Former Midwest League players Chili Davis and Darnell Coles were announced Thursday as the new hitting coaches of the Boston Red Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers, respectively.
Davis started his professional baseball career in the Midwest League, as a catcher and outfielder for the 1978 Cedar Rapids Giants. He batted .281 with 16 HR, 73 RBI and 15 SB in 124 games. (I wrote more about Davis in this post when he was hired as hitting coach of the Oakland Athletics in November 2011.)
Coles spent the 1981 season in the Midwest League playing for the Wausau Timbers, who posted a league-best 84-48 record and won the MWL championship series. He batted .274 with 9 HR, 48 RBI and 9 SB in 111 games with the Timbers.
Fans who watched baseball in the 1980s and 1990s will recognize the names of some of Coles’ Wausau teammates:
Harold Reynolds, currently part of the FOX Sports broadcast team announcing the World Series, batted .296 with 11 HR, 59 RBI and 69 SB in 127 games with the Timbers. He was named the Midwest League Prospect of the Year.
Ivan Calderon batted .306 with 20 HR, 62 RBI and 26 SB in 117 games.
Jim Presley batted .279 with 12 HR and 53 RBI in 57 games.
Donell Nixon, brother of Otis Nixon, batted .284 with 5 HR, 26 RBI and 20 SB in 59 games.
Ed Nunez went 16-3 with a 2.47 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 186 IP. He completed 13 of his 25 starts; none were shutouts.
Kershaw voted player of year
Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw edged Los Angeles Angels CF Mike Trout by three votes to win the 2014 Sporting News MLB Player of the Year award. Both players are former Midwest Leaguers.
Kershaw went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, two shutouts, 239 strikeouts and 31 walks in 198.1 IP for the Dodgers during the 2014 season. He led the National League in ERA for the fourth consecutive season, and is expected to win his third Cy Young Award in four years.
Kershaw started 20 games for the 2007 Great Lakes Loons, going 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 97.1 IP.
Trout batted .287 with 36 HR, 39 doubles, 111 RBI and 115 runs scored in 157 games with the Angels during the 2014 season. He is expected to win his first American League MVP award after finishing second to Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera the past two years.
Trout was the Midwest League MVP and Prospect of the Year in 2010 after hitting .362 with 6 HR, 39 RBI and 45 SB in 81 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Other player notes
The Philadelphia Phillies signed OF Grady Sizemore to a one-year, $2 million deal. He played in the Midwest League as a Montreal Expos prospect, batting .268 with 2 HR, 61 RBI and 32 SB in 123 games with the Clinton LumberKings. (All three of that team’s starting outfielders — CF Sizemore, RF Jason Bay and LF Brandon Watson — made it to the major leagues.)
Angels RP Cam Bedrosian, son of 1987 NL Cy Young Award winner Steve Bedrosian, was named the top relief pitcher in Minor League Baseball by MiLB.com staff. He had a breakout season that included 17 relief appearances for the major-league team. After missing the 2011 season because of Tommy John surgery, he went 3-11 with a 6.31 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 82.2 IP for the 2012 Cedar Rapids Kernels, and 1-5 with a 5.30 ERA, 69 strikeouts and seven saves in 54.1 IP for the 2013 Burlington Bees. This year in the minor leagues, he posted a 2.00 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 18 saves in 45 IP across three levels.
Former Lansing Lugnuts infielder Balbino Fuenmayor agreed to a deal with the Kansas City Royals after an impressive 2014 season that led to Baseball America naming him its Independent League Player of the Year. (He batted .347 with 23 HR and 99 RBI in 95 games with Les Capitales de Quebec of the Canadian-American Association.) He played all of the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Lugnuts, and part of the 2011 and 2013 seasons, too. Check out his Baseball-Reference.com page for a breakdown of his Midwest League statistics, and read Lugnuts broadcaster
SB turf project continues
As I noted here earlier this week, installation of the new natural grass surface at South Bend’s Four Winds Field began Tuesday. This latest photo shared by the South Bend Cubs shows that the foul area on the first-base side of the field was finished Thursday.