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Friday, July 3, 2020

Brian Dorsett always believed he had a path to a regular majors slot; In 1994, he got it, with the Indians

Originally published April 9, 2014
Brian Dorsett saw the light, he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in spring 1992.

That light was an eventual regular spot in the majors. At that point, all Dorsett had seen in 10 years as a pro was 45 major league games, The Post-Gazette wrote.

"You have to believe there's always going to be a light at the end of the tunnel," Dorsett told The Post-Gazette. "If you don't believe that, there's no point in being here."

It took Dorsett a couple more years, but he finally got that regular spot in 1994 with the Reds. He got into 76 games in that strike-shortened year. He also hit a ninth-inning, game-tying grand slam.

By the time he was done, Dorsett had seen time in eight major league seasons and 163 major league games.

Dorsett's career began in 1983, taken by the Athletics in the 10th round of the draft out of Indiana State University.

Dorsett played his first year between short-season Medford and single-A Madison. He moved to single-A Modesto in 1984, where he won two-consecutive games on ninth-inning home runs.

He made AA Huntsville in 1985, then AAA Tacoma in 1986. He moved to the Indians in a 1987 trade. He also made the majors.

Dorsett got into five games for the Indians that year, picking up three hits in 11 at bats. Dorsett ended  up making the majors each year from 1987 to 1991, but he never got into more than 14 games in any one campaign.

Dorsett missed the majors entirely in 1992. He then arrived with the Reds. He got into 25 games for Cincinnati in 1993, hitting .254 in 63 at bats.

An injury to Reds starting catcher Joe Oliver then finally opened the door for Dorsett in 1994. In 76 games for the Reds, Dorsett hit .245 and had five home runs. One of those home runs was a game-tying, ninth-inning grand slam in May.

"A ninth-inning, bases-loaded homer is a dream come true," Dorsett told The Associated Press after what ended up to be a loss. "It was a real thrill. It'd be a lot sweeter if we'd won."

After that year, Dorsett only returned to the majors one more time, 17 games with the Cubs in 1996. His hopes to return to the Reds for 1995 ended near the end of spring training, as he was sent back to the minors.

"It's tough for Dorsett," Reds manager Davey Johnson told The AP then. "He's done a great job for us for two years. He's a gamer. He hung around a long time to get up here and prove he can play here. He can hold his head high."

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Mike Hooper did a good job pitching in high school, played as a pro over four seasons; He made high-A

Mike Hooper's rival head coach in this May 1989 high school regional could only watch Hooper work, according to an account in the Fond Du Lac Commonwealth Reporter.

Hooper did so as he allowed just three hits and no runs as his Lake Mills team advanced over Horicon with a 9-0 win, The Commonwealth Reporter wrote.

"He struck out 11, so he did a good job pitching," Horicon coach  Richard Tennie told The Commonwealth Reporter afterward. "He's one of their better ones."

Hooper ended up being good enough that year to sign with the Brewers directly out of Lake Mills. His career lasted four seasons. He made high-A.

Hooper's career began that year in 1989, signed by the Brewers as an undrafted free agent. 

The hurler started with the club in the rookie Arizona League. He saw seven outings, one start, as he gave up 10 earned in 11 innings of work.

He then moved to rookie Helena for 1990. He started an early season contest and earned praise from his manager Gary Calhoun, according to The Helena Independent-Record.

"He's a good control pitcher with a good changeup," Calhoun told The Independent-Record of Hooper. "He's shown he's a pretty good pitcher right now."

Hooper's season consisted of five starts. He went 0-1, with a 4.22 ERA.He then returned with the Brewers to start 1991 and played at single-A Beloit. He went 2-3, with a 2.32 ERA there before the Brewers traded him to the White Sox.

Assigned to single-A South Bend, he saw 11 more outings there and had a 2.70 ERA. That August, after the trade, Hooper spoke to The Wisconsin State Journal about the move.

"It was kind of tough adjusting to a new team," Hooper told The Journal. "I think (the trade) is for the better. It's nice to know that somebody wants you."

Hopper, however, returned for just one more season. He saw two more outings at South Bend in 1992, then 21 outings, 11 starts, at high-A Salinas to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,409
Made the Majors:1,202-35.3%
Never Made Majors:2,207-64.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:499
10+ Seasons in the Minors:294

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hensley Meulens took his physical ability to time in seven ML seasons, his coaching ability to three WS titles

Originally published Oct. 8, 2012; Updated June 2020
Going into spring training 1991, Hensley Meulens had played just 31 games in the majors for the Yankees. But that year, he was set to be the starting left fielder at Yankee Stadium, according to The New York Times.

"I've been waiting for this day to arrive," Meulens told The Times after arriving for the start of camp. "My emotions are high; my confidence is up there, too. I've learned to deal with the pressure. I can block that out. Now, I just have to let the physical ability take over."

For Meulens, though, that physical ability never did take over, at least not in the Bronx. Where it did take over, though, was in Japan. There, over three seasons, Meulens averaged 26 home runs, according to The Associated Press, and won a Japan Series title.

More recently it has been Meulens' instructional ability that has come to the forefront, as a hitting coach, for the three-time World Series champion San Francisco Giants and, in 2020, where he's set to be bench coach for the Mets.

Meulens' career began in 1985, signed by the Yankees out of his native Curacao. He played his first year in 1986 in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He made AA Albany-Colonie and then AAA Columbus in 1988.

In 1989, Meulens first made New York, getting into eight games. He then returned for 23 more in 1990. He spent the bulk of 1990 at AAA Columbus, hitting .285, with 26 home runs.

Then came 1991. Meulens got into 96 games that year for the Yankees, playing 61 of them in left field. He hit just .222. In May, Meulens was actually named the Yankees' starting left fielder. Then he went 0 for 12 with 8 strikeouts and was benched, The Times wrote.

"You don't want him to lose his confidence," Yankees manager Stump Merrill told The Times. "I don't think he has, and I don't think he will. He'll fight his way through this and be fine."

Meulens, though, would never see that kind of major league playing time again. In 1992, Meulens only saw two games with the Yankees. In 1993, he saw 30.

By 1994, Meulens was in Japan, helping win the 1995 Japan Series with the Yakult Swallows. By 1997, Meulens was back stateside, with the Braves, hoping to get another shot at the majors.

"If I only knew then what I knew now, I would have approached the situation totally different," Meulens told The AP that February of his problems in the Bronx. "I would have been ready for every at-bat, every pitch, every situation I was put into, instead of staying, 'Hey, I should be playing every day.'"

Meulens, though, didn't make it back with the Braves. Instead, he played 16 games that year with the Expos and seven the next year with the Diamondbacks, finishing out his major league career.

Meulens continued playing in the minors and elsewhere through 2002, including in Mexico and Korea, finally ending his playing career.

Meulens has since become a coach. He started in 2003 at rookie Bluefield. He made AAA Indianapolis in 2005 then became San Francisco's hitting coach in 2010, a job he continued in for 2012.

He continued with the Giants through 2019, serving as their bench coach his final two campaigns. He joined the Mets for 2020.

In 2010, Meulens watched his hitters help the Giants to the World Series title. In the first two games, that hitting resulted in 20 total runs scored by the Giants, The AP noted.

"I took this job Nov. 2," Meulens told The AP then of his 2009 hiring, "and I went running and I haven't taken a day off since."

Monday, June 29, 2020

Rich Monteleone's manager built confidence in him in bigs; Saw time in 10 major league seasons

Originally published Dec. 11, 2010
The season had started off well for the Yankees in 1992, they were 6-0. But Yankees pitching coach Mark Connor and manager Buck Showalter wanted to spread some of the relief work around, according to The New York Times.

On this night, April 13, it was Rich Monteleone's turn. He went out and didn't give up a run in 1.2 innings of work.

"Mark told me tonight that I'd have to prepare for anything - 'Early we'll use you, late we'll use you,' " Monteleone told The Times. "It builds confidence in a pitcher to know that a manager will look to you in that fashion. It builds confidence in a manager to know that you, as a pitcher, can do your job."

Monteleone was doing his job, seeing time in his sixth major league season in 1992. He would go on to see time in 10 major league seasons, pitching in a total of 210 big league contests.

Monteleone's career began in 1982, taken by the Tigers in the first round out of Tampa Catholic High. He played that year at rookie league Bristol, first seeing AA the next year at Birmingham and AAA Evansville in 1984.

The next spring, Monteleone was seen as a top young arm in the Tigers organization.

"If they send me to Nashville, I'll just have to do the best I can there and hope for a break," Montleone told The Lakeland Ledger in February 1985. "I feel like I'll get a chance to pitch up here, if not with Detroit, then hopefully, someplace else."

He went 6-12 in 1985 with AAA Nashville, with an ERA of 5.08. It was the final year in the Tigers system for the former top-round pick. He was traded that off-season to the Mariners for Darnell Coles.

With Seattle, Monteleone spent another year at AAA. But, in April 1987, he made the big club. He pitched in three games for the Mariners that year, seven innings, giving up five earned runs.

The next year he was with the Angels, pitching in another three games. It was in 1989 where Monteleone saw his first extended time in the majors, 24 outings for the Angels, posting a 3.18 ERA.

In one May game, he earned his first major league victory, but not before coming in and giving up a single and two walks to load the bases in a scoreless game, then getting himself out of the jam, The Los Angeles Times wrote.

"To tell you the truth, I was really surprised to get the call," Monteleone told The LA Times afterward. "And to tell you the truth, I was really nervous."

The next year, it was off to the Yankees, where he saw time each of the next four seasons. That year in 1992, Monteleone saw his most outings, 47. He also had a 3.30 ERA.

Monteleone had been a starter in the minors. But in the majors, he became entrenched in relief. It was something he accepted.

"I just want to pitch the best I can each time out, and I want the team to win," Monteleone told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel in March 1993. "Some people need the fame. I'm not one of them."

Monteleone signed with the Giants for 1994, then returned to the Angels for 1995, ending his playing career with the team in 1996. He played nine games in 1995 and 12 in 1996.

"I was very excited for the opportunity to come back and glad they still feel I can help the team," Monteleone told The LA Times in June 1996. "It's a pretty comfortable feeling here because I know most of the guys and all of the coaches."

After his playing days were over, Monteleone returned to the Yankees, as a coach and instructor. He stayed with the Yankees through 2008, when he was let go.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Eric Patton pitched well his first year and got married; Played two pro seasons, both in rookie ball

Eric Patton had himself a successful first pro season in 1989 in more ways than one.

He played well enough on the field to continue pitching the next year. Off the field, The Helena Independent-Record wrote, he got married.

"They got married down at the Colonial Inn," Helena team owner Ron Romaneski told The Independent-Record in a feature on Romaneski's ownership of the team. Romaneski and his daughter helped with the arrangements. "You don't count on doing those kind of things when you buy a baseball team."

Though his on-the-field work earned him another season, that second season proved the extent of his playing time. He played just those two campaigns, both at Helena. He didn't make it higher.

Patton's career began that year in 1989, taken by the Brewers in the ninth round of the draft out of Saddleback College in California. Patton was also credited as Eric Patten.

Patton started with the Brewers at Helena. He went 6-2 on the year, with a 2.98 ERA over 19 outings, one start. He also saved one.

His 1989 save came in early July, a two-inning effort against Idaho Falls. He went 5.2 in relief in an August game and gave up two earned.

Patton then returned to Helena for 1990. He picked up an early win with two innings of work in a June game. Overall, he went 7-1, with a 5.37 ERA in 17 outings, two starts, to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,408
Made the Majors:1,202-35.3%
Never Made Majors:2,206-64.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:499
10+ Seasons in the Minors:294

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Mike Carter hit a game-winning double in his first pro year; Saw 13 pro campaigns, made AAA, not bigs

Mike Carter hit the game-winning double on the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning of this July 1990 contest with rookie Helena and afterward he explained how he did it to The Helena Independent-Record.

"The first one is the best one usually," Carter told The Independent-Record. "I thought he'd throw a fastball, but I saw him shake off the first sign. Then I looked for something off-speed."

That year at Helena also marked Carter's first one as a pro. He went on to see a total of 13 pro campaigns. He topped out at AAA.

Carter's career began that year in 1990, taken by the Brewers in the third round of the draft out of the University of West Alabama.

Carter started with the Brewers at Helena. He hit .307 over 61 games. He then moved to single-A Beloit for 1991. He knocked a two-run double in a May game. He hit .279 overall in 123 games there.

Carter made high-A Stockton and AA El Paso in 1992. He hit .259 over 117 on the season. He then made AAA New Orleans for 1993. He saw 104 games there and hit .276.

Then, for 1994, the Brewers sent him and another player to the Cubs for Bob Scanlan. He then made AAA Iowa over the next three seasons. He hit .325 in 107 games there in 1995 and .266 over 113 games there in 1996, but he never saw Chicago.

Carter saw brief time with the Angels at AA Midland for 1997, then played the rest of the season in Mexico.

Over the next five seasons, Carter saw time in independent ball and in Mexico. In 2001, he returned to affiliated ball with the Braves as he spent the year at AAA Richmond. He hit .294 in 104 games there.

Carter last played in 2002, when he saw time at independent Bridgeport and in Mexico at Yucatan to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,407
Made the Majors:1,202-35.3%
Never Made Majors:2,205-64.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:499
10+ Seasons in the Minors:294-X

Friday, June 26, 2020

Gordon Powell was always taught to run hard; Did so over 10 pro seasons, made high-A

Gordon Powell hit a two-run shot for high-A Stockton early in this July 1995 contest, but his base running, rather than strength, ultimately drew everyone's attention, according to The San Bernardino County Sun.

That's because as he rounded the bases after hitting the shot, Powell tripped on first - and then fell flat on his face, The Sun wrote.

"I was always taught to run hard whenever you hit the ball," Powell told The Sun afterward. "Oh man, was I embarrassed."

Powell ran hard in that game in his seventh professional season. It was also his last in affiliated ball. He played in three more independent campaigns, but he never made it above high-A.

Powell's career began in 1989, taken by the Brewers in the first round, 30th overall, out of Hughes High School in Cincinnati.

Powell started with the Brewers in the rookie Arizona League at at rookie Helena. He hit .302 over 54 games that first year.

He returned to Helena for 1990. He hit .217 in 45 games that year. He hit a late two-run double in a June win.

Powell then made single-A Beloit for 1991, and he stayed there three seasons. He hit a high of .285 in 78 games in 1992.

He then made high-A Stockton for 1994 and 1995. His 1995 campaign, where he hit .254 over 111 games, marked the end of Powell's affiliated career.

Powell then moved to independent ball. He played 1996 largely at Regina, but also saw time at Grand Forks.

A throwout of his at Regina made the book "Leagues of Their Own" as scouts discussed the throw and what it meant.

"If I like what he's doing after I've seen a couple of games and if I think he's healthy, I'll fill out a scouting report and send it to the Braves," Braves scout Lionel Ruhr was quoted in the book as saying.

If Ruhr filled out the card, it didn't get Powell back to affiliated ball. He returned to Regina for 1997 and he then ended his career in 1998 at independent Bend.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,406
Made the Majors:1,202-35.3%
Never Made Majors:2,204-64.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:499
10+ Seasons in the Minors:293-X