a 3.86 ERA, 142 strikeouts and 50 walks in 128.1 innings (25 games/22 starts) for the Astros this season, mostly before his stint on the disabled list from August 5 to September 24. He also made five relief appearances in the postseason this year, giving up one run in five innings.

McCullers spent the 2013 season in the Midwest League. He went 6-5 with a 3.18 ERA, 117 strikeouts and 49 walks in 104.2 innings (25 games/19 starts) for the River Bandits during the regular season. Quad Cities won the MWL Championship Series that year.

Posted in 2013 Playoffs, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment