Results tagged ‘ Josh Lueke ’

Lueke, Wilhelmsen Debut in Same Game

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 MatsuiDavid 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 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.


Wilhelmsen, Lueke Reportedly on Mariners’ Opening Day Roster

I saw it first on the Everett AquaSox Facebook page, then saw it again at Larry LaRue’s blog for the Tacoma News Tribune, and saw it once more on Geoff Baker’s blog for the Seattle Times.

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:

We should be hearing more on our roster here in Clinton shortly.  I can’t break any news on that, unfortunately.


Kings in Spring (March 28)

Well, as you can see, The LumberBlog looks slightly different with the recent conversion of all the Pro Blogs to WordPress.  I’m still getting used to the features, but it looks like there’s a lot more flexibility here.  Moving on to more important things.

Seattle Mariners’ camp is winding down out in Peoria, but there’s been a lot of noise made lately by former LumberKings.  On Sunday, it was Kyle Seager (not identified as Mario Martinez this time) making the most of a call-up to the Major League game as he launched a  solo home run in the eighth inning off Texas Rangers’ hopeful Dave Bush.  Ultimately, the Mariners still fell, 5-4.

Today, it’s Steven Baron (’10) re-appearing in the box score.  Recently sent back to Minor League camp, the Mariners brought him back up today to play against the Colorado Rockies in Seattle’s last home Cactus League game.  After a Justin Smoak single (’08) and RBI knock by Michael Saunders, Baron calmly stepped up and delivered a walk-off single to right.  Final score, Mariners 7, Rockies 6.  Baron, by the way, is now 7-for-13 (.538) with three RBI in big-league camp.

The Mariners selected the contracts of right-handers Jamey Wright and Chris Ray today, releasing infielder Josh Wilson to clear space.  What does that mean for right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10)?  We might know that soon, but both remain on the Spring Training roster with only a few days left.  One of those two — if not both — will be Mariners sooner than later.

The 2011 LumberKings Gameday Program is nearing completion and will feature some of the 75th anniverary content you’ve already been seeing on  Also, just completed today, a brief essay I did about Nick Franklin’s chase to break Dick Kenworthy’s franchise home run record last year.  I’m pretty proud of it.  I may post it here once the program is finished.

Less than 10 days remain until the opener against Burlington.


Kings in Spring (March 23)

Go figure.  I express my surprise in catcher Steven Baron (’10) remaining in Mariners’ Major League camp yesterday and today, he’s re-assigned to Minor League camp.

That leaves first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) and right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10) as the only former LumberKings remaining on Seattle’s roster.  All three now look like they have a legitimate shot to be on the Opening Day roster.


Kings in Spring (March 14)

This may be old news to some, but I was back home in Milwaukee and unable to post it until now.  Right-hander Blake Beavan (’08) made his first Spring start as a Mariner on Saturday against Oakland and earned the win, limiting the Athletics to a run on three hits over 3.0 innings.  Shortly thereafter, Beavan was re-assigned to Minor League camp.  Right-hander Yoervis Medina (’10) also saw his time in big-league camp end as he was optioned to the High Desert spring roster.

In that Beavan start, a 10-2 win over the A’s, first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) finally woke up his bat with a 2-for-2 game including a two-out two-run single in the fourth inning and a two-run homer to left-center in the sixth.  The blast was Smoak’s first in Cactus League action.

The Mariners’ roster still includes Smoak, right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10) and catcher Steven Baron (’10) at this time.  I have to say, I’m still surprised Baron is there.

Over in Surprise, the Texas Rangers sent outfielder Engel Beltre (’08), right-hander Fabio Castillo (’08) and left-hander Zach Phillips (’06-’07) back to Minor League camp on Saturday.

Continuing with Rangers camp, Ian Kinsler (’04) is hitting a healthy .367 with a .933 slugging percentage…the former Clinton infielder has a team-high five homers and nine RBI in 11 games.  While Chris Davis continues to assert his value to the team as a corner infielder, Mitch Moreland (’08) keeps fighting to hold onto the first-base spot…he’s hitting .375 with a .719 slugging percentage, five doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in 12 games.  Aside from catcher Jose Felix (’08), who is 5-for-5 with a double in big-league action, the group of former Kings that includes Chad Tracy (’07), Craig Gentry (’07), Marcus Lemon (’07) and others has been largely quiet offensively.

Left-hander Derek Holland (’08) is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA, no walks and six strikeouts in his two starts, totaling 5.0 innings.  Right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08) has pitched just twice in camp, including one start…the flamethrower has not allowed an earned run over 5.0 innings, but has walked three and has hit a batter in that span.  Lefty Michael Kirkman is carrying a 3.00 ERA in three outings and has struck out eight over 9.0 innings.

Scanning other camps, outfielder John Mayberry Jr. (’06) continues to look impressive in a bid for a roster spot with the Philadelphia Phillies…he’s hitting .324 with three doubles, four homers and nine RBI in 14 games.  Right-hander Maikel Cleto (’09) has had two outings with the St. Louis Cardinals and is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA, one save, four walks, three strikeouts and a home run allowed over 4.0 innings.  Right-hander Thomas Diamond (’04) is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA over four relief outings as he attemps to make the Chicago Cubs’ Opening Day roster.  Catcher Manny Pina (’07) and outfielder Tim Smith (’08) have both seen minor action in Kansas City Royals’ camp…Pina is 4-for-16 (.250) with a home run and three RBI in 10 games, while Smith is hitless in two at-bats. 

There’s plenty more players to track, but I’ll leave it at that for now.


Kings in Spring (Feb. 24)

The Mariners have announced the pitching lineups for tomorrow’s intra-squad game at the Peoria Sports Complex and former LumberKings’ right-hander Blake Beavan has been selected to start against right-hander Michael Pineda.

The 22-year-old Beavan is in his first Spring Training with the Mariners after being included as part of the Cliff Lee trade last July.  He and Pineda will each throw an inning.

Team Two, of which Beavan is starting for, will also feature outings from right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08), Edward Paredes, Yoervis Medina (’10) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10).  It’s a “who’s who” of former Kings, aside from the Wisconsin Timber Rattler alum Paredes.

Unfortunately, I will not be attending Spring Training myself this year, so I won’t be able to post the pictures and video as I have the past two seasons.  Still, I’ll be doing my best to keep an eye on former LumberKings in various camps this spring, from Evan Reed and Omar Poveda with the Florida Marlins to John Mayberry Jr. with the Philadelphia Phillies to Jose Vallejo with the Houston Astros and everyone else in between.


Mariners Sign Four Kings for Spring

From a Seattle Mariners press release issued this morning…

Right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08), Yoervis Medina (’10) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10) and first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) have all agreed to 2011 contracts with the Mariners and will be in Major League camp, giving Seattle 31 signed players on the 40-man roster.

All four will be interesting stories to follow in Peoria this year.  Smoak is the only one with big league experience and is hoping to show he’s ready to stay and hit consistently, while Lueke will be hoping to secure a bullpen spot based on a solid effort at triple-A Tacoma.  Wilhelmsen will have a shot at the pen as well, but is still relatively inexperienced for his age.  He and Medina might both be longshots to make the club out of Spring Training, but stranger things have happened.

There’s sure to be several other non-roster invitees that are former LumberKings as well this spring.  I’ll keep you up to date on those as I receive releases from the Mariners.


On the 40

wilhelmsen27.jpgThis isn’t breaking news, but in case you missed it, there were seven former LumberKings added to 40-man rosters over the weekend in order to protect them from December’s Rule 5 draft.

Right-hander Fabio Castillo (’08) and outfielder Engel Beltre (’08) were added by the Texas Rangers, while right-handers Maikel Cleto (’09), Josh Lueke (’07-’08), Yoervis Medina (’10) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10, pictured left) were added by the Seattle Mariners.  Right-hander Evan Reed (’07-’08) was added by the Florida Marlins.

All but Reed and Medina (who is playing for John Tamargo’s Cardenales de Lara) appeared in the Arizona Fall League this year.

Speaking of which, AFL MVP Dustin Ackley and the Peoria Javelinas fell to Bryce Harper’s Scottsdale Scorpions in the Championship Game on Saturday.  Wilhelmsen took the loss with a run on two hits over an inning of work, while Lueke fared better with a scoreless final inning to keep it close at 3-2.  Nate Tenbrink (’09) went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter.


The Interview Vault: Danny Clark

dc interview vault.jpgThe World Series is over, and the San Francisco Giants are the well-deserved champions.  No doubt, their young rotation of Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain/Madison Bumgardner — and to a lesser degree Jonathan Sanchez — handcuffed the Rangers over the course of five games en route to the 4-1 series victory.  Only Mitch Moreland hit above .250 for the series, batting .462 with a home run and three RBI.

While the San Fran arms are sure to be the buzz around baseball all winter, there’s no doubt that the young guns of the Texas rotation and bullpen proved a little something as well on the national stage.  Colby Lewis stepped out of the shadow of Cliff Lee to prove to be the Rangers’ stopper, going 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts including the lone World Series win.  Rookie closer Neftali Feliz shrugged off doubts that he could perform in the playoffs, posting a 1.23 ERA in seven appearances including a World Series save.

Ignore the blowups in Game 2 and left-handers Derek Holland and Michael Kirkman were actually pretty solid.  The Rangers might not get past the New York Yankees without the clutch 3.2 scoreless innings thrown by Holland in Game 4 of the ALCS.  Alexi Ogando was another unknown heading into late October, and he responded with a 1.50 ERA in five postseason outings before ending up on the disabled list.

All of these pitchers (aside from Lee), at some point on their way to reaching Arlington have worked with Texas Rangers’ Pitching Coordinator Danny Clark.  Better known as “DC”, Clark was the pitching coach here in Clinton from 2007-2008 before rising to his current rank prior to the 2009 season. 

The 2008 campaign alone saw Clark teach the likes of Feliz, Holland, Kirkman, Blake Beavan, Michael Main, Josh Lueke, Kennil Gomez and Ryan Tatusko.  The year before, he guided pitchers like Kasey Kiker, Zach Phillips, Omar Poveda and Evan Reed, all right here in Clinton, IA.

Today, we’ll dust off an interview I did with DC during the second half of that tremendous ’08 year.   We talk about Feliz’s development of a breaking ball/changeup to compliment his blazing fastball, Kirkman’s revival after tough seasons in ’06 and ’07, Holland’s 7-0 start to the season, Gomez and Beavan working through struggles and more. 

Listen Here: 
Pitching Coach Danny Clark (talking about Feliz, Holland in 2008).mp3

Interestingly enough, we ran into DC just hours before Game 3 on Saturday in Arlington.  It was one of those “coming full circle” moments that baseball often provides.  I imagine that, like us, he was pretty astounded by how fast the success has come for many of his pitchers.  It’s a success I believe you’ll see around Texas for seasons to come. 


The Interview Vault: Blake Beavan

beavan interview vault.jpg

We sit on the eve of Game One of the 2010 World Series, just a day away from the most hyped pitcher’s duel of the playoffs so far (and there has been many)…Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers against Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the Clinton LumberKings have had an interesting connection to these playoffs given our former status as the low-A affiliate of the Rangers.  That connection extends to Lee, Clinton’s current affiliate, the Seattle Mariners and the subject of today’s “The Interview Vault”, right-hander Blake Beavan.

Back on July 9, the Rangers made waves that are still being felt across Major League Baseball when they acquired Lee and right-hander Mark Lowe from the Mariners in exchange for four players, all former LumberKings.

Without question, the player that made that deal move — the one that kept Lee from becoming a Yankee, at least for now — was switch-hitting first-baseman Justin Smoak.  Right-hander Josh Lueke and infielder Matt Lawson were also promising prospects at the time of the trade, but the 21-year-old Beavan could very well be the most important piece of the deal when we look back in several years.

To take Beavan away from Texas is to conclude the “local kid makes good” story that he had been working on ever since his first round (17th overall) selection in the 2007 June draft.  A native of Irving, TX, Beavan played his high school ball just 12 miles away from Rangers Ballpark at Irving High School.  Even before his selection by the team he grew up following, Beavan was already a bonafide star in the area having earned Baseball America‘s 2006 Youth Player of the Year award after an 11-strikeout performance against Cuba in the World Junior Championships.  Later in his senior season, he tossed a perfect game and struck out 18 in a 6-0 win over MacArthur High, Irving’s number one rival.

All of those accomplishments were behind him already when he arrived in Clinton in late April, 2008.  A lengthy holdout kept him away from rookie ball in 2007, so his April 29 start against the Great Lakes Loons at Alliant Energy Field proved to truly be his first professional action.

What we saw that night was about as sharp a performance possible given all the variables: a nervous 19-year-old that hadn’t thrown a pitch above the instructional league, pitching in front of both his parents and Rangers’ Pitching Coordinator (and later Mariners pitching coach) Rick Adair.  Beavan allowed three measly singles, walked none and struck out three over six scoreless innings in a 4-2 win over the Loons.  He pitched well to contact, inducing four double plays in the game.

I caught up with Blake after that start, and that’s the interview we’re throwing back to today.  He talks about the outing, getting drafted by his hometown team, staying mentally focused while holding out, working with Rangers’ staff in the instructional league, his fastball/slider/change arsenal and more.

Listen Here: 
Blake Beavan (after first pro start on 4.30.08).mp3

That start was just the beginning of a season that saw Beavan go 10-6 with 2.37 ERA in 23 starts, 121 innings.  The strikeout total (73, or 5.39 per nine innings) wasn’t exactly what scouts were expecting, but the 20 walks, .234 opponent average and 5-0 record over his final eight starts showed plenty of promise.

In 2009, he went a combined 9-8, 4.14 in 27 starts between high-A Bakersfield and double-A Frisco.  The 2010 season saw his return to the RoughRiders and his best numbers since 2008.  Beavan had nearly identical stats as his season with Clinton, going 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA, 68 strikeouts to just 12 walks and a .242 opponent average in 110.0 innings.  He stood on the verge of a promotion to triple-A Oklahoma City when Texas struck the deal with Seattle.

As Mariners fans know, Beavan was hit hard with Tacoma, posting a a 6.47 ERA and .331 opponent average in seven starts, 40.1 innings with the Rainiers.  Those numbers didn’t beg for a September call-up, but they also aren’t cause for concern.  He still walked only eight while striking out 22 in the PCL and was dominant when ahead in the count, limiting opponents to a .222 average.  In the playoffs, he went 1-0 with a more respectable 4.26 ERA in two starts, helping the Rainiers win the PCL Championship.

We’ll see what 2011 holds for Beavan.  Hopefully he’s heading for a call-up to Safeco Field sometime in the season.  Now, at least, you know where he’s been.