Thursday, April 18, 2019

Colin Ryan, Baseball Mind - 22

Originally published May 5, 2014
Colin Ryan's college coach knew Ryan had the skills to make it in the pros, the coach told The Bangor Daily News in June 1989.

The occasion was the University of Maine catcher signing with the Royals after being drafted in the 14th round.

"Colin has the God-given tools they need," Maine coach John Winkin told The Daily News. "Nobody throws better and he has made great progress as a defensive catcher and as a handler of pitchers. And he's got a good baseball mind."

His baseball mind aside, Ryan never could use his tools enough for a long career. Ryan played just three seasons. He made AA briefly, but he never made it higher.

Ryan went to the University of Maine out of Newton North High School in Newtonville, Mass.

At Maine, Ryan was credited with helping the Maine pitching staff, as well as throwing out runners and picking them off first, according to The Daily News.

"He's done a heckuva' job handling our pitchers," Winkin told The Daily News in April 1988. "His instincts and judgement are much better. He's learned to make use of the pitchers' strengths."

With the Royals, Ryan started at short-season Eugene. He got into 37 games, hitting just .208. Ryan went to Eugene not knowing much about the city, he told The Eugene Register-Guard after arriving. He also changed baseball allegiances.

"I was a Boston Red Sox fan until Monday," Ryan told The Register-Guard early that June.

Ryan moved to single-A Appleton in 1990. He hit just .165 there over 86 games. He then played most of 1991 at high-A Baseball City. He also got five games at AA Memphis. Between the two levels, he hit .208. It was his final year as a pro.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Fred Russell, Hitting Now - 21

Originally published June 19, 2010
Fred Russell went 3 for 5, knocked in three and scored a run, helping the Eugene Emeralds to a wild 12-8 win.

It was enough for Eugene manager Paul Kirsch to single out the infielder for praise.

"Russell is playing the hell out of it right now," Kirsch told the Eugene Register Guard after the July 26, 1989 game.

While Russell was hitting well then, he never really hit well any other time. He also never made it to AA, let alone the majors.

Russell entered the Royals system in 1987, taken in the 51st round out of Compton Community College.

Russell's first taste of the minors came at short-season Eugene in 1988. Russell hit .272 for the Emeralds in 46 games. It would be his best batting average in four seasons.

He played five games at single-A Baseball City in 1989, going 1 for 10. The rest of the year, he spent back at Eugene, hitting a not-much-better .185.

As short-season Eugene began the season, Kirsch was high on his returning players, including Russell.

"The guys who were at extended spring should help us with their experience," Kirsch told the Register-Guard.

A couple days before the July 1989 praise from Kirsch, a Russell single led the Emeralds to a 3-1 win against Spokane.

Then came Appleton in the Midwest League for 1990 and a .264 average. Then high-A Baseball City for 1991. A .239 average there and Russell was done.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Sean Smith, Life Trajectory - 24

Years before he started in high school and turned pro with the Yankees, Sean Smith spent four months in the hospital, much of that time paralyzed due to Guillain–Barr√© syndrome, he told the website Rhody Beat years later.

"That experience shaped the trajectory of my life," Smith told the site.

Smith made it back from that to star in high school and play professionally in six seasons. He never made AA, but he did eventually find his faith, which has led him to become a pastor, Rhody Beat wrote.

Smith's baseball career began in 1990, taken by the Yankees in the 15th round of the draft out of Seekonk High in Massachusetts. Smith was also credited with his given first name, Michael Smith.

Smith started with the Yankees in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He started six games and ended with a 5.09 ERA. He returned to he GCL for 1991 and got another 11 starts. He went 2-4, with a 3.02 ERA.

Smith made single-A Greensboro in 1992. He went 9-9 on the year and had a 3.97 ERA. He went eight innings in an April contest and gave up only three hits.

After not being credited as pitching in 1993, he briefly returned to the mound and the GCL in 1994. In five relief outings, he gave up seven earned in 7.2 innings of work.

He returned for seven outings with independent Long Beach in 1995 and two outings with independent Rhode Island in 1996 to round out his career.

In 2019, Smith continues to serve as pastor at Stone Coast Community Church in Warren, R.I.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,105
Made the Majors:1,135-36.6%
Never Made Majors:1,970-63.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 470
10+ Seasons in the Minors:281

Joe Breeden, Most Important - 5

Originally published May 13, 2014
The basics of the catching position, Joe Breeden told Baseball America in 2008, are the ability to block the baseball, receive it and throw it.

"Those three things are the three most important," the Braves catching coordinator told Baseball America. "I'm not saying it's not important as far as tag plays, fielding bunts or pop-ups, but if you aren't very good at those three right there, it's going to be hard to proceed further."

Breeden learned those fundamentals of catching during his more than three decades in the game. He's served that time as catching instructor, minor league manager and a brief stint as a player himself.

Breeden's career in baseball began in 1979, signing with the Expos out of his native Virginia.

His playing career consisted of a single season with the Expos rookie-league club in Calgary and another with single-A Rocky Mount. The catcher hit .255 his first year and .190 his second.

From there, Breeden moved into coaching. He started in high school, then moved to the college ranks in 1984 as an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth, according to his ProCards card. From 1985 to 1988, he served as head coach at William and Mary.

Then, in 1988, he moved back to the pro ranks with the Royals. He started managing single-A Virginia, then moved to coaching at AA Memphis. For 1990, he moved to manage single-A Appleton.

That July, Breeden had the task of taking out a starter with a no-hitter intact. Breeden stayed with Appleton and the Royals through 1991. He then moved to the Marlins as the new team's minor league catching instructor.

In 1994, Breeden's task was helping catcher Benito Santiago get his catching career back on track, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote.

"Benito's really worked hard," Breeden told The Sun-Sentinel that March. "Every day he's been giving me a great effort. Now, he's coming to me and saying, `What are we going to do today?' That's all you can ask."

Breeden continued with the Marlins through 2001. He served as major league bench coach three of those seasons and bullpen coach in two.

He then went through the Yankees system, as coach and manager at high-A Tampa, served as major league coach with the Blue Jays in 2004 and catching coordinator with the Reds in 2006.

In 2007, Breeden arrived with the Braves, a job he continues for 2014. One of the catchers with whom he's worked with the Braves has been Evan Gattis. In February 2012, Breeden told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of the Gattis he saw. He also got Gattis to improve his game by losing weight.

"He works his butt off," Breeden told The Journal-Constitution. "You see him he's in there every morning in the weight room, not just lifting but stretching and flexibility. He needs more flexibility to be able to move the way he needs to move. Losing the weight has allowed him to move…. To me he's improved the most with his arm, just the accuracy and being able to have true carry all the time. It's getting better and better."

Monday, April 15, 2019

Keith Seiler, More Happy - 23

Keith Seiler wasn't sure if he'd sign, but his selection by the Yankees in 1989 meant his long-term goal neared reality, he told The Newport News Daily Press.

"It's been a dream of mine since little league and I'm happy finally to realize my dream," Seiler told The Daily Press. "I couldn't be more happy."

Seiler didn't sign that year, but he did sign the next. His career lasted five seasons. He never made the majors.

Seiler's career began that year in 1990, taken by the Yankees in the 21st round of the draft out of the University of Virginia.

Seiler started with the Yankees between the rookie Gulf Coast League and high-A Fort Lauderdale. The reliever got into eight games at Fort Lauderdale and gave up a single earned run in 16 innings.

He played 1991 largely at single-A Greensboro, but he also got a two-game look at AAA Columbus. He gave up on earned run in 2.1 innings at Columbus.

Seiler got another three-game look at Columbus in 1992, while also seeing Fort Lauderdale and high-A Prince William. He got into 28 outings between the three clubs, had a 4.21 ERA and saved five games.

He played 1993 at Prince William and saw a game at Columbus. He played his final campaign in 1994 at AA Albany-Colonie. He went 3-5 there over 48 outings, with a 4.21 ERA to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,104
Made the Majors:1,135-36.6%
Never Made Majors:1,969-63.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 470
10+ Seasons in the Minors:281

David Solseth, Could Hit - 25

Originally published May 8, 2014
David Solseth and the Eugene Emeralds had a good day in this August 1989 contest, according to The Eugene Register-Guard.

The team picked up nine hits, four of them doubles. Solseth had one of those doubles and another hit, The Register-Guard wrote.

"We've got a lot of guys who can hit," Solseth told The Register-Guard afterward.

Solseth's own hitting took him to a .303 average that year, knocking six home runs over 62 games. But he couldn't keep up that pace. Solseth played just two more seasons as a pro. He never made AA.

Solseth's career began in 1989, taken by the Royals in the 30th round of the draft out of Grand View College in Iowa.

With Eugene, the catcher played well. He picked up two hits in a June game, both doubles. He then went 2 for 5 in a July win. One of those hits came in the ninth, Solseth knocking in the run that proved the difference, The Register-Guard wrote.

Solseth hit one of his home runs, his second on the year, in a mid-July win. He also picked up two other hits in that game.

For 1990, Solseth moved to single-A Appleton. He went 1 for 3 in a May game, hitting a single. Overall, he hit just .212 in 94 games.

Solseth made high-A Baseball City in 1991 and moved to first base. He hit .235 there in 121 games there. That season, though, turned out to be his final season as a pro.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tate Seefried, Same Way - 22

Tate Seefried drew big comparisons as he came out of El Segundo High School in 1990, namely to another El Segundo alum - George Brett, according to The Los Angeles Times.

El Segundo coach John Stevenson, who also coached Brett, told The Times he had the same feeling about Seefried as he did about the Royals legend.

"If George had a bad day, there was always another game to be played," Stevenson told The Times of the Kansas City Royals All-Star third baseman. "I think Tate is the same way."

Seefried had himself enough days as a pro to span nine professional seasons. He spent time in three of those seasons at AAA, but he never made the majors.

Seefried's career began that year in 1990, taken by the Yankees in the third round of the draft out of El Segundo.

Seefried started with the Yankees in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He hit .157 in 52 games. He moved to short-season Oneonta for 1991. The first baseman hit .247 there, with seven home runs.

For 1992, he made single-A Greensboro. Home runs in consecutive games that August after an earlier slow stretch drew praise from his manager Trey Hillman, according to The Greensboro News & Record.

"He's doing a great job. He's driving the ball well to the opposite field and straight away," Hillman told The News & Record. "That's what we want. When he starts trying to pull the ball, that's when he starts to hurt himself."

Seefried hit 20 home runs for Greensboro that year, then 21 at high-A Prince William in 1993 and 27 at AA Albany-Colonie in 1994. He made AAA Columbus for 29 games in 1995, but he didn't see AAA with the Yankees again.

Seefried moved to the Mets system and saw 33 games at AAA Norfolk in 1997, then 38 games at AAA Ottawa with the Expos in 1998. His 1998 campaign, also played with the White Sox at AA Birmingham, proved his last as a pro.

Seefried has gone on to remain in the game as a high school coach. He is listed in 2019 as head coach at Bellevue High in Washington.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,103
Made the Majors:1,135-36.6%
Never Made Majors:1,968-63.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 470
10+ Seasons in the Minors:281

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