Even though it’s the offseason for the Midwest League, I will still post league news, periodic updates about former MWL players, and other related items during this downtime. I hope your love of minor-league baseball will continue to lead you here in the months leading up to next season.
In the days since the Quad Cities River Bandits won the Midwest League championship, the biggest news involving a former Midwest Leaguer came from Japan, where Wladimir Balentien broke that country’s single-season home run record. Through today’s game (Sept. 18), he has 58 home runs and is batting .338 for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. The previous HR record was 55, set by Sadaharu Oh in 1964 and matched by Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Alex Cabrera in 2002.
There is controversy over a new, livelier baseball being used in Japan this season, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in home runs.
Balentien played with the 2004 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and three seasons in the big-leagues with the Seattle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .277 with 15 HR and 46 RBI in 76 games with the Timber Rattlers.
Ventura makes impressive debut
RHP Yordano Ventura, who pitched for the 2011 Kane County Cougars, made his major-league debut with the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday. He pitched 5.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks. He struck out three and got a no-decision.
Ventura went 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 84.1 IP for the Cougars. The young fireballer has shown increasingly better control since then, and split time between Double-A and Triple-A this season before his promotion to the Royals. (On a side note, his Triple-A team, the Omaha Storm Chasers, won the Triple-A National Championship the same night as Ventura’s MLB debut.)
Snow suspended for 50 games
Mariners farmhand Forrest Snow, a right-handed pitcher, was suspended Tuesday for the first 50 games of the 2014 season after testing positive a second time for a drug of abuse. He most recently pitched for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League.
Snow pitched in 28 games for the 2010-11 Clinton LumberKings, collectively going 2-8 with a 3.14 ERA, six saves and 97 strikeouts in 94.2 IP.
Silver Hawks draw best attendance in 10 years
The South Bend Silver Hawks announced that they drew 245,471 fans to Coveleski Stadium this season, easily their best number in the past decade.
The last time the Silver Hawks topped 200,000 was when they drew 209,555 fans in 2005. Their attendance dropped as low as 112,795 in 2011, but under new ownership they drew 68 percent more fans (189,575) the next season and 29 percent more than 2012 this year.