May 2011

Kings Revamp Roster with Five New Players

Sams returns to Clinton from High Desert, Anston, Browning, Reed and Schlander join from Arizona

Clinton, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the following changes to the Clinton 25-man roster, effective today:  outfielder Matt Cerione and right-hander Willy Kesler have been promoted to high-A High Desert, while shortstop Marcus Littlewood and third-baseman Ramon Morla have been transferred to extended Spring Training.  Outfielder Kalian Sams has joined the Kings from high-A High Desert, while infielders Matt Browning and Jake Schlander, outfielder Robbie Anston and left-hander Nathan Reed have been called up from extended Spring Training.

Cerione, 23, hit .200 with a double, six runs scored and five RBI in his second season as a LumberKing.  Seattle’s 13th round pick in 2009 out of theUniversity ofGeorgia, Cerione hit .287 with 12 HR and 42 RBI in 87 games withClinton in 2010.

Kesler, 23, went 1-0 with a 1.45 ERA and one save in eight relief appearances with the LumberKings this season.

Littlewood, 19,Seattle’s second-round pick out of Pine View (UT) High School in 2010 hit .158 with a triple, HR and six RBI in 27 games withClintonthis season, his first as a professional.

Morla, 21, hit .170 with three doubles, three triples and seven RBI in 28 games with the LumberKings this season.  TheDominican Republicnative had no home runs in that span after launching 17 for rookie-level Pulaski in 2010.

Anston, 23, hit .292 with 13 doubles, two HR and 24 RBI and also stole 15 bases in 24 attempts with short-A Everett last season.  Seattle’s 26th round pick in 2010 out ofBostonCollege also hit .333 with three doubles and three RBI for the AquaSox in the playoffs, helping them to the Northwest League title.

Browning, 23, hit .222 (4-for-18) with a triple and six RBI in five games with HighDesertthis season.  Seattle’s 43rd round pick out of James Madison University in 2010 hit .311 with four HR and 32 RBI in 47 games between the Peoria Mariners (AZL) and rookie-level Pulaski last season.

Reed, 23, was the Mariners’ 40th round pick out ofKutztownUniversity in 2010.  TheTemple,PA native pitched with both the Peoria Mariners of the AZL and high-A High Desert, going a combined 2-6 with a 4.95 ERA over 14 games, 12 starts. 

Sams, 24, hit .200 with six HR and 10 RBI in 20 games for the Mavericks this season after splitting last year betweenClintonand short-A Everett.  A native ofThe Hague,South Holland,Netherlands, Sams hit .180 with 15 HR and 46 RBI in 79 games with the LumberKings last year before finishing up the year with the AquaSox.  He hit .193 with five HR and 12 RBI withEverett.

Schlander, 22, hit .200 with six runs scored in 11 games with HighDesertthis season.  Seattle’s 31st round pick out ofStanfordUniversity in 2010, Schlander started his pro career in Pulaski last season and hit .259 with seven doubles, a HR and 25 RBI in 54 games.

The moves give the LumberKings a total of 25 active players with four listed on the disabled list.  The five new players are expected to be in uniform for tonight’s game against the Burlington Bees, but none have yet chosen uniform numbers.

-DL

LumberKings Pink Cap Auction Now Online

Game-used, autographed caps from Taijuan Walker, Steven Baron, James Paxton and more now availiable

Clinton, IA– Ten game-used, autographed pink caps worn by Clinton LumberKings players during Sunday, May 8th’s Mother’s Day game against Burlington are now available for auction online.  The signed caps worn by right-hander Taijuan Walker (Seattle’s first-round pick in 2010), catcher Steven Baron (the supplemental first-round pick in 2009), left-hander James Paxton (the fourth-round pick in 2010) and seven other players can be yours, with all proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research and awareness.

The other seven hats are as follows:  right-handers Forrest Snow and Brandon Maurer, left-hander Anthony Fernandez, outfielders Jabari Blash, Matt Cerione and Julio Morban and infielder Stefen Romero.   The starting bid on all hats is $25 and the auctions all run through next Monday, May 16th.  Visit http://shop.ebay.com/clinton563/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25 to view the items.

-DL

Mother’s Day Notes (5/8)

First off, happy Mothers Day to you all!  Looks like we’ll have a fantastic day for baseball here at AEF.

A reminder for all of you dedicated LumberKings fans, Mariners’ prospect followers and supporters of breast cancer awareness (that should be everyone, of course).  The LumberKings will be wearing special pink caps on the field today as they take on the Burlington Bees at 2:00 PM.  Those caps will be autographed and auctioned off both here at the game today and online through the Kings’ ebay site.

Expect hats from guys like Taijuan Walker, Stefen Romero, Forrest Snow, Jabari Blash and others to hit the web within the next few days.  It’s a one-of-a-kind item for a great cause…all proceeds from the cap auction are going to the Susan G. Komen fund.  So get your hands on a cap and help the cause also.

Getting to last night…the LumberKings battled all night with the West Division-leading Bees thanks to the efforts of right-hander Brandon Maurer.  The 23rd round pick in 2008 struck out a career-high 11 batters over 6.0 innings, exiting in a 1-1 game.  Right-hander Jonathan Arias pitched as well as we’ve seen all season with two scoreless innings but yielded the game-winning RBI double to Yordy Cabrera in the top of the ninth as the Kings fell 2-1.  Stefen Romero doubled twice and finished 3-for-4 and Tim Morris went 3-for-4 with an RBI, but it wasn’t enough to keep Clinton from falling to 1-5 against Burlington this season.

Listen to Maurer’s 11th punch-out:  Maurer Career-High 11th Strikeout 5.7.11

Left-hander James Paxton missed his last start after a minor BP injury, but he’s back today for his second career outing.  The Mariners’ 4th-round pick is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA following his debut outing against Peoria back on April 27.  The Bees answer with left-hander Jacob Brown, Oakland’s 26th round pick in 2010.  Brown is 3-0 with a sparkling 1.48 ERA on the season.

Today’s Game Notes:  5.8.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups: 

Burlington Bees (21-7):  Tyreace House/CF, Royce Consigli/RF, Nino Leyja/2B, Jose Rivero/DH, Yordy Cabrera/SS, Josh Whitaker/1B, Douglas Landaeta/LF, Wade Kirkland/3B, Daniel Petitti/C, Jacob Brown/LHP

LumberKings (9-21):  Julio Morban/LF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Stefen Romero/DH, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Matt Cerione/CF, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, James Paxton/LHP.

First pitch is at 2:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Shaver Hansen

It was a character-building win for the LumberKings yesterday in Peoria as they overcame 3-1 and 4-3 deficits over the eighth and ninth innings to beat the Chiefs, 5-4 in 14 innings.  Shaver Hansen (pictured left) went a career-best 4-for-6 with a two-run homer that tied the game in the eighth, and Ramon Morla doubled to score Mickey Wiswall to tie the game again in the ninth.

Finally in the top of the 14th, two walks and Wiswall’s infield single loaded the bases against Chiefs’ right-hander Bryce Shafer.  With two outs, Steven Baron worked the count to 3-2 and took a pitch high from Shafer for a go-ahead bases-loaded walk.  The relief work of right-handers Jandy Sena (3.0 scoreless innings for the win) and Willy Kesler (scoreless bottom of the 14th for the save) helped make Baron’s team-leading 12th RBI stand up.

Yesterday’s Highlights:

Tonight, I catch up with Hansen, Seattle’s sixth-round pick out of Baylor University in 2009 and a third-year member of the LumberKings.  We talk about yesterday’s monster effort, his thoughts on stint #3 in the black and green, shaking off an 0-for-14 start at the plate, his growth as a player in the last three seasons and more.

Listen Here:  Hansen Interview 5.7.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.7.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Burlington Bees (20-7):  Tyreace House/CF, Royce Consigli/RF, Nino Leyja/2B, Jose River/DH, Yordy Cabrera/SS, Josh Whitaker/1B, Douglas Landaeta/LF, Ryan Pineda/3B, John Nester/C, Tyler Vail/RHP

LumberKings (9-20):  Julio Morban/CF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/1B, Stefen Romero/LF, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Steven Baron/C, Carlos Ramirez/SS, Brandon Maurer/RHP

First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Friday Notes (5/6)

After an 8:00 alarm, a couple of blueberry muffins from the continental breakfast and an 8:45 bus ride to O’Brien Field I’m about set for day baseball here in Peoria.  The LumberKings and Chiefs close up a three-game series starting at 11:00 AM.

In case you missed it, Mariners’ 2010 first-round pick, right-hander Taijuan Walker made his first professional start in his LumberKings’ debut last night.  He looked rocky at the onset, giving up four runs on six hits over the first two innings, but found command of his fastball and curveball over his final two innings to finish with a respectable line.  Walker went 4.0 frames, allowed the four runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out five.  He also turned a fantastic 1-6-3 double play to get himself out of what could have been an even nastier first inning.

Left-hander Edlando Seco also pitched well, striking out five of the nine he faced over 3.0 scoreless innings (I took to calling the evening “Seco De Mayo” during the effort).  Right-hander Tyler Burgoon turned ina scoreless eighth.

Highlights:

You’ll notice no offensive highlights from last night.  The Kings did score once against left-hander Eric Jokisch as Stefen Romero doubled and scored on a single by Mickey Wiswall, but way too many offensive chances slipped through their grasp again as Clinton went 1-for-7 as a club with RISP.  The Chiefs aren’t exactly lighting it up offensively in this series either (with a combined 7 runs in 2 games), but they are now outscoring the LumberKings 38-7 over five meetings and are not surprisingly 5-0 as a result.

Today’s Game Notes:  5.6.11 kingsnotes

There’s not one element to single out right now about this 8-20 club, but if they’re going to avoid the sweep today, they’ll need a second-straight solid outing out of right-hander George Mieses and they’ll need to score him some runs.  Mieses went 5.0 innings and won up in Wisconsin his last time out, but even then received just two runs of support.  Should the Kings get to left-hander Austin Kirk early, I like their chances today.

Today’s Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (8-20):  Julio Morban/CF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/1B, Stefen Romero/LF, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, George Mieses/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (14-13):  Matt Szczur/RF, Elliot Soto/2B, Rubi Silva/CF, Richard Jones/1B, Smaily Borges/DH, Sergio Burruel/C, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, D.J. Fitzgerald/LF, Anthony Giansanti/3B, Austin Kirk/LHP

First pitch is at 11:00 AM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Nathan Baliva

I’ve seen some crazy games over the past seasons here at O’Brien Field in Peoria, especially last season.  From Chiefs’ right-hander Nick Struck’s 4.0-inning rain-shortened no-hitter, to Matt Cerda’s walk-off grand slam, to Vinnie Catricala and Mario Martinez belting solo home runs to overcome a 9th inning deficit, to Clinton’s double-digit doubleheader sweep, to the Chiefs’ huge ninth-inning comeback, we saw a little of everything at this place in 2010.

Last night, a new chapter was written…and not in a good way for the Kings.  Peoria left-hander Cam Greathouse tossed 7.0 one-hit innings and received help from a triple play started by shortstop Elliot Soto in the seventh as the Chiefs blanked Clinton, 3-0 to start the series.  The lone hit in the game belonged to Tim Morris, who singled to right with one out in the sixth inning.  That was the only support for right-hander Forrest Snow, who fell to 1-3 despite his team-best third quality start.

Chatting with Peoria Chiefs’ voice Nathan Baliva following Struck’s no-no last year seemed to provide better luck for the Kings, so I renew that interview today with my broadcast counterpart.  We cover Greathouse’s performance last night, manager Casey Kopitzke’s second season at the helm of the Chiefs, tonight’s all-first-round mound matchup and more.

Listen Here:  Nathan Baliva Interview 5.5.11

There’s rain clouds brewing just outside Peoria that could put a serious damper on tonight’s game, but if they hold off, we’re in for one heck of a pitcher’s duel.  Right-hander Taijuan Walker, Seattle’s first-round pick (43rd overall) out of Yucaipa High School will make his first pro start and fifth appearance tonight for the LumberKings.  The Chiefs counter with Chicago Cubs’ first-round pick, right-hander Hayden Simpson.

Read more about Walker’s first start in tonight’s Game Notes:  5.5.11 kingsnotes 

Tonight’s Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (8-19):  Julio Morban/LF, Matt Cerione/CF, Tim Morris/D, Stefen Romero/2B, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Carlton Tanabe/C, Taijuan Walker/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (13-13):  Pierre LePage/2B, Elliot Soto/DH, Rubi Silva/CF, Richard Jones/1B, Micah Gibbs/C, Smaily Borges/RF, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, DJ Fitzgerald/LF, Anthony Giansanti/3B, Hayden Simpson/RHP

First pitch, as far as I know, is still scheduled for 6:30 PM.  You’ll want to be listening to this one, so tune me in online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Wednesday Notes (5/4)

The LumberKings open a three-game series in Peoria tonight, taking on a Chiefs club that pulled off their first series sweep of the Kings since 1998 when they met up at Alliant Energy Field late last month.  Peoria outscored the Kings 31-6 in that series, so Eddie Menchaca’s club owes them plenty at O’Brien Field.

The Kings were cooled off by Beloit left-hander Logan Darnell last night and the Snappers took an early 2-0 lead on left-hander Anthony Fernandez en route to a 6-3 win.  That drops Clinton back into a two-way tie for seventh in the West alongside Kane County.

No pregame interview tonight, but I’ve still got notes for you.  Here they are:  5.4.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (8-18):  Julio Morban/LF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/1B, Mickey Wiswall/D, Matt Cerione/CF, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, Forrest Snow/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (12-13):  Matt Szczur/RF, Pierre LePage/2B, Rubi Silva/CF, Richard Jones/1B, Micah Gibbs/C, Elliot Soto/SS, Smaily Borges/LF, DJ Fitzgerald/DH, Arismendy Alcantara/3B, Cam Greathouse/LHP

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

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Eddie Menchaca (Vol. 2)

For the second-straight game, the LumberKings’ offense stormed out to a 7-0 lead on Beloit.  Unlike Sunday, the offense kept rolling late and the bullpen survived meltdown as Clinton won by its largest margin of the season, 13-6 over the Snappers.  Ramon Morla (2-for-4) and Carlos Ramirez (3-for-3) each drove in three runs apiece and Jabari Blash went 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI to lead the offense, all backing 5.0 scoreless innings from right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen.

With the offense finally starting to produce, the starting rotation coming back strong (3-0, 0.75 over the last four games) and the addition of two new arms to the roster — including one very high-profile right-hander that you’ve likely heard about already), it’s the perfect time to catch up with LumberKings’ manager Eddie Menchaca for the second time this season.

We talk about the offense including Morla and Ramirez, Julio Morban, Tim Morris and others, the additons of right-handers Taijuan Walker and Jandy Sena, Chaca’s “win the inning” philosophy and more.

Listen Here:  Menchaca Interview 5.3.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.3.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Beloit Snappers (13-9):  Jamaal Hawkins/SS, Andrew Leer/3B, Nate Roberts/DH, Michael Gonzales/1B, Daniel Ortiz/LF, Lance Ray/RF, Kyle Knudson/C, Wang-Wei Lin/CF, Derek McCallum/2B, Logan Darnell/LHP

LumberKings (8-17):  Julio Morban/LF, Carlos Ramirez/2B, Stefen Romero/DH, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Matt Cerione/CF, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, Anthony Fernandez/LHP

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

-DL

Kings Add First-Rounder Taijuan Walker

18-year-old right-hander joinsClintonfrom extended Spring Training, joined by right-hander Jandy Sena

Clinton, IA– The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the following transactions for the Clinton25-man roster today: right-handers Taijuan Walker and Jandy Sena have been added to the 25-man roster via extended Spring Training.  Right-hander Seon Gi Kim has been transferred to extended Spring Training, while right-handers Tyler Blandford and Matt Bischoff have been placed on the 7-day disabled list.

Walker, 18, was Seattle’s first-round selection (43rd overall) in the 2010 draft out of Yucaipa (CA) High School.  He began his pro career with the Peoria Mariners of the Arizona League last year, going 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA (1 ER in 7.0 IP) in four appearances.  The 6’4” Walker was named as the Mariners’ fourth-best prospect by Baseball America entering this season.

Sena, 21, was the 23rd round pick by the Mariners in 2010 out of Marion Military Institute.  He went 4-3 with a 3.78 ERA in 14 appearances, four starts between the AZL and short-A Everett last season.

Kim, 19, went 0-2 with a 4.74 ERA across four starts this year.  The South Korean-born right-hander allowed 10 runs over 19.0 innings, walked five and struck out 13.

Blandford, 23, went 0-1 with a 17.61 ERA in six relief appearances with the LumberKings this season.  Bischoff, 23, went 0-2 with one save and a 5.56 ERA over seven relief outings with Clinton.

Walker and Sena are expected to be in uniform for tonight’s game against the Beloit Snappers.  Neither have yet chosen uniform numbers. Walkeris slated to join the rotation and will pitch Thursday night at O’Brien Field inPeoria.  The moves give the LumberKings an active 24 players on the roster with four listed on the disabled list.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Steven Baron

In a tale of two games yesterday, the LumberKings built a 7-0 lead on offensive days from Steven Baron (3-for-4, two doubles, HR, 3 RBI), Jabari Blash (3-for-5, HR, RBI) and Mickey Wiswall (1-for-5, 2 RBI), all backing seven scoreless, two-hit innings from right-hander Brandon Maurer.

It wouldn’t last.  Beloit scored nine runs on the beleaguered Clinton bullpen in the eighth inning to take a sudden 9-7 lead and would go on to win 10-8.  Rather than wallow in the 17th loss of the season and fourth at the hands of the rival Snappers, I’m emphasising the growth we saw yesterday from this offense, particularly Baron.

Yesterday’s Highlights:

Seattle’s supplemental first-round selection out of high school in 2009, Baron struggled with the LumberKings in the first half.  He’d be sent down at midseason to the short-A Everett AquaSox, where in working with former Kings’ manager Scott Steinmann, Baron would grow into a Northwest League Postseason All-Star.  He’d win a ring with the Sox before returning to Clinton for the Midwest League Championship Series.  This spring, Baron was a mainstay in Major League camp with the Mariners, hitting .500 (7-for-14) with a home run and three RBI.

All of that for a guy who is still learning to be consistent at the plate and still working on the finer points of handling a pitching staff.  The 20-year-old Baron talks about his breakout offensive day yesterday, catching Maurer, what he does as a catcher when a pitcher is struggling (as we saw in the 8th yesterday), his wild 2010 season, his Cactus League experience and more.  Note…the wind plays a bit of a factor in the audio quality at the latter half of the interview, but I didn’t want to cut that part. 

Listen Here:  Baron Interview (Full Edition) 5.2.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  5.2.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineups:

Beloit Snappers (13-8):  Jamaal Hawkins/SS, Gunner Glad/2B, Lance Ray/RF, Michael Gonzales/1B, Daniel Ortiz/CF, Josmil Pinto/C, Nate Roberts/LF, Andrew Leer/3B, Derek McCallum/DH, BJ Hermsen/RHP

LumberKings (7-17):  Julio Morban/LF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/DH, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Matt Cerione/CF, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Steven Baron/C, Carlos Ramirez/SS, Stephen Kohlscheen/RHP

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

-DL

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.