It’s been a busy year for former LumberKings making the Major Leagues with right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10) already making debuts with Seattle (and subsequently returning to the minors) and right-hander Cody Eppley (’08) reaching Arlington, TX with the Rangers so far this season. Right-hander Maikel Cleto (’09) will join those four soon as he has been called up by the St. Louis Cardinals to help their depleted bullpen.
The hard-throwing Cleto, acquired by the Cardinals in the trade that sent Brendan Ryan to the Mariners this past offseason, is a surprise call-up from double-A Springfield after going 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 24 innings. Cleto has apparently matured since going 0-3 with a 5.33 ERA in eight starts as a LumberKing on the ’09 team, Clinton’s first year as a Mariners’ affiliate.
I’ve dug up my one and only interview with Cleto, coming following his August 20, 2009 outing at Peoria in which he matched up against rehabbing Carlos Zambrano and struck out six over 3.0 scoreless innings. Former Kings’ catcher Blake Ochoa does the interpreting.
Listen Here: Maikel Cleto Interview 8.21.09
The Clinton area is pretty pro-Cubs, but there’s more than a few folks in the area that will be pretty excited about Cleto’s call-up, including Director of Ops, Mitch Butz. Hopefully Cleto sticks and stays with the Cards.
The LumberKings may still be only 15-38 for the season, but they’re 1-0 against the entire East Division after last night’s 4-3 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps. It looked early on like it was going to come easy as right-hander Taijuan Walker (listen: Walker 5th Strikeout 5.31.11) had his ground-ball stuff working over 7.2 scoreless innings and was supported by a two-run homer by Jabari Blash (listen: Blash 2-R HR (#3) 5.31.11), but the TinCaps scored three times to tie the score in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to extras. Steven Baron’s passed ball with two outs scored the second run, while the tying run came home on a two-out error by second-baseman Stefen Romero.
Still, that difficult ninth didn’t phase the Kings, especially Anthony Phillips. He led off the top of the 10th with a double to left-center and then, in one of the most heads-up baserunning maneuvers I’ve seen in six season on the air, he stole third base as the Fort Wayne infield failed to call for time. That set up the game-winning run as Kalian Sams then drove Phillips in with a sacrifice fly to center.
Three outs in the bottom of the 10th from Keli’i Zablan in his first save effort and the LumberKings started the six-game trip on the right foot. Walker didn’t get the win, but right-hander Tyler Burgoon improved to 2-1 despites suffering his second blown save (first since April 18).
My interview tonight is with Phillips, just the second-ever South African player to suit up in the Seattle Mariners’ system. Phillips talks about playing defense behind Walker, Romero’s tough break, getting the key hit and the gutsy steal of third base, playing baseball in his Rugby-dominated home country and more.
Listen Here: Phillips Interview 6.1.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 6.1.11 kingsnotes
The Daily Roster Move: OF Julio Morban left the game after being tagged out on a play at the plate in the eighth inning last night and has been placed on the DL today. INF Jorge Agudelo, a post-season All-Star in the Appalachian League with Pulaski last year has been called up from extended Spring. RHP Jandy Sena has also returned to Clinton from double-A Jackson, where he was 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA over two outings spanning 6.1 innings. The roster stands at 25 players.
LumberKings (15-38): Robbie Anston/CF, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Tim Morris/1B, Kalian Sams/RF, Stefen Romero/3B, Steven Baron/C, Jabari Blash/LF, Carlos Ramirez/2B, Anthony Phillips/SS, George Mieses/RHP
Fort Wayne TinCaps (23-28): Rico Noel/CF, Rymer Liriano/RF, Luis Domoromo/LF, Jake Blackwood/3B, Tommy Medica/1B, Jose Dore/DH, Emmanuel Quiles/C, B.J. Guinn/SS, Chris Bisson/2B, Zach Cates/RHP
Join me for the broadcast starting at 6:05 PM central time on 1390kcln.com.