We watched a lot of baseball on a chilly April night here at AEF last night as the LumberKings and Burlington Bees finished up the final five innings of Thursday’s suspended game and played seven more innings in the nightcap. After fallling 9-5 in game one and trailing 2-0 in the third inning in game two, the Kings rallied for three unanswered runs to beat the Bees, 3-2.
You couldn’t tell by his 5-for-7, two-RBI performance, but shortstop Marcus Littlewood played his first two games as a professional last night. He set up the game-winning run in the fifth, leading off with a single to right, taking third on a single by Ramon Morla and scoring on Mickey Wiswall’s smash single. Littlewood, the 2nd round pick by the Mariners and the highest player ever drafted out of the state of Utah has already turned heads here in Clinton. No doubt he’s filling some big shoes at Nick Franklin’s old position, but as you’ll hear on tonight’s interview, that’s not phasing the 19-year-old.
Listen to Littlewood’s first pro hit: http://www.zshare.net/audio/88814098090121e2/
In my first conversation with Littlewood, we talk about the hot start, handling the duties of hitting second, learning the game from his father Mike — a former Milwaukee Brewers farmhand and veteran head coach at Dixie State University — his thoughts on the talented Clinton lineup, comparisons with Franklin and more.
Listen Here: Littlewood Interview 4.9.11.mp3
Tonight’s Game Notes: 4.9.11 kingsnotes
Right-hander George Mieses makes his LumberKings’ debut against the Bees tonight in what should be a fantastic night for baseball. Temperatures in the 70′s? It feels like June tonight.
Burlington (1-1): Tyreace House/CF, Nino Leyja/3B, Douglas Landaeta/DH, Tony Thompson/1B, Jose Rivero/LF, Yordy Cabrera/SS, Wade Kirkland/2B, Royce Consigli/RF, John Nester/C, AJ Griffin/RHP
LumberKings (1-1): Matt Cerione/CF, Marcus Littlewood/DH, Ramon Morla/3B, Tim Morris/1B, Stefen Romero/2B, Julio Morban/RF, Steven Baron/C, Kevin Rivers/LF, Anthony Phillips/SS, George Mieses/RHP
Rain wouldn’t allow us to complete last night’s season opener against Burlington, so we’re finishing it tonight. The LumberKings and Bees stand tied, 4-4 heading into the fourth thanks to an early comeback effort against right-hander Seth Frankoff. Kings’ Opening Night starter Forrest Snow was touched up for four runs — three earned — over three innings, but was starting to settle in when the tarp went on. An RBI triple by Julio Morban, RBI single by Marcus Littlewood (pictured right), RBI sac fly by Stefen Romero and RBI single by Steven Baron brought Clinton back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits. Littlewood singled again to left with two outs in the bottom of the third, but Tim Morris was thrown out trying to score by Bees’ left-fielder Douglas Landaeta to keep the game tied.
A lot of game left to go tonight, and it’s only the opening act. We’ll also have a seven-inning game afterwards, in which 2010 Everett Pitcher of the Year and Northwest League All-Star left-hander Anthony Fernandez will make his first start in black and green. It sounds like we’ll see right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen, the 45th round pick out of Aubur in 2010, in the resumption of the first game. Those two will alternate starts anyways to begin the year, so the twinbill setup works perfect for them.
Read more about the action in tonight’s Game Notes: 4.8.11 kingsnotes
As for the interview, I caught LumberKings’ General Manager Ted Tornow tonight. We talked about the beginning of the 75th anniversary of the franchise and what that means to everyone involved, improvements to Alliant Energy Field that fans will see this season, building stability with the Seattle Mariners and more.
Listen Here: Tornow Interview 4.8.11.mp3
First pitch of inning #4 will be at 6:00 PM. Listen online at 1390kcln.com.
It’s finally here…the Opening Night of the 75th season of Clinton Baseball At Riverview Stadium/Alliant Energy Field. The LumberKings open their West Division Title defense against some familiar foes wearing different uniforms. They didn’t face the Burlington Bees in last year’s playoffs, but they did take on Bees’ manager Aaron Niekula, his staff and several returning players from last year’s Kane County club in the West Division Championship Series.
Interim manager Jesus Azuaje wasn’t on the Clinton staff last year, but he’s a familiar face all the same. Azuaje was the hitting coach here in 2009 under manager Scott Steinmann. As I’ve mentioned, he’ll be leading the team while manager Eddie Menchaca waits for his second child to be born in Phoenix. For the first two weeks, we’ll be in Azuaje’s capable hands.
My first pregame interview of the year naturally is with the skipper. Jesus and I talk about his interim role, the 12 returning players from last year’s squad including Matt Cerione, Mickey Wiswall and Tim Morris, exciting new prospects like Marcus Littlewood and Ramon Morla, tonight’s Opening Night start for right-hander Forrest Snow and more.
The new WordPress setup for MLBlogs won’t let me host MP3′s yet, but hopefully this works…
Listen Here: Azuaje Interview 4.7.11
Tonight’s Game Notes: 4.7.11 kingsnotes
Burlington (0-0): Tyreace House/CF, Nino Leyja/2B, Douglas Landaeta/LF, Tony Thompson/3B, A.J. Kirby-Jones/1B, Jose Rivero/DH, Yordy Cabrera/SS, Royce Consigli/RF, John Nester/C, Seth Frankoff/RHP
LumberKings (0-0): Matt Cerione/CF, Ramon Morla/3B, Mickey Wiswall/LF, Stefen Romero/DH, Tim Morris/1B, Steven Baron/C, Julio Morban/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Anthony Phillips/2B, Forrest Snow/RHP
First pitch is at 6:30, listen online at 1390kcln.com!
In case you’re scouring the web to find where former LumberKings are in the Mariners’ system, read this handy post to find out where they’re at to start the year.
Seattle: RHP Josh Lueke (’07-’08), RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (’10), 1B Justin Smoak (’08)
AAA Tacoma: RHP Blake Beavan (’08), INF Jetsy Extrano (’09)
AA Jackson: RHP Steven Hensley (’09), RHP Kenn Kasparek (’09), RHP Stephen Penney (’09), RHP Erasmo Ramirez (’10), LHP Andrew Carraway (’09), LHP Bobby LaFromboise (’09), LHP Brian Moran (’09-’10), LHP Anthony Vasquez (’09-’10), C Brandon Bantz (’10), INF Scott Savastano (’09), INF Kyle Seager (’09), INF Nate Tenbrink (’09), OF Jake Shaffer (’09)
A High Desert: RHP Daniel Cooper (’09-’10), RHP Ogui Diaz (’09), RHP John Housey (’10), RHP Chris Kirkland (’09-’10), RHP Yoervis Medina (’10), RHP Taylor Stanton (’10), LHP Nick Czyz (’10), LHP Jimmy Gillheeney (’10), LHP Jon Hesket (’09-’10), LHP Jose Jimenez (’09-’10), INF Vinnie Catricala (’10), SS Nick Franklin (’10), INF Gabriel Noriega (’10), 1B Dennis Raben (’10), OF Denny Almonte (’09), OF Daniel Carroll (’09-’10), OF James Jones (’10), OF Kalian Sams (’09-’10)
INF Shaver Hansen (’09-’10), 3B Mario Martinez (’09-’10), RHP Stephen Pryor (’10) and RHP Alfredo Venegas (’09) are all listed on the High Desert disabled list.
Aside from Wilhelmsen’s gigantic jump, you’ll notice LumberKings 2010 Pitcher of the Year Erasmo Ramirez moving two levels to start at Jackson. Hopefully he stays on the fast track.
The 25 players that will comprise the 2011 Clinton LumberKings’ Opening Night roster have now been announced over at LumberKings.com. Here’s a few things to note for the coming days:
- Jesus Azuaje will be the interim manager for Clinton while Eddie Menchaca and wife Lacy prepare for the birth of their second son in Phoenix. When the youngest Menchaca is born, I’ll post about it here. Azuaje, of course, is an old friend — he was our hitting coach in 2009.
- Right-hander Forrest Snow will make the switch from lockdown closer to frontline starter. Pitching coach Rich Dorman is giving him the baseball for the Opening Night start against Burlington on Thursday. Word from the Bees is that right-hander Seth Frankoff will start opposite Snow.
- The LumberKings will be taking the field for an intrasquad game on Wednesday, April 6 at 5:00 PM. It is free to the public! Come on down, get your first look at the Kings, grab some 75th Anniversary Season souvenir items and get your baseball fix.
More to come, including some photos from tomorrow’s 9 AM workout. Also, I’ll begin crafting the initial set of LumberKings’ Game Notes. Tis the season.
In a game just completed in Oakland, former LumberKings’ right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10) each made their Major League debuts in Seattle’s 7-1 loss to the Athletics.
Lueke came on in relief of starter Doug Fister with two gone in the bottom of the sixth and stranded two runners with a swinging strikeout of Cliff Pennington on a 93 mph heater, but then was lit up for four runs while retiring just one batter in the seventh. He loaded the bases on a double and two walks, then yielded a two-run single to Hideki Matsui. David Pauley came on to replace him, but then issued a bases-loaded walk and gave up a Kevin Kouzmanoff sac fly to add two more runs to Lueke’s line. Final line: 0.2 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K and a starting ERA of 54.00. He’s the 225th former Clinton player to make a Major League debut, even if the outing was forgettable. For further reading, check out this Mariners.com feature on Lueke as he prepared for his first big-league experience.
Wilhelmsen, #226, came on in relief of Pauley in the eighth and fared much better. The 27-year-old delivered his first pitch at a level above low-A — a 96 mph fastball for ball one — but then retired Coco Crisp on a groundout to first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08), worked back from a 3-0 count to get Daric Barton to fly out and then froze David DeJesus looking at a curveball for strike three. Final line: 1.0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K and a starting ERA of 0.00.
Special thanks to the revamped MLB Gameday feature, which I relied on heavily for this post.
Former LumberKing John Mayberry Jr. (’06) certainly made the most of his first Opening Day experience, lining a pinch-hit walk-off single over the head of Houston centerfielder Michael Bourn’s head to give the Philadelphia Phillies a 5-4 win over the Astros today. Mayberry, who made his big-league debut with the Phillies in 2009 but had never made the Opening Day roster, delivered the most memorable hit of a three-run comeback against Brandon Lyon.
Check out the story and the video of Big John Jr.’s big hit here: http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_04_01_houmlb_phimlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=phi#
Yesterday was the official opening of the MLB season, but tonight is the night we get our first look at the 2011 Seattle Mariners. Tom Wilhelmsen, Josh Lueke, Justin Smoak and company take on the Oakland Athletics at around 5:00 PM central time tonight. I could very well have a Major League debut or two to talk about tomorrow.
As for yesterday, some interesting news relating to fomer Clinton players coming from that wild Cincinnati walk-off win over Milwaukee. Right-hander Edinson Volquez (’04) was hammered from the get-go by back-to-back home runs from Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez, ironically the first tandem to go back-to-back to start a season since Pete Rose and Bobby Tolan did it for the Reds in 1969. Volquez also served up a shot to Ryan Braun and allowed five earned runs on seven hits over 6.0 innings. Kameron Loe (’03) appeared in relief for the Brewers, yielding a solo home run to Joey Votto over his one inning of work.
Of course, he got the no-decision as Ramon Hernandez lit up John Axford for a walk-off three-run homer. As Dusty Baker celebrated, Ron Roenicke, the new manager of the Brewers could only shake his head at his first managerial loss. Roenicke played here in Clinton in 1977 as a member of the Dodgers, the same team that produced LA Angels skipper Mike Scioscia.
Our old pals Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland get their season started against Boston this afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. On Saturday, they and the rest of the 2010 club will receive their American League Champions rings.
On that note, I’m still waiting for my 2010 MWL West Division Championship Ring. Wait…they don’t make those?
A Mauro Gomez (’07) sighting! The former LumberKings’ first-baseman, now with the Atlanta Braves, hit a 2-run, walk-off home run in the 10th inning off Minnesota Twins reliever Matt Capps in a 4-2 victory at Turner Field yesterday. Check out the article and view the video here: http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110329&content_id=17189546&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=atl
That’s Gomez’s only hit in two at-bats this Spring for the Braves. He’ll be headed for an affiliate somewhere near the top of the organization, but what a moment for the man who hit 21 bombs for Mike Miccuci’s ’07 Kings.
Are you sitting down for this one? Ok. Right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen (’10), the feel-good reclamation story and former LumberKings’ starter, has reportedly made the Seattle Mariners’ Opening Day roster. Right-hander Josh Lueke (’07-’08) is coming with him, also to make a Major League debut. And first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) will be there, too.
We all know the Wilhelmsen backstory by now, but to enhance the Disney-movie-worthy script even further, he’ll be making the move to the Majors having last pitched professionally here in Clinton. No high-A, no double-A, no triple-A. That doesn’t happen too often, but in Tom’s case, his age and stuff have got him there on the Albert Pujols timetable.
The Mariners released this article and video on Wilhelmsen, penned by Greg Johns just yesterday. Do note that Seattle at this stage has not released their Opening Day roster officially, but given the credibility of the two news blogs reporting it, I think it’s safe to report.
Sounds like a great time to revisit my 2010 posts on Tom. Check them out:
- Tonight’s Interview: Tom Wilhelmsen (Vol. 1)
- Wilhelmsen’s Near Perfecto in Audio
- Tonight’s Interview: Tom Wilhelmsen (Vol. 2)
We should be hearing more on our roster here in Clinton shortly. I can’t break any news on that, unfortunately.