Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Enoch Simmons, Much Potential - 2281

Loyola Marymount basketball player Enoch Simmons tried out a new sport in summer 1987 and he was pleased with how it turned out, according to The Los Angeles Times.

That sport was baseball and it gave him something to think about the next summer after being drafted by the Athletics.

"I did well, and I realized how much potential I had," Simmons told The Times. "It was a confidence builder. . . . I think if I'm out there 10 months, 12 months of the year, I'll be much better because I'll be consistent."

Simmons eventually did choose his new sport and he went on to a pro career that spanned seven seasons. He made AAA, but not the majors.

Simmons' career began that year in 1988, taken by the Athletics in the fourth round of the draft out of Loyola.

Playing for the basketball team in February 1986, Simmons was credited with the three-point play that gave the team a win over Portland. He played in a total of 116 games for the Lions, scoring 1,379 career points, 14th all-time at the school.

With the Athletics, Simmons started in the rookie Arizona League. He hit .307 in 45 games. He also suffered a broken nose in an on-field brawl, according to The Times. He returned to the basketball team after the season to finish out his eligibility.

"I'd regret it if I missed my last chance," Simmons told The Times that November. "I feel more relaxed about basketball this year. Now I don't feel like I'm missing something (baseball). I feel I'm playing a lot better because of that."

Simmons spent his second season between single-A Modesto and short-season Southern Oregon. In 71 games, he hit .218. He went 2 for 4 with a double in a July game for Southern Oregon.

The outfielder moved to Madison for 1990, but his average sunk further. He got into 117 games, but hit just .184 with three home runs.

He returned to Modesto for all of 1991, then hit high-A Reno in 1992. He hit .260 at Reno. He split 1993 between three levels, including his first 43 games at AA at Huntsville.

He got into 75 games between Huntsville and AAA Tacoma in 1994. He knocked a two-run double in a June Tacoma win. He hit .239 overall. It was his final season as a pro.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 1,992
Made the Majors: 891-44.7%
Never Made Majors:1,101-55.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 382
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220

Lee Tinsley, Very Satisfying - 2282

Originally published March 11, 2012
Lee Tinsley went into enough of a slump in late July 1995 to be benched. But, by September, he'd worked with Red Sox hitting coach Jim Rice and felt he might be back on track, The Hartford Courant wrote.

"I felt better up there," Tinsley told The Courant after a game where he doubled and scored the team's first run. "It's hard to break out when you're sitting, so hopefully I can find my stroke in the next week. I can definitely feel my timing coming back.''

Despite the benching, Tinsley was concluding his best season to date and, perhaps, the best season of his five-year major league career. Tinsley hit .285 for the Red Sox over 100 games played.

Tinsley had that season with the Red Sox in his ninth season as a pro. His first season as a pro came in 1987, taken by the Athletics in the first round of the draft, out of Shelby County High School in Kentucky.

Tinsley started with short-season Medford, hitting .174 in 45 games. He returned to the Northwest League in 1988, hitting .250 at Southern Oregon. That August, Tinsley picked up three hits in a game, including a home run, in a win.

Tinsley moved to single-A Madison in 1989, staying there for 1990. He made AA Huntsville in 1991. He was also traded, to the Indians in July with another player for Brook Jacoby.

He got his first look at AAA in 1992, at Colorado Springs, then he arrived in the Mariners system, taken off waivers. It was the Mariners who first brought Tinsley to the majors.

Tinsley debuted with the Mariners in April 1993, getting into 11 games before spending the rest of the season at AAA Calgary.

Traded to the Red Sox in March 1994, Tinsley got into 78 games that year, hitting .222. He then returned for those 100 games in 1995.

In early July 1995, Tinsley failed to produce in crucial situations in the first three games of a series with the Tigers. In the finale, though, Tinsley hit the game-winner, a bases-loaded single.

"It was very satisfying," Tinsley told The Associated Press afterward. "It lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders."

Starting 1996, Tinsley was with the Phillies, sent there in a January trade. But his stay was brief, 31 games. He got just 7 hits in 51 at bats there, striking out 22 times. He was sent back to the Red Sox in June.

On the year, Tinsley hit .221 in 123 games. He finished out his major league career in 1997, with 49 games back with the Mariners.

Tinsley, though, continued playing in the minors through 2000, playing in Mexico his final season. Tinsley has since started a post-playing career as a coach. He served in 2001 as hitting coach for short-season Yakima.

By 2006, he was first-base coach for the Diamondbacks. He moved to the same job with the Mariners in 2009, serving through 2010.

In 2007, Tinsley was also the Diamondbacks' outfield coach, watching over the progress of young Chris Young.

"He's getting that aura of when that ball’s hit out there," Tinsley told The Arizona Republic that year of Young, "they (hitters) kind of duck their head a little bit and say, 'Well, you know what, he's going to catch it.' "
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 1,991
Made the Majors: 891-44.8%
Never Made Majors:1,100-55.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 382
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220

Ed Puig, Strong Start - 625

Originally published April 22, 2011
Ed Puig started off strong, this night in late July 1986. In the first 4.2 innings for single-A Reno, Puig let just three runners reach base, The Modesto Bee wrote.

Then, in the sixth, Puig allowed three more base runners, a fourth wasn't on base long, as he circled the bases for a grand slam, The Bee wrote.

On the season, Puig pitched well. He owned a 14-9 record, struck out 130 and posted an ERA just over 4.

But, despite those early efforts, Puig never did well enough to get to the majors, getting as high as AAA, but no higher.

Puig's career began in 1985, signed by the Padres. Puig pitched that season and the next, at single-A Reno. He went 9-7 his first season, with a 4.86 ERA, then went 14-9 that second season.

His first May was not even out and The Bee described the opposing Puig as having "a big breaking curve and an effective changeup." The description came in a game where Puig went seven innings and gave up six hits.

In 1986, Puig owned a 4-1 record and a 1.90 ERA by late May, helped along by a May three-hitter. That was followed by a June five-hitter. In July, Puig made the California League All-Star team, a game where Puig picked up the loss, after giving up a home run in the second inning.

By 1987, Puig was with the Brewers, playing at single-A Stockton, and getting a one-game look at AA El Paso. At Stockton, Puig went 11-8, with a 3.29 ERA.

He hit El Paso for all of 1988. In 1989. Puig was invited to spring training, after a rash of injuries. But he was sent back to AA. He did get a short look at AAA Denver for 12 games.

Puig split 1990 between the two levels again, returning to Denver for just 11 outings in 1991, ending his affiliation with the Brewers.

He played in the minors through 1995, in the Royals and Expos systems, finishing out his 11-season professional career without making the majors.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mike Mohler, Big Thing - 2267

Oakland reliever Mike Mohler earned this victory in this July 1993 game by going two innings without giving up a hit, according to The Associated Press.

This win was also the rookie Mohler's first in the majors.

"I figured I'd get it sometime during the year," Mohler told The AP afterward. "As a reliever, wins and losses aren't the big thing. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."

Mohler went on to play in a total of nine major league seasons. In one of those seasons, though, his win total, or more accurately his loss total, visibly got to him.

By the time he was done, though, Mohler had seen time in 347 major league games and had a career ERA of 4.99.

Mohler's career began in 1989, taken by the Athletics in the 42nd round of the draft out of Nicholls State University.

Mohler played his first professional season in 1990, at single-A Madison. He moved to high-A Modesto and AA Huntsville in 1991, then returned to Huntsville in 1992.

In 1993, Mohler made Oakland. He also stayed up for the entire year. He got into 42 games for the Athletics, starting nine. He went 1-6, with a 5.60 ERA.

Mohler played just a single game for Oakland in 1994. He spent the rest of his time recovering in the minors from shoulder surgery

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, it was during his recovery that he got to watch other left-handers on TV, seeing how they set up hitters. He incorporated that approach into his game.

He returned to Oakland for 28 games in 1995. He had a 3.04 ERA. For 1996, Mohler got into a career high 72 games. He went 6-3, with a 3.67 ERA.

That June, he came back from an outing where he gave up four earned runs with an outing where he closed out a game without giving up a run.

"It was big," Mohler told The San Francisco Examiner after that game. "It doesn't make up for what I did yesterday, but it puts it a little further behind me."

Mohler couldn't put his 1997 season behind him fast enough. He went 1-10, with a 5.13 ERA over 62 outings, 10 starts.

He took his 10th loss in late August. Afterward, a frustrated Mohler was described by The AP as storming out of the clubhouse.

"Mike's had a tough year," Oakland Manager Art Howe told The AP. "He just can't seem to buy a break."

Mohler returned to Oakland for another 57 games in 1998. He moved to the Cardinals for 1999, getting into 48 games there. He then played two more seasons in the majors, moving to the Indians in mid-2000 and the Diamondbacks for 13 final outings in 2001, ending his career.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 1,991
Made the Majors: 891-44.8%-X
Never Made Majors:1,100-55.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 382-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220

Scott Shockey, Made It Back - 2278

Originally published May 26, 2010
Scott Shockey made AAA Tacoma for a brief stint in 1990, but for 1991, it was back for seasoning at AA Huntsville.

In 70 games for the Stars, his season hadn't been going well. He hit .240 with just four home runs. Then, it got worse, about as bad as it could, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Attempting to break up a double play, Shockey's foot got stuck, his knee gave out, according to The Times. Total reconstructive surgery ended his year and made him lose out on all the next year.

Doctors, The Times said, put his chances of coming back at no better than a coin flip.

"You can tell someone the odds, but you can't tell how much desire they have," Shockey told The Times in 1993, playing for AAA Tacoma. "I don't like being told I can't do anything."

Shockey was taken by the Athletics in the seventh round of the 1989 draft out of Pepperdine. He played that year at short-season Southern Oregon.

For 1990, Shockey began at single-A Madison, hitting .261 with 10 home runs with the Muskies. One of those home runs came off a rehabing Juan Nieves May 21, according to The Milwaukee Journal.

Then came high-A Modesto and an average jump to .325 and a level jump to AAA Tacoma. With the Tacoma Tigers, Shockey played 13 games, hitting .279.

Then came 1991, Huntsville. On July 4, Shockey did well, hitting a triple and scoring on a sac-fly. The blown-out knee came later that summer. Surgery and rehab and Shockey was ready for 1993.

While Shockey made it back, and to AAA Tacoma, he wouldn't make it to the majors. He played 21 games at Tacoma in 1993, then 28 back at Huntsville for 1994 and Shockey was done.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 1,990
Made the Majors: 890-44.7%
Never Made Majors:1,100-55.3%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 381
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bert Bradley, Lessons Learned - 2284

Todd Van Poppel's career didn't start as fast as he or anyone in the Athletics organization had hoped.

His pitching coach at AA Huntsville in 1991 Bert Bradley believed those early troubles had been to Van Poppel's benefit, according to The Associated Press.

"He's had to learn a lot of lessons that he may not have learned if he'd been winning all the time," Bradley told The AP. "The most significant thing he's learned is how to control himself through adversity. . . . He's pitched well enough to be 12-5 rather than 5-11."

Bradley that year used the lessons he'd learned in a career that dated back to 1979. He played in nine of those seasons, making the majors for six games.

Bradley has since used those lessons in a career that continues in 2015. He's spent that last decade teaching lessons to young pitchers in the Giants organization as the team's minor league pitching coordinator.

Bradley's career began in 1979, taken by the Athletics in the 27th round of the draft out of Brigham Young University.

Bradley played his first season between three levels, including five starts at AA Waterbury and six outings at AAA Ogden. He played his second season at AA New Haven. He went 3-15 in 24 starts there.

He returned to AAA in 1982, getting 17 outings at Tacoma. He then played all of 1993 back at Tacoma. It was that September that Bradley made the majors.

Bradley got into six games in relief for the Athletics. He gave up six earned in 8.1 innings. He debuted Sept. 3 and played his final game Oct. 2. That was the extent of his major league career.

Bradley returned to the minors. He played parts of the next three seasons at AAA, He was traded to the Yankees for 1985, sent there with Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. His final time came in 1987 at single-A Madison back with the Athletics.

His time with Madison also marked the beginning of his coaching career. He served as the team's pitching coach that year. He stayed at Madison for four seasons. He made AA Huntsville in 1991 and then AAA Tacoma 1993.

By 1999, Bradley had moved to the Giants system. He coached that year at high-A Bakersfield.

He moved to the minor league pitching coordinator spot for 2004. He's continuing in that role in 2015, helping the team develop the pitchers to win three championships.

Since 2010, he's gotten to watch over his son Ryan Bradley. In 2011, he got to spend more time with his son as fill-in pitching coach at single-A Augusta, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

"I miss being on the field all the time some," Bradley told The Chronicle. "I like doing what I'm doing in my job, but I like this, especially with my son here pitching. That's awesome."
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 1,990
Made the Majors: 890-44.7%
Never Made Majors:1,100-55.3%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 381
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220 

Mike Conte, Dual Role - 2276

Mick Fennell made his choice of colleges based on his choice of positions. He wanted to both pitch and play in the field, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Coach Mike Conte at California University of Pennsylvania allowed him to do that, The Post-Gazette wrote.

"There is precedent at Cal for dual-role players and Mick fits that role very well because of his talents," Conte told The Post-Gazette. "He has tremendous work ethic and a great passion for the game."

Conte turned coach after being a player himself. He also welcomed the dual-role Fennell after playing a dual role himself as a pro, just not at the same time.

Conte started his career in the field, then turned to pitching later. He didn't make the majors in either role.

Conte's career began in 1989, taken by the Athletics in the 19th round of the draft out of Virginia Tech. 

Conte played his first year with the Athletics an outfielder at short-season Southern Oregon. He hit .302 in 61 games. He went 2 for 7 in a July 15-inning game.

He split 1990 between single-A Madison and high-A Modesto. He it .215 between them with 10 home runs.

Conte played 1991 mostly at AA Huntsville. He hit .228 in 104 games there. He knocked in a run on a single in an August game. He drove in two on a double in another August contest.

Conte returned to Huntsville and the outfield for 1992, hitting .238. He also got into five games in relief as a pitcher. He then took on his other role full time.

Conte got into 24 games, starting seven, playing between short-season Southern Oregon and high-A San Bernardino. Between the two levels, he had an ERA of 8.86. It was his final season as a pro.

Conte then turned to coaching, starting as an assistant coach at California in 1994. He made head coach in 1997 and he's continued in that role in 2015. Through 2013, he had a record of 485-330-4 and his teams had won two conference championships.

In 2010, Conte watched over a young Randy Sturgill, who had come back from a shoulder injury to be a top pitcher on the team, according to The Pittsburgh Tribune.

"To rebound from an injury like that is amazing," Conte told The Tribune. "It's a credit to his work ethic and his level of seriousness. He is the epitome of what a top pitcher should be."
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 1,989
Made the Majors: 890-44.8%
Never Made Majors:1,099-55.2%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 381
10+ Seasons in the Minors:220
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