July 2011

Retro Interview: Blake Beavan

The six-game road trip switches cities tonight as your LumberKings head to Peoria to take on the Chiefs.  Clinton went just 1-9 against the Chiefs in the first half, but are 5-4 and alone in third place so far this half while Peoria is 3-6 and stuck in a tie for last place. 

The Kings nearly pulled off a three-game sweep in the Quad Cities last night as Stefen Romero singlehandedly erased a 3-0 deficit with a 3-for-4 game including a two-run homer to right-center (listen: Romero 2-R HR (#6) 7.2.11) in the fourth inning and a game-tying two-out single scoring Robbie Anston in the sixth.  Right-hander Taijuan Walker settled in after a rough second inning that included back-to-back home runs by Jonathan Rodriguez and Nick Longmire, yielding three runs (two earned) over 6.0 innings and striking out eight.  Unfortunately, right-hander Jessie Nava loaded the bases in the eighth and issued four-straight pitches outside of the zone to walk Packy Elkins, giving the Bandits a 4-3 lead.  Romero doubled to start the ninth (falling a triple shy of the cycle), but Kalian Sams struck out with Romero at third and Kevin Rivers flied to right, ending the game and the chances for the sweep.

While we get ready to see left-hander Tony Butler, Seattle’s third-round pick in 2006, take another step in his comeback as he debuts for the LumberKings tonight, the spotlight shines bright on a former King making a much higher-profile debut.  As  you’ve already likely seen, 2008 right-hander Blake Beavan is making his Major League debut today for the Mariners as they host San Diego.

Ok, so, maybe this was already featured in “The Interview Vault” this offseason, but I thought it’d be a prime opportunity to post my May 1, 2008 interview with Beavan following his first professional start, a win over the Great Lakes Loons.  With the recent “great WordPress migration” of the MLBlogs, my old interview links no longer work, so here’s a re-post of Blake’s first Minor League interview…the topics covered ranged from the start in front of his parents and then-Rangers-pitching coordinator Rick Adair, his fastball/slider/change arsenal, getting drafted in the first round by his hometown team (the Rangers) and more.

Listen Here:  Blake Beavan Interview (after first pro start on 5.1.08)

The man Blake is starting in place of today, Mariners’ lefty Erik Bedard, is also the player acquired by Seattle in the deal that sent Butler to Baltimore (along with Adam Jones and others).  Butler, the top player ever drafted out of Oak Creek High School (my alma-mater)  is making his first Midwest League start since, ironically, defeating the LumberKings at Alliant Energy Field on August 31, 2007.  Hopefully his comeback path goes as successfully as Tom Wilhelmsen’s did in Clinton last year.

More on Butler, Romero and others in tonight’s Game Notes:  7.3.11 kingsnotes

The game begins at 6:30 PM, listen to the broadcast online at 1390kcln.com.


Former King Beavan to Debut with Mariners

Right-hander Blake Beavan, a 2008 LumberKing, makes his Major League debut in Seattle today

Peoria, IL – Former Clinton LumberKings’ right-hander Blake Beavan is set to make his Major League debut for the Seattle Mariners today as they take on the San Diego Padres at Safeco Field, first pitch scheduled for 3:10 PM central time.

Beavan, 22, was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the first round (17th overall) of the 2007 June draft and made his professional debut in Clinton (then affiliated with the Rangers), going 10-6 with a 2.37 ERA (32 ER in 121.2 IP), 20 walks and 73 strikeouts over 23 starts for the LumberKings in 2008.  He limited Midwest League opponents to a .234 average, making eight quality starts.

The Irving, TX native continued on a path upwards toward Arlington, reaching double-A Frisco by the end of his second season in 2009 and capturing the Texas League Pitcher of the Year award with the RoughRiders in 2010 following a 10-5, 2.78 line in 17 starts.  On July 9, 2010, Blake was sent along with first-baseman Justin Smoak (a teammate with Clinton in ’08), infielder Matt Lawson (also on the ’08 club) and right-hander Josh Lueke (pitched parts of ’07 and ’08 with Clinton) to the Mariners in exchange for left-hander Cliff Lee.

After a 10-start stint in the Mariners’ system last season at both double-A West Tenn. (2-1, 5.00) and triple-A Tacoma (2-2, 6.47), Beavan made 16 starts for Tacoma this season, going 5-3 with a 4.45 ERA (46 ER in 93.0 IP), 20 walks and 64 strikeouts for the Rainiers.  

Beavan (wearing #49) joins fellow right-handers Lueke, Tom Wilhelmsen (both debuted with the Mariners), Cody Eppley (Texas Rangers) and Maikel Cleto (St. Louis Cardinals) as former LumberKings to be called to the Major Leagues this season.  Once he pitches, he will be the 229th former Clinton player to appear in a Major League game dating back to the franchise’s inception in 1937.

The LumberKings (5-4, 29-50) open up a three-game series at Peoria (3-6, 36-43) tonight, first pitch at O’Brien Field scheduled for 6:30 PM.  Left-hander Tony Butler (0-2, 2.57 with Everett) makes his LumberKings’ debut while the Chiefs counter with left-hander Graham Hicks (1-3, 4.22).  Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at 1390kcln.com.


Tonight’s Interview: Rich Dorman (Vol. 3)

The LumberKings are 2-0 in the “show-and-go” after last night’s 5-3 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits at Modern Woodmen Park.  Clinton took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out double by Tim Morris (listen: Morris 2-R double 7.1.11) and raised the lead back to two in the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Carlton Tanabe.  Left-hander Anthony Fernandez dealt over 7.0 innings, limiting the Bandits to a run on four hits and turning in a highlight-reel-worthy 1-6-3 double play on a line drive back to the mound in the sixth inning (listen: Fernandez 1-6-3 DP 7.1.11).  The 3-1 lead wouldn’t last in the eighth as right-hander Keli’i Zablan loaded the bases and yielded a run on a wild pitch, but right-hander Tyler Burgoon gave up just one run in a bases-loaded no-out situation, keeping the game tied at 3-3.  In the ninth, the Kings went right back ahead as Kevin Rivers was hit by a pitch and scored on a Mickey Wiswall single to center (listen: Wiswall Go-Ahead RBI single 7.1.11).  Stefen Romero executed a safety squeeze bunt scoring Matt Browning in the ninth as well, and Burgoon worked a perfect bottom of the ninth to improve to 5-3.

With the outstanding outing from Fernandez, a seven-game losing streak snapped by George Mieses, the double-A promotion of James Paxton, the addition of left-hander Tony Butler and the three-win run by Burgoon, it’s high time to catch up with pitching coach Rich Dorman again.  Dor talks about those pitchers plus tonight’s starter Taijuan Walker on tonight’s pregame interview.

Listen Here:  Dorman Interview 7.2.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  7.2.11 kingsnotes

Walker and the Kings go looking for the sweep of the Bandits tonight, first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM.  Listen to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.


Friday Notes (7/1)

It’s a “show-and-go” day here in the Quad Cities for your LumberKings, so please excuse the lateness and briefness of this post.  The Kings earned their first win in the QC this season by scoring at least a run in six-straight innings and pitching well in relief last night, defeating the River Bandits 8-5.  Stefen Romero’s 2-for-3, three-RBI performance included a much-debated two-run homer down the left-field line in the third inning (from the press box angle it appeared to be foul, but home plate umpire Garrett Patterson indicated it had hooked fair) that gave the Kings a lead they would not relinquish.  Seven runs backed 5.0 decent innings from right-hander George Mieses (4 runs, 3 earned on 8  hits), who won for the first time since April 30 at Wisconsin.  Right-hander Tyler Blandford yielded a run over 2.0 innings, lefty Nate Reed turned in a scoreless eighth and righty Jonathan Arias worked out of a bases-loaded jam for his second save in the ninth.

Highlights:  Romero Debated 2-R HR (#5) 6.30.11  |  Arias Strikes Out Klein for 2nd Save 6.30.11

Obviously, the huge news today is the promotion of James Paxton to double-A Jackson.  I’ll likely be talking with pitching coach Rich Dorman on this subject and others in an upcoming interview segment, but as for tonight, no new interview for you. 

Tonight’s Game Notes:  7.1.11 kingsnotes

Ground ball artist Anthony Fernandez (2-2, 4.22) starts against Rock Falls native Seth Blair (4-3, 4.65) in the middle game of this series tonight, first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM at Modern Woodmen Park.  Listen to the broadcast online at 1390kcln.com.


Paxton Jumps to Jackson, Kings Receive Butler

All-Star left-hander James Paxton sent to double-A Jackson as Futures Game nears

Clinton, IA – The Clinton LumberKings, in conjunction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the following transactions to the Clinton 25-man roster, effective today: left-hander James Paxton has been promoted to double-A Jackson and is replaced by left-hander Tony Butler, called up from short-A Everett.

Paxton, 22, dominated the Midwest League for 10 starts with Clinton, his first stint in affiliated baseball after the Mariners chose him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of the independent American Association. The Ladner, BC, Canada native went 3-3 with a 2.73 ERA (17 ER in 56.0 IP), struck out 80 while walking 30 and limiting opponents to a .225 average. Paxton struck out 10-plus batters on a team-best three separate occasions, including a 13-strikeout game against Quad Cities on June 16 leading up to the Midwest League All-Star Game.

Paxton was Clinton’s lone All-Star representative at the June 21 game at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, IA. He struck out West Michigan’s Hernan Perez and South Bend’s Ender Inciarte over a scoreless third inning of relief in the West Division’s 8-3 victory. Shortly afterwards, he was named to the World squad for the 2011 XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game, taking place at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ on Sunday, July 10. He was set to be just the second active LumberKing to appear in the prospect showcase, joining third-baseman John Whittleman who went 1-for-1 with a home run in the 2007 game in San Francisco.

 Butler, 24, arrives in Clinton after a three-start stint at short-A Everett where he went 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA (4 ER in 14.0 IP). He walked seven, struck out 18 and limited Northwest League opponents to a .196 average while with the AquaSox.

The 6’7” left-handed Butler was originally drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2006 June draft. He went 4-7 with a 4.75 ERA with Wisconsin of the Midwest League in 2007 and was included in the trade with Baltimore that brought in left-hander Erik Bedard. After an injury-plagued three seasons in the Orioles system in which he combined to go 4-9 with a 5.91 ERA, Baltimore released Butler in 2010 and he was signed by Milwaukee. He went 1-1 with an 8.62 ERA in three stops within the Brewers’ chain including another trip back to Wisconsin. Following a release by Milwaukee last year, Butler worked out for the Mariners this spring and was signed as a free agent.

Butler attended the same high school as LumberKings’ broadcaster Dave Lezotte, Oak Creek High School in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

With the move, the active Clinton roster stands at 24 players with two on the disabled list. Butler is expected to join the LumberKings (4-3, 28-49) as they take on the Quad Cities River Bandits (3-4, 43-33) tonight at Modern Woodmen Park, first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM. Listen to the game on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or live on the web at 1390kcln.com.