Of course you’ve seen them by now, but the 2009 MLB Futures Game rosters were announced yesterday. There’s plenty of former Midwest Leaguers on the U.S and World team rosters, even some current ones (Brett Lawrie of Wisconsin, Josh Vitters of Peoria, J.C. Sulbaran of Dayton, etc.), but there’s one name Clinton fans should be pretty proud to see.
2008 LumberKings right-hander Neftali Feliz will represent the Texas Rangers on the World team. Just a year ago, Feliz was still dealing upper-90’s fastballs here at Alliant Energy Field and working on his curve/change. Now, he’s a full-fledged top prospect, a sure-fire call-up for the Rangers and a Futures Game participant. It should be exciting to see him in St. Louis.
Feliz came into last season with plenty of hype surrounding his blistering fastball, and he didn’t disappoint. He went 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA, numbers that don’t really stun you, but also struck out 106 batters over just 82.0 innings.
Ironic how Feliz makes it to the Futures Game just as the LumberKings welcome his Seattle Mariners’ clone. Right-hander Maikel Cleto has arrived in Clinton and will make his Midwest League debut tonight. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…Cleto was acquired in a Major League deal (so too was Feliz, the Mark Teixeira trade with Atlanta), he is said to throw mid-90’s (as did Feliz) and is also said to be working on a curveball/changeup to round out his arsenal (Feliz!). We’ll see how Cleto fares tonight.
Finally, my favorite Futures Game moment? Easy. John Whittleman’s home run in the ’07 game in San Francisco. Whit remains the only active LumberKing to participate in the Futures Game since its inception in 1999.
Whit rounds the bases in San Fran after taking Deolis Guerra (NYM) deep in 2007.
Kings Shake Up Second-half Roster
Baez, Cleto join LumberKings, Martinez sent to Everett
Clinton, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced several roster moves that have occurred over the All-Star Break.
Right-hander Maikel Cleto was added to the roster effective June 22. He had been listed on Clinton’s inactive list and was recently moved to the disabled list. The 20-year-old from Santo Domingo, DR made one rehab start in Peoria, AZ prior to coming off the DL. He was acquired from the New York Mets as part of a three-team, 12-player deal on December 10, 2008. Cleto went 5-11 with a 4.25 ERA in 25 games, 22 starts with low-A Savannah last season, prior to a one-game promotion to St. Lucie. Cleto is expected to join the LumberKings’ starting rotation.
The Kings have also made changes to their catching corps. Travis Howell was sent to the disabled list retroactive to June 20, while recently-acquired catcher Tommy Johnson has been sent to short-A Pulaski. Veteran catcher Fleming Baez joins the LumberKings by way of triple-A Tacoma.
Baez, 27, suits up for the LumberKings for the second time. Originally signed by the Texas Rangers, Baez played in their system from 1999 to 2003, making a stop with Clinton in that final 2003 season. He went 0-for-2 in two pinch-hit at-bats. The Mariners signed Baez out of independent ball prior to 2008. He hit .191 with a home run and 16 RBI with short-A Everett last year and has made brief stops with High Desert and Tacoma this season.
To make room on the 25-man roster, struggling third-baseman Mario Martinez has been sent to short-A Everett, effective June 23. Martinez, 19, hit .214 with two home runs and 24 RBI in 61 games with Clinton.
Rounding out the moves, right-hander Alfredo Venegas is back on the Clinton roster after a brief transfer to short-A Pulaski. He’s 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA in seven starts with the LumberKings this year.
The updates give the LumberKings a total of 25 active players, four listed on the disabled list. Baez and Cleto have not yet selected numbers, while Venegas will again wear #31.
It’s finally over. The 2009 Midwest League All-Star Game is in the books, and I’ve got a few highlights to share in case you didn’t tune in to tonight’s radio/internet broadcast. By the way, you can read more about the East’s 6-3 victory at www.lumberkings.com.
Jaime Pedroza’s third-inning double: Pedroza RBI Double (All-Star Game).mp3
Ron Bourquin’s fourth-inning blast:
Bourquin 3-R HR (All Star Game).mp3
Steve Kleen’s solo shot:
Kleen Solo HR (All Star Game).mp3
Nick Francis’s seventh-inning double:
Francis RBI Double (All Star Game).mp3
I should be uploading some of the pictures I took over the next few days. Tomorrow, though, I’m taking my first real day off since Easter. Catch you all on Thursday as the LumberKings open the second half against Burlington.
These will be heard on tonight’s live broadcast of the 2009 Midwest League All-Star Game on AM 1390 KCLN and KCLN.com, but in case you can’t wait…
West Division Manager Scott Steinmann (LumberKings):
Scott Steinmann All-Star Interview 6.23.09.mp3
East Division Manager Mark Haley (South Bend):
Mark Haley All Star Interview 6.23.09.mp3
First pitch is at 7:00 PM. Listen in!
One crazy Skills Contest / Home Run Derby down, but the real fun is still yet to come. Alliant Energy Field hosts the 2009 Midwest League All-Star Game today. Even with temperatures expected in the mid-90’s, it should be a fun time.
Here’s tonight’s media notes for the 45th Midwest League All-Star Game:
2009 MWL ASG Game Notes (Tuesday).pdf
Rebel Yell: Ridling Wins Derby
Peoria’s Rebel Ridling belts 12 homers in derby, Great Lakes’ Dee Gordon wins Skills Contest
Clinton, IA – Strong throws, pinpoint bunts and tapemeasure blasts highlighted All-Star Monday at Alliant Energy Field as the Skills Contest and Home Run Derby champions were crowned. Great Lakes’ shortstop Dee Gordon won the Skills Contest with a pair of three-point bunts in the sudden-death bunt-off round, and Peoria’s Rebel Ridling blasted 12 home runs, including five in the finals to take the Derby title.
Gordon scored 19 points on throws from short, before besting Cedar Rapids’ Alexi Amarista, Clinton’s Terry Serrano and Clinton’s Nate Tenbrink in the four-way bunt battle. His final two bunts both rolled into the three-point circle, giving him the first-ever Skills title.
Ridling belted three first-round home runs and cracked four more in the second, taking the lead on the field of 13 hitters. Wisconsin’s Brett Lawrie reached the finals with two home runs each in the first and second rounds.
Lawrie batted first in the finals, blasting a ball off the scoreboard in left-center for his only shot in 10 outs. Ridling then stepped to the plate, lifting off with several clouts over the wood wall. Just three outs into the final round, he claimed the title with a home run off the scoreboard. Ridling then added three more to finish with a final total of 12 home runs.
Gordon and Ridling were presented with a 2009 Midwest League All-Star Jacket courtesy of Nike and a Fossil watch on behalf of Don’s Jewelry in Clinton.
A rundown of the derby (total home runs in parentheses): Kane County’s Jason Christian (0), Jeremy Barfield (0), Dusty Coleman (0) and Steve Kleen (1), Burlington’s Nick Francis (3), Fort Wayne’s James Darnell (0), Great Lakes’ Jaime Pedroza (3) and Kyle Russell (2), Peoria’s Josh Vitters (1) and Lansing’s Brian Van Kirk (1).
Denny Almonte, Clinton’s only hitter in the derby posted no home runs in the first round.
The 2009 All-Star Game festivities continue with the 45th Midwest League All-Star Game scheduled for a 7:00 PM start. Gates open at 4:00 PM. Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at www.kcln.com.
The first half ends today at Cedar Rapids, and the LumberKings will not be able to punch their playoff ticket despite having a shot at finishing in a three-way tie with the Kernels and Kane County Cougars for first place.
Cedar Rapids holds the head-to-head tie-breaker (7-3 record against the LumberKings), while Kane County holds the run differential tie-breaker (Cougars are plus-2 in the season series).
Don’t get down, though. The Burlington Bees didn’t make the playoffs in the first half last year, and they went on to win the Midwest League championship. Sometimes it’s better to learn a lesson in the first half and build a strong team on those lessons in the second half.
So, instead of looking at the negative, let’s reflect on the great moments of the first half. In lieu of an interview, we’ll do just that today.
Listen to the LumberKings’ first-half highlight reel:
2009 First Half Highlight Reel.mp3
The next few days are going to be very busy ones for me, with the 2009 Midwest League All-Star Game coming to the city of Clinton. I will be taking as many pictures as possible and gathering some interviews. Chances are, those will get posted AFTER the game.
Until then, happy Father’s Day!
In case you didn’t see this via LumberKings.com…
Johnson Added as Lorin Hits DL
Catcher Tommy Johnson joins Clinton, right-hander Brett Lorin heads to disabled list
Cedar Rapids, IA – The Clinton LumberKings in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the addition of catcher Tommy Johnson to the 25-man roster. Johnson arrives from Peoria, Arizona to replace right-hander Brett Lorin, who has been transferred to the seven-day disabled list.
Johnson was the Mariners’ 27th round pick in 2008 out of Marshall University. He spent all of 2008 with short-season Pulaski, hitting .345 with eight doubles, a home run, 15 runs scored and 12 RBI in 36 games.
Lorin pitched last night in Cedar Rapids and took the loss, exiting after 5.0 innings with a groin strain. Elected to the All-Star Game, Lorin is 4-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 starts with the LumberKings and leads the Midwest League in strikeouts (82) and innings pitched (80.2).
Johnson is in action with the club tonight and will wear #8.
Hann Replaces Lorin on All-Star Roster
Right-hander Cheyne Hann takes place of injured Brett Lorin on West roster
Cedar Rapids, IA – The Clinton LumberKings in conjunction with the Midwest League have announced the addition of LumberKings’ right-hander Cheyne Hann to the West Division roster for Tuesday’s Midwest League All-Star Game. Hann replaces teammate Brett Lorin, who was moved to the seven-day disabled list today with an injured groin.
Hann is 2-0 with a bullpen-leading 1.72 ERA with Clinton this year. He has converted three saves in three chances, walking just six batters while striking out 40 in 36.2 innings.
The West roster stands at 32 players with the addition of Hann.