Results tagged ‘ Maikel Cleto ’
And just like that, former LumberKings’ right-hander Maikel Cleto is no longer a Major Leaguer. From the St. Louis Cardinals’ own web story:
Cleto, 22, allowed five earned runs in two innings Thursday in his big league debut against the Giants after being promoted earlier in the day. Manager Tony La Russa praised Cleto, who retired the last five batters he faced after a rocky beginning to his debut.
“I told him that one way to look at it is there are a lot of pitchers in the organization and he was the one that was called up,” La Russa said. “So that’s a really good sign. And he did exactly what we needed him to do in that game. He pitched, saved our bullpen and now he can stay down there and keep learning and progressing.”
In non-Cleto news, The LumberBlog ranked #27 out of the top 50 on the ProBlogs side of MLBlogs. However, I now trail my colleague in Wisconsin, Chris Mehring (and his Rattler Radio Blog) by five spots. So…tell your friends. LumberBlog. Spread the word.
It’s been a busy year for former LumberKings making the Major Leagues with right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10) already making debuts with Seattle (and subsequently returning to the minors) and right-hander Cody Eppley (’08) reaching Arlington, TX with the Rangers so far this season. Right-hander Maikel Cleto (’09) will join those four soon as he has been called up by the St. Louis Cardinals to help their depleted bullpen.
The hard-throwing Cleto, acquired by the Cardinals in the trade that sent Brendan Ryan to the Mariners this past offseason, is a surprise call-up from double-A Springfield after going 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 24 innings. Cleto has apparently matured since going 0-3 with a 5.33 ERA in eight starts as a LumberKing on the ’09 team, Clinton’s first year as a Mariners’ affiliate.
I’ve dug up my one and only interview with Cleto, coming following his August 20, 2009 outing at Peoria in which he matched up against rehabbing Carlos Zambrano and struck out six over 3.0 scoreless innings. Former Kings’ catcher Blake Ochoa does the interpreting.
Listen Here: Maikel Cleto Interview 8.21.09
The Clinton area is pretty pro-Cubs, but there’s more than a few folks in the area that will be pretty excited about Cleto’s call-up, including Director of Ops, Mitch Butz. Hopefully Cleto sticks and stays with the Cards.
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.
A few things of note regarding former and future LumberKings and this blog:
- The Seattle Mariners’ Organizational All-Stars list came out last week, and it’s finally up on LumberKings.com. Nick Franklin (’10) was a natural choice as the All-Star shortstop after hitting .281 with a Midwest League-best 23 homers last year. Kyle Seager (’09) makes the list at second base, while left-handers Anthony Vasquez (’09-’10) and Brian Moran (’09-’10) also show up as the top left-handed starter and top reliever, respectively. Potential future King Kevin Rivers is amongst the three outfielders after posting a .332 average in Everett last year.
- Former Kings’ right-hander Maikel Cleto (’09) was shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for shortstop Brendan Ryan yesterday. The hard-throwing Cleto was recently added to the Mariners’ 40-man roster despite a rough go of it in the Cal League (4-9, 6.16) and a less-than-steady showing in the Arizona Fall League (2-1, 7.91). This is Cleto’s third new organization since he signed with the New York Mets in 2006. Revisit an interview I did with Cleto and an interpreter in 2009:
Maikel Cleto Interview 8.21.09.mp3
- Last Friday’s post on the 2010 Baseball Winter Meetings was my 500th on The LumberBlog. That’s a lot of posts. It appears that you’re still reading, as I finished #41 out of the Top 50 ProBlogs in November. Thank you again!
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 second and final installment of my look at the potential 2010 roster finally makes its way to the LumberBlog today. I had originally planned on getting it out before the Hot Stove, but last week was a busy one.
In a way, it’s nice to save this second part till now. I had the opportunity to talk with manager John Tamargo about the team during our car trips to and from the Quad City Airport in Moline, IL. It was good to pick his brain on some of the talent he had in Everett last year.
With that being said, I want to preface my following predictions. At this time, we do not know the 25-man LumberKings’ roster for next year. The Seattle Mariners will not finalize that until camp breaks in early April, and at that time we will know for sure. It is common for changes to be made even after that point. Many people didn’t know that Scott Savastano, the man who turned into the offensive MVP of the team last year, was a last-second add to the roster. Two years ago, Mitch Moreland was scratched from our Opening Day roster because of a minor injury. You just never know until the bus shows up.
A First-Rounder Not Named Ackley
In my post last week regarding the Top 10 Seattle Prospects as selected by Baseball
America, I mentioned a young man by the name of Nick Franklin (pictured right). While Dustin Ackley has attracted most of the spotlight, Franklin is also a rising star. The 18-year-old shortstop was Jack Zduriencik’s second first-round pick (taken 27th overall) out of Lake Brantley (FL) High and had a nice showing in six games with Tamargo’s AquaSox (.400, 3 XBH, 2 RBI in 20 at-bats). Seattle scouting director Tom McNamara liked his confidence and fielding ability in a brief workout with the big-league club last August. I don’t think you’ll see Ackley in Clinton next year, but Franklin could very well add some first-round flavor to the roster.
Franklin might not be the only talented shortstop to head here. South African-born Anthony
Phillips made 67 starts at short for Everett last season and put up some respectable power numbers at the plate. The 19-year-old hit .247 with 8 doubles, 7 HR and 28 RBI over 68 games in the Northwest League last season. Venezuelan shortstop Gabriel Noriega could also make the club, following an impressive second season at Pulaski. Noriega hit .311 with 14 doubles, 4 HR and 26 RBI in 61 games last year.
Avila Following the Gac Path?
Staying on the Everett infield, a lot of folks have asked me if Gerardo Avila (pictured left) might head to Clinton. As Midwest League diehards already know, Avila is a three-season veteran with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (’06-’08), but never hit above .260 and had just one career homer in the league in 63 games. Then, following the Ian Gac pattern, Avila went to High Desert in 2008 and found his way back to the Northwest League in 2009. There, he finally went off for a league-high 13 HR while also finishing first in slugging (.582), second in RBI (54) and third in hitting overall (.333). As Gac-like as this story is going, he could very well be in Clinton. However, he could also go back to the Cal League, where he hit .303 in nine games two seasons ago as a Maverick.
If Avila heads back to High Desert, Jharmidy DeJesus could be the man to fill first base. DeJesus was amongst my predictions for last year’s club and was the #8 prospect in the Mariners’ system prior to last year. Hailing from Jose Vallejo’s hometown of Bani, Dominican Republic, DeJesus hit .249 with 7 doubles, 4 HR and 24 RBI in 48 games with Pulaski last year. He made 30 starts at first base in a platoon situation with 11th round pick Tim Morris (.214, 4 HR, 24 RBI in 50 games).
Rounding Out the Infield
Second-baseman Hawkins Gebbers, Seattle’s 33rd round selection hit .301 with 13 doubles, 2 HR and 21 RBI in 54 games with Everett last year. Cesar Fuentes (.261, 4 HR, 20 RBI) and Fred Bello (.250, 5 triples, 2 HR, 12 RBI) each split time at second base in Pulaski. Third-baseman and 10th-round pick Vincent Catricala led Pulaski with 40 RBI, hitting .301 with 14 doubles and 8 HR in 59 games. Blake Trinkler played the utility role for Everett, hitting .229 with 18 RBI in 41 games.
Headlining the group of potential Clinton catchers is certainly Steven Baron, Seattle’s supplemental first-round pick (#33 overall) out of Ferguson (FL) High School. Baron struggled in his first pro assignment with Pulaski, hitting .179 with 2 HR and 13 RBI in 30 games. However, his numbers slightly improved towards the end of the season. Baron raised his average 39 points over his final seven games. Taking into consideration that ’09 LumberKing Nate Tenbrink hit just .198 with Everett in 2008 prior to batting .282 with 10 HR and 59 RBI last year, it’s possible that Baron comes to Clinton and improves at the plate. However, Tenbrink was older and more experienced than Baron will be heading into 2010. Tenbrink also didn’t have the added responsibilities of working with a pitching staff like Baron has.
If no Baron, 2009 draft picks Trevor Coleman (9th round) and Brandon Bantz (30th round) could catch for the Kings. Coleman struggled, hitting .184 in 32 games with Everett, while Bantz produced a solid .290, 3 HR, 15 RBI stint with the AquaSox. Given the fact that Juan Fuentes, Tommy Johnson and Henry Contreras all saw limited time behind the plate in Clinton last year and could be back, it’s quite possible that none of these three arrive in ’10.
A Wealth of Potential in the Outfield
When looking at the outfield of both Pulaski and Everett, it’s hard not to get excited about the
group that could be coming in. The AquaSox had both James Jones (4th round) and Matt Cerione (13th round) in their outfield last year, in addition to Jose Rivero (pictured right). Jones hit .311 over 45 games, mashing 3 HR and 24 RBI in that span. Cerione flashed a little more power with 7 HR, hitting .266 with 14 RBI over 43 games. Rivero finished third on the club in RBI behind Avila and Mario Martinez with 32, going along with his .251 average and 4 HR.
Brandon Haveman (29th round) was Pulaski’s standout outfielder thanks to a .339, 5 HR, 18 RBI campaign. Jarrett Burgess (.187, 5 HR, 22 RBI), Mark McGonigle (.283, 2 HR, 14 RBI) and Greg Waddell (.195, 2 HR, 6 RBI) all saw time in the Mariners’ outfield as well. Burgess is still trying to find his way after a 6th round selection in the 2008 June draft.
Much like the catching corps, it’s tough to say which of these players will be LumberKings this year. It’s more likely that we see the return of Ryan Royster, Welington Dotel, Dwight Britton and others at least at the beginning of the season.
The Rotation: A Tough Act to Follow
It’s no question that pitching was the key to success for the LumberKings last year, specifically starting pitching. At times last year, at least three Kings’ hurlers ranked amongst the league’s Top 10 in ERA. Kenn Kasparek finished the season as the ERA leader, Clinton’s first since Salomon Torres in 1991. Quite simply, it’s going to be hard to top last year.
Here’s some of the new names that might try. Right-hander Taylor Stanton (pictured left), Seattle’s 26th round pick in 2008, had a breakout year of sorts with Everett. In 15 starts, he went 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA. Most notably, he led the rotation in innings (87.1), WHIP (1.23) and wins (5). Outside of Stanton, only two other pitchers made at least 14 starts for the AquaSox…Chris Kirkland (a LumberKing briefly last year) and right-hander Luke Burnett. Like Stanton, Burnett was an ’08 draft pick (14th round) that finally saw action last year. He went 2-4, 4.66 in 14 starts.
Righty Taylor Lewis (3-1, 7.82 in 5 starts) and left-hander Nick Czyz (2-2, 3.34 in 5 starts) were also brief members of the Everett rotation. Lewis also logged one start for Pulaski.
Transitioning back to the Appalachian League, the Pulaski club featured four pitchers with eight-or-more starts. Thirty-sixth round right-hander John Housey (3-2, 2.62) was the most successful of that bunch, posting a 1.10 WHIP and a .194 opponent batting average. Righty Brandon Maurer (3-4, 3.61 in 12 starts, 1 CG) and Jean Tome (3-4, 5.18 in 10 starts) put up very similar numbers. Eighth-round lefty James Gillheeney is the top draft pick of the group (8th round), but he went 0-3, 4.84 over six games, four starts.
This is a resounding theme, but with Kirkland, Anthony Vasquez, Maikel Cleto, Andres Esquibel and Jon Hesketh all possible returnees, its not for certain who might join the rotation this year. One thing is for sure, they have their work cut out for them to match last year’s league-leading 3.35 team ERA.
Can the Pen Get Any Mightier?
Much like the conversation on the starting rotation, it’s fairly clear that next year’s bullpen will have big shoes to fill. Last year’s staff featured All-Stars Ruben Flores and Cheyne Hann, plus solid set-up in guys like Brandon Josselyn, Jose Jimenez, Brian Moran and Matt Renfree.
Next year’s pen might very well consist of some of the pitchers mentioned in the above section, but here’s a few more to consider. Right-hander Christian Staehely (pictured right) went 4-2 with a pen-best 3.16 ERA in Everett, striking out 40 while walking only nine over 31.1 innings. Pulaski right-handers Jorden Merry (40th round in ’09) and Chris Sorce (26th round in ’09) were the most serviceable relievers in an otherwise lackluster pen. Merry led the club in saves, converting 5-of-6 in addition to his 2-1, 3.06 statline. Sorce was 2-1, 3.45 with a save in two chances over seven outings.
Some AZL Standouts
At about this point, I’m sure you’re thinking “what about the guys in Peoria?”. Well, many of the players listed above (Franklin, Rivero, Housey, etc.) did spend some time in the Arizona League last year. I’ll list a few more below who could see Clinton this year.
First-baseman Rich Poythress, last year’s second-round pick and a Golden Spikes finalist while at Georgia made his pro debut in AZ and hit .300 with a HR and 6 RBI over six games. It’s very possible Poythress’s college experience (.376, 25 HR, 86 RBI as a junior) will help him move directly to High Desert like fellow second-rounder Dennis Raben did a year ago. First-baseman Evan Sharpley, Seattle’s final draft choice in 2009 (50th round) had a nice showing over 37 games, hitting .333 with 12 doubles, 7 HR and 29 RBI. Second-baseman Kevin Mailloux (45th round) hit .311 with 14 doubles, 5 HR and 37 RBI before a brief call-up to Everett.
On the mound, Peoria’s most impressive man was their closer. Right-hander Jeff Breedlove went 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA and converted 10-of-12 saves. Opponents hit just .205 against him over his 20 appearances. In the rotation, Miguel Celestino (5-3, 4.73) and Chris Kessinger (5-3, 2.45) were the only pitchers with at least seven starts. Kessinger was a 37th-rounder last season.
And there you have it, my preview is complete. Again, this is all speculation and we won’t know until early April who has actually made the 25-man roster. Once that announcement is out, you’ll see it here and on LumberKings.com before anywhere else. Finally, as I said at the finale of Part One, if there’s anyone I’ve overlooked, any mistakes you’ve caught or any differing opinions you might have, feel free to add your thoughts/comments.
As promised, it’s the second annual “Predict the Roster” segment here on the LumberBlog. With this being the second season as a Seattle Mariners affiliate, I can now talk about players that might return from last year’s club in addition to new faces from the Everett, Pulaski and Peoria rosters.
Part 1 starts with a look at who might be returning from the 2009 squad. The LumberKings suited up 57 players last year, many of whom saw limited action in black and green. Twelve position players appeared in less than 20 games, while 12 pitchers appeared in less than 10 games.
There’s also some regulars from last year’s club that might get a re-visit. We’ll start there.
Last year’s Opening Day roster featured a pair of highly-touted 2007 draft picks in Denny Almonte (2nd round) and Daniel Carroll (3rd round). Both have had a measure of success in the Midwest League, but both have also had their struggles.
After hitting .262 with 12 HR in the first half, Almonte suffered through a dismal second half. He hit just .183 following an All-Star appearance and hit just one more homer over his final 153 at-bats. Amongst league leaders in RBI at one point, Almonte finished with 58 (only 14 in the second half). Is he dominant when he’s on? Absolutely. He practically carried the team through May with 8 HR and 21 RBI. Still, it’s hard to ignore his .091 month of August and his 148 strikeouts in 409 at-bats.
Carroll’s season was derailed by a pair of injuries. He missed two weeks with a groin issue suffered on Opening Night in Burlington and then spent nearly all of May and June coming back from a broken thumb. Once he got truly healthy, Carroll started to hit. Following the All-Star break, he hit .240, scored 29 runs and stole 15 bases. He’s been at High Desert before and should get a chance to make that roster with a good Spring.
Bottom line, I believe both Almonte and Carroll will be in High Desert to start 2010. Almonte’s key to staying there is making consistent contact, while Carroll’s I believe is simply staying healthy. Only time will tell.
If Almonte is gone, who will step in to be the primary power threat? I think we see the return of ultra-talented third-baseman Mario Martinez (pictured left). At age 19 last year, Martinez hit .214 with 2 HR and 24 RBI in 61 games with Clinton. He was getting hot down the stretch of the first half, but was then sent to short-A Pulaski at the All-Star break. There, he hit .308 with 20 doubles, 3 HR and 33 RBI in 71 games. Yes, he hasn’t hit for consistent power yet in his career, but the Mariners have high hopes for him and this could be the breakout year. Defensively, he looked great at both third and first base. Where he plays next year will likely be determined by whether or not Jharmidy DeJesus makes the roster.
Other position players who could return include Travis Howell (.205, 8 HR, 29 RBI in 66 games), Maximo Mendez (.213, 8 triples, 38 runs scored, 20 steals in 64 games) and Terry Serrano (.236, 40 runs scored, 18 steals). All three should go to High Desert, but very well could see time back with Clinton next year following injury-plagued 2009 seasons.
Pitching-wise, there shouldn’t be too many returners from the staff that led the Midwest League in ERA. Starters like Kenn Kasparek (10-6, 2.41), Andrew Carraway (4-0, 2.50) and Bobby LaFromboise (8-9, 4.03) will certainly move up. Relievers like Cheyne Hann (2-2, 1.32, 12 saves), Blake Nation (3-5, 3.16), Matt Renfree (3-2, 2.60), Jose Jimenez (4-2, 3.38), Brandon Josselyn (0-1, 0.75, 3 saves) and others should all move as well.
Now that we’ve covered some of the more familiar faces, let’s move on to the guys who had brief stints in Clinton last year.
When talking about position players, I’m excited to see what a guy like Ryan Royster can do with a full season in the Midwest League. In eight games last year, Royster hit .333 with 3 doubles, 2 HR and 7 RBI. He spent most of his year at Everett and performed there, hitting .325 with 7 HR and 27 RBI in 41 games.
Another intriguing hitter is Welington Dotel. He exhibited tons of raw power in batting practice, but belted just one homer in 19 games. Dotel did hit a solid .286 and drove in 11 runs in 49 at-bats. I believe we’ll see him in the Clinton outfield this season.
We won’t see 2009 third-rounder Kyle Seager back, but we might see the return of sixth-rounder Shaver Hansen if for no other reason than shoring up his defense (13 errors in 36 games, primarily at third base). Hansen hit .205 with 7 RBI and could probably use another year against Midwest League pitching as well.
Others we might see back include outfielder Dwight Britton (.192 in 11 games), infielder Jetsy Extrano (.045 in 6 games) and catchers Henry Contreras (.167, 2 RBI in 4 games) and Tommy Johnson (.167 in 5 games).
Back to pitching, there’s several 2010 rotation candidates that spent brief time with the LumberKings last year.
At the top of the list is hard-throwing righty Maikel Cleto (pictured right), who arrived in late June after some visa issues. Two stints on the disabled list and a very strict pitch count allowed us a very brief look at Cleto, and it was hard to determine if he was the 0-3, 5.33 guy we saw over eight starts or the guy who struck out six over 3.0 innings in a matchup against Carlos Zambrano and the Peoria Chiefs on August 20. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see Cleto mature in the rotation.
Another potential starter coming back could be Anthony Vasquez. Seattle’s 18th round pick out of USC went 3-3 with a 5.66 ERA in 7 games, all starts. The numbers aren’t overly impressive, but Vasquez did win each of his last two starts, lowering his ERA from 7.71 to 5.66 in the process. He also shut down a volatile Great Lakes Loons’ offense to a run on eight hits over 5.2 innings in his LumberKings’ debut on August 1. The left-handed Vasquez could be a top-flight starter next season.
Right-handers Andres Esquibel (1-1, 4.91 in 8 games) and Chris Kirkland (0-1, 5.00 in 4 games), and left-hander Jon Hesketh (1-1, 12.60 in 3 games) could all potentially be starters next year as well.
Esquibel was 2-4 with a 5.00 ERA in Everett, but flashed dominance with a three-hit complete-game shutout win over Boise on August 6. Kirkland, meanwhile, led the Northwest League with 85 strikeouts. He went 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA in 15 starts. Hesketh didn’t fare well in Clinton, but did limit opponents to a .188 average while going 0-1 with a 1.67 ERA in seven outings with the Aqua Sox.
The 2010 bullpen is less clear. Daniel Cooper, a teammate of Vasquez at USC and Seattle’s 21st round pick, went 0-1 with a 9.28 ERA in eight relief appearances with the LumberKings last year. Ogui Diaz spent most of 2009 as an infielder, but converted to right-handed reliever and went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in four games with Pulaski. The rest of the pen is a guessing game.
That’s just the first part of my two-part “Predict the Roster” segment. Next week, I’ll look at potential LumberKings coming from Everett, Pulaski and Peoria. Feel free to add your comments on my predictions below, especially if any of the players I’ve mentioned have changed organizations without my knowledge. Hey, I’m human.
Of course you’ve seen them by now, but the 2009 MLB Futures Game rosters were announced yesterday. There’s plenty of former Midwest Leaguers on the U.S and World team rosters, even some current ones (Brett Lawrie of Wisconsin, Josh Vitters of Peoria, J.C. Sulbaran of Dayton, etc.), but there’s one name Clinton fans should be pretty proud to see.
2008 LumberKings right-hander Neftali Feliz will represent the Texas Rangers on the World team. Just a year ago, Feliz was still dealing upper-90’s fastballs here at Alliant Energy Field and working on his curve/change. Now, he’s a full-fledged top prospect, a sure-fire call-up for the Rangers and a Futures Game participant. It should be exciting to see him in St. Louis.
Feliz came into last season with plenty of hype surrounding his blistering fastball, and he didn’t disappoint. He went 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA, numbers that don’t really stun you, but also struck out 106 batters over just 82.0 innings.
Ironic how Feliz makes it to the Futures Game just as the LumberKings welcome his Seattle Mariners’ clone. Right-hander Maikel Cleto has arrived in Clinton and will make his Midwest League debut tonight. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…Cleto was acquired in a Major League deal (so too was Feliz, the Mark Teixeira trade with Atlanta), he is said to throw mid-90’s (as did Feliz) and is also said to be working on a curveball/changeup to round out his arsenal (Feliz!). We’ll see how Cleto fares tonight.
Finally, my favorite Futures Game moment? Easy. John Whittleman’s home run in the ’07 game in San Francisco. Whit remains the only active LumberKing to participate in the Futures Game since its inception in 1999.
Whit rounds the bases in San Fran after taking Deolis Guerra (NYM) deep in 2007.