Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Geovany Miranda, No Rest - 19

Originally published Sept. 30, 2012
Geovany Miranda was eager playing infield for the short-season Eugene Emeralds in July 1990.

The Panama-native was on his third season of professional baseball. And he knew what he needed to improve, that was to play, according to The Eugene Register-Guard.

"I want to play baseball," Miranda told The Register-Guard that July. "I want to play every day. I do not want to rest."

Baseball is what brought Miranda to the United States, signed by the Royals as an undrafted free agent in 1988.

Years later, long after his playing career was over, it was baseball Miranda turned to stay in the United States.

Miranda's first stop with the Royals was in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He played there his first two professional seasons. He hit .231 his first season there and .311 his second.

He moved to single-A Appleton in 1990, getting into 55 games there, but hitting only .227. By mid-year, he moved back to Eugene, hitting .338 the rest of the way.

Miranda returned to Appleton full time in 1991, hitting .236, with 28 stolen bases. He started 1992 at high-A Baseball City, but moved quickly to the White Sox system.

With the White Sox, Miranda stayed in the Florida State League, at Sarasota. The next year, he played between Sarasota, single-A Hickory and he got his first look at AA, at Birmingham.

His final year as a player came in 1994. Miranda played 55 games at high-A Prince William. He also got his only 16 games at AAA, at Nashville.

From there, Miranda became a scout for the Blue Jays in his native Panama. By 2001, he was back in the U.S. coaching in the minors. By 2002, Miranda settled in Charleston, W.V.

Miranda settled in Charleston, co-founding a baseball program called West Virgina Team USA, The Charleston Gazette wrote. But he wasn't an American citizen. By June 2010, he and his family were in danger of being sent back to Panama, pinning his hopes of a new visa on his experience in the game.

"The greater Charleston valley ... is in great need of trainers and teachers for all sports, especially baseball and girls softball," John Wilcox, West Virginia Team USA owner wrote in a letter supporting Miranda staying in the U.S., according to The Gazette. "The market for individual and team instruction is huge and Mr. Miranda's expertise has surpassed our expectations."

Tony Clark, Did Improve- 3

Originally published Oct. 18, 2016
Tony Clark started his professional career slowly in 1990, but he didn't see that slow start as telling of his future in the game, he told The Detroit Free Press that August.

"If I continue to play the way I am, there will be no future," Clark told The Free Press. "But, with an earlier start and full season next year, I will improve."

Clark improved enough not only to make the majors, but to stick around for a while. Clark first made the bigs in 1995, then became a major league regular the next season.

By the time Clark concluded his career, he'd seen time in 15 major league seasons, made an All-Star team and gained a mention on the Hall of Fame ballot.

He's continued on in the game as the head of the Major League Baseballs Players Association.

Clark's career began that year in 1990, taken by the Tigers second overall in the draft out of Christian High School in El Cajon, Ca.

Clark played his first season at Bristol. He also held out for a college basketball career. On the baseball field, he got into 25 games and hit .164. On the basketball court that fall for the University of Arizona, Clark hurt his back, causing him to miss all of 1991.

Clark returned for brief baseball campaigns in 1992 and 1993, then saw his first full season in 1994. He also first saw AA Trenton and AAA Toledo. He also got healthy as he moved away from basketball.

Then, in September 1995, Clark made Detroit. He got into 27 games down the stretch and hit .238. The next year, he got into 100 games, hit 27 home runs and came in third in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

He continued in 1997, hitting 32 home runs and knocking in 117. That May, Clark went 8 for 17 in a stretch, including homering twice in a game.

"He looked as confident as he has all year," Tigers manager Buddy Bell told The Associated Press of that game. "He's so strong and feeling so confident. He's done a great job."

Clark hit a career-high 34 home runs in 1998, including a 450-foot shot to help win a June game. Clark continued with the Tigers through 2001, including earning his only All-Star appearaince his final season with the club.

Clark moved to the Red Sox for 2002, ending the year with an average of just .207. That July, Clark knocked a tie-breaking single.

"Sometimes the swing is perfect and the ball finds a hole. Sometimes it doesn't," Clark told The AP after that game. "Tonight it found a hole."

Clark played 2003 with the Mets, then 2004 with the Yankees. Clark arrived with the Diamondbacks in 2005, largely playing the rest of his career with the club. His final big league time came in 2009.

Clark finished out his career with more than 1,500 major league games played, 251 home runs and a career average of .262.

In 2013, Clark took over as head of the Players Association, having been involved in the union as a player. In March 2014, he explained to MLB.com his relationship with future commissioner and then-head negotiator Rob Manfred.

"I was at the table as an active player and in each bargaining session since I retired, so Rob and I have a relationship," Clark told MLB.com. "Any time there is respect between the opposing sides, it works in everyone's best interest. You go into every negotiation looking for an agreement, but you also know who you represent and you have to make sure you have their best interest at stake."

Monday, July 16, 2018

Francisco Baez, Sterling Night - 2

Originally published May 11, 2014
Francisco Baez' work was "sterling" this night in August 1990, The Eugene Register-Guard wrote.

Baez went five innings, giving up just two hits and one unearned run. He also got a no-decision, according to The Register-Guard.

Wins were hard to come by for Baez in 1990. Between short-season Eugene and single-A Appleton, Baez got just one, to 10 losses.

Baez was in his second season as a pro that year. He went on to play in two more. He never made AA.

Baez' career began in 1989, after signing with the Royals as an undrafted free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

Baez started with the Royals in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 4-4, with a 2.67 ERA in 18 outings, eight starts.

He moved to single-A Appleton for 1990, but started just 1-7, with a 5.44 ERA in 10 starts. He then moved to short-season Eugene. There, he went 0-3, with a 3.40 ERA.

In a late-June outing for Eugene, Baez went three innings, giving up six runs, three of those earned. He then lost some time mid-season, after injuring his right hand.

Baez returned to Appleton for 1991, coming back as a reliever. In 44 games there, he had a 3.31 ERA. He also picked up five wins. It was Appleton again for 1992. In 38 outings, his ERA came in at 2.90.

He made high-A Wilmington in 1993. In 28 relief outings that year, he had a 5.05 ERA. It was his final year as a pro.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,962
Made the Majors:1,095-37.0%
Never Made Majors:1,867-63.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 455
10+ Seasons in the Minors:274

Carlos Fermin, Game Winner - 6

Originally published Sept. 9, 2016
The Lakeland Ledger gave Carlos Fermin the headline after this July 1993 game because Fermin gave his team the win.

In the ninth inning of a tie game, Fermin knocked a hit that knocked home the winning run, The Ledger wrote.

Fermin knocked in that game-winning run in his fourth season as a pro. He went on to play in two more seasons. He made AA, but didn't make it higher.

Fermin's career began that year, signed by the Tigers as a 16-year-old free agent out of his native Dominican Republic. Fermin's brother is major leaguer Felix Fermin.

Fermin started that year with rookie Bristol. He got into 67 games, playing shortstop. He hit .222, with 15 RBI.

He moved to single-A Fayetteville and high-A Lakeland for 1991, playing most of the year at Fayetteville. He went 3 for 7 in one April game for Fayetteville, leading to an extra-inning game-winner on a single and an error.

Fermin played a shorter 1992 season between short-season Niagara Falls and AA London. In 43 games, Fermin hit just .162.

He returned to Lakeland for all of 1993, getting into 86 games and improving his average to .252. He knocked a two-run single in a May win.

Fermin then played 39 games at Lakeland in 1994, then 59 games at AA Jacksonville in 1995, ending his career.

Fermin has since returned to the Dominican Republic and turned coach for the Indians. Fermin has served as pitching coach for the Indians Dominican Summer League team for at least 11 seasons, continuing in 2016.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

1990 Columbia Mets

Features on each member of the 1990 Columbia Mets, single-A affiliate of the New York Mets.

Columbia Mets (29)
1 - Jay Brazeau, Minors Move, 5/5/18
2 - Bob Burton, Training Career, 6/15/18
3 - Stanton Cameron, Power Display, 5/4/18
4 - Kevin Carroll, Baseball Man, 6/28/18
5 - Alberto Castillo, Worked Hard, 7/6/18
6 - Brian Davis, Picked Up, 6/24/18
7 - Nick Davis, Relaxed Enough, 5/9/18
8 - Alberto Diaz, Table Set, 5/14/18
9 - Chris Dorn, Great Job, 6/23/18
10 - Art Emm, Pretty Well, 6/22/18
11 - Jack Fisher, Home Runs, 4/25/18
12 - Brook Fordyce, Newfound Confidence, 6/30/18
13 - James Harris, Base Hits, 7/10/18
14 - Reid Hartmann, Higher Levels, 6/20/18
15 - Tim Howard, Long Time, 6/17/18
16 - Pat Howell, Like That, 4/17/18
17 - Gregg Langbehn, Different Ballgame, 6/2/18
18 - Tim Marting, Highest Point, 4/18/18
19 - Joe McCann, Broke Out, 7/7/18
20 - Tim McClinton, Decision Made, 6/9/18
21 - Tito Navarro, Good Time, 4/30/17
22 - Jarrod Parker, His Obligation, 5/7/18
23 - Ryan Richmond, First Sport, 4/19/18
24 - Deron Sample, Hot Start, 5/2/18
25 - Bill Stein, His Role, 6/16/18
26 - Dave Telgheder, Strange Feeling, 4/21/18
27 - Mark Thomas, Mom's Assessment, 5/1/18
28 - Julian Vasquez, Good Pitches, 7/12/18
29 - Joe Vitko, Really Pleased, 7/14/18

Jose Lima, His Time - 14

Originally published Sept. 25, 2016
The Associated Press noted Jose Lima's "on-mound exuberance" in reporting his return to the Astros with a new contract in 2000. Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker noted that exuberance played a part in Lima's success.

"I think what makes Jose unique is not his skill as a pitcher but his willingness to express himself when he's not only out on the mound, but whenever he's in public," Hunsicker told The AP. "He's not afraid of what people think. I really believe that has played a part in his success."

Lima earned that new contract - three years, $18.75 million - after seasons where he posted 16 and 21 wins. He also made the All-Star game in 1999, marking the height of "Lima Time."

Lima played seven more major league seasons, never matching his success those two years. But he did have one big playoff moment with the Dodgers in 2004. He continued playing in the bigs until 2006 and then in independent ball through 2009. In May 2010, Lima passed away at the age of 37.

Lima's career began in 1989, signed by the Tigers as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic, where he attended Laschargas High School.

Lima started for the Tigers at rookie Bristol. The 17-year-old went 3-8, with a 5.02 ERA over 14 outings, 12 starts. Lima made AA London in 1993, then AAA Toledo and Detroit in 1994.

Lima got into three games for the Tigers in 1994, giving up 10 earned in 6.2 innings of work. That May, longtime Tiger Lou Whitaker praised the youngster upon his first call up.

"I can't remember the last time a kid came along with that kind of confidence," Whitaker told The AP. "He handles himself like he has been around for years. And I think he probably will be around here for a lot of years."

Lima returned for 15 more starts in 1995 and 39 outings mostly in relief in 1996. His best ERA came in at 5.70 in 1996. He arrived with the Astros for 1997 in a trade. After pitching that season in relief, Lima returned to starting in 1998 and he took off.

Lima went 16-8 for the Astros that year, with a 3.70 ERA. In 1999, his All-Star season, Lima did even better. He went 21-10, with a 3.58 ERA.

Lima took the starting rotation job in 1998 after injuries. After early success, he worked with his pitching coach to add a sinker and slider, according to The Houston Chronicle.

"Everybody says we made the decision (to put him in the starting rotation)," Astros manager Larry Dierker told The Chronicle. "That decision made itself."

After returning to the Astros for 2000, Lima's record regressed to 7-16, with a 6.65 ERA. He returned to Detroit in 2001. He continued playing in the majors into 2006, getting time with the Royals, Dodgers and Mets.

His last big season came in 2004 with the Dodgers, going 13-5, with a 4.07 ERA. He helped he Dodgers to the playoffs, and avoid elimination against the Cardinals for a night with a complete-game, five hitter.

The AP described his reaction to the win as including pumping his fist, shouting and pointing at teammates. Before the game, he drew the initials of family members on the mound.

"He's always been like that," the Cardinals Reggie Sanders told The AP afterward. "One thing, on our part, you can't get too hyped up or too caught up on that. Lima has always been Lima. He tries to get you caught up in his world. He did tonight."

After spending time in Mexico, Korea, his native Dominican Republic and independent ball, Lima threw his final professional pitch in 2009. Then, in May 2010, he passed away at the age of 37.

"He had a great flair and such enthusiasm for life," Tal Smith, Astros president of baseball operations told The AP after Lima's passing. "'Lima Time' was a special time. 'Lima Time' was whenever he was pitching, or at any event or club function or civic function that he was at. He'd get up and sing and dance, and he was very, very good. He was a real entertainer."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Joe Vitko, Really Pleased - 21

Joe Vitko had to wait until the end of the AA Eastern League playoffs in 1992, but he got his call.

The Mets summoned Vitko to Queens in his fourth season and Vitko looked forward to the opportunity, he told his hometown Altoona Mirror.

"I am really a bit surprised," Vitko told The Mirror. "I'm really pleased and I'm just hoping to learn a lot"

Vitko learned what he could over three appearances for the Mets to end the season, but he didn't get to apply that knowledge further. He played two more seasons, but didn't return to the bigs.

Vitko's career began in 1989, taken by the Mets in the 24th round of the draft out of St. Francis University in Pennsylvania. He played his high school ball at Central Cambria High in Ebensburg, Pa.

Vitko started with the Mets at short-season Pittsfield and in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 6-2, with a 2.29 ERA.

He then played 1990 at single-A Columbia. He went 8-1 there over 16 outings, 12 starts, with a 2.49 ERA. A shoulder injury that led to related concerns, however, cut short his season.

"It's pretty boring, man," Vitko told The New York Daily News of his post-injury routine. "I just want to be out there."

Vitko returned to the field in 1991 at high-A St. Lucie. He went 11-8, with a 2.24 ERA. He then made AA Binghamton for 1992, where he went 12-8, with a 3.49 ERA.

With the Mets in September, Vitko got into his three games, starting one. He gave up seven earned in 4.2 innings of work.

Vitko returned in 1993, but only saw three outings in the low minors. He played his final games in 1994 at Binghamton to end his career.

In 2009, Vitko participated in a baseball clinic in Johnstown, Pa. In 2016, he made a local sports hall of fame.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,962
Made the Majors:1,095-37.0%-X
Never Made Majors:1,867-63.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 455
10+ Seasons in the Minors:274


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