Results tagged ‘ Tyler Burgoon ’

Tonight’s Interview: Rich Dorman (Vol. 3)

The LumberKings are 2-0 in the “show-and-go” after last night’s 5-3 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits at Modern Woodmen Park.  Clinton took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out double by Tim Morris (listen: Morris 2-R double 7.1.11) and raised the lead back to two in the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Carlton Tanabe.  Left-hander Anthony Fernandez dealt over 7.0 innings, limiting the Bandits to a run on four hits and turning in a highlight-reel-worthy 1-6-3 double play on a line drive back to the mound in the sixth inning (listen: Fernandez 1-6-3 DP 7.1.11).  The 3-1 lead wouldn’t last in the eighth as right-hander Keli’i Zablan loaded the bases and yielded a run on a wild pitch, but right-hander Tyler Burgoon gave up just one run in a bases-loaded no-out situation, keeping the game tied at 3-3.  In the ninth, the Kings went right back ahead as Kevin Rivers was hit by a pitch and scored on a Mickey Wiswall single to center (listen: Wiswall Go-Ahead RBI single 7.1.11).  Stefen Romero executed a safety squeeze bunt scoring Matt Browning in the ninth as well, and Burgoon worked a perfect bottom of the ninth to improve to 5-3.

With the outstanding outing from Fernandez, a seven-game losing streak snapped by George Mieses, the double-A promotion of James Paxton, the addition of left-hander Tony Butler and the three-win run by Burgoon, it’s high time to catch up with pitching coach Rich Dorman again.  Dor talks about those pitchers plus tonight’s starter Taijuan Walker on tonight’s pregame interview.

Listen Here:  Dorman Interview 7.2.11

Tonight’s Game Notes:  7.2.11 kingsnotes

Walker and the Kings go looking for the sweep of the Bandits tonight, first pitch scheduled for 7:00 PM.  Listen to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Rick Waits

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.

Listen Here: Rick Waits (Minor League Pitching Coord) Interview 6.17.11

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.

Starting Lineups:

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.

-DL

Friday Notes (5/6)

After an 8:00 alarm, a couple of blueberry muffins from the continental breakfast and an 8:45 bus ride to O’Brien Field I’m about set for day baseball here in Peoria.  The LumberKings and Chiefs close up a three-game series starting at 11:00 AM.

In case you missed it, Mariners’ 2010 first-round pick, right-hander Taijuan Walker made his first professional start in his LumberKings’ debut last night.  He looked rocky at the onset, giving up four runs on six hits over the first two innings, but found command of his fastball and curveball over his final two innings to finish with a respectable line.  Walker went 4.0 frames, allowed the four runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out five.  He also turned a fantastic 1-6-3 double play to get himself out of what could have been an even nastier first inning.

Left-hander Edlando Seco also pitched well, striking out five of the nine he faced over 3.0 scoreless innings (I took to calling the evening “Seco De Mayo” during the effort).  Right-hander Tyler Burgoon turned ina scoreless eighth.

Highlights:

You’ll notice no offensive highlights from last night.  The Kings did score once against left-hander Eric Jokisch as Stefen Romero doubled and scored on a single by Mickey Wiswall, but way too many offensive chances slipped through their grasp again as Clinton went 1-for-7 as a club with RISP.  The Chiefs aren’t exactly lighting it up offensively in this series either (with a combined 7 runs in 2 games), but they are now outscoring the LumberKings 38-7 over five meetings and are not surprisingly 5-0 as a result.

Today’s Game Notes:  5.6.11 kingsnotes

There’s not one element to single out right now about this 8-20 club, but if they’re going to avoid the sweep today, they’ll need a second-straight solid outing out of right-hander George Mieses and they’ll need to score him some runs.  Mieses went 5.0 innings and won up in Wisconsin his last time out, but even then received just two runs of support.  Should the Kings get to left-hander Austin Kirk early, I like their chances today.

Today’s Starting Lineups:

LumberKings (8-20):  Julio Morban/CF, Shaver Hansen/2B, Tim Morris/1B, Stefen Romero/LF, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Ramon Morla/3B, Jabari Blash/RF, Marcus Littlewood/SS, Steven Baron/C, George Mieses/RHP

Peoria Chiefs (14-13):  Matt Szczur/RF, Elliot Soto/2B, Rubi Silva/CF, Richard Jones/1B, Smaily Borges/DH, Sergio Burruel/C, Arismendy Alcantara/SS, D.J. Fitzgerald/LF, Anthony Giansanti/3B, Austin Kirk/LHP

First pitch is at 11:00 AM, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Rich Dorman

As I said on air after the 13th inning last night, it wasn’t pretty, they’ll get no style points for it, but the LumberKings finally secured their second win of the season and snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory in Beloit.  A one-out triple by Ramon Morla and RBI fielder’s choice by Tim Morris plated the only run Clinton would need, and Julio Morban (bases-loaded HBP) and Kevin Rivers (RBI groundout) added two insurance runs.  Meanwhile, on the mound, right-hander George Mieses (7.0 IP, 2 H, 3 K), left-hander Jason Markovitz (2.0 IP, 3 H) and right-handers Matt Bischoff (2.0 IP, 1 H, 4 K) and Tyler Burgoon (win, 2.0 IP, 2 K) combined on a six-hit shutout.

Following Clinton’s first shutout win, I figured it was prime time to talk with the new pitching coach of the LumberKings, Rich Dorman.  We discuss last night’s gritty effort from his staff, his observations of Mieses through two starts, Forrest Snow’s six-inning no-no three games prior, tonight’s first start from right-hander Fray Martinez and more.

Listen Here:  Dorman Interview 4.15.11.mp3

Tonight’s Game Notes:  4.15.11 kingsnotes

We’re getting a decent amount of rain currently in Clinton, but should that subside, here’s tonight’s lineups:

Kane County (3-5):  Alex Llanos/CF, Yowill Espinal/2B, Brian Fletcher/LF, Murray Watts/1B, Lance Adams/DH, Geulin Beltre/RF, Ryan Jenkins/C, Angel Franco/3B, Gerard Hall/SS, Keaton Hayenga/RHP

LumberKings (2-6):  Carlos Ramirez/2B, Julio Morban/CF, Kevin Rivers/RF, Mickey Wiswall/DH, Stefen Romero/LF, Steven Baron/C, Ramon Morla/3B, Tim Morris/1B, Anthony Phillips/SS, Fray Martinez/RHP

First pitch is still scheduled for 6:30 PM as of now, listen online at 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Tonight’s Interview: Forrest Snow

How’s right-hander Forrest Snow’s transition from closer to frontline starter going?  Judging by last night’s start, just the second of his career, better than even he could have expected.  Snow struck out the first four Beloit Snappers in succession, retired the first 13 batters he faced and did not allow a single hit over 6.0 innings while striking out a career-high eight.  His only blemish was two walks as he and right-handers Matt Bischoff and Tyler Burgoon combined on a one-hitter.

Unfortunately, that one hit set up the game-winning run for the Snappers, who handed the LumberKings a most frustrating 1-0 loss.  Rather than focus in on the negative (15 strikeouts for the offense against the Beloit staff last night), today’s interview is all about Snow’s amazing peformance.

We talk about mixing speeds with catcher Carlton Tanabe and how important the changeup was last night, his transition from closer to starting pitcher, memories from the 2010 Playoffs including his West Division-clinching putout at first base, his goals for 2011 and more.

Listen Here:  Snow Interview 4.13.11.mp3 

Tonight’s Game Notes:  4.13.11 kingsnotes

Left-hander Anthony Fernandez (0-0, 4.50) was the starter for Clinton’s only win thus far this season, we’ll see if he’s up to the task of halting a four-game losing streak in his second start tonight.  Beloit counters with 2010 holdover B.J. Hermsen, who went 0-1 with an ERA of 6.00 in his one outing against the Kings last year.

Today’s Lineups:

Beloit (4-2):  Daniel Santana/SS, Gunner Glad/2B, Lance Ray/RF, Oswaldo Arcia/DH, Michael Gonzales/1B, Daniel Ortiz/CF, Josmil Pinto/C, Reggie Williams/LF, Andrew Leer/3B, B.J. Hermsen/RHP

LumberKings (1-5):  Marcus Littlewood/DH, Julio Morban/CF, Kevin Rivers/RF, Mickey Wiswall/LF, Steven Baron/C, Ramon Morla/3B, Tim Morris/1B, Carlos Ramirez/2B, Anthony Phillips/SS, Anthony Fernandez/LHP

On a programming note, tonight marks my 500th career solo broadcast of LumberKings Baseball.  I don’t have any special guests (Tom Hanks and musical guest the Wu Tang Clan cancelled), but it still should be a fun time.  Listen beginning at 6:15 PM on 1390kcln.com.

-DL

Predicting the 2011 Roster (Part 2)

Thumbnail image for 2011previewpart2.jpg

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.

Catcher

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.

First Base   

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.

Second Base

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.    

Third Base

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.

Shortstop 

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?

Outfield

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. 

Starting Rotation 

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.

Bullpen

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.

-DL

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