Mariners acquire ex-Dragons infielder in 3-team trade

New Seattle Mariners prospect Shed Long played second base for the Dayton Dragons in 2015 and 2016. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Seattle Mariners acquired former Dayton Dragons infielder Shed Long in a three-team trade also involving the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees.

In addition to the Mariners getting Long, the Reds received major-league RHP Sonny Gray and minor-league LHP Reiver Sanmartin, and the Yankees got speedy minor-league outfielder Josh Stowers and a competitive balance round draft pick. Long is the only one of those players who is a former Midwest Leaguer.

Primarily a second baseman, Long played 136 games with the Dragons in 2015 and 2016, cumulatively batting .281 with 17 homers, 31 doubles, 61 runs batted in, and 18 stolen bases. He spent the 2018 season in Double-A, where he batted .261 with 12 homers, 22 doubles, 56 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 126 games with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

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Posted in Dayton Dragons, Midwest League, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Southern League | Leave a comment

Former Hot Rods manager returns to skipper BG again

Reinaldo Ruiz will return for a fourth year as manager of the Bowling Green Hot Rods this coming season. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

A former Hot Rods skipper will return to Bowling Green this year to manage the team again.

Reinaldo Ruiz will manage the Hot Rods after serving as skipper of the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs last year. The Stone Crabs went 74-62, which is the second-best record in the team’s history.

Last year’s Hot Rods manager, Craig Albernaz, is moving into a role as a minor-league coordinator in the Tampa Bay Rays organization after leading Bowling Green to its first Midwest League championship title in 2018.

Ruiz previously managed the Hot Rods from 2015 to 2017, and was originally assigned to Bowling Green again last year before being moved up to Charlotte in late March after the previously-announced Stone Crabs manager took a medical leave of absence. Ruiz, now in his 10th season as a minor-league Rays coach, guided the Hot Rods to playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016.

The rest of Bowling Green’s coaching staff are returnees from last year’s championship team.

Brian Reith, a former Cincinnati Reds pitcher, begins his second season as pitching coach for the Hot Rods. The Fort Wayne native played professional baseball for 13 years, and made five starts for the Dayton Dragons in 2000. He went 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA, 30 strikeouts and eight walks in 34.1 Midwest League innings.

This will be Manny Castillo’s seventh season as a Hot Rods coach (2010-13, 2016 and 2018). Castillo played professional baseball for 16 years, including the 1975 season in the Midwest League. (He batted .325 with 1 HR and 34 RBI in 68 games with the Wausau Mets.) He also played in 236 major-league games, mostly with the 1982-83 Seattle Mariners.

This will be Jeremy Owens’ second season as a coach for the Hot Rods. His playing career included 129 games with the 1999 Fort Wayne Wizards, for whom he batted .281 with 9 HR, 66 RBI and 65 SB.

Posted in 2018 Playoffs, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Dayton Dragons, Florida State League, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Midwest League | Leave a comment

Cardinals announce Chiefs coaching staff for 2019 season

Dozer Park, home of the Peoria Chiefs. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Peoria Chiefs will have a new manager for the upcoming season, while getting back the same pitching and hitting coaches they had when the team won the Midwest League Western Division title last year.

Peoria’s new manager is former major-league shortstop Erick Almonte. A native of the Dominican Republic, he is the first Chiefs manager to be born outside the United States. In his first managerial assignment last year, Almonte led the GCL Cardinals to the Gulf Coast League Championship Series, which they lost. He was the hitting coach for the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals in 2017, and was a coach for the Dominican Summer League Cardinals from 2014 to 2016.

Last year’s Chiefs manager, Chris Swauger, was moved into a new role for 2019. He will serve as the assistant field coordinator for the St. Louis Cardinals farm system.

Cale Johnson returns for a second season as pitching coach for the Chiefs, and a fifth season as a coach in the Cardinals organization. His four-year playing career included the 2011 season with the River Bandits. He went 1-4 with a 4.33 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 22 walks in 52 innings pitched over 30 games for Quad Cities, who won the MWL championship that year.

Russell Chambliss returns for a second season as Peoria’s hitting coach. The Chiefs offense finished second in the MWL in batting average last year, collectively posting a .267 mark. (The only team with a better batting average than the Chiefs was the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the club that beat Peoria in the MWL championship series last year.) The former New York Yankees minor-leaguer is the son of former MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss.

Posted in 2011 Playoffs, 2018 Playoffs, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Florida State League, Midwest League, Palm Beach Cardinals, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Shoemaker to skipper the Loons again in 2019

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Wednesday that John Shoemaker will return this year for a second consecutive and fourth overall season as manager of the Great Lakes Loons.

This will be his 43rd season in the Dodgers organization, and his 26th as a minor-league manager. Here is some more info about “Shoe” from the Loons’ press release about his return:

The one-time draft pick of the San Francisco Giants (26th round, 1974), Dodgers (35th round, 1977) and Chicago Bulls (6th round, 1978 NBA Draft) has compiled a 199-219 record over three seasons as Loons manager and has managed more than 3,000 games dating back to 1987. Shoemaker played second base in the Dodgers minor-league system from 1977-80 and made it to Triple-A Albuquerque before retiring to become a minor-league hitting coach. This will be the third time in team history that the Loons have had a manager return for consecutive seasons: Juan Bustabad (2008-10) and Shoemaker (2011-12).

Shoemaker’s playing days included 76 games with the Clinton Dodgers, for whom he batted .322 in 1977.

Shoemaker’s coaching staff includes three newcomers to the Midland, Mich., team: hitting coach Justin Viele, pitching coach Luis Meza, and assistant coach Jason Bourgeois.

This is the third season Viele is serving as a hitting coach in the Dodgers organization, after previously serving in that role for the High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2018 and the rookie-level Ogden Raptors in 2017. (Both of those teams won their league championships.) He played two years of pro baseball in the Baltimore Orioles farm system (2013-14).

Meza joins the Loons staff after previously serving as a pitching coach in the Arizona League and the Dominican Summer League. He pitched seven seasons in the Dodgers farm system (2009-15) before becoming a coach. He spent the 2013 season in the Midwest League, going 4-1 with a 3.96 ERA, four saves, 41 strikeouts and 32 walks in 51 relief appearances (72.2 innings) for the Loons.

Bourgeois played parts of eight MLB seasons with six different teams, compiling a .253 batting average with six homers, 44 RBI and 54 stolen bases in 317 big-league games. This is his first coaching assignment.

Posted in Albuquerque Isotopes, California League, Clinton LumberKings, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, Ogden Raptors, Pacific Coast League, Pioneer League, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes | Leave a comment

Kernels get new manager for 2019 season

The Cedar Rapids Kernels will have a new manager for the 2019 season, but he will be a familiar face.

Brian Dinkelman will manage the Kernels after serving as the team’s hitting coach during the past three seasons. He played eight seasons in the Minnesota Twins organization, a tenure that included 23 games in the major leagues (2011) and 67 games in the Midwest League (.283 BA, 7 HR, 21 RBI for the 2007 Beloit Snappers).

Ryan Smith takes over as the Kernels hitting coach in his first season with the Twins organization. The former collegiate player previously spent three years as an assistant coach at the College of Central Florida.

Virgil Vasquez is the new Kernels pitching coach, after serving in that same position for the GCL Twins the past four seasons. His playing career included parts of two seasons in the majors with the Detroit Tigers (2007) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (2009), and the entire 2004 season in the Midwest League. He went 14-6 with a 3.64 ERA, 120 strikeouts and 34 walks in 168.1 innings/27 starts for the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Former major-leaguer Luis Rodriguez is the new Kernels infield coach after serving as hitting coach for the GCL Twins last year. He played for the Quad Cities River Bandits in 1999 and 2000, cumulatively batting .250 with 36 extra-base hits and 78 RBI in 225 games.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League, Quad Cities River Bandits, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment