Monday, January 16, 2017

Lonell Roberts, Pretty Excited - 9

Draft day 1989 arrived and the Blue Jays came calling for Bloomington High School's Lonell Roberts.

Speaking to The San Bernardo County Sun afterward, Roberts looked forward to the pro challenge.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Roberts told The Sun. "I kind of knew I was going to get drafted, but I wasn't sure by who and how high."

The Blue Jays selected Roberts in the eighth round of the draft, sending Roberts on to start his career at rookie Medicine Hat. He went on to play for more than a decade, making AAA, but never making the majors.

Roberts signed with the Blue Jays that year in 1989 and then played 29 games for Medicine Hat. He hit .141, with six RBI.

He returned to Medicine Hat for 1990. He singled, stole a base and scored in a July game. He got into 38 games and hit .212 overall.

Roberts moved to single-A Myrtle Beach for 1991, then short-season St. Catharines and briefly AA Knoxville for 1992.

Roberts didn't get regular time at AA until 1995, after going through single-A Hagerstown and high-A Dunedin. In June 1994 for Dunedin, Roberts went 2 for 4, with a double.

Roberts played both 1995 and 1996 at Knoxville, hitting .291 in 58 games in 1996. He played most of 1997 at AAA Syracuse.

To start the 1997 season, though, Roberts became part of an unusual trade, traded essentially for himself. Sent to the Rangers that spring, the two clubs couldn't agree on the player to be named later as compensation. The Rangers then had to send him back, Roberts completing the trade by returning to the Blue Jays.

Roberts did move systems for 1998, to the Braves. He played that year at AA Greenville and the next at AAA Richmond. He hit .262 over that year at Richmond, marking the end of his career.

Roberts has since gone on to be an instructor, teaching teens and college players the game. He's also coached in high school. In 2017, he's listed as an instructor with The Hitting Pro in Corona, Ca. In 2015, he posted a video of himself working with kids.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,509
Made the Majors:1,009-40.2%
Never Made Majors:1,500-59.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 419
10+ Seasons in the Minors:259-X

Chris Cassels, First Year - 14

Originally published Nov. 7, 2015
The Brewers were satisfied with the talent at Florida's Colonial Classic high school baseball tournament. They just had to point to a player they spotted two years earlier: Chris Cassels.

''Whenever you have teams in from all over the nation, it's good for the scouts,'' Brewers scout Jim Gabella told The Orlando Sentinel in March 1988. "It's good to see talent from other parts of the country and make comparisons to players you see here. Two years ago we got a good look at Chris Cassels Gonzalez Tate and ended up signing him, and he hit .382 his first year of pro ball."

Cassels had that hot start with the Brewers in 1987, but he couldn't keep it up. He went on to play in six seasons in the minors and seven more in independent ball. He never made AAA.

Cassels' career began in 1986, taken by Milwaukee in the 31st round of the draft out Pensacola, Fla.'s Gonzalez Tate High School.

Cassels didn't hit the field for the Brewers until 1987 at short-season Helena. He got into 60 games and hit .373. He had a sacrifice fly in an August game.

He moved to single-A Beloit for 1988. His average dropped to .277. He hit 11 home runs and had 60 RBI. His average then dropped again in 1989 at single-A Stockton to .242. Cassels returned to Stockton for 1990, hitting .284 over 93 games.

He then switched to the Expos system and made AA Harrisburg. He started strong there, hitting home runs on consecutive early-April nights. Overall, he hit .221, with 13 home runs.

Cassels got into one more minor league season, getting 40 games with the Expos at rookie ball and high-A in 1992, ending his affiliated career.

Cassels then is recorded as returning in 1995 with independent Rio Grande Valley. He hit .269. After another year off, he played 1997 at independent Tyler, then 1998 at Bayou. He made the 1998 Texas-Louisiana League All-Star team.

"It's an honor to make the All-Stars," Cassels told The Amarillo Globe-News of his 1998 selection. "When you know it's the other managers who voted on the team, it's an honor to make it.

He arrived at independent Greenville for 1999 and played there for two years. He then jumped to Baton Rouge and served as a player-manager for 2001 and 2002, ending his career.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Richard Orman, Another League - 7

Richard Orman made the jump to another league soon after his brief minor league career concluded.

He also became somewhat of a star.

A native of Aruba, Orman played a single season in the minors with the Blue Jays, entirely in rookie ball. However, by 1993, he'd made the jump to the Netherlands.

Playing baseball, or Hoofdklasse Honkbal, he eventually played nearly 20 seasons and amassed the most wins buy a lefthander in that league's history, 123 by 2009.

Orman's career in baseball began in 1989, signed by the Blue Jays out of his native Aruba.

Before joining the Blue Jays, Orman played for the Aruban national team in 1987 at the Pan American Games and the International Cup, according to Baseball-Reference's Bullpen.

Orman started with the Blue Jays in the Dominican Republic, earning MVP of his team, according to his Best card. The card also notes he graduated as a mechanical engineer from the school MTS Cesare Terzano.

Orman played his season at rookie Medicine Hat in 1990. He went 1-2 over 19 relief outings, turning in an 8.42 ERA.

Orman moved to the Netherlands in 1993, joining the Pioniers. He played 16 seasons with that club, before retiring and becoming a coach.

Orman, however, returned to play two more seasons with Door Neptunus. He helped Neptunas to the 2009 title.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,508
Made the Majors:1,009-40.2%
Never Made Majors:1,499-59.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 419
10+ Seasons in the Minors:258-X

Kyle Duey, His Spots - 5

Pressed into the starting rotation for the independent Amarillo Dillas in this July 1999 game, Kyle Duey shined, according to The Amarillo Globe-News.

Duey went into the ninth, striking out 10 and walking just one in the 3-2 win, The Globe-News wrote.

"Duey was awesome," Amarillo catcher Chris Anderson told The Globe-News afterward. "That's a lot fun to catch a pitcher like that. He hit his spots all game."

Duey hit those spots in a return to pro baseball after several seasons away. Duey played five seasons in the minors, mostly with the Blue Jays. He made AAA, but didn't make it higher. That 1999 campaign marked his sixth and final year in the pros.

Duey's pro career began in 1990, taken by the Blue Jays in the 32nd round of the draft out of the University of Portland.

At Portland, the reliever Duey saved seven games in 1990, still tied for seventh all time at the school. He also appeared 30 times that year, the fourth most at the school.

Duey started with the Blue Jays at rookie Medicine Hat. He took the loss in a July game against Salt Lake. He went 4-6 overall, with a 3.86 ERA in 15 outings, 11 starts.

He moved to single-A Myrtle Beach in 1991, as well as high-A Dunedin. He played all of 1992 at Dunedin in relief. He picked up seven wins and seven saves. He picked up his second save with an inning of work in a May game.

Duey hit AA Knoxville and then AAA Syracuse for 1993. He got into 11 games at Syracuse, picking up two wins and a save.

He started 1994 back at Knoxville and Syracuse before jumping to the Astros and AA Jackson. His final affiliated time came at the beginning of 1995 at Jackson. He then played out the year for Amarillo. He went 6-4, with a 3.24 ERA.

After three seasons where he isn't credited as playing, Duey returned to Amarillo for 1999. In another July game that summer, Duey helped touch off a brawl by hitting a rival hitter after a home run. He explained to The Globe-News afterward, the plunking served notice for sign stealing, not the home run.

"We battled out there," Duey told The Globe-News. "It was a good game."

Duey got into 18 games that summer, starting five. He went 3-1, with a 4.47 ERA, ending his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,507
Made the Majors:1,009-40.3%
Never Made Majors:1,498-59.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 419
10+ Seasons in the Minors:257

Tim Raley, Played For - 13

Originally published Nov. 28, 2015
Tim Raley college run at Wichita State University earned him a spot in the school's Hall of Fame in 2011.

His name remained in the school's record books a quarter century after he last played, still top-five then in hits, triples, runs scored and walks, according to

"It felt odd, just something I wasn't thinking about or expecting but it was great to get the news," Raley told of his reaction to the news.  "Being honored with the induction into the Shocker Hall of Fame caps off my career, but I never played for the awards or the honors."

Raley went on from Wichita State to play as a pro for five seasons. He made AA, but he couldn't make it higher.

Raley's pro career began in 1987, taken by the Brewers in the 27th round of the draft out of Wichita State.

At Wichita State, Raley hit a home run in a May 1987 game. He also won collegiate baseball All-American honors that year, along with conference Player of the Year honors.

Raley started with the Brewers at rookie Helena. He hit .337 over 59 games. He knocked a two-run double in an August game against Salt Lake.

He played 1988 at single-A Beloit. He hit .280 there. He then moved to single-A Stockton for 1989 and 1990. He picked up two hits in a July 1990 game.

Raley's final season came in 1991 with the Orioles at AA Hagerstown. He had a two-run triple in an April game. He then went 9 for 17 one week in July, hitting four doubles and a home run. He hit .244 over 80 games, ending his career.

Raley's son Patrick Raley has since followed his father into baseball, at least the college game. Patrick Raley played his senior season at UNC Charlotte in 2015.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mike Coolbaugh, Honored Life - 1

Mike Coolbaugh reflected on his brief life in the majors to The Houston Chronicle in 2005 - and his hopes to get back.

He'd made the bigs for all of 44 games over two seasons, first making it there after waiting more than a decade in the minors.

"It's a good life," Coolbaugh told The Chronicle. "You play a game you love and you get paid to do it. I love to compete, but the main thing is getting to the big leagues. I want to be back in the big leagues and see if I can't improve my game enough to get back there and be good enough to stay. That's the goal."

Coolbaugh's life itself ended up being all too brief. He played one more season after that one, then turned to a new career in coaching for 2007 with AA Tulsa. On July 22, while coaching first base, a line drive foul struck him in the neck. Taken to the hospital, died later that night.

Coolbaugh's career in baseball began in 1990, taken by the Blue Jays in the 16th round of the draft out of Roosevelt High School in San Antonio, Texas. He is the brother of former major leaguer Scott Coolbaugh.

He started with the Blue Jays at rookie Medicine Hat. He hit .190 in 58 games. He hit an extra-inning double in a July game. In another, the shortstop overthrew home after picking up a booted ball.

Coolbaugh moved to short-season St. Catharines for 1991 and 1992, then single-A Hagerstown in 1993. He hit .244 on the season at Hagerstown.

He made high-A Dunedin in 1994, going 3 for 5 with five RBI in a July win. He then hit AA Knoxville in 1995 and then AAA Colorado Springs with the Rockies in 1998.

Coolbaugh then stayed at AAA into 2001, joining the Brewers and AAA Indianapolis to start 2001. In 2000, Coolbaugh joined a team of minor leaguers readying to play for Team USA at the Olympics, though he got cut before play began.

In July 2001, in his 12th season as a pro, Coolbaugh finally made his major league debut. He picked up a hit in his first at bat and hit a home run in his third. He told reporters afterward he wasn't sure the home run was out.

"I was rounding second and I wasn't sure, but nobody said anything so I figured even if it was caught, I was going to keep running," Coolbaugh told Lee Newspapers. "I had a good time. I dreamed about this for a long time."

Coolbaugh got into 39 games for the Brewers that year, hitting .200, as well as a second home run. He returned to the bigs in 2002 with the Cardinals. He got into five final big league games and picked up one more hit.

Coolbaugh then continued back in the minors through 2006, last playing for the Royals at AAA Omaha.

Coolbaugh then moved into coaching, taking a job as a coach with the Rockies at AA Tulsa. His wife later recalled he took the job so his sons, age 3 and 5, could see him on the field.

The line drive foul came in the ninth inning of the July 22 game at Arkansas. He'd only joined the club weeks earlier. His wife gave birth to their third child after his passing.

"Our entire organization grieves at the death of Mike Coolbaugh," Rockies president Keli McGregor told reporters later. "We were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the accident on Sunday evening. Mike was a great husband, father, brother and friend to so many throughout the baseball community."

In the wake of his passing, baseball adopted a new rule requiring base coaches to wear helmets. An author wrote "Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America" telling his story. One of his sons, Jacob, made the 2016 Little League World Series with his San Antonio team.

Minor League Baseball also now gives out an annual award to "an individual who has shown outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field." The award is the Mike Coolbaugh Award.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,506
Made the Majors:1,009-40.3%
Never Made Majors:1,497-59.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 419
10+ Seasons in the Minors:257

Jason Reese, Another Sport - 2

The University of California Riverside started its 1990 season strong and reliever Jason Reese easily helped keep it that way.

Reese came on in the ninth inning and set the Chapman College hitters down in a row, preserving the 9-3 Riverside win, according to The San Bernardino County Sun.

Reese went on from UC Riverside to the pro ranks. His pro career, however, lasted just two seasons. He played both seasons in rookie ball.

Reese's pro career began that year, taken by the Blue Jays in the 23rd round of the draft out of Riverside.

Reese played at Riverside from 1988 to 1990. In a February game, Reese picked up a win by going seven innings, giving up two earned runs.

With the Blue Jays, Reese played his first season at rookie Medicine Hat. He got into 17 games, all in relief. He picked up one win and ended with an ERA of 6.48.

He played a second season in rookie ball at independent Pocatello. In 15 outings, four starts, he went 2-3. His ERA, though, came in at 9.44 over 34.1 total innings of work, ending his career.

Reese has since returned home to California and he continues in another sport, sport fishing. Reese is listed as the captain of the Hi-Count, offering day fishing trips to anglers out of San Diego.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,506
Made the Majors:1,009-40.3%
Never Made Majors:1,497-59.7%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 419
10+ Seasons in the Minors:257
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