Dragons dominate Timber Rattlers, win 12-5

Hunter Greene was Dayton’s starting pitcher, but went only three innings because of a lengthy rain delay.

The Dayton Dragons scored nine runs after a lengthy rain delay — seven of them in the 6th inning — on their way to beating the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 12-5 at Fox Cities Stadium.

Dragons leadoff man Jose Garcia went 5-for-6, hitting singles in his first five at-bats before grounding out his last time up. That tied a club record for most hits in a single game; Garcia is the ninth Dayton player to achieve the feat, and the first since Seth Mejias-Brean did it in 2013.

Garcia, who also drove in three runs and stole a base, was an unlikely candidate for a five-hit game. He started the day batting .217 (68-for-314) through his first 87 games this season; his 5-for-6 performance raised his average to .228.

Dayton’s Jose Garcia stands at second base during the 1st inning of Friday’s game. He scored the game’s first run later that frame.

He wasn’t the only Dragons player collecting hits Friday. Andy Sugilio and Mark Kolozvary each had three hits, while Leandro Santana and Alejo Lopez each had a pair of hits. Hendrik Clementina was the only Dragons starter without a hit — ironic since he was the designated hitter — but still managed to drive in a run.

Highly-touted pitching prospect Hunter Greene started the game for the Dragons — his first outing since appearing in the All-Star Futures Game last weekend — but he lasted only three innings because of a lengthy rain delay that halted the game for an hour and 20 minutes before the 4th inning began. Greene gave up one run, one hit and two walks while striking out five. He allowed a run in the 3rd inning after giving up a walk and a triple while pitching in the rain. (The fireballer also hit K.J. Harrison in the back with a 98-mph pitch that looked like it stung.)

There was a rain delay of one hour and 20 minutes between the 3rd and 4th innings.

In fact, much of the game from then on was played in the rain. It wasn’t kind to Timber Rattlers reliever Matt Hardy, who gave up eight runs on eight hits and two walks in 2.1 innings after he took over for starter Nelson Hernandez after the rain delay. In his three innings, Hernandez gave up three runs on five hits, three walks, two wild pitches and a hit-by-pitch.

A meeting on the mound involving Timber Rattlers starting pitcher Nelson Hernandez.

Though they scored less runs, the Timber Rattlers managed to have a decent night at the plate. Kenny Corey went 4-for-5 with two doubles, and Nic Pierre had a couple hits, a walk and an RBI. All other Wisconsin starters except Harrison each had a hit.

The game began at 7:05 p.m. and ended eight minutes before midnight.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

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Posted in 2018 All-Star Futures Game, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Miranda, Naughton named MWL players of the week

Cedar Rapids Kernels infielder Jose Miranda and Dayton Dragons LHP Packy Naughton respectively were named the Midwest League’s offensive player and pitcher of the week for July 9-15.

Miranda played in six games during that period, batting .440 (11-for-25) with two homers, two doubles and seven runs batted in. His best game was against the Lake County Captains on Saturday, when he went 4-for-5 with a grand slam and an RBI double.

Overall this season, the Minnesota Twins prospect is batting .262 with 10 home runs, 19 doubles and 59 RBI in 85 games with the Kernels.

Naughton started two games during the past week, and he won both of them. In the first start, against the Great Lakes Loons last Monday, he gave up only two hits while striking out nine and walking none in eight scoreless innings. In the second start, against the Kane County Cougars on Sunday, he gave up two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three in six innings.

Overall this season, the Cincinnati Reds prospect is 5-8 with a 4.04 ERA, 88 strikeouts and 22 walks in 104.2 innings/19 starts for the Dragons.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Midwest League | Leave a comment

2018 Midwest League Home Run Derby photos

The 2018 MLB Home Run Derby takes place at Nationals Park tonight, so I figured this would be a good time to share some more of my photos from this year’s Midwest League Home Run Derby, which happened June 19 at Cooley Law School Stadium, home of the Lansing Lugnuts.

(Note: I shared these photos with my Patreon supporters last week. Click here if you’re interested in getting occasional early or exclusive content from me, or simply want to help support the work I’ve been doing as The Midwest League Traveler since 2011. All pledges are sincerely appreciated!)

The MWL Home Run Derby was won by Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Ronaldo Hernandez, who recently was named the MWL Player of the Month for June. Hernandez hit 27 home runs during the two-round contest.

Since I’ve already shared a closer-up photo of Hernandez batting during the derby – you can see it in this post – here is a panned-out picture of him batting, so you can see how other All-Star players positioned themselves to watch the event.

Hernandez faced Lake County Captains outfielder Will Benson in the final round of the contest. Here are close-up and panned-out shots of Benson hitting in the first and second rounds, respectively:

The next two photos are probably my favorite ones that I shot during the Home Run Derby. The first one is of then-Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder Alex Kirilloff…

…and the second one is of Clinton LumberKings first baseman Ryan Costello.

All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in 2018 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Ronaldo Hernandez named MWL player of the month for June

Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Ronaldo Hernandez bats during the first round of the Midwest League Home Run Derby last month. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Ronaldo Hernandez was named the Midwest League Player of the Month after batting .366 and leading the league in five other categories in June.

Hernandez, a 20-year-old Colombia native, played 22 games in June, during which he led the MWL in home runs (10), extra-base hits (17), total bases (68), slugging percentage (.829) and OPS (1.227). He finished second in runs (20), third in RBI (25),
and fourth in batting average (.366).

“Ronaldo had a terrific month,” Hot Rods Manager Craig Albernaz said in a press release. “He has certainly helped lead our offense not just recently, but really the entire season. I’m glad to see him get recognized for his efforts.”

The Monday announcement came on the heels of Hernandez’s perfect day at the plate on Sunday. He went 4-for-4 and hit the go-ahead homer in the 9th inning of the Hot Rods’ 4-3 win over the TinCaps at Fort Wayne.

Also in June, Hernandez won the MWL Home Run Derby, blasting 13 homers in the final round and 27 total to win the two-round contest. During the regular season this year, the Tampa Bay Rays prospect is batting .314 with 14 homers, 19 doubles and 59 RBI in 71 games.

Posted in 2018 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Napoli among four chosen for CR Baseball Hall of Fame

Veteran MLB catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli and former MLB pitcher Joe Sambito are among those who will be inducted into the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame before Tuesday’s Kernels game. Here is more information about each of the inductees, from the team’s press release:

Mike Napoli played for the Cedar Rapids Kernels during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. In 149 games, he hit .246 (127-for-517) with 15 HR and 68 RBI. He was selected by the Anaheim Angels in the 17th round of the 2000 First Year Player Draft out of Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and made his major-league debut for the Angels on May 4, 2006. He was a member of the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox and was named an All-Star in 2012. He’s played in 12 MLB seasons, batting .246 with 267 HR and 744 RBI in 1,392 games.

Joe Sambito pitched for the Cedar Rapids Astros in 1974, posting an 11-8 record and 3.00 ERA in 23 starts. In 156 innings, he allowed 133 hits and 59 runs (52 earned) with 49 walks and 182 strikeouts. He was drafted by the Astros in the 17th round of the 1973 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Bethpage (N.Y.) High School and made his MLB debut on July 20, 1976, at Pittsburgh. He pitched for 11 seasons in the majors for the Astros, Mets and Red Sox, posting a 37-38 record and 3.03 ERA with 84 saves. He was an MLB All-Star in 1979 for the Astros and appeared in two games for the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. He retired at the end of the 1987 season and became a player’s counselor and representative. He resides in Irvine, Calif.

Ken Blackman played for the Cedar Rapids Raiders in 1935 after a college career at Coe College and the University of Iowa. He played 54 games for the Raiders, batting .249, and quickly moved into a role as a manager. He managed several minor-league teams, including the Cedar Rapids Braves in 1962. He also was the athletic director at Buena Vista College from 1946 until 1951, as well as the general manager for the Quad Cities Angels (1963-65), Mobile Athletics (1966) and Waterloo Hawks (1967). He served as a scout for the Indians and White Sox and was the commissioner of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Association (IIAC) in 1965. His son, John Blackman, was a catcher at the University of Iowa. Ken passed away on February 20, 2005 in Davenport, Iowa, at the age of 93.

Wencil “Chine” Stodola grew up in the shadow of Old Hill Park and pitched for the Cedar Rapids Bunnies in 1913. After his baseball career ended, he became a steamfitter at Penick and Ford and was involved with local amateur baseball teams. It was noted that he would often pitch batting practice to the Butternut Bakers Legion team in a vacant lot next to Old Hill Park, and when he was tired of pitching with his right arm, he would pitch to the rest of the team using his left. Chine may be most remembered for being in charge of “baseball retention” at old Veterans Memorial Stadium. In those days, the club used a crew of boys outside the stadium to retrieve foul balls hit over the roof and Chine would direct them from the steps of the press box using a whistle. Chine was a member of the Cedar Rapids Ball Club Board of Directors and passed away on April 5, 1973, at the age of 81.

The Class of 2018 Hall of Fame will be recognized before the Kernels game on Hall of Fame Night and Alumni Night, scheduled for Thursday, July 12, at 6:35 PM. Gates open at 5:30 PM.

The mission of the Cedar Rapids Ball Club Hall of Fame is to honor those individuals who, through extraordinary personal effort, have furthered the existence, quality or preservation of professional baseball in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Hall of Fame is located in the Bimm Ridder Diamond Shop and a Hall of Fame Timeline is located on the suite level at Veterans Memorial Stadium and is open during all Kernel home games, normal store hours, or by special appointment.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment