July 2009

Conflicts of Interest

Holland 7.30.09.jpg

Photo courtesy of the Texas Rangers, Tony Gutierrez/AP.

Admittedly, I was excited to see former LumberKings left-hander Derek Holland (’08) take a perfect game two outs deep into the fifth and finish with a win over a career-high 8.2 innings.  Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of the team whose minor league system I now cover, the Seattle Mariners.

I had Holland on the blog a while back for a phone interview when he was still just starting his Major League career.  It looks like he’s starting to settle in.  After struggling through June weith an 0-3 record, 6.46 ERA, Holland has solidified himself in the rotation with three-straight starts and a 3-1, 4.45 month of July.  Welcome to the show, permanently.

I wonder what he’d have to say if we did that interview again today.  The first year through the Majors has got to be a bit like your first year of school.  So much to learn, so many new experiences everyday.  Can I bother him for a phone interview every time he accomplishes something?  Probably not, but maybe I can catch him again following the season.

I did some digging and found my game notes from July 9, 2008…Holland’s last start in a LumberKings uniform at West Michigan.  I recall him getting the call up to Bakersfield following that start, a scoreless 6.0 innings of three-hit baseball along with seven strikeouts.  We all knew following that start that he had out-grown the Midwest League, we didn’t figure to this extent.  Check out my rather crude ’08 notes:  7.9.08 kingsnotes (Holland’s last start).pdf

Enough about Holland, on to the wheeling-and-dealing Mariners.  GM Jack Zduriencik traded young arms away in Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic two days ago, but this morning he restocked.  Gone is Jarrod Washburn (a favorite of mine because he went to my college, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh), here are pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles.

I’ve seen both French and Robles pitch in this league, and both have shown shades of dominance.  French went 11-8 with a 3.72 ERA and 94 strikeouts over 157 innings with the 2006 Midwest League Champion Whitecaps.  Robles was here to start the season with the ‘Caps, going 4-4 with a 4.63 ERA and 71 strikeouts over 56.1 innings.  He left the league with the strikeouts lead.

Unfortunately, neither will be LumberKings.  French was bouncing between the Tigers and triple-A, while Robles was in the Florida State League, qualifying him for High Desert or higher.


Lorin and Pribanic, in Retrospect

lorin.pribanic.2009.jpgA lot of folks think that us broadcast/media types hear about roster moves before they happen, injuries before they’re announced and trades before they’re finalized.  While sometimes that is the case, it certainly wasn’t today when Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic were packaged as part of the deal that brought Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to Seattle via Pittsburgh.

I was actually in the midst of today’s broadcast in Lansing when the email hit my inbox.  Suddenly, I realized why Lorin was scratched from his start today.

Two hours later, I was saying goodbye to two-fifths of the LumberKings starting rotation while they took their bags off the bus and waited for a cab.  They both seemed shocked, yet excited to be included in a big-league trade.  They’re certainly going to a Pittsburgh system that’s starved for young, talented arms.  In the Seattle system, they were both just part of a wealth of pitching prospects.

Will the LumberKings miss Lorin and Pribanic?  No doubt.  It’s hard to replace a tandem that’s ranked fourth and 10th in the league in ERA (Lorin at 2.44, Pribanic at 3.22).  Will the Kings move on and continue to battle for a playoff spot?  Absolutely.

I have no official word yet to pass to you on who will be replacing Lorin and Pribanic, but that news should be coming tomorrow.  As soon as it’s ready for release, you can expect to see it here on the LumberBlog.

I thought a fitting goodbye for both would be to re-list their interviews from this season.  There’s one with Lorin in there from early April from before I was posting interviews daily, so it’s new to the net.

Good luck, gentlemen.


Six-Game Trip Starts in Lansing

The LumberKings completed the eight-day homestand with a 5-3 record thanks to last night’s thrilling 3-2 win over the West Michigan Whitecaps.  Blake Ochoa tripled with two outs off left-hander Tyler Conn and Welington Dotel came through with his biggest hit since joining Clinton, an RBI double off the wood wall in left-center.  Read more in tonight’s notes: 
7.28.09 kingsnotes.pdf

Highlights from last night:

A six-game, two-city road trip begins tonight as the Kings head to Lansing to take on the Lugnuts.  We arrived at the ballpark at 5:00 PM eastern time for a 7:05 start, so there will be no pregame interview today.  Instead, enjoy this very brief video of Oldsmobile Park: 
Oldsmobile Park.wmv


Infielder Extrano Added from AZL

Jetsy Extrano promoted to Clinton, Kris Sanchez transferred to disabled list


Clinton, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the addition of infielder Jetsy Extrano to the 25-man roster.  Extrano arrives from Peoria, AZ, replacing injured first-baseman Kris Sanchez, who was transferred to the disabled list yesterday (retroactive to July 20).


Extrano, 20, hit .333 (33-for-99) with eight doubles, a triple, four home runs, 24 RBI and five steals in 26 games for the Peoria Mariners this season.  He was originally signed by the Mariners in 2005 out of Venezuela and has spent three of the last four seasons with Aguirre of the Venezuela Summer League.  He sat out all of 2007 with a torn left hamstring.


Sanchez hit .307 with 15 doubles, nine home runs and 36 RBI over 57 games with the LumberKings prior to hitting the DL.  The West Division All-Star was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2007.


Catcher Fleming Baez has also been reinstated from the Clinton disabled list and transferred to double-A West Tennessee.


The moves give the LumberKings a total of 25 active players with four additional players listed on the disabled list.  Extrano (no number yet chosen) will join the Kings in Clinton tonight as they take on the South Bend Silver Hawks.  Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at www.kcln.com.



Flores Called Up, Josselyn Joins Kings

All-Star closer Ruben Flores heads to High Desert, Brandon Josselyn comes to Clinton


Clinton, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the promotion of right-haner Ruben Flores from Clinton to high-A High Desert.  He is replaced on the roster by right-hander Brandon Josselyn, added today from short-A Pulaski.


Flores, 25, went 2-2 with a 2.30 ERA and a team-high 18 saves in 21 chances over 35 relief outings with Clinton this year.  The Midwest League All-Star recorded saves in 11 of his final 15 appearances, including his final outing on Monday against Peoria.  Flores exits the league ranked second in saves.


Josselyn was Seattle’s 25th round pick in the 2009 June draft out of Yale University.  He made eight relief outings with Pulaski in his first pro assignment, going 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA and one save in three chances.  Josselyn was the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year in 2009 with the Yale Bulldogs, going 5-3 with a 4.29 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 56.2 innings as a senior.


The moves give the LumberKings a total of 25 active players, including four listed on the disabled list.


Josselyn (no number yet chosen) will join the LumberKings tonight as they open a three-game series against the South Bend Silver Hawks.  Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at www.kcln.com.



Pack the Park with Kids Day

100_1017.JPGToday is our yearly “Pack the Park with Kids Day” (hence the 10:00 AM start) and the finale of a three-game series with Peoria.  Read all about today’s game in the notes: 
7.20.09 kingsnotes.pdf

There’s no interview today for the simple sake of lack of time, but I have been shooting a lot of new video lately and hopefully will have some time with tomorrow’s off-day to edit some of it.  In the near future, we’ll be doing a LumberKings Clubhouse Tour with manager Scott Steinmann.

The pregame starts at 9:45 AM, tune in on kcln.com.

Also, a couple highlights from yesterday’s game:


Third-rounder Seager Joins Kings

Former UNC infielder Kyle Seager helps banged-up Clinton squad


Clinton, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the addition of infielder Kyle Seager to the 25-man roster.  Seattle’s third-round pick in the 2009 June draft out of the University of North Carolina, Seager helps fill the void left behind by outfielder Maximo Mendez and infielder Terry Serrano, who both have been transferred to the disabled list.


Seager hit .393 with six home runs and 62 RBI in 66 games with the Tar Heels in 2009, his junior season.  His average was second only to 1B/OF Dustin Ackley, Seattle’s first-round pick this season.  Seager joins the LumberKings after just one game in the Arizona League (0-for-3), coming on July 17 against the AZL Angels.


Mendez and Serrano each exited with injuries in last night’s 8-3 loss at Fort Wayne.  Mendez is hitting .213 with eight triples, two home runs, 38 runs scored and 20 steals in 64 games, while Serrano hit .236 with six doubles, a home run, 22 RBI and 18 steals in 75 games.


The active roster stands at 24 players, with four on the disabled list.  No number has yet been selected by Seager, who is in the lineup tonight for the 7 PM game against Peoria.  Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or online at www.kcln.com.

More Views from Parkview Field

100_0991.JPGParkview Field greeted the LumberKings rudely last night as the Fort Wayne TinCaps won, 3-1 on the strength of home runs by Brayden Drake and Robert Lara.  You can read more here in today’s notes: 
7.16.09 kingsnotes.pdf

Still, it’s a beautiful place.  Some more video from my excursions through the Midwest League’s newest ballpark:

I apologize for the Blair-Witchyness of the videos, my new video recorder doesn’t have a steadycam function and apparently I didn’t learn anything from the “film” side of my communications degree (other than the sweet fades, titles and edits).

On to the interview.  I catch up with Fort Wayne TinCaps’ radio voice Dan Watson to talk about the new ballpark, the league’s best team and more.

Listen Here: 
Dan Watson (FTW Broadcaster) 7.16.09.mp3


Sixth-rounder Hansen Joins LumberKings

Infielder Shaver Hansen heads to Clinton, Ogui Diaz sent to Arizona


Fort Wayne, IN – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the addition of infielder Shaver Hansen to the 25-man roster.  Hansen replaces infielder Ogui Diaz, who has been sent down to Peoria, Arizona.


Hansen was drafted by the Mariners in the sixth round of the 2009 June draft out of Baylor University.  The Grand Junction, Colorado native hit .330 with 15 doubles, 17 home runs and 59 RBI in 56 games, all starts for the Baylor Bears in 2009.  The big campaign came after Hansen won Baylor’s Larry Isbell team MVP award as a sophomore in 2008.  He hit a team-high .326 that season, hitting six home runs and driving in 47 RBI.   Clinton is his first professional assignment.


Diaz leaves the LumberKings after hitting .208 with six doubles, a home run, 11 RBI and seven steals in 43 games.  He also pitched once, tossing a scoreless inning on July 7 vs. Kane County.


The move gives the LumberKings a maximum of 25 players on the active roster, with two listed on the disabled list.  Hansen (#8) will be in uniform tonight in Fort Wayne.


The LumberKings (7-12) continue the three-game series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps (16-3) tonight at Parkview Field.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM central time.  Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at www.kcln.com.


Former Bees Reliever Now a LumberKing

Left-hander Derrick Saito joins Clinton, LumberKings announce other moves


Clinton, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced a series of roster moves today.  Left-hander Derrick Saito has joined the club following a three-player deal between the Mariners and Kansas City that sent infielder Yuniesky Betancourt to the Royals.


Saito was originally drafted by the Royals in the 16th round of the June 2008 draft out of Cal Poly.  The Wailuki, Hawaii native went 2-6 with a 4.15 ERA and two saves for Kansas City’s low-A Midwest League affiliate in Burlington this season.  He struck out 53 while walking just 15 over 22 appearances, all in relief.  Saito faced the LumberKings twice as a Bee, going 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA and four strikeouts in 2.0 innings.


To make room for Saito, right-hander Andres Esquibel was sent back to short-A Everett.  Esquibel was 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in eight outings, one start with Clinton this season.


The Mariners also announced two other moves to the Clinton 25-man roster.  Outfielder Steve Moss was released by the organization, clearing space for outfielder Maximo Mendez to return from the disabled list.  Moss hit .238 with nine doubles, four home runs and 26 RBI in 43 games with the LumberKings this season.  Mendez is hitting .203 with eight triples, 35 runs scored and 19 stolen bases, but has been on the disabled list since June 22.


Saito has yet to choose a number.  The Clinton roster stands at 25 active, with two listed on the disabled list.


The LumberKings (7-11) open a three-game series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps (15-3) at Parkview Field tomorrow night.  First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM central time.  Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at www.kcln.com.