Saturday, April 19, 2014

Francisco Melendez, Biggest Thing - 1300

Francisco Melendez started off 1989 slow for the AAA Rochester Red Wings, something that was uncharacteristic of him in his nine seasons as a pro, The Newport News Daily Press wrote.

By July, though, he'd picked up the pace. He also helped Rochester beat Norfolk by picking up three hits, The Daily News wrote.

"He's comfortable at the plate," Rochester manager Greg Biagini told The Daily News afterward. "That's the biggest thing with him. He's always hit no matter where he's been, so we knew he'd hit for us."

Melendez hit previously in four major league seasons, getting time in 65 games for the Phillies and the Giants. Later in 1989, he'd hit his way back to the bigs for nine games with the Orioles, the final nine games of his big league career.

Melendez' career began in 1981, signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent out of his native Puerto Rico.

Melendez started with the Phillies at single-A Spartanburg and single-A Peninsula. He hit .242 between them, with three home runs. He remained at Peninsula for 1982, his average increasing to .292.

He made AA Reading for 1983, then AAA Portland in 1984. He hit .298 at Reading and .312 at Portland. Melendez also earned a call up to Philadelphia in August 1984. In 23 at bats there, though, he picked up only three hits.

After spending another season back at Portland, Melendez returned to the Phillies for nine games in 1986. He moved to the Giants for 1987, getting 12 games in the bigs that year and 23 with San Francisco in 1988.

Between the two seasons with the Giants, Melendez picked up 10 hits in 42 at bats. In his nine games with the Orioles in 1989, Melendez had three hits in 11 at bats.

Melendez returned to the minors for one more season, playing between AA and AAA with the Indians. He's then credited with rounding out his career with four seasons in Mexico.

Melendez eventually returned to Puerto Rico. He also continued in baseball. In 2011, Melendez was the hitting coach for the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School. One of his students: Carlos Correa.

"He always knows how every player is playing on the other team," Melendez told of Correa. "That's what makes him different -- the attitude he has about the game, whether it's against a good team or a bad team, a hard-thrower and a bad thrower. He finds a way, because he's so smart and in-tune with everything."
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,601
Made the Majors: 785 - 49.0%-X
Never Made Majors: 816-51.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 343
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 199

Tom Dodd, A Success - 662

Originally published June 3, 2012
To The Eugene Register-Guard in 1991, Tom Dodd looked back on his career, the year after it ended.

It was a career that spanned 11 professional seasons, but one that got him to the majors in just one - eight games played with the Orioles in 1986.

"I feel I was a success," Dodd told The Register-Guard that June. "I'm disappointed I didn't get more time in the majors, because I thought I deserved it, but that doesn't leave a bad taste about the whole game."

For Dodd, his game as a professional began in 1980, taken by the Yankees in the first round of the January draft, out of the University of Oregon. At Oregon, Dodd once, in March 1979, knocked in seven runs in a game on two home runs.

With the Yankees, Dodd played his first two seasons at single-A, at Fort Lauderdale and Greensboro. He hit .253 his first year and .271 his second.

He made AA Nashville in 1982 before being traded to the Blue Jays mid-year. Dodd, though, was traded back to the Yankees with another player the next off-season. That deal sent Fred McGriff and Mike Morgan, back to the Blue Jays.

By the next May, though, Dodd was released by the Yankees. He soon signed with the White Sox, playing that year and the next at AA. In 1985, Dodd signed with the team that would bring him to the majors, the Orioles.

Dodd played much of 1986 at AA Charlotte, getting a brief 17-game look at AAA Rochester. That July, though, he also got a brief 8-game look at major-league Baltimore. He debuted July 26.

In 16 plate appearances, 13 official at bats, Dodd picked up three hits, one of them a home run. The home run came off a Jimmy Key 3-2 slider, Dodd recalled to The Register-Guard in 1989.

"It was only about my eighth at-bat, and I figured if you hit a home run every eight at-bats, you're doing pretty well," Dodd told The Register-Guard. "I thought I was there to stay."

He ended up staying until Aug. 6. He also didn't return.

Dodd played 1987 back at AA Charlotte, then 1988 with the Royals at AAA Omaha. He returned to Omaha for 1989, then ended his career in 1990 with the Mariners at AAA Calgary.

By 1991, he was out of the game, after 11 seasons as a pro.

"I think I was capable of playing in the major leagues, and everybody I've talked to said the same thing, Dodd told The Baltimore Sun in 1991. "As far as feeling any remorse or bitter feelings, I have none."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Will George, Saw Enough - 1363

Marlins scout Will George saw enough in Quilvio Veras in 1994 to make sure Veras was a Marlin in 1995, according to the Knight-Ridder Newspapers.

Veras was a Marlin in 1995, Florida sending the Mets Carl Everett in return. Veras also stole 56 bases that year to top the majors and came in third in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

George used his experience as both a player and a coach to scout for the Marlins that year. George spent seven seasons as a player and several as a coach. He never made the majors himself.

George's career began in 1977, taken by the Orioles in the seventh round of the draft out of Pennsauken High School in New Jersey.

George started with the rookie Bluefield Orioles, going 3-6 with a 5.91 ERA. He moved to single-A Miami for 1978, turning in a 11-9 record and 2.52 ERA. He picked up a 2-1 win in one game against Daytona.

He split time in 1979 between Miami and AA Charlotte, then spent all of 1980 at Charlotte. His 1980 season, though, ended with a 5-14 record and a 4.29 ERA.

After spending another season at AA, George returned to an independent Miami for 1982. He picked up a seven-inning win in May, striking out six.

He returned to Miami for 1983. He also got time at single-A Salem with the Padres, ending his playing career.

George then went on to his coaching and scouting career. He served as pitching coach at short-season Newark in 1986,  then single-A Hagerstown in 1987 and short-season Erie in 1988. He also scouted for the Orioles in 1988.

He moved to the Indians system in 1989, coaching at single-A Kinston. In 1990, he served as pitching coach at AA Canton-Akron.

George later moved to the major league Marlins as a scout. He is last recorded with them in 1996.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,600
Made the Majors: 784 - 49.0%
Never Made Majors: 816-51.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 343
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 199

Roberto Zambrano, Recovered Fine - 1307

Originally published Oct. 18, 2010
Roberto Zambrano had just come back from an injury in 1989, and it appeared he had recovered just fine.

In his 18th game back, Zambrano slugged two home runs, his third and fourth since his return, to help his Winter Haven Red Sox to a 9-0 win against Osceola, The Lakeland Ledger wrote.

Zambrano went on to hit a total of 14 home runs on the season, playing majority of the year at AA New Britain. But Zambrano would get higher only once, a brief stint at AAA two years later. He never would make the majors.

Zambrano's career began in 1985, having been signed as a free agent by the Red Sox out of his native Venezuela. He spent that year at single-A Greensboro of the South Atlantic League.

With Greensboro, Zambrano had success. He hit 19 home runs with a batting average of .291. He had a run-scoring single in an 8-3 June Greensboro win. In a July game, Zambrano had three hits and knocked in four runs. He also made the league All-Star team that month.

Zambrano spent 1986 at Winter Haven of the Florida State League, hitting .279 with six home runs. He got a run-scoring double in a May game, going 2-4 with two RBIs. In another May game, he hit a home run and a double. He also had three RBIs in an August contest.

Zambrano first made AA New Britain in 1987, spending the year there, hitting .289 with another six home runs. He got two RBIs in an early April game, and three more in a late April contest. He made the league All-Star team again that year.

He split the next two years between New Britain and Winter Haven. Back at New Britain for 68 games in 1989, Zambrano hit .291 with eight home runs. But, after five seasons in the Red Sox system, 1989 was his last.

By 1990, Zambrano was with the Indians at AA Canton-Akron, his average dropping to .257. He got an RBI single in June. He also hit into a triple play in late July against Albany-Colonie, according to The Schenectady Gazette.

It was in 1991 that Zambrano made AAA for his only trip to that level. In 35 games for Colorado Springs, Zambrano hit .297 with three home runs. Zambrano played part of one more season, two years later in 1993 with the Cubs at Orlando.

But it was his final season in affiliated ball. He was credited with time in the Mexican League as late as 2003, ending his career.

1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,599
Made the Majors: 784 - 49.0%
Never Made Majors: 815-51.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 343
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 199

Roger Smithberg, Any Other Game - 124

Originally published March 24, 2011
Coming in for his major league debut in September 1993, Roger Smithberg settled in. He went three innings, giving up just two hits, all against the eventual repeat champions, the Blue Jays.

"It was just like any other game," Smithberg told The Associated Press afterward, "until later when one of the guys said I had just pitched against probably three future Hall of Famers. Then I got nervous."

Those future Hall of Famers - and there were three in the Blue Jays lineup - went 0-for-4 against the young right-hander.

Smithberg, however, would get only 14 more chances to face future Hall of Famers, or major league hitters for that matter. His big league career would end by July 1994 with a total of 15 appearances and 22 innings pitched.

Smithberg's professional career began in 1987, taken by the Padres in the second round of the draft out of Bradley University.

He started at single-A Riverside in 1988, then jumped to AAA Las Vegas in 1989. At Las Vegas that year, Smithberg went 7-7, with a 4.47 ERA. He also had a complete-game, five-hitter in a May win.

For 1990, Smithberg was someone the Padres were watching.

"We really think a lot of him," Padre director of player development Tom Romenesko told The Los Angeles Times that April. "We felt enough for him last year that we moved him from Riverside to triple A, and he held his own."

Smithberg split 1990 between Las Vegas and high-A Riverside, pitching 79 innings between them. Part of that limited workload was a strained ligament in an elbow, according to The Chicago Tribune. It was the Padres goal to get him healthy for 1991.

"He's a big, strong kid with a good arm. He's a second-round pick and obviously, we've got money invested in him," Padres minor league director Ed Lynch told The Tribune. "He's 6-foot-3 and 195 (pounds). We want to make sure he is ready to give us a year that will get him to the big leagues."

But Smithberg wouldn't make the big leagues for nearly three more seasons, until September 1993, but not with the Padres, with the Athletics. Smithberg was released by the Padres at the start of the 1992 season, signing with Oakland later that year.

Smithberg made the majors early that September, soon making his debut against the Blue Jays and their three Hall of Famers.

On Sept. 20, Smithberg finished out a Todd Van Poppel 2-1 win. He came in with fans wanting Van Poppel to finish it himself, The AP wrote.

"I heard the boos," Smithberg told The AP. "I knew they wanted Todd to finish it. I was just glad I was able to end it with us still ahead."

Smithberg pitched two more games for Oakland in 1994, giving up four earned runs in 2.1 innings, ending his major league career by July. His professional career ended that year, playing out the season back at AAA Tacoma.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

1990 Jacksonville Expos

Features on each member of the 1990 Jacksonville Expos, AA affiliate of the Montreal Expos. Players featured are as included in that year's team set. Click on the player's name to read more.

1990 Jacksonville Expos (27)
1 - Bret Barberie: Bret Barberie was a scrapper-type infielder. He played in six major league seasons.
2 - Brian Barnes: A scout's chance on Brian Barnes paid off with Barnes getting time in five major league seasons. 
3 - Chris Bennett: Chris Bennett made the Expos winter roster in 1989. He couldn't make an in-season major league roster.
4 - Kent Bottenfield: Kent Bottenfield had tough insides, took them to an 18-7 record in 1999.
5 - Mario Brito: Mario Brito pitched well in the 1990 AA playoffs. He never got the chance to pitch well in the majors.
6 - Lorenzo Bundy: Lorenzo Bundy wanted teams to hit. He now wants them to score as the Dodgers third base coach.
7 - Jeff Carter: Jeff Carter believed he could fill a major league relief role. He made the bigs for five outings.
8 - Archi Cianfrocco: Archi Cianfrocco gained confidence at the plate, enough for seven seasons in the bigs.
9 - Greg Colbrunn: Greg Colbrunn hit a mammoth home run in his 11th major league season. He hit 98 total.
10 - Nardi Contreras: Nardi Contreras didn't have big name but he served as a major league coach for the White Sox, Mariners and Yankees.
11 - Wilfredo Cordero: Wilfredo Cordero had physical ability and good hands, enough for 14 major league seasons.
12 - Terrel Hansen: Terrel Hansen got his call to the bigs, but didn't get into a game. He never got back.
13 - Cesar Hernandez: Cesar Hernandez made differences in major league games, good ones and bad ones.
14 - Bryn Kosco: Bryn Kosco had a career day in college. He played nine seasons as pro, but he never made the bigs.
15 - Bob Malloy: Bob Malloy made the jump from single-A to the majors. He had two brief stays.
16 - Jerry Manuel: Jerry Manuel took his plan to the 2000 AL Manager of the Year award with the White Sox. 
17 - Omer Munoz: Omer Munoz never got a chance to play in the majors. He played 11 seasons.
18 - Chris Nabholz: Chris Nabholz came back from injury, got some breaks and pitched in six major league seasons.
19 - Bob Natal: Bob Natal contributed to a win after getting recalled from the minors. He played in six major league seasons.
20 - Trevor Penn: Trevor Penn saw the ball well after returning in 1995. It was his final year as a pro.
21 - Yorkis Perez: Yorkis Perez claimed his part of the plate. He did so in nine major league seasons.
22 - Tim Peters: Tim Peters pitched well in an exhibition against the big club in Montreal. He never got into a regular season big league game.
23 - Hector Rivera: Hector Rivera's career was slowed by injury. He only played three seasons.
24 - Miguel Santana: Miguel Santana tried to stretch a single-A hit too far in 1988. His career never stretched to the majors.
25 - Tim Sossamon: Tim Sossamon had good velocity in his first season. He eventually played five, but he never made the bigs.
26 - John Vander Wal: John Vander Wal liked fastballs. He hit them in 14 major league seasons.
27 - Darrin Winston: Darrin Winston never gave up. He then made the bigs. He passed away in 2008 at age of 42.

Kent Bottenfield, Tough Insides - 1367

Kent Bottenfield and his Cardinals fell behind quickly in this early July 1999 game, but the Cardinals and Bottefield came back.

Bottenfield helped limit the damage from the mound. He also helped at the plate, knocking a two-run double in the 10-4 St. Louis win.

"That's a tough way to play," Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa told The Associated Press, "but one thing about Bottenfield, he's got tough insides."

Bottenfield was in the midst of a career year that season in 1999. That victory July 1 gave him 12 on the year, a win total that helped earn him an All-Star nod.

All that success came in his seventh season in the majors - his 14th as a pro. Used as both a starter and a reliever previously in the bigs, his single-season win total never topped five.

Bottenfield's career began in 1986, taken by the Expos in the fourth round of the draft out of Madison High School in Portland, Oregon.

Bottenfield started in the rookie Gulf Coast League, then moved to single-A Burlington in 1987 and single-A West Palm Beach in 1988. He made AA Jacksonville in 1989 and AAA Indianapolis in 1991.

He debuted in Montreal in July 1992. In 10 outings, four starts, he went 1-2, with a 2.23 ERA. He then split 1993 between the Expos and the Rockies, traded mid-year. Overall, he went 5-10, with a 5.07 ERA.

Bottenfield got 16 outings, one start in 1994 between the Rockies and the Giants. He then spent all of 1995 back in the minors.

His career revived in 1996 as a reliever for the Cubs. He got 48 relief outings that year and 64 the next. In late-June 1997, Bottenfield was called upon to shut down an Astros rally. He just had to get past Jeff Bagwell. Bottenfield struck Bagwell out.

"That's when I seem to pitch my best," Bottenfield told The Chicago Tribune. "That's fun. Those are the situations I want to be in every day."

The next year, with the Cardinals, Bottenfield started to get into different situations. In 44 outings, he got 17 starts. Overall, he went 4-6. He then turned full-time starter and had his breakout season in 1999.

Bottenfield went 18-7 for the Cardinals in 1999, getting 31 starts. His ERA came in at 3.97. In late-July, Bottenfield talked to The St. Paul Pioneer Press about how his win total was really in the hands of his team.

"The record is nice. Goals are nice," Bottenfield told The Pioneer Press. "But wins are out of my control."

After that season, Bottenfield played just two more years, picking up just 10 more wins. He last played in 2001 with the Astros.

Bottenfield has since gone on to coach in college. He has also gone into ministry. He was named the head coaching position at Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2012, taking over after the passing of the school's previous head coach, Hall of Famer Gary Carter. Bottenfield continues in that role for 2014.

He started his ministry using baseball in 2004, after he survived a 99 percent blockage in his heart, according to The Springfield State Journal-Register. He also performs Christian music.

"I realized there's a reason for me to be here and I want to take advantage of it," Bottenfield told The State Journal-Register in 2009. "The experience made me stronger; it was a defining moment."
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,599
Made the Majors: 784 - 49.0%-X
Never Made Majors: 815-51.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 343-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 199
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