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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Chris Butterfield believed he would get to the big leagues; Saw nine pro seasons, made AAA

Starting his fourth pro season, Chris Butterfield recalled a conversation he'd had with another player about career trajectory, his hometown Modesto Bee wrote.

The teammate wouldn't accept a demotion, but Butterfield would, Butterfield recalled to The Bee.

"I said, 'I'm not going to quit until they quit on me,'" Butterfield recalled to The Bee. "I've already been at the bottom of my career as far as I'm concerned. With two new expansion teams coming in, you never know what will happen. I'm going to get to the big leagues - there's no doubt in my mind."

Butterfield spoke to The Bee as he arrived at AA Binghamton in 1992. He went on to see AAA two seasons later. But, in a career that spanned nine campaigns, he never saw the majors.

Butterfield's career began in 1989, taken by the Mets in the 14th round of the draft out of Cal Poly Pomona.

Butterfield started with the Mets at short-season Pittsfield. He hit .304 over 71 games, with eight home runs.

He moved to high-A St. Lucie for 1990 and stayed there for 1991. He hit just .197 his first year there and .225 his second.

At Binghamton in 1992, Butterfield saw 138 games and hit .224, with 14 home runs. He returned there for 1993 and .211. 

He underwent shoulder surgery that offseason and made AAA Norfolk to start 1994, but got released in May. He signed with the Indians. His early time with the Indians saw him waiting on the bench, The Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin wrote.

"I don't like not playing," Butterfield told The Press and Sun-Bulletin that July. "But I'm trying to be patient. Guys are shuffling in and out of here all the time. I'm just basically trying to be patient and wait my turn."

He ended up splitting time between AAA Charlotte and AA Canton-Akron, getting into 22 games each. He hit .231 at Charlotte and .200 at Canton-Akron. 

Butterfield saw two games with the Dodgers at AA San Antonio in 1995, then played 1996 with independent Reno and saw 17 final games in 1997 at independent Chico to end his career.

Butterfield has since gone on to coach high school ball and serve as an instructor.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,792
Made the Majors:1,280-33.8%
Never Made Majors:2,512-66.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:526
10+ Seasons in the Minors:316

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Chris Lowe got drafted out of high school earlier than expected; Saw three pro seasons

Johnson City high school senior Chris Lowe knew scouts were interested, just not interested enough for him to go in the 13th round, he told his hometown Johnson City Press.

The Phillies expressed enough confidence in the outfielder to take him in the 13th round.

"This is awesome, I had no idea I would go this early," Lowe told The Press after being selected. "I didn't care if it was the 50th round, it's an honor to just get drafted."

Lowe ultimately signed with the Phillies and started his pro career. That career, however, proved brief. He spent two seasons with the organization in rookie ball, then signed on with the Cardinals briefly for a third campaign. He topped out at short-season.

Lowe's career began that year in 1988, taken by the Phillies 328th overall out of Johnson City's University High School.

Lowe started with the Phillies at rookie Martinsville. He helped the club to an early win against his hometown Johnson City Cardinals, with a triple, single and two walks, The Press wrote.

"I've got a lot to learn," Lowe told The Press afterward, "and I'm getting a lot of good instruction."

Lowe got into 25 games for Martinsville and hit .253. He then returned there for 1989. He also earned a spot in the team's outfield early on, The Press wrote.

"I've been more aggressive at the plate," Lowe told The Press early that July. "I learned a lesson last year. You can't go up there and watch fastballs and strikes go by you. You've got to hit."

Lowe hit .217 overall with Martinsville in 42 games. He didn't return with the Phillies for 1990. Instead, he signed with the Cardinals and started at short-season Hamilton. He got into nine games and picked up three hits, marking the end of his pro career.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,791
Made the Majors:1,280-33.8%
Never Made Majors:2,511-66.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:526
10+ Seasons in the Minors:316

Gary Cooper showed good speed and good arm in high school; Saw time in two pro seasons

Gary Cooper readied to move on to college in 1986 and his high school baseball coach saw big things for him there, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote.

"He's just an excellent outfielder with good speed and a good throwing arm. And be hits so well," Swift, head coach at the St. Louis-area Lafayette High, told The Post-Dispatch that April. "He has great work habits. He works hard at what he needs to do to improve."

Cooper worked hard enough to make the pros - twice. But he couldn't stay there. He played parts of two seasons. He never made single-A.

Cooper's pro career began in 1988, taken by the Angels in the 25th round of the draft out of Scottsdale Community College in Arizona.

Cooper initially played his college ball at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He moved to Scottsdale after a tough start in Columbia, The Post-Dispatch wrote.

He then signed with the Angels for 1988, playing briefly at short-season Bend. He got into 13 games and hit .234.

He then returned to college, at Columbia. He also held out hope for a return to the pros, The Post-Dispatch wrote in June 1989.

"At the time, it was a dream come-true," Cooper told The Post-Dispatch of his first pro stint, as he worked to return. "But I'm still hopeful. If I didn't think there was a chance to be re-signed, I probably wouldn't be playing now."

Cooper signed with the Cardinals later that year. Assigned to short-season Hamilton, Cooper played 65 games. He hit .180, with four home runs, ending his pro career.

Archie Corbin had much fun in the majors over three seasons that spanned nine campaigns

After a decade in the pros, including a brief stint with the Royals in Kansas City five years earlier, Archie Corbin seemed to have finally found a home with the Orioles in 1996, The Baltimore Sun wrote.

The Orioles signed Corbin that May and Manager Davey Johnson worked to unlock Corbin's potential as a solid middle reliever, The Sun wrote.

"I'm having a lot of fun," Corbin told The Sun that September. "This is why you get into this."

Corbin's fun that year included a post-season roster spot. He went on to return to the bigs, but not for three more seasons, with the Mariners in 1999, for a big league career that saw three seasons, but spanned nine.

Corbin's career began in 1986, taken by the Mets in the 16th round of the draft out of Charlton-Pollard High School in Texas.

Corbin started with the Mets at rookie Kingsport. Out of the gate, he told The Kingsport Times-News he hoped to move up quickly.

"They really haven't said what their plans are," Corbin told The Times-News of the Mets organization. "I'm just going to go out and throw hard and do the best I can."

Corbin, however, ended up staying in Kingsport for his first three seasons. He made single-A Columbia in 1989, then high-A St. Lucie in 1990. 

The Mets then traded him to the Royals for 1991. He started the year at AA Memphis. Then, in September, he got called up to Kansas City. 

Corbin saw two games in relief and gave up one earned in 2.1 innings of work. Royals manager Hal McRae gave praise and advice for Corbin to The Kansas City Star.

"He has good stuff," McRae told The Star. "If he throws strikes, he has a chance."

Corbin returned to Memphis for much of 1992, then moved to the Expos and AA Harrisburg to conclude the year and for 1993. After going through the Pirates system for 1994 and 1995 without seeing Pittsburgh, he arrived with the Orioles for 1996, after being released in Mexico.

Corbin saw 20 outings at AAA Rochester in 1996, but also 18 with the Orioles in Baltimore. He picked up two wins in 27.1 innings and had a 2.30 ERA.

He made the playoff roster, but didn't see action. Afterward, he told The Sun he was surprised, but not upset he didn't pitch. He also wanted to return.

"I definitely do feel like I'm a major-league pitcher, without a doubt," Corbin told The Sun. "I hope I can come back here, but if not I'll go to somebody else and try to do what I did this year. I just want to make me a living in the major leagues. But it's just been great here."

Corbin played 1997 back at Rochester, then 1998 between the Marlins and Padres systems. In 1999, he returned to the majors with the Marlins. He went 0-1 over 17 relief outings, with a 7.29 ERA.

Corbin played five more seasons in the minors and in independent ball. He's last credited with independent Atlantic City in 2004.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,790
Made the Majors:1,280-33.8%-X
Never Made Majors:2,510-66.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:526
10+ Seasons in the Minors:316-X

Friday, November 26, 2021

Roy Bailey enjoyed the game over four pro seasons, later as a youth coach

Originally published Feb. 13, 2017
Roy Bailey coached in American Legion ball and, in 2010, he extended coaching resume to include Martha Layne Collins High School in his Kentucky hometown, according to The Shelbyville Sentinel-News.

"I enjoy working with kids. I enjoy the game," Bailey told The Sentinel-News. "I've learned from some of the best players and coaches over the years."

Bailey turned to coaching after a four-season professional playing career with the Cardinals. Bailey made it to high-A, but didn't make it higher.

Bailey's playing career began in 1990, signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Kentucky.

He started with the Cardinals at short-season Hamilton. The hurler got into 16 games, starting 15 of them. He went 4-6, with a 3.98 ERA.

He moved to single-A Savannah for 1991 and turned reliever. He also proved durable. He got into 73 games in relief, picking up eight wins and a 2.49 ERA. He still held the South Atlantic League's record in 2016 for most games pitched in a season.

Bailey arrived at high-A St. Petersburg for 1992, then split time between St. Petersburg and single-A Springfield for 1993. He got into 54 games with a 3.82 ERA in 1992 and 40 in 1993 with a 3.89 mark. His 1993 campaign proved to be his final as a pro.

Bailey soon returned home to Shelbyville and started coaching. In 1998, future major leaguer Jon Rauch cited Bailey, along with another American Legion coach in helping him along, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal.

"They gave me a chance to improve," Rauch told The Courier-Journal. "What I've become, I owe to them."

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Denny Harriger hoped to make the bigs someday and he did - 11 years later

Taken by the Mets out of high school in 1987, Denny Harriger wasn't sure if he'd sign. He still had high school ball to worry about, he told his hometown Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"If I sign with the Mets, I'll do the best he can and maybe make it to the majors someday," Harriger told The Post-Gazette then. "But I'd like to win states first, that's for sure."

Whether he won states or not, Harriger did sign with the Mets then. He also went on to make the majors - someday.

For Harriger, though, his someday turned out to be 11 years later, after more than a decade spent in the minors. 

His someday finally came in June 1998 - into his 12th pro season - as the hurler took a major league mound for the Detroit Tigers.

"I saw the batter step into the box, and I said to myself, 'Hey, this is it - this is what I worked for my whole life,'" Harriger told The Detroit Free Press afterward.

Harriger ended up seeing batters step into the box over three other major league outings that month. Those four outings ended up being the extent of his major league career. But he got there. 

He also ended up seeing time in six more seasons elsewhere, finally ending his career with his independent Lancaster Barnstormers in 2006.

Harriger's career began in 1987, taken by the Mets in the 18th round of the draft out of Ford City High School in Pennsylvania.

Harriger started with the Mets at rookie Kingsport. He went 2-5, with a 4.33 ERA over 12 outings, seven starts. He returned to Kinsport for 1988, then saw single-A St. Lucie and short-season Pittsfield in 1989.

After returning to St. Lucie at high-A in 1990, he eventually saw AA Binghamton briefly in 1992 and for all of 1993. He went 13-10, with a 2.95 ERA over 35 outings, 24 starts.

He signed with the Padres for 1994 and moved up to AAA, at Las Vegas. He then played two more campaigns there, without seeing San Diego.

Herriger arrived with the Tigers for 1997, signing there as a free agent. He played at AAA Toledo and went 11-8, with a 3.99 ERA. He returned to Toledo to start 1998, then got his call in June.

In his four major league outings, he started twice and saw 12 total innings. He also gave up nine earned runs and picked up three losses to no wins.

He played at AAA with the Reds in 1999, then saw Korea for 2000 and 2001. He went 17-10, with a 3.12 ERA with Koreak's LG team in 2000.

He saw independent Long Island in 2003, Taiwan's Chinatrust and independent Nashua in 2004. In 2006, he saw 26 starts at Lancaster and went 17-4, with a 2.63 ERA to end his long career.

In 2009, Harriger was inducted into his home county's hall of fame, the Armstrong Hall of Fame. He reflected to on his career, including his long road to his brief stint in the majors.

"Knowing what I know now, if I had to go back and start again as a senior in high school, I would change very little," Harriger told TribLive. "We're not on this Earth very long, in terms of years that we live. You've got to make the most of it."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,789
Made the Majors:1,279-33.8%-X
Never Made Majors:2,510-66.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:526
10+ Seasons in the Minors:315-X

Marcos Betances threw a no-hitter in rookie ball, earned a bonus; Played three seasons, made single-A

Originally published June 25, 2015
Marcos Betances got a bonus this day in July 1988 and it was well-earned.

That's because Betances went out for the Bristol Tigers of the rookie Appalachian League and threw a no-hitter.

To show his appreciation, according to The Bristol Herald-Courier, Tigers farm director Joe McDonald dug into his wallet while still in the dugout and handed Betances a $100 bill.

Betances' success ended up being short-lived. That was his first season as a pro. He got into just two more. He never made AA.

Betances' career began that year, signed by the Tigers as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

Betances played his first year at rookie Bristol. Over 13 starts that year, he posted a 4.24 ERA and went 5-3.

He started his 1989 season at singile-A Fayetteville and his season didn't start well. In mid-April, he apparently punched a wall with his pitching hand in frustration, according to The Fayetteville Observer. His hand swelled up and he needed a cast. He was expected to be out up to six weeks.

Betances got five starts at Fayetteville, with a 5.49 ERA. In mid-June, he was sent down to short-season Niagara Falls. He also saw time that year at Bristol. Overall, he got into 18 games, 15 starts. He had a 6.62 ERA.

That December, Betances was included in a trade to the Cardinals. He played 1990 at single-A Savannah and short-season Hamilton. He went 0-4 at Savannah, with a 5.79 ERA. At Hamilton, he was 4-7, with a 3.70 ERA. It was Betances' final season as a pro.