The Midwest League Oscars – Part 2

Instead of calling this Friday Fun, part 2, we will simply just refer to this as the second part of our Midwest League Oscars. For those of you who didn’t read part one on Friday, you can view it here. Now, it is time to award the Best Actor In A Lead Role and our 2015 Midwest League Best Picture. What will the Academy decide?!

Best Actor In A Lead Role

Ryan McBroom – 1B (Lansing)

McBroom was part of what was statistically the best offense in the Midwest League. However, unlike some of the 2015 Lugnuts, McBroom was never promoted, and his longevity in Lansing may explain why he won the 2015 Midwest League MVP. A 15th round pick out of West Virginia in 2014, McBroom was second in the Midwest League in RBI (90), first in doubles (39) and added 12 home runs while batting .315. For a good period of time during the middle of the season, McBroom was batting close to .360. He had a lot of help around him, but McBroom’s consistency in Ken Huckaby’s lineup makes him the ideal star player.

Bobby Bradley – 1B (Lake County)

McBroom may have had the best all around offensive numbers, but nobody was more exciting to watch than Bobby Bradley. All the Captains’ first baseman did was lead the league in home runs (27) and RBI (92) while also have a stretch where he hit a home run in five consecutive games. Bradley also had 11 more home runs than the Midwest League’s second leading home run hitter (Bowling Green’s Casey Gillaspie, who was promoted to Advanced A in July). Bradley has been compared by some scouts to Prince Fielder, and while he needs to improve on his contact numbers (148 strikeouts in 408 at bats), he has the power to eventually make the big leagues.

Austin Gomber – LHP (Peoria)

In the lower levels of the minor leagues, it is very rare to see starting pitchers have a consistent amount of long outings. Austin Gomber proved to be an outlier to that theory. The 4th round pick out of Florida Atlantic spent the entirety of last season with Peoria and put up fantastic numbers, going 15-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 22 starts spanning 135 innings. With the exception of his first start, the lefty went over five innings in every start, and completed six or more innings in his last seven starts. Gomber also lead the Midwest League with 140 strikeouts, while walking only 34. He parlayed his consistency into a non roster invite to Cardinals big league spring training. Throwing strikes will get you a long way, and Gomber proved in 2015 that he has great command of the strike zone.

LumberKings Nominee: Gianfranco Wawoe – INF

Wawoe was an unknown coming into 2015, but the Curacao native established himself as one of Clinton’s most consistent and dynamic players. Pronounced Gee-ahn-frank-oh Wa-woo, he hit eight home runs (second on the team), played six different positions throughout the season, and had an 18 game hitting streak. Wawoe did it all, which is why he is the LumberKings nominee at this spot.

Winner: Bobby Bradley

It’s hard to find someone who can take the game over with power, but thats exactly what Bobby Bradley did in 2015. Even though Lake County didn’t make the Midwest League playoffs, no individual meant more to their team than Bradley. He is an “actor” that is worth watching no matter the situation.

Best Picture

West Michigan Whitecaps

The 2015 Midwest League champions were huge down the stretch, and their pitching is the main reason why they were so good. Whitecaps pitching had a 3.48 team ERA during the season, and had three starters with at least 11 wins. The Whitecaps got hot at the right time and rode that wave (no pun intended) to the championship.

Quad Cities River Bandits

The 2015 Quad Cities River Bandits won more games in the regular season than any other team in minor league baseball during the regular season (88), and had the league’s best team ERA (2.65). While they got bounced in the first round of the playoffs, its hard to argue that any other team was as good during the regular season from start to finish than the River Bandits.

Cedar Rapids Kernels

While the 2015 Kernels didn’t have a ton of offensive firepower, they made up for it with their pitching depth. Cedar Rapids had ten players make six or more starts, and also finished third in the league in team ERA (3.22). The Kernels bullpen may have been what was most impressive, as it seemed every time the Kernels needed a big out late in the game, they got it.

Winner: Quad Cities River Bandits

Even though they didn’t win the title, the 2015 River Bandits were the best team from top to bottom throughout the year, and more often than not, if that team had the chance to replay their playoff run, they would have won it all.

This awards show is complete. Enjoy the real Oscars later this evening!

 

 

 

Friday Fun – The Oscars Part 1

Friday Fun - Oscars Mediawall

On Sunday night in Los Angeles, the stars will come out to shine for the 88th Academy Awards. For the majority of Americans, the nominations and winners of these awards define what is a “great” movie or performance. Personally, I don’t think that a movie has to be nominated for an Academy Award to be considered great (I think anyone who has seen Deadpool can say that it is a great movie and will not be nominated for an Oscar next year). Yet the best part about the Academy Awards is all of the prognostication commoners like us do to see who we think will win. I for one never guess the movies or actors that I think will win, but rather the ones I want to win (I’m batting .000 on all of my Leonardo DiCaprio guesses)

So you all are probably wondering how this relates to LumberKings baseball? Well, based upon the team’s 46-93 record, there aren’t a whole lot of awards to give, but doing our due diligence as the official blog of the Clinton LumberKings, there has to be a LumberKing nominated in every category. Today’s Friday Fun, if you haven’t guessed it already, is a 2015 Midwest League Oscar Ballot. We will have awards given for Best Actor In A Lead Role (Player), Best Actor In A Supporting Role (Player), Best Director (Manager), and Best Picture (Team). We will do two today and two on Sunday (which will make it a Friday Fun, Sunday Edition). Each category will have four nominations plus the LumberKing nomination. After a careful judgment from the Academy (aka me), a winner will be announced below. Without further ado, let the Midwest League Oscars begin!

Best Actor In A Supporting Role

Nick Tanielu – INF (Quad Cities)

Tanielu was one of few 2015 River Bandits to start on the opening day roster and finish the season with the team. Despite the fact that he wasn’t promoted, Tanielu was consistent throughout, batting .308 over 419 at bats, bashing six home runs and driving in 70 runs. He played in 110 total games, and could play all over the infield.

Kyle Grana – RHP (Peoria)

A closer isn’t a lead actor, but one of the biggest supporting actors on the team. The Peoria Chiefs had two fantastic closers in Grana and Robby Rowland, but once Rowland was promoted to High A Palm Beach, the job went exclusively to Grana. He did not disappoint, as the 6’4”, 245 pound closer posted a 2-2 record with a 0.78 ERA over 57.1 innings spanning 54 appearances. His 24 saves ranked second among all Midwest League pitchers, and he lead the league in appearances.

Zac Curtis – LHP (Kane County)

If Kyle Grana is a part of this list, then Zac Curtis has to be as well. The Kane County closer lead the Midwest League with 33 saves, and threw 54 innings over 53 appearances. He posted a 4-4 record with a 1.33 ERA, and had a WHIP of just 0.83. To put it simply, Curtis is grinder, and someone that every team needs. Plus he’s a lefty, which in the closers role makes him that much more valuable.

Colin Bray – OF (Kane County)

The 2015 Kane County Cougars didn’t have a lot of overwhelming star power, but a lot of guys who came in everyday and did their job. One shining example of that was Colin Bray. The 6th round pick in 2013 spent all of 2015 with Kane County, and played in 130 games, hitting .308 over 490 at bats. Bray drove in 52 runs and stole 27 bases in 36 attempts. Simply put, an all around player.

LumberKings Nominee: Kody Kerski – RHP

Kerski was the gold standard for LumberKings relievers in 2015, leading the team with eight saves. He notched a 4-3 record with a 1.80 ERA over 60 innings. Kerski was the go to guy in key situations.

Winner: Zac Curtis

A huge part of what Kane County was able to do last season came in large part to the fact that they had Curtis. He only blew three saves, and he struck out 75 batters while walking only 12. In his first season with short season Hillsboro in 2014, he had 14 saves in 15 chances, and had just a 1.00 ERA over 27 innings, giving up just three earned runs and five total runs. Every team needs a Zac Curtis.

Best Director

Josh Bonifay (Quad Cities)

For those who have met Josh Bonifay, he is as cool of a customer as they come. He makes good lineup adjustments, understands where certain personnel need to be played, and gets everyone on the same page. While the Astros have one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball, give Bonifay credit for navigating the River Bandits to a 88-50 record, the best in the Midwest League, garnering him the Midwest League’s manager of the year award. Bonifay had a 70-64 record combined in two seasons with the Greenville Astros, winning the Appalachian League manager of the year award in 2013.

Jake Mauer – (Cedar Rapids)

Mauer is a steady hand in Cedar Rapids, which is why he is once again returning to the Kernels in 2016. The brother of Twins catcher Joe Mauer, Jake Mauer is a tried and true skipper in the Minnesota system, finding his niche in Cedar Rapids. Mauer guided the 2015 Kernels to a 77-63 record and a birth in the Midwest League championship series. He has won at least 73 games in each of the three seasons he’s managed Cedar Rapids (2013-2015), after failing to win more than 64 games in three straight seasons managing the Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League. Mauer is a relaxed manager, and one of the reasons why Cedar Rapids came so close to bringing home their first Midwest League title since 1994.

Andrew Graham (West Michigan)

Like with an Academy Award that wins best picture, its almost implied that the director of that picture is nominated for best director. That being said, the manager of the 2015 Midwest Champions is on the list. Andrew Graham got the Whitecaps into the playoffs behind a 42-28 record in the second half (75-64 overall). West Michigan rode their staff of power arms into the finals, where they beat Cedar Rapids in five games. Graham pulled the right strings at the right time with his pitching staff, and had one of the best one-two bullpen punches in the league with Johan Belisario and Joe Jimenez. Despite not winning the title in 2014, Graham managed the Whitecaps to an even better 82-58 record. He will be back in West Michigan again in 2016.

Ken Huckaby – (Lansing)

Ken Huckaby is more famously known for his collision with Derek Jeter in 2003, but he should be better known for his role as one of the best managers in the Midwest League. Huckaby guided the 2015 Lugnuts to the first half eastern division title with a 42-28 record and an appearance in the eastern division finals. Huckaby’s players loved playing for him, and from everything I have heard, he blends well with youth. Huckaby will be with the Dunedin Blue Jays this season, but he should be acknowledged for his success in getting great execution from one of the most talented rosters in the Midwest League.

LumberKings Nominee: Scott Steinmann

The record does not tell the story when it comes to Scott Steinmann, whose goal is to develop players skill sets and give them life lessons they can use beyond the diamond. He made sure that his players were prepared to enter battle every day, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Winner: Josh Bonifay

While Bonifay didn’t win a playoff series, he proved that he could keep a team successful despite roster turnover. The 2015 River Bandits had most of their 2015 opening day roster either promoted or traded, so to see how competitive they were bringing a lot of younger guys up shows just how good of a manager Bonifay is. Having won two manager of the year awards in just three years of managing proves Bonifay’s worth.

We will be back Sunday with our Best Actor in a Lead Role and Best Picture nominations and winners.

Monday Coffee Thoughts

Sometimes the best ideas in life can come when one is having their morning coffee. For this 23 year old broadcaster, that moment happens more often than not. I love coffee, the taste and the spark it gives me to function. Yet while in college, coffee wasn’t just a morning routine, it was a nighttime necessity; my friends can vouch for my double fisting of two french roasts while writing a history paper in the caverns of the Northwestern University Library. Wherever I may be, some of my best thoughts are coffee fueled, which is why I thought it might be appropriate to offer some thoughts on LumberKings baseball. Here are two of my February 22nd coffee thoughts.

1. Walk rates must improve

If anyone followed the 2015 LumberKings, they know that one of biggest problems that the pitching staff had were the inordinate amount of free passes they issued. Clinton walked more batters (519) than any of the other 15 Midwest League teams. That amounts to a 3.73 walks per game average, and a 3.82 walks per nine innings average. However, this was not just a problem for the LumberKings, but rather the entire organization. Let us take a look at the walks/nine innings rates for all of the Mariners affiliates

• Tacoma Rainiers: 3.08

• Jackson Generals: 3.85

• Bakersfield Blaze: 2.97

• Clinton LumberKings: 3.82

• Everett AquaSox: 3.82

These numbers indicate that walks have been a problem across the entire organization, yet with the new “control the zone” philosophy that we expect to be implemented system wide, expect lower walks rates across the board. It may seem like an overstatement of the obvious, but the less walks, the less runs given up. If the 2016 LumberKings can get that 3.82 closer to three, I think you will see a remarkable improvement in terms of length of starts and win total. Just so you all can see the math, if the 2016 LumberKings have a walks/nine innings rate of three, based on the amount of innings pitched in 2015, they would issue a grand total of 407 walks, 112 less than last year. Thats 112 less opportunities for runs to score. Simple and straight forward analytics.

2. Offensive strikeout rates must improve

Another oversimplification of the obvious, but so often last year it seemed as if the LumberKings had a chance to drive in a run, the batter at the plate would strike out. In general though, strikeouts proved to be the Achilles heel for the 2015 LumberKings offense. Clinton struck out 1177 times last year, second most in the Midwest League behind the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who had 1178 punch-outs. The LumberKings averaged 8.46 strikeouts per game, and averaged one strikeout per 3.94 at bats. It also didn’t help that the 2015 LumberKings had four players who ranked in the top 15 in total strikeouts. Yet was this a problem across the whole organization? Lets take a look at the other affiliates strikeouts/game and strikeout per at bat averages

• Tacoma Rainiers: 7.02 SO/game, 1 SO per 4.95 at bats

• Jackson Generals: 7.18 SO/game, 1 SO per 4.52 at bats

• Bakersfield Blaze: 8.97 SO/game, 1 SO per 3.74 at bats

• Clinton LumberKings: 8.46 SO/game, 1 SO per 3.94 at bats

• Everett AquaSox: 7.88 SO/game, 1 SO per 4.27 at bats

What these numbers can tell you is that there is a struggle at the lower levels to make contact. Bakersfield also lead the California League in team strikeouts (1256) so the rates you see for them and the LumberKings are what needs to improve the most. During the April and May months, conditions in the Midwest favor pitchers, so there will be an adjustment for many players who have never played in cold weather on a consistent basis. Once the season reaches the midway point, I will try to compare strikeout rates from month to month to see if weather in fact does make a difference. Regardless, if the strikeout numbers go down, the odds of driving in runs will improve dramatically simply because the more the ball is put in play, the better chance you have to advance runners on base. Simple enough right?

Well, I’ve finished my morning brew. Have a topic you think I should mull on over a cup of coffee? Leave a comment and I’ll make sure that I get to it on the next edition of Monday Coffee Thoughts.

 

 

 

Friday Fun -Clinton’s Mount Rushmore

Louie Mt Rushmore Mediawall

One of the absolute greatest architectural marvels in the United States is Mount Rushmore. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, it is an ode to some of the greatest leaders in our country’s history. While it was being constructed during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who in my opinion ranks as one of the most impactful presidents in United States history). The monument consists of George Washington, known as the father of our country, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and the brains behind the constitutional framework of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, the man who abolished slavery in America, and Teddy Roosevelt, one of the 20th century’s most progressive leaders. As someone who majored in history in college, I could go on all day about the accomplishments of these presidents, but this is a baseball blog. So with it, we will talk about LumberKings baseball, but with a presidential twist.

You see, Mount Rushmore is more than just a monument, it is in a way an acknowledgement of the four most impactful presidents. So how does this tie into baseball? There has been a team in Clinton since 1937, and many a great player has come through here on their way to stardom. Here at the LumberBlog, we thought we could have some Friday Fun by creating our own Mount Rushmore of former Clinton greats. In assembling this list, we are not only judging their major league careers, but also their time in Clinton. This will be in chronological order in terms of when they played in Clinton. Without further ado, lets meet our Mt Rushmore of former Clinton players.

George Washington – Denny McLain

McLain is here more because of his major league pedigree than his performance in Clinton, but his performance in the Midwest League was impactful. With Clinton (at that time a White Sox affiliate) in 1962, McLain went 4-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) spanning 91 innings pitched. Of his 13 starts, eight of them were complete games, including two shutouts. His 2.51 strikeout to walk ratio was decent, but while his stats aren’t overwhelmingly spectacular, he was only 18 years old. Considering where players are in their development at 18, McLain was way ahead of the curve at the time. McLain broke into the big leagues with the Detroit Tigers in 1963, and enjoyed a ten year career in which he won 131 games and compiled a career 3.39 earned run average. He was a three time all star, and won back to back Cy Young Awards with the Tigers in 1968 and 1969. His 1968 season is considered one of the greatest ever, as he went 31-6 with a 1.96 ERA in 41 starts over 336 innings. He lead the majors in wins, innings pitched, starts, complete games (9), and strikeout to walk ratio (4.44), which also helped garner him the AL MVP. He was just the 2nd player in major league history at the time to win back to back Cy Young Awards, (Sandy Koufax won in 1965 and 1966). Whats maybe even more amazing is that in 1965, McLain did not make the All Star team despite posting a 16-6 record with a 2.61 earned run average over 220 innings. His career dropped off significantly after 1969, but McLain’s best years were hard to match.

Thomas Jefferson – Dave Stewart

Unlike McLain, while Stewart had a long and successful big league career, his campaign with the 1977 Clinton Dodgers was off the charts. Stewart went 17-4 with a 2.15 earned run average over 176 innings, making 24 starts and throwing 15 complete games (3 of them being shutouts). He broke into the majors for good in 1981, although he made a relief appearance with the Dodgers in 1978. His best years came from 1987-1990 with the Oakland Athletics, when he won 20 or more games in four consecutive seasons. Although his only All Star appearance came in 1989 (he also finished 2nd in Cy Young voting that year), 1990 was arguably a better statistical season. “Smoke” went 22-11 with a 2.56 ERA, and lead MLB in innings pitched (267), and complete games (11) and shutouts (4). Also, since Washington’s birthday is on the 22nd, it was worth putting someone born in this time period on the list. Today is Stewart’s 59th birthday!

Abraham Lincoln – Jason Bay

The first position player on this list, Bay didn’t spend a full season in Clinton, but the time he spent with the 2001 LumberKings was impactful. In 318 at bats, Bay hit .362 with a .449 on base percentage, bopping 13 home runs and driving in 61 runs. He also slugged .572, giving him an OPS of 1.024. Bay rose quickly through the Expos system, and was traded twice before hitting the bigs full time with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004. His 04 campaign was on point, hitting .282 with 26 home runs and 82 RBIs, which helped him garner the National League Rookie of the Year. In three of his next four years, Bay hit 30+ home runs and had 100+ RBI, with him still hitting 21 home runs in a down year in 2007. During the middle of 2008, Bay was traded to the Boston Red Sox, and in 2009, he had one of his best years, hitting .267, blasting 36 home runs and driving in 119 runs (both career highs). Bay signed a lucrative contract with the New York Mets prior to the 2010 season, but never lived up to his previous numbers. He retired after the 2013 season, with three All Star appearances to his name.

Teddy Roosevelt – Ian Kinsler

Kinsler is known as one of the best power hitting middle infielders in major league baseball, and that trend held true during the first half of his season with the 2004 LumberKings. Kinsler hit a whopping .402 in Clinton with 11 home runs and 52 RBI in 224 at bats. He was so good that he got promoted to Double A Frisco, and hit .300 with 9 home runs and 46 RBI in 277 at bats. Kinsler broke into the majors in 2006 with the Texas Rangers, hitting .286 in his rookie campaign. He has hit 30+ home runs twice and has made four All Star appearances. For Kinsler, there is still more greatness to come.

Have a different opinion? Another name that should be carved into our monument? Leave a comment on the LumberBlog. We will have another monument ode to the managers, coming up next week. Hope you had some Friday Fun, presidential style!

 

 

 

Friday Fun – Valentine’s Day

Valentines-Day-Heart LKings

It’s Friday, the end of the week, and the prelude into Valentine’s Day weekend. On a personal level, I’m not the biggest Valentine’s Day fan; quite honestly I can’t stand it. But, for the sake of those who do, we are going to have some Friday Fun (in case you didn’t catch on already, thats what most Friday blog posts will be called) by comparing potential 2016 LumberKings with our favorite messages from Valentine’s Day heart candy.

Although I have already said that I do not like Valentine’s Day, I love the candy hearts. When I was 10 years old I could down a box of those in about five minutes (I do not condone doing that by any means!). Still, it was always fun to investigate the different messages that would come on the candy. In the modern age, some of the messages are obsolete, (I for one wouldn’t ask a girl to Fax Me). Here are some of my best candy heart comparisons for potential 2016 LumberKings.

Logan Taylor - AquaSox

BE MINE – Logan Taylor

The BE MINE heart is one of desire. It says to the recipient that your presence is necessary. For the 2015 AquaSox, Logan Taylor’s presence in the lineup was a necessity. A 12th round draft pick out of Texas A&M last year, Taylor played all over the diamond. A college shortstop, Taylor played second base, third base, left field, and right field last season for Everett. He hit .267 in 60 games, knocking out four homers and driving in 42 (those 42 RBI rank 2nd among all 2015 AquaSox). Simply put, Taylor is the ideal utility man. He hits for a decent clip, has above average power, and can drive in runs. In his final year at Texas A&M, Taylor lead the Aggies in home runs (10) and RBI (52) while hitting .333 in 63 games played. Simply put, be ours Logan Taylor, because you are getting someone that can do everything and do it well.

Pennsylvania Catholic basball player selected in Major League Baseball draft

SOUL MATE – Ryan Uhl

Every baseball fan’s soul mate is the long ball. People love seeing the baseball travel out of the park, and Ryan Uhl does just that. Uhl has a very interesting background, being a 7th round pick in the 2015 draft out of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a division II school. In his senior season at IUP, Uhl put up unreal numbers, hitting .415 with a .536 on base percentage, and hit 29 home runs in just 142 at bats! Whats even more insane is that he hit 16 more home runs last year than he did in his first three seasons combined! Uhl also set a school and conference record with 74 RBI last season. He is the second player coming from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference to be drafted by the Mariners in the last two seasons (Mercyhurst’s Dan Altavilla was drafted in the 5th round in 2014). Uhl got off to a fast start in Everett, but cooled off towards the end of the Northwest League season, finishing with a .259 average, four home runs, and 35 RBI. While its unrealistic for anyone to expect Uhl to perform at the same level he did his senior season in college, but for the 6’6″ 230 pound first baseman, if he shows off that power potential in 2016, he will be everybody’s home run soul mate.

Anthony Misiewicz AquaSox

YOU ROCK – Anthony Misiewicz

There isn’t as much of a romantic feel to the you rock candy heart, but what it tells the recipient is that they’re awesome. In his first professional season, awesome is how to describe left handed pitcher Anthony Misiewicz. Pronounced Mih-seh-vich, he was on point during his professional debut. posting a 3-2 record with a 2.14 earned run average over 46.1 innings with the 2015 AquaSox. Opponents only hit .189 against him, while striking out 40 and allowing only 10 walks. He was an 18th round pick last season out of Michigan State, where he went 5-4 with a 3.80 ERA over 68.2 innings in 2015. There proved to be a lot of value in picking Misiewicz, and it paid off big time in his professional debut season. If 2016 is anything like 2015, he will continue to rock.

Alex_Jackson LKings

I LOVE YOU – Alex Jackson

The classic “I LOVE YOU” heart. Simple, short, and to the point. And we love Alex Jackson, because of what he can bring to the table. Jackson was part of the 2015 LumberKings, starting the season on the opening day roster. However, the 6th overall pick in the 2014 draft struggled in his first full season, hitting only .157 with no home runs in Clinton before getting hurt. He then was on Everett’s opening day roster, and showed signs of life, hitting eight home runs in 163 at bats with the AquaSox. Jackson is only 20 years old, and while his 2015 season wasn’t ideal statistically, his potential should give LumberKings and Mariners fans alike a lot to look forward to in 2016. In other words, we love you Alex Jackson.

We hope you enjoyed this Valentine’s Day edition of Friday Fun. Happy Valentine’s Day from The LumberBlog!

 

Episode 1 – Seattle System Scoop

Seattle System Scoop Graphic V4

A great idea that has been developing this offseason is something you see right now, right here on this page. The Seattle System Scoop is the name of the podcast that will be recorded throughout the season, and posted right here on the LumberBlog, as well as on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (Follow at Clinton LKings). Its a podcast that is a discussion about the Mariners farm system, with the contributors being myself, and the other four broadcasters from the other minor league affiliates. Those people being Mike Curto (Tacoma Rainiers) Brandon Liebhaber (Jackson Generals), Dan Besbris (Bakersfield Blaze), and Pat Dillon (Everett AquaSox).

In the first episode, we discuss the changes in the philosophy of the Mariners player development department, as well as a breakdown of Baseball America’s Top 10 Mariners prospects. You can find that list right here. Take a listen, we know you’ll enjoy our first episode. Audio Link

After 4 Years, The LumberBlog Returns

It’s been over four years since Dave Lezotte signed off from The LumberBlog, and it is time to bring this great publication back with full force. My name is Greg Mroz, and I am honored to be the new play by play broadcaster for the Clinton LumberKings. I won’t bore you all too much with biographical information, but what I promise you is that this blog will once again be a fun and informative source for LumberKings news, information, highlights, interviews, and other interesting bits of content. The goal of this blog reboot is to give you, the fans, a fun platform to interact with our team. I very much look forward to hearing your input and feedback. Stay tuned for some fun and exciting content leading up to Opening Day!

That’s It, That’s All

My apologies to regular readers for not posting more content as of late, but I’ve been going through a pretty large personal and professional transition.  This week is my final week as the Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations with your Clinton LumberKings.  I have accepted a new position with the Gwinnett Braves, Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.  There, I’ll be putting my writing skills to work as the new Media Relations Coordinator.  It’s a huge jump for me in a lot of ways, but I’m hoping my six years of experience here have prepared me well for the job.

The move unfortunately means that I won’t be contributing to this blog anymore.  On my “things I’ll miss about Clinton” list, posting on the LumberBlog will probably rank second behind the radio broadcast itself.  I started this thing back in 2009 not really knowing what I was going to do with it, and eventually it became a way to share all of my daily work with you.  I’ve said it before, but I’m continually surprised with how many visitors the blog generates monthly.  The LumberBlog finished #28 on the MLBlogs Top 50 list this past month and has been in the Top 50 for every month since May of 2009.  All of that traffic for a blog covering a small-market, low-A team.

Thanks again for reading regularly or simply checking in every now and again, it has meant a lot to me.

-DL

Holland-Daze

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that searches on Derek Holland spiked my blog traffic over the weekend.  That sort of thing will happen when you toss 8.1 scoreless, tw0-hit innings in the World Series, easily the biggest pitching performance in Texas Rangers history.  The former LumberKings ace is now firmly entrenched into baseball lore.

And, if you missed it, here’s a look via TexasRangers.com at Holland’s series-evening outing last night:  http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?c_id=tex&content_id=19943841&topic_id=25588886

I’d love to say that I knew he’d be this good when he was dominating Midwest Leaguers just three years ago, but I’d be lying.  He was special then, but he was historic last night.

-DL

“Bullpen Patio” Taking Shape

There’s a new addition coming to Ashford University Field for 2012.  The “Bullpen Patio” will be a new group area with high-top tables positioned just behind the LumberKings’ bullpen down the left-field line.  Groups of 10-50 will be able to reserve the patio for just $12 a person.

Check out the “Bullpen Patio” as it takes shape:

It’s obviously a ways from being finished, but hopefully you get an idea of the area it will occupy.  If you’d like to reserve a date for the “Bullpen Patio”, do so by calling 563-242-0727.  Tell ’em Dave sent you (you won’t receive a discount for this).

-DL

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