April 2011

Today’s Interview: Stefen Romero

The LumberKings split last night’s doubleheader in Wisconsin after falling 5-0 in game one.  Stefen Romero powered the offense with a 2-for-4 performance including his second home run in the last three games and a career-high three RBI.  That was more than enough to back right-hander Forrest Snow, who bounced back from his eight-run debacle at Kane County to toss his first career complete game.  Snow earned his first professional win with a run on five hits over 7.0 innings, and the Kings won, 6-1.

Highlights from Game 2:

I’ve already chatted with Snow about a six-inning no-hit bid this season, so it’s time to talk with Romero for the first time.  Seattle’s 12th round pick out of Oregon State University has had a somewhat long road to his first professional season, having missed last year with right elbow issues.  He’s back to 100% now and is swinging the bat well in the middle of the Clinton order. 

Listen Here:  Romero Interview 4.30.11

Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (6-16):  Shaver Hansen/2B, Julio Morban/RF, Tim Morris/DH, Stefen Romero/LF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Matt Cerione/CF, Ramon Morla/3B, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, George Mieses/RHP

Wisconsin (7-11):  Nick Shaw/2B, Reggie Keen/CF, Cody Hawn/1B, Mike Walker/DH, Greg Hopkins/3B, TJ Mittlestaedt/LF, Tyler Roberts/C, Carlos George/SS, Franklin Romero/RF, Jimmy Nelson/RHP

The LumberKings will try and secure just their second series victory in a Saturday afternoon game against the Timber Rattlers.  First pitch is at 1:05 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Friday Notes (4/29)

The Kings and Rattlers were rained out last night, meaning both a doubleheader today at Time Warner Cable Field in Appleton and not much in the way of new content from me.  Here’s tonight’s Game Notes, updated with game two starter Forrest Snow’s information:  4.29.11 kingsnotes

That’s all for now.  The weather here is spectacular today, so we should have no problem getting in both seven-inning games starting at 5:05 PM.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Tonight’s Interview: James Paxton

The tarp is on here as a light rain falls at Time Warner Cable Field in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.  The LumberKings are supposed to open a three-game series against the Timber Rattlers tonight at 6:35 PM, but it’s looking like the start time will be pushed back.

Last night on another crisp evening at Alliant Energy Field, we witnessed the much-anticipated professional debut of left-hander James Paxton, a one-time supplemental first-round pick of Toronto and fourth-round pick of the Mariners last June.  The former Kentucky Wildcat turned in just the fourth quality outing by a LumberKings starter this year, allowing three runs on five hits over 6.0 innings and striking out six — but he also took the loss as the Kings fell 7-2 to the Peoria Chiefs.

Still, it was fun to watch the 23-year-old get ahead in the count with a four-seam fastball that touched 94-95 and follow with a big breaking curveball that landed for both called strikes and swings and misses.  Paxton also proved resilient, staying in the game after being struck on the inner thigh by a comebacker hit by Sergio Burruel to lead off the second.

Listen to Paxton’s first career strikeout:  Paxton First Career Strikeout 4.27.11

Listen to Stefen Romero’s first career home run:  Romero First Pro HR 4.27.11

Paxton is my interview guest tonight.  We talk about his first pro start, his Spring Training experience with the Mariners, his arsenal including a two-seam and four-seam fastball, his stint with Grand Prairie of the American Association last year, pitching alongside Clinton native Tyler Howe at the University of Kentucky, his goals for 2011 and more.

Listen Here:  Paxton Interview 4.28.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  4.28.11 kingsnotes

Should the rain subside, here’s tonight’s lineups:

LumberKings (5-15):  Shaver Hansen/2B< Julio Morban/CF, Tim Morris/1B, Mickey Wiswall/LF, Stefen Romero/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/DH, Steven Baron/C, Carlos Ramirez/SS, Seon Gi Kim/RHP

Wisconsin (6-10):  Reggie Keen/CF, Nick Shaw/2B, Cody Hawn/1B, Mike Walker/DH, Greg Hopkins/3B, Robbie Garvey/LF, Tyler Roberts/C, Carlos George/SS, Franklin Romero/RF, Matt Miller/RHP

First pitch will be…well…hopefull at some point tonight.  Listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Tonight’s Interview: Tim Morris

As last night’s 10-1 loss to the Peoria Chiefs indicates, this offense is still struggling to produce runs.  Still, if you look past the box score (as one must do to stay sane when a team is scuffling), you’ll see bits and pieces of progress and signs of better days to come.   That’s what I’ve seen in the at-bats put together by Tim Morris over the last few days.  Morris went 2-for-3 with a double last night for his fourth multi-hit effort in the last five games.  The 2010 holdover is hitting .361, eighth-best in the Midwest League.

I decided to catch up with Morris today to talk about his second season in the black and green.  We talk about his solid start to the year, the state of the offense, his newfound agressiveness on the basepaths, memories of the 2010 Midwest League Playoffs, his advice to the younger players and more.

Listen Here:   Morris Interview 4.27.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  4.27.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Peoria (10-8):  Matt Szczur/CF, Pierre LePage/2B, Greg Rohan/3B, Richard Jones/1B, Smaily Borges/RF, Sergio Burruel/C, DJ Fitzgerald/DH, Anthony Giansanti/LF, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, Dallas Beeler/RHP

LumberKings (5-14):  Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/DH, Matt Cerione/CF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Ramon Morla/3B, Stefen Romero/LF, Jabari Blash/RF, Steven Baron/C, Carlos Ramirez/SS, James Paxton/LHP

First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Fourth-Rounder Paxton to Make Pro Debut Tonight

Left-hander James Paxton added to Clinton roster, will start against Peoria at 6:30 PM

Clinton, IA– The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the following transaction for the Clinton25-man roster: left-hander James Paxton has joined the club from extended Spring Training, replacing left-hander Jason Markovitz who was promoted to high-A High Desert today.

Paxton, 23, signed with the Mariners on March 4 after Seattleselected him in the fourth round of the 2010 June draft.  The Ladner, British Columbia native was a standout at the University of Kentucky from 2007 through 2009, going 11-5 with a 4.91 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 55 career games, 24 starts for the Wildcats.  In his junior season (2009), his 13.22 strikeouts per 9.0 innings ranked third amongst all NCAA pitchers.  Following that year, he was selected in the supplemental first round (39th overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays, but did not sign.  Paxton was a college teammate of Clinton native Tyler Howe

Markovitz, 22, went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA over five relief appearances with the LumberKings this season.  He’s the second player to be promoted fromClinton to HighDesert this week, joining infielder Anthony Phillips.

Paxton is wearing #47 and will make his first professional start tonight against the Peoria Chiefs.  The moves give Clinton a total of 25 active players with two on the disabled list. 

First pitch at Alliant Energy Field is scheduled for 6:30 PM, listen on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at 1390kcln.com.


Off the Diamond: Kate Voss

The first “Off the Diamond” interview of 2011 features the newest member of the LumberKings office staff, administrative assistant Kate Voss.  If you’ve been down to Alliant Energy Field already this season, you’ve probably seen Kate down on the diamond leading the on-field promotions or around the ballpark assisting Nate Kreinbrink and Mitch Butz.

Get to know more about Kate, a Sports Management student and basketball player at nearby Ashford University and the perfector of the “Candlelight Inn Chicken George Fling” in tonight’s interview.

Listen Here:  Kate Voss OTD Interview 4.26.11


Tuesday Notes (4/26)

Hidden deep within last night’s 14-3 loss to Peoria were a few bright spots.  Shortstop Marcus Littlewood hit his first professional home run in the second inning, taking Chicago Cubs’ first-round pick Hayden Simpson deep to the Lumber Lounge in right for a solo shot.  Right-hander Willy Kesler lowered his ERA to 1.38 with 4.0 scoreless innings of relief including two strikeouts.  Matt Cerione went 3-for-4 with his first RBI of the season and is now 5-for-8 over his last two games.   Tim Morris recorded his third multi-hit game in the last four games, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Listen to the not-so-little blast: Littlewood solo HR (first of career) 4.25.11

Aside from that, last night was tough to watch.  The Chiefs batted around and then some on right-handers George Mieses and Jonathan Arias during an eight-run second inning, the second eight-run frame Clinton pitchers have allowed in the last three games.  The offense went just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and have scored Mieses just three runs of support in four starts.

But, there’s more new blood on the roster today with the addition of outfielder Jabari Blash.  He and fellow new arrival Shaver Hansen are both in the lineup tonight for the middle game of this three-game set against Peoria.  Right-hander Brandon Maurer (1-1, 3.00) has lost his “tandem” tag and is now a full-time starter…he lost his last time out against Cedar Rapids on 4/20 despite giving up just three runs over 5.0 innings.  Maurer will be on the hill tonight for start #3.

Read more in tonight’s Game Notes:  4.26.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Peoria (9-8):  Matt Szczur/CF, Rubi Silva/RF, Greg Rohan/3B, Richard Jones/1B, Micah Gibbs/C, Elliot Soto/2B, DJ Fitzgerald/LF, Anthony Giansanti/DH, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, Austin Kirk/LHP

LumberKings (5-13):  Matt Cerione/CF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Julio Morban/LF, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Ramon Morla/3B, Tim Morris/1B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, Brandon Maurer/RHP

First pitch is once again at 6:30 PM, tune in online at 1390kcln.com.


Blash Arrives from AZ, Rivers Heads to DL

Mariners’ 8th round pick, outfielder Jabari Blash joins LumberKings

Clinton, IA– The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the following transaction for the Clinton 25-man roster: outfielder Kevin Rivers has been placed on the seven-day disabled list and is replaced on the roster by outfielder Jabari Blash, called up from extended Spring Training today.

Rivers, 22, hit .276 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI in 17 games for the LumberKings this season.  He exited last night’s 14-3 loss toPeoria after an eighth-inning at-bat in which he was struck in the hand by a ball that ricocheted off his bat.  Rivers later drew a walk and stayed in the game, but was replaced defensively for the ninth inning.

Blash, 21, hit .266 with six doubles, five homers and 20 RBI in 32 games for rookie-level Pulaski last season. Seattle drafted him in the eighth round out of Miami Dade Community College in 2010.

The moves give Clintona total of 25 active players with two on the disabled list.  Blash has not yet chosen a uniform number, but will be available for tonight’s 6:30 PM game againstPeoria.


Monday Notes (4/25)

The LumberKings are back in action following yesterday’s first off day of the regular season.  The Kings snapped a six-game losing streak on Saturday in Kane County, winning the second game of a doubleheader 3-2 over the Cougars.  Left-hander Anthony Fernandez yielded two runs on four hits over 5.1 innings to become the first Clinton starter to win this season.  The offense backed him with three runs, including RBI singles from Julio Morban and Mickey Wiswall.

Tonight, the Kings open a three-game home series against the Peoria Chiefs.  Right-hander George Mieses (0-1, 2.00) has been outstanding so far on the year despite just two runs of support.  He’ll make his fourth start of the year.  The Chiefs counter with Chicago Cubs’ first-round pick, right-hander Hayden Simpson (0-1, 4.26).

Tonight’s Game Notes:   4.25.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Peoria Chiefs (8-8):  Matt Szczur/CF, Pierre LePage/2B, Greg Rohan/1B, Smaily Borges/RF, Micah Gibbs/C, Elliot Soto/SS, DJ Fitzgerald/DH, Anthony Giansanti/LF, Arismendy Alcantara/3B, Hayden Simpson/RHP

LumberKings (5-12):  Matt Cerione/CF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Julio Morban/RF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Ramon Morla/3B, Tim Morris/DH, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, Kevin Rivers/LF, George Mieses/RHP

First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.


Roster Moves, Alumni Notes (4/25)

A few roster-related changes to pass along…over the weekend, right-hander Jonathan Arias was removed from the DL as right-hander Fray Martinez (0-1, 7.00) was added to the DL.  Today, infielder Anthony Phillips was promoted to high-A High Desert and is replaced by infielder Shaver Hansen.  Check out the release here:  http://clinton.lumberkings.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110425&content_id=18236220&vkey=news_t500&fext=.jsp&sid=t500

We just witnessed a third former LumberKing make his Major League debut already this season.  Right-hander Cody Eppley (’08), who went 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in two relief appearances with Clinton back in the day, debuted on Saturday against Kansas City, working 2.0 innings of scoreless relief including a strikeout .  He earned a hold to help Alexi Ogando to his third win of the season in a 3-1 Rangers’ victory.

Eppley was promoted to fill the spot of former LumberKings right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08), who hit the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.  The 43rd round pick of the Rangers in 2008 out of Virginia Commonwealth was the franchise’s Minor League Reliever of the Year in 2010 (5-2, 2.08 ERA, 16 saves between Bakersfield, Frisco and Oklahoma City) and was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and three saves for triple-A Round Rock prior to the promotion.

He joins Seattle Mariners’ right-handers Josh Lueke and Tom Wilhelmsen as former LumberKings to make Major League debuts this season.