Results tagged ‘ Erasmo Ramirez ’
While we get ready for the Major League debut of former LumberKings’ lefty Anthony Vasquez with the Mariners tonight, I have a special treat for you. Former Kings’ right-hander Forrest Snow, now also knocking on the Big League door with the triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, joined me yesterday for a phone interview.
Snow, the closer for the Kings during their run to the West Division title last season and this year’s Opening Night starter, made the jump from high-A High Desert to Tacoma in mid-July as an extra arm for a maxed-out bullpen. After striking out nine over 6.0 innings of relief in his PCL debut at Salt Lake on July 24, Snow found his way on to the roster for a more permanent stint. The Seattle native struck out seven in his next relief outing and eventually joined the rotation on August 9. His best start to-date came in front of friends and family at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium, an outing in which he limited Omaha to a run on four hits over 7.0 innings and struck out nine in a no-decision.
He’s now back into the bullpen, but still pitching just one step away from reaching the team he grew up rooting for. And, clearly still humble about the whole experience, Snow shared some time with me yesterday.
Snowman talks about getting the call to the Rainiers, advice he received from former LumberKing Kyle Seager in his first outing, the tremendous start at Cheney Stadium, being reunited with former Clinton pitching coach Dwight Bernard, watching former Kings’ right-hander Erasmo Ramirez dominate the PCL (he’s 3-0 in four starts) and plenty more.
Listen Here: Forrest Snow Phone Interview 8.22.11
Snow did officially go back into the pen last night, but pitched 2.0 scoreless innings at Reno in a game ultimately lost by the Rainiers, 7-6 in 12 innings. His current stint in Tacoma (0-2, 5.40 in 6 games, 2 starts) looks to be just the beginning of big things to come for the man who squeezed the final out for Clinton’s 2010 West Division championship.
After allowing a career-high five earned runs in his previous start, it’s clear that left-hander James Paxton had a rebound outing last night against Quad Cities. He set a new career high with 13 strikeouts and yielded just one run on four hits over 6.1 innings as the LumberKings beat the River Bandits, 5-1 at Alliant Energy Field. Paxton struck out six-straight batters at one point in the game (listen: Paxton 11th Strikeout 6.16.11), but left in the seventh with the bases loaded and one out. Right-hander Tyler Burgoon came on and left them loaded as he induced a highlight-reel double play started by second-baseman Jorge Agudelo (listen: Agudelo Flip to Ramirez for DP 6.16.11). Burgoon did not allow a run over 2.2 innings to secure his seventh save, making Paxton a winner for the third time. Mickey Wiswall had the clutch hit of the night, singling home two runs to open up a 4-1 lead in the fourth (listen: Wiswall 2-R single 6.16.11).
The efforts for K-Pax and Burgoon were well-timed as they took place in front of Mariners’ Minor League Pitching Coordinator Rick Waits. After coaching for 15 seasons with the New York Mets (including 2003 as their Major League Bullpen Coach), Waits has inherited a minor league system chock full of potential impact arms. Waits is my pregame guest tonight, and he shares plenty of his own insight into Paxton, tonight’s starter Taijuan Walker, Burgoon and the Clinton bullpen, former LumberKing and current Tacoma Rainier right-hander Blake Beavan and how close he is to a Seattle call-up, the outstanding arms in double-A Jackson including Andrew Carraway, Erasmo Ramirez, Anthony Vasquez, Kenn Kasparek and Tom Wilhelmsen and more. It’s definitely a worthy listen.
Tonight’s Game Notes: 6.17.11 kingsnotes
Today’s Roster Move: Despite the potential game-saving play last night, Agudelo has been sent to short-A Everett to clear space for infielder Shaver Hansen, who has been reinstated from the DL and will play tonight in Kane County.
LumberKings (22-45): Julio Morban/CF, Mickey Wiswall/1B, Tim Morris/D, Matt Browning/3B, Kalian Sams/RF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Robbie Anston/LF, Billy Marcoe/C, Anthony Phillips/SS, Taijuan Walker/RHP
Kane County Cougars (27-39): Angel Franco/2B, Ryan Stovall/3B, Brett Eibner/CF, Brian Fletcher/LF, Jake Kuebler/1B, Geulin Beltre/DH, Orlando Calixte/SS, Travis Jones/C, Julio Aparicio/RF, Leonel Santiago/RHP
First pitch is at 7:00 PM here at Elfstrom Stadium, listen to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.
Left-handers Anthony Fernandez (left) and Edlando Seco (right) finished 2-3 in the Northwest League in ERA last season.
Part two of my third-annual educated guess at the upcoming LumberKings’ roster is today, with a look at players who I think will make their Clinton debuts at some point in 2011. Again, my disclaimer…I have no advanced knowledge of the roster via the Seattle Mariners at this point in the year, thus this is just my opinion. If anyone I’ve mentioned is no longer with the Mariners’ organization (trade, release, retirement, etc.), please feel free to update me in the “comments” section below.
It’s easy to get excited about the crop of talent coming up, given that four of the five teams below low-A advanced to the playoffs last year. Everett, the team we’re likely to see the most players from, won the Northwest League title last season under the guidance of Jose Moreno and newly-named LumberKings’ pitching coach Rich Dorman. Pulaski, the other top feeder team, advanced to the postseason under current manager Eddie Menchaca. The players coming up from those two squads will already be well versed in what it takes to win, and they’ll be working with a staff that is more than familiar with their skillset. That should be a solid recipe for success here in Clinton. Now, let’s take a position-by-position look at some of the players who could be wearing black and green in 2011.
As I said in part one of the preview, 2009 supplemental first-rounder Steven Baron, who split his first pro season between Clinton and Everett, should be the everyday catcher here. He started 50 of the AquaSox’ 76 games behind the plate and was named the NWL’s top catcher. Cal State Fullerton product Billy Marcoe (.153, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .383 OPS) appeared in 11 games for Everett as Baron’s backup last year. He could be filling that role again. Pulaski’s catching corps included Venezuela native Larry Gonzalez (.267, 1 HR, 17 RBI, .700 OPS), Dominican native Hassiel Jimenez (.229, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .541 OPS) and Seattle’s 32nd round pick out of Vanderbilt, Andrew Giobbi (.291, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .764 OPS). Seattle’s highest-drafted catcher in 2010 was sixth-round pick Christian Carmichael, who needs a season at short-A before he’s ready for the Midwest League. Carmichael, drafted out of Mililani High School in Hawaii, hit .100 in just 11 games in the AZL. It’s anyone’s guess at this point who the other catcher (or second and third catchers) will be, but I’d put my money on Gonzalez or Giobbi and bank on Carmichael in 2012.
Evan Sharpley, the Mariners’ 50th-round and final selection of the 2009 June draft, was better known as the backup quarterback to Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame when Seattle selected him. After solid efforts in the AZL in ’09 (.333, 7 HR, 29 RBI) and Everett in ’10 (.231, 6 HR, 42 RBI, .706 OPS), Sharpley has proven he belongs in pro baseball. Granted, .231 with a .318 OBP isn’t lighting up the Northwest League, but he still started 64 of Everett’s 76 games last year and can provide power from the left side of the plate. Pulaski had a first-base platoon situation with Hofstra product and 35th round pick Ethan Paquette (.236, 3 HR, 19 RBI, .643 OPS) splitting time with Matt Browning (.330, 4 HR, 24 RBI, .947 OPS), the 43rd round pick out of James Madison. Paquette is the only natural first-baseman of the group with Sharpley and Browning both moving over from third base, but I think this spot ultimately goes to Sharpley. I projected in my previous post that Tim Morris should return, but we’ll see who emerges this Spring.
LumberKings’ alums Hawkins Gebbers and Terry Serrano handled most of the second-base duties for Everett last year, and either one could be back on the Clinton infield. Since this post is about new faces, I’ll focus elsewhere. Menchaca’s Pulaski team featured an intriguing second-baseman named Jorge Agudelo, who ripped 16 doubles and legged out seven triples in just 59 games while hitting .287. The Caracas, VZ native also exhibited a knack for baserunning, stealing an Appy League-high 24 bases in 31 attempts. The Kings haven’t had a true speedster at the top of the lineup since Engel Beltre in ’08, so it’d be great to see Agudelo flying around the bases. Unless Gabriel Noriega repeats the league and isn’t the starting shortstop (more on that later), I think Agudelo has the inside track on the second base spot. Gebbers, Serrano and Carlos Ramirez are all solid utility choices, while 30th-round pick Derek Poppert (.242, 8 doubles, HR, 11 RBI) could be in the mix also.
When Menchaca was in for the Hot Stove Banquet in January, he raved about third-baseman Ramon Morla whenever he was asked about his players from Pulaski. The 21-year-old San Pedro de Macoris product was a near Triple Crown winner in the Appy League, blasting a league-best 17 homers in 62 games while hitting .323 (2nd) and driving in 49 runs (2nd). Only Elizabethton’s Oswaldo Arcia (who figures to be big in Beloit this year) led more offensive categories than Morla. He won’t be Mario Martinez on defense, given that he committed a team-high 21 errors at the hot corner last year, but his offensive numbers are exciting enough to forgive that fact. The Mariners’ used their 12th-round pick on Oregon State third-baseman Stefen Romero, but he was unable to play last season after fracturing his arm in late May. Romero was hitting .326 with 13 homers and 41 RBI with the Beavers prior to the injury. Director of Amateur Scouting Tom McNamara is high on Romero, but you can’t argue against Morla’s MVP-like season. I say, let’s see them both. Someone’s got to DH.
No question, the shortstop position will be the biggest shoes to fill in the eyes of most LumberKings’ fans. Nick Franklin enjoyed one of the best offensive seasons in club history last year and emerged as the #3 prospect in the entire Seattle system. With respects to Pulaski’s Jake Schlander (the 31st-round pick out of Stanford, hit .259, one HR, 25 RBI, .671 OPS) and Everett’s Anthony Phillips (.204, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .627), 2010 second-round pick Marcus Littlewood should be a more-than-capable replacement to Franklin. The 19-year-old Littlewood was drafted out of St. George High School in Utah and didn’t play for an affiliate last year, yet was ranked the #8 prospect in the system by Baseball America. Like Franklin, Littlewood has Team USA experience, suiting up with the 16-and-under National Team at the 2008 Pan Am Youth Games (they won gold) and the 18-and-under squad last year. BA projects him to hit for average and put up 10-15 home runs as Clinton’s everyday shortstop in 2011. How can I disagree?
Two of Everett’s top four hitters resided in the outfield, with left-handed hitting right-fielder Kevin Rivers leading the way. Rivers, signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2009 out of the same school that produced Scott Savastano (Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire), shook off pedestrian numbers in the AZL and hit a team-best .332 (3rd in the NWL) with 11 blasts, 48 RBI, a league-best .466 on-base percentage and a 1.022 OPS for the AquaSox. Centerfielder Robbie Anston also had a productive year for the AquaSox after a 26th-round selection out of Boston College, hitting .292 with 13 doubles, two homers, 24 RBI and 15 steals in 23 attempts. Anston was one of Everett’s top playoff hitters, batting .333 with three doubles.
Menchaca’s Pulaski team was also anchored by powerful outfielders, most notably Venezuelans Jose Rivero (.295, 7 HR, 35 RBI, .817 OPS) and switch-hitting Mario Yepez (.231, 12 doubles, 6 HR, 27 RBI, .652 OPS). Left-handed hitting James Wood, the 47th-round pick, hit .291 and had a .794 OPS in 28 games. The one I’ve heard most about, however, is the eighth-round pick out of Miami Dade Community College, Jabari Blash. Originally from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Blash looks like the heir apparent to James Jones in right field. The 6’4″ Blash is just about the same size as JJ, plus he hit at a similar clip (.266, 5 HR, 20 RBI, .839 OPS) over his 32 games in the Appy League. BA rated Blash the fastest player of the Mariners’ 2010 draft class, and we’ll see if he can cover JJ-like ground when he patrols right-field. I expect him to be joined by Rivers in left and Anston in center, with Rivero, Yepez, Kalian Sams and Ryan Royster fighting for the fourth spot or stepping in to the DH role. In regards to Menchaca’s lineup, I’d like to see Anston and Rivers in the 2-3 spots with Blash protecting Morla around the five spot.
One thing the Mariners have always supplied the LumberKings since the affiliation began in 2009 is brilliant starting pitching. The 2009 club led the Midwest League in ERA at 3.35 and featured league ERA champion Kenn Kasparek, while the 2010 team ranked second in ERA at 3.66 and sported the league’s top right-hander (Erasmo Ramirez) and second-best left-hander (Jimmy Gillheeney). Will the rotation live up to the standards of the last two years?
Looking just at the top three starters in Dorman’s Everett rotation, it looks like the 2011 starters should be outstanding. The AquaSox posted a Northwest League-best 3.22 ERA thanks largely to a pair of southpaws, Edlando Seco and Anthony Fernandez. The duo finished 2-3 in the league in ERA, with the Calabozo, VZ native Seco going 3-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 14 starts while Fernandez, from Santiago, DR went 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA over 15 starts. Fernandez finished atop the league in fewest baserunners per 9.0 IP (10.26), tied for first in wins (8), second in WHIP (1.12) and third in fewest walks per 9.0 IP (1.94) while Seco held opponents to a league-low .169 average, finished third in WHIP (1.20) and third as well in strikeouts per 9.0 IP (9.52). Simply put, the lefties put on a show for the eventual champs.
Yet, they weren’t the only stellar starters for Everett. Right-hander Chris Sorce, Seattle’s 26th-round pick out of Troy in 2009, made the move from the bullpen to the rotation this season and was fantastic in 15 starts, going 8-2 with a 3.64 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. I had him projected to be in Clinton’s pen last year, but there’s no doubt in my mind he should be in the Kings’ rotation this season.
Pulaski has an ace of their own to offer up. Right-hander Tim Boyce, the 44th-round pick out of the University of Rhode Island, won an Appalachian League-best nine games (9-3) and had the league’s 10th-best ERA of 2.98 over 13 games, eight starts. In the mold of Ramirez, Boyce is a control artist — he walked seven while striking out 42 over 47.1 innings as a starter and had a paltry 1.03 WHIP, fourth-best in the Appy League.
Continuing with Pulaski…right-hander Jessie Nava (4-3, 4.36 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) was a reliable starter aside from his propensity to give up home runs (a league-high 8 in 13 starts). Righty George Mieses went 4-4 with a 3.45 ERA and the league’s third-lowest walks per 9.0 IP average (1.19) over his 13 starts. Right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen went 3-0 with a 2.51 ERA in seven games, five starts after his 45th-round selection.
All of those pitchers could quickly be overshadowed if Seattle’s supplemental first-round pick, 18-year-old right-hander Taijuan Walker, comes to town. Walker was the 43rd player drafted last year despite having more experience as a high school basketball player than as a pitcher. That’s because of a large frame (he’s 6’4″ according to most reports) and a live arm (his fastball has touched 95 mph, and he backs it up with a decent slider and change). Walker went 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA and a stingy .087 opponent average over his four appearances in the AZL last year, a very encouraging start to a career that might take a few seasons to develop. The Mariners are in no need to rush Walker here to Clinton, but I think he’ll factor into the rotation once the weather gets warmer (much like Kasey Kiker and Blake Beavan did in ’07 and ’08).
Even if Walker doesn’t arrive this year, the Kings could be in for some other surprises from the Dominican Summer League and the Venezuela Summer League much like Ramirez was in 2010. Left-hander Henry Perez went 7-1 with a 0.86 ERA in 11 starts in the DSL, striking out 76 while walking only 10 (can someone say Erasmo-like?) and limiting opponents to a .187 average over 73.0 innings. He’s not particularly young (he’ll turn 22 after the season), meaning he likely can handle the jump to the United States. Left-hander Brandol Perez might be more likely to stay in the DSL despite going 7-0 with a 0.19 ERA (yes, you read that right) over 11 games, six starts last year…he’ll be 18 in August. Right-hander Vicente Campos was the DSL Mariners’ top starter, going 8-2 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and .231 opponent average in 12 starts. Campos will turn 19 in July, leading me to believe we’ll probably see him in 2012.
If the Clinton rotation features any combination of Walker, Seco, Fernandez, Boyce, Sorce and Perez this year, we could witness the most dominant LumberKings’ staff in recent history. Given all that we’ve seen as a Seattle affiliate, that’s saying a lot.
Things certainly look promising for the first six-to-seven innings, but will the Kings’ bullpen be able to finish things off? A lot of Everett’s bullpen made their way to Clinton and were sent back down, but there’s a few arms out there we haven’t seen. Right-hander Willy Kesler, the 18th-round pick out of the University of New Mexico, went 3-2 with a 1.47 ERA in 19 relief outings and held NWL opponents to a .213 average. Kesler led the team in holds (5) and was tied with Jason Markovitz and Stephen Pryor for the saves lead (4-for-4). Right-hander Austin Hudson, the 27th-round pick in ’09, went 4-2 with a 2.92 ERA over 20 games (including seven starts) but was just 3-for-6 in save attempts. New York, NY native Eric Valdez was also impressive in seven relief outings for the AquaSox, going 0-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a .192 opponent average. Right-hander Tyler Burgoon, the 10th-round pick out of Michigan, had decent numbers outside of a 4.40 ERA…his 0.98 WHIP ranked third on the team amongst pitchers with eight-plus outings.
Back over to Pulaski, right-hander Bryan Leigh (2-0, 1.71 ERA, 3-of-3 in saves, 1.05 WHIP, .203 opponent average) was their most reliable reliever. Right-handers Lance Abbott (0-0, 2.25 ERA) and Preston Vancil (2-1, 2.84 ERA) also checked in under the 3.00 ERA mark, although they had just one hold and one save combined. I’m pulling for right-hander Ben Versnik, the 38th-round pick out of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, to make the roster. Versnik, born in West Allis, Wisconsin (my birthplace as well) went 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA in six outings.
The AZL offers up a few names as well, including left-handers Kody Kurowski (1-3, 4.30, 5-for-7 in saves) and Scott Ronnenbergh (0-1, 2.13, 1-for-1 in saves) and right-handers Danny Cruz-Ayala (1-0, 4.05, 3-for-4 in saves) and Jandy Sena (4-2, 4.01, 1-for-2 in saves).
As you can see, there’s no clear-cut closer amongst the players I’ve named, but we might not know who fits into that role until well into the season. It will be fun to see how it all pieces together, especially with a lot of returnees to the pen from last year’s playoff club.
Whew, that was a long one. If you’re still reading by this point, congrats…you’ve stuck with me until the end of this preview and you’re truly a diehard LumberKings’ fan. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the “comments” section below, I’d be interested in hearing what others think. Of course, we won’t know for sure until just prior to April 7 when the team arrives from Peoria, AZ. Check out this blog and LumberKings.com around that time to find out the official word on the Opening Night roster.
A week after Clinton right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was nominated for a MiLBY for top Class A pitcher, LumberKings’ shortstop Nick Franklin now finds himself nominated for the Top Hitter award for all of Class A.
Franklin is up against fellow Midwest League post-season All-Star Mike Trout of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Trout’s Kernel teammate Jean Segura, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers slugger Khris Davis and both Jared Clark (Asheville) and J.D. Martinez (Lexington) of the South Atlantic League.
Nick is leading the early vote at 52%. Vote early and often for Franklin at this link: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/awards/y2010/hitter.jsp
While you’re checking off Franklin, make sure to show some love for fellow Mariners’ prospects Kevin Rivers (Everett) in the short-season vote and pick either Johermyn Chavez or Rich Poythress (both from High Desert) in the high-A vote.
For the record, Ramirez finished fourth amongst the six nominees for top pitcher with 10% of the vote. Matt Magill of the Great Lakes Loons won with 57% of the vote despite going just 7-4 with a 3.28 ERA. I guess the 135 strikeouts was a bigger deal than Ramirez’s 10-4 record and 2.97 ERA. I disagree.
Following the MLB Division Series, I’ll do an update on former LumberKings in the playoffs. Turns out I missed one. Stay tuned for that posting later this week.
MiLB.com is running a poll right now on the top starting pitchers from each level of Minor League Baseball. Clinton LumberKings’ right-hander Erasmo Ramirez is amongst the pitchers up for the Class A vote and is actually leading the category with a 31% share of the vote.
Help him win the poll (I don’t believe he gets anything for it, however) by casting your vote at http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/awards/y2010/index.jsp.
Well, here we are once again. A game down in a playoff series, this time the best-of-five Midwest League Championship Series. The LumberKings had a 6-3 lead through six innings thanks to a two-run single from Tim Morris, a two-run homer from James Jones and another RBI single from Jones. However, Lake County scored six runs over the seventh and eighth innings to stun the Clinton faithful with a 9-6 game one victory.
Highlights from the loss:
It’s the final home game for the Kings at Alliant Energy Field tonight as they look to even the series with the Captains. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (1-0, 1.29 during the playoffs) makes his second post-season start for the Kings. He goes up against right-hander Trey Haley (5-11, 5.97 during the regular-season) of the Captains.
Tonight’s Game Notes:
9.16.10 kingsnotes _mwlcs.gametwo_.pdf
James Jones (RF)
Matt Cerione (CF)
Vinnie Catricala (LF)
Mickey Wiswall (DH)
Blake Ochoa (C)
Tim Morris (1B)
Mario Martinez (3B)
Gabriel Noriega (SS)
Carlos Ramirez (2B)
RHP Erasmo Ramirez
Delvi Cid (CF)
Tyler Holt (DH)
Casey Frawley (SS)
Adam Abraham (3B)
Chase Burnette (LF)
Roberto Perez (C)
Jason Smit (1B)
Greg Folgia (RF)
Argenis Martinez (2B)
RHP Trey Haley
The first pitch is at 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com!
Momentum is on Clinton’s side after the LumberKings evened the best-of-three first-round playoff series with an 8-2 win over the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Perfect Game Field last night. Right-hander Yoervis Medina played the role of stopper with two runs over 6.0 innings in the victory and received support from James Jones (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI), Vinnie Catricala (1-for-5, HR, RBI), Mario Martinez (3-for-5, RBI), Henry Contreras (1-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI) amongst others.
- Mailloux-Noriega-Morris DP 9.9.10.mp3
- Cerione RBI single 9.9.10.mp3
- Noriega RBI single 9.9.10.mp3
- Catricala Solo HR 9.9.10.mp3
- Jones Solo HR 9.9.10.mp3
- Contreras 2-R double 9.9.10.mp3
One of these two teams begins their offseason tonight. The LumberKings have kept Midwest League post-season All-Star Erasmo Ramirez (10-4, 2.97) waiting in the wings for this pivotal start, he will take the hill for the second time against the Kernels. Cedar Rapids originally planned to start left-hander Stephen Locke tonight, but have now opted to go with left-hander Tyler Kehrer (6-5, 4.56) instead. We’ll see if that move works or backfires for them.
Tonight’s Game Notes:
9.10.10 kingsnotes _quarterfinals.gamethree_.pdf
Game three lineups:
James Jones (RF)
Kevin Mailloux (2B)
Vinnie Catricala (LF)
Mickey Wiswall (DH)
Henry Contreras (C)
Tim Morris (1B)
Mario Martinez (3B)
Matt Cerione (CF)
Gabriel Noriega (SS)
RHP Erasmo Ramirez
Jean Segura (2B)
Matt Long (CF)
Michael Wing (3B)
Casey Haerther (DH)
Jeremy Cruz (RF)
Jose Jimenez (1B)
Jon Karcich (SS)
Justin Bass (LF)
Carlos Ramirez (C)
LHP Tyler Kehrer
The first pitch is scheduled for around 6:35 PM, tune in for the broadcast on 1390kcln.com at about 6:20 PM for the LumberKings’ Pregame Show.
And all is right in LumberKing-land. Despite their third-straight loss (6-4 at the hands of Burlington today), the LumberKings are back in the Midwest League Playoffs as the West Division Wild Card. Clinton’s date with Cedar Rapids in the West Division Quarterfinals was secured today not by a Kings’ victory, but rather a 13-5 win by the Kernels that eliminated any chance for Beloit to catch up.
Unlike the previous night, there was actually bright spots to talk about in the loss for the Kings. The brightest was Nick Franklin, whose wall-scraping opposite-field homer to left put Clinton ahead 1-0 in the first inning. That blast was Franklin’s league-leading 23rd of the year and also puts him in a category by himself as Clinton’s best single-season home run hitter. He had tied former C-Sox second-baseman Dick Kenworthy’s 49-year-old record on the last homestand and now holds the spot all to himself.
Franklin 23rd HR (Franchise Record) 9.5.10.mp3
You can hear by the tone of my voice how surprising a home run it was. It barely got out over the short wall in left.
Unfortunately, that home run would not be enough to get right-hander Erasmo Ramirez and the LumberKings a win. Burlington spoiled a 4-3 lead on Whit Merrifield’s seventh-inning two-run homer and ran away with the 6-4 victory. Clinton finishes up the regular season in Burlington tomorrow at 2:00 PM (starting pitcher now TBA) before returning home for an off-day on Tuesday and then gearing up for game one against the Kernels on Wednesday night.
You can begin ordering your playoff tickets starting Tuesday at 10:00 AM by calling the LumberKings at 563-242-0727. I’ve already got my seat picked out in the home broadcast booth. Hope to see you there.
Could the Kings finally clinch at Community Field in Burlington today?
Last night’s 6-1 loss in Burlington was short on highlights and silver linings, yet the LumberKings still were not burned after playing with fire. The Kings are still in a 1.50-game driver’s seat in their playoff quest as Beloit also lost 5-4 to Cedar Rapids.
Clinton’s magic number entering today’s game is down to one. One win or a Beloit loss and the LumberKings are guaranteed a playoff spot. They still have a shot, be it slim, at overtaking Kane County for the top playoff spot in the West, but to do that, they’d need to win the final two games here in Burlington and hope for back-to-back Wisconsin wins at Elfstrom Stadium.
Point is, we need to win. Take care of the game on the field and the rest takes care of itself. We’ll see how today develops with the Midwest League’s top right-handed starter, Erasmo Ramirez (10-4, 2.86) on the hill for the Kings. He’ll go up against Burlington right-hander Keaton Hayenga (3-12, 6.14) beginning at 2:00 PM. Don’t be fooled by Hayenga’s record…he’s coming off back-to-back wins against Wisconsin and Beloit, yielding just three earned runs in 13.0 innings in those two efforts.
Today’s Game Notes:
Tune in online at 1390kcln.com if you want to hear me struggle through a head cold in what is the most important game of 2010 (so far).
The LumberKings split a doubleheader with Quad Cities last night, losing 5-4 in 10 innings in game one before rebounding for a 6-3 win in game two. All 10 runs they scored in the game came in two innings, the fourth (game one) and the second (game two).
- Vinnie Catricala went a combined 2-for-5 in the two games, extending his hitting streak to 15 games. That’s the longest streak by a LumberKing since Luis Nunez’s 17-game streak last year. Every long streak needs a bit of luck, and Vinnie received some in game two. Nick Franklin and Mickey Wiswall each singled with two outs to extend the seventh, and Catricala legged out a bounding baseball up the third-base line for an infield single.
- Speaking of streaks, Wiswall saw his nine-game streak snapped, while Matt Cerione saw his eight-game streak end as well. Cerione’s still hitting .411 (23-for-56) in the month of August.
- Left-hander Jason Markovitz tossed 3.0 scoreless innings in game two, making his first career start in a spot role. Aside from two walks in his final frame, he looked fairly impressive with a well-controlled fastball and a sharp curveball.
- Yes, Clinton had their chances to win game one. Henry Contreras popped up a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and Gabriel Noriega grounded out to end the game with the tying and game-winning runs in scoring position in the bottom of the 10th. It’s a tough way for those chances to end, but you can’t blame either one for being aggressive at the plate. You don’t want to see Contreras watch strike three in his situation, and you don’t want to see Noriega take good pitches either the way he’s been stinging the ball lately.
- Outfielder Daniel Carroll was activated from the disabled list today and shipped up to high-A High Desert. Seattle’s third-round pick in 2007, Carroll last played with the Mavs in 2008. Here’s hoping he finishes the season strong and stays above the Midwest League.
- Franklin remains just one homer shy of the single-season franchise record. Maybe tonight’s the night to tie Dick Kenworthy. As for the team, the Kings lead the league with 124 team home runs, surpassing (what we think is) the franchise record of 115, set by the 2008 LumberKings.
- Erasmo Ramirez lowered his ERA to 2.70 yesterday, second in the Midwest League. He’s closing in on Kane County lefty Ian Krol (2.65) for the ERA title and would be Clinton’s second-straight ERA champ (Kenn Kasparek, 2.41 ERA last year).
- With 12 games remaining, the Kings remain ahead of Kane County by 2.0 games for the top playoff spot in the West. Following tonight’s game, they finish the season with five games in Peoria, three at home against Beloit and three on the road at Burlington.
All those notes and more in tonight’s Game Notes:
Right-hander Yoervis Medina (4-0, 2.74) makes his fifth start for the LumberKings as they wrap-up a four-game series against the Bandits. First pitch is at 6:30 PM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.