Martinez agrees to 5-year, $51 million deal with Cardinals

Former Quad Cities River Bandits pitcher Carlos Martinez has agreed to a five-year deal with the Cardinals, reportedly getting $51 million and possibly another $35 million if St. Louis exercises two team options that would keep the right-hander with the Redbirds through the 2023 season.

Martinez pitched for the River Bandits in 2011, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA, 50 strikeouts and 14 walks in 38.2 innings (eight starts). He made his major-league debut for the Cardinals in 2013 and became a full-time starter for the team two years ago. Considered a future ace, he went 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA, 174 strikeouts and 70 walks in 195.1 innings (31 starts) for St. Louis last year.

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Kernels announce rest of 2017 coaching staff

After announcing who their skipper will be for the 2017 season earlier this month, the Cedar Rapids Kernels revealed Saturday who will round out their coaching staff.

New manager Tommy Watkins — a former hitting coach for the Kernels — will be joined by returning coaches J.P. Martinez (pitching) and Brian Dinkelman (hitting). Both Martinez and Dinkelman are entering their second seasons as Kernels coaches. Dinkelman replaced Watkins as the Cedar Rapids hitting coach last year after Watkins was moved up to Double-A for the 2016 season.

Both Martinez and Dinkelman played in the Midwest League, for the Beloit Snappers when the team was affiliated with the Minnesota Twins. (The Kernels are Minnesota’s current MWL affiliate.) Martinez went 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA, 20 saves, 92 strikeouts and 31 walks in 88.1 IP (53 games) for the 2005 Snappers. Dinkelman batted .283 with 7 HR and 21 RBI in 67 games with the 2007 Snappers.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League | 1 Comment

Ex-Clinton player to be honored with bronze statue

A former Clinton Pilots player will get the bronze treatment later this year.

Tom Kelly, best known as the manager who led the Minnesota Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991, will be honored with a bronze statue outside Target Field during the upcoming season. He managed the Twins for 16 seasons, from 1986 to 2001. He ranks first on the team’s managerial list for wins (1,140) and games (2,384).

Kelly’s playing career included a season in the Midwest League. He played outfield for the 1969 Clinton Pilots — a team affiliated with the short-lived Seattle Pilots — and batted .223 with 6 HR, 35 RBI and 10 SB in 100 games. He went on to play 49 games at the major-league level for the Twins, all during the 1975 season.

Kelly’s statue will be the eighth at Target Field, joining those of former players Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Kent Hrbek, and former team owners Calvin Griffith and Carl and Eloise Pohlad.

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Contreras, Hooton return to TinCaps staff for 2017 season

Burt Hooton (left) and Anthony Contreras will be back this year as the Fort Wayne TinCaps' pitching coach and manager, respectively. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Burt Hooton (left) and Anthony Contreras will be back this year as the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ pitching coach and manager, respectively. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Fort Wayne TinCaps will be managed by Anthony Contreras again in 2017, and he will be joined by returning pitching coach Burt Hooton and two new additions to the team’s instructional staff.

This will be the second year for Contreras at the helm, making him the first skipper since Jose Valentin (2012-13) to manage the TinCaps in back-to-back seasons.

Contreras played nine years in the minor leagues, including part of the 2008 season with Fort Wayne. He batted .304 with 1 HR and 15 RBI in 36 games with the Wizards. He has managed in the San Diego Padres farm system since 2014.

Hooton is coming back for a fifth year as Fort Wayne’s pitching coach, which will make him the longest-serving coach in the team’s 25-year history. The former major-league pitcher, who threw a no-hitter for the Chicago Cubs in 1972, was the big-league pitching coach for the Houston Astros from 2000 to 2004, and has over 20 years of experience as a minor-league pitching coach.

Doug Banks is the team’s new hitting coach after serving in the same capacity for San Diego’s affiliate in the rookie-level Arizona League last year. This will be his second season coaching in the Padres system. He played collegiately at the University of Arizona and Abilene Christian University, and served as an amateur scout for the Texas Rangers from 2012 to 2015.

Jhonny Carvajal also joins the TinCaps coaching staff, after serving as infield coach for the Dominican Summer League Padres last year. He played 11 years in the minor leagues (1993-2003) and seven seasons in the Italian Baseball League (2004-11).

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Captains announce plans for new video board

This is what Classic Park's new video board will look like. (Image courtesy of the Lake County Captains)

This is what Classic Park’s new video board will look like. (Image courtesy of the Lake County Captains)

Classic Park will get a new LED video board nearly triple the size of the old one in time for the start of the 2017 season, the Lake County Captains announced Thursday at their annual Hot Stove Dinner.

The new high-definition video board will be 22 feet tall by 50.5 feet wide, featuring 1,111 square feet of video screen. The old one was 17 feet tall and 23.5 feet wide, providing about 400 square feet of screen space.

The 2017 season will be the Captains’ 15th in Eastlake, Ohio. The team was part of the South Atlantic League from 2003 to 2009, and has been a member of the Midwest League since 2010.

Posted in Lake County Captains, Midwest League, South Atlantic League | Leave a comment