Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hector Roa, Just Like - 17

Originally published July 14, 2015
Hector Roa Jr. started his professional career at the age of 17 in 2012 and he's continuing it in 2015. To The Albany Times-Union in June 2015, Roa explained why he got into the game in the first place.

"I love this sport, and I don't know where I'd be without my father," Roa Jr. told The Times-Union. "I want to be just like him."

Hector Roa Sr. had his own long professional career. He played well over a decade, making multiple stops in the Braves system, Mexico, independent ball and in Taiwan. Throughout that long career, though, Roa Sr. never made a stop in the majors.

The father's career began in 1990, signed by the Braves as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

Roa started with the Braves at three levels, rookie Pulaski, inthe rookie Gulf Coast League and at single-A Sumter. He hit .269 between them, going 1 for 3 in an August game with Sumter.

Roa played 1991 between single-A Macon and high-A Miami. His 1992 season was spent mostly at high-A Durham. He also got two games at AA Greenville. He hit .280 that year.

He then spent 1993 completely at Greenville. He hit .246 that year, with six home runs. One of his home runs won a July game late. He was also named that month by The Associated Press as a player to watch at AA.

Roa returned to Greenville for 1994. He also returned to Durham. For 1995, he got into 40 games at AAA Richmond, but it was as high as he would get. He played the rest of the 1995 season in Mexico.

For 1996, Roa made the big move to Taiwan. He played that year and the next for the Uni-President Lions. He had immediate success, hitting a home run in his first at bat and then later hitting for the cycle. He hit .344 his first year there and .317 his second. He helped the team win the 1996 Taiwan Series.

He returned to North America for 1998, playing for independent New Jersey and in Mexico. He then continued in independent ball, playing at Massachusetts, Rio Grande Valley, Yuma and Victoria. He last played in 2003 for Victoria.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

John Graham, Baseball Town - 20

John Graham started work for the Auburn Astros in 1988 and he quickly learned the town was a baseball town, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Graham moved up to become the team's general manager in 1990, and he explained to The Times the connection between the game and the community.

"They all dedicate themselves to baseball here," Graham told The Times. "It's something you see in Little League, but not in minor-league baseball. Locals take in the players here. That's a dying trend. They feed them, they mother them."

Graham arrived in Auburn after starting work in baseball more than a decade earlier in his native Virginia.

Graham's first recorded time in pro baseball came in 1977. He worked for the Peninsula Pilots through 1987, eventually as vice president and general manager of the club. He watched Peninsula win the 1977 and 1980 Carolina League championships. He later called those wins as the biggest thrill of his tenure with the club.

Graham also sometimes served as Peninsula's broadcaster, winning Peninsula Sportscaster of the Year honors in 1986 and 1987. He later broadcast Auburn games.

"Baseball has always been a big part of my life," Graham said in the 1991 Auburn program, according to Astroland.net. "Watching former players make it to the majors is always a pleasure."

Graham served as Auburn assistant general manager in 1988, then business manager in 1989 and then general manager in 1990 and 1991.

Graham appears to have then returned home to Virgina and possibly worked with later incarnations of the Pilots,
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,612
Made the Majors:1,023-39.2%
Never Made Majors:1,589-60.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 424
10+ Seasons in the Minors:261

Mike Eatinger, Different Ballplayer - 18

Mike Eatinger readied to return to the field in fall 1991 for instructional league after a season lost to a cancer diagnosis, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Eatinger went through chemotherapy and radiation treatment, coming out the other side ready to play again with a new perspective, The Tribune wrote.

"I'm going to be a different ballplayer, I'll tell you that," Eatinger told The Tribune. "I'd go 0-for-5 and I'd throw helmets and break bats. None of that. The sun will rise the next day ... "

Returned that fall and then played again in 1992. That season back in the pros, however, turned out to be his last.

Eatinger's career began in 1989, taken by the White Sox in the fifth round of the draft out of the University of California, Riverside.

At Riverside, Eatinger won first team all-conference honors in 1988 and second team in 1989. He went 6 for 8 in a May 1989 double-header, knocking in five runs.

With the White Sox, Eatinger played his first season between the rookie Gulf Coast League, short-season Utica and single-A South Bend. He got into 57 games between them, hitting .270.

He then played all of 1990 at South Bend, getting into 129 games and hitting .264. He also knocked in 57 and stole 16 bases.

Then came the cancer, found in his lymph nodes. He went through chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant. Eatinger found out early in the season, before he even got into a game. His teammates offered support before he left to undergo treatment, The Riverside Press-Enterprise wrote.

"I never wanted to leave these guys, but I knew I had to," Eatinger told The Press-Enterprise. "I was the first one out of the locker room, but I looked back and promised myself I'd be back. It was like a scene out of a movie. I was just waiting for the background music."

Eatinger returned for fall instructional league and then won a spot with high-A Sarasota for 1992. He got into 71 games, hitting .244, ending his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,611
Made the Majors:1,023-39.2%
Never Made Majors:1,588-60.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 424
10+ Seasons in the Minors:261

Mike Shepherd, Head Start - 10

Originally published July 4, 2015
Mike Shepherd's pro career started as a teenager. He signed with the Braves in August 1988, according to his ProCards card. He was still 18 years old.

He went on from signing that year to play his first games in the Brave system in 1989 in the rookie Gulf Coast League.

Though he got a head start on the pros, Shepherd's career ended up being brief. He played just two seasons. He never made single-A.

Shepherd took the field in 1989 for the Braves having played some college ball at Otero Junior College in his home state of Colorado. He grew up in Colorado Springs.

Shepherd played his first season in the GCL. The right-hander got into 27 games for the team, posting an ERA of 1.43. He went 3-3 and picked up six saves.

He then moved to rookie Pulaski for 1990, but he couldn't keep up what he started in his first season. His ERA rose to 4.02. He also got into fewer games, 18. He went 2-5, starting one game and picking up one save. It was his final season as a pro.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tyrone Scott, Live Arm - 19

Originally published Jan. 13, 2016
Scouts had their eye on Leuzinger High School hurler Tyrone Scott in April 1989, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In fact, the California teen had everything scouts looked for in a pitcher, Orioles scout Paul Fryer told The Times.

"He's fluid, he's got a live arm and he's an athlete," Fryer told The Times. "I think somebody will draft him."

Scott did get drafted and that somebody turned out to be the Astros. He played four seasons, but never made AA.

Scott's career began that year, taken by Houston in the fourth round of the draft out of Leuzinger.

At Leuzinger, Scott helped his team to a March 1989 win, striking out 14 while giving up just two hits, The Times wrote. It was enough for his coach to see big things for Scott.

"I feel Tyrone Scott will be a No. 1 draft choice for someone in June," coach Derrel Thomas told The Times afterward. "There has been a lot of interest in him. I get calls from scouts asking when Tyrone is pitching. They speak very highly of him."

After running into an elbow injury in April, Scott made it back in time for the draft. Still, the injury and inconsistency led him to drop from the once-hope-for heights of the first round.

"I didn't really perform the way I wanted to this year," Scott told The Times after being drafted. "If I pitched the way I know I could, I think I would have been taken in the first round."

With the Astros, Scott started play in the rookie Gulf Coast League. In 12 games, six starts, there, Scott went 0-6, with a 6.23 ERA.

He moved to short-season Auburn for 1990, going 5-5 over 15 starts, with a 4.52 ERA. He spent his 1991 season at single-A Burlington, going 7-14, then played 1992 between Burlington and single-A Asheville. Overall, he had a 5.97 ERA that year, ending his career.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fletcher Thompson, His Speed - 18

Originally published Jan. 4, 2016
Fletcher Thompson showed off his speed in college and in the pros.

In college, he stole 38 bases for Nicholls State in 1989, then swiped another 40 in 1990 before being drafted by the Astros.

In the pros, he stole 37 bases in his second season, then 47 in his fifth. He stole 118 bases over his six-season pro career.

None of Thompson's stolen bases, however, came in the majors. He made it as high as AA, but he never made the bigs.

Thompson's pro career began in 1990, taken by the Astros in the 11th round of the draft out of Nicholls State University in his native Louisiana.

At Nicholls, Thompson hit .338 in his 1989 campaign. He had team highs in stolen bases (40) and triples (4) in 1990.

With the Astros, Thompson started at short-season Auburn. He hit .286 in 59 games, stealing 17. He then moved to single-A Burlington for 1991. He stole his 37 bases there, while hitting .271 over 116 games.

Thompson isn't recorded as playing in 1992. He returned to the field in 1993 at AA Jackson. He hit .294 there over 98 games and stole 23 bases. He reached on an error and scored in an August game and reached on a single and got stranded in another.

He returned to Jackson for 1994, hitting a single in a playoff game. Overall, he hit .263 in 121 games and stole 28.

Thompson then moved to independent ball, playing 1995 with Alexandria. He stole a career-high 47 bases that year and hit .343. He also played 11 games at AA El Paso with the Brewers.

Thompson's final season came in 1996 with the Orioles at high-A High Desert and AA Bowie. He hit .266 over 84 games, ending his career.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jeff Ingram, Big Hit - 5

Jeff Ingram's University of New Orleans Privateers needed a big hit in this March 1988 game and Ingram provided it.

In the bottom of the eighth, his team down by one, Ingram knocked a single to tie the game against South Carolina, according to The Greenwood Index-Journal.

Ingram went on from New Orleans to turn pro. His pro career, though, ended up brief. He played two seasons, making it to single-A, but no higher.

Ingram's pro career began in 1989, taken by the White Sox the previous year in the 43rd round of the draft out of New Orleans. He went to New Orleans out of Shawnee Mission High School in Kansas.

Ingram started with the White Sox at short-season Utica. The catcher got into 50 games and hit .292. He also hit two home runs, knocking in 20.

He then played 1990 between single-A South Bend and Utica. He hit .286 over 61 games at South Bend and .228 over 29 games at Utica, marking the extent of his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,610
Made the Majors:1,023-39.2%
Never Made Majors:1,587-60.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 424
10+ Seasons in the Minors:261

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