Benson, Garcia named Midwest League players of the week

Lake County Captains OF Will Benson swings during last year’s MWL Home Run Derby. Will he be asked to participate in this year’s event? (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Lake County Captains outfielder Will Benson and Quad Cities River Bandits RHP Luis Garcia respectively were named the Midwest League’s offensive player and pitcher of the week for May 27-June 2.

This is the third time Benson won the award this season. He earned it this time by batting .409 (9-for-22) with four homers, a double, eight runs batted in, seven runs scored, five walks and four stolen bases in seven games. Overall this season, the Cleveland Indians prospect is batting .278 with 16 HR, 45 RBI and 18 SB in 50 games with the Captains.

Garcia made one start last week, scattering one hit and three walks across six innings vs. the Burlington Bees. He struck out 10 and earned the win in QC’s 1-0 shutout at Community Field. Overall this season, the Houston Astros farmhand is 4-0 with a 2.93 ERA, 60 strikeouts, 16 walks and one save in 43 innings (nine games/six starts) for the River Bandits.

QC series moved to Peoria

Mississippi River flooding prompted the Midwest League to relocate the June 4-6 series between the River Bandits and the Chiefs from Davenport, Iowa, to Peoria, Ill.

Flooding has been an ongoing issue for the River Bandits this year. Modern Woodmen Park itself has not been flooded, but the area around it was earlier this season and is again now. After the upcoming series is finished, the Quad Cities team will have played 46 of its first 56 games on the road (and had another three games cancelled when the Los Angeles Dodgers, parent club of the Great Lakes Loons, did not agree to a series move to nearby Augustana College).

Modern Woodmen Park is surrounded by floodwater from the Mississippi River. (Photo by Kaylee Golden)

Posted in Burlington Bees, Great Lakes Loons, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Timber Rattlers to play game as ‘Udder Tuggers’ later this month

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have annually done a “Salute to Cows” promotion for the past few seasons. When they do it this year, the team will wear specially-designed caps and jerseys as they play the game as the “Wisconsin Udder Tuggers.”

The story behind the name and logo ties into the 2017 debut of the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, a Northwoods League team that shares an ownership group with the Timber Rattlers. You can read about it here on

News of the temporary name change went viral Monday, and the Timber Rattlers sold out their first batch of related merchandise in just over five hours. Not to worry — if you’re interested in getting something with a Udder Tuggers logo on it, the Timber Rattlers will restock their shelves with more as soon as their next order arrives at the Fox Cities Stadium team store.

The Salute to Cows game will be played Thursday, June 20 — the first day of the second half of the Midwest League season. The first 1,000 fans through the gates for the 7:05 p.m. game will receive a Timber Rattlers beach towel. It also is a “Craft Brews and Brats Night,” which means fans can buy brats and 12-ounce craft beers for $2 each, and because of the Salute to Cows theme, there will be cheese samplings and actual cows at the ballpark. The Timber Rattlers’ opponent that night will be the Clinton LumberKings.

Posted in Clinton LumberKings, Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, Midwest League, Northwoods League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Some photos from a recent Snappers-LumberKings game

I was in the Beloit area for an event not related to baseball last Thursday, so after it ended I stopped at Pohlman Field to catch most of the second game of a doubleheader between the Snappers and the LumberKings. Clinton dominated most of the game — starting pitcher Jake Walters allowed only one hit and two walks while striking out eight in four scoreless innings — but Beloit rallied in their final frame to make it a closer contest in the end.

The LumberKings took a 3-0 lead into the 7th and final inning after getting RBI hits from Jerar Encarnacion, Marcos Rivera and Connor Scott.

Marcos Rivera bats for the Clinton LumberKings.

Reliever Tyler Mitzel returned to the mound in the 7th for his third inning of work, and retired the first two batters he faced. Then, with only one out left to go, he gave up a pair of infield hits. The runners moved up on a wild pitch before Mitzel walked Cooper Goldby to load the bases.

Clinton LumberKings RHP Tyler Mitzel

Pinch-runner Marcos Brito replaced Goldby as the runner at first, and then ran into the last out of the game. Joseph Pena hit a two-run single to make it a 3-2 game, but rightfielder Encarnacion threw out Brito as the runner arrived at third base.

Mitzel was awarded the win.

Joseph Pena bats for the Beloit Snappers. He hit a two-run single in the 7th inning.

The LumberKings celebrate their win.


The Snappers won the first game 11-6.

All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Clinton LumberKings, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Vallimont, Hulsizer named Midwest League players of the week

Clinton LumberKings RHP Chris Vallimont is the Midwest League pitcher of the week. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Clinton LumberKings RHP Chris Vallimont and Great Lakes Loons outfielder Niko Hulsizer respectively were named the Midwest League’s pitcher and offensive player of the week for May 20-26.

Vallimont made two starts during that time, giving up only one hit, one unearned run, and three walks while striking out 18 batters in 13 innings. He earned a win on May 21 when he took a perfect game into the 7th inning against the Beloit Snappers (read about that here), and got a no-decision Sunday despite one-hitting the Burlington Bees for six innings (read about that here). The Miami Marlins prospect is 3-3 with a 2.43 ERA, 70 strikeouts and 17 walks in 59.1 innings/10 starts for the LumberKings this season. His strikeout total leads the Midwest League.

In seven games during the specified period, Hulsizer batted .313 (10-for-32) with five homers, two doubles, nine runs batted in, and seven runs scored. The Los Angeles Dodgers prospect currently is tied with Lake County Captains outfielder Will Benson for the MWL lead in both HR (13) and RBI (41), and is batting .280 through 43 games with the Loons this season.

Smeltzer sharp in MLB debut

Former Loons LHP Devin Smeltzer brought his A-game to the mound for his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, allowing only three hits and no walks while striking out seven batters in six shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. He got a no-decision, but the Twins won the game 5-3.

Smeltzer, a 23-year-old survivor of childhood cancer, made 10 starts for the Loons in 2017. He went 2-3 with a 3.78 ERA, 57 strikeouts and 12 walks in 52.1 innings. He was one of three players the Dodgers traded to the Twins for MLB second baseman Brian Dozier last July. Dozier, a former Snappers shortstop (2010), now plays for the Washington Nationals.

Former Great Lakes Loons hurler Devin Smeltzer pitched six shutout innings for the Minnesota Twins in his MLB debut Tuesday. (Associated Press photo by Jim Mone)

Reynolds first to 100 Ks

Tuesday’s LumberKings game notes included an item of infamy about first baseman Sean Reynolds. His first of four strikeouts Sunday was his 100th of the season, making him the first professional ballplayer to reach the century mark in Ks in 2019. The Marlins farmhand now has 105 strikeouts and is batting .195 through his first 50 games this season; he needs only 29 more strikeouts to surpass his 2018 total of 133, which he racked up in 76 games with the short-season Batavia Muckdogs.

Clinton LumberKings first baseman Sean Reynolds (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in Batavia Muckdogs, Beloit Snappers, Burlington Bees, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, New York-Penn League | Leave a comment

LumberKings’ stadium gets new name

The logo for NelsonCorp Field was designed by Ryan Foose of Fooser Sports.

The 82-year-old home of the Clinton LumberKings has a new name after NelsonCorp Wealth Management bought naming rights to the stadium through the end of the 2021 season.

The ballpark, originally known as Riverview Stadium, is getting new signage this week bearing its new name: NelsonCorp Field.

NelsonCorp Wealth Management is a multi-state investment firm that began in Illinois and now includes Clinton as one of its office sites.

The ballpark’s new identity includes a logo designed by Ryan Foose of Fooser Sports. The designer also created the logos for the LumberKings’ Copa identity, the Clinton Elotes.

This is the third time naming rights have been sold for the stadium. It was known as Alliant Energy Field from 2002 to 2011, and Ashford University Field from 2012 to 2018. The ballpark was being referred to as LumberKings Stadium this year prior to announcement of the new naming rights deal on Monday.

Posted in Clinton LumberKings, Midwest League | Leave a comment