Although great pitching was the main story on the field of this year’s wild-card play-in games, it is worth noting here that three of the four players who hit home runs are Midwest League alumni.
Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez hit solo homers for the Houston Astros. Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run bomb for the Chicago Cubs. (Dexter Fowler didn’t play in the Midwest League, but he also homered for the Cubs.)
Rasmus batted .310 with 11 HR, 50 RBI and 17 SB in 78 games with the 2006 Swing of the Quad Cities.
Although he didn’t play in the Midwest League as a minor-leaguer, Gomez did three rehab stints with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (two games in 2010, four games in 2011, and four games in 2012) when he played for the Milwaukee Brewers. In 35 plate appearances, he collected eight hits, homered once, walked three times, and stole five bases.
Schwarber played 23 games with the 2014 Kane County Cougars, batting .361 with 4 HR and 15 RBI.
Burnett, Ramirez retire
With the elimination of the Pittsburgh Pirates from the postseason comes the retirement of pitcher A.J. Burnett and third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Both played in the Midwest League.
Burnett, who recently became the 32nd MLB pitcher to strike out 2,500 batters, went 10-4 with a 1.97 ERA, 186 strikeouts and 45 walks in 119 innings (20 starts) for the 1998 Kane County Cougars.
Ramirez did three rehab stints in the Midwest League, twice with the Peoria Chiefs (three games in 2009 and two games in 2010) and once with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (two games in 2014). In 23 plate appearances, he collected six hits and walked five times.