Franco getting promoted to Florida State League

Wander Franco is moving up to the Florida State League on Tuesday, after starting the season in the Midwest League with the Bowling Green Hot Rods. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Bowling Green Hot Rods shortstop Wander Franco — considered by many to be the top prospect in baseball — will be promoted from the Midwest League to the high-A Florida State League, where he will play for the Charlotte Stone Crabs.

According to numerous reports, the Tampa Bay Rays prospect will join the Stone Crabs on Tuesday, when the promotion will be made official. There are no games scheduled in the Midwest League on Monday.

Franco batted .318 with 27 extra-base hits, 29 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 62 games with the Hot Rods this season. He struck out only 20 times and drew 30 walks in 272 plate appearances. He went 1-for-4 with a triple and a walk in his final MWL game, against the South Bend Cubs on Sunday. Ironically, the star prospect was the only Hot Rods player in the lineup who didn’t collect an RBI in Bowling Green’s 11-10 loss to South Bend.

He played in the MWL All-Star Game last week, starting at shortstop for the East team and going 0-for-3 at the plate.

The Dominican Republic native turned 18 on March 1.

Franco made his professional debut last season with the Princeton Rays of the short-season Appalachian League. He batted .351 with 28 extra-base hits, 57 RBI, 27 walks and 19 strikeouts in 61 Appy League games.

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Posted in 2019 All-Star Game, Appalachian League, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Florida State League, Midwest League, Princeton Rays, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Betts wins Home Run Derby, is named MVP of All-Star Game

Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Chris Betts blasts a homer during Monday’s Home Run Derby. (Photographer unknown; photo shared by Betts on Twitter)

Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Chris Betts won the Midwest League Home Run Derby on Monday, then was named the MVP of the MWL All-Star Game a day later after he blasted the game-winning homer for the East Division team.

His game-winning homer wasn’t a typical one. The All-Star Game was tied 3-3 after nine innings, so a sudden-death home run derby took place to choose the winning team. Betts represented the East team, while Kane County Cougars infielder Blaze Alexander took aim for the West team. Each player was allowed 90 seconds to hit as many homers as he could.

Alexander went first and went deep only once. Betts followed that with two homers to give the East team the victory.

Betts made two plate appearances in the actual game, walking twice. Four players had two hits in the game: Clinton LumberKings outfielder Jerar Encarnacion (who hit a two-run homer in the 4th inning), Cougars third baseman Buddy Kennedy (who doubled and stole a base), Lansing Lugnuts first baseman Jake Brodt, and Great Lakes Loons third baseman Miguel Vargas (who hit an RBI double). West Michigan Whitecaps outfielder Ulrich Bojarski didn’t get a hit in the game, but drove in two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies.

Next year’s Midwest League All-Star Game will be played in Bowling Green.

Players and coaches stand lined up on the field during the national anthem shortly before the Midwest League All-Star Game began. (Photo tweeted by the Clinton LumberKings)

Posted in 2019 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Adolph, Bravo named Midwest League players of the week

Two Quad Cities River Bandits were named the Midwest League players of the week for June 10-16.

Outfielder Ross Adolph won the offensive award after batting .381 (8-for-21) with two homers, one double, five walks, four runs batted in, eight runs scored, and one stolen base in six games. He is batting .206 with 20 extra-base hits and 22 RBI in 59 games with the River Bandits this season.

RHP Jose Bravo pitched a six-inning, one-hit shutout in his lone start last week. He struck out seven and walked none in QC’s 5-0 win over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Saturday. In six starts for the River Bandits, Bravo is 1-1 with a 3.45 ERA, 26 strikeouts and seven walks in 31.1 innings.

Posted in Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Bees come within one out of no-hitting Chiefs

Two Burlington Bees pitchers combined efforts to nearly no-hit the Peoria Chiefs on Saturday, instead settling for a one-hitter after coming within an out of finishing a no-no on the road.

Bees starting pitcher Hector Yan went five innings, allowing only one walk while striking out five batters. Reliever Cole Duensing pitched the final four frames for Burlington, setting down his opponents in order during his first three innings. The 9th inning didn’t fare quite as well for him, as he hit the leadoff batter, who moved to second on defensive indifference before scoring on a two-out single.

That was the only hit of the game for the Chiefs, who lost 7-1 in front of a Peoria crowd of 5,827. The Bees got a three-run homer from Justin Jones and a solo homer from Keinner Pina.

QC’s Bravo one-hits T-Rats

There was a one-hitter in Davenport on Saturday, too, though that was an abbreviated game cut short by rain after six innings.

The Quad Cities River Bandits beat the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 5-0, scoring all five of their runs in the 1st inning. Winning pitcher Jose Bravo went the distance for the Bandits, allowing only one hit while striking out seven and walking none. In six starts for QC this season, the Houston Astros farmhand is 1-1 with a 3.45 ERA, 26 strikeouts and seven walks in 31.1 innings.

Liberatore Ks 9 for BG

Hot Rods LHP Matthew Liberatore scattered three hits and one walk while striking out nine in Bowling Green’s 7-1 win over the Lansing Lugnuts on Saturday.

The Tampa Bay Rays prospect improved to 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 12 walks in 34 innings/six starts for the Hot Rods this season.

Posted in Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Midwest League announces Home Run Derby field

The Midwest League announced Monday which eight players will participate in next week’s Home Run Derby. There will be four players from each division.

The Home Run Derby take place at South Bend’s Four Winds Field on Monday, June 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m. EST. It is the final event of the day’s All-Star Fan Fest.

The four Eastern Division participants (and their number of home runs this season, as of Monday morning) are Great Lakes Loons outfielder Niko Hulsizer (13), Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Chris Betts (11), Lansing Lugnuts first baseman Jake Brodt (8), and South Bend Cubs outfielder Jonathan Sierra (2).

The four Western Division participants are Peoria Chiefs third baseman Nolan Gorman (10), Clinton LumberKings outfielder Jerar Encarnacion (8), Cedar Rapids Kernels first baseman Chris Williams (8), and Kane County Cougars outfielder Alek Thomas (6).

Lake County Captains outfielder Will Benson leads the Midwest League with 16 home runs, but presumably either wasn’t asked to participate or declined to because he was in last year’s MWL Home Run Derby. He finished second in last year’s derby, behind then-Hot Rods catcher Ronaldo Hernandez.

The winner of this year’s Home Run Derby gets $1,000. The second-place finisher wins $500.

The Home Run Derby is a three-round event, with players competing against others from their division in the first two rounds. The final round will be a head-to-head competition between two players, one from each division. There is a time limit of three minutes per player in each round.

The All-Star Game will be played the next day (Tuesday, June 18). The All-Star rosters were announced last week. (Click here to see who the starting players will be, and to find links to both teams’ rosters.)

Clinton LumberKings outfielder Jerar Encarnacion is one of eight players slated to participate in next week’s MWL Home Run Derby. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

Posted in 2019 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment