MWL announces nominees for MiLB postseason awards

The Midwest League recently announced its nominees for Minor League Baseball’s postseason awards.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers president and general manager Rob Zerjav was named the MWL Executive of the Year for the third time. (He previously won the award in 2007 and 2012.) His team is nominated for the John H. Johnson President’s Award, which is annually given to a MiLB team that demonstrates franchise stability while making significant contributions to its community, league, and the baseball industry.

The Dayton Dragons are nominated for the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award, which is presented to a MiLB club or individual employed by a club for outstanding support of and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and veterans, both at the ballpark and in the community.

The Kane County Cougars are nominated for the John Henry Moss Community Service Award, which is given to a MiLB club that demonstrates an outstanding, ongoing commitment to charitable service, support, and leadership within its local community and the baseball industry.

The Fort Wayne TinCaps are nominated for the Larry MacPhail Promotional Award, which is presented to a MiLB club that demonstrates outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts within its community, its ballpark (including non-gameday events), and in media and other promotional materials.

The Midwest League also announced that Tiffany Wardynski, vice president of baseball operations and gameday experience for the Great Lake Loons, is nominated for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award.

The award winners will be announced during the Baseball Winter Meetings in December.

Posted in Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Bowling Green Hot Rods get new owner

The Midwest League champion Bowling Green Hot Rods have a new owner. (Photo courtesy of the Hot Rods)

Two weeks after winning their first Midwest League championship title, the Bowling Green Hot Rods have a new owner.

On Tuesday the Hot Rods announced the team has been sold to BG SKY, LLC, which is solely owned by businessman Jack Blackstock. The sale was completed Monday afternoon after receiving final approval from the MLB commissioner’s office.

Though taking over as sole owner of the team, Blackstock is no stranger to the Hot Rods, having been an investor in the team for the past five years.

“I am thrilled to be getting directly involved in the Hot Rods,” Blackstock said in a press release. “I view the Hot Rods as an unusual and tremendous opportunity. There is a vibrant community and the local economy is strong and growing. The community leaders are genuinely committed to building the downtown and reinvesting in community assets, such as the stadium. We have an excellent group in the front office led by Eric Leach, and on the field the Hot Rods can’t be beat – literally! Midwest League Champions!”

As part of the purchase agreement, BG SKY, LLC has agreed to a lease of Bowling Green Ballpark with the Bowling Green Downtown Economic Authority. A key part of the deal is for the Hot Rods to remain in Bowling Green as an anchor to the downtown area. The term of the lease runs until 2030, with potential extensions available.

“We are working on enhancements to make the fan experience that much more fun next year. I look forward to sharing the details of these efforts very soon,” Blackstock said.

The enhancements will include a new playing surface to be installed this month.

Posted in 2018 Playoffs, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Snappers and A’s extend their affiliation through 2020 season

Herschel “Boog” Powell is among the Oakland A’s prospects who played for the Beloit Snappers before later reaching the major leagues. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Beloit Snappers and the Oakland Athletics have extended their player-development contract through the 2020 season, keeping intact an affiliation that has been in place since 2013.

That leaves the Kane County Cougars as the only Midwest League team without a PDC in place for next season. Their contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks expired at the end of the 2018 season.

There are three MLB teams without Low-A contracts in place: the Diamondbacks, the Chicago White Sox, and the Seattle Mariners (whose 10-year affiliation with the LumberKings is over after Clinton announced its pairing with the Miami Marlins on Thursday). The Seattle Times reported that the Mariners will align with the West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League, though that move hasn’t been formally announced. That leaves the Diamondbacks and the White Sox, with (unconfirmed) rumor saying Arizona and Kane County will renew their contract.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Clinton LumberKings, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, South Atlantic League, West Virginia Power | Leave a comment

Ex-Whitecaps OF Stewart hits 1st two MLB HRs in Tigers win

Detroit Tigers rookie Christin Stewart bats for the West Michigan Whitecaps during a game in 2015. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Former West Michigan Whitecaps outfielder Christin Stewart hit his first two major-league homers and drove in six runs to lead the Detroit Tigers to an 11-8 win over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Stewart’s six RBI are a career high, eclipsing his previous personal record of five RBI in a game for the Whitecaps in 2015. He batted .286 with seven homers, nine doubles, four triples and 31 RBI in 51 games with West Michigan.

Thursday’s game was Stewart’s 11th in the major leagues. He went 35 at-bats before homering. The last Tigers rookie to hit his first two homers in one game was Brent Clevlen, who did it on Aug. 1, 2006. Clevlen played for the Whitecaps in 2003, batting .260 with 12 homers, 22 doubles, seven triples and 63 RBI in 138 games. The outfielder played 59 games in the major leagues.

The last Detroit rookie to collect six RBI in a single game was Ryan Raburn, who drove in seven runs for the Tigers on July 25, 2007. He played 56 games with the 2002-03 Whitecaps, batting .256 with nine homers, 17 doubles and 40 RBI. He played parts of 12 seasons in the majors, most recently with the Washington Nationals last year.

Posted in Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Clinton signs two-year affiliation deal with Marlins

The Clinton LumberKings will be affiliated with the Miami Marlins for the next two seasons. (Photo graphic courtesy of the LumberKings)

The Clinton LumberKings will have a new parent club next season after announcing Thursday night that they’ve signed a two-year player-development contract with the Miami Marlins.

The LumberKings were affiliated with the Seattle Mariners the past 10 seasons. The Marlins are the 15th MLB team to affiliate with the Clinton ballclub, dating back to the franchise’s origin in 1937. Miami is the first National League team to affiliate with Clinton since the LumberKings ended their tie to the Montreal Expos in 2002.

This is only the second time the Marlins have had a Midwest League affiliate. They were Kane County’s parent club from 1993 to 2002, during which time future major-leaguers Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria, A.J. Burnett and Dontrelle Willis were among those who suited up for the Cougars. Current Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria was Kane County’s skipper in 1999, when he was named the MWL Manager of the Year and led the Marlins affiliate to the second round of the MWL playoffs.

The Marlins left the Midwest League for the South Atlantic League, where they were affiliated with the Greensboro Grasshoppers for the past 16 seasons. Greensboro won three playoff berths, two division titles and a league championship during that time.

The Beloit Snappers and the Kane County Cougars are the only two Midwest League teams currently without player-development contracts in place for the next two years. They were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively, this past season.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Clinton LumberKings, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, South Atlantic League | Leave a comment